Monday, March 30, 2015

It's A NIP!

There's a nip.

 Dancing With The Stars tonight.

 Nip or Not...
 I say nip.

Rosie Makes French Onion Soup.

What to do?
What to do?

It's cold outside.
The fire is roaring in the gas fireplace.

French Onion soup comes to mind.

Rosie's French Onion Soup
2 TB unsalted butter
1 large yellow onion, sliced into rings
the red leftover onion in the refrigerator, sliced into rings
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp brown sugar
4 TB water
4 TB sherry
1 qt. homemade beef consommé
(I will allow you to use canned beef broth
if you're low on your homemade consommé,
but you didn't hear it from me.)
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
4 fresh thyme sprigs
3 fresh bay leaves
 6 homemade baguette slices, sliced 1/2 inch thick
( I will allow a substitution here.
A baguette from the deli is acceptable.
Again, you didn't hear it from me.)
6 slices Gruyère cheese

Melt butter over medium low heat
and add in onions, stirring to coat.
Add the sugars, stirring.
Cook onion, stirring frequently, 
scraping bottom and sides of pot
until the onions become golden brown.
Deglaze pan with 2 TB water,
cooking and stirring until water evaporates.
Do the same with the next 2 TB water.
Repeat with the sherry.
Stir in the broth, salt, pepper, thyme, and bay leaves,
scraping any browned bits from the sides and bottom.
Those are the goody bits where all the flavor is.
Increase heat and bring to a simmer.
Reduce heat to low, cover, and slowly cook for 30 minutes.

While the soup cooks,
toast the baguette slices until golden brown.
Cover with Gruyère and broil until bubbly.
Remove thyme and bay leaves.
Taste test and season if necessary.
Ladle soup into bowls 
and place 2 baguettes in each bowl.
Sprinkle a few fresh thyme leaves over top.

Slice up a big pile o' onions.

Melt the butter.

Stir to coat.

Give it a bit of granulated white sugar and ...
... some brown sugar to help in the caramelization of the onions.

You want a nice golden brown.

Deglaze with the water.

Deglaze with the sherry.

Slice baguette and toast.

Pick fresh herbs - bay and thyme.
Add in consommé.
Add in herbs.

Bring to a simmer.

This is my secret ingredient.
Veal stock.
Not necessary but nice to have.
Gives a certain richness to your soup.
Cover and cook over low for thirty minutes.

Toast the baguette slices.
Then put the Gruyère on top
and broil until bubbly.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Rosie Makes Eggs In A Cloud.

Rosie is making Eggs In A Cloud for breakfast today,
 just in time for your Sunday morning breakfast.

Eggs In A Cloud
Carefully separate the eggs.
Beat whites with a pinch of kosher salt until stiff.
Gently fold in 1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese 
and 1 tablespoon sliced scallion per egg white.
Make a nest of whites on parchment paper
and make an indentation in the center to hold the yolk.
Bake the whites at 425° for 5 minutes.
Carefully add the yolks onto each nest.
Bake an additional 3 minutes.

Here are the baked whites.
When you make the indentations for the yolks,
take care to build up the sides
so the yolk will be contained and not spill out.

This is a three-minute yolk.
I like mine runny.
Add an extra minute or two if you want yours tighter.

Friday, March 27, 2015

The Hawthornes Enjoy Another Six-Course Meal At The Saltbox Café.

 The Hawthornes have been around the world
at the Saltbox Café,
enjoying their 6-course meals thoughtfully paired with wines.
We've been to Spain.
We've been to Argentina.
We've been to Paris.
We had a chocolate dinner in February.
And last night we went to Italy for their Italian Wine Dinner.
They will be doing this dinner again April 2
which will be Chefs Sprinkles' last stop in
"Vines Around the World" until fall.
Call 252-255-5594 for reservations.

The theme for tonight's dinner,
per Chef Randolph,
is "Springtime and Fresh!"

We started out with a traditional antipasto platter -
marinated kalamata olives,
Italian dried salami,
and a Caprese salad of
grape tomatoes and bocco fresh mozzarella balls
in oil and vinegar.

