Honey and Fromage Mousse with Wine Glazed Grapes

This Sunday is the Co-op’s Summer Party at Boulevard Park in Bellingham.  It is a really big deal this year because our co-op was one of a handful in the nation chosen to take part in promotional videos being produced by the National Cooperative Grocers Association (NCGA) for next year, which has been declared by the UN to be the International Year of Cooperatives.

A film crew is flying in from Austin, TX this weekend to shoot footage at both of our stores, at a few local farms (Heritage Lane Farm and Misty Meadows Farm are two of the farms being visited), and at our Summer Party.  Kevin Gillespie, who was a finalist on Bravo’s Top Chef season 6, was chosen as the host for the videos and he will also be at our Summer Party to talk to people about why they love co-ops.  Click here to read more about him.  I’m personally excited because my husband and I will be dining at the new Brandywine Kitchen Sunday night at a dinner party for Kevin – how much fun will that be? (A lot!)  He is our all-time favorite contestant from Top Chef and we were pleasantly surprised when we were asked to attend!

Chef Kevin Gillespie

In honor of Kevin’s visit, I thought it would be fun to prepare one of his recipes for my demo this week at the Cordata Co-op.  Kevin is an advocate for the Slow Food movement and uses locally grown foods at the Woodfire Grill in Atlanta, GA, where he is co-owner and Executive Chef.  I searched through his recipes from his season of Top Chef, and settled on his recipe for Honey and Fromage Blanc Mousse, with Glazed Grapes, Olive Oil and Sea Salt.

We don’t carry Fromage Blanc (a mild, creamy, soft white cheese) at the Cordata Co-op, but after doing a little research I found out that Quark would be a decent substitute.  Quark is a type of fresh cheese that is similar to cottage cheese, but the curds are much smaller and it is not made using rennet.  Créme Fraiche was easy to find at the store, and I rounded out the mousse with some local egg yolks, local honey and local heavy cream from Fresh Breeze.

This recipe is, shall we say, much fancier than I usually prepare for my demos, but it wasn’t really that hard to make (although I still don’t understand how he did this in under an hour on the show!).  When the recipe tells you to “whisk like crazy” while cooking the yolks and honey, it really is the best advice – the faster you whisk the shorter time it will take to complete the task.  On my trial run of the mousse (I wanted to make sure the quark would work before serving it) I didn’t whisk like crazy, and seemed like it took forever to get to the right consistency.  When I made the second batch I whisked like there was no tomorrow and it came together so much quicker!  Peeling the grapes before glazing was also a little tedious, but then again I was preparing many more than necessary for the recipe since I wanted to be sure that every sample had a grape.

This dish (Kevin lists it as an appetizer) was pretty amazing – it is sour yet sweet, salty and savory (umami!) all at the same time.  Tasters overwhelming loved the surprise flavors, and a family from France even took a copy of the recipe to bring home with them.  Enjoy, and I’ll see you at the party tomorrow!

Honey and Fromage Mousse with Glazed Grapes © 2011 Sassy Sampler

 Honey and Fromage Mousse with Wine Glazed Grapes

Recipe by Chef Kevin Gillespie

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 egg yolks
  • 4 oz honey
  • 2 oz Quark or Fromage Blanc
  • 1 oz Crème Fraiche
  • 1 oz heavy cream
  • 1 c black seedless grapes (or your favorite)
  • 1 c Chardonnay wine
  • 1/2 c sugar
  • 2 T butter
  • Fresh Thyme (garnish)
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil (garnish)
  • Sea Salt (garnish)

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Cook yolks and honey in a double boiler over medium to medium-low heat.  Whisk (like crazy!) until a solid ribbon* forms—the mixture will get very thick and it will be a slow, solid stream when you lift the whisk from the bowl.  This will take 10—20 minutes, depending on how “crazy” you are when you whisk!
  2. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature.
  3. Once it has cooled, add the Quark/Fromage Blanc, crème fraiche, and heavy cream and mix with your whisk.
  4. Season with salt to taste, and pour into serving bowls.  Place in freezer for 20—30 minutes (it will be more creamy than airy).
  5. Bring a pot of water to boil.  Score the grape skin and cook them into the boiling water for 1 minute.  Immediately plunge into an ice bath.
  6. Carefully remove all the skin from the grapes and cut in half lengthwise.
  7. Bring Chardonnay and sugar to a boil and reduce it until it has thickened into a syrup (about 20—30 minutes), stirring occasionally.  Make sure it doesn’t boil over.  Remove from heat.
  8. Add butter to a saucepan over medium heat and add the grapes.  Add the Chardonnay syrup to the pan and cook until the grapes are evenly coated and the sauce is bubbling.

