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Vines, Grapes, Harvest and Press: It’s Time at Becker Vineyards

Vines, Grapes, Harvest and Press: It’s Time at Becker Vineyards

Becker vineyards harvester cropped 2014

STONEWALL:  The rumbling of diesel engines is heard in an otherwise quiet, pastoral setting of vines and ripe bunches of grapes.  A blue Braud harvester rolls down a row of grapevines, shaking green grapes off as it goes along.  Yellow picking bins on a flatbed trailer pulled by a John Deere tractor are being filled with the ripe fruit and brought to the winery for processing.

Becker grape harvester 2014 croppedThe 2014 harvest has begun for Becker Vineyards.

This week, Sauvignon Blanc grapes were being harvested in the vineyard in front of the winery.

This past Saturday, grape growers Cap and Diane Holland harvested their Chardonnay grapes from their vineyard located between Bronte and Miles, outside of San Angelo, making them the first of Becker Vineyards contract growers to harvest grapes.

“This will be our 18th grape harvest, “ said Bunny Becker, co-proprietor with her husband Dr. Richard Becker. “Harvest is an exciting time of the year for us.”

The Beckers planted their vineyard in 1992 with the first harvest taking place in 1995.  They began selling wine to the public when they opened their winery tasting room in May of 1996.  Along with the vineyard at Stonewall, they own another vineyard at Ballinger and a third one in Mason. Becker Vineyards also purchases fruit from grape growers.

“We have the largest amount of contracts on Texas-grown grapes in the state,” said Bret Perrenoud, general manager, dumping a bin of grapes into the destemmer-crusher with a forklift.

The winery crush pad is a bee hive of activity. The destemmer-crusher is… destemming and crushing. The white grape varietals are then going – via hoses and pumps – to the press to separate the juice from the skins. The air is aromatic with the scent of fresh, ripe fruit. The juice will then head for a stainless steel tank to be inoculated with yeast.  If it is to be a dry white, the fermenting juice will then go to White Oak barrels and finish fermentation there.  If it is to be off-dry (sweeter-style wines), it will stay in stainless steel.

Winemaker Jonathan Leahy is looking forward to the harvest and said, “It’s been a cooler than normal summer. We have phenolic ripeness without the spiking of sugars. This will make full bodied, well developed and more complex wines.”

“We are all looking forward to the end results,” said Richard Becker, with a smile.

Becker Vineyards is located 11 miles east of Fredericksburg, 3 miles west of Stonewall, off U.S. Hwy 290 at Jenschke Lane.

Photographs, article courtesy Nichole Bendele, Becker Vineyards

 

And, let the grape stomps begin!

Grape Stomp t-shirtAugust is the month for stomping grapes, one of the Texas Hill Country’s favorite, crowd-pleasing times.  Becker Vineyards’ Grape Stomp is Aug. 23-24 and Aug. 30-31.

Here are more fun places to get your feet into some ripe, fresh fruit. Check out the wineries’ websites for hours and directions.

  • August 2-3 & 9-10 at Dry Comal Creek Vineyards
  • August 8-10, 15-17 & 22-24 at Pedernales Cellars
  • August 9 at Texas Legato
  • August 9-10 & 16-17 at William Chris Vineyards
  • August 16 at Westcave Cellars Winery
  • August 16-17 & 23-24 at Texas Hills Vineyard
  • August 16 & 23 at Fall Creek Vineyards
  • August 30 at Messina Hof Hill Country
  • August 30 & September 6 at Chisholm Trail Winery

 

Posted in Events, Featured, In Season, News0 Comments

Culinaria’s Restaurant Week Steps Up Its Game!

Culinaria’s Restaurant Week Steps Up Its Game!

Culinaria’s Restaurant Week is fast approaching, and this year’s event, Aug 16-23,  not only highlights many of the best local chefs and restaurants but now also food trucks. They’ll be offering their fare at a designated location at Travis Park on Aug. 19.

As an all-encompassing citywide event, all participating restaurants will donate partial proceeds to benefit Culinaria and its continued outreach initiatives.

