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    THE NIBBLE’s Gourmet News & Views

    Trends, Products & Items Of Note In The World Of Specialty Foods

    This is the blog section of THE NIBBLE. Read all of our content on TheNibble.com,
    the online magazine about gourmet and specialty food.

Archive for Holidays & Occasions

RECIPE: Cranberry Orange Margarita For Thanksgiving & Christmas

If you crowd prefers Margaritas to other cocktails, that’s no surprise—the Margarita has been America’s favorite cocktail for some time (source: The Beverage Information Group).

For the holiday season, Sauza Tequila tweaked the recipe to create a holiday version: Cranberry Orange Margarita. Since Margaritas already include orange liqueur, they substituted cranberry juice for the lime juice and voilà!

Sauza made the recipe with Sauza Blue Silver 100% Agave Tequila. You can use any silver (also called blanco [white] or plata [which means silver]) tequila. For reference, here are the different types of tequila).

RECIPE: CRANBERRY ORANGE MARGARITA

Ingredients Per Drink

  • 1½ parts silver tequila
  • ½ part Cointreau, triple sec or other orange liqueur
  • 4 parts cranberry juice
  • 2 parts orange juice
  • 2 large oranges
  • ½ cup cranberries
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  •  

    Cranberry Orange Margarita-sauza-230

    A Margarita for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Photo courtesy Sauza Tequila.

     

    Preparation

    1. PREPARE the garnishes: Freeze the cranberries. Using a channel knife (you can buy a combination channel knife and zester), cut a long spiral from one orange (try to do it in a single strip, all around the orange). Cut the peel strips into strips that are 6 inches long. Twist the peels around a bar spoon (or other slender spoon) and reserve for later.

    2. ZEST the other orange with a zester or spice grater to remove just the peel (none of the pith) and combine with sugar.

    3. CUT the zested orange into wedges. Rub a wedge of orange around the rim of the glass. Roll the glass through the sugared orange zest.

    4. COMBINE the rest of the sugar and orange zest mixture in a shaker with the cranberry juice, orange juice, tequila and orange liqueur. Twist the orange peel over the drink and place in the prepared glass. Top with the frozen cranberries and serve.
     
    MORE ON MARGARITAS

    Check out the history of the Margarita and more Margarita recipes.

    Find more tequila cocktail recipes at SauzaTequila.com.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Cider Cocktails

    Cider cocktails: We don’t get enough of them. It’s our own fault, since we habitually order one of our three favorite cocktails instead of going for the seasonal specialty.

    Eating seasonally means drinking seasonally, too. So from now through the end of holiday season, we’re going to enjoy cocktails with fall and winter ingredients, returning on January 1st, National Bloody Mary Day, to our usual drink of choice.

    Thanks to ONEHOPE Wine for these two sparkling cocktails, made with regular cider and their sparkling wine (you can use any sparkler).
     
    RECIPE: PEAR & SPARKLING CIDER COCKTAIL

    Ingredients For 8 Cocktails

  • Rim: 2/3 cup sugar, 1/3 cup cinnamon, combinedd
  • 2 cups chilled pear nectar
  • 2 cups apple cider
  • 2 cups sparkling wine
  • 4 ounces Bourbon
  • Garnish: 1 pear, unpeeled and cored cut into thin slices
    lengthwise
  •    

    Pear and Sparkling Cider-svedka-230

    Pear nectar, apple cider and sparkling wine unite in a seasonal sparkler. Photo courtesy Svedka Vodka.

     

    Preparation

    1. RIM flutes with cinnamon and sugar mixture.

    2. COMBINE pear nectar, apple cider, sparkling wine and Bourbon in a pitcher. Serve immediately, garnished with sliced pear.

     

    Apple Cider Mimosa-svedka-230

    We’re not sure why it’s called a Mimosa (Champagne and orange juice). Think of it as
    a Mimosa for Scotch lovers. Photo courtesy Svedka Vodka.

