Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Flourless Orange-Chocolate Cake

Flourless Orange-Chocolate Cake

Based on a recipe of Alice Medrich's. The cake can be made ahead and refrigerated overnight (up to 4 days). It must be at room temperature for serving and decorating. Favorite chocolates include Scharffen Berger, Ghirardelli, and Callebaut.

8 eggs, chilled
16 oz (1 pound) semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped coarsely
1/2 pound unsalted butter (2 sticks)
pinch fine sea salt
1/4 cup triple sec
zest of one navel orange

1. Adjust oven rack to lower middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Line bottom of 8-inch springform pan with parchment and grease pan sides. Cover pan underneath and along sides with sheet of heavy-duty aluminum foil and set in large roasting pan. Bring kettle of water to boil.

2. Beat eggs until tripled in volume, about 2 quarts. If using hand-held mixer, mix on high speed for about 20 minutes. If using a standing electric mixer, use wire whip attachment at medium speed to achieve same result.

3. Meanwhile, melt chocolate and butter with salt, liqueur, and orange zest in large heatproof bowl set over pan of almost simmering water, stirring until smooth and very warm (115 degrees). (For microwave, melt chocolate and butter at 50% power until smooth and warm, about 6 minutes.) Pour melted chocolate mixture through fine meshed sieve into large mixing bowl. Fold 1/3 egg foam into chocolate mixture using large rubber spatula until only a few streaks of egg are visible; fold in half of remaining foam, then last of remaining foam, until mixture is totally homogeneous.

4. Scrape batter into prepared springform pan and smooth surface with spatula. Set roasting pan on oven rack and pour enough boiling water to come about halfway up side of springform pan. Bake until cake has risen slightly, edges are just beginning to set, a thin glazed crust (like a brownie) has formed on surface, and an instant read thermometer inserted halfway through center of cake registers 140 degrees, 22 to 25 minutes (it will continue to cook when removed from oven). Remove cake pan from water bath and set on wire rack; cool to room temperature. Optionally, cover and chill.

5. About 30 minutes before serving, remove springform pan sides, invert cake on sheet of waxed paper, peel off parchment pan liner, and turn cake right side up on serving platter. When cake is at room temperature, sieve light sprinkling of Confectioner's sugar or unsweetened cocoa powder over cake to decorate, perhaps through a paper doily.

This cake does well with a sauce. Try a raspberry sauce (frozen raspberries, thawed and sieved, with a few drops of lemon juice and sugar to taste), an orange sauce (follow instructions for lemon curd substituting orange ingredients), or, daringly, a warm orange-caramel sauce.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Researching Chocolate Companies

From whom can I buy chocolate that meets these criteria?
  • tastes good, looks good, and performs well
  • fairly compensates the grower and other laborers
  • is not dependent on the labor of children
  • is agriculturally sustainable and environmentally agreeable
  • includes additives, such as sugar, that have similar properties
  • is free of fruit, milk, nuts, soy
  • sells for about $1 per ounce
These companies have come to my attention. What chocolate do you use?

Cocoa Camino

Divine Chocolate
Of Ghanian origin

Ithaca Fine Chocolates

Of Ghanian origin

Sweet Earth Organic Chocolates

Theo Chocolate

Ones to watch***********************

Chocolate Co-op

Organic, but not fair-trade. Many awards for quality. Single-origin products.

Dagoba (now owned by Hershey's)

Equal Exchange

A distributor, not a manufacturer.

Scharffen Berger (now owned by Hershey's)


Pending fair trade certification

Yachana Chocolate

Chocolates mixed with tropical fruits and nuts only, no pure chocolate

Friday, November 23, 2007

Orange Chocolate Pots de Creme

I have a high standard for chocolate. Initially, I liked Scharffen Berger for several reasons. It was a small company that seemed to care about the quality of its product. It was made in a setting free from nuts. It performed well if shaved or melted. And, it tasted good.

Now that Scharffen Berger is owned by Hershey's, its quality has degraded somewhat and the labels do not indicate it is nut-free. The quality of the chocolate is still excellent, but its manufacturing conditions have changed.