Participating restaurants will offer an array of prix-fixe menus— encompassing both three-course lunch menus and four-course dinner menus within three different pricing tiers.

* Tier 1 establishments will offer $15 for a three-course lunch menu, and $35 for a four-course dinner menu.

* Tier 2 establishments will off $10 for a three-course lunch menu, and $25 for a four-course for dinner menu.

An island bar will be a first for Perry's.

The Island Bar at Perry’s Steakhouse, one of the participants in this year’s Restaurant Week.

Culinaria’s Restaurant Week benefits all of Culinaria’s community outreach programs, making each dining experience a charitable one.

This culinary adventure leads you to try new restaurants and also lets you support many of your local favorites.

With each meal ordered specifically for San Antonio Restaurant Week, participating restaurants will donate $1 from each lunch menu and $2 from each dinner menu ordered to benefit Culinaria.

San Antonio Restaurant Week highlights a wide array of dining establishments. Places such as Arcade Midtown Kitchen, Biga on The Banks, Bite, Bliss, Boiler House Texas Grill & Wine Garden, Boudro’s, BRIO, The Esquire Tavern, La Gloria, The Fruteria, Liberty Bar, Luke San Antonio, MAX’s Wine Dive, NAO, Palm Restaurant, Stella Public House,  and many more. Reservations are encouraged and you can contact each establishment directly. See the complete list here!

Restaurant Week on the Move!

This year’s  Restaurant Week on The Move will showcase the city’s best food trucks and mobile kitchens with the special pricing of $8 for a lunch special and $15 for a dinner special. You can find them in Travis Park, at a designated location, on Aug. 19 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

 

Culinaria is an independent, not-for-profit organization committed to promoting San Antonio as a premier wine and food destination while fostering community growth and enrichment. Read more about Culinaria here

 

Posted in Featured, Restaurants0 Comments

Ask a Foodie: How Do You Use Za’atar Seasoning

Ask a Foodie: How Do You Use Za’atar Seasoning

Q. I’ve encountered the term za’atar seasoning on menus and have also seen it in ethnic food markets. I know it’s a blend of some spices but don’t know how one would use it. Any suggestions?

A. We’ve seen this seasoning blend as well, and usually in a Middle Eastern Market. The blend has sesame seeds in it and also the brick-red sumac also used in cooking from these regions.  The third element to this mixture is what is interesting — it’s an aromatic variety of marjoram (M. syriaca) which is common in Jordon, Lebanon and Israel, says Aliza Green in her thorough “Field Guide to Herbs and Spices.” This marjoram is also called by the name “za’atar.”

Lemb Kebobs from Feast

Lamb Kebabs from Feast

In the countries mentioned above, the flavor is common in grilled lamb and flatbread and is often mixed with sumac, says Green, to spread on pita bread. We’ve also seen za’atar sprinkled on hummus or tossed into a salad of garbanzo beans, slivered green onion and tomato or sprinkled over feta cheese. You can also put it on a plate, pour over some olive oil and use it as a dipping sauce with pita bread.

Recently, we ordered a small plate at Feast Restaurant on Alamo Street in San Antonio’s King William area. Chef Stefan Bowers sprinkles the za’tar mixture on some tasty Ground Lamb Kebobs, then serves with a slightly spicy serrano feta dip, to good effect.

If you want to make your own blend, try Green’s blend, which she also suggests mixing with yogurt and using as a dip for raw vegetables: Combine 2 tablespoons dried crushed za’atar leaves (or crushed thyme, summer savory, oregano, marjoram or a mixture). Add 2 tablespoons roasted sesame seeds and 1 tablespoon ground sumac. Grind to a chunky paste and season wil a little salt, to taste. Store at room temperature. Za’atar’s flavor will begin to face after 2 months. Makes 1/3 cup. (From “Field Guide to Herbs and Spices.”)

 

Posted in Ask A Foodie, Featured2 Comments

Griffin to Go: Are Too Many Diners Expecting the Moon These Days?