     

    RECIPE: APPLE CIDER MIMOSA

    Ingredients For 1 Drink

  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 1 ounce Scotch
  • 2 ounces fresh apple cider
  • 4 ounces sparkling wine
  • Garnish: apple slices
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE brown sugar, Scotch and apple cider in a flute.

    2. TOP with sparkling wine and garnish with fresh apple slices.
     

    ABOUT ONEHOPE

    ONEHOPE is a social enterprise that integrates causes into products and services to make a social impact. ONEHOPE Wine, produced in California in partnership with Rob Mondavi, Jr., donates half of its profits to partner causes. Learn more at OneHopeWine.com.

     

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: The Best Squash For Pumpkin Pie & Other Pumpkin Desserts

    pumpkin-pie-whole-230

    What’s in your pumpkin pie? Photo courtesy Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board.

     

    If your only experience in baking pumpkin pie is “from the can,” you have no idea what kind of pumpkin is inside. In fact, it’s probably not pumpkin, but a different type of squash.

    If you’ve ever tried to scoop the flesh from a big, orange pumpkin and turn it into pie, you probably don’t want to do it again! Wrangling the fibrous pumpkin flesh isn’t easy.

    But there is a solution, known to pumpkin pie bakers: butternut squash. It’s also the “pumpkin” you should ue in pumpkin flan and other pumpkin desserts.

    To prove the superiority, author and cookbook writer Melissa Clark, a popular food writer at The New York Times, tested different squashes to determine for once and for all what the best choice is for a pumpkin pie. She found that butternut squash tied with acorn squash for the best flavor, although butternut delivers better color.

    Butternut squash is very easy to work with; the skin slips right off with a vegetable peeler. Her tasting notes are adapted below. You can read the full article here.

     
    Why not take the easy road and use canned pumpkin? Fresh really does taste fresher and brighter, says Clark.

    She’s done all the heavy lifting (and roasting, and scooping) to prove it.

     

    Acorn Squash: Honeyed, moist, not too fibrous.

    Blue Hubbard Squash: Hard to cut through the rind, granular texture. The flavor was pleasing and delicate, but the flesh wasn’t as sweet as some of the others.

    Butternut Squash: Deep and richly flavored, sweet, with relatively smooth flesh that is easy to purée. THE WINNER!

    Carnival Squash: Neither tender nor sweet not tender.

    Cheese Pumpkin: Unwieldy and heavy to carry home, difficult to through skin, granular and watery flesh. The bright, fresh flavor works for savory dishes but not for pie.

    Delicata Squash: Mild, velvety flesh but not sweet enough for pie.

    Kabocha Squash: Dense and velvety flesh but a vegetal flavor that is terrific for savory dishes.

     

    pumpkins-rowanngilman-230

    What you don’t want to use in pumpkin pie: pumpkin! Photo by Rowann Gilman | THE NIBBLE.

    Sugar Pumpkin (the “pie pumpkin): It’s neither sugary sweet nor very tender, but fibrous and bland tasting. Save them jack-o’-lanterns. (And they have the best seeds for roasting, says Clark).

    Spaghetti Squash: Stringy, watery and not sweet enough for pie.
     

    Check out the different types of squash in our Squash Glossary.

      

    Comments

    FOOD 101: Is It Stuffing Or Dressing?

    Classic_Herb_Stuffing_mccormick-230

    Plain stuffing with just the basics: bread,
    celery and onions. It really needs some
    augmentation. Mushrooms make a huge
    difference. Photo courtesy McCormick.com.

     

    What’s the difference between stuffing and dressing, readers ask?

    Stuffing the cavity of animals with another dish is an ancient practice. The earliest documentary evidence is the Roman cookbook, “De Re Coquinaria,” “On Cooking, from about 100 C.E. (It is still in print, in English translation. Get a copy on Amazon.com.) The book contains recipes for stuffed chicken, hare, pig, and, yes, dormouse.

