Thursday, September 22, 2016

Rosie Makes Butter Pecan Ice Cream.

Mr. Hawthorne was jonesin' for some butter pecan ice cream the other day and I just had to oblige.
Rosie's Butter Pecan Ice Cream
heaping cup of chopped pecans
2 TB unsalted butter
2 cups half and half cream
1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
2 egg, lightly beaten
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
2 tsp vanilla extract

Toast the pecans in butter for 5-6 minutes until lightly browned.  Set aside to cool.

In a heavy saucepan, heat half and half to 175°.  Stir in the brown sugar and whisk until dissolved.  Whisk a small bit of the hot cream mixture into the eggs, return to pan, whisking constantly.  Cook over low heat until mixture reaches at least 160° and thickens a bit.

Remove from heat and place pan in bowl of ice water, stirring for 2 minutes.  Stir in whipping cream and vanilla.  Cover with plastic wrap, pressing onto the surface of the custard and refrigerate for several hours or overnight.  Stir in toasted pecans.

Pour custard mixture into cylinder of ice cream freezer and freeze according to manufacturer's directions.  Pour into containers and let the flavors ripen in the freezer for at least 4 hours before serving.  

Yield: 1 1/2 quarts


Thursday, September 15, 2016

The Hawthornes Attend Another Six-Course Wine-Paired Dinner At The Saltbox Café

I've been looking forward to the Saltbox Café's six-course Vines Around The World series since our last one, in April.  Now, the 2016 - 2017 series has begun!  Rosie is happy.  We're taking a journey to South Africa with Chefs Amanda and Randolph Sprinkle and Jen and Steve of Empire Wine Distributors.  Each wine is paired with a course significant to the region.  Honestly, these dinners are some of the best I've ever had.

There are many different influences contributing to the diversity of South African culinary traditions.
 The indigenous San people enjoyed a varied menu of plants, berries, nuts, leaves, and roots, ostrich eggs, and meats, such as antelope, small animals, and birds.

The Khoi people, who lived on the coast dined on oysters, mussels, abalone, crayfish, seals, penguins, seaweed, wild plants, and fruits.  Eventually, the Khoi people, influenced by the livestock farming culture of the Bantu people, changed their source of food supply from hunting and gathering to livestock farming, first starting with sheep, then later adding cattle.

The Dutch had a great influence on South African cuisine also.  The Dutch East India Company  established a refreshment station at the Cape for their merchant ships traveling around to Indonesia and back so they could have a break at the halfway point.  In 1652, the Dutch established a farm to produce fresh produce needed by the passing ships, and in so doing, introduced a variety of vegetables and fruits foreign to South Africa.  This farm had a great influence on cuisine and changed the region.  The Dutch company discovered it was easier to bring in slaves to work the fields than to try to get the locals- the San and the Khoi - to work.

These Malay slaves from Indonesia, Malaysia, and Madagascar were imported into the Cape and brought with them their cooking traditions, which were characterized by the use of a wide variety of aromatic spices, enhancing the local cuisine.

The Portuguese were also influential in South African cuisine by introducing the use of chilies , expressed in their fiery hot peri-peri dishes.  Curry dishes and rice, introduced by the Indian immigrants, also became very popular.

The French Huguenots settled in the Cape in the 1600s, importing their vines and bringing with them their wine-making practices.

South African cuisine also goes by the descriptive name of "Rainbow Cuisine," due to the kaleidoscopic influences of the different ethnic cuisines which have gone into the mix.

Our first course is inspired by the Indian influences in South Africa.  It's fire-roasted pumpkin topped with kamut (an ancient grain) and green lentil curry with sunflower seeds and orange blossom white balsamic vinegar and eucalyptus honey. 

 Behind the scenes, at the Saltbox.

 The sweet pumpkin was enhanced by the warmth
of the spicy curry and brightened by the microgreens.
Not a hot spice.
A warm spice.
It was a "homey" dish, as in comforting. 

This was paired with a Groot Constantia Sauvignon Blanc.
Crisp and pleasing, this wine paired well
with the warmth of the pumpkin.

In my "research" (i.e Googling),
I found out that Groot Constantia 
is the oldest wine estate in South Africa
and a glass of this wine was one of Napoleon's last wishes
before he died.

I'm pretty sure I am undeserving of this wine.

 Our second course is seared local yellow fin tuna with beef biltong over sorghum pap with a touch of foie gras pinot noir wine syrup.  Biltong is a spicy, dried meat, similar to beef jerky, and it originated in South Africa.  The indigenous tribes of South Africa used dry curing as a method to preserve meats.  The meat, from beef or game, is cured in a mixture of vinegar, salt, sugar, and spices, then hung to dry.  Pap is another traditional dish, native to South Africa.  It's a porridge-like dish made with ground maize, similar to American grits, but with more texture.  The pap was finished with buttermilk for tartness.
 The tuna was paired with Leeuwenkuil Grenache Blanc.  
This wine reminded me of bitter clown tears
with a hint of suspicion and minerality.
It did indeed "blossom" with my food.
Excruciatingly bold, this wine is entirely too big for its pants.

