Friday, December 7, 2007

"Big Night" TORTA

La Torta
inspired by the movie "Big Night" with far less drama.

¼ pound pancetta
1 pound fresh Italian sausage or
1 pound fresh boar sausage*order online
8 ounces grated pecorino cheese
½ pound mushroom tortellini, cooked al dente
2 minced garlic cloves
3 tables spoon olive oil
3 chopped shallots
1 cups red wine
¼ cup pine nuts
½ teaspoon saffron threads
½ cup golden raisins

The Torta is double crust meat pie layered with the tortellini, cheese and meat sauce.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees


Remove sausage from casing and sauté in a large skillet, with the pancetta, oil garlic, shallots, saffron, and pine nuts until the sausage in brown. Add the red wine and raisins and simmer until the sauce has thickend slightly. Season with salt and pepper if necessary.

The pastry dough: You may make ahead or use a good quality puff pastry if desired.

3 cups all purpose flour
1 cup shortening
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon salt
cold milk, about 1/3 cup

Cut shortening and butter into flour and salt until it resembled coarse crumbs. Stir in the milk until a soft dough forms. Knead gently on a flour board to shape into a ball. Rest for 20 minutes covered in plastic film in the refrigerator.

Assembly: one deep dish 9 inch pie plate or shallow round casserole dish

Divide the dough in half and roll one pie into a large circle to fit the baking dish. Place the dough into the baking dish and layer the meat sauce, tortellini and cheese. Roll the remainder of the dough and cover the torte with the dough. trim and seal. Brush the top with a little beaten egg and milk. You can decorate the top with leaf cutouts or shapes and chill or bake.

The Torta will take about 35-45 minutes to bake, or until the top is brown and the filling is hot.

Gnocchi with Shrimp and Crab

A Fantastic Holiday Treat
and my favorite gnocchi recipe!


1 tablespoon olive oil
1 egg
1 cup whole milk, ricotta cheese
½ cup grated parmesan
2 cups all purpose flour

Place flour on a flat clean surface. Mix egg with cheese and oil and gently work into the flour until soft dough has formed. Rest for 20 minutes in the refrigerator.

Shape Gnocchi: Divide the dough into two pieces and roll each one into a long log about 1 inch thick. Cut off pieces about ½ inch and with gently push one side of gnocchi into the back of a dinner folk while holding the dough on the flat surface and squeezing the two sides at the same time to make a little dent. Set aside until all gnocchi are shaped. Boil in salted water about 7-8 minutes just before serving or place in an au gratin dish to heat with sauce.

Crab and Shrimp in Saffron Cream

1 1/2 pounds shrimp, peeled and deveined (save shells)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
1 pound lump crab, picked over for shell

Sauce: Place the shrimp shells in a large sauce pan with 2 tablespoons of the butter. Sauté over medium high heat until the shells are pink. Add 2 cups of water and the white wine. Reduce heat and simmer for about 40 minutes and the stock has reduced by about half. Strain, the stock discard shells.

2 cups dry white wine
2 cups heavy cream
½ teaspoon saffron threads
½ clove minced fresh garlic
2 large shallots, minced
2medium tomatoes chopped and squeezed to remove seeds.
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

In a large sauté pan, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and sauté the shrimp seasoned with a little salt and pepper. When the shrimp are just turning pink remove to a bowl and set aside. Add the shallots, saffron, and garlic and to the skillet and whatever juices have accumulated and cook for about 1 minute. Add the shrimp stock, tomatoes, and cream and simmer for about 15 minutes. ( You may cook ahead to this point).

Season the sauce with salt and Tabasco, add the shrimp and crabmeat and heat through. To serve, place the hot gnocchi on a heated dinner plate and spoon the crab and shrimp sauce over. Sprinkle with parsley.