Griffin to Go: Are Too Many Diners Expecting the Moon These Days?

Diners, beware. Open season has been declared on those of you who eat out. And the complaints aren’t just coming from wait staff.

Do you see this person as friend or foe?

Do you see this person as friend or foe?

Chefs, managers, critics and even some actors are getting into the mix.

Oh, sure, there are still a few people who go out to eat, politely order their food, eat and enjoy themselves, tip their server between 15 and 20 percent, maybe thank the chef and then leave. But if you’re one of those people, you need to realize that you’re part a dying breed.

Today’s diners are far less gracious. Don’t think that I’m merely talking about the hipster crowd or Millennials, because the rampant bad behavior seems to belong to no single age group. There are grumblers, old and young, who are never satisfied with what they’re served and make no bones that anything less than perfection is unacceptable.

Take tables, for example. Anywhere they’re seated is not good enough. Too close to the kitchen. Too far from the bar. Too noisy. Too close to another table. Too lacking in feng shui. After playing Goldilocks with the chairs a half-dozen times, they still haven’t found a place that’s “just right,” and they blame the restaurant for it.

Or maybe the table is filled with diners who spend 20 minutes taking pictures of their food and then complain that the meal is not hot enough. Really, folks? How long does it take to take a picture? I have often joked that food photography has become the 21st century’s way of saying grace, because, in a way, it’s a form of being grateful for the food that has been set before you. But if it takes longer to get your picture than it does to say the common table prayer, then you have no right to complain about the temperature of your food — or much of any else.

And let’s not get started on the issue of tipping.

Sure, service needs to evolve to meet the new standards, demands and eccentricities of today’s entitled diners. But where is the line drawn between reasonable and ridiculous? The gripes and sniping have gained in volume, as if some people think they’ll get a free meal if they scream loud enough; their puerile behavior leaves the rest of us wondering what we did wrong because we were enjoying our meal. Some of the restauranteurs who failed to cave in to these diners’ demands have later discovered online reviews from those same upset people who have lashed out in their outrage. These reports pile grievance on top of grievance until it seems as if their dinner had been served in a prison instead of a neighborhood bistro.

Too often, though, these posts come across as outrageous and unintentionally funny, and they have led to the hysterical Real Actors Read Yelp series on YouTube. There are more than 20 of these short videos, and each one is sadder and more laughable than the one that came before it. For a particularly apt example, click here. At the end, you can choose any of the others until you’ve had your fill.

In recent weeks, various stories have appeared about a supposed report that a New York restaurant has done comparing its service from 10 years ago to its service today. Why are so many more complaints are generated nowadays about the service? Videos from both years show that, of course, the diners are the problem and not the restaurant. That is why I say “supposed,” because the restaurant’s identity has not been revealed, so there have been claims that it’s a hoax.

Whether it’s false or true, you may want to read one account of the story (click here) because it offers a lot to chew on, in San Antonio as well as New York. Pay attention to the comments at the end of the piece, too. The vitriol from the readers, who come from all backgrounds and not just the restaurant business, equals the petulance of some diners.

This standoff is likely to get worse before it gets better. But all you prickly, picky diners who expect support from food critics, think again. Your behavior is turning off those who eat out for a living. In a recent online chat, Tom Sietsema of the Washington Post had this to say after being asked what a restaurant was supposed to do after a person slipped and fell in the dining room: “More than any other business I know, people expect restaurants to be and do everything. Can you imagine asking your hair dresser to give you a free trim because it was your birthday? Or expecting half-off on a root canal if your dentist kept you waiting more than 15 minutes?”

So, the next time you go out, leave your attitude at home. You’ll find yourself enjoying the experience more. So will the people around you. If you can’t do that, then kindly limit yourselves to restaurant drive-thru windows. You may not realize it now, but it never pays to bite the hand that feeds you.