As a result, I am now looking for a replacement and have added global awareness to my expectations. I want several things of my chocolate:
  • Is free from nuts and dairy
  • Performs well in the kitchen (melting point, shaving)
  • Made by people whose intention is finest quality chocolate
  • Made using fair-trade practices
I haven't found a chocolate that meets these criteria. If you know of one, please be in touch!

Orange Chocolate Pots de Creme

A key to success
is the temperature of the cream mixture when it is removed from the heat. Remove too soon -- when the mixture runs off the back of a wooden spoon -- and the pots de creme will not congeal and will be too thin. Remove it too late -- when the mixture shows lumps of coagulating egg yolk -- and the pots de creme will taste grainy and not be able to fully incorporate the chocolate.

Yields 8 servings.

10 oz bittersweet chocolate
5 yolks from large eggs
2 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup water
zest of one large orange (about 3 tsp)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon vanilla

1. Using box grater, grate chocolate. Place in heatproof bowl and set aside at room temperature with fine-mesh sieve.

2. In heavy-bottomed saucepan, whisk yolks, cream, water, zest, and salt until smooth. Heat gradually over medium-low heat, stirring constantly with wooden spoon. When cream mixture reaches 175 degrees Fahrenheit and coats the back of the spoon, about 12 minutes, immediately remove from heat and pour through sieve into chocolate.

3. Wait 2 minutes for chocolate to melt and whisk gently until thoroughly blended. Do not whip. Pour into ramekins or individual serving bowls. Cool to room temperature, then chill for at least 4 hours.

4. To serve, remove ramekins from refrigerator 20 minutes before serving. Can be served with a dollop of unsweetened whipped cream and gratings of chocolate or sprinkles of cocoa.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Roasting Salmon

Fresh, wild salmon is a wonderful thing and is unlike most other vegetarian fish. Mine is from Alaska, caught, dressed, and frozen by the man who sells it to me, a privilege I share with few others and for which I am thankful. Here's how I prepared the most recent one.

Sockeye salmon, dressed and ready for preparation.

Slicing the skin on the top side enables expansion of the cooking meat in an attractive way.

Meat is lightly scented with parsley and lemon and seasoned with flor de sal (white bag).

Dinner is served.

Roasted Whole Salmon

3.5 pound whole salmon, dressed
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 bunch parsley
2 fresh lemons

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line shallow roasting pan with a layer of parchment or foil. Lightly oil perforated top and assemble. Place several thick lemon slices where fish will rest on pan. Measure thickness of fish by placing ruler alongside resting fish. Calculate 10 minutes of roasting time for each inch the fish is thick.

2. Ensuring the fish is completely thawed, rinse under cold, running water. Dry with paper towels. Lightly oil all skin. Using scissors or very sharp knife, carefully cut top-side skin in several places, trying not to cut meat. Lightly salt the inside and add a half-bunch of whole parsley stalks and several slices of lemon.

3. Place prepared fish atop thick lemon slices and roast. Ten minutes before calculated completion time, check fish for doneness. Fully roasted fish, flesh and bone should be opaque. Flesh will flake easily all the way to the bone. The skin will be well browned in most places. Let fish rest 15 minutes, then remove to serving platter. Present with fresh parsley and more lemon slices. Pass lemon wedges, salt, and pepper to taste.

This dinner, hosted by John Calvi and me, honored the visit of our friend, John Meyer,
Saturday, October 27, 2007.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Keum Dongee's Almost Here

Saturday, September 22, 2007
Photos by Sehoon Ahn, father-to-be

Butternut coconut soup

Roast beets
Orange-flavored dressing and parsley

Roast cauliflower
Spanish olive oil and sea salt

Cornish game hens and farro,
seasoned with saffron, lemon, cilantro
Pot sauce served on the side

Cooking flavors to spoon alongside
apricots, cherries, raisins, whole almonds, whole baby onions

Two-tomato and goat cheese salad
with basil, red wine vinegar, and champagne vinegar

Wilted greens with bacon

Fig Tart with Orange Flower Water Custard
Vanilla-honey sour cream sauce

Fig Tart, served

Minhee Kang and Sehoon Ahn
Keum Dongee, to be born soon
John Calvi and Marshall Brewer

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Bianca White Chocolate Cake

Bianca Jacobsen, née White, ends many years of employment with World Learning in favor of Mount Holyoke College. It was suggested I bake a cake. It had to be white, of course.