 Our third course is marinated game hen piri piri served over roasted vegetables - parsnips and tri-color baby carrots. Piri piri is a chili pepper, also known as bird's eye pepper, that has grown wild in Africa for centuries. The pepper was used in both the marinade and the sauce.  Piri piri sauce is Portuguese in origin.

It takes a village.

 The hens were marinated for 24 hours,
then grilled, and served with a mildly hot piri piri sauce
with lemon juice and garlic.
This was paired with Leeuwenkuil Cinsault.
A sensitive little wine.
I could taste spots of leopard.
Would be easy to down the whole bottle without realizing it.
This was an intellectually satisfying wine
and I feel smarter already for having drunk it.

 Chefs Amanda and Randolph hard at work.

 Our fourth course is chili skirt steak braai with baby potatoes and brussel sprouts.
There are 11 official languages in South Africa and "braai" is the only word that is recognized in all of them.  Braai means grill in Afrikaans, a hodgepodge language including Dutch, Malay, Zulu, and English, evolving since 1692.

This was paired with Groot Constantia Shiraz. 
I detected aggressive notes of spring and an undertone of wet sand.
Lush, elegant, vegetal, quizzical yet decisive, this wine gave me quite the tongue-lashing. 

 Our fifth course is a traditional South African stew called bobotie.  A boboti can be made from a variety of different meats, usually not pork.  This dish was seasoned with West Indian inspired spices - nutmeg, cinnamon, and cardamon - earthy spices brought over by the Dutch East India Company.  Fruits were used often in South African dishes and this bobotie has sultanas.  Bobotie, the national dish of South Africa, is a complex blend of flavors.  This  dish stems from the cultural influence of Dutch and Malaysian settlers to South Africa.

 The mutton bobotie was served over a Southern rusk, a twice-baked biscuit that soaked up all that deliciousness in the sauce.

This was paired with Robertson Constitution Road Shiraz.
This wine welcomed me to the bottom of the glass.  This was a naughty little wine and it begged for discipline, pleading with me, "Spank me!  Spank me!"  I heeded, since I, too, am naughty.

 Almost done!
The splendid Chef Amanda,
beneath the Splenda.

The dessert alone was worth the price of admission.
 This is an untraditional Mulva sticky pudding - sort of like an upside down cake topped with brickle and brown sugar, served with an apricot and peach syrup, and ice cream.  Mulva sticky pudding is a Dutch import. 

This was paired with Krone Brut Rosé.  
I've never had a bad day whenever bubbles were involved.

Thank you so much to Chefs Amanda and Randolph Sprinkle, our servers Lindsey and Mike and the rest of the outstanding Saltbox Crew, and Jen and Steve of Empire Wine Distributing.

For a recap of our previous dining experiences at the Saltbox Café, please click on the links:

October 2014, we visited Spain.
November 2014, we visited Argentina.
December 2014, we visited Paris.
February 2015, we visited Chocolate. (Why yes, Chocolate is a country.)
March 2015, we visited Italy.
October 2015, we visited Germany.
December 2015, we visited Japan.
Also in December 2015, we enjoyed a Réveillon Feast.
And again in December 2015, we visited France.
February 2016, we took a road trip to California.
Also in February 2016, we visited Italy
March 9, 2016, we had a lovely visit to Chile.
March 29, 2016, we visited the Pacific Northwest.
April 20, 2016, we explored the vineyards of Oregon.

Monday, September 12, 2016

It's Tomato Pie Time.

Rosie's had a busy day in the kitchen today, which is really no different from any other day.  But today, somehow, something was different.  Can't put my finger on it exactly except to say that everything flowed. Flowage usually doesn't happen and there can be stress (YES! STRESS!!) in Rosie's little space.  I've been in the kitchen since 8:00 this morning and I just sat down to write it all down at 4:00.  In case you don't do the math, that's eight hours, in addition to everything else I got going on that I have to deal with.  I even pruned roses this morning, but couldn't finish since it was too hot for me and I just ain't dealing with the heat.

Today, however, worked.  From breakfast for three - Plugra buttered toast, cinnamon toast, stone ground yellow grits, homemade applesauce, 3 eggs doused with cream, dashed with kosher salt and Lawry's pepper and my red cayennes, and studded with cheddar cheese slices, and tiny diced hash browns - to a Sweet Tomato Pie designed with Mr. Hawthorne in mind, to a taco bowl for Boy, filled with red beans and rice and caramelized corn off the corn and topped with shredded iceberg lettuce, homemade salsa, and sour cream.

Well, let's make a sweet tomato pie.

Rosie's Sweet Tomato Pie
1 pie crust, either your own homemade dough or the refrigerated, rolled-up ones, never the frozen in the tin pans
5-6 tomatoes
1 medium Vidalia onion
about 1/2 chopped herbs  I used basil, parsley, chives, and thyme.
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper for each layer
1/2 tsp sugar for each layer
pats of unsalted butter
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 TG buttermilk
1/4 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
1/2 cup shredded Mozzarella
2 oz chèvre cheese
1/4 cup Panko breadcrumbs
12 Ritz crackers, crumbled
more pats of butter

Heat oven to 425°.  Press dough in a 9-inch pie pan.  Chill 30 minutes.  Line pie crust with foil and fill with dried beans to keep the crust from bubbling up as it cooks.  Bake at 425° for 20 minutes.  Remove from oven and cool.  Reduce oven temperature to 350°.

