Scones with Devonshire Cream

•April 21, 2010 • Leave a Comment
Classic Scones with Devonshire Cream & Strawberries

Scones with Devonshire Cream

The following recipe comes from Cinnamon and Spice and Everything Nice:

The scones pair beautifully with Devonshire cream also known as clotted cream. This cream comes from South West  of England. It is produced by allowing unpasteurized milk to sit for 12 hours then heated for one hour. This forms a thick layer of clotted cream that is removed and allowed to rest. These days pasteurized milk is used and it is easy to find in jars. It is  shelf stable if kept in a cool dark place. When opened eat quickly though. The cream is traditionally served with fresh scones, in fact you will find in tea shops across the UK.

Classic Scones

(adapted from BBC Good Food)

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups Self-Raising Flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1/4 teaspoon Salt
  • 1 teaspoon Baking Powder
  • 3/4 stick Butter, cut into cubes (6 tablespoons)
  • 3 tablespoons Sugar
  • Just under 3/4 cup Milk
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • squeeze of lemon juice
  • 1 egg, beaten, to glaze tops
  • Confectioners’ Sugar for sprinkling over tops
  • Strawberries, Jam and Clotted Cream for serving

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

2. Tip the flour into a large bowl with the salt and baking powder, then mix. Add the butter, then rub in with your fingers until the mix looks like fine crumbs. Stir in the sugar.

3. Heat the milk in the microwave for about 30 secs until warm, but not hot. Add the vanilla and lemon juice, then set aside for a moment. Put a baking sheet in the oven.

4. Make a well in the dry mix, then add the liquid and combine it quickly with a cutlery knife – it will seem pretty wet at first. Scatter some flour onto the work surface and tip the dough out. Dredge the dough and your hands with a little more flour, then fold the dough over 2-3 times until it’s a little smoother. Pat into a round about 4cm* deep.

5. Take a 5cm cutter (smooth-edged cutters tend to cut more cleanly, giving a better rise) and dip it into some flour. Plunge into the dough, then repeat until you have four scones. By this point you’ll probably need to press what’s left of the dough back into a round to cut out another four. Brush the tops with beaten egg, then carefully place onto the hot baking tray.

Bake for 10 mins until risen and golden on the top.

6. Eat just warm or cold on the day of baking, generously topped with jam and clotted cream. If freezing, freeze once cool. Defrost, then put in a low oven (about 160C/fan140C/gas 3) for a few minutes to refresh.

*Towering tall

For toweringly tall scones, always pat the dough out a bit thicker than you think you should. I say pat rather than knead because scones are essentially a sweet soda bread and, like other soda breads, will become tough when over-handled. Kick-start the scones’ rise with a hot baking tray and don’t leave the dough sitting around. If you like your scones with lots of juicy fruit, stir 85g plump sultanas into the mix at the same time as the sugar.

A Brief History of Foie Gras

•April 19, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Foie Gras Torchon (Will Vragovic ©2010)

Foie Gras is a French delicacy. The word means fat liver and is made of the liver of a duck or goose that has had its liver specially fattened. It can be sold whole or made into a mouse, parfait or pate. Foie gras is protected by French law as part of the cultural and gastronomical heritage of France. Foie gras as a food remains controversial due to the practice of gavage or force feeding of the ducks. However, it has been popular for centuries and in fact the Ancient Egyptians were documented as doing this as early as 2500 BC. The Ancient Romans were also reported to be fond of foie gras. It did however decline in production after the collapse of the Roman empire, but the Jewish Community maintained the practice.

France is the Worlds largest producer of Foie Gras and the biggest consumer. Second is Hungary then Bulgaria. In recent years Canada and even China has become a large producer of this prized delicacy.

How is it Made:

Ducks are allowed to roam outdoors and graze for the first few weeks of their lives then at the end they are taken indoors for fattening. The special fatty diet is fed to enlarge their liver giving it a rich buttery taste. Foie Gras has always been regarded as a Luxury dish throughout the ages being enjoyed on special occasions.