Cake: double-layer white chocolate butter cake using egg whites, split horizontally (4 layers)

Filling: raspberry mousse (3 layers)

Painting: Each cake layer, plus outside and top, were painted with raspberry conserve to intensify flavor and etch each slice with a bold red border between white cake and pink mousse.

Frosting: white chocolate butter cream

Decoration: fresh whole raspberries and tiny white chrysanthemums

Blessings on your way, Bianca.

Photo by Jesse DeLaughter.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

T J Buckley's

Sunday, August 26, 2007

On the occasion of the wedding anniversaries of John Calvi and Marshall Brewer (1989) and Sehoon Ahn and Minhee Kang (2005).

Referred to by more than a few as the best restaurant in Brattleboro.

Seats about 20. A counter doesn't separate diners from kitchen. You get to see everything. And you want to.


The chicken liver pâté included pistachios and bacon
with water crackers, apples, pears, cornichon, giant capers, whole grain mustard, chutney.

The tart was a cheesecake of goat cheese and smoked trout.


Mixed greens
with pickled peppers, white and pink radishes cut and assembled into roses, yellow cherry tomatoes, husk tomatoes, a narcissus blossom and a very light, enhancing vinaigrette.


Fillet of beef
with roasted turnips, garlic-buttermilk mashed potatoes, port-wine reduction.

Spinach-stuffed breast of quail and duck leg confit
with white bean salad, red-wine poached nectarine

Scallops with roe attached, seared in lobster stock
with polenta, balsamic reduction, roasted beets


Flourless dark chocolate cake and bittersweet chocolate buttercream frosting
with raspberries, blueberries, whipped cream, raspberry sauce
(chef included celebratory candle)

Vanilla-orange crème brûlée
with chrysanthemum blossom, orange peel, whipped cream

Exquisite at $125 per couple.

Michael Fuller, chef

T.J. Buckley's Uptown Dining
132 Elliott Street
Brattleboro, Vermont 05301
Reservations encouraged.

Please excuse photo quality. Better the food should be seen, though, than to disturb other diners with our flash.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Tasting Olive Oil

Of all the reasons to use olive oil, and there are many, surely flavor is at the top of the list. As with wine, dairy cows, and chocolate, botanical variety engenders taste variety. My own feeling is the less time between harvest and consumption, the greater the flavor satisfaction. Cultivation, handling, storage, and age account for the complexity of choice and widely varying flavors. Consider the oil from olives, this from The Flavors of Olive Oil: A Tasting Guide and Cookbook, by Deborah Krasner.

Careful labeling can indicate care in manufacturing. In this case, olive variety is identified and flavor notes are included.

Krasner groups olive oil's flavors into four categories. Details and nuances of these categories are further described on pages 22 & 23 in her book.
1. Mild and delicate
2. Fruity and fragrant
3. Olive-y and peppery
4. Leafy green and grassy
Age Caution
From Krasner, page 27: "I've encountered two distinct odors that are immediate indicators that the oil is no longer good. Odor of cucumber: This is a sign of a stagnant oil; it occurs when oil has been kept in a tin for too long (2 to 3 years). Odor of bananas: This sweet banana smell always means that the oil is spoiled, frequently as a result of exposure to light."

The August 13 New Yorker Magazine published Tom Mueller's article on olive oil fraud, emphasizing the trade is as lucrative as illegal drugs. While not a new problem (fraud is mentioned in The Flavors of Olive Oil), lots of consumer cautions can be found between the lines of his writing.