    In addition to stuffing the body cavity of birds, fish and mammals, various cuts of meat are stuffed after they have been deboned, or a pouch has been cut into them. Examples include stuffed chicken legs, stuffed pork chops and stuffed breast of veal.

    Vegetables can also be stuffed, from cabbage, where the individual leaves are stuffed and rolled, to potatoes and zucchini, where the flesh is removed, combined with other ingredients, and stuffed back into the shell.

    Names for stuffing in the English language evolved as well. Wikipedia mentions farce (~1390), stuffing (1538), forcemeat (1688) and dressing. After 1880, the “stuffing” was replaced by “dressing” in Victorian English.

     

    WHAT’S IN STUFFING?

    Most of the stuffings described in “De Re Coquinaria” consist of vegetables, herbs and spices, nuts, spelt (also known as dinkel wheat or hulled wheat) or other grain. Other popular ingredients included brains, chopped liver and other organ meats.

    Similar ingredients are still used today. The main difference is that bread is often the base into which the other ingredients are mixed. Turkey stuffing usually consists of day-old (or older) bread, cut into cubes or dried into croutons, mixed with celery, onion, poultry seasoning, salt, pepper and herbs such as sage or summer savory. Add-ins range from fruit and oysters to giblets and pancetta.

     

    WHY ARE BOTH “STUFFING” & “DRESSING” USED IN THE U.S.?

    There is a difference.

    “Stuffing” is self-explanatory: The ingredients are stuffed into the cavity. But in the South, “dressing” is the prevailing term, even if the bird is stuffed in exactly the same way.

    Why? Because old Southern tradition dictated that holiday fowl be hunted and cooked on the day of the feast itself. It was a time crunch to get the bird cleaned and cooked in time for dinner, and a hollow bird cooks faster than a stuffed bird. Thus, the side dish was not stuffed into the bird, but cooked alone.

    In the process, stuffing is cooked at a higher temperature for a longer period than a separate pan of dressing; so it is usually drier. Older dressing recipes were created to have more of a sauce-like consistency, so it could be poured over the food.

    So if the discussion arises at your Thanksgiving dinner, consider yourself prepared!

     

    stuffing-bellasunluci-230

    Cornbread stuffing dressed up with sundried tomatoes, fresh sage and grapes. Photo courtesy Bella Sun Luci.

     

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Rose Champagne With Turkey

    Each year at this time we get queries about the best wine to serve with turkey. Click over to see our list of “turkey wines”: delicious, affordable choices in red, white and sparkling wines.

    One wine we left off of our original list is a crowd pleaser: rosé Champagne. The dark fruit flavors make it a delightful match for turkey, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, butternut squash soup, roasted Brussels sprouts and the rest of the menu.
     
    Party Favors

    Not only will it thrill at the table; if you’re into nice party favors, you can use splits as place settings. Tie a ribbon around the neck and thread a card with the person’s name. We’ve seen rosé splits from Nicolas Feuillatte’s and Moet & Chandon and Pommery (from $12-$15); your retailer may have others.

    But for only $10 for a full-size bottle, we really enjoy [yellow tail] Bubbles Rosé from Australia (yes, it’s spelled lower case and in brackets) and Martini Sparkling Rosé Wine from Italy.
     
    Dessert & Brunch

    For dessert, the delicate sweetness of a demi-sec rosé, such as Champagne Nicolas Feuillatte’s D’Luscious and Moet & Chandon Nectar Imperial Rosé, pairs with most desserts. Those who don’t indulge in dessert—or have no room left for it—will enjoy sipping a glass.

       

    nicolas-feuillatte-brut-rose-split-230

    Quarter bottles of Champagne are sparkling party favors. At left, Brut; at right, Brut Rosé. Photo courtesy Nicolas Feuillatte.

     

    sparkling-rose-with-strawberry-martini-230

    Sparkling rosé wines from Australia and Italy are very affordable—some just $10 for a full-size bottle. Photo courtesy Martini.