Posted in Featured, Griffin to Go, Restaurants3 Comments

Drink Up National Tequila Day with Your Choice of Cocktails

Drink Up National Tequila Day with Your Choice of Cocktails

Cucumber Mint Margarita

Cucumber Mint Margarita

July 24 is National Tequila Day. To help you celebrate this august occasion, we’re offering four recipes of tequila cocktails that range from the simple, single cocktail to a pitcher-sized party mix.

Some are from Texas. Others are just spiced as if they’re from here. And all are worth a sip or three.

Cucumber Mint Margarita

A lively dose of Tabasco Sauce gives this cool, refreshing margarita a little kick. Enjoy the ride.

1/2 cup chopped cucumber, peeled and seeded
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup key lime juice
1/4 cup chopped mint
1/3 cup tequila reposado
2 tablespoons orange liqueur
1/8 teaspoon Tabasco Sauce
6 ice cubes
Salt to rim glasses
2 cucumber slices for garnish

Blend ingredients in a blender for 1 minute. Divide between two 6-ounce salt-rimmed glasses. Garnish each glass with a cucumber slice.

Makes 2 cocktails.

Raspberry Picante Paloma Pitchers

Guy on FireThis recipe comes from Guy Fieri’s latest cookbook, “Guy on Fire” (William Morrow, $29.99). As Fieri says, “Oh yeah! This is one they won’t forget. I can hear it now — “Yeah! The drink had raspberries and jalapeños, and it as so the bomb!”

12  fresh raspberries
4 thin slices jalapeño pepper
12 ounces (1 1/2 cups) tequila, preferably 100 percent blue agave tequila blanco
1 1/2 cups fresh ruby red grapefruit juice
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons agave nectar
1 1/4 cups club soda or lemon-lime soda

Grapefruit Salt:
1/4 cup kosher salt
Grated zest of 1 grapefruit
Lime wedges, for garnish

In a glass pitcher, muddle the raspberries and jalapeño, then fill halfway with ice. Add the tequila, grapefruit juice, lime juice and agave. Take a second pitcher (the same size) and pour one into the other repeatedly to mix the drink together. Top it off with club soda or lemon-lime soda.

To make the grapefruit salt, crush the salt and grapefruit zest together with a mortar and pestle, then spread on a plate. Run a lime wedge around the rim of each glass, then dip the glasses in the grapefruit salt. Fill with the cocktails.

Prep-ahead tip: Make the base recipe (minus the club soda) in big battches, up to a day ahead, and hold it in the fridge, so when the party is on, all you need to do is pour (rather than stand behind the bar making drinks all night). Just top off each glass with club soda while you’re serving so the drinks stay nice and effervescent.

Makes 6-8 servings.

From “Guy on Fire” by Guy Fieri with Ann Volkwein

Matt’s Old Fashioned

Tipsy TexanThis twist on a classic cocktail comes from David Alan’s “Tipsy Texan: Spirits and Cocktails from the Lone Star State” (Andrews McMeel Publishing, $19.99). It was inspired by a Texas classic, he writes: “For generations of Austinites, dining at Matt’s El Rancho has been a tradition that has often begun in utero. This tequila Old Fashioned variation is a tribute to that venerable temple of Tex-Mex.”

Lemon
Orange
2 ounces añejo tequila
1/2 ounce elderflower liqueur
2 dashes of Angostura bitters
Dash of orange bitters

Using a swivel-handled vegetable peeler, remove a strip of lemon peel and a strip of orange peel from the respective fruits over an Old Fashioned glass, allowing the peels to fall into the glass and capturing as much essential oil as possible. Add the tequila, elderflower liqueur and both bitters. Fill the glass with ice, preferably in large chunks. Stir using a bar spoon to integrate and dilute.

Makes 1 cocktail.

From “The Tipsy Texan” by David Alan

Juan’s Tequila Sour

You’ll have to hunt through used bookstores probably to find a copy of the 1978 edition of “Fiesta,” the Junior League of Corpus Christi’s cookbook. It’s worth the hunt. Until you find a copy, here’s a taste of Juan’s Tequila Sour, as contributed by Mrs. John W. Creveling Jr. (Judy Hoepfner).