Picholine olives

You can plan your own tasting by inviting some friends to bring their favorite olive oils over to your house for a party. Krasner suggests ensuring the oil has been warmed to body temperature before swallowing. These are my suggestions.

How to taste olive oil
  1. Cup a clean spoonful of oil in your (clean) hand.
  2. Carefully smell the oil.
  3. Roll the oil around in your mouth, making sure to reach all corners. The professionals will add oxygen by a kind of reverse whistling. Can you place the oil in your mouth so it bubbles when you add air?
  4. Continue to taste the changes in the oil as it comes to body temperature and is oxygenated.
  5. Now swallow. Breathe in through you mouth and out through your nose.
  6. Make notes. How did the oil feel in your mouth? What sequence of flavors did it have?
  7. Before moving on to the next oil, cleanse your palate by eating good bread and drinking warm water.
  8. For the next oil, use an absolutely clean spoon to prevent flavor contamination. Wash metal spoons in hot, soapy water or use plastic.
What do you notice?
What did you learn?
How will you use what you've learned?

Buying Olive Oil

There are trustworthy sources aplenty for purchasing olive oil. Note the resources section of Deborah Krasner's The Flavors of Olive Oil: A Tasting Guide and Cookbook, beginning on page 214. Some are listed below.
Cost caution
Don't just hop into the supermarket and expect to get what you pay for. There are plenty of once-great (and expensive) oils that, through mishandling, have gone bad but still have their high priced stickers. It is also true there are excellent oils to be had for very reasonable prices.

From The Flavors of Olive Oil, page 216, here are some links to selected producers that sell to directly to the consumer.

Carpineto (Tuscany)
Le Colline di Santa Cruz (California)
DaVero (California)
Elea (Sparta and Corinth)
Frantoio (California)
Gallo (Lisbon)
Kotinos (Crete)
Laleli (Endremit)
The Olive Press (California)
L'Oulibo (Languedoc-Roussillon)
Pons (Lleida)
Podere Pornanino (Chianti)
Rasna (Tuscany)
Sciabica (California)
Terroir de Provence (Provence)
Zeytinim (Endremit)

See also
California Olive Oil Council
International Olive Oil Council
The Olive Oil Source
Arbequina olives

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Austrian Tea Room

Saturday, August 11

Enter through the gift shop.

Deck seating on a lovely day is exquisite.
Sunshine vodka is locally distilled and very good.
They must be proud of it to give me so much.
Two ounces is a lot. Isn't it?

Clockwise from top:
Herbed maple honey (spicy), warm potato salad with parsley and thyme, orange, veal sausage, sausage of beef, pork and Swiss cheese, Dijon-style mustard. (I'm sure there is an Austrian name for it.)

Clockwise from top:
Beef & pork sausage (boldly flavored, coarse grind), potato salad, beef & pork sausage (mildly flavored, fine grind), Maple mustard, Dijon-style mustard, orange, sauerkraut (aged cabbage with caraway and onion).

Note coarse grind. When cut, the sausage casing gave a very pleasant snap.

Part of the Trapp Family Lodge, this small restaurant charms, nourishes, and inspires. Desserts abound, but who could after all this sausage? Linzertorte (tart with raspberry filling in almond pastry), Lemon Frangipane Tart (lemon curd, almond custard, cookie crust), Apple Strudel (layers of pastry rolled around seasoned apples and raisins), among others.

$12 per double-sausage plate. With John Calvi.

Austrian Tea Room
Trapp Hill Road
Stowe, Vermont

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Choosing Olive Oil

A friend was asking me how to choose olive oil. It got me to thinking that she's probably not the only one. As olive oil is present in many kitchens, maybe it's a good idea to begin collecting knowledge and creating a good example of Lev Vygotsky's co-construction of learning.

This posting invites your response. How do you use olive oil? What do you look for?