     

    Recork any leftover bubbly with a Champagne recorker and mix it with pink grapefruit juice for a Grapefruit Mimosa. There’s a recipe below.
     
    WHAT IS ROSÉ WINE?

  • Also referred to as blush wine, rosé can be made as a still, semi-still or sparkling wine.
  • Still rosé wines can be made from almost any red grape varietal, or from a blend of varietals. Sparkling rosé wines, including rosé Champagne, are exceptions because they also can be made with white grapes. The wines get their rosy color from contact with the red grape skins.
  • Depending on the grape, terroir and winemaking techniques, the color can range from the palest pink to deep ruby red to hues of orange or violet. Styles range from bone dry Provençal rosé to sweet White Zinfandel and other blush wines from California.
  • Still rose wines are not made to age, and should be drunk at 1-3 years old. The exception is top-quality rosé Champagne. A 15-year-old Dom Perignon Rosé, for example, is a joy.
  •  

    RECIPE: GRAPEFRUIT MIMOSA COCKTAIL

    This recipe, from Emeril Lagasse, can be made sweeter by adding more juice and less Champagne—a proportion that also stretches the Champagne if you don’t have enough left over.

    Ingredients For 4 Flutes

  • 4 tablespoons triple sec or other orange liqueur (e.g. Cointreau, Grand Marnier)
  • 1/2 cup pink or red grapefruit juice
  • 2 cups Champagne
  • Garnish: grapefruit wedge
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PLACE 1 tablespoon of liqueur in each flute. Top with 2 tablespoons of grapefruit juice and 1/2 cup of Champagne.

    2. GARNISH with a grapefruit wedge and serve.

      

    Comments

    PRODUCT & GIFT: Pumpkin Granola

    Artisan granola specialist My Favorite Indulgence slow-roasts gourmet granola in small batches. The result is very flavorful, and crunchier than most granolas.

    Flavors include Granola With Nuts, Nut Free Granola and Chocolate Mocha Granola. But a timely seasonal gift is the Pumpkin-Spiced Granola (it’s available year-round).

    Made with certified non-GMO ingredients on a base of oats, the rich flavors derive from real pumpkin, spices (cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg), almonds, walnuts, dried cranberries, brown sugar and maple syrup.

    A 10-ounce pouch is $9.95. There’s free shipping with a purchase of three pouches or more. Handsome gift wrapping is available.

    Alas, the individual snack pack size is temporarily sold out, but keep checking: They make great stocking stuffers and party favors.

    Get yours at MyFavoriteIndulgence.com.

     

    my-favorite-indulgence-granola-pumpkinpkg-230

    Gourmet and giftable: Pumpkin-Spiced Granola. Photo courtesy My Favorite Indulgence.

     

    THE HISTORY OF GRANOLA

    Granola was invented as a healthy breakfast food in 1863 by Dr. James Caleb Jackson, owner of a sanatorium* in upstate New York. It was the world’s first dry, manufactured breakfast cereal.

    At that time, the standard American breakfast was a cholesterol-laden hot meal of eggs, bacon, sausage and beef or chicken, hot cereal, biscuits, toast, butter and jam—a British tradition that evolved to fortify the gentry for a day of sport. (The less wealthy had a ready supply of eggs from their own eggs; fresh eggs also were easily accessible to city folk.)

    Granula became granola when Dr. John Kellogg, who founded a sanatorium in the midwest, produced a similar product with the same name. So, “granola” was born of a trademark lawsuit.

    Check out the history of granola and the difference between granola and muesli.
     
    *Also spelled sanitorium and sanitarium, it indicates a medical facility for long-term illness. While many specialized in the treatment of tuberculosis and other diseases that were not curable before the advent of antibiotics and other medications, others catered to the affluent in a more spa-like environment, where their digestive problems and other discomforts were treated with a regimen of rest and good nutrition.

