Thursday, December 28, 2006

Food related X-mas haul.

Along with an All-Clad food mill, a lovely ceramic pie plate and a Japanese manga book about bread baking, I also received this letter just in time for Christmas. After 3 years on the waiting list, I now have a spot a the Dane County Farmer's Market. Yeehaw! I got on the list without actually having a plan about what I'd sell. I knew it took 3 years to get a spot and that seemed like plenty of time to think about it.
It seems like perfect timing with the fruition of my preserving business right? There's only one small problem. The rules of the market are such that in order to sell my preserves there, I would need to grow the produce that went into them. Seems a bit overly strict, no? I do appreciate the theory behind the rule. Our market is a growers-only market. Everything sold there is grown in Wisconsin and the person who grew it must also be there to sell it. This makes the market special. I really can't say enough about how amazing this market is.
The thing is, I buy my produce from local farmers. I would be willing to sell preserves made with ONLY Wisconsin produce. This isn't good enough, though. Instead, I will have to sell baked goods. When the market first started in the 70's, the bakers actually grew their own wheat. Over the years the rules for farmers and bakers have diverged and now bakers don't even have to use local fruit in their pies. There are fantastic baked goods already at the market but I am hoping there's a niche left for me. Any ideas?

Tuesday, December 26, 2006


I'm not big on tradition. Especially when it comes to food. There are so many things I've never made before, why stick myself in a rut by making the same old thing for theholidays every year? This year, I offered to make the Christmas Eve feast for my husbands family because my mother in-law recently underwent surgery and wasn't feeling up to it.
I chose Italian (hmm, maybe I'm already in a rut with the Italian thing!) and spent a lot of time contemplating menu choices. The main course wasn't hard. Both Sam and I read Heat by Bill Buford and became intrigued by his description of a beef stew called Peposo Notturno. Just throw some beef in a pot with a bottle of Chianti, a head of garlic, salt and 4 Tbsp. of coarsely ground black pepper and bake it overnight at 200 degrees. In the AM we seperated the meat from the sauce and cooked the sauce down to thicken it up and concentrate the flavors. After another hour in the oven to reheat the stew, the meat is rich and spicy but not overwhelmingly peppery. It is unlike any other beef stew I have ever had and so easy! For photos of the entire meal, check out my flickr page.
What I really want to talk about is dessert. I thought about making many things but in the end, I went with tradition. Many years ago my Dad discovered the ultimate flourless chocolate cake. I know, we've all been beaten over the head with hundreds of flourless molten lava decadence cakes by now but this was BEFORE all of that. The recipe comes from Julia Child and the original name has way too many words. We just call it Gateau. We usually serve it with a basic raspberry sauce and a pillow of whipped cream but I knew when I wrote the post about syllabub not too long ago that this might well be the ideal accompaniment to my favorite chocolate cake. I was right.
I will share the recipe here for selfish reasons. We were packing up the seemingly endless boxes of food to bring to the festivities when I realized that my notebook with the gateau recipe was at the new kitchen and there was no time to go pick it up. What did I do? I called my parents, of course. It's actually become something of a joke in my family that I can NEVER find the recipes for our few family favorites when I need them. This cake is so good, that even though my parents are retired and traveling around in an RV, they still had the recipe with them. From now on, as long as I am near a computer, the recipe will be at my fingertips. Try it this New Year's Eve and maybe it will become a Holiday tradition for you too.

Gateau- based on a recipe from Julia Child

1 Tbsp. instant espresso powder
4 Tbsp. water ( I usually just use espresso)
4 Tbsp. rum (or try Grand Marnier, Frangelico, Kahlua, etc.)
14 semi sweet chocolate
2 oz. unsweetened chocolate (or use 1 lb. bittersweet)
6 eggs (warmed in a bowl of hot water)
1/2 c. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 c. heavy cream, whipped

In a double boiler, melt the chocolate with the espresso and rum. Be sure to add the liquids before you start melting the chocolate so that the chocolate does not seize. If you have only one Kitchenaid bowl, whip the cream first and store it in the fridge while the chocolate melts. Clean the bowl and add the warmed eggs and begin beating on low. Slowly add the sugar and vanilla then whip on high until eggs have tripled in volume. This could take 8-10 minutes and is the secret to this recipe so don't give up too soon!
When the chocolate is melted and the eggs are whipped, fold 1/4 of the egg mixture in the chocolate to lighten it. This makes it easier to combine it with the rest of the eggs. Fold the lightened chocolate back into the rest of the eggs and fold gently until homogenized. Now fold in the whipped cream. Pour into a lightly greased 9 inch square pan and bake in a water bath at 350 degrees for about 35 minutes, until the center is slightly springy to the touch. You can underbake this cake if a molten center is what you are looking for . I don't recommend it though because this cake firms up overnight and is almost a new and different cake the next day. If there's any left, I can never resist having a few bites with my morning coffee.
One more thing, this cake is not for slicing. Just scoop it out and garnish attractively. Beauty isn't everything, you know.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Too busy to blog.

