Monday, July 16

Building a Charcuterie

Building a charcuterie board is one of my favorite "recipes" to do. I really enjoy the creativity and fun you can have personalizing your board based on audience. There are a few "rules" when building a balanced board, but within those rules is room for a lot of fun. Lets breakdown each section of your board and see how it all works together.

The meats: you want 1 meat for every 1-2 cheese on your board. You want to stick to easy to eat in one to two bites. Meats that are shaved or thin sliced, which can be rolled or folded, look the best.

Have a blend of flavors: 1 cured, 1 spiced, 1 dry. Prosciutto and salami make the best combination to start out with and are always crowd favorites.

The others can just be added in for extra fun and flavors: here I used aged salami sticks, sliced chorizo, sliced sopressata, prosciutto, and serrano ham.

The cheese: this is where you get to really have fun with flavors.  Pre-slicing or cubing is not necessary, but I find it is easier for everyone to enjoy.

Have a combination of flavors as well as textures:
Soft cheeses: Goat cheese, Brie, Camembert
Semi-firm cheeses: Cheddar, Manchego, Jarlsberg, Gouda
Aged: Asiago, vintage Gouda, Pecorino, Parmigiano, Toscana
Blue: Gorgonzola, Stilton, Roquefort

Here I used: Camembert, sharp white cheddar, Merlot brined Toscana, Stilton, and for extra fun marinated mozzarella.

To add the extras you want a combination of sweet and salty. Try to balance a one to one ration. and remember textures are important, try to balance soft verse crunchy.

Best extras:
Fresh fruit: strawberries, raspberries, grapes.
Dried fruit: figs, apricots, mandarin oranges.
Assorted nuts add a great textural element to the board.
Above and beyond: tapenade (I used olive), bruschetta, chutney, honey, fig or bacon jam.

Finish off the board with bread or crackers. Great chooses are bagel chips, brioche toasts, artisans crackers or crisps.


Monday, July 9

Medieval Hartshorn Lemon Biscuits

Hartshorn biscuits are very reminiscent of a shortbread cookie. Named after an ingredient which was used to leaven the biscuits, hartshorn is ground reindeer antler which has been replaced by baking soda. Traditionally done with lemons, these biscuits can easily be changed to orange.

Full time 1 hour
Makes 24 cookies

The needs:

3 Egg yolks
1 Lemon, zested and juiced
1 1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup fine sugar
3 tbsp. Butter, softened
1 tbsp. Honey
1 tsp. Hot water
1/2 tsp Baking Soda
1/4 tsp. Salt
1/4 tsp. Saffron
1/4 tsp. Cloves
1/4 tsp. Nutmeg

The know:

Preheat oven 300', line two baking trays with aluminum foil, and lightly spray with cooking spray.

In a small bowl dissolve baking soda in the hot water.

In a mixing bowl cream together sugar and butter.

Add in eggs and mix until light and fluffy.

Add in lemon zest, salt, cloves, and nutmeg.

Add in flour and blend until a soft ball if formed.

Lightly flour a flat surface and gently knead dough 3-4 times to ensure fully blended.

Roll dough out 1/4" thick.

Using a 2" cutter, cut out 24 biscuits. You will want to re-roll a few times until you can no longer cut it. I always get at least 24biscuits,  sometimes I get almost 30 out of the dough.

Line biscuits on the prepared baking trays.

Pierce a few times with a fork to ensure even cooking.

Bake in oven 15 minutes. Watch carefully you do not want the bottoms of the biscuits to darken. If your oven runs hot place an empty tray on the lower rack of the oven to block excess heat.

Cool on baking tray for 10 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack. Place wire rack over baking sheets and allow to continue to cool another 10 minutes.

Combine honey and lemon juice in a small bowl. Brush mixture lovingly over biscuits until fully used. Allow to dry for 10 minutes before serving or sealing in an air tight container.


Monday, July 2

Mandel-Eplekake or Viking Apple Cake

It is fun to sometimes try recipes inspired by television or movies. Lately, I have been on a middle-earth, Viking binge and have been really enjoying figuring out what to make from those beautiful feasts we see.

With a list of recipes and ingredients which needed to be modernized and some that really needed to stay in the past, I have narrowed down to a few favorites and this one is by far on the top of the list. Light and fluffy, this cake is easy to make and full of apple flavor.

*As a side note this cake will only keep for 3 days and does not like refrigeration.

Full Time 1 Hour
Serves 8

The needs:

3 eggs
2 cups apple pie filling, canned is preferable
2/3 cup almond flour
1/2 cup fine sugar
1/2 cup sliced blanched almonds

The know:

Heat oven to 350' and heavily butter or oil a 9" round baking dish.

Pour apple pie filling into the baking dish and spread out to create an even layer.

In a mixing bowl whisk eggs and sugar together until airy and fluffy.

Fold in almond flour and stir until lump free.

Pour batter over apple filling and spread evenly over the top of apples.

Spread sliced almonds over the top of batter.

Bake in oven 30-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
Allow to cool completely before serving. Cheers!