      

    Comments

    FOOD FUN: Party Plate Decals For Any Occasion

    christmas-plate-decals-createURplate

    Just a few of the Christmas decal choices. Photo courtesy Create UR Plate.

     

    We absolutely love this line of plate decals, created by party planner Sandy Casey of Create UR Plate.

    Hundreds of choices let you tailor your dishes to any party occasion. The “magic” comes from adhesive decals, which adhere to the base of glass or plastic plates from the underside.

    Made in sizes to fit both dinner plates and dessert plates, they’re $1.99 each and are reusable. The company also sells glass and plastic plates.

    Can you think of a more elegant—and fun—idea for party plates? The many decal themes include:

  • Anniversary
  • Baby Shower
  • Birthday
  • Bridal Shower
  • Easter
  • Graduation
  • Halloween
  • Hanukkah
  • New Years
  • Passover
  • Patriotic
  • St. Patrick’s
  • Tailgaiting
  • Thanksgiving
  • Valentine
  • Wedding
  •  

    You can also create your own custom design with your own photos and jpgs. Perhaps some Bark Mitzvah plates for Fido?

    See why we find this product so exciting. Check out the plates for

  • Thanksgiving
  • Christmas
  •  
    You can also create plates as gifts, with photos of the kids, pets, team logos and so forth.

    Party on!

     

    giving-thanks-230sq

    One of many different ways to customize your holiday dishes with reusable decals. Photo courtesy Create UR Plate.

     

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Crispy Sweet Potato Roast

    sweet-potato-chips-reclaimingprovincial-via-vtcreamery-230

    This roasted potato dish is similar to a
    Provençal tian. Even if you’re serving a
    traditional sweet potato dish, make these,
    too! Photo courtesy Reclaiming Provincial |
    Vermont Creamery.

     

    During the holiday season, one of America’s great producers of artisan butters, Vermont Creamery, creates a variation of their award winning Cultured Butter: Cultured Butter with Maple & Sea Salt.

    The contrast of salty crunch with the sweetness of maple is delicious on pancakes and waffles, stirred into hot oatmeal, baked into cookies, melted over roasted squash or other veggies, potatoes and rice, or simply spread over a warm piece of crusty bread or toast. The combination of sweet and savory is a hit.

    WHAT IS CULTURED BUTTER?

    In France and other parts of Europe, butter is cultured by adding live bacteria to the cream before churning. The fat content of the butter has to be a minimum of 82% (in the U.S. it can be as low as 80%). The culturing process enhances the sweetness of the butter and brings out a subtle tanginess.

    In the U.S, most butter isn’t cultured; the cream goes straight to the butter churn without added bacteria. This is known as sweet cream butter.

     

    Vermont Creamery’s cultured butter has an 86% butterfat content—the highest fat content you can obtain when making butter. Higher fat content means less moisture, and it provides a higher smoke point when pan searing, a more tender crumb or crust for baking and a much more flavorful table butter.

    RECIPE: CRISPY SWEET POTATO ROAST WITH HERBED COCONUT CRÈME FRAÎCHE

    This recipe comes to us Carey Nershi of the blog Reclaiming Provincial via Vermont Creamery. The combination of coconut milk, crème fraîche and sriracha add an unexpected twist. Find more exciting recipes at ReclaimingProvincial.com.

    For a related dish, check out the French Provençal dish, tian.

    This looks so great in the pan that we made ours in a casserole dish that could go straight from oven to table.

    Note that you can substitute quality unsalted butter (like Cabot’s) for the Vermont Creamery cultured butter. Add 1/8 teaspoon of maple sugar (or to taste) and a pinch of sea salt as a substitute.

     

    Ingredients

  • 4 pounds sweet potatoes (approximately 2.5 inches in
    diameter)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1.5 tablespoons Vermont Creamery Cultured Butter
  • 1.5 tablespoons Vermont Creamery Cultured Butter with Sea
    Salt & Maple
  • A few pinches of coarse sea salt
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • Heaping 1/2 cup crème fraîche (purchased or homemade)
  • 4 teaspoons sriracha* or other hot sauce
  • 1/3 cup fresh cilantro, minced
  •  

    cultured-butter-maple-2-230sq

    So delicious, and well worth the splurge. Photo courtesy Vermont Creamery.

