Tuesday, June 29, 2010

This One Smells Like Strawberry and Linden

Now playing: Union Youth - Strawberry
via FoxyTunes

As, it shows on the seasonal chart to the right here, it is strawberry season in Colorado (late June and early July.) Strawberries are good and so is cheesecake....Not baking on a hot day is also a great way to go. Linden is also in season, as I keep banging on about. I had two jars of Linden syrup that I made last year, so one jar was sent with my daughter to use in her new home in New York state, and the other poached the strawberries.

Linden Poached Strawberry Chocolate Cheesecake

The idea here is simple, the layers are:

*Pretzel layer- Put 1 c. pretzels into a plastic bag and hit with rolling pin until coursely crunched up.

Place in bottom of a form of your choice. A small pie plate, or use plating rings.

*Chocolate Ganache layer - Make a small batch of Chocolate Ganache.

Pour over pretzels. Chill until firm.

*Cheesecake layer- Whip 8 oz. cream cheese with a dash of vanilla extract (or vanilla pod) and 1/2 c. sugar. Bloom, then melt 3 sheets gelatin, add still whipping away.

Pour over chocolate. Chill until firm.

*Linden poached strawberry layer- Slice cleaned strawberries (large pummet) and add 1/4 c. sugar into a saucepan, let the juices develop. Add 1 c. linden syrup and gently heat, being careful not to boil. Bloom, then melt 3 sheets of gelatin and add stirring. you can choose to reserve a bit of strained poaching liquid to dizzle over the dessert later, do this before you add the gelatin.

Pour over cheesecake. Chill until set.

Below are strawberries of yesteryear, probably long ago made into a lovely dessert, or eaten as is. I took these images at Rungis Market in France, during my culinary school stint there.

That is a load of Strawberries!


Tuesday, June 22, 2010

En Papillote

Now playing: The New London Chorale - The Linden Tree
via FoxyTunes

The Linden trees are budding out. The flowers haven't opened yet, but that didn't stop me from making a chicken dish with them. When they open and flower fully I have even more planned to do with them. I have asked my European friends for ideas. I asked Lucie and a French lady and researched some recipes from the UK, mostly Celtic. There is also a book on my shelf I have regarding cooking with flowers. Even though linden flowers weren't mentioned, some of the ideas are applicable. You can be sure they will be featured here very soon. I may even come up with a few ideas myself.

Here is a reminder of what I did with the linden flowers last year:


Fast-forward to now:

En Papillote is baking in parchment paper, sort of steaming the ingredients in their own juices, sealing them in.

Cut a heart shape. Place your items to be cooked on one side. Season. Here we have carrot shavings, chicken breasts, linden, salt pepper and butter. I also drizzled the chicken with the linden syrup from last year that I had put up in jars.

Seal the edges of the paper and place on a baking sheet. These rather large chicken breasts were baked in a 350 deg. oven for approx. 45 minutes.

While the chicken baked, I reduced chicken broth, white wine and more linden flowers by half. I thicken it with a bit of cornstarch. Use this sauce poured over your chicken.

Notice the radishes in the plate? They came from the garden today!

Now playing: Paul McCartney & Wings - Mull Of Kintyre
via FoxyTunes

Monday, June 14, 2010

Brandied Grilled Peach Butter

Now playing: Nat King Cole - Peaches
via FoxyTunes

It sounds like my peaches have been put through a ringer (well, they were sieved too). It is ok, they held up fine and produced a spreading butter that has a deeper dimension of flavour. Grilling the peaches add a nice caramelisation and the brandy adds a warm, buttery flavour.

The basic recipe is for 1 pint. Have more peaches? Make more! I don't have a peach tree anymore....

5 peaches, washed, halved and pitted
1 cup brown sugar
A pinch of cinnamon
1 tsp. lemon zest
A large splash of brandy
Brushing butter
Sprinkling brown sugar

Brush a small amount of melted butter on the cut side of the peaches and sprinkle with a bit of brown sugar. Grill until lovely grill marks criss cross the cut side of the peach.

I used an immersion blender to process the peaches into a smooth consistency. Strain into a med. sized pot and add the sugar. Cook bubbling, stirring occasionally and reduce until the mixture is a spreadable butter. Stir in the cinnamon, zest and brandy.


