Tuesday, May 29, 2012
It was an easy-going long weekend here; the heat built as the days went by and I started to think about cool summer drinks. I tinkered around in the kitchen with the goal of producing a refreshing wine cooler. The first attempt was not so good; I knew that when my husband told me it tasted like a "whiskey sour". Too much liqueur and not enough fruit flavor in the mix. Then I remembered the fruit purees stashed in the freezer and from there it was easy. This drink combines white wine, orange juice, passion fruit puree, and simple syrup. Mix up a big pitcher and keep it in the refrigerator for those days when you need a light and refreshing beverage. The color and flavors are bright and sunny, just like the weather. Enjoy!
Orange and Passion Fruit Wine Cooler
1 bottle dry white wine, such as Riesling or Sauvignon Blanc
2 cups fresh orange juice
1/2 cup passion fruit puree **
1/2 cup simple syrup*
In a large pitcher, combine all the ingredients and stir well. Chill, then serve over ice, garnished with a slice of orange.
**I purchase Sicoly brand fruit purees from L'Epicerie . I use them for drinks, desserts, buttercreams, candy and the like. If you live in an area where passion fruit is abundant, just use the flesh of the fresh fruit. Simply scoop it out of the skin and press it through a sieve to remove the seeds. Some Latin markets stock frozen passion fruit puree, but lacking that, I'm pretty sure you could still make a fine cooler with passion fruit nectar.
*Simple syrup is made by combining equal amounts of water and sugar and bringing the mixture to a boil. Cool the syrup and store it in a jar in the refrigerator. Simple syrup can be infused with fresh herbs or spices. I especially like mint.
Friday, May 18, 2012
As you can see, farro looks something like barley. It's been described as "the ancient Italian wheat and has been growing in the Mediterranean for thousands of years". It can be cooked in a fashion similar to risotto to yield a delicious, creamy hot dish called "farrotto". Like barley, farro is available in pearled and semi-pearled form. This distinction will determine the length of time it takes to cook. (The brand I used was quite quick cooking, it took less than twenty minutes). Here is the recipe:
Farro Salad with Artichokes and Fennel (from Fine Cooking, vol.117)
For the salad:
3 cups semi-pearled farro
1 cup of 1/2-inch wedges of oil-packed artichoke hearts
1 cup of 1/2-inch pieces of trimmed fennel
1 cup cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup of thin shreds of radicchio
1/2 cup toasted pine nuts
1/4 cup chopped, fresh basil leaves
For the dressing:
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup pitted and chopped black olives
1-2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Bring 7 cups of water to a boil in a 4 quart pot over high heat. Add 3/4 teaspoon salt, add the farro, and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook, uncovered, until tender. (Check frequently, you want a tender grain that retains a little "chew"). Drain and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking. Transfer to a rimmed baking sheet and drizzle with about a tablespoon olive oil, toss lightly to coat. Spread the farro on the sheet and allow to cool completely . Put the vinegar in a small bowl and whisk in the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and mix in the olives and lemon zest. In a large bowl combine the cooked farro, the artichoke hearts, fennel, cannellini, radicchio, pine nuts, and chopped basil. Add 1/2 cup of the dressing and toss. Taste and season as necessary with more dressing, salt , and pepper. Serve or refrigerate for up to a day. (You may need to adjust the seasoning again if your salad has been in the refrigerator).
Saturday, May 12, 2012
Honey and Spice Cake
Preheat the oven to 325F. Butter a deep 9-inch cake pan or springform pan and line the bottom with a round of parchment paper. Spray the pan with baking spray with flour (Baker's Joy)
1/2 cup honey (use your favorite, I love the Savannah Bee Company brand)
1/2 cup butter at room temperature
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 large egg at room temperature
1 3/4 cups sifted cake flour (7 ounces)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
3/4 cup milk at room temperature
Cream the butter with the sugar. Add the egg and beat well until very light. Beat in the honey ( a little non-stick spray in the measuring cup helps the honey slip right out). Sift the flour with the other dry ingredients. Add the flour to the honey mixture alternately with the milk, starting and ending with flour. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the surface. Wrap with a cake strip if you prefer a flat-topped cake. Bake for about 45 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean from the center of the cake. Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes then remove to a cake rack to cool completely before frosting.
(Recipe adapted from "Traditional Ukrainian Cookery" by Savella Stechishin )
Peanut Buttercream ( from "Rose's Heavenly Cakes" by Rose Levy Beranbaum)
1/2 cup peanut butter at room temperature
1/2 cup (4 ounces) cream cheese at room temperature
4 tablespoons (2 ounces) unsalted butter at room temperature
2 teaspoons sour cream
1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons (1.7 ounces) powdered sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
In a food processor, combine all the ingredients and process, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary, until the buttercream is smooth and uniform in color.
Here are a few images from my amazing South Carolina weekend; a food photography workshop with Clare Barboza and Helene Dujardin.
Photo shoot assignment: anitpasto
The Charleston Farmers' Market
Another photo shoot assignment: Picnic on the Beach