More Dordogne Stories

Roland met us wearing, no joke, a lab coat and a large plastic cap set askew over his thick mop of dark hair. Looking very much the part of mad scientist, he greeted us with a handshake and a cone full of sweet and smooth mandarin sorbet. It couldn’t have tasted and smelled better if we had plucked it from a tree. We looked around for the smoking beakers and a bubbling cauldron but all we saw was a spotless, stainless steel kitchen.While standing in his office, Roland identifies the brand of the perfume we are wearing, then asks if we have read Patrick Süskind’s novel ‘Perfume’ in which the main character creates the ultimate scent (made from beautiful women) to achieve the ultimate reaction.“I thought, why not adapt this concept to ice cream,” he says. Roland's melding of color, smell and texture is nothing short of alchemy, and he believes this sensory fusion is what lets people experience food, not just eat it.
Be sure to read the Dordogne Stories Blog

Vagabond Elfs

Check out the link, clever and and fun for all. Laura and Kimberley make cute elves, don't you think?
Santa always needs more helpers for the holidays. New holidays recipes soon from Vagabond Gourmet. Stay tuned!

Friday, November 30, 2007

No Cheap Wine Allowed

Filet Mignon with Merlot Sauce Beaulieu Vineyard Wine Society

another killer recipe from "Sammy Salumni"

1 750-ml bottle Merlot

2 14 1/2 oz. cans low-salt chicken broth

1 14 1/2 oz. can beef broth

2 Tbs. unsalted butter (room temp)

1 Tbs. all purpose flour

1 Tbs. olive oil

6 six-oz filet mignon steaks (1" thick)

freshly cracked pepper

1/4 cup chopped shallots

1 Tbs. chopped garlic

1 tsp. chopped fresh thyme

method:Boil wine, chicken broth and beef broth in heavy large saucepan over high heat until mixture is reduced to 1 1/2 cups, about 1 hr. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover refrigerate.)prepare:Mix butter and flour in small bowl. Heat olive oil in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle steaks with salt and pepper. Saute steaks until medium-rare, about 4 minutes per side. Transfer to plate. Add shallots, garlic and thyme to skillet; stir 30 seconds. Add reduced wine mixture to skillet. Bring mixture to boil, scraping up any brown bits. Add butter mixture and whisk until smooth. Boil sauce until thick enough to coat spoon, about 2 minutes. Serve steaks with sauce.serve with BV Merlot (or use any decent merlot.. not cheap stuff!)I used Markham Merlot from BevMo or Safeway.. and it was killa!

A Dessert to Bathe In

This is an excerpt from Tales From The Table: Dordogne Stories, to be published next year by Silverback Books.

The Alchemists

The word "alchemy" evokes images of a robed wizard in an ancient kitchen, stirring his bubbling cauldron. The magician drops in a pinch of the essential ingredient and in a puff of smoke, the recipe for his magical elixir that turns metal into gold is complete. While this may seem more Harry Potter than Julia Child, in modern kitchens it is not that far fetched. We’ve all heard of El Bulli, the Spanish restaurant open six months a year, with the other six reserved for chef Ferran Adriá to create recipes in his Barcelona laboratory.
Here in the Dordogne there is nothing approaching this craze, but there is definitely something brewing in the tradition-heavy kitchens, and we are seeing gold…
…good news travels de bouche à oreille (by word of mouth) around here, and this was re-affirmed when Nicolas handed us small espresso spoons and invited us to dig into a tub of creamy white ice cream. One by one we tasted, and one by one we raised our eyebrows in delicious surprise. It was not coconut as we expected, or another sugary sensation, but goat cheese flavor made with the finest A.O.C. Cabécou… Thanks to Nicolas, we hunted down the ice cream’s creator.
… Don’t get us wrong---we love the epicurean stars that make the region sparkle. At last count we have had three duck confit meals this week alone. But for foodies who want to go beyond the boundaries of what is perceived as the typical Dordogne menu, we suggest you visit some of the area’s new culinary magicians. The recipes are guaranteed to cast a spell over you.

Read all about these kitchen magicians, and many others in Tales From The Table: Dordogne Stories, written by Kimberley Lovato and Laura Schmalhorst, to be published by Silverback Books. (feel free to email and tell her you can’t wait to read it!)

