Any modifications I made are highlighted in blue.
I would serve it in mini form as a appetizer, or as a main course with a seasonal salad with a Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc. I can also see it with bacon or ham Incorporated, but I didn't have any.
Certain Someone asked me in a email while waiting for takeoff, why don't I make him a pasta dish like this. I had told him I was roasting veggies and tossing them with angel hair pasta. I replied that if I said we were having veggies and pasta for dinner,he'd ask me to cook him a sausage!As I mentioned in a earlier post when he's gone, I tend to lean towards less meat.And without having to worry about his likes and dislikes, I was free to cook. Hyde Park Produce had some excellent Oyster mushrooms that were begging me to take them home. I chose some assorted zucchini, squash, oil/salt cured black olives, carrots, onion, and big sprigs of fresh basil.
Courtney's Seasonal Bounty
Angel Hair Pasta
zucchini sliced very thin
several cloves of garlic
cured black olives( use according to taste as flavor is strong)
capers ( according to taste)
fresh basil for a chiffonade
truffle oil to drizzle
Thinly slice veggies with a mandolin. Toss veggies and garlic cloves with salt, pepper, olive oil, oregano, and balsamic vinegar.Roast in a cast iron pan at 375 degrees for approx half hour or until tender and juices have mostly evaporated.
Boil water for pasta and prepare. Cut pits out of the olives,and add both olives and capers to mixture of veggies.Toss pasta with veggie mixture.Roll basil leaves and slice for a chiffonade to top the pasta. Add grated Parmesan , and drizzle with truffle oil.
What I liked best about this dinner was that we didn't feel stuffed and guilty as you can after a evening of dining out. Portion control was perfect and they lure you into each course wanting more. It was nice to see so many old friends and we do vow to return. A Mano has only been open for a week , but Chicago has a new culinary hit.
Last week I noticed this great place on the border of Indiana, called Village Farm Stand, selling raw olives. Above the display was a sheet directing you how to cure them. I was interested but passed as I had to focus on other things.Then the other day I noticed a article in the New York Times on line edition about the art and legacy of curing olives. Well I knew I just had to go back to that store and try it out for my self. It seems olive season is nearing and end, and I didn't want to waste this chance.The recipe in the the NY Times differs from the one I'm trying out, but both are worth a try.One needs more time than the other. I love olives, and they are rich in lore. It seems I'm the only one that loves them in my world but I think my loved ones have been tainted by bad cheap. I was astounded to read the methods used to commercially cure them. So tonight after class I rolled up my selves and decided to give it a go.
This recipe is courtesy of Village Farm Stand:
For each pound of cured pitted olives:
* few dashes of white wine vinegar
*1 tablespoon cracked fennel seeds
*1 tablespoon of salt
*1 tablespoon of chopped garlic
*1 tablespoon oregano
*1/8 tablespoon red pepper
* olive oil, enough to cover
1. Gently crack the olives with a rolling pin or heavy object, being very careful not to crack the pit.(I tried the rolling pin , but only seemed to smash them, so I slashed them with a knife).
2. Place the olives in a bowl and cover them with water. Weigh down the olives with a plate or some sort of weight to keep them under water, and prevent them from drying out.
3. Change the water twice a day for at least eight days, or until the olives are no longer bitter to the taste. Do not fail; to change the water! This method of curing uses natural, bacterial fermentation and can get icky if you don't change the water often.Once the olives are no longer bitter, you can remove the pits , making them easier to eat later.
4. In a crock or other heavy , non metallic container,sprinkle vinegar over olives and mix well.
5. Drain Thoroughly. Add the spices and mix again.
6. Place olives in sterile jars and cover with olive oil. Ensure that the olives are fully covered, and that there are no air bubbles. Tap the bottom of the container to help release bubbles.
7. Allow to stand at least one week fro flavor to develop. After desired flavor is achieved , the olives can be kept at room temperature, but it is best to refrigerate them for the longest freshest flavor. If refrigerated , allow to return to room temperature for full flavor. The leftover olive oil, can be used in salads or to saute meats.
