Saturday, December 03, 2005

So, I thought I'd get really fancy this year and make everyone truffles for Christmas presents. I figured that everyone thought truffles would be really special. Found several recipes and melded them together to make my own special recipe and went out to gather the ingredients. I was told that the coop in Belfast had really good chocolate for baking and cooking, so I went there and found some German semi-sweet chocolate with a 66% cacao blend. Since I was there, I also found heavy organic whipping cream to go along with the really expensive chocolate. When all was gathered, I found myself writing a check for $40 + !!!! Ahh well, it is Christmas you know.
I must say that making the truffle mixture is really easy, actually forming the truffles is the hardest part. I made two batches and called it a more truffles for this guy, especially since neither Greg, Tangie nor Vicky's eyes lit up in amazement over the taste.....they said they were delicious and pretty, but not a "spectacular!" or an "Oh my god these are amazing" among the bunch. Hmmmmmm.....Greg said his family loved the almond bark and the gingerbread the best out of all the Christmas eats I've sent...So I will make the frigging almond bark and send out both candy boxes to each of his siblings. I made enough truffles for 5 boxes..there are three different kinds: cocoa dusted, white chocolate dipped with dark chocolate drizzled on top, and bourbon dipped and rolled in almonds. The recipe follows:

11.5 oz good baking or eating chocolate at least 59% cacao
heavy whipping cream
various dips

heat 2/3 cup whipping cream to boil
chop chocolate and put in non-reactive bowl and pour cream over top

Stir clockwise from the center outwards with a whisk, but be careful not to beat the mixture. If it doesn'g get smooth, place bowl on warm burner and stir until smooth. Set aside mixture for 1 hour until chocolate is thick enough to hold a shape. Form truffles either by hand or with spoons and lay on parchment lined baking tray. Place in freezer for at least 30 mintues. Dip in various mixtures and chill.

Place in decorative foil cup and place in small candy boxes. They are beautiful to behold, but apparently my almond bark still takes the prize. Fa la la la la


Thursday, December 01, 2005

Greg and I decided to get out of the house last night and go down to 3Tides for dinner. It was pouring rain and so there was a quiet crowd gathered there. As I said before, there are some new menue specials there for the likes of us who don't eat seafood. A hot artichoke spinach dip and Swedish meatballs with mashed potatoes caught my eye. Sarah recommended the meatballs and we also had a chicken quesadilla...they really are the best in town. While we were chatting around the bar, David brought our usuals over without our even ordering them...Have I said that I love 3Tides? We had appetizers with little Luna, who is 7 months old. She shared her organic fruit rice cakes with us, but I thought them rather sticky for my palette.
The meatballs and quesadilla arrived and Tom, the cook at 3Tides perfected getting the quesadillas extra crispy by baking them on a round pizza pan...this was the best one yet. Meatballs were good, and the mashed potatoes had a nice bit of ligonberry sauce on them, but the meatballs needed a bit more sauce to make them moist..all in all a great evening with old friends.
Today is Libby's birthday, so I have to make the dogs a liver cake for dinner...Perhaps I won't share that recipe with you!


Wednesday, November 30, 2005

I just got the ultimate MaineFoodie type box from UPS today. Didn't know what was in it, so I opened it and found 15 fresh Persian limes wrapped in bubble wrap from my mom! They got to Florida to find all their fruit trees sagging with fresh Persian and Mexican limes and two kinds of oranges. Aside from making wicked margaritas, I'm taking suggestions for what to do with these juicy limes. (my sister got all the mexcan limes as she is a key-lime fanatic.) Personally, I'm thinking of great lime sorbet or perhaps a lime pie.

Ken wrote me to say that he got his mom to make him the pumpkin cheesecake for Thanksgiving. Its best straight on a fork from the fridge several days after baking. My comment back to you Ken would be to get your mom to try this recipe for your next holiday gathering: I made it the day before Thanksgiving and put it in the fridge overnight and the depth to the soup was incredible. Don't let the ingredients scare you, the taste is out of this world.

