Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Chocolate-Bacon Truffle

The chocolate truffle is crafted from ganache (a merger of heavy cream and dark chocolate) and rolled in cocoa powder.  They are called truffles because of their resemblance to the fungus, not because they contain mushroom.  Given the recent popularity of the chocolate/bacon pairing, the addition of bacon to chocolate truffles seemed a natural progression, and several companies (including Vosges) have taken advantage of it.  At Vosges, they charge $48 for 16 of their blissful confections, which breaks down to just $3 per candy -- a darn good deal.

If you'd like to make your own bacon truffles, here's an easy great recipe for about 30:

¾ cup of heavy whipping cream
½ cup of well-cooked bacon, chopped fine
8 ounces of dark chocolate, chopped fine
Cocoa powder

Heat the cream in a saucepan over medium heat until it simmers, then take it off the burner. Immediately sprinkle the chocolate onto the hot cream and allow it to sit, covered, for five minutes; then stir the melted chocolate into the cream until well combined. This is your ganache!
Fold the bacon into the ganache and mix thoroughly, then put the mix into a covered bowl and refrigerate it for 4-5 hours. Finally, dust your hands lightly in cocoa powder, and start rolling the mix into ½-1 inch balls, using a teaspoon. This will work better if your hands are cold (otherwise the ganache will melt).
Roll each ball thoroughly in the cocoa powder as you finish it, and put the completed candies aside on a plate. Chill them for 30 minutes or so, et viola -- your classy and very delicious chocolate bacon truffle confections are ready to serve to all and sundry.


Tuesday, March 27, 2012

National Frozen Food Month

March is National Frozen Food MonthThat made me review what I keep on hand in my freezer. (Must be party ready.)  Puff pastry can be defrosted to create a base for appetizers or desserts.  Berries and peaches can be ice cream toppings or pie fillings or smoothie ingredients.  Ice cream, of course,  is a staple.  As are chicken breasts and bacon Individual rolls are handy for a mini sandwich or to accompany dinner.  Chopped spinach is there for dips or to add to lasagna.  A bag of frozen peas makes a great compress as well as being available as a dinner vegetable or a pasta ingredient.  When red and yellow bell peppers go on sale, they are added to the freezer.
A bottle of vodka stands (well, lies) ready for martinis.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Greek Independence Day

This national holiday celebrates the anniversary of independence from the Ottoman Empire in 1821.

Fava -a Mezedes,  or the food you serve to show hospitality and have visitors linger longer!

1 Whole Bay Leaf
1-3 Cloves Garlic, Peeled
1 Whole Lemon, Squeezed
2/3 Cup Olive Oil 
1 lb Peas ( Yellow Split )
1 Pinch Pepper to taste
1 Handful Scallions, green only, finely chopped
1 Pinch Sea Salt
3  Shallots, Peeled

Wash peas and remove pebbles.

Place in pot with shallots, bay leaf and garlic, and add enough water to double cover peas.
Turn heat on high and bring to boil.
Cover and let simmer for 1/2 hour until peas are mashable.
Stir occasionally and add water if necessary.
When soft, drain peas.
Remove the bay leaf, garlic and shallots.
Food process or hand mash peas.
Add 3/4 of the olive oil and mix until it is light and fluffy.
Season with salt and pepper and add lemon juice to taste.
Serve on a plate drizzled with olive oil and topped with chopped scallions.
Serve with plenty of crusty bread.
**A nice alternative: use 1/2 the olive oil, and a little more fresh garlic. (Greeks like to make their own variations!)
Credits: Eat Greek

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Sheelah's Day

Partying today extends St. Patrick's Day frivolities another 24 hours.  Yesterday was celebrated by drinking Irish whiskey and that ends today with a 'drowning ceremony' when a shamrock is 'drowned' in the last glass of the evening.  Slainte!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Pi Day