Here is a link to the NY Times article. In addition here is a recipe that's a part of the article called Nono's Olives. This recipe differs greatly from the previous. Notice the lack of salt used in curing. I'm sticking to the simplest one for now and will post my results after the process. Tonight I have just 'cracked' them and will begin the eight day process. I also plan to add garlic and chili flakes to my olives.If I like the result , then next fall I'll buy a case and make my years worth of olives knowing that I cured them and they are pure and fresh.
So today I received a unexpected consolation prize.I ran a search to see if any information had been published about the winners of the Bucktown Apple Pie contest. I managed to find a article in a e- food magazine called Hungry Magazine-All Things Tasty ,from a judge in the preliminary rounds. There was a link to a photo slide show of the 'prettier pies ' in the contest.Lo and behold , who's little old pie was among them?Yes, my Spicy Apple Caramel Drizzle. Not bad as I didn't even place. So yes that's a huge consolation, visual recognition. Wait until next year!
After a peaceful full nights sleep following last nights La Traviata at Lyric Opera, I awoke yesterday to get started on my pies for tomorrows contest. I planned to make 3 types of crusts after all my friends and families critiques. Rather than my sour cream crust I wanted to use http://www.cooks.com/rec/view/0,1737,147173-245200,00.html , I wanted a flakier crust.So I was turning my ignition in my car, and sputter ,splat. The cars check engine light started to flash and car started going dead.So much for the store and contest! And not to mention worry about repair costs. Certain Someone assured me to continue and ask my aunt for a ride the next day to enter (he has golf and will turn up later on ). We got the insurance company to tow the car, and ,he took me to the store with the assurance everything will work out this week. So I got to the tasks of making my crusts. I decided to do a Pate Brisee , which I've done before, based on Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook. Only with some modifications based on other research. This contest is intense and I already heard a piece on it on National Public Radio. Some people have been preparing all year. And I, only 1 week.
So I decided to use apple cider vinegar , rather than ice water. As I tripled the recipe for 3 double pie crusts( 2 for the contest, 1 for me) I used shortening with the butter( all very cold). I even put the flour in the freezer. I don't have Kitchen Aide , and I had to work quickly with the hands. I figured it worked with the ancestors, so it will work with me. I added cardamom to the crust and ground almond paste. Here's the gist of Martha's recipe with my changes in blue which doesn't make it Pate Brisse any longer!
Pate Brisee ( Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook)
2 1/2 CUPS all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 sticks( 1 cup) unsalted buter cut into cubes(1 Stick butter, 8 tsps shortneing)
1/4 cup ice water, plus more if needed (ice cold apple cider vinegar)
1/2 tsp cardamom
1/4 stick of Odense Almond Paste grated
Combine flour,salt(and cardamom). Add butter(and almond paste) and blend until the mixture resemble coarse crumbs. Add ice apple cider vinegar until dough holds together without being sticky or wet. Turn dough out on a work surface and divide in half. Shape into disks and place in plastic wrap. Refrigerate at least one hour to overnight. Dough may be frozen up to 1 month. Thaw overnight in refrigerator before using.
* for the flakiest crusts make sure ingredients( even the flour) are cold before you begin.
Because I used my hands and feared over kneading , my dough was fragile . I rolled out my discs in between wax paper, and peeled the layers of crust off the paper and into the pan/ onto the pie. Any holes I patched quickly and baked the pie at 350 degrees. My oven I discovered is tricky,and last week I over baked my pies, resulting in dryness.During the last 15 min I brushed my egg wash over the pie.
I'm calling my pie Spicy, Nutty, Caramel Apple Drizzle. I'm using a combo of apples such as Cortland,Golden Delicious, and Braeborn. Here's the bulk of my filling.
instant tapioca for thickening( I ground mine in the coffee grinder)
touch of Black strap molasses
lemon to prevent discoloration
butter for patting on top before sealing the crust.
egg wash of 1 egg and heavy cream to brush on dough.
caramel for topping after baked
chopped pecans and peanuts( I use salted for contrast)
And here's my result( I baked 3). Wish me luck.Its my first contest. Gale Gand of Tru and Nancy Mathieson of the
American Pie Council will be some of the distinguished judges.
