Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Muscovado Sugar, different and good

Muscovado is pure whole, unrefined, non-centrifugal cane sugar. It is also called 'poor peoples sugar'.

Muscovado retains all of the natural ingredients of sugar cane, making it wholesome and healthy.

Only pure bee's honey can compare to Muscovado for natural goodness.

The nutritional qualities alone are quite exceptional and can be compared with honey.

Muscovado is a natural high energy food source that quickly replaces lost vigor.

Muscovado (from the Spanish mascabado, meaning unrefined) in South Asia is also known as gur, jaggery, and khandsari. In Latin America it is known as rapadura, pamela or piloncillo. In Colombia is it called chancaca. Whatever name you may know if by, this product is unrefined, non-centrifugal cane sugar with a high molasses (mineral) content. Although commonly used in Latin America and south east Asia, these products are relatively difficult to find in the US.

This is how Muscovado Sugar is made

Muscovado is made the old fashioned way with Kalmansi (a tiny native lime similar to Key Limes in Florida) and fresh coconut milk. First the sugar cane is cut/harvested (by hand). It is washed and then chopped, soaked and pressed to extract the juice from the sugar cane. This juice is heated with a little lime juice added. They also cut coconuts off the trees, grate the coconut meat and press out fresh coconut milk, which is sprinkled into the heating cane juice. This keeps the juice from foaming as it heats. The resulting Muscovado is actually about 0.2% coconut milk.

Once this cane juice becomes thick, it is poured into cups where it finishes by sun drying. The dried cane juice is then pounded to yield a natural, unprocessed sugar, very high in minerals. It is not uniform in color or texture. It is more "raw" or unprocessed than any other sugar I've have found.

This "unrefined" sugar is darker in color than "refined" sugar because it contains what sugar producers call "impurities." But these so-called impurities are essential minerals such as calcium, potassium, magnesium, copper, and iron, as well as small amounts of fluorine and selenium. So "refined" sugar has zero nutritional value, while "unrefined" sugar has significant nutritional value.

Using Muscavado Sugar

There are many ways to coax out the subtleties of Muscovado. Using it in your coffee might not be the best idea though. Muscovado bridges the gap between sweet and savory very well due to it’s wholesome flavor. I add Muscovado to a tomato puree and reduce it untill I ha ve tomato jam. I also add Muscovado to my Foie Gras Mousse recipie. Muscocado takes a ho-hum sweet potato puree up a level on flavor complexity. The easiest way I’ve found to get to the heart of Muscovado is using in a butterscotch sauce recipie:

1/4 cup Muscovado Sugar
1 tablespoon Butter
1/4 cup Scotch
1 6 oz can Sweetened Condensed Milk

Melt the sugar and butter together, deglaze with liquor, add Milk and salt. Once this mixutre heats up it is very close to the proper consistancy. I’ve added herbs to this with great success, try thyme and some lemon zest. I’ve glazed chestnuts with this mixture also. If after it cools the consistancy is off, try adding a little more liquor, or some plain milk..

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Baking Springerle

A chilled dough, lots of flour, and two rolling pins round out the prep work when baking springerle.

After using a fan to dry out the tops of the cookies they baked for a short time. When they came out of the oven we transfered them to a cooling rack, letting the bottoms get as crisp as they like. Finally we picked some to paint with all natural food coloring.

After a few day the cookies dry out proper and have a nice crunch. After a few more days, the become what we call, "dunkers" and a cup of warm tea of coffee is essential.

Glogg, the perfect holiday pick me up

Glogg is the Scandinavian version of mulled wine. Glogg is sometimes served without alcohol, using berry juices, but traditionally glogg consists of red wine, spices, and a stronger spirit such as vodka or cognac. Glogg is served warm, but never boils, and is generally served with raisins, almonds or gingerbread, and is customarily served during Christmas time.

My version of Glogg was served with Foie Gras, and was an adaptation of a recipe in Aquavit cookbook, by the enlightened Marcus Samuelsson. My recipe follows:

750 ml bottle of red wine
1 cup vodka
1 cup port

2 cinnamon sticks
8 cloves
1 tsp cardamom
zest of one orange, and juice
1 cup Muscavado brown sugar

½ cup each blanched almonds and raisins.

Following the traditional recipe takes an overnight soak and a heating that is not needed. Take all the spices and sugar and put them in a pot. Pour half the bottle of wine over this and cook on a low flame until it reduces by half, maybe 45 minutes. In the mean time put the rest of the liquid in an above room temperature area, like next to the pot of wine and spices?!?! or go ahead and microwave it for a minute, just to take the chill off. Strain the reduced wine into the rest of the liquid and it’s tasting good. Pick the almonds and rasing out of the stainer and serve them as a side to the drink. Easy Swedish fun, like Ikea.

If you are interested in any other Swedish Christmas time Festivities check out my friends blog at Evidently they are fond of goats at well as mulled mine. Cheers.

New Pictures from the Holiday week-end

This week-end's Foie Gras consisted of La Bella Farms Foie Gras Seared with Potato Brioche, Duck and Pork Terrine, and Swedish Glogg, which was served in a Cordial glass along with the dish. Chef's Garden Golden Popcorn Shoots and Petite Watercress are garnish along with hazelnuts and raisons from the glogg, and the brioche is lathered with rendered Foie fat shallots and parsley, all finished with fleur de sel.