To Plate:

  1. Remove mousse from freezer.
  2. Top each bowl with 4-5 grape halves.
  3. Sprinkle fresh thyme over grapes.  Drizzle a high quality extra virgin olive oil over the dish and finish with a sprinkling of sea salt.

This recipe is from Top Chef, Season 6, Episode 13, Quickfire Challenge.

*ribbon
A cooking term describing the texture of an egg-and-sugar mixture that has been beaten until pale and extremely thick. When the beater or whisk is lifted, the batter falls slowly back onto the surface of the mixture, forming a ribbon-like pattern that, after a few seconds, sinks back into the batter.

Honey and Fromage Mousse with Wine Glazed Grapes PDF

8/5/11 Update

Melissa, Kevin Gillespie and Michael (Melissa’s husband)

Dinner with Kevin was excellent and I got to talk quite a bit with him about cooking.  He is coming out with a cookbook next year, and gave me permission to use recipes from it, so look for that in the coming year!  I asked him about the mousse recipe and he gave me some further tips:

  • Make sure that your cheeses are room temperature before mixing with the egg/honey mixture (same goes with your eggs).
  • Whip the quark/fromage blanc with a mixer for added lift to the mousse before blending with the egg/honey mousse base.
  • During apple season, they make the mousse at the Woodfire Grill using the eggs and honey mousse base and omitting the cheeses – bake an apple (flavored with butter and cinnamon) and serve with the honey mousse.
  • Adding a sheet of gelatin also helps with adding lift to the mousse and to stabilize it – this is something they do in the restaurant that is not in the original recipe.  You can buy gelatin sheets online, or you can make them (that’s what they do at Kevin’s restaurant).  You pretty much just make gelatin and spread it in a thin layer on a cookie sheet and wait for it to dry.  Check out the other cool things you can do with it here.  I haven’t tried this, but if you are making the recipe and it won’t be consumed for a little while, then this might be a good option to try.

Bouchées Parmentier au Fromage (potato-cheese “mouthfuls”)

A few weeks ago I read Julie and Julia by Julie Powell. I enjoyed it so much more than the movie – the “real” Julie was so likeable to me in the book (maybe it’s because I love that she loves Buffy the Vampire Slayer – in our opinion one of the best TV shows ever!), whereas I wish they had just made the movie all about Julia Child and left the Julie parts out because she just rubbed me the wrong way!

The one recipe that I just had to make after reading her book was for Bouchées Parmentier au Fromage – decadent potato-cheese “mouthfuls” that made me salivate just reading about them. My husband read the book after me (and surprise, surprise) guess which recipe he wanted to try? Yup – the one and the same!

I went to the internet and found a copy of the recipe, although you can also find it in Mastering the Art of French Cooking, of course. It seemed simple enough, so the next weekend I prepared a batch to go with our steak and braised carrots – YUM!

Photo © 2011 Sassy Sampler

I substituted sharp cheddar cheese for the Swiss called for in Julia’s recipe. We aren’t nutmeg fans at my house (and I can’t eat cayenne) so the flavor profile is slightly different from in the original recipe, but they were super fantastic and I knew that I would be sampling them at the Co-op very soon.

Well, that day was yesterday, and they were a hit with customers and staff. I usually try to avoid recipes that are too technical so they will appeal to the broadest audience (this one uses a pastry bag to pipe the sticks), but I don’t have a ton of experience using pastry bags myself and I got along fine, so I figured it was worth the “risk”. This recipe does take a lot of elbow grease (I got a doozy of a blister the first time I made them – I wore an oven mitt when I beat the dough this time and avoided another dreaded blister), but I feel that it is well worth the effort.

While I do own pastry bags, I ended up using a plastic freezer bag with a corner cut out to pipe the cheese sticks because it was larger, and it worked pretty well for me. Be sure to exert even pressure or the seams on the bag could split, and if you have plastic gloves to wear (so you can pipe while the dough is still really warm) they are also helpful. I had some minor blow-out trouble the first time I made these (I was squeezing the bag too hard!), but by the second time I was piping like a pro.