Geometry fans party today 3/14 at 1:59 pm.  (pi=3.14159...)  The rest of us may just enjoy a piece of pie. 
 Combination Butter and Shortening Crust
Ingredients for one double-crust 9 inch or 10 inch pie:
  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 Tablespoons sugar
  • 3/4 cup (a stick and a half) unsalted butter, chilled, cut into 1/4 inch cubes
  • 1/2 cup of all-vegetable shortening (8 Tbsp)
  • 6-8 Tablespoons ice water
1 Combine flour, salt, and sugar in a food processor; pulse to mix. Add the butter and pulse 4 times. Add shortening in tablespoon sized chunks, and pulse 4 more times. The mixture should resemble coarse cornmeal, with butter bits no bigger than peas. Sprinkle 6 tablespoons of ice water over flour mixture. Pulse a couple times. If you pinch some of the crumbly dough and it holds together, it's ready. If the dough doesn't hold together, keep adding water, a tablespoon at a time, pulsing once after each addition, until the mixture just begins to clump together.
2 Remove dough from machine and place in a mound on a clean surface. Divide the dough into 2 balls and flatten each into 4 inch wide disks. Do not over-knead the dough! Dust the disks lightly with flour, wrap each in plastic, and refrigerate for at least an hour, or up to 2 days before rolling out.
3 After the dough has chilled in the refrigerator for an hour, you can take it out to roll. If it is too stiff, you may need to let it sit for 5-10 minutes at room temperature before rolling. Sprinkle a little flour on a flat, clean work surface and on top of the disk of dough you intend to roll out. (We use a Tupperware pastry sheet that has the pie circles already marked.) Using a rolling pin, apply light pressure while rolling outwards from the center of the dough. Every once in a while you may need to gently lift under the dough (a pastry scraper works great for this) to make sure it is not sticking. You have a big enough piece of dough when you place the pie tin or pie dish upside down on the dough and the dough extends by at least 2 inches all around.
4 When the dough has reached the right size, gently fold it in half. Lift up the dough and place it so that the folded edge is along the center line of the pie dish. Gently unfold. Do not stretch the dough.
5a If you are only making a single crust pie, use a pair of kitchen scissors to trim the dough to within 1/2 inch of the lip of the dish. Tuck the overhang underneath itself along the edge of the pie dish. Use your fingers in a pinching motion, or the tines of a fork to crimp the edge of the pie crust.
5b If you are making a double crust pie, roll out the second disk of dough. Gently place onto the top of the filling in the pie. Use a kitchen scissors to trim the overhang to an inch over. Fold the edge of the top piece of dough over and under the edge of the bottom piece of dough, pressing together. Finish the double crust by pressing against the edges of the pie with your finger tips or with a fork.
6 Use a sharp knife to cut vents into the top of the pie crust, so the steam has a place to escape while the pie is cooking. Optional:  Before scoring, you may want to paint the top of your crust with an egg wash (this will make a nice finish).

Egg Wash
  • 1 Tbsp heavy cream, half and half, or milk
  • 1 large egg yolk
Beat egg yolk with cream and brush on the surface of the pie with a pastry brush.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Coffee and Tea Festival

As seen on the Food Network’s hit show Unwrapped and selected as one of the 10 best New York Events *, “the Coffee And Tea Festival is a celebration of everything related to coffee and tea,” said Lynda Calimano, Event Producer.  It was host to a spectacular collection of coffee and tea companies from around the country.  Stepping off the elevator I was assailed by the aroma of coffee. I sampled and enjoyed java but was primarily there because of my love for tea and my interest in promoting my Tea to Go parties.  I visited booths by Harney & Sons. Tavalon, and Numi among the many various companies where tea was being tried and purchased.  There were also all sorts of tea accoutrements.  I bought a novelty item that brews and then dispenses tea via gravity.  Placed on the cup, tea 'pours' until lifted off.

* April 2009,

Sunday, March 4, 2012

National Poundcake Day

I keep poundcake in the freezer to have for an impromptu tea or breakfast treat.  Slice, thaw, and then make this topping:
1/4  cup butter or margarine, softened
1/2  cup packed brown sugar
3/4  cup flaked coconut
1/3  cup chopped pecans or walnuts
3  tablespoons milk
In a small bowl, mix topping ingredients until well blended. Spread topping over cake. Broil cake with top 6 inches from heat 1 to 2 minutes or until top is golden and bubbly. Cool  or serve warm.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

March celebrations

    March is American Red Cross month as well as National Frozen Food, Craft, and Nutrition month.  We also celebrate Music in our schools and Woman's History month. Bubble Gum week begins March 6.  You can also host a party for Dr. Suess', Barbie, or Big Bird's birthday, the invention of the parachute, Coca-Cola and the rubber band.
        And of course, everyone is Irish and 
               parties on St. Patrick's Day, the 17th.