Tag Archives: Baking

Green & Black’s Organic


About a month ago Karlin and I received an email from a lady named Barbara Maldonado letting us know she had stumbled across our blog and really enjoyed the pictures and recipes. Barbara was organizing a tweet up in LA on behalf of Green & Black’s Organic Chocolate and asked if we wanted to attend the event along with other local bloggers, media & foodies. Unfortunately the timing just did not work for us and we were unable to attend, but a friendship was born.

Fast forward a few weeks and Karlin receives an email from Green & Black’s Organic Chocolate saying that they are going to send us some samples so we can create a recipe for Michelin and a Mom. Needles to say we were both very flattered and excited to create a couple of recipes. 4 days later I arrived home to find 2 bars of 70% Dark Chocolate and 2 bars 60% Dark Chocolate with Whole Cherries.

I had a hard time deciding on just one dessert so I decided to create 2 recipes (those of you that know me, know how much I love chocolate). I have been making these 2 desserts for a very long time and I knew that they would be just perfect for this post. The first recipe is for a Chocolate Pate a recipe I have carried with me since I was an apprentice. Second recipe is for a Chocolate Tart a recipe that I loved from my time working in England, with one exception I replaced the honey with Burton’s Maplewood Farms Rum infused maple syrup.

A very big thank you to Green & Black’s Organic Chocolates

Hope you enjoy…

Chocolate Pate

200g 60% Dark Chocolate with whole cherries
200g 60% Dark Chocolate with hazelnuts and currants
100g 70% Dark Chocolate
400 ml Heavy Cream
5 Egg Yolks
50g Sugar

Break chocolate into small pieces and melt
Heat cream until just before it boils
Add sugar and yolks together and heat over a water bath until pail yellow (be careful not to scramble)
Add cream to yolks slowly
Add cream/yolk mixture to melted chocolate
Set plastic wrap into mold leaving enough plastic to hang over sides
Pour mixture into mold and place in refrigerator and let set for at least 6 hours.
The mixture will be set up still feel slightly soft.

Chocolate Tart

Pastry Shell
250g Flour
150g Almond Flour
2 Tbsp Sugar
200g Butter cut into cubes & very cold
90 ml Very cold water

In a food processor add dry ingredients and butter
Pulse for about 20 seconds until small balls form
Place mixture into a very cold bowl
Add 1/2 water and mix quickly
Add remaining water
Quickly knead the dough for about 5 – 6 turns
Cover and place in refrigerator
Once cool roll out to desired thickness lay in tart shell and blind bake at 375F for about 10 minutes and then uncover and bake for another 5-7 minutes.
Let Cool

Chocolate Mixture
500ml Heavy Cream
300g 70% Dark Chocolate
100ml Burton Maplewood Farm’s Rum infused maple syrup (replace with honey if you do not have)
2 Eggs

Melt chocolate with syrup/honey
Heat cream until just before it boils
Add cream to chocolate
Whisk eggs and slowly add mixture little at a time
Pour mixture into pre-baked tart shell and cook at 200F for about 18-20 minutes
Remove and let cool
Serve at room temperature with your favorite garnish

Amy’s Wine Picks

An obvious pairing for Chef McLeod’s Green & Black’s organic chocolate tart would be a ruby port. Because the dark chocolate is so decadent, contrasting flavors are optimal. The best pairing I have ever had with chocolate was chili mead by Makana Meadery. The meadery, located in Grahamstown on the Eastern Cape of South Africa, was founded in 2000 to make iQhilika, a traditional honey-based beverage. Mead is made my fermenting honey sugars into alcohol until it reaches 12 percent. It is made from habanero chilies and has a strong spiced palate that adds a new dimension to Chef McLeod’s dark chocolate tart.

Cheers,
Amy Payne

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Madeleines & Strawberry Preserve

Of course there are many theories to where these delicious little sponge cakes get their name, but to be honest WHO REALLY CARES :-). All we really care about is how incredibly delicious they are.
I mentioned to my Wife that I wanted to make some Madeleines for a blog post and the smile that came across her face was heart warming. The problem with this conversation was the timing, we just happened to be walking by a tea shop called Teavana, yes a perfect match for freshly baked Madeleines. Well 30 minutes later we walked out of the store dropping $120 on tea and appropriate tea making paraphernalia. Later that night it was proven to be well worth the shopping spree as we sipped on a cup of tea named Spice of Life and devoured 10 perfectly cooked Madeleines right out of the oven. (We would have finished them all if I did not have to take pictures for the post.) We truly could have been sitting in a small shop somewhere in Paris, the recipe was just how I remembered it from my days working in Europe, it had been some time since I made this recipe but now that I have tasted them again I will be making them often (plus we have a lot of tea to drink :-))
If you have made Madeleines in the past you probably notice a few difference in this recipe compared to the one you used, for example whole eggs and baking powder. I use egg whites and no baking powder, but to me there is one step in my recipe that truly makes the difference and that is browning the butter or Beurre noisette translation Hazelnut butter. This adds such a unique nutty flavor to the recipe.