My preserve business hasn't even launched yet and I'm already having a hard time keeping up. This past weekend I had an open house at the kitchen. Cookies were baked and eaten, nog was spiked and drunk and I sold many jars of preserves to friends looking for last minute Christmas gifts.
We had gingerbread men, Mexican wedding cookies, dream bars, brownies with dried cherries, pfeffernusse, jam thumprints and these jam cutouts filled with my apricot vanilla butter, plum jam and black currant preserves.
With many of my favorites depleted, I am scrambling to make more preserves. I'm working on more Pears Belle-Helene, baby agro-dolce cipollini onions, crabapple jelly and pink grapefruit jelly. I guess everybody is getting preserves for Christmas again this year after all!
Yeehaw! This year Menu for Hope 3 has already doubled the amount raised last year. You have two more days left to figure out which prize you want to bid on so don't dilly dally!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Giving Back- Menu For Hope III

It's easy this time of year, while we plan celebratory parties and shop for presents and gorge ourselves on sweets, to forget that we are very, very lucky. Many people around the world are hungry (oops! can I still call it that?) I for one am happy that Pim is once again harnessing the power of food bloggers to give something back.
Last year, a Menu for Hope II raised 17,000 dollars for Unicef. This year we are raising money for the United Nations World Food Program. To sweeten the deal, for every $10 you give, you have a chance to win some amazing prizes. From incredible dining experinces, to cook books (some signed) to photography lessons to naughty tours of Paris, there's something for everyone. I can't do justice to the prizes here so check out Pim's blog for the whole list.

Or check the blogs listed below for the regoinal roundups which include in-depth descriptions of the prizes:

US West Coast: Becks and Posh
US East Coast: The Amateur Gourmet (new prizes added)
US (the rest): Kalyn's Kitchen
Canada: Cardamom Addict
Europe and UK: (new prizes added)
Asia Pacific/Australia/New Zealand: Grab Your Fork

I am personally donating a Trio of Chocolate Preserves to the cause. Do not let the quality of the photo fool you into questioning the deliciousness of these preserves. They are all based on recipes from Mes Confitures by Christine Ferber, the jam goddess from France. Included is an 8 oz. jar each of Chocolate Raspberry, Chocolate Banana and Pears Belle-Helene (pear chocolate). These preserves are divine on ice cream, waffles, crepes or just spooned directly into your mouth. The code you will need to bid on my prize is UC11. U.S. residents only please!

Here's what you have to do to donate:

(We are still in the process of adding prizes. Check back frequently for updates!)

1. Choose a prize or prizes of your choice from our Menu for Hope.

2. Go to the donation site at and make a donation.

3. Each $10 you donate will give you one raffle ticket toward a prize of your choice. Please specify which prize you'd like in the 'Personal Message' section in the donation form when confirming your donation. You must write-in how many tickets per prize, and please use the prize code—for example, a donation of $50 can be 2 tickets for EU01 and 3 for EU02. (Please use the double-digits, not EU1, but EU01.)

4. If your company matches your charity donation, please check the box and fill in the information so we could claim the corporate match.

5. Please allow us to see your email address so that we could contact you in case you win. Your email address will not be shared with anyone.

Check back on Chez Pim on January 15 for the results of the raffle.

Thank you!

Monday, December 11, 2006

Two weeks until Christmas...

...and I'm already exhausted. I tend to lean toward hand-made gifts for the holidays. I've already done preserves, homemade liqueurs and homemade hard cider so this year I planned to branch out and make knitted gifts. I am not a quick knitter, though, and what with the posting every day in November thing, I am way behind.
I'm already backed up several posts because I couldn't see my blog over the weekend for some unknown reason. So today I have some photos and a recipe and then I'm going to call it a day so I can get back to the knitting.

I was invited to a brunch on Sunday and when I offered to bring a baked good, the hostess said she was going to make a pear-mincemeat tart. Strangely enough, I had been thinking about making a tart with a jar of mincemeat I had lying around so I offered to make it for her.

The Making of a Tart

This recipe would take a lot more work if you don't have a jar of mince lying around so feel free to buy some from the store or make the mince ahead of time. It will be fine in the fridge for up to a week. I served it with whipped cream with a little Mandarine Napoleon (orange liqueur) mixed in and to glaze it I used homemade apple spice jelly. Unfortunately, I don't know who to credit for this recipe. If you do, please let me know and I will add it.