Post Script Sunday October 14, 2007
Auntie Mame arrived early to drive me to the pie drop off. We got there early and the organizers were kind enough to let me check in. What a great group they are. This event is building up momentum over the years and proceeds of the sale of pie benefit the Friends of Holstein Park(in Bucktown). I explained about my car troubles and how I couldn't stay to help . They totally understood and said they would call if I won. Before I went to bed last night I fretted about all the professionals and pros involved as judges and entrants. I feared they would laugh at my entry, etc. Certain Someone said I was a pie freak and told me to got to bed. So I'm at home now while he plays golf. If he's up to it we will try to go back. Other than that I'll wait to see if I get anything prize wise. Nevertheless I'm glad I entered and had the experience. May this be the first of many contests and exploring.
When I get into something, I really get into it. Starting a food blog and joining Daring Bakers has led me to some outstanding blogs . I've noticed a lot of the these blogs have a a small logo and scroll down menu of other food blogs. So naturally I clicked on the logo and found out all about the Foodie Blog Roll. Its a endless addictive chain! Now I'm exposed to even more great blogs from all over the world.And its free. So check out the sidebar and explore the culinary blog sphere. You may meet new friends or find old ones in the process. Its a small world and were all hungry.
Last week at a event I worked, the chef had yummy fried carrot strips garnishing his monk fish.And then the other day I saw veggie chips in Whole Foods with strips of carrots. So at the produce market today I saw some big fat carrots and decided to give it a try. I took out my mandolin that just sits in the corner gathering dust, and sliced the carrots paper thin. I then fried away and then sprinkled with Kosher salt. What I got was a nice sweet veggie chip, reminiscent of a sweet potato ,that wasn't covered in batter like a lot of fried veggies. But like when I make homemade potato chips, some turn out really crispy and some don't. I learned a while back to soak my potatoes in cold water to release the starch and get them to fry up crispy. Maybe I'll try this next time. But a nice healthy junk food snack.
My pal Gabi forwarded me a link to a Apple Pie contest to be held next week. I grabbed one of the last spots to enter. My first culinary contest! There will be some heavy hitting judges. So this morning I decided to put my 'concepts ' into reality. I researched and researched via books and the Internet . Seems not much is original( as I googled my original ideas to see if they have done) but a a lots of variations on a theme. I never realized so many pie crusts combos existed, but with experimentation I've found a good base crust, that I added to to compliment each of my concepts. I wont post my ingredients yet, as the the contest is next week. I made mini pies to test on my friend Vicky, Auntie Mame,and Certain Someone. I slightly over cooked the first one ( but lesson learned on how to adjust temps, etc.) to accommodate my various components. The pies will be judged on taste, appearance, fillings, etc. I can not add any other fruits so I'm limited to spices, juices, etc. I couldn't wait to post as I figured out how to start photographing better. I still need some work in that area, but I will get there some day.
My Aunt is having a surprise birthday party tomorrow. Her Boyfriend put me in charge of the cake and bar tending. As usual,I'm overly ambitious. I was inspired by a Libra Cake in Colette Peters book on Birthday Cakes.A cake featuring the scales of justice is perfectly fitting, as shes a Libra and attorney. I chose a variation of the blues and teals from my inspiration. I'm just a beginner and had to take the idea and turn it into a full sheet cake feeding around 75 people. And I had no airbrush equipment, so I was totally reliant on piping, dragges,colors, and shimmer gels. I searched high and low for affordable sheet cake pans. I lucked out a hotel"going out of business sale". They ended up costing $2 a pop. I baked the 2 pineapple flavored butter cakes on Sunday to be frozen. That took all day. Tonight I prepped my board and piped butter cream on the first layer to 'damn" the pineapple filling.
Then I added the top layers,and crumb coated the entire sheet cake.Now the tricky part....
I'm a total novice with fondant . And to cover a entire full sheet cake was daunting. Needless to say I had some tears, and decided to roll it out in halves. I figured my piping and ornate design would cover most of the flaws..
I etched my design with a toothpick and went to town piping and overlaying the designs. The silver dragges made the design much brighter. I fear the cake is a little over the top for my staid aunt. The cake looks better in person than in my picture. I plan to use those tall thin candles from the new Martha Stewart collection at Macy's. I hope the friends and family enjoy it. Its not perfect, but I learned so much in the process.