A bread basket was immediately brought out
with lovely foccacia brushed with sea salt and Italian dried herbs
and black truffle grissini breadsticks

The breads were served with
a roasted garlic, balsamic vinegar, and extra virgin olive oil
dipping sauce.
And we ate every bit!
 I've noticed the artwork is changing.
Haven't seen the owls before.

Our first wine is a Lamberti Prosecco.
And don't make me describe the wines.
Wine descriptions make no sense to me.

"An arrogant and pretentious wine
with undertones of Skittles found in your tennis shoes..."

"A confident wine with a cacophony of aromas..."

"Reminiscent of a Tahitian sunset..."

"Oh my! You can really taste the terroir!"

"Hints of gym locker with a whiff of desperation..."

"This wine sings softly in my glass..."

"A complex wine, yet simple in its approach to life..."

"Appealing to my inner child whilst satisfying
my urge to be an adult..."

"Takes me back to Arabian Nights -
 jewels, dark satin, and flying carpets..."

"The faintest soupçon of artichoke
with a flutter of Gouda..."

"It's just as if they took my childhood summers
in Provence and bottled them..."

"Aggressive notes of spring..."

"Ahhhh.  Quite a devious wine, with notes of a coquettish grape
and ever so slightly reclusive hints of wilting truffle."

"A playful wine with a hint of quince..."
Do you even know what quince tastes like?

Some descriptions read like resumés.
"Profound and mellow, opulent in character..."
"Intense and focused, balanced and persistent .."
"Quite approachable..."
"Delightful personality..."

I could go on and on,
but let's get to the food.

Our first course -
Spring greens!
Spicy arugula salad dressed with olive oil
topped with grated Parmesan and powdered prosciutto
atop a cantaloup purée with apple juice, honey, and fresh ginger.

Chef Randolph explained that the prosciutto
 was first frozen and then microplaned.

This was paired with a saucy and ballsy Jermann Pinot Grigio
Shall I describe the wine?  
I didn't think so.

Our second course, from Sardinia -
linguini with house-made botargo, 
sautéed rockfish, and a lemon gremolata
 with lemon zest, parsley, and garlic.
Botargo is a Meditarranean treat of salted fish roe.
As I said,
Chef Randolph emphasized Spring and Fresh for our meal.
Shad runs are starting now,
so we had shad roe.
And we had some of the first rockfish of the season.
Doesn't get much fresher than that.

Chefs Amanda and Randolph Sprinkle, hard at work.

This dish was paired with La Viarte Ribolla Gialla,
a delightful wine with forward hints of butterflies and angels' tears.

The third course was my favorite.
What can I say?
I love scallops.
Seared scallop with pecans
 over FRESH SPRING basil-scented risotto
 with sugar snap peas
on a sweet carrot purée.

This delightful dish was paired with
a flamboyant and sexy Benevelli La Costa Dolcetto,
endowed and erotic.
Makes one question whether one's palette 
is capable of handling this much worldliness.
Our fourth course was open-faced ravioli
with pancetta and Spring lamb ragout
with the slightest hint of cinnamon.

A sophisticated Benevelli La Costa Dolcetto
accompanied this course.
Provocative and blooming.
Grandiose and exotic.
Elegantly structured yet brooding.
Yep.  That's it to a T!


 I love watching the magic happen.

 Our fifth course was osso buco
over soft mascarpone polenta and sundried tomatoes
with Spring asparagus sautéed in olive oil and garlic
 and vegetables puréed in the braising liquid.

Our wine for this course was Azienda Agricola La Ragose.
Leathery.  Earthy.
I think this wine's name is Griselda 
and I want to take her out dancing all night long.

Oh wow!

Italian cream cake with Chantilly Cream.
And strawberry gelato and strawberries.

Dessert was paired with Cantine Volpi Moscato.
Solid structure and pleasant mouthfeel.
I felt like I was at the ocean when I tasted this wine,
the wind blowing through my hair
and waves lapping at my feet.
Tongue-spanking comes to mind.
Shall I stop with the wine descriptions?
Yeah.  I thought so.

A sweet and lovely ending 
to yet another wonderful meal at the Saltbox Café.

Thanks, Chefs Sprinkles!