Friday, August 31, 2012

Savory Panna Cotta for #Baketogether

Goat Cheese and Green Chile Panna Cotta with Tomato-Peach Sauce
If you read blogs with any frequency, you might get the mistaken — very mistaken — idea that cooks who blog never make mistakes and every meal must be extraordinary. And I admit that since starting this blog a little more than one year ago, I’ve only presented the successes.

There’ve been plenty of failures but I didn’t think they were worth photographing much less writing about. You never saw the rye crust pizza that was leaden heavy on the pan and in our stomachs, nor the endless stream of whole grain, low-sugar chocolate chip cookies that I still call works in progress because I’m not ready to call it quits. There’ve been plenty of Experiments and abject failures.

So, yes, there was some reluctance about presenting this #Baketogether recipe because it did not turn out as I had envisioned. But the point of this monthly baking group led by Abby Dodge is not to showcase kitchen prowess. Rather, it has grown into a community where we develop our skills, share ideas, be creative and encourage each other. Participating has been one of the most enjoyable parts of my blogging life. Returning to the working world means I have less time for baking and blogging and I miss this little corner of cyberspace.

And now about the recipe. Abby’s August feature is a gorgeous Ricotta Panna Cotta with Colorful “Brezza Fresca,” (a spritsy sauce of ginned raspberries). Just the notion of gin with raspberries is excitement enough.

I thought a lot about what how I would approach Abby’s recipe and all of those recipes were most definitely sweet. Then one day my mind got stuck on a savory path when I saw a load of Hatch chiles at the supermarket. Roasted chiles, goat cheese and ricotta would form the base. For color and contrasting flavor, a fresh tomato-peach sauce with a little white wine. I know; it sounds fabulous and is pure summertime.

The result was a bit “meh.” I think something other than ricotta would have been better — mascarpone, cream cheese, half and half. More salt. As for texture, mine did not set up well, and part of that is because I used agar-agar, a vegetarian alternative to gelatin. I followed directions which said to treat agar-agar as you would gelatin. I think maybe I should not have used that 1/4 cup of water in the recipe. Or may I should have used gelatin and not tried to experiment.

The tomato-peach sauce I whipped up very quickly, basically using equal quantities of both fruits, salting to taste and splashing in a fruity white wine for dimension. The color of the sauce was what bothered me. All I had were white peaches and they dulled the sauce. Regular peachy peaches would have made a prettier color.

If you’ve never had tomatoes and peaches together, I urge you to try them and check out my Tomato-Peach Jam from last summer.

So, no, I wasn’t crazy about the result of my experiment, but I didn’t let it go to waste. Instead of serving this as an appetizer, which had been my plan, I placed it alongside our supper of scrambled eggs, refried beans and corn tortillas.

My husband asked “What is this?” as he took a bite.

“Oh, just something I made for my blog,” I mumbled, “but it didn’t really turn out.”

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Popovers for Tuesdays with Dorie

Popovers hot from the oven, a recipe from Baking with Julia.

I love proportional recipes that can be altered without the need for higher math, or calculators or digital scales or scratching out division in the margins of your cookbook.

Take these popovers from Baking with Julia. The amounts of milk, eggs and flour are easily divided by three, thus allowing me to make 2/3 batch. One-third of the recipe would not yield enough while the full recipe would have required more muffin tins than I had available. Perfect.

I cannot remember the last time I baked your classic, everyday individual popovers. Usually I make one huge recipe in my cast iron skillet, pouring the batter over about one pound of sautéed mushrooms seasoned with thyme and garlic. After about 45 minutes, an impressive crown has risen and the batter has sealed tightly around the mushrooms, and it’s quite a sight to see, not to mention a delight to consume.

Tonight’s popovers, though, are plain and simple, ready for whatever adornment you can imagine. A little peach or strawberry jam, or some lemon curd (made with a proportional recipe, too, as a matter of fact).

Every two weeks, a group of bloggers cook from Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan. Today’s popover recipe is hosted by Paula at Vintage Kitchen Notes and by Amy of Bake with Amy. Visit their sites to get the recipes. Be sure to check out blogs from other participating bakers at Tuesdays with Dorie.

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