2 ounces tequila
2 ounces simple syrup
2 ounces fresh lime juice

Mix the tequila, syrup and lime juice. The proportions may be varied to suite individual tastes. Serve over cracked ice.

Makes 1 serving.

From “Fiesta” by the Junior League of Corpus Christi

Posted in Drinks, Featured0 Comments

Put on Your Aprons: Cooking Classes in SA

Put on Your Aprons: Cooking Classes in SA

Chef Steven McHugh at Cured

Chef Steven McHugh at Cured

Kiddie Corner at Cured with Chef Steve McHugh

Chef Steve McHugh of Cured will be offering cooking classes for kids ages 7 to 12 at the Pearl Farmers Market on Saturday, July 26 at 9 a.m.

Children will shop the market for seasonal produce and learn how to safely prepare each ingredient and create dishes they can easily reproduce at home.

The class will last for 30 minutes and cost $15 per child. All proceeds will be benefit Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign to end childhood hunger.

To reserve your spot please call 210.314.3929.

Summer in Tuscany at Sur La Table

Rustic yet refined, Tuscan cooking is famous for using simple ingredients and preparations to create delicious, authentic flavors. Our instructor will teach you the techniques behind these satisfying recipes as well as a few tips to make their preparation a breeze.

Great cooking isn’t about recipes—it’s about techniques. In our classes you’ll work together with other students in a fun, hands-on environment led by our professional chef instructors. Class time is 3:30-5:30 p.m., July 27. The cost is $69. Reserve you place by phone (18 years old and older) at 800-243-0852.  Sur La Table is at the Shops at La Cantera, 15900 La Cantera Parkway.

In this class you will:

  • Learn fundamental skills for a lifetime of great cooking
  • Work side-by-side with other students to prepare each dish
  • Interact with classmates and the instructor for a rich learning experience
  • Classes are 2 to 2 1/2 hours, unless otherwise noted above, and each student enjoys a generous taste of every dish
  • Held in our professional teaching kitchens, each class is led by an experienced chef instructor
  • Hands-on classes are limited to 16 participants
  • Students receive a 10 percent discount coupon to use the week after the class

Cooking at Central Market: Stone Fruits

Join Sustenio chef David Gilbert at Quarry Farmers & Ranchers Market for a tour of the offerings at hand Sunday (July 15) and then brunch.

Hannah Smith, CM Cooking School Instructor, will demonstrate three healthy recipes that are also a delicious way to use these summer fruits. The class is for students ages 18 and older. The cost is $25. These recipes will be demonstrated:

  •  Summer Stone Fruit Gazpacho;
  •  Brandied Peach &  Pork Kebabs;
  •  Burrata Stone Fruit Salad; and
  •  Roast Plums with Almond Crunch, Basil Syrup & Cream.

 

Class is 12-1 p.m. Aug. 1. To reserve a place call 210-368-8617. Or follow this link.

Posted in Cooking, Featured, How To0 Comments

Join Sustainability, Food-Issue Discussion: TEDx, Food Policy Council

Join Sustainability, Food-Issue Discussion: TEDx, Food Policy Council

If your concerns about food reach beyond finding the next trendy restaurant or cocktail bar, this upcoming TEDx salon, with the Food Policy Council of San Antonio, has a variety of issues on its menu.

There's nothing like vegetables at their freshest. The salon-type gathering will be Saturday, July 26, at the Urban-15 space, 2500 S. Presa St. from 5-9 p.m. and includes speakers and a potluck prepared by local chefs. The price is $35.

To address ways to support a healthy, sustainable and local food system for all people, in all walks of life, the discussion topics will range from connecting to the environment, our impact on the economy and include community participants in a dialogue about food and the policies that surround it.

Organizers say the target audience can be best described as: eaters.  Real eaters. These are people in San Antonio who care about equitable access to quality food and quality ingredients. This includes farmers market aficionados, green/environmental activists and supporters, buyers of organic produce, restaurateurs and caterers and educators (K-12 and college level).