These are Rare Beef Rolls ready for a party. They consist of Striploin, grilled rare, then sliced thin, and rolled up with greens, mushrooms, carrots and potato frites.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

A Brief History of Springerle


"Springerle (SPRING-uhr-lee) - These have been and still are traditional Christmas cookies in Bavaria and Austria for centuries. Springerle are white, anise-flavored cookies, made from a simple egg-flour-sugar dough. Usually rectangular or circular in shape, they have a picture or design stamped on the top. The images are imprinted with specially carved rolling pins or flat molds (Springerle presses, or boards). After the cookies are baked, the designs are sometimes enhanced with edible food colors--or with tempera or acrylic paints, if the cookies are to be used as decorations. Hartshorn is the traditional leavening (it is an ammonia compound).

The name Springerle comes from an old German dialect and means "little knight" or "jumping horse." Historians trace these cookies back to the Julfest, a midwinter celebration of pagan Germanic tribes. Julfest ceremonies included the sacrificing of animals to the gods, in hope that such offerings would bring a mild winter and an early spring. Poor people who could not afford to kill any of their animals gave token sacrifices in the form of animal-shaped breads and cookies. Vestiges of these pagan practices survive in the baking of shaped-and-stamped German Christmas cookies such as Lebkuchen, Spekulatius, Frankfurter Brenten, and Springerle."

Springerle are my favorite holiday cookie. The texture is quite complex, develops over time, and is adjustable. The Flavor is more gown up than a plain sugar cookie. I like to use anise oil as well as seeds, and lemon zest which cuts the sweetness of the sugar. The whole process takes two days to complete, letting the cut and pressed cookies set overnight, seeing the baked cookie raise, and settle back on itself with this perfect image set on top. It’s a very romantic process, even a cave man could produce countless dozen drop cookies. I have my great-grandmothers springerle rolling pin, which makes these cookies even that more special.

Here is the recipie I’m using this year.

4 eggs
2 cups Sugar
2 tablespoons butter
beat this mixture for 15 minutes

4 cups flour
1 teaspoon Baking Powder
2 drops anise oil
1 lemons zest
add dry ingredients and mix just to combine

Roll the chilled dough out to ½ inch thickness, press in the images, cut and lay on a sheet pan dusted with crushed anise seeds. Let these cookies sit out overnight, then bake at 325 for about 40 minutes, they shouldn’t brown, but they do puff up a bit and cook evenly.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Holiday Season is Almost Gone!?!?

Well, I've been overcome lately from multiple angles, and it seems I've finally come up for a breath. I've lost 3 skilled line cooks in the past 3 months (easy come, easy go), changed the menu last week, and damned if you look at the calander, it's December! I've not let it get the best of me. The food coming out of my kitchen is still delightful, if not improved. Tough times, but we are all moving ahead together.

We've added a daily Foie Gras preperation to the menu, and I'm along to my third variation, let me catch you up:

Seared Foie Gras over house made Wild Boar and Black Cherry Sausage, Carmalized Cippollini Onions, Curry Golden Carrot Puree, and Beet-Herb Reduction

then we currently have:

Seared Foie Gras with Duck Confit and Arugula Crepes, Apple Butter, Poached Cranberries, and Balsamic marinated Pears

next up in the comming few days will be:

Seared Foie Gras served with Potato Brioche, Swedish Glogg, wine soaked Raisans and Almonds, Candied Endive

This weeks specials are starting a day early to celebrate the abundance of customers. Here are this weeks offerings:

Soup: Mushroom Bisque with wild rice and a truffle-orange cream

Salad: Chef's Garden Heirloom Potato Salad with Bacon, Onion, Goat Cheese over baby Arugula and drizzled with Herb infused Maple Syrup

Entree: MonkFish and Lobster Cassoulette, Chef's Garden Vine Dried Beans cooked with lobster stock, Root Vegetables, and finished with Lamb Sausage, Lobster Meat, and Seared Monkfish

Thursday, December 07, 2006

A few fresh recipes

Apple Vinaigrette
3 cup Apple Cider reduced from 1 gallon
1 cup Cider Vinegar
1 cup Honey
2 cup Blended Oil
4 Egg yolks
4 Granny Smith Apples
Salt and Pepper
Emulsify in Blender, in 2 batches

Rockefeller Vinaigrette
2 cups rendered Bacon
1 cup ouzo/sambuca
2 tbsp. Worcestershire
5 Anchovies
1 tbsp. Tabasco
3 lemons zest, 1 juiced
3 Egg yolks
2 # Spinach
Cook Bacon, deglaze with sambuca, Emulsify in blender.

Truffle Veal Meatballs
10# Ground Veal
2 cup grated onions
14 oz Panko
1/4 cup Worcestershire
3/4 cup Truffle Oil
½ cup Truffle Pate
6 whole Eggs
6 Egg yolks
1 bunch Parsley, chopped
Salt and Pepper
Mix everything together. Using 7 oz of mixture divide into 6 small balls.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Specials for December 1, 2006

Soup: Lobster Bisque with Fresh Main Lobster Meat

App: Seared La Bella Farms Foie Gras, Mustard-Gryere Potato Custard, Duck Confit, Golden Popcorn Shoots.

Entree: Wreck Grouper, Tomato-Brown Sugar Lacquered. Celery Root Puree, Creamy Carrot and Raisin Slaw, Curry Golden Carrot Coulis.