     
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 375°F. Melt the butters over low heat on the stove top, then mix together with olive oil and set aside.

    2. PEEL the sweet potatoes, then slice crosswise as thinly and evenly as possible (between 1/8” and 1/16” is ideal). A mandoline will make the task far easier.

    3. BRUSH a healthy coating of the butter and oil mixture over the inside of an 8” or 9” baking dish or skillet and sprinkle with a pinch of coarse sea salt. Arrange the potatoes in the dish, brush with the remaining butter and oil and sprinkle with the remaining salt.

    4. ROAST the potatoes for 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until the middle of the potatoes are tender and the tops begin to brown and crisp. (The exact time will depend on your oven and on how thinly you’ve sliced the potatoes. Test them with a fork to make sure they’re tender in the middle.) Remove from the oven and let rest for 10 minutes. While the potatoes are resting…

    5. WHISK together the coconut milk, crème fraîche, and sriracha in a saucepan over medium heat, until just warmed.

    6. POUR half of the sauce over top of the potatoes and sprinkle with half of the minced cilantro. Combine the remaining sauce and cilantro and serve alongside the potatoes, for guests to use as desired.
     
    *Sriracha, pronounced see-RAH-jah, is a Thai hot chili sauce. It is made from red chiles, distilled vinegar, garlic, sugar and salt; and is aged for three months or longer. Unlike American hot sauces such as Tabasco, which are vinegar sauces that are infused with hot chiles, sriracha is primarily puréed chiles, making it a much thicker sauce. The sauce is named after the coastal city of Si Racha in eastern Thailand, where it was first made and marketed.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Pumpkin Flan, Delicious & Gluten Free

    pumpkin-flan-kimptonhotels-230

    Pumpkin flan. Photo courtesy South Water Kitchen | Chicago.

     

    Unless you bake with gluten-free flour, Thanksgiving guests following a gluten-free diet can’t enjoy your pumpkin pie. So Roger Waysok, executive chef of South Water Kitchen in the Chicago Loop, suggests a gluten-free alternative: pumpkin Flan.

    His recipe, below, is easy for to prepare and doesn’t require a novice baker to deal with the challenges of gluten-free flour. (You can’t simply substitute gluten-free flour for regular flour; you need a recipe developed with gluten-free flour*).

    Flan is the Spanish name for a particular type of custard made with carmel syrup. The french term is crème caramel. It is the national dessert of Spain. In Mexico, dulce de leche is often used instead of caramel syrup.

    Check out the different types of custard in our delectable Custard Glossary.

     
    RECIPE: PUMPKIN FLAN

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • Caramel syrup (see Step 1 below)
  • 2 cups sugar (for syrup)
  • Nonstick spray
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 2/3 cup egg yolks
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice†
  • 3/4 cup pumpkin purée (not pumpkin pie filling‡)
  •  
    Preparation

    1. MAKE the caramel syrup: Cook 2 cups of sugar and 4 tablespoons of water over medium-high heat until it turns amber in color. Stir frequently to avoid burning.

    2. SPRAY 4-ounce custard cups or foil cups; cover the bottoms with thin layer of caramel.

    3. COMBINE milk, vanilla and salt over heat until steaming (do not scorch).

    4. COMBINE the sugar, eggs, egg yolks, spices and pumpkin purée in a separate bowl. Whisk until combined; then add the warm milk mixture until a custard forms.

    5. FILL the cups with custard. Bake in water bath at 325°F for 30 minutes. Serve warm or chilled

     
    *Gluten-free flour can sometimes require extra ingredients to bind the dough mixture, in order to create the same chemical reaction that occurs with regular flour.