The following clip explains the process and relays fears that it really isn’t cruel. During this week we have a special treat as Black Star Gourmet has teamed up with Chef Michael Fenster, a board certified cardiologist, to make a week of Foie Gras recipes:

  • Duck Foie Gras Torchon Preparation
  • Red Wine Poached Asian Anju Pears with Seared Torchon of Foie Gras
  • Grilled Duck Breast with Champagne Mango Ginger Sauce, Grilled Baby Bok Choy and Foie Gras Hash Browns
  • Shell Fish Foie Gras Tons
  • Cromesquis of Ice Wine and Chanterelle Mushrooms

Stay Tuned!

French Foie Gras - Fully Cooked Goose Foie Gras - Buy goie gras and gourmet food online

Find fresh and prepared foie fras at Black Star Gourmet

Meet Our Caviar Giveaway Winner!

•April 13, 2010 • 1 Comment

Beluga Caviar on Russian Blini

We caught up with the lovely Victoria our Beluga Caviar winner today and asked her a few questions:

1) How did you hear about the contest?
I frequent 5 Star Foodie and saw the contest almost as soon as it was posted :)

2) Have you ever tried Beluga caviar before?
Yes, I actually ate a lot of it as a child!

3) How did you feel when the winner was announced?
I was completely shocked.  At first I thought the email was just telling people that a winner had been chosen, but it wasn’t until I opened it that I realized I had won!

4) Were you happy with the delivery time, packaging?
Yes.  The gift arrived very promptly.  My dad actually received the package, opened it, and refrigerated the contents, so I didn’t see how it was originally packaged.

5) How did you enjoy your beluga caviar?
It blew me away.  It tasted just like the Beluga caviar I grew up eating.  It was so comforting and delicious.  I’d love to eat it everyday!!

6) Would you recommend the sustainable beluga caviar to caviar lovers?
Absolutely!  I don’t know anywhere else these days that you can purchase Beluga caviar, but this was very delicious and spot on.  I highly recommend it.

I also wanted to share with you her brilliant blog post today and she kindly agreed, not only is she a great person but a fabulous food blogger and trainee chef!

I think most people either love caviar or hate it.  There’s really no in between.  I love caviar.  I always have.  Growing up in an Armenian household, caviar was always common at family functions, weddings, Christenings, or even just at home.  When I tell people that I grew up eating Beluga caviar, I imagine they must think I’m a rich snob, but nothing could be further from the truth.  About 20 years ago, caviar was much more available and my family (and many others) were able to purchase it moderately priced (about $15, I’m told) at Armenian markets around the country.  Since Armenia was part of the Soviet Union, it was easy to import this luxurious item cheaply.  We would butter our bread, and slather it thickly with salty globules of sturgeon roe.  There was no need to skimp, it was so available!  Everyone was doing it!  It was caviar overload!  While my sister is completely grossed out by caviar to this day, I fell in love immediately.  I just loved those salty, oily beads popping in my mouth as I inhaled slice after slice of buttered bread topped with this decadent treat.  As caviar became more expensive and less available at Armenian markets, it was soon replaced in our households by the super-fishy orange blobs of salmon roe that is such a pathetic replacement for the real thing.  I would eat it because it was all I had, but it would never have my heart.

Years passed before my taste buds were tickled by the Heavenly essence of caviar.  Last summer, while visiting New York City, I dined at the famed Petrossian restaurant.  If you are unaware, Petrossian is highly regarded for their caviars, smoked salmons, foie gras, and so on.  I enjoyed their Restaurant Week prix fixe menu with a supplemental fee to choose the 12g tasting of Transmontanus USA Farmed Caviar served with Crème Fraîche atop a Blini.  I drooled over that near half ounce of luscious caviar like it was the last spoonful of food on Earth.  It didn’t last nearly long enough.  I gobbled it up within a few moments, and I really wanted more.  I couldn’t have more.  I grabbed a catalog on my way out and flipped through it on my subway ride home.  I believe the words “Food Porn” were invented for an occasion such as that.  I scolded myself for letting my caviar fantasies get the best of me, as I knew it would be a long time before I would be able to afford another treat.

