Archive for the 'Recipes – Savory' Category

Random Acts of Candy

Sunday, April 11th, 2010

Hello,

BonBonBar is holding its 2nd Annual Candy Comfort promotion! Just as we begin to emerge from wintertime, tax-time, and recession-time (hopefully!), I think that a little handmade candy for friends, family, and co-workers might come as a welcome relief.

So, the rules are the same as last year — we’re offering a 20% discount on all confections sent as gifts through Sunday, April 18.  Do gifts to yourself count? Absolutely… but remember that all orders must be accompanied by a gift message. Kind (or funny) words rival chocolate in brightening up someone’s day, and that is what candy comfort is all about!

Coupon code: candycomfort

Thank you so much!
Nina

**This was the text from BonBonBar’s newsletter. Please email contact@bonbonbar.com to subscribe.

BonBonBar 2010 Holiday Newsletter… Blogged

Saturday, February 6th, 2010
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Hello,

Happy Holidays!  Even though I have been quiet on the newsletter front, it has been busy at BonBonBar.

The most exciting news is that I have been hard at work writing a cookbook! It is called Beautiful Candymaking, and it is due out in the Fall of 2011 through Sterling Publishing.  The book will feature my take on a wide range of candy recipes — from toffee to fudge to caramel corn — along with candymaking tips/techniques and gorgeous photography courtesy of The White on Rice Couple.

After developing so many recipes for the book, I thought that it would be a good idea to recharge and seek new inspiration for the company’s confections.  So, BonBonBar will be closed from December 23 to February 1 as I eat my way around France, Italy, Brazil, and California.  I am looking forward to returning with refreshed ideas for new products, but it most likely also means that, unfortunately, some candies will be rotated out in the new year.

As always, thank you so much for your support and enthusiasm.  Happy customers have always been my favorite part of this BonBonBar adventure, and you have given me the amazing opportunity to run a truly artisan food company that will be going into its fourth year. I am grateful, and lucky.

All the best for a happy and sweet holiday season, and I hope that BonBonBar treats will be a part of it!

Thank  you!

Nina

Founder & Chief Chocolatier,BonBonBar

MORE BONBONBAR NEWS

So far, our candy bars are being featured in Fine Cooking, DailyCandy, and The Huffington Post’s 2010 holiday gift guides.

If you would like to place your holiday orders in advance of when you would like them to ship, please let us know in the comments of the order.

All orders placed during the break will ship after February 1.

Lemon Posset is the New Bacon Baklava, and Other New Year’s Eve Discoveries

Wednesday, January 2nd, 2008

I couldn’t wait to make this New Year’s Eve Dinner. As much as I enjoy playing with sugar and chocolate, the prospect of working with meats and vegetables and all sorts of non-chocolate-oriented food was irresistible. It seemed like a vacation, notwithstanding all the standing and cooking… I hadn’t cooked even a semi-real meal in a long time.

I made dishes that I’d tucked into the back of my mind and had been wanting to make for a while… and luckily, since I have freakish knack for consistency, they all fit into each other to make for a nicely coherent menu — even the dessert, with its 4 components, just worked out that way.

I made a few things each day starting on Saturday, and by the time of the dinner party, everything but the risotto was practically ready and just needed to heated and plated. Such prep and organization reminded me of my restaurant stint in Napa, not to mention culinary school. The experience was like speaking a language that I learned a long time ago and was pleasantly surprised that I can still get by with — even if only in the most casual of settings. I cleared away everything from the counter that wasn’t needed for service, laid out my plates, and cleaned up after every course. There was barely any clean up at the end, and I mostly just checked in on food… until I ate it. It was the most stress-free dinner party I’ve ever had.

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Spiced Quince Cake with Lemon Posset, Warm Walnut Sauce, Cranberry Sorbet, and Toasted Walnuts

Lemon Posset is my new culinary cause. It’s only lemon juice, sugar, and cream, but it sets up! Like a light-as-air lemon curd, or even a mousse! It’s so easy and brightly delicious, and it contains only ingredients whose flavor I thoroughly like! No eggs or cornstarch or powdered sugar to get in the way. I issue a warning to the next person who mentions lemon curd to me — for I shall sit them down and lecture on the wonders of lemon posset. So, yes, last year, I was amazed by Bacon Baklava, and this year, it’s all about the posset, which — bonus — is also just as much fun to say.

From what I can tell, the reaction between the acid in the lemon juice and the casein (protein) in the cream causes it to set. Like curd, some combination of lime, orange, or passion fruit can be used, too (and some possets are warm, alcoholic drinks… also worth a try; egg nog is related, I believe).

I used this recipe from Claire Clark’s new book, Indulge, which is especially useful as a go-to book for British desserts, though it is not exclusively anglo-oriented as she is currently the pastry chef at The French Laundry. Clark boils the lemon juice and sugar together and adds boiled cream, but most recipes cook the sugar and cream together and add lemon juice at the end. I’m not sure what difference it makes, except for the amount of moisture lost through the boilings.