The first resource I go to for learning about olive oil is Deborah Krasner. Her book, The Flavors of Olive Oil: A Tasting Guide and Cookbook, won a 2003 James Beard Award. In her book she ponders the question of choice and suggests there are clues from packaging to be made when choosing olive oil. (Simon & Schuster, NY. 2002. ISBN: 0-7432-1403-X)

A summary guide from Krasner for use at store shelves or shopping online:
1. Look for pride of production and signs of humans, not just machines. Check for foil-wrapped bottles, cardboard or wooden boxes, or handwriting on the label. Be cautious about marketing strategies and gimmicks.

2. If you have a choice, ceramic makes the best container. Metal is better than glass because light deteriorates the oil's qualities. Dark glass is better than clear.
Note stamped production number, upper left, and year of production, center bottom.

3. Look for a screw cap that covers a plastic pouring spout. Cork stoppers can deteriorate with time and poor handling. Oxygen leaking into the oil through old and cracked or misshapen cork compromises the desirable qualities of the oil.

4. Look for harvest or bottling dates. Dates stamped on labels are another sign you can have confidence in the contents.

5. Olive oil should last at least one year if kept away from heat, light, and oxygen. If a clear glass bottle is the only choice, store it wrapped in aluminum foil.
Examples of packaging and storage.

I probably wouldn't have paid much attention to olive oil if I hadn't known Deborah Krasner already. She and I cook together regularly with friends Tukta Long and Sharon Myers and use olive oil often.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Cream Puffs, July 29

Sunday, July 29, 2007

With Tuk back from Thailand and about to be profiled on the PBS affiliate in Springfield, we collaborated to enhance her first experience on US television. (She is well-experienced on Japanese TV.) A feature of the afternoon was the practice of her three TV dishes on video.

This was also the day Sharon's offer on a new house was accepted and was a first welcome to Hal and Brian for dinner. Photos by Hal Close except as marked.

Dinner is served
From left, Pad See-Eew, Herbed Tuna Salad, Pad See-Eew, Baby Bok Choy
Photo by Brian Long

How it began:

Eggplant with cilantro and lemon on rice crackers
Prosecco (Veneto)

Tomato gaspacho
Additions of cilantro dressing and
cilantro leaves, diced avocados, and vegetables.

Herbed tuna salad
with raisins, scallions, parsley on mixed greens,
decorated with beets and carrots carved into roses

Pad See-Eew (Thai stir-fried noodles)
with chicken, shrimp, cabbage, carrot, collard greens, egg, garlic
Baby bok choy roasted with soy sauce, ginger, garlic (not shown)
Chardonnay (New York)

Tapioca pudding
with black beans in coconut sauce
Chocolate cookies

Guests included Hal Close, Brian Long, John Calvi, Michael Krasner.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Golden Gaspacho with Cilantro Dressing

An Algarvan take on the chilled summer soup, this one is without the almonds and with orange. Gaspacho (Portuguese spelling) was probably developed throughout the northwest Mediterranean during the era of the Moors (711 - 1250) and wouldn't have begun to include tomatoes until after the 16th century. Before tomatoes, gaspacho was made with stale bread, garlic, vinegar, olive oil, almonds, water, and salt.

The Algarve, and its eastern counterpart, Andalusia -- both derivations of Arab terms -- are rich in almonds, oranges, garlic (and, more recently, tomatoes), thanks to the Moors' introduction of irrigation in the 8th century. This area, al-Gharb ("the west") and al-Andalus (etymology debated), referred to its western position in the Moors' world. The soup was part of this world. The international border and spelling distinctions were added later.

A pretty soup and lightly sweet, this version comes in four parts: the soup base, a dressing, vegetable accompaniments, and various garnishes.

For the soup
Yields 8 servings, about 4 ounces each

5 oz white bread, without crust, torn into chunks
40 oz yellow tomatoes, cored and halved pole-to-pole
2 oz champagne vinegar
4 oz Navel orange juice, freshly squeezed
16 oz cucumber, peeled and seeded
16 oz yellow bell pepper, seeded
3 oz sweet onion, chopped
1 teaspoon garlic, minced
1 teaspoon orange zest
3 oz peppery olive oil
1/2 teaspoon flor de sal

1. Tear bread into chunks and place in medium bowl.

2. Seed tomatoes over sieve set over 16-oz measuring cup. Press seeds to extract juice. To tomato juice, add orange juice and vinegar. Add water to bring total to 16 ounces. Mix and pour over bread and set aside for 10 minutes or until evenly wet throughout.

