Friday, January 29, 2010

No Bombilla Needed

This blog includes a recipe that is part inspiration, part celebration.

The inspiration comes from another blog that I found while researching Argentina. My daughter spent 5 months at Argentina in a study abroad program (she wrote a blog.) She is home now and I am home now, thus the celebration. Both blogs are found linked to the side of this blog....Over there and scroll down a bit------->

Yerba Mate' is extensively enjoyed in areas like Argentina and Paraguay. There is a particular culture surrounding the drinking of it. Yerba Mate' is usually shared and passed around a group of people. Everyone partakes in the dried leaves that were steeped in hot water. The vessel that holds it is usually made of a gourd (mate' means gourd), that is seasoned with the tea. There is a special straw called a bombilla that filters the leaves. Mate' is known to help in weight loss and also has as much caffeine as coffee.

The gardener in me wants you to know that Yerba Mate' is a species of holly. It grows in the form of a shrub, or a short tree. It is found growing in sub-tropical rainforests.

The pastry chef in me wants you to try this:

Yerba Mate' Frozen Custard

1 pt. ½ & ½ or whole milk
1 pt. heavy cream
3 0z. Yerba Mate'
3 oz. Sugar
5 ea. Eggs yolks

Heat half and half, cream and Yerba Mate' leaves. Let steep until flavors are transfered, strain. Temper in yolks and sugar. Put back on flame and stir constantly over medium heat until sauce is nappé consistency. Strain. Cover directly with plastic wrap. Chill over an ice bath. Process in an ice cream maker....I use a Donvier.

My frozen custard is paired with, well uh.....Pears. After some pairing research I also found that Yerba Mate' is good with hops and/or chocolate. I did both! The pears were caramelized with ale and then baked with a oatmeal crumble. This is all finished off with hot, dark chocolate sauce. The flavors developed slowly on the palate and merged quite nicely.

On another note, an update on knitting projects. I have been playing with the yarn I bought in the UK on looms. You can see the details about the wool in a previous blog and in a future blog you can see the finished projects.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Romanes Eunt Domus

Now playing: Always Look on the Bright Side of Life (from Monty Python)
via FoxyTunes

I have visited Viroconium Cornoviorum/Wroxeter a couple of times. The ruins of a Roman settlement set up to be a fortress against the Welsh in AD 58. Eventually, the settlement was fitted with buildings including a public bath. The ruins are a nice example, being Britian's largest free-standing ruins. The site is maintained by English Heritage and includes a museum.

There is also a vineyard that is newer to Wroxeter, it pays homage to the fact that the Romans brought wine where ever they went. The vineyard started in 1991 on a family farm after one of the farmers visited California. He thought California was so young in history and his farm had 2000 years of history, why not celebrate this?

The wines have appropriate local names such as Darwin Red. Darwin is from Shrewsbury not too far away. Shropshire Gold, or Red, since Wroxeter is located in Shropshire, by the way. How about Wrekin Reserve, named for the locally famous Wrekin mountain? Drinkable wines, although you can sense how young they are. I bought some to age!

I was given this Roman cookery book as a gift. You know at least one of the recipes needed to be tried right away!

This recipe shows that the Romans had a firm grasp of the umami concept, with the use of sherry and grape juice in this cake. This was a nice cake even though it doesn't have icing, the honey adds the needed sweetness as it soaks in. Notice the note on the recipe page that says this cake is good soaked in milk and fried in olive oil, I must try this. With the spelt flour it seems like it may be a good choice of breakfast to me.

More recent pictures of the vines and ruins from Autumn 2009.

In 2008 it was the first year they started making cider, using wine-making methods. A dry cider with less sparkled than, run of the mill Strongbow. It had a true apple flavour shining through. I like this with a cheese plate.

In this picture you can see part of the Wrekin behind the vines. It is thought that it is named for the Roman settlement and the word has evolved over time.

"All right, but apart from the sanitation, medicine, education, wine, public order, irrigation, roads, the fresh water system and public health, what have the Romans ever done for us?"

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Burping Flowers

A little bit of summer preserved and dispensed on a winter day, provides brightness to a palate in the darker months. Instead of just seeing your breath, you can also exhale with a pleasant, floral twist. Elderflower Presse added to vodka is one way to enjoy, using it in ice cream is a real treat too, you will see another idea below.

Elderflower comes in tree and shrub forms. Aside from the flowers, or ripe berries, the other bits are poisonous in accumulated amounts.
I waved my *Elder Wand and created Elderflower Fromage Frais Panna Cotta w/ Crumbled Hob Nobs.

I used 3 small sheets of gelatin to 1/2 cup Elder Presse and 1 c. sweetened **fromage frais. Pour the mixture into chosen forms, then pop in the frig and allow to set. Turn out onto a plate and sprinkle with Hob Nob crumbles. This dessert is pretty healthy as desserts are concerned, low fat and the biscuits are made from rolled oats. I think even the ***Elder Mother would approve.

* Elder Wand

**Fromage Frais

*** Elder Mother

Like the willow, it seems to have strong feminine associations. In Denmark, peasants would not cut down an elder for fear of Hyldemor, the Elder-mother, who dwelt in its trunk. This belief is also found in Eastern England. In Lincolnshire until quite recently, it was important to ask permission of the "Old Lady" or "Old Girl." The correct way to approach the tree was to say: "Old Woman, give me some of thy wood and I will give thee some of mine when I grow into a tree." If this Procedure was not adopted. ill-luck could befall.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Much More Wenlock

Dusting away frost off the blog, as it has been asleep since last year. This will be the first for 2010.

Another blog featuring Much Wenlock, it will not be the last. There will be at least one more, if not out of sequence blog about this little place (not to be confused with Little Wenlock. ;-)

Have a butchers at this! This butcher shop often has a queue and it trails down the sidewalk at times. I know people that trek in from Telford, or further afield to go here.

For those that don't know; like I didn't, Brawn is head cheese and Haslet is a herbed pork meatloaf. Haslet is often served cold with pickles, or as a butty. Some say it tastes like faggots. Brawn is like German Sülze and is served like a lunchmeat usually cold.

I saw a recipe for a pheasant and pickled walnut terrine and will be taking them up on this offer to make it soon! Hope pickled walnuts are still to be had this time of year....

New Years dinner consisted of carrots, beets, potatoes, fried leeks and venison steak with a port and cranberry sauce. Guess where I bought the venison....

A cute, wee wool shop. I always like the colours and textures projecting out of this place.

The tiny shop is hard to get around and the lady working there is all over the map....She does take the time to make sure you get the selection you want and are happy. All the projects around the store are inspiring.

This is the wool I will be using to make a few projects, don't know what yet.

The wool as the picture says is made in Wales and is hand-dyed in small batches. Doesn't it look yummy?

Watch this space!