Laura’s Lavender Creme Caramel with Wild Strawberries

The new Perigord Cuisine is all about tradition with a twist. Once described by a dear friend as “like having a bath and dessert at the same time”, this sinfully good dessert infuses the flavors of fresh picked Dordogne lavender and "fraise des bois” (wild strawberries), with the classic dessert. Eating in the bathtub optional. Recipe created by Laura Schmalhorst.

Preheat Oven to 325 degrees Serves: 6

4 cups (1 quart) heavy cream
1/2 cup picked lavender blossoms
8 extra large egg yolks
3/4 cup granulated sugar
Pinch coarse salt
1 cup granulated sugar
1 pint of small wild strawberries known as "fraise des bois".
6 9-oz ramekins
Optional: whipped cream for garnish
Large shallow pan for water bath

1. Heat cream and lavender in heavy 1 1/2 quart sauce pan over medium- low heat to just under a simmer, for 15 minutes. Turn off heat and let steep uncovered for 1 hour stirring occasionally. Strain, discard lavender.
2. Beat egg yolks and sugar together in a small bowl until pale yellow. Add a small amount of warm cream to sugar and egg mixture and stir to dissolve sugar. Stir back into the pan of warm cream and stir until completely blended and smooth.

Pour into prepared custard cups and set in large roasted pan. Fill roasting pan with hot water to about 2/3 of the way up the cups, being careful not to splash water into custard. Bake for about 45-minutes to an hour or just until custard is set. Cool enough to remove from water bath and chill in the cups 45 minutes or overnight.

Caramel Lined Custard Cups

1. Heat sugar in small heavy sauce pan over medium heat until sugar begins to melt. Stir gently to evenly melt the small clumps and if necessary remove from heat for a few second while stirring.

2. When sugar has reached a dark brown caramel color pour into ramekins and tilt to cover bottom and sides of cups.

Unmold custard and its sauce onto serving plates, garnish with small dollop of whipped cream and sprinkle wild berries on top.

Serve to Your Own Prince Charming

Pan Roasted Leg of Lamb with Crown of Garlic Confit

At Château de Tiregand we asked Monique to share a special recipe. She often prepares meals for her large family and local restaurateurs who come for an annual tasting. She opts for Lamb as an alternative to the typical duck dishes prevalent around the Dordogne. Recipe re-written by Laura.

Preheat Oven to 350 degrees Serves: 6

1 (5-6 pound) leg of lamb, bone in
3 tablespoons goose fat, or butter
1 1/2 tablespoons coarse salt
2 tablespoons cracked black pepper
1/2 cup Armagnac
1 cup all purpose meat stock
1 cup Monbazillac
80-100 garlic cloves, peeled but left whole
1 teaspoon coarse salt
Trim the lamb leg of excess fat and sinewy tissue.

1. Heat a heavy skillet, large enough to hold the meaty portion of the lamb leg on med-high heat. Season the lamb well with salt and pepper.

2. Add goose fat or butter and when lightly smoking add the lamb leg to sear well turning on all sides. Reduce heat to medium.

3. Pour Armagnac over lamb and once the flames have subsided remove the lamb to a separate roasting pan.

4. Add the garlic cloves to the skillet that the lamb browned in and stir to coat with the pan juices. Add the Monbazillac, cook for about 1 minute then put garlic and all juices in an ovenproof casserole dish with a tight fitting lid.

5. Bake garlic for about 1 hours until tender but not mushy.

Roasting the Lamb:

Pour the meat stock into the roasting pan with the lamb then bake for about 45 minutes to 1 hour for or an internal temperature of 145 degrees for medium rare. After about 35 minutes add the garlic confit.

Do not cover lamb or baste while it is cooking. Allow to stand for 10-15 minutes before serving.

For serving: place the lamb on a large carving platter and spoon the garlic confit around the leg to create a "crown". Combine the juices from roasting pans, adding a little water if necessary to make a pan sauce to serve on the side.