3. Cut enough tomatoes into 1/4-inch dice to equal about 2 cups. Place in refrigerator bowl and set aside. Chop remaining tomatoes coarsely and place in bowl of food processor. Cut cucumber into 1/4-inch dice to equal 1 cup. Place in small refrigerator bowl. Coarsely chop remainder of cucumber and add to food processor. Cut bell pepper into 1/4 inch dice to equal 1 cup. Place in small refrigerator bowl. Coarsely chop remainder of pepper and add to food processor. Cover diced vegetables and chill.

4. Meanwhile, add onion, garlic, orange zest to vegetables in food processor. With processor running, slowly add olive oil and blend until smooth. Strain into clean, medium bowl, pressing on solids to extract as much juice as possible. Rinse food processor blade and bowl and return vegetable juices to processor. Pour soaked bread with juices into food processor. Blend until smooth. Place bread-vegetable mixture in one quart glass storage container and chill.

5. The gaspacho needs to rest for at least 6 hours. Can be made 24 hours before serving.

For the dressing
Yields 12 ounces

5 oz cilantro leaves (stems discarded), chopped (about 5 bunches)
1.5 oz scallions, chopped
1 Tablespoon garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon flor de sal
6 oz olive oil, green and peppery
1 oz ice water

1. Find 8 or more perfect whole cilantro leaves and set aside for garnish. Place in a folded sheet of paper towel and store in sealed plastic bag. Chill until serving.

2. Combine produce and salt in food processor and blend. When nearly smooth and with processor running, slowly add oil.

3. Pour dressing into sieve set over bowl. Press solids to extract as much juice as possible. Discard solids. Whisk water into juice.

4. Cover and chill. Keeps 3 days. Before using, whisk again and taste for seasoning.

Garnishes, passed individually at table
Diced vegetables in separate bowls
12 oz avocado, diced
1.5 oz scallion, sliced very thinly
Whole cilantro leaves
Flor de sal

To serve, ladle soup into chilled bowls. Add dollop of cilantro dressing. As is traditional, bowls of individual, diced vegetables and garnishes are passed separately.

This posting and recipe is copyrighted by Marshall Brewer, 2007.

Monday, July 23, 2007

China Dinner

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Held to celebrate the guests' impending departures for China. Not previously known to each other, introductions to local others with China in common seems a logical and fun way to have dinner.

Chèvre in ashes
Assorted crackers
Fresh, hand-picked blueberries

Boiled dumplings with ground pork and cabbage
Dipping sauce of rice vinegar, soy sauce, scallion

Turkish green beans (cooked very slowly with garlic, chili, and peppery olive oil)
Whole salmon, cooked in salt
Romaine salad with creamy garlic-tarragon dressing
Thickly sliced, local tomatoes seasoned with Algarvan flor de sal, black pepper, and a sweet oil of late-harvest Leccino and Pendolino olives from Tuscany
Local corn on the cob
Sparkling pear juice

Spiced Hungarian sour cherry pie (allspice, brandy; lattice-style, all-butter crust) with crème Chantilly (kirsch, cinnamon) and an assertively cinnamoned sour cherry syrup

Cynthia and Jon Nordmeyer (dumplings), Shanghai
Gustavus and Atticus Nordmeyer, Shanghai
Lanping Liu, Ningbo
Ethan Birchard and Lacey ___ (cheese platter), Beijing / Qingdao
John Calvi, host
Marshall Brewer, host

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Golden Boy Shower Cake

A cake for Minhee Kang and Sehoon Ahn's baby shower, Friday, July 20, 2007. Their first child, known prenatally as Golden Boy, in recognition that he will be born in the Year of the Golden Pig, is due at the end of September.