PS
There is nothing better than a warm batch of Madeleines for breakfast served with homemade Strawberry Preserve, now this is a way to impress your friends when you have them over for Brunch.

Hope you Enjoy….Jason

Amy’s Wine Picks

Top Pick: I recently poured the Cave Spring Riesling “Indian Summer SLH” Ice Wine for an event. It immediately came to mind as the perfect complement to chef McLeod’s warm Madeleine recipe. It is from the Lincoln Lakeshore region of the Niagara Peninsula along the south shore of Lake Ontario.
Ice wine was discovered by accident in Germany in 1974 by farmers trying to save their harvest after a sudden frost. It wasn’t until the 1980’s that Ontario recognized its cold winters as an ideal climate for ice wine production. The Pennachetti family was among the pioneers, planting Riesling and Chardonnay vines on the Niagara Peninsula in 1978.
It has aromas of honeysuckle, dried apricots, canned pineapples and overripe peaches. At 12 percent alcohol, the ice wine retains a pleasant acidity that makes it ideal for pairing with food. When it is served chilled (45 degrees Fahrenheit), it accents the warm Madeleine perfectly!
Another fabulous and affordable ice wine producer is Jackson-Triggs.

Cheers,
Amy Payne

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Not Your Every Day Gnocchi

Most individuals think of Gnocchi as an Italian potato dumpling, and yes this is the more popular of the dumplings but most countries have their own recipes for dumplings. The Parisienne Gnocchi is a French recipe typically served with a Béchamel or Mornay Sauce and baked. As you can imagine dumplings baked with cheese sauce is out of this world, but I went a little different direction and served the gnocchi with a Bolognese sauce (Italian meat sauce) as with the gnocchi Bolognese has many different forms. The more traditional Bolognese consists of beef, pancetta, onions, tomato, broth, white wine, milk or cream. I stayed some what true to the traditional recipe but added a few twists. The most exciting part of learning this dumpling recipe is that it uses the same base as cream puffs and eclairs. Hope you enjoy….Jason

Amy’s Wine Picks
Top Pick: Brunello di Montalcino. One of my favorite descriptors for Sangiovese is stewed tomatoes (which I get made fun of for frequently), which complement the crushed tomatoes in Chef Mcleod’s Parisienne Gnocchi. Other typical aromas include sour red cherry, red licorice or Twizzlers (yes, another favorite descriptor), fennel bulb, stewed black tea and twigs. Unfortunately, Brunello usually costs a pretty penny, but is well worth the investment. Some of my favorite producers are Valdicava, Mastrojanni and Banfi.
Playing it safe: California Pinot Noir. Typical aromas include red fruit, such as cherries, strawberries and cranberries, violets, tomato leaf, bacon fat and black tea. I recommend Belle Glos “Meiomi” and Calera for everyday wines, Failla and Walter Hansel for a treat, and Kosta Brown (if you can find it) for a splurge. I could honestly recommend dozens more, but these should get you started.
Off the beaten track: Tenuta delle Terre Nere, Mount Etna, Sicily. The flavors are basically a cross between Pinot Noir and Nebbiolo. How could you go wrong? Located on Sicily’s Mount Etna, it is a recently re-discovered region that is believed to be the highest vineyards in Italy and Europe. The late-ripening indigenous Nerello Mascalese and Nerello Capuccio yield wines of notable aromatic complexity. It is aged in 25 percent new French oak and in a classic Burgundian style.