All the fruit in this tart was sourced locally.

Pear Mincemeat Tart

2 firm pears, such a bosc
¼ cup raisins
1/3 firmly packed brown sugar
½ cup dry white wine
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
2/ tablespoons butter
1/ tablespoon brandy

1 ¼ cups flour
1/ teaspoon sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
¼ pound cold unsalted butter
3 tablespoons cold water

4 to 5 firm pears, such as bosc
½ lemon
2 tablespoons sugar
¼ cup strained ginger preserves or apple jelly for glaze
1 cup heavy cream
½ teaspoon brandy

Nutmeg for sprinkling

Preparation: FOR THE PEAR MINCEMEAT: Peel, core, and chop pears. In a saucepan combine pears, raisins, brown sugar and wine. Bring to a boil and simmer, partially covered, until pears are tender and liquid is reduced by half, about 40 minutes. Add cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, ginger, butter and brandy. Cook 5 more minutes. Mincemeat can be made ahead and stored in the refrigerator for at least 5 days.

FOR THE PASTRY: Combine flour, sugar and salt. Cut in cold butter or work with your hands until mixture is the consistency of meal with some pieces of butter still the size of peas. Sprinkle in the cold water and stir until dough just begins to clump together in the bowl. Turn into a mass, using plastic wrap and your hand to help gather dry parts of dough and press them into moistened dough. Wrap dough in plastic and chill at least 20 minutes.

Peel and core pears and cut lengthwise into ¼ to ½ slices. Squeeze lemon juice over slices and toss.

On a floured work surface roll out pastry. Fit dough into a 10 – inch tart pan with a removable bottom and chill 10 to 15 minutes.

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Prick bottom of tart shell thoroughly and spread mincemeat over it. Arrange pear slices in concentric circles, starting from outside edge and overlapping slightly to form 2 or 3 rings of pear slices, using smaller slices toward center. Sprinkle with 1 ½ tablespoons sugar.

Bake in preheated oven until crust is golden brown and pears are tender, 55 to 60 minutes. Cool.

Melt ginger preserves or apple jelly and brush over cooled tart. Whip cream with remaining 1 ½ teaspoons sugar and brandy until it holds soft peaks. Refrigerate cream if not using right away.

SERVING: Serve each slice with a dollop of whipped cream sprinkled with nutmeg.

P.S.- If there are any graphic designers/web designers out there who want to help me create labels and a website for Pamplemousse Preserves, please contact me.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006


As of today, my kitchen is certified and I am licensed by the state to make preserves. YeeHaw!! Here is a virtual tour:

Oh, and the name is Pamplemousse Preserves. Soon there will be a website where you can order your very own.

Monday, December 04, 2006

I'm a fool for syllabub.

I served this at the end of a Morrocan feast but I think it would be a great way to finish Christmas dinner. I've made flavored whipped cream before but there is so much liquid in this recipe that I couldn't believe the cream would still whip.
As you can see by the picture, I did not end up with a soupy mess. (I read that the traditional way to serve this is to let it sit in the fridge overnight so it seperates a little and then you drink it.) This dessert defies description. I've been sitting here way to long trying to think of a clever way to describe the texture and flavor (like whipped cream but DIFFERENT and BETTER! Like the best creamsicle ever!). You can see my problem. I'm just going to leave it at this: I have never made something this easy that tasted this good. It has to be tried to be believed.

Turkish Delight Syllabub from Nigella Bites

3/4 c. Mandarine Napoleon (or other orange liqueur)
juice of 2 lemons
8 Tbsp. sugar
2 1/2 c. heavy cream
2 Tbsp. orange flower water
2 Tbsp. rosewater (optional- I forgot to bring it but didn't miss it)
2 Tbsp. shelled pistachios, finely chopped

In the bowl of a Kitchenaid mixer, combine the liqueur, lemon juice, and sugar. Begin mixing on low and slowly add the cream. As it begins to thicken turn it up to medium speed. It will take much longer to whip than regular whipped cream. When the cream is thick enough to hold its shape, add the orange flower water. Continue mixing until the cream holds soft peaks. Serve in decorative glasses with pistachios sprinkled on top. An Anna's orange cookie on the side makes an ideal vehicle for scooping this into your mouth.

Check out these syllabubs from other bloggers:
Lemon Raspberry from The Domestic Goddess
Lime from Habeas Brulee

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Winter Market Report II- Metaphoric vegetables.

Find Part I here.

Elephant trunk burdock root.

Michelin man crosnes.
Firecracker tatsoi.
Watermelon radish (oh yeah, that's it's name!)
We also got some normal veggies.
And some eggs and pears for more Pears Belle-Helene!