Recent Posts

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Winter season must

Nothing beats a scorching hot bowl of soup in the winter. Whether it's served as a kick off starter while entertaining friends or as a no fuss dinner on the coffee table in front of your tv, it's a must during the winter season.

Pea soup is an old time favorite of mine, but ive decide that this time around I would kick it up notch by adding a good splash of sweet sherry, which adds a sweet kick to this fresh flavored soup.
Its great as is with only some crusty bread, but if I want to dish it out for a dinner party, I would finish it off with some chorizo oil and croûtons. By the addition of the smoky chorizo and crunchy croûtons a simple bowl of soup is taken to a whole other level. Enjoy!

Pea and sherry soup with chorizo oil and croûtons
Serves 6

3 tbsp olive oil
1 lg onion, finely chopped
1 lg leek only white and pale green part only
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
4 cups chicken stock
1/3 cup sherry, ( such as Cream sherry)
2 pound frozen peas, defrosted
¼ cup (firmly packed) mint
3 tbsp cream
3 tbsp finely grated Parmesan cheese
2 tbsp sherry vinegar, or to taste

Chorizo oil and croûtons
1/3 cup olive oil
1 chorizo, diced
1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
2 oz coarsely torn crustless sourdough bread

1 For chorizo oil and croûtons, heat olive oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat, add chorizo and a minute later the garlic and sauté until chorizo is golden (2-3 minutes), then transfer to a bowl with a slotted spoon. Add torn bread to pan and sauté until golden and crisp (4-5 minutes), season to taste, then return chorizo to pan, stir to combine and keep warm.
2 Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat, add onion, leeks and garlic and sauté until tender (4-5 minutes). Add chicken stock and sherry, bring to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Add peas, simmer until just tender (2-3 minutes), remove from heat, then add mint, and process with a hand-held blender until smooth. Add cream, Parmesan cheese and vinegar, season to taste and divide among shallow bowls. Spoon over chorizo and croûtons, and serve hot. Serve the soup as soon as it’s ready to keep the bright green colour alive.

Note: If you dont have cooking sherry you could substitute it with Marsala wine

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Nothing simple about chocolate

Selecting a chocolate for your dessert recipe used to be a simple matter. You would go to the supermarket and pick up a bar of baking chocolate. Pretty simple right.

These days, you have dozen of choices. Organic, fair trade, exotic origin and different percentages. And if you are a foodie or a chocolate connoisseur you will probably spend hours analyzing the cacao percentages and exotic origins of the chocolate. Let's not forget that the more exotic the origins the more you will pay for that chocolate. But does any of this really matter? Does spending more money get you a better quality chocolate? Is the flavor so worth it that you will spend the extra pennies? And will your choice of chocolate change your desserts results?


There are many variables that contribute in the quality and flavor of the chocolate. For instance type of bean, where it's grown, and when it's harvested; the length and conditions of fermentation; the roasting and grinding methods; and the quality and quantity of any additives (such as vanilla)—can contribute to differences in flavor and texture.

So take your favorite chocolate recipe and experiment with different brands and different origins. Keep a log and write down the difference that you notice even if they are very subtle.



The Crust

1 cup chocolate graham crackers (not chocolate-covered), finely ground (about 9 crackers)
tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup sugar
The Filling
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
6 oz bittersweet chocolate (not more than 65% cacao if marked), chopped

3 oz milk chocolate, chopped

large eggs
1 yolk
1 tablespoon unsalted butter 
teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
The Glaze
tablespoons heavy cream
1 3/4 oz bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
teaspoon light corn syrup
tablespoon warm water 


You will need a 9 inch fluted tart pan (1 inch deep) with a removable bottom

To make the crustPreheat oven to 350°F with rack in middle.

Stir together all ingredients and press evenly onto bottom and 3/4 inch up side of tart pan. Bake until firm, about 10 minutes. Cool on a rack 15 to 20 minutes.
To make the filling: Bring cream to a boil, then pour over chocolate in a bowl and let stand 5 minutes. Add butter. Gently stir until smooth. Whisk together eggs, vanilla, and salt in another bowl, then stir into melted chocolate. Pour filling into cooled crust. Bake until filling is set about 3 inches from edge but center is still wobbly, 20 to 25 minutes. (Center will continue to set as tart cools.) Cool completely in pan on rack, about 1 hour.  

To make the glaze: Bring cream to a boil and remove from heat. Stir in chocolate until smooth. Stir in corn syrup, then warm water.

Pour glaze onto tart, then tilt and rotate tart so glaze coats top evenly. Let stand until glaze is set, about 1 hour.

Note: The chocolates i used today are: 
Valrhona Chocolate - "Les Feves" Grand Cru Manjari 64%Cocoa is a blend of Criollos and Trinitarios cocoa beans from Madagascar. Very characteristic, fresh slightly acid chocolate taste, with intense hints of red fruits. Technical uses: pastry, chocolate fillings, moulding, couverture, icing. Made in France.

Valrhona Chocolate - "Les Feves"Orizaba Lactee"  Milk Chocolate 39 % Cocoa From a unique blend of Latin American cocoa beans, this “Mariage de Grands Crus” hides an exceptional character. Just like fresh high-mountain milk, ORIZABA LACTEE is delicately smooth before revealing deep and intense milky notes. Technical uses: Coating, molds, sauces, mousse, crémeux, ice cream and sorbet, decoration, glaze, chocolate bonbon filling.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Quince the golden apple

The quince is believed to have come long before the apple. In many instances in ancient history the mentioning of apples were, in fact quince. One of this instance is said to be the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden.

In Greek mythology the quince is linked with the goddess of love Aphrodite. And in fact it is said that Paris awarded her a quince and not a golden apple.

Ancient Greeks linked the quince with fertility. It's was a exceptional gift offering in wedding celebrations. The bride would nibble a quince to perfume her kiss before entering the bridal chamber. This was done "in order for the first greeting to not be disagreeable nor unpleasant". Associations like these are what have given the quince the reputation of being the "fruit of love, marriage and fertility."

Most varieties of quinces are ripe and ready for eating in late autumn. They are hard, sour, and astringent to eat raw, but once cooked and sweetened they turn a luscious red and taste divine.

Quinces are used to make marmalade, spoon sweets, pies and jellies (they have a lot of natural pectin), or they may be peeled, then roasted, baked or stewed. In Greece as well as most Mediterranean countries have favorite pork dishes with quince, as well as lamb, turkey and duck. Quinces can also be baked in the same way we bake apples.

Quince spoon sweet

4 cups

2 pounds quinces,peeled cored and cut into 1/4 inch dice
2 2/3 cups cold water
6 cups sugar
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 cinnamon stick
2 tbs inverted sugar

Combine quince cinnamon and water in large saucepan and bring to boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer until quince is tender, about 6-10 minutes depending on ripeness of fruit. Reduce heat to low, add sugar and cook until sugar dissolves. Increase heat to medium-high and cook until syrup thickens and coats back of metal spoon, scraping off any froth that accumulates on surface and reducing heat to medium if necessary to prevent boiling over, about 45 minutes. Stir in lemon juice and inverted sugar. Continue cooking until thermometer registers 234 degrees F (soft ball stage) about 20 minutes. Cool completely. Transfer to sterilized jars and seal.

The spoon sweet is offered with a glass of chilled water to visitors as a symbol of hospitality. You can also spread it on toast or serve it with a cheese platter. Spoon it over ice cream or thick Greek yogurt.