I have been taking spoonfuls of leftover lemon posset here and there (that is, whenever I can find an excuse to be in the kitchen), but like a mousse, some liquid separated out on the bottom by the second day. I guess magic can’t last forever.

As it happens, this dessert is partially a French Laundry Then-And-Now concoction — the Walnut Sauce is the Cream of Walnut Soup recipe from The French Laundry cookbook. Walnut-infused cream, poaching liquid, and a poached pear are blended together to make a sauce that’s stunning enough to be eaten alone as a soup. French Laundry at Home declares her love for it here, and the date on that post shows me that I’ve been meaning to make this since roughly last February. I think my juicy Bartlett pear may have been a bit too big, as the pear flavor was a little stronger than I wanted, but by putting it under the cake, the pear flavor nicely blended into the quince and still left the walnut flavor strong. Ah, the safety net of plated desserts combinations.

The Spiced Quince Cake is from Claudia Fleming’s The Last Course. It called for a 10″ springform pan and the batter was very wet, but I used a 9″ and baked it a little longer and it was fine, if a bit spongy-looking. I poached the quinces on Saturday, left them in the syrup until Monday, when they were drained and baked in the cake; the star anise left the most noticeable impression on them. The batter for the cake was like that of a financier — (homemade) almond flour, a little flour, and egg whites with powdered sugar, spices, and browned butter. Rich flavor with a sugary crust and toothsome crumb, but a little heavy on the powdered sugar to me, esp in the aftertaste — but I am sensitive to that flavor.

The Cranberry Sorbet is based on the Chocolate Gourmand’s recipe from a high school friend. I decreased the alcohol by half, and not having limoncello and welcoming a combination of flavors, I substituted half Damiana and Tuaca. I also measured the sugar on my refractometer and it was off the chart, so I added water until it was about 27Brix. I love the smooth texture and rich cranberry flavor, bolstered by subtle spice and orange from the alcohol.

And there was even savory food, too… after the jump…

(more…)

Cherry Tomatoes Are Meant To Be Peeled

Saturday, August 11th, 2007
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Heirloom Cherry Tomato Tart: Peeled Organic Heirloom Cherry Tomatoes, Organic Opal Basil, Parmigiano-Reggiano Chips, and Organic Ricotta on Toasted Plum-Streaked Brioche.

I haven’t had many tomatoes yet this season, and I think that plums are to blame. I’m tired of eating skins for now.

So, at the Santa Monica Farmer’s Market on Wednesday, I bought a punnet of colorful heirloom cherry tomatoes more out of duty than craving. It wasn’t until I got home that I remembered the glistening rainbow of peeled cherry tomatoes in The French Laundry cookbook, so I gave it a shot.

The result: peeled cherry tomatoes are my newest form of tomato perfection. These luscious orbs melt away with the freshest tomato flavor and optimum tomato texture. It’s almost like spherified tomato sauce, akin to an El Bulli trick.

I usually shy away from dealing with the peeling-by-blanching method b/c it takes a lot of time-heat-dishes-water-ice (I’m talking about you, peaches), but since cherry tomatoes are so small, the blanching step is a snap. Not even an ice bath is needed.

You just bring enough lightly salted water to cover the tomatoes to a boil in a saucepan, gently add a few (rinsed, stemmed) cherry tomatoes at time, and after about 5 seconds, remove them with a slotted spoon onto a cutting board; if you notice that certain colors of tomatoes are splitting during poaching (like my yellow ones did), take them out even sooner b/c they probably have thinner skins. With a thin serrated knife, make the smallest possible incision into the skin near the stem end (purely for cosmetic reasons). Gently unwrap the tomato from its skin with your fingers. They will keep for several hours at room temp. I’m guessing that you could also just microwave some water to boiling and work with that.

It takes a little time, but each tomato is its own challenge to peel without nicking or squashing. You appreciate the colorful beauty of each one close up, and feel protective of their sensitive selves, and snack on them.

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This tart was inspired by the Salad of Petite Summer Tomatoes with Vine-Ripe Sorbet in The French Laundry Cookbook that featured the peeled tomatoes. I just made it bigger, more casual, and based on what I had on hand. Once the tomatoes are peeled, it’s practically a matter of assembly; and things stick nicely onto their moist surface. Incidentally, for lunches this summer, I’ve gotten into the habit of baking or toasting some sort of bread-y base (puff pastry, pizza dough, bread, etc), and loading it up with toppings once out of the oven. There’s more control, temperature contrast, and crunch that way, and the ind’l flavors keep more integrity (yes, sometimes desirable, sometimes not).

I spread ricotta on the toasted brioche b/c I love it with tomatoes and it’s a good moisture barrier btw the bread and tomatoes.

Instead of making their garlic tuile with a flour-based batter, I grated some parmigiano-reggiano cheese, formed it onto rounds on a silpat, baked them in a 350F oven until bubbly, broke them up, and scattered them over the tomatoes.