Cheers,
Amy Payne

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Cherry Clafoutis or Clafouti

What is a Clafoutis? I ask this question carefully, I had a guest once say to me it sounds more like a terrible disease than a dessert. Don’t tell the French that. This is one of my favorite desserts to eat when ever I visit France and for some reason its very rare that you see it any where in North America. Clafoutis originated in the Limousin region and traditionally uses Black Cherries, over time many other fruits have been used, but then it should be called a Flaugnarde.
I decided on creating this recipe after re-discovering my Gaston Lenôtre’s Dessert & Pastries cook book (one of the greatest pastry chefs of all time) I was flipping through and saw the Clafoutis picture and the timing just worked being Cherry season. Lenôtre’s recipe is a little different than I have used in the past, but this is exactly what intrigued me. I am used to making more of a batter for the filling and no pie crust, Lenôtre’s recipe calls for a crust and the filling is a custard. It has been a while since I had made a short pastry dough and the practice is always beneficial. I did make a few adjustments to Lenôtre’s recipe, I used yolks instead of whole eggs and almond instead of vanilla. I was a little concerned that the dish might be a little eggy (not sure if this is a word or not) that is why I went with the yolks. The custard is there to hold the fruit and nuts in place so you do not need very much. This is why everyone should have a few great cook books in their home and use them as references because that is exactly what they are. Do not be nervous about adding or subtracting ingredients from a recipe that you already have, this is exactly how other great recipes are created by experimenting. Hope you enjoy…..Jason

Amy’s Wine Picks
Top Pick: Choose a sweeter style Chenin Blanc from the Loire Valley, France. Chenin Blanc has aromas of ginger, honeycomb, quince and candied tangerines that will complement the clafoutis. Due to its cool climate, it also has higher acidity and a pronounced minerality. Try either Huët, Le Clos de Bourg, Vouvray Moelleux or Domaine des Baumard, Coteaux du Layon, Clos de Ste Catherine.

Playing it safe: Moscato d’Asti is a slightly effervescent, or Perlant with less than 2.5 atmospheres of pressure, wine from Piedmont, Italy. It has aromas of peaches, apricots, orange candy and rose pedals. Try producers like Vietti and Saracco. Around the corner from Asti is another semi-sweet sparkling wine, Brachetto d’Acqui. It has aromas of wild strawberries, raspberries and Twizzlers with a deep rose hue. The two best producers are Braida (also known as Giacomo Bologna) and Marenco.

Off the beaten track: Try a sweeter style Sherry from Andalucía on the southern coast of Spain – such as a Pale Cream, Cream or Vino Dulce. They are naturally sweet fortified wines after partial fermentation of sunned gapes, often bottle varietally as Pedro Ximémenez or Moscatel. The nutty flavors will go with the Amaretto (or almond extract) in the cherry clafoutis. Sherry has been on the rise in popularity for a great summer selection. Try producers like Delgado Zuleta, Lustau or Alvear.

Cheers,
Amy Payne

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Memorial Day Weekend

Being a Canadian living in the USA, I feel it is important to participate in all things American. There are not many differences between the two countries, but there are a few and Memorial Day is one of them. Since being a part of the Navy Seals Foundation Charity Event a couple of weeks ago (I was auctioned off to cook dinner for 8 and raised $4400), I have been feeling extremely patriotic, so we decided to spend Memorial Day with friends. We have just moved into our new home that has a great little back yard, perfect for BBQs. Inspired, I purchased a new grill (had to build it, something I am not usually very good at, but I did succeed) and started thinking about what to cook for our Monday dinner. One of the menu items I knew we had to have was Rhubarb Upside-down Cake (I am on an upside down cake kick right now) for dessert. Rhubarb is definitely one of my favourite fruits to cook with, as I am a huge fan of sweet and tart together; rhubarb is a perfect ingredient to achieve this, so don’t be afraid to use it. There are so many great uses for rhubarb and I think it’s an under used ingredient; I’ve also challenged my little sis to a “rhubarb challenge”!

Off to the La Jolla Farmer’s Market I went to find my rhubarb, when I also came across some beautiful plums I could add to the recipe. For the rest of the meal, I decided on beautiful grass-fed ribeye steaks (from a local butcher), beet salad with hazelnuts and goat cheese, mixed greens with a lemon and olive oil vinaigrette, and a delicious quinoa salad. The great thing about upside down cake is that the name makes the dish sound more difficult than it really is, but once you have a base recipe you can really add any fruit to this dish and it it will be wonderful. Another great fruit to use this time of year would be apricots. It was an amazing afternoon, spent with close friends Robert, Amy & Gigi.
The weather was perfect and we all enjoyed some pretty tasty food and drinks!

We owe it all to the many men and women who have protected our freedom past, present and future.

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