A couple weeks ago, in my Garde Manger class, we not only had an extensive lecture about caviar but also tried three different domestic caviars including an Osetra, Hackleback, and one more which I can’t remember off hand. These were tiny tastes, however, hardly enough to satisfy.  I learned a lot about caviar, which I will be happy to share with my readers :) First of all, the word caviar describes salted sturgeon roe.  If it’s not salted, it ain’t caviar.  Also, the term malossol means “lightly salted” and usually denotes higher quality caviars.  The most famous and highest quality caviars come from the Caspian Sea in Russia and the Black Sea in Iran.  There are three sturgeons that are most common for collecting roe.  From largest to smallest they are Beluga, Ossetra, and Sevruga.  Beluga is considered to be the finest.  They usually grow up to 2000 lbs and reach maturity after 20 years.  Imagine having to wait 20 years before you can collect the roe to make into caviar and sell.  Why do you think it’s so expensive?  Beluga sturgeons are becoming endangered in the wild, and thus have made purchasing wild harvested Beluga caviar illegal in the United States.  The second largest sturgeon is Ossetra.  They usually weigh 400-700 lbs and take 13 years to reach maturity.  Finally, Sevruga is the smallest, 80-120 lbs, and takes 7 years to mature.  I would love to do a tasting of all three side by side, but until that lottery-winning day comes, I am thrilled to have won a lovely Beluga caviar (my favorite) giveaway from Black Star Gourmet via Natasha at 5 Star Foodie, which will not only quench my caviar lust, but has arrived just in time for my birthday, making it an even more special treat!  This is what I got:

1 oz Sustainable River Beluga Caviar

1 pack of 36 Russian Mini Blini

8 oz. jar of Crème Fraîche

1 5″ Mother of Pearl Spoon

Beluga Caviar and Mother of Pearl Spoon

Although this gift set arrived late last week, I decided to wait just a little bit longer to savor this very special treat on a very special day, my birthday (today, teehee).  To top it all off, I had a bottle of Moët & Chandon White Star Champagne that I had received as a gift from a former employer about 1 1/2 years ago and was hanging onto for the perfect occasion.  What occasion is more perfect than Beluga caviar and a birthday?  Nothing I can think of!

Do you remember in the movie Ratatouille, when the incredibly pompous restaurant critic, Anton Ego, tastes the ratatouille that transcends him to his childhood, and his mother’s humble but comforting cooking?  Well that is exactly how I felt the moment I tasted this bit of Beluga caviar.

Beluga Caviar from Black Star Gourmet

While at first muddled by the tasty, but somewhat overwhelming, blinis and creme fraiche, I knew at once that this was the exact thing I ate mounds and mounds of as a child, slathered over bread and butter.  I will get plenty of use out of the blinis and creme fraiche in other uses, but I’m strangely a purist, and prefer to eat this caviar (in theory) by the spoonful.  I found myself skipping the creme fraiche, putting the salty and sticky caviar directly onto the blinis, and then literally licking it off, following by a “chaser” of blini.  Sounds almost like a tequila shot, no? haha. I think it tasted better this way.  I know there’s about a million “traditional” accompaniments to caviar, but every single one in my opinion is unnecessary and takes away from the complete transcendental orgasm in your mouth when you taste these salty beads of Heaven.  It was perfect.  This Beluga caviar from Black Star Gourmet is as close to that comforting taste of fishy bulbs popping in my mouth as I recall from my childhood decades ago.  A spoonful a day just might change my life, or yours.
Thank you again to Black Star Gourmet and 5 Star Foodie for giving me this nostalgic experience.  It made my birthday so lovely, and coupled with that Champagne, I felt like a Queen :)  I ate a little more than half today, and look forward to eating more throughout the week!

For more of Victoria visit her blog Mission Food: A Foodies Gastronomic Adventures

Poached Eggs with Truffle Butter

•April 10, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Poached Eggs with Truffle Butter


A recipe for delicious poached eggs with truffle butter could not be any easier. These delicious eggs are served on mashed purple potatoes and mashed sweet potatoes (yams) so its hardly a recipe at all. Simply boil and mash some sweet potatoes with a little cream and butter, toast up an English muffin add a mixed green salad and top with poached eggs and delicious and unctuous truffle butter.

