Monday, December 30, 2013
Having had great success with the concord vines we planted in 2009, we decided to add another variety of grapes in 2011: white table grapes. Unfortunately, the budding vines were nearly destroyed when a freak derecho storm ripped through our property in late June 2012. So this past summer's harvest was truly something to celebrate. Pulled out the juicer for this basketful...
The juicer was not the best choice for a "clean" outcome. Too many seeds gumming up the works, albeit grapeseed extract does have its finer points. It was quite the task trying to find the best method for straining it. After employing just about every type of strainer, mesh basket and assorted layerings of cheesecloth, it definitely proved to be a labor-intensive exercise in futility. After all was
said and done strained and jarred and well-rested in the fridge, enough of the sediment did settle to the bottom so that we could enjoy the clearer juice via straw from the top.
Unless you're into self flagellation, I highly recommend employing this method. Regardless, making grape juice is a time-consuming affair, but the results are absolutely heavenly.
Isn't it ironic... a Northern MOCKING bird chose our white table grape vine to build its nest :-p
Sunday, December 29, 2013
Connie’s Tiramisu – (fills a 9x9 glass refrigerator dish) – best when made a day ahead
6 eggs separated 1 lb mascarpone
¾ cups sugar ½ cup strong coffee (room temp or cold)
2/3 cups whole milk 2-4 tablespoons dark rum
1 ¼ cups heavy cream 2-4 tablespoons Kahlua
½ tsp vanilla 8 oz package Savoiardi ladyfinger biscuits
unsweetened cocoa powder pinch of espresso powder (optional)
- Whisk yolks and sugar in saucepan until well blended, then whisk in milk and cook over medium heat, stirring, until mixture begins to boil. Allow it to boil gently for a minute or so, stirring constantly as it thickens. Remove from heat, let it cool down some before covering tightly and chilling in fridge an hour or so.
- Whip egg whites in clean dry mixing bowl until soft peaks form. Pour into a separate bowl, then beat heavy cream with vanilla until stiff peaks form.
- Gently but thoroughly whisk/fold until smooth (in this order): first, mascarpone into the cooled yolk mixture; second, whipped cream; third, egg whites.
- Combine the coffee and liquors in a dish that can accommodate the size of the ladyfingers and so that the liquid is not too deep. A casserole dish works well. Do a “dry run” with the ladyfingers to size them up so they fit the glass dish you’re going to use. Cut to size the number of ladyfingers you’ll need to complete two layers.
- One at a time, lay each ladyfinger in the coffee mixture to the count of 2 seconds on each side. You do not want to soak them through. Continue with the full-size and cut pieces of ladyfingers until the bottom of the dish is thoroughly covered, then spoon half the mascarpone mixture on top and smooth out evenly and flat with an offset spatula all the way and cleanly to the edges. Apply second layer of dipped ladyfingers, then second layer of mascarpone, smoothing out flat to edges.
- Use a small hand strainer to evenly sift on a top coat of cocoa (with that optional pinch of espresso powder mixed into it). Cover and refrigerate 6 to 24 hours. Before serving, garnish as desired; i.e., a chocolate-covered coffee bean "flower" in the center and/or whipped cream stars around the edges.
What works best for me...
Mise en place. Measure out exactly how many cookies fit whole and then how much of the ends of others you'll need to slice off to make a tight fit. Cut them in advance and have everything at the ready when you start to assemble so you can work kind of quickly. Err on the generous side when you cut the Savoiardi ends as they'll become more pliable once dipped and the presentation is always lovelier when the biscuit layers are distinctly visible. Place the rounded side out, cut side against the other biscuit. Don’t oversoak the biscuits or they’ll disintegrate. They’ll soak through just right as the dish sits in the fridge overnight (6 hours minimum). The longer it sits, the better it tastes! Don’t let the egg whites sit too long once they’re whipped because they’ll start to weep and you don’t want any runny whites when you fold them into the mascarpone mixture.
I've sensed some intimidation, a stigma of sorts, associated with making a tiramisu, that it's complicated, "advanced," or the ingredients are hard to find. Not so. Nearly every grocery chain nowadays has specialty and ethnic sections, or at least a wider variety of ethnic foods. Mascarpone may be with the specialty cheeses.
I’ve tried a lot of different recipes over the past 30 years, tweaking this one and that one until I came up with this lighter, airy version... which is just the way I like it. Hope you like it too!
Wednesday, September 11, 2013
Nasturtiums (Tropaeolum) are delicate, brightly colored edible flowers with round lilypad-shaped foliage. Similar in taste to watercress, they make lovely garnishes, beautify salads or rice paper wraps such as spring rolls, make adorable canapes when stuffed with a sweet or savory soft whipped filling, can be folded into mayo or whipped butter that's then "set" in decorative molds and enjoyed on breads, vegetables, baked potatoes or anything else you would slather with butter. Easy to grow directly in the ground or in containers, every garden should be punctuated with nasturtiums, not only for their cheerfulness, but their value in natural pest control.
According to Wiki, nasturtiums have been used in herbal medicine for their antiseptic and expectorant qualities. Good for chest colds, respiratory and urinary tract infections, and to promote formation of new blood cells. All parts are edible. The flowers contain about 130 mg (2g) of vitamin C per 100g (3.5 oz), about equivalent to parsley.
CRAFTING NASTURTIUM BUTTER
- Grab your basket and gather up organically-grown flowers with some amount of stem still attached, along with a nice variety of leaf sizes.
- Gently wash in cool water, shake off excess droplets, and allow to air dry between sheets of plain white paper towels.
- Whip room temperature butter (sweet or salted, but do keep it organic) just enough to make it light and fluffy.
mini tart/cheesecake pans with those removable bottoms are great molds!
- Using an offset spatula, press butter into molds and smooth top.
- Press a piece of parchment paper on top and freeze until solid.
- To unmold, tap upside down on counter, or apply a towel soaked in hot water, or run under hot water for a few seconds.
Use the larger leaves as "plating doilies" for a presentation with dainty style.
Packaged and labeled, I offered these butters at our August South Jersey Food Swap held here at OneFlewOver Farm.
The "bottom" of one that was pressed into a mini casserole dish.
Wrap the unmolded butters up like a gift in parchment, then wrap again airtight in plastic. Label and freeze for a special occasion or an everyday affair.