I've been asked again to provide the sweet endings to a meal taking place next month celebrating multiculturalism. It's a fantastic opportunity in my eyes as the international options available are both astounding and mouthwatering. Last year for the event I prepared Alfajores (Peru), Linzer Cookies (Austria), and Baklava (Turkey) which were well received. Besides those three desserts, the sky is the limit for this years selections.
The menu has yet to be finalized but today seemed like a good day to do a little recipe testing for one of the treats I have in mind. Seeming as Valentine's Day is tomorrow, a little chocolate seemed appropriate. I present to you: The Brigadeiro.
November is a transitioning month: the clock's have fallen back into standard time, the pumpkins have been tossed to the curb (unless you have a compost pile in your backyard where you like to play pumpkin roulette in the summer), and it is absolutely too early to turn on any Christmas lights (do you hear me, Shedden?? It's too early!) even if it does get dark at 5:00 pm.
In the meantime, we keep the furnace off as long as possible, put the lawn furniture away, harvest any green tomatoes brave enough to attempt a shot at turning red on the vine, and we get cozy.
Some of us get hungry, too.
This recipe for Chestnut & Chocolate Semifreddo is available in the Holiday issue of Relish Elgin magazine. You can pick up a copy (or three) at many local establishments or view it online through their website at RelishElgin.ca.
Since I still haven't found an inspected kitchen to work out of on a full-time basis, I've been spending my time trying to put together some sort of plan to move forward with Elgin Harvest. I still want to cook, experiment, write, eat, share, laugh, and grow. I don't ever want to stop because if I did, I know I would really lose a big part of who I am. That actually makes me tear up a little bit thinking about it.
I may not have a commercial kitchen to do all the things I would like, and I may not be the best at what I do, but I will continue to share and encourage anyone who is listening to prepare and eat real food again - with as much of it locally sourced as possible.
The culinary arts are a fascinating topic to study, practice, and eat. For over 15 years I have been working professionally with food and I am continually learning skills and experiencing new flavours and food combinations to his day. In the beginning days of working, attending school, and completing my apprenticeship, I took the opportunities presented to me to build a very broad and strong foundation in regards to all manners of food. I'm met some fantastic characters along this road I've traveled and I've learned a tremendous amount by listening, watching, tasting, reading, asking questions, and by doing. One memorable lessen I remember quite vividly happened way back in 1998.
Sometimes the oddest food cravings seem to come out of no where. If those cravings involve a real food item, I generally always give myself the go ahead to consume it. I feel it's my body and minds way of telling me I'm lacking something in my diet. Other times my food cravings are directly related to an idea, an emotion, a smell, a spoken word, or more often - an image. When my jaw dropped/eyes widened while viewing a stunning photo in the latest issue of Saveur magazine at the same time a hankerin' for dried apricots hit, chocolate turtles became my must-have on a rainy afternoon.
For those who don't know, Turtles are a chocolate confection/candy prepared and sold by Nestle. Full of chewy caramel, toasted pecans, and milk chocolate, Turtles get their name from the shape of the candy. The nuts peeking out the sides resemble feet, tail, and head while the rounded chocolate top resembles a turtle shell.
To satisfy my cravings, I decided to skip putting money into Nestle's pockets and prepare my own version of Turtles instead. If you're comfortable preparing a homemade caramel sauce, the flavour combinations you can create are endless and more importantly - delicious.
This week we celebrated my mom's 65th birthday. When I asked her what she wanted for her birthday dessert, she said, "Something chocolate, decadent, rich." With the permission to not hold back, I knew this was the cake to make. Full of flour, sugar, commercial marshmallows, malted milk powder, chocolate, and butter, this Malted Chocolate Layer Cake was prepared with 5 separate components.
As much as I would like to take credit for this recipe, it's actually inspired from Momofuku Milk Bar in New York. Don't even attempt to count the calories when you are devouring a piece of this cake - just make sure you have a big, black coffee to wash it down with.
With the arrival of March comes hope, more daylight, and a new season of local harvesting in Elgin County. As much as I try to preserve the bounty produced by our local farmers when food is ripe, I'm not at the stage of being 100% sustainable all year round - and I probably never will be. I do the best that I can, when I can, but like the majority of people I resort to imported fresh fruits & vegetables when locally grown isn't available.
When March rolls in (like a lamb or like a lion?), one the first local food products to become available in the new year is ooey gooey, sweet & succulent, take-me-to-the-sugar-shack maple syrup.
The flavour, colour, aroma, texture, and versatility of maple syrup make it a favourite in my pantry. Although the price of the real stuff may intimidate some shoppers, I think it is worth the cost as an occasional treat. The bottles of 'table syrup' are filled with artificially coloured and flavoured high-fructose corn syrup and are in no way close to replicating the complexity and depth of the tree-sourced liquid gold. Authentic maple syrup contains just one ingredient: sugar maple sap.
The sugar shanty's will be open this weekend offering demos and tastings of local syrup. Take a little day-trip, enjoy the great outdoors and pick up a bottle to bring home to prepare the first of many maple treats this month : Maple Budino.
In an attempt to make as many in-house baked goods as possible, I can now cross graham cracker cookies off the list. With the sweetness of local honey and toastiness of whole wheat flour, these cookies are a necessity when assembling s'mores- the gooey, sweet treat usually enjoyed by the campfire on hot summer nights. Filled with a thick layer of squishy marshmallow (yes, homemade) and milk chocolate ganache, Valentine's Day just got a little bit more lovable. Keep reading to see how they are put together.
Can o' ale
Day two. On December 4th. Two, four. Hmmm- two, four. Two-four! Beer! Local beer!
Around these here parts, a case of beer is also know as a "two-four" because that's how many bottles (or cans) are in a regular sized case. If you haven't guessed it already, today's feature is beer. Made into chocolate truffles.
That's right. I've blended Railway City Brewing Company's Dead Elephant Ale (brewed in St. Thomas, Ontario) with milk chocolate to make a creamy ganache filling surrounded by a dark chocolate shell.
Eating. Drinking. Sharing.