Bon Appétit!

photo of potato cheese sticks

Bouchées Parmentier au Fromage © 2011 Sassy Sampler

Bouchées Parmentier au Fromage

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 # Russet Potatoes (2 medium potatoes)
  • 1 c sifted all-purpose flour or GF flour blend
  • 1 stick softened unsalted butter
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 c grated sharp cheddar cheese
  • Salt, to taste
  • Ground black pepper, to taste

The original recipe created by Julia Child has the following differences:

  • Replace the cheddar with Swiss cheese
  • 1/8 t white pepper (instead of black pepper)
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat the oven to 425° F and place oven racks in the upper middle and lower middle positions. Butter two baking sheets or cover with parchment paper.
  2. Peel and quarter the potatoes. Boil in a heavy-bottomed saucepan in salted water until tender, about 20 minutes. Drain, then put through a ricer (or mash them by hand—just be sure to get all the lumps out!) back into the saucepan. You should have about 1 cup of potatoes.
  3. Stir the potatoes over moderate heat for 2-3 minutes until they form a light film on the bottom of the pan, indicating that most of their moisture has been evaporated. Turn heat to low.
  4. Beat the flour into the potatoes; then the butter by fractions; then the egg, cheese, salt, pepper, and seasonings (if using) in order. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.
  5. Fill dough into a fluted pastry tube 1/4” in diameter, and squeeze the mixture into 2 1/2” lengths spaced 1/2” apart onto the baking sheets. You should either let the dough cool a moment first, or wear gloves so you don’t burn your hands.
  6. Bake both sheets at the same time for about 15 minutes, or until the sticks are lightly browned. Halfway through the cooking time reverse the sheets so they cook evenly (switch racks and turn them 180°).
  7. Serve hot or at room temperature (I think they are best served hot, my husband likes them best at room temperature – you decide!).

Bouchées Parmentier au FromagePDF

You can find Julie’s blog from Julie and Julia called The Julie/Julia Project, here and her post about the potato cheese sticks here.

As a side note, I took Arabic (in elementary school) and German (in high school), although I can only speak a few words of either anymore, so I was a little daunted to say the name of the recipe out loud to customers. After a little dictionary.com verbal translation recon and practicing on my co-workers, a French-Canadian shopper told me that I did a pretty good job with my pronunciation! Say “boo-shay pahr-men-tyey oh fro-mazh and you’ll sound like you’ll know what you’re doing too!

July Meal of the Month – Rice-crusted Pizza (and shortcake!)

This month’s Meal of the Month was submitted Zoe Plakias, a former member of the Member Affairs Committee (she has since moved to Davis, CA to attend school – good luck Zoe!).

I was intrigued by the recipe – because I am gluten-sensitive, and because I love short grain brown rice!  Again, it was a very easy recipe to put together, and cost under $10 (I spent $9.93 and bought the Organic short grain brown rice, the organic GF falafel mix, and the pre-shredded mozzarella cheese in the Cordata Deli).  I didn’t think it would weather well for customer sampling, so I made a batch and had staff sample and got a lot of positive feedback.

Rice-crusted pizza after step 4

I let the rice cool after cooking for about a half hour, and then put it in a bowl with the falafel mix, egg, and cheese.  I wore gloves and just mixed it by hand (the rice was still pretty warm), but you could use a mixing spoon as well, but it is pretty sticky so keep that in mind!

I added the sauce to the large pizza (I am allergic to tomatoes so I made a small one for me to sample!), and then more mozzarella and Parmesan.  You could add more toppings as well, but I wanted to try it in it’s “pure” form!

Yummy - out of the oven!

It smelled even better when it came out of the oven the second time, and it was no problem finding staff to sample it for me!  It was crispy on the bottom, and cheesy gooey on top…a great combination if you ask me!

Since I wasn’t going to sample the pizza for customers, I also got to work making some berry shortcake – Zoe supplied a recipe from the Joy of Cooking (it is included in the Meal of the Month recipe as a bonus), but I love the Swan Bakery’s goodies as well, so I cut up a loaf of the Buttery Shortcake that we sell pre-made by the Bakery, and I also prepared a batch of the Bakery’s GF Pound Cake mix.  Both were excellent, and I have to say that I am very impressed with the GF Pound cake mix – it was light and fluffy and had none of the aftertaste that is unfortunately so common in gluten-free items.  The Bakery really knows what they are doing!