The only real trick is in poaching the eggs. I like to start with 3-4 cups of water to which I have added a tablespoon of white vinegar and a dash of salt and bring it to the boil. After the water is boiling gently I take a whisk and swirl the water around creating a whirlpool and it is in this little water tornado that I slide my eggs into. I like to crack the eggs into a little ramekin and cook them two at a time for about 2-3 minutes resulting in a perfectly poached egg.

The swirling water causes the eggs to roll and tumble gently creating the beautiful quenelle shape you see. All that’s left to do is enjoy.

Christo is a food enthusiast with a passion for all things tasty check out his blog, ChezWhat?.

How To Make The Perfect Cup of Tea

•April 10, 2010 • Leave a Comment

This is a wonderful clip teaching you how to make the perfect cup of tea.

Seared Scallops with Meyer Lemon Caviar Infusion

•April 8, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Seared Scallops with Meyer Lemon Caviar Infusion

The following recipe is from Five Star Foodie, it’s a wonderfully sophisticated and beautiful appetizer and would be sure to wow your guests at your next dinner party.

Ingredients:

  • Juice of 2 Meyer lemons
  • 2 tablespoons of creme fraiche
  • 1/2 teaspoon lecithin
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 12 Scallops
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • Salt to taste
  • River Beluga Caviar

Directions:

  1. Melt butter in a skillet until foamy. Rinse the scallops and pat them dry. Sprinkle with salt. Sear the scallops for 1-2 minutes per side until golden brown.
  2. Meanwhile, add Meyer lemon juice, creme fraiche and lecithin into a mixing cup. Blend with immersion blender pouring oil a little a time (this will be a thin emulsion). Gently fold in the caviar (1-2 mother of pearl spoonfuls for each 1/4 cup of emulsion or to taste).
  3. Arrange the scallops on the plates and pour the emulsion carefully over the scallops so that the caviar is on top of each scallop.

How Jamon Iberico is Made

•April 6, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Jamon Iberico is a world class ham from Spain. It has a delicate and slightly salty taste and is sought after as one of the best hams in the world. The ham has to be produced from at least 75% Black Iberian Pigs. These pigs are native to the Southern part of Spain and have dark skin and black hoofs. There is a legend that a pig fell into a salt water filled gully and drowned.  The shepherds who found the pig, roasted it and enjoyed the taste of the salty meat so much that they began curing the meat in salt themselves.

Black Iberico Pig

How the ham is made:

The piglets are first fattened on a barley and maize diet for a few week and then allowed to roam freely around the countryside and oak groves. The pigs eat herbs, grass, acorns and roots. For the best quality meat the pigs are fed only acorns as slaughter approaches. This is called Jamon Iberico de Bellota. When the pigs have eaten a mixture of acorns and grains the ham is called Jamon Ibercio de Recebo.

After slaughter the hams are salted for 2 weeks, the ham is then washed and either refrigerated for 6-8 weeks or naturally air cured for up to 2 years. The special acorn diet of the pigs gives the meat a flecked appearance with fat. This fat is a monounsaturated fat namely oleic acid, therefore not harmful to blood cholesterol levels.

Sliced Spanish Jamon Iberico Ham

Jamon Iberico is a specialized meat and not readily available.  In fact, only 8% of Spain’s cured ham is Jamon Iberico. It was only as recently as 2007 that it was allowed to be imported and sold in America.

The ham is a wonderful addition to gourmet scrambled eggs, as a simple tapas with cheese or a great addition to melon or figs. It is traditionally eaten at Christmas time in Spain and families may even cure their own ham for the occasion.

Jamon Iberico - Whole Boneless Ham

Black Star Gourmet is one of the few places in America where you can buy Jamon Iberico. We even stock Jamon Iberico de bellota, so why not treat yourself to this Ancient Spanish delicacy!

 
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