Spiced Pumpkin Soup
2 tablespoons butter
3/4 cup chopped carrot
3/4 cup chopped celery
3/4 cup ripe banana
1/2 onion chopped
1 clove garlic minced
1 bay leaf
1 whole clove (or ground is fine too)
5 cups chicken broth (I happened to have homemade turkey broth that I used)
2 cups canned pure pumpkin (NOT pumpkin pie filling)
3/4 cup unsweetened coconut milk
1/4 cup sweetened condensed milk
i teasoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground corriander
1/2 teasppon dried sage (or a few leaves of fresh sage...makes all the difference)
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teasppon yellow curry
sprinkling of toasted pecans before serving
Melt the butter and add the next seven ingredients and sautee until the vegetables are soft. Add 1 cup of broth after 10 minutes or so and then take off heat,remove bayleaf, cool slightly and add vegetable mix to blender. Blend until smooth and put back in pot. Add the rest of the stock and all the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil, stirring so as not to scald the milks. Let it slow boil on simmer for 10-20 minutes. If soup is smooth you are done, if not, let cool and reprocess until smooth. Best if made the day before, refridgerated and reheated.

Monday, November 28, 2005

While I was in Boston last week, friends took me to Finale next to the Park Plaza Hotel. When they said we were going there, I thought it was some great Italian family place with cannolis on the menu! It was actually conceived to be the final act for the theater crowd and as such has a very light food menu and a very heavy dessert menu. So, for about 10 bucks one can get a chicken ceasar that is small, but really good, or a gourmet pizza that is quite large and delicious. Other items are paninni sandwiches, other salads, etc. What people die for here are the desserts, some of which can cost upwards of $30.00. We split a dessert for two between three of us for $16.00 which consisted of their famous molten chocolate dish, hard cocoa brownie on the outside and delectible runny chocolate on the inside with three scoops of ice cream and chocolate sauce. It was a pleasant meal, though the place was a bit noisy and somewhat of a scene with a lot of younger patrons. If you want a good, quiet, hearty meal, this isn't the place for you. But for a hick from the woods of the Maine Coast, it was a treat!

Atmosphere: B

Jeez, so much to write about, that I dunno where to start. Well, lets start with Cafe Miranda in Rockland since its been on my mind recently. We went there last Wednesday at a friend's invitation so that we could have a pre Thanksgiving feast together before all going our separate ways for the holiday.

First I have to say that its a loooooong drive to Rockland for dinner. But we've enjoyed Miranda before and were looking forward to our return. We all settled in and were given menus, which read like novellas and take about as long! I am always wary of restaurants that have such a profusion of things on the menu. I went the easy route, picking two appetizers, ceasar salad and asian dumplings. Greg had fried oysters and something called "the best thing on the menu", which when he ordered it, I thought, "thats a lot of cheek to order the best thing on the menu when you are being taken to dinner." Little did I know it was an actual item on the menu. Mary had chicken paprikash and Vicky had baked haddock. Quite possibly the best dish was Greg's fried oysters in an oyster sauce. They were passed around and everybody raved. The dish was small, having only 6 oysters, so it didn't last long. My ceasar was shot over with way too much lemon, so that was the only thing I tasted, which was too bad because it looked really fresh and had some nice parmasan shavings on it. Greg said his best thing on the menu was terrible, luke warm and tasted too much of uncooked, bottled minced garlic, which stayed with him alllllll night. My dumplings tasted like they were precooked and then warmed over as they were a bit hard, the sauce though was out of sight, very spicy and tongue numbing. Mary said her paprikash was just like her grandmother used to make in the old country (Frankly I didn't know they used paprika in Ireland) and Vicky was very pleased with her fish. The company made the dinner and the atmosphere was warm and cozy. All in all a good solid B-

I called a client yesterday about an unrelated matter and the first thing she said to me was..."you gave me that almond bark recipe two years ago, is it the right one?" I told her it was (wink wink) and all was right with the world! Don't worry fuzzbe, I wasn't so devious two years ago and yes, you did get the right recipe (wink, wink, nod, nod).