    †Pumpkin pie spice is simply a blend of the traditional spices that go into pumpkin pie. Combine 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg, 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger and 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves.

    ‡Pumpkin pie filling has spices blended in. Pumpkin purée is not seasoned; the appropriate spices are included in the recipe.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Goat Cheese Sweet Potato Parfait Appetizer

    If you run with a gourmet crowd, here’s a suggestion for a first course that’s easy to make, yet impressive and unique. It is especially elegant when you use a ring mold to create a free-standing tower. However, an easy alternative is to layer the ingredients in a dessert glass or juice glass.

    You can find many more special recipes at VermontCreamery.com.

    RECIPE: GOAT CHEESE SWEET POTATO PARFAIT

    Ingredients
     
    For The Parfait

  • 3 medium apples
  • 2 sweet potatoes (about 1½ pounds)
  • Fine sea salt
  • Freshly ground white pepper*
  • 3 tablespoon olive oil
  • 10 ounces fresh goat cheese (chèvre), plain
  • 6 ounces crème fraîche
  • 1 small shallot, minced (about 1 tablespoon)
  • 1 tablespoon chives, sliced
  •  
    For The Crème Fraîche Sauce

  • 4 ounces crème fraîche
  • 1 tablespoon shallots, minced
  • 1 tablespoon parsley, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chives, sliced
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • Fine sea salt and freshly ground pepper
  •    

    sweet-potato_goat_cheese_parfait-vtcreamery-230b

    For a sophisticated first course: sweet potato and goat cheese parfait. Photo courtesy Vermont Creamery.

     
    If you can’t find crème fraîche at the store, you can make it from scratch from heavy cream and buttermilk, with this recipe.
     
    For The Salad

  • 1 cup celery leaves
  • 2 tablespoons black olives, diced
  • 1 tablespoon lemon, diced
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons lemon oil
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • ¼ cup celery, sliced on a bias about ¼ inch long
  •  
    Special Equipment

  • 6 ring molds, 2 inches in diameter by 3 inches high
  •  
    *White peppercorns are black peppercorns with the outer black skin removed. They lose some of the heat and flavor, which is contained in the skin. In the halls of haute cuisine, this was done to prevent black flecks of skin from marring the perfect whiteness of a sauce. However, today we live in a much more relaxed culinary society and are not bothered by black flecks.

     

    creme-fraiche-in-pail-beauty-vtcreamery-230

    Crème fraîche. Photo courtesy Vermont Creamery.

     

    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 400°F. Season the apples and sweet potatoes with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil.

    2. INDIVIDUALLY WRAP the sweet potatoes and apples in aluminum foil, and place them in the preheated oven. The apples will be tender in about 20 minutes; the sweet potatoes will need about 35 to 40 minutes of cooking time. Once they are tender, remove them from the foil. When the apples and sweet potatoes are cool enough to handle, peel and dice into ¼-inch pieces and set aside. While the apples and sweet potatoes are cooling…

    3. COMBINE the parfait ingredients, the chèvre and and the crème fraîche in a bowl and mix completely. Stir in the shallot and chives. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Reserve in the refrigerator.

    4. MAKE the crème fraîche sauce: Mix the crème fraîche, shallots, parsley, chives and lemon juice in a stainless steel mixing bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Twenty minutes before serving, remove the chèvre mixture from the refrigerator and bring to room temperature.

     

    5. PLACE a ring mold in the center of each plate and spread 1 tablespoon of the chèvre mixture in the bottom. Top the chèvre with the diced sweet potato, then add another dollop of chèvre, then the diced apple, another dollop of chèvre, then the diced sweet potato. Finish with a layer of chèvre.

    6. TOSS the celery leaves, slices of celery, black olives, and lemon together. Drizzle with lemon juice and lemon oil and season with salt and pepper. Top each parfait with a bit of the celery salad, and then remove the mold. Place the parfait in the middle of a plate and drizzle the crème fraîche sauce around the plate and decorate with celery. Serve immediately.

      

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