Thursday, March 26, 2009

Nicoise Steamed Monkfish Salad: What Would You Pair With.....?

If you were throwing your father a birthday lunch, and served a nicoise salad, a la monkfish, what would you serve as a wine or refreshment? Where would you serve it? Who would be there sipping the refreshment too?

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Friday, March 20, 2009

Homemade Mozzarella Focus: Home Creamery Event III

I'm going to be out of commission for a few more days, dear readers, due to a short trip to L.A, articles deadlines, a wine list that I'm updating at Brown Sugar Kitchen, and the demands of starting a new blog devoted entirely to cheese (and wine, of course, always about the wine). Did I mention that I really need to wash my car? But I wanted to take a moment to emerge from my office hermit hole to announce the object of the next Home Creamery Event's devotion. It is mozzarella.

I must admit I'm a little scared. Anything involving heating milk more than once and stretching the outcome two or three times is a little dangerous in my accident-prone kitchen. I'm excited for this sexy venture too, but mainly fearful of my runway elbows hitting pots while stretching.

As mozzarella is a feat that requires a little more time than other Home Creamery focuses, we're going to take a little more time to make this one. The entry for this pasta filata style cheese is due in a month from now, on April 20th.

A recipe for buttermilk starts on page 82 in Farrell-Kingsley's book. Online, more recipes and advice for making buttermilk are available at these links here , here , and here . Look around, see which inspires you most. These recipes can be surprisingly different. Anyone know why? I don't....

Warning: Check out your specific recipe before the event. Some require cheese-making products that not everyone already has at home.

Event Rules:
Home Creamery Event Guidelines:
1) Make the dairy product (MOZZARELLA FOR APRIL) of the month at home.
2) Optional: Suggest a wine you think you might enjoy sipping with your milk creation in a raw or transformed state (i.e with buttermilk fried chicken or cardamon-buttermilk pie).
3. Send me one of two following things by the last Wednesday of the month (Feb 25th for the second month):
a) If you have a blog, send me the link to the post where you talk about your Home Creamery experience and I will post some of your findings on my Home Creamery post.
b) If you don't have a blog, email me a photo of your results ( by the last Monday of the month and/or a brief 2-4 sentence sum up of your experience and your delectable pairings, which I will feature on my blog post.

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Monday, March 9, 2009

Buttermilk: Home Creamery Event III

Don't my buttermilk biscuits look gorgeous? Aren't these buns just the perfect blend of crispy exterior and fluffy, inner, buttery goodness? The story this picture tells is that the last Home Creamery exercise of making buttermilk worked out as smoothly as Jane Fonda in a three-piece leotard.

But no.

My buns were flat. And I think it was because the homemade urban buttermilk I made to use in the biscuit recipe and the buttermilk with which Dorie Greenspan's biscuit recipe was tested were structurally different. I hope. Darn that baking. Darn those exact measurement devices and chemical reactions. See below for the actual size and lack of height of my little creations.

Alas, that's how baking goes. And that's how I bake. Sigh. Maybe I should have used the recipe Dan did below. His buns were fluffy. Why? Why? Although the Home Creamery event suggests pairing the Home Creamery creations with wine, just for fun (!), I couldn't. I was busy throwing my biscuits against the wall when I had a break in tears rolling down my face.

Dan's Biscuits and Buttermilk Experience, in His Words

"Making the buttermilk was easy; I followed the simple recipe from the Homery Creamery which called for whole milk (Strauss Family Creamy) and Creme de Tartar. And I couldn't resist attempting to make the buttermilk Fantail biscuits on the cover of the recent Gourmet magazine. Build the yeast, make the dough, cut 'em up, fill the muffin pan, let it rise again and then wack it in the oven.

The biscuits were a delicious mix of light and flakey and rich and creamy. The small pieces fanning off each other were easily separated and allowed us to spread either a tarragon butter or olive oil marinated goat cheese with oregano and red pepper. We paired these buttermilk bread treats with our other appetizers and 2006 Sancerre from Alphonse Mellot (Edmond). The wine, made from 100+ year old vines, was refined and elegant, yet rich and juicy. When tasted against a 2006 Larkmead Sauvignon Blanc, it was quite the opposite - the Larkmead being intense and textured. Both faring quite nicely with the biscuits. Thanks for choosing buttermilk for this month's activity - I have always been curious about it, since eating Thomas Keller's buttermilk fried chicken at Napa's Ad Hoc. Looking forward to next month's challenge!"

And here's a link to participant's Simone's buttermilk action at her Bricole blog . She made a gorgeous blueberry buttermilk sorbet, but it seems as if she wasn't satisfied with her Home Creamery attempts either. Is it possible that we picked the only recipe in the book that doesn't work? I think we both chose the recipe that used vinegar rather than cream of tartar.

Does anyone know why the buttermilk flopped?

Also, any ideas for our next Home Creamery dairy selection?... I'd love to hear, leave em' in the comments below.....

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