Category Archives: Dessert

Italian Fig Syrup

Look what I found on my fig tree this week?  The house we moved into last Christmas has a wonderful fig tree with big, broad pretty green leaves in our side yard.   The leaves are gorgeous.   I now realize how seductive Eve must have looked while wearing these as her only daily attire.  The tree is bursting with so many figs I can barely get to them before the birds take a bite out of each one and move on to the next.

Today I harvested as many as I could find and created this delectable Italian Fig Syrup.  It’s fabulous straight out of the jar, or top some on Brie, Marscapone or Goat Cheese for a quick appetizer.  It makes a lovely dessert drizzled over vanilla bean ice cream (homemade or store-bought) too.

RECIPE:

30 Figs

White Sugar (About 2 cups)

2 T. Lemon Juice

Brandy

Wash the figs well and trim off stems.  Cut  figs in half if large.  Place figs and lemon juice in a saucepan and add enough sugar to almost cover the figs.   Cook over low heat for 45-60 minutes.  The sugar will turn to a lemon infused syrup.

Once cooked and cooled, place in a jar and add enough brandy to come to the top of the jar covering all of the figs and syrup.

Leave a comment

Filed under Appetizers, Dessert, Food, Holiday, Sauces

James Beard’s Strawberry Shortcake Recipe

Image

James Beard, former culinary educator and cookbook author, is considered to be America’s “Father of Gastronomy.”  His mother’s recipe for Strawberry Shortcake is one that never appeared in any of his cookbooks.  He did share the recipe with a close friend who to this day has it on his restaurant menu in St. Louis (Chef Larry Forgione at An American Place.)  The uniqueness of the recipe is that it calls for finely crumbled yolks of hard-boiled eggs verses fresh uncooked egg yolks.

I tried this recipe last weekend and it was a great success with my guests.  The recipe calls for two hard-boiled eggs.  After cooking up the entire 12-pack of eggs, I made deviled eggs with the remainder.

This is a clever way to create a delicate and moist shortcake without it tasting doughy or soggy.  Many baking professionals have known this secret and incorporate this technique into their pastries.  Now you can too!

(Recipe reprinted from the James Beard Foundation)

Serves 6

2 cups white all-purpose flour

1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar

1 tablespoon plus 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled, cut into small cubes

2 hard-boiled egg yolks, pushed through a zester or fine sieve

3/4 cups heavy cream, chilled

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

3 pints fresh strawberries, washed, hulled, and halved or quartered

2 tablespoons sugar

1 cup heavy cream

1 tablespoon sugar

Sprigs of mint for garnish

Sift together the flour, 1/4 cup of the sugar, and the baking powder into a bowl. Add 6 tablespoons of the chilled butter pieces and, using your fingertips, work the butter into the flour mix until it has the consistency of coarse crumbs. Add the sieved hard-boiled egg yolks and the cream; gently mix until it the dough just comes together.

Turn the dough onto a lightly floured board and gently knead to make a smooth dough (about two or three turns). Pat down the dough to make a 1-inch-thick round. Using a lightly floured 2 1/2-inch-round cookie cutter, cut out 6 shortcakes. Brush the tops with the melted butter and sprinkle with the reserved tablespoon of sugar. Place the shortcakes on a plate lined with waxed paper or plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour.

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Transfer the chilled shortcakes to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake on the center rack of the oven for 12 to 15 minutes, until golden and firm to the touch. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly.

While the shortcakes cool, prepare the fruit filling and whipped cream: place the strawberries in a glass bowl and add the sugar. Gently stir and let sit for 1 to 2 minutes.

Whip the cream and sugar together in a medium bowl until the cream just begins to thicken.

Using a fork or serrated knife, cut the shortcakes in half lengthwise. Place the bottom halves on 6 plates and generously spoon the macerated fruit and juices over them. Top with a heaping dollop of lightly whipped sweetened cream. Top with the top halves of the shortcakes.

Add a mint leaf to each serving for garnish.

Leave a comment

Filed under Dessert, Food

Cooking Demo Today at Encanterra’s Good Life Festival

Today, Encanterra Country Club located in the Southeast Valley of Greater Phoenix, is hosting its second concert of the season featuring Bachman Turner. I’ll be there conducting three cooking demonstrations in the beautiful Napoli Model Home  in Encanterra’s gallery of new homes. These are the recipes I’ll be showcasing, all featuring Biltmore Inspirations gourmet foods. Beautiful decorating products, wine accessories and tabletop items from Biltmore will be showcased as well.  

SCHEDULE:

12:30 PM – Basil Chicken Salad Crostini with Red Pepper Romano Topping

1:30 PM – Caramelized Onion Tart with Gorgonzola & Brie

2:30 PM – Warm Cinnamon Spiced Bananas over Vanilla Ice Cream

RECIPES

Basil Chicken Salad Crostini with Red Pepper Romano Topping

Serves 4

6 oz. boneless, skinless chicken breast, cooked

¼ c. fresh basil leaves, packed

1 baguette

3 T. extra virgin olive oil

½ c. Biltmore Inspirations Roasted Red Pepper Romano Specialty Topping

Slice baguette into 24 pieces. Place on sheet tray, drizzle with olive oil and season with salt. Bake 7 minutes or until crisp.

When chicken has cooled, dice small and add to bowl.  Combine with Biltmore Inspirations Roasted Red Pepper Romano Specialty Topping.  Cut basil into very thin strips and add to chicken.

Top crostini with chicken mixture, and serve immediately.

 

Caramelized Onion Tart with Gorgonzola and Brie Recipe

Makes 24 appetizers

1 jar Biltmore Inspirations Caramelized Onion Balsamic Spread

8 oz. frozen puff pastry (defrosted a couple hours in the fridge)

2 oz. chilled Brie cheese, rind removed and diced

2 oz. Gorgonzola or other blue cheese, diced

2 T. chopped fresh tarragon

Roll pastry into a 10-to-14-inch rectangle (or whatever shape you want). Place pastry on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Prick with a fork at a couple inch increments to prevent the pastry from forming big bubbles while baking.

Spread Biltmore Inspirations Caramelized Onion Spread over pastry, all the way to the edges of the pastry. Dot with cheese. Sprinkle with tarragon. Refrigerate if not baking immediately.

Bake in a preheated oven at 400°F for 18-20 minutes or until cheese has melted and pastry is crispy. Cool for 5 minutes. Cut into wedges or squares and serve.

 

Warm Cinnamon Spiced Bananas with Ice Cream

4 servings

1/4 c. Biltmore Inspirations Cinnamon Spice Flavoring Syrup

3 T. brown sugar

2 T. butter

2 large bananas

2-3 c. vanilla ice cream

Combine Biltmore Inspirations Cinnamon Spice Flavoring Syrup, brown sugar and butter in a large skillet.  Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly until the sugar melts (2-3 minutes.)  Boil, uncovered, until slightly thickened, about 2 minutes.

Meanwhile, slice bananas diagonally; add to skillet and turn to coat with sauce.  Cook until hot and softened, about 1 ½ minutes.  Spoon over ice cream and serve.

Leave a comment

Filed under Appetizers, Dessert, Food, Holiday, Recipes