Berry Shortcake sample

I used both the local organic raspberries (grown by Hopewell Farm – our favorite carrot farmer is branching out, hee hee) as well as local strawberries for the sauce.  All I did was mix them in a bowl and sprinkle a little sugar on them – I then let it sit while I was preparing the pound cake mix.  If you do this the night before, then you have a great berry sauce all ready the next morning (keep it in the fridge).  I took half the berries and threw them in the blender and put them in a squeeze bottle so I could get a nice concentrated berry “shot” on each sample.

I put together the samples at the demo table, with a little whipped cream.  By the way, if you haven’t been able to find me on Fridays, it’s because Aaron, our maintenance guru, built me a great new demo table that is now between Produce and Bulk at the Cordata Co-op.  It’s a great location because it’s right by a lot of the ingredients in the recipes (this is also where the copies of recipes now live if you like to pick them up in the store).

Enjoy!

Rice-Crusted Pizza Photo © 2010 Sassy Sampler

Rice Crusted Pizza (with Berry Shortcake recipe)

INGREDIENTS—Pizza Crust

2 cups cooked brown rice

2 beaten eggs

2 cups grated mozzarella cheese

¼ cup falafel mix (Fantastic is NOT GF, but the Organic Mary Jane’s Farm is, although it might raise the cost of the recipe)

2 cups pizza sauce

½ tsp. oregano

½ tsp. basil

½ tsp. minced garlic

¼ cup grated parmesan

INSTRUCTIONS—Pizza Crust

1. Preheat oven to 450º F

2. In a large bowl, mix together cooked rice, eggs, 1 cup mozzarella, and falafel mix.

3. Press rice mixture evenly into the bottom of an edged, generously greased baking sheet.

4. Bake crust for 15-20 minutes or until lightly browned.

5. Combine pizza sauce and spices and spread over crust.

6. Top with remaining mozzarella cheese, parmesan cheese, and any desired toppings.

7. Bake 10 minutes.

To cook brown rice

1. Measure 2 c rice and rinse well in a large bowl.

2. Place rice in heavy saucepan with a tight-fitting lid and cover with 4 c water and a pinch of salt.

3. Bring to a boil over high heat; cover pot and reduce heat to low (just enough to keep it boiling).

4. Cook one hour.

5. Let cool, with lid on off the heat for a few minutes before removing the lid.  Fluff rice with fork.

INGREDIENTS—Shortcake

Biscuits – adapted from the Joy of Cooking

1 cup all-purpose flour

½ Tbsp. baking powder

¼ tsp. salt

1 ½ Tbsp. granulated sugar

3 Tbsp. chilled butter or shortening

1/3 cup milk

2 cups berries of your choice

8 oz. heavy whipping cream

1/8 tsp. nutmeg

1 tsp. powdered sugar

INSTRUCTIONS—Shortcake

1. Sift together dry ingredients (excluding nutmeg) in a large bowl.

2. Cut in butter/shortening with a pastry cutter or two knives until pea-sized.

3. Make a well in the center and add milk.

4. Stir until dough comes away from the side of the bowl.

5. On a lightly floured board, knead lightly 8-10 times.

6. Roll until ½ inch thick.

7. Cut out circles of about 2” diameter using a biscuit cutter or an upside down Mason jar.

8. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake at 450º F for 12-15 minutes, or until lightly browned.

9. Toss berries with a little sugar, depending on their sweetness.

10. Whip cream. Place on top of biscuits and berries.

11. Eat slowly for full effect of summer’s goodness.

You can also purchase a pre-made shortcake from the Swan Bakery, or a bag of GF Pound cake mix!