Speakers include Judith Vega of San Antonio Metro Health, Angela Harsell of Green Spaces Alliance, Elizabeth Johnson, Mitch Hagney and Kerry Meath-Sinking, local chefs and professionals who work with local farmers

The potluck follows with dishes from Elizabeth Johnson, Steven McHugh, Taste Elevated, Gaucho Gourmet, Brook Summers, Restaurant Gwendolyn and more, including sustainable cocktails by The Brooklynite’s Boulvedier Group.

Tickets are in limited supply: Click on this link

 

Food Police Council of San Antonio

The Food Policy Council of San Antonio serves as a stakeholder forum to support a healthy, sustainable, and local food system for people, the environment, the economy and community; gathers and disseminates information for all who work toward that goal in the San Antonio area; and advocates for policy improvements relating to food.

TEDxSanAntonio

TEDxSanAntonio encourages and supports events intended to foster discussion and community building around ideas worth sharing in San Antonio.

 

(Sponsored by Defining Delicious and Urban 15)

 

Posted in Daily Dish, Events, Featured, News0 Comments

Zucchini and Apple Olive Oil Cake

Zucchini and Apple Olive Oil Cake

This is a spicy, flavorful cake that originated as Mario Batali’s Zucchini Olive Oil Cake. We adapted it slightly by substituting half of the zucchini called for in the recipe with grated apples. So, if you like, you could use 2 cups of shredded zucchini. Walnuts will taste great, but if you have pecans you could use those, too.

Zucchini and Apple Olive Oil Cake

2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
zest of 1 lemon, finely grated
1 cup of shredded zucchini
1 cup shredded apples
1 cup walnuts or pecans, chopped (optional)
Powdered sugar for dusting

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and spices. Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the sugar, eggs and oil until light. Add the vanilla and lemon zest, followed by the dry ingredients, beating thoroughly to combine. Add the zucchini and walnuts.

Pour into a greased 13-inch by 9-inch cake pan.

Bake the cake 35-40 minutes, or until it is golden brown on top and springy to the touch in the center. Dust the top of the cake with powdered sugar and serve.

Adapted from Mario Batali’s recipe, with thanks to www.spoonfulblog.com

Posted in Cooking, Featured, In Season, Recipes0 Comments

Cool Off with Some Spiky Strawberry Gazpacho

Cool Off with Some Spiky Strawberry Gazpacho

Gazpacho is a great way to use what’s fresh in the market. But no two recipes are alike. The original Spanish version is said to have used stale bread and almonds. This version calls for strawberries mixed with tomatoes, cucumber, onion and garlic.

Strawberry Gazpacho

Strawberry Gazpacho

This recipe, which appears in Maggie Stucky’s “Soup Night: Recipes for Creating Community Around a Pot of Soup” (Storey Publishing, $19.95), comes from someone who has a Spanish background. It was created by Anna Bueno of Bedford, Mass, who offers the following story: “I learned to cook from my mother. When I was growing up in Barcelona, we all went home for lunch from school, and I would watch her cook  and she would teach me things. Just little things about whatever she was making at the time. No recipe, just talking.

“One of the things we often had on hot summer days was a bowl of cold gazpacho. But sometimes, the strong aroma of the garlic and the onion was too much. A couple of years ago, while having a lovely dinner at home with some friends, one of the guests suggested adding some strawberries to the traditional gazpacho and using less garlic. I decided to try it, and I also reduced the usual amount of sweet red pepper and cucumber. The result was an incredibly refreshing, fruity gazpacho. Make sure you only use the freshest, highest quality ingredients for this soup.”

Why, you ask? Because you can taste the difference.

So, now it’s your turn to play with the recipe. What would you change? You could use tequila instead of the sherry vinegar. Or maybe use minced celery instead of the cucumber. The choices are yours.

If you have an industrial blender, such as a Vitamix, you don’t have to chop a great deal beforehand, meaning this gazpacho can go together in minutes.