My 2010 garden is starting to take off.

A few views of my friend and neighbour Lucie's garden.

Time to go do some weeding!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Shuritama Dango with Kuromitsu

Now playing: The Beatles - Wailing Japanese
via FoxyTunes

I frequent Asian markets/stores. The usual store is right here in Fort Collins and it has a large portion of Japanese products, but has many other cuisines as well. I find myself less frequently at the stores in the Denver area...Something I will try and fix. They have really fun products to explore and on a larger scale. Something I would like to do is highlight and explore a product from the shelves of those stores. Some of the items will be old friends and others not so old (to me anyway.) Sometimes things will go the traditional route and sometimes a sort of fusion will take place- East meets West! Here we will start with two products. One is a Japanese product and one is used more in Thai cuisine, but I am bringing them together in a dessert.

Palm Sugar:

A common place to find palm sugar is in a nice plate of Pad Thai- The sweet and salty balancing out. Palm sugar can also be found under the names arenga sugar, or coconut sugar. It is made from the sap of palm trees and these days it is more common that it is from coconut trees. Using this sugar is healthier than other sweet alternatives. Including nutrients such as- Potassium, Magnesium, Zinc, Iron and vitamins; B1, B2, B3, B6 and C-not many sugars can claim this. Palm sugar has the lowest on glycemic levels and is a slow release, to avoid sugar rushes and crashes. The flavour of palm sugar is richer and has more depth, as well. It is great to use in baked goods as it has a high burn point.

The product I found and bought was tablespoon sized, easier for measuring. Though it is also found in liquid form, the melting point is low...So, I didn't have any problems incorporating it into my dish.

Palm sugar meet Shuritama-ko:

Shuritama-ko is a sweet rice flour. Water is added to the rice to make it soft, then it is mashed and freeze-died. The freeze-dried product is what I found on the shelf. It is common for this flour to be made into soft, sticky dumplings. Some other dishes that use shiratama-ko are Daifuku, or Mochi.

Shiratama Dango with Kuromitsu

You can follow the directions on the Shiratama-ko package, if you have a good grasp of the Japanese language, otherwise here is a basic recipe for making 12 dumplings:

1 2/3 c. sweet rice flour
1/2 c. water

Add the water slowly to the flour and knead into a soft dough (the general softness of an earlobe.) Form into small oval shaped dumplings and add to boiling water. When the dumplings are floating, they are done. Chill.


2/3 c. dark brown sugar
12 pieces palm sugar
1/2 c. water

Bring all the ingredients to a boil. I used the end of a glass to smash the palm sugar. Cook until the sugars are melted and thicken slightly. Chill.

Combine the chilled ingredients together in a bowl. Baste the dumplings with the syrup. Mine is garnished with freeze-dried strawberries and lemon balm from the garden.

Another traditional Japanese dish is Azuki Shiratama, that has sweet red beans paired with the rice dumplings.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Cherry Yorkshire Tea Cake

Now playing: Uiscedwr - Yorkshire Tea
via FoxyTunes

No not a teacake. A cake with tea added to the batter! There is a loaf with Yorkshire tea in it that I know and love when I am at Britain. My homemade version is adapted to a bundt cake form and has the best things of the loaf in it, cherries and tea. The packaged loaf from Britain has sultanas and other dried fruits and the cherries are candied. This recipe uses fresh cherries! The batter can even be formed into lil' baby bundt cakes with a cherry on top. Say it together....Aaawwwwww.

Cherry Yorkshire Tea Cake
(recipe to make 2 large bundt cakes, or 1 large cake and 8 lil' cakes)

3 c. flour
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp.salt
1 c. butter
3 c. sugar
6 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 c. buttermilk
1/2 c. Yorkshire tea (black tea)
2 c. cherries, (pitted and halved)
1/4 c. approx. flour to coat cherries

Preheat oven to 325 deg. F. Cream butter and sugar. Add baking soda and salt to flour. Add vanilla and tea to buttermilk. Add eggs, flour mixture and buttermilk mixture alternately until used up. Fold in the flour coated cherries. Pour into prepared pans. The large cakes bake for 90 minutes and the lil' cakes bake approx. 30 minutes.

Now playing: Shana Morrison - Cherry on Top
via FoxyTunes