July MoM rice crusted pizza PDF

Homemade Mozzarella..sometimes you win, sometimes you gain experience!to

Almost every Spring I read Barbara Kingslover’s book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life.  If you are unfamiliar with the book, Barbara and her family decided to eat locally and seasonally for one full year by growing their own vegetables and fruits, preserving, freezing, and utilizing their local resources. The only things they made exceptions for were olive oil, spices, and the fact that the wheat for their flour was not grown in their county (but it was milled there!).  I love to read it because it is so inspiring, and it has some great seasonal recipes.  Both her oldest daughter and husband also wrote for the book: Camille provided the recipes and related commentary, and Steven supplied background information on various food issues.  I have always wanted to try making cheese, and the mozzarella recipe they offer (from Ricki Carroll of Home Cheese Making) seemed really simple for a cheese novice!

I decided that for my recipe demo this week I would try my hand at their 30-Minutes Mozzarella recipe.  I have never made cheese before, and this seemed like a good place to start.  I have talked to a couple of shoppers who make mozzarella regularly, and they also said how simple it was.  I figured I was up to the challenge.

I armed myself with the recipe, and got to shopping.  We only carry one kind of rennet, and we have citric acid in bulk, so those were no-brainers.  I waffled back and forth between which local milk to use (isn’t it great that we have a choice!), and settled on the Fresh Breeze Organic 2%, mostly because it is the organic option and I always try to go that route.

After citric acid addition.

After I had made what turned out to be my first batch, I couldn’t figure out why the milk was not curdling like it was supposed to.  I assumed it had something to do with the temperature of the milk when I added the citric acid (the recipe indicated to add it at 55 degrees, and it heated up a lot faster than I thought it would and I ended up adding it at 66 degrees), so I went and bought another gallon and tried it again.

Testing for a clean break.

The same thing happened!  I got online and started to look and see which of my ingredients was the culprit, because I had followed the recipe to a tee this time.  I finally figured out that the Junket rennet was the issue – the recipe called for liquid rennet, and we only carry the Junket tablets at the Co-op, so that is what I used.  I did do a little sleuthing before starting and found many recipes that used tablets that were very similar to the recipe I was using, so I figured I was all good.  I wasn’t all good.  Apparently when you use the Junket, you have to let the milk sit for 1-2 hours to form a “clean break“, which coincidentally was turning my 30 minute cheese into four-hour cheese!

I realized that I shouldn’t sample the cheese at this point because it was taking way too long and I wasn’t satisfied with the rennet that was available to me (I will be looking into the Co-op carrying a more-cheese making friendly rennet option!), but I was still going to finish the cheese!

Oh my curd!

After achieving what I supposed was a close-enough clean break, I continued with the process.  I spooned out the curd with a slotted spoon, but that proved to be very time-consuming as well, so I got a very fine metal colander and unceremoniously dumped the contents of the pot into it.  The above photo is what I was left with.  I know that I lost a decent amount of usable curd by doing it this way, but I just had to finish what I started and figured that as long as I had some cheese to try at the end, I didn’t care how much I lost!

After the microwave portion was finished, this is what I had!

After collecting my curd, I dumped it into a glass dish and stuck it in the microwave for one minute.  I squeezed and kneaded the curd briefly and poured out the whey that was extracted, then microwaved it again for about 25 more seconds.  By this time, I knew I was actually going to get some cheese out my experiment, so I was getting excited!

Cheese!

At this point I needed to add some salt and stretch the cheese until it was like taffy (shiny, smooth, and rope-like).  This happened very quickly.  All of a sudden I had cheese!  I had about the amount you would buy pre-made in the specialty cheese section, but doggone it, I had made this all by myself and was pretty happy (so happy I forgot to take a photo of the little mozza balls I formed with the finished product!).

If you are adventurous, I do recommend trying this recipe (although I hate to say this, but try to find some liquid rennet to use unless you have some time on your hands!  Like I said earlier, I’ll see what I can do to get some cheese-making rennet on the shelves at the Co-op!).  I’m definitely not going to give up myself – once I master this, I really would love to try my hand at making some cheddar!

Fresh Mozzarella PDF

FYI – I’m still working on a GF chocolate butter cake recipe…once I’m happy I’ll let everyone know!

Bocconcini (Mozzarella) and Tomato Salad Photo © 2010 Sassy Sampler

Also, here is the recipe that I ended up demoing yesterday (with fresh mozzarella from the specialty cheese case!).  It is a super simple recipe that people loved sampling (I asked one young shopper what she thought, and she said it was delicious and promptly brought her father and brother over to try it!).  Enjoy! Bocconcini and Tomato Salad PDF