The presented cake

How did it all come together? The sequence of cake assembly follows.

Cake components

Materials at the ready. Clockwise, from lower left, lemon-scented buttercream, cake (both layers still in foil), white cardboard cake round with brown waxed paper to keep the serving platter clean, lemon imbibing syrup (small jar), cake knife (long), icing spatula, fresh raspberries. In the center are fresh lemons, lemon curd, and raspberry conserve.

Filling first layer with buttercream

Each layer of cake is imbibed with lemon-scented syrup, then covered with the buttercream. A layer of lemon curd tops the buttercream. There are four layers.

Imbibing the top layer

"Imbibing" involves drizzling syrup into the cake, permitting the cake to absorb additional flavor and moisture. Not only does it taste more strongly, it feels better in the mouth. Toothpicks and ruler (on the dishtowel) at lower right are used to ensure the 3/4-inch layers are cut evenly and are level.

Sealing the assembled cake with raspberry conserve

Heating the raspberry conserve thins it and allows application by brush. Here, the exterior is coated. This keeps the three layers of soft filling from leaking out and adds color and flavor to each slice on the plate. The top receives a coat of raspberry, too.

Adding buttercream

Room temperature buttercream is easiest to spread. Disregarding rules followed by painters, a light-colored coat is applied to a darker one. There is a reason for this rule.

Using buttercream to adhere lemon slices

The waxed paper is removed after chilling the assembled cake overnight. The wall of the cake shows bits of red raspberry, the reason for the painter's rule. This impure white coat is camouflaged with slices of fresh lemon, de-seeded and dried. A circle of buttercream is applied to the lemon allowing it to stick to the cake better. The revolving cake stand is partially visible.

The finished cake

The finished cake is topped with a pool of raspberry sauce made by reducing the juice of raspberries into a syrup, taking the seeds out of the pulp and blending the syrup with the uncooked, fresh pulp. Fresh, whole raspberries give a clearer clue about the flavor of the sauce. The lemons do the same for the cake itself. The dark frame for the the more light-colored whole are leaves of climbing hydrangea.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Le Quatorze Juillet 2007

A combo under a tent. Picnic tables. Cool drinks on a warm evening. Yesterday was the birthday of the French Republic and of me. As a guest of Suzanne Kingsbury, it was a evening to be savored.

Franco-American Reflection

The difficult selection from which to choose included Vichysoisse Cressonaire, Salade Lyonnaise (frisée, lardon, poached egg), Salade Niçoise (house cured sardines, olives, green beans, potatoes, hard boiled egg).

Our selection:

--Escargot gratinée: garlicky, herbal, buttery

--Pâté selection: (from left) pickled ramps, grained mustard, rabbit rillette (with duck fat, tarragon), chicken gallatine, cornichon, capers, crostini

Chicken Gallatine and friends

With ham and black truffles

Main course
Similarly, the special dinners were intriguing. They included Olive Oil Poached Salmon, Bouillabaisse Marseilles, Hanger Steak Frites, Half Chicken in Cream, Duckling Breast.

Our selections:

--Trout souffle with baby greens and black pepper cracker
--Lamb sweetbreads with lavender and honey in a port wine reduction, braised romaine radishes, tied greens

The recommended wine, a spicy and deep cabernet sauvingon, was a perfect match for the sweetbreads.

For dessert, we chose these treasures:
--Mille-Feuille. This interpretation consisted of layers of crisp dark chocolate, sliced fresh plums dressed with port wine reduction, and a pastry cream of vanilla, lavender, and honey.
--Steamed milk seasoned with local honey
--Dark chocolate truffles infused with cassis

A feature of the meal was the Rabbit Rillette. Deeply flavored and soft in the mouth to the point of disappearing, it was simultaneously rich and light. The sweetbreads and perfectly-paired wine were the stand-out food features of the evening.

Another winning dinner at Burdick's, this one on a theme of strong flavors. Lavender and port wine reduction in their several dishes were prominent and used with restraint and wisdom.

Happy Birthday Boy