Peel tomatoes, cut in half and squeeze with your fingers in the pockets to juice and seed.  Slice thinly.  Place slices in a single layer on paper towels and evenly sprinkle with a teaspoon of kosher salt.  Let sit 10 minutes, then pat dry with paper towel.

Layer tomatoes, chopped onion, and herbs in prepared crust, seasoning each layer with kosher salt, freshly ground pepper, and 1/2 tsp sugar.

Top with a few thin pats of butter.  Sprinkle cheeses over top.  Stir buttermilk into mayonnaise and spread onto top of tomato pie.  Sprinkle Panko and Ritz over top and dot with additional pats of butter.  Put a foil protector around edges of crust and bake about 35 minutes, until lightly browned.

Here are my Amelia tomatoes.
Heavy producers, firm, perfect for our coastal climate.

I have a Zyliss tomato peeler which I highly recommend.
Here it is:

However, if you don't have a tomato peeler,
here's how to easily peel your 'maters.
Bring a pot of water to a boil
and drop your tomatoes in.

Mr. Hawthorne recommends cutting a small slice
down the tomato skin first,
before dropping in the boiling water.

Boil a minute or two or until you see the skin start to peel off.

Transfer to a bowl a let cool a bit,
unless you have asbestos fingers, as I do.

And simply peel the skin off.


Pie crust ready for oven.
Be sure edges are covered.

Slice the tomatoes in half, seed, and juice,
then slice and salt on paper towels.
Slice up some Vidalia onion.

Give it some basil, parsley, chive, and thyme lovin'.

I believe I'm ready to make a pie.
I have my tomatoes.
My onions.
My salt, pepper, and sugar.
My buttermilk/mayonnaise mixture.
My herbs.
My cheeses.
My Plugra unsalted buttah.
My Ritz.
My Panko.

Start layering.
Tomatoes, onions, herbs, salt, pepper, sugar on each layer.

The Boy wanted chopped onions, not sliced.
I had enough for 3 layers.
Just put on the pats of butter.

Chèvre going on.

Rest of the grated cheeses.

Evenly spread the mayo/buttermilk mixture over top.

Top with crumbled Ritz and Panko.
Dot with unsalted butter.

Protect edges!

About 35 minutes in a 350° oven.
Until nicely browned.
You might want to rotate it halfway through.

Here's my sparingly sweet, herbal, and cheesal tomato pie.

I'm looking forward to this for breakfast tomorrow.
These things only get better.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Rosie Makes A Soufflé.

 I'm feeling special today.
I will celebrate with soufflé.

 Rosie's Soufflé
5 egg whites, room temperature
4 egg yolks, room temperature
3 TB unsalted butter
3 TB flour
1/2 cup skim milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 tsp kosher salt
fresh grating of nutmeg
pinch of red pepper flakes
1/2 cup Swiss cheese
1/2 cup mozzarella cheese
pinch kosher salt
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
butter for buttering the soufflé dish
Pecorino/Romano cheese, grated,
enough to cover the sides and bottom of soufflé dish

Butter a 6-cup soufflé dish,
then sprinkle grated Pecorino/Romano cheese over bottom and sides.
This gives something for the eggs to cling to as they rise.
Combine skim and cream in small pan and scald.
Bring it just to the boil, then remove from heat.

In a medium saucepan over medium heat melt the butter.
Add in flour, whisking for about 2-3 minutes
to cook the flour.
This is officially a "roux."
Slowly whisk in scalded milk and cream.
Cook, whisking, until mixture thickens.
Add salt, nutmeg, and pepper flakes.
Taste test and adjust seasonings if you want. 
Remove from heat and let cool a bit.

Whisk eggs one at a time, into roux mixture.

Beat whites with a pinch of kosher salt and cream of tartar 
until stiff peaks form,
Stir about a third of the whites into the soufflé mixture
to lighten it a bit.
Fold in cheeses and
then lightly fold in the rest of the whites.
Pour into prepared soufflé dish.
I like to run my finger around the top
and make a little circle.
Gives the soufflé a little top hat.
Bake in a 350° oven for about 45 - 50 minutes. 
Serve immediately.

 Here's my roux.
Bubbly butter with flour.

 Whisk away until it thickens,
cooking until you get the raw taste out of the flour.

 Slowly whisk in the scalded skim/cream mixture.
Cook until thickened.

 Whisk in eggs, one at a time.

 Here's my prepared soufflé dish -
buttered with finely grated Pecorino/Romano cheese.
Gives something for the soufflé to pull up on.

 Preferably in a copper bowl,
for extra volume,
whup them whites until you have stiff peaks.

 Add about 1/3 of the whites to the roux.

 Stir in to lighten the mix.

 Fold in the cheese.

 Add the rest of the whites and lightly fold them in.

 Ta da!!!!


 The soufflé waits for no one.