Strawberry Gazpacho

6 ripe tomatoes, seeded and chopped (about 4 cups)
4 cups hulled and sliced fresh strawberries
1/4 onion, finely chopped
1/4 English cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped
1/4 bell pepper, red or green, seeded and chopped
1/4 garlic clove, minced
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup sherry vinegar
Salt, to taste
Freshly ground pepper, to taste

Toss everything in a blender and let it liquify.

Toss everything in a blender and let it liquify.

Measure the chopped tomatoes. If you have more than 4 cups, slice additional strawberries to equal the volume of the tomatoes.

Combine the tomatoes and strawberries in a blender, and add the onion, cucumber, bell pepper, garlic, vinegar, salt and pepper. Blend to a smooth consistency.

Place the soup in a container, cover tightly and refrigerate overnight, allowing the flavors to blend. Serve very cold.

Garnish with strawberry slices, if desired.

For large crowds: This is a fine choice for large groups when gardens are overflowing with tomatoes.

Makes 6 servings.

From Anna Bueno, Bedford, Mass./”Soup Night: Recipes for Creating Community Around a Pot of Soup” by Maggie Stuckey

 

Posted in Featured, In Season, Recipes0 Comments

Cottage Cheese Panna Cotta

Cottage Cheese Panna Cotta

This is a panna cotta with a difference. Not only is it not made solely of heavy cream, it has an unusual topping of salted caramel, plus a dark chocolate-almond ganache to turn up the richness, not to mention sheer appeal. As if panna cotta needed an added attraction!  We are waiting for just the special occasion to try this recipe.

 

Cottage Cheese Panna Cotta with Salted Caramel and Chocolate-Almond Ganache

Cottage Cheese Panna Cotta with Salted Caramel and Chocolate-Almond Ganache

Cottage Cheese Panna Cotta

Salted Caramel:
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons water
1/2 cup California heavy cream, room temperature
1/4 teaspoon salt

Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta:
1 1/4 teaspoons unflavored gelatin
1/3 cup sweetened condensed milk
3/4 cup California heavy cream
1/2 cup California cottage cheese, pureed smooth
1/2 vanilla bean, split in half lengthwise, seeds scraped and reserved

Dark Chocolate-Almond Ganache:
4 ounces 60 percent cacao bittersweet dark chocolate chips
2/3 cup California heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon coffee extract or liqueur
1/2 teaspoon almond extract or liqueur
pinch of salt
Optional Garnish:
Whipped cream, Maldon salt, shaved dark chocolate, toasted almonds

For Salted Caramel: Add sugar and water to a large heavy sauce pan over medium heat. Swirl pan until a clear syrup forms. Once liquefied, turn heat up to high and cook until syrup turns a rich amber color approx. 5-7 minutes. Remove from heat. Carefully add cream then stir in salt. Continue stirring until a glossy caramel forms.| Cool slightly then pour through a mesh strainer into a glass measuring cup. Set aside.

For Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta: Sprinkle gelatin over condensed milk, let stand 5 minutes to soften.  Bring heavy cream to a boil in a medium sauce pan. Reduce heat to low.  Stir in cottage cheese puree, vanilla seeds, and condensed milk until well combined. Cook until gelatin dissolves approx. 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat, cool slightly, pour into another glass measuring cup.

Divide cooled caramel among 4 4-ounce ramekins or glass jars, refrigerate for 10 minutes, then top caramel with equally divided panna cotta mixture.

Refrigerate for one hour.

For Chocolate-Almond Ganache: Put chocolate in a medium mixing bowl. Bring heavy cream to a boil in a sauce pan. Pour hot cream over chocolate.
Whisk in coffee and almond extracts until mixture is smooth and all the chocolate is melted.  Once panna cotta sets, top with chocolate ganache. Return to refrigerator, chill for 2-3 hours.

Garnish with optional whipped cream, Maldon salt, chocolate shavings and toasted almonds.

Serves 4
Recipe, photo courtesy of the California Milk Advisory Board.

 

Posted in Featured, Recipes0 Comments

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