I added chopped opal basil b/c it’s pretty and I’d bought some at the market, too.

I used “plum-streaked brioche” b/c I had the leftover plum brioche tart that I froze as the base, but I couldn’t slice away every last fragment of the plums. Luckily, plums and tomatoes go very nicely with each other. There’s something kinetic there, esp w/ the slight sugar factor. Claudia Fleming’s The Last Course has a recipe for Sautee of Tomato and Plums if you want to try a dessert with the combination.

I didn’t make the TFL tomato sorbet, but I bet it’s fantastic the way it would melt over the tomatoes as a sauce and also as a textural counterpoint as a silky sorbet.

I enthusiastically bought a lot more heirloom cherry tomatoes this morning at the Saturday Santa Monica market (which is smaller than the Wednesday one, but is predominantly organic), and now I have the happy challenge of making a lot of dishes with them. Tonight, I think that the peeled cherry tomatoes will be great with pasta. I’ll probably bake the ricotta with eggs, flour, and parmigiano-reggiano cheese so that I can chop it into cubes to toss in; or maybe it’ll be turned into gnocchi. And add basil… and onions… and olives… and whatever else I can find…

Fine, I’ll Make the Hamburger Buns Myself

Sunday, June 24th, 2007
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There’s something very sad about going to supermarkets whose shelves are groaning under the weight of multiple choices for almost every single possible thing you can buy, and thinking: “Is this all they have?”

Chad and I planned on having burgers last night, and when I went to the supermarket at 5pm, I was amazed that every single package of hamburger buns listed a boatload of ingredients that I didn’t want in my hamburger buns — including high-fructose corn syrup. True, there were buns in the bulk bakery section, but those had no ingredient lists and given my defeat in the bread aisle, I figured that my chances of approving of the ingredients wouldn’t be high.

It’s not that I’m fanatical about ultra-righteous ingredients. I just want to eat as decently as I can, and I draw the line at certain things. So, I came home and prepared hamburger buns myself, using the Variation 1 for White Bread in Peter Reinhart’s The Bread Baker’s Apprentice. You can make loaves, rolls, or hamburger or hot dog buns with the dough.

Incidentally, I can see why the market’s buns were so laden with ingredients. The recipe in the book called for bread flour, salt, powdered milk, sugar, instant dry yeast, egg, butter, and water. If you don’t use real egg, butter, or sugar in your industrial buns, you have to do some fancy footwork to approximate their effects with whatever presumably cheaper, long-lasting things you want to use. Heck, I was surprised that the recipe in the book called for powdered milk, but in the intro, he says you could use almost any kind of milk instead.

I used AP flour instead of bread flour b/c I wanted to encourage the lightness that the lower percentage of protein would give; plus, I don’t want to have to buy and store bread flour. I also used slightly less butter and sugar than he recommended, b/c I don’t need the extra fat or calories, and knew I wouldn’t miss them. For them to proof, I put them in the warmest place in my apartment, which was near Chad’s computers. I also placed them near each other for their final proof so that they would kiss, and would have soft spots on the sides; that’s my favorite part of hamburger buns. As you can see in the pic above, they browned a little unevenly b/c of this, but it didn’t make a difference when we ate them. I also doubted how soft the crust would be before I baked them, so I scored them (with a none-too-sharp knife, as it happened) just to ensure at least a streak of softness; it turned out to be unnecessary. I also sprinkled them with a little salt before they went into the oven, so that a whisper of salt would grace our upper lip as we bit into them.

We were able to eat around 9pm, and I don’t want to be immodest, but the buns were pretty fantastic. They shared many of the textural qualities of store-bought buns, but the flavor was so fresh and clean; I realized that they lacked that peculiar aftertaste of regular buns. It totally changed the home burger experience. I abide by the rule that buns should be as soft as the meat, and these fit perfectly into that ideal. They had a nice spongy crumb…

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So, a hamburger bun is categorized as an enriched bread (as opposed to lean), b/c of the added dairy and sugar, which have a tenderizing effect. It makes them softer and lighter — squishier– with a soft caramelized crust. I much prefer to buy breads made from lean doughs (such as baguettes) from bakeries b/c they have special ovens that will give it the proper hard crust, but enriched breads (such as brioche and challah) are quite nice to bake at home. They don’t require much of a crust, and are baked at a much lower temperature. The dough is more forgiving to work with, too, because of all the fat, which coats the gluten.

Breads made without preservatives do tend to dry out quickly, so whenever I make or buy such bread, I cut them into 1-2 sized portions and freeze them as soon as I’m done eating them for the day. I wrap them first in plastic wrap, and then in aluminum foil. When I want one asap, I unwrap them completely, rest it on the alum foil, put them in the oven, and set it to about 375F. By the time the temperature is ready, the bread usually is, too. If I plan ahead better, I just put them on the counter — still wrapped so that condensation doesn’t form on the bread itself — until it’s thawed; and it doesn’t take all that long.