Archive for August, 2013

Cheese Please

206Wonderful, wonderful cheese.  My favorite of all … earlier this month I took the Cheese Making Class at From the Field Cooking School in Morton to learn how to make Mozzarella.  We made Ricotta cheese as well but I had already made that at home – luv it.  The Mozzarella was tricky and I’m not sure I would try to repeat it in my kitchen.  It’s not hard, but with most simple things there’s an art to getting it right.  I loved the stretching part … so once it’s cooked and still warm you stretch it to make it elastic, like taffy.  You don’t work it too much otherwise it gets rubbery (the tricky part).  That’s Chef Bryan draining fresh ricotta (it was a little temperamental).  It’s great fun being in a fully-equipped kitchen with loads of space (and, of course, no clean-up).  There were probably 20 of us that night and each group took a recipe.  All things cheese – we made Roasted Red Bell Pepper and Goat Cheese Rolls, Risotto with Four Cheeses, Roquefort Tart, Prosciutto Wrapped Bocconcini Crostini, and Chocolate Dipped Cannoli with Orange Ricotta Filling.

A great way to spend a Tuesday evening!

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228_cropIt was another hot, humid and sticky weekend kicking off Erin Feis in Peoria.  With my fourth year of serving afternoon tea in the Cultural Village came some “taking of liberties”.  Herbs, herbal history, herbal remedies was the theme and I chose recipes that highlighted different ones, but not necessarily traditional Irish sweets.  I even had one from Provence, but I figured since Brittany is one of the six Celtic nations that was a valid stretch.  I very much enjoy talking food, doing a bit of research, and baking different recipes each year.  I hope the folks who attended found some delight in it too.  Thanks for coming out in the heat.

Irish Afternoon Tea Menu
Irish Breakfast Tea
Lavender Scones with Clotted Cream and Lemon Curd
Cucumber Sandwiches with Dill
Herb de Provence Orange Butter Cookies
Lemon Fennel Pound Cake (see below)
Vanilla-Rose Water Cupcakes

*thank you Peoria Academy for donating many of the fresh herbs and flowers from the School Garden

Lemon Fennel Pound Cake
*recipe courtesy of Season to Taste, by Jeannette Ferrary and Louise Fiszer

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups of sugar
pinch of salt
5 large eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp fennel seed, toasted and crushed
1 Tbsp grated lemon zest
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice

Preheat over 325 degrees.  Grease and flour 9 inch tube pan with removable bottom.  In large bowl cream butter, sugar, salt.  Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition, stirring in bit of flour after third egg.  Add remaining flour, fennel, zest and mix until combined.  Add vanilla and lemon juice and blend.  Pour batter into pan and bake 1 hour.  Remove cake from oven and cool in pan on wire rack for 15 minutes.  Remove cake from pan.  Store covered in plastic wrap or foil.  Note:  my cake baked in almost half the time so watch carefully.  I added a lemon glaze over the top mixing sifted powdered sugar with lemon juice and lemon zest.

Lavender Scone recipe note:  I mixed all my dry ingredients together, cut in cold butter, and then added the buttermilk to form the dough.

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sunIf you live in central Illinois and you have young children you probably have heard of the Sun Foundation in Washburn, IL.  Their goal is to advance arts and science in rural and urban communities providing programming to both kids and adults.  The founders,  Joan and Bob Ericksen, seem like the most open and gracious people you could ever meet.  The signature children’s program is Art and Science in the Woods, a week-long camp offered once during the Summer.  It’s the only camp my daughter wants to attend – no arguments.  Saturday night was there 40th anniversary fundraising event at the camp in Washburn.  Close to 200 people enjoyed an 8-course dinner al-fresco with cocktails in the barn.  Awards were presented, people were cheered, and we all used the port-a-potties without complaint!  Thank you Bob and Joan and all the long-time instructors at ASIW for giving my daughter experiences each year that she will never forget.  Happy Anniversary!

Anniversary Dinnerwho says there’s not innovative, cutting-edge cuisine in central Illinois
Chilled Blue Heron Farms Pear
Henry’s Farm Heirloom Carrot & Apple Salad
Spring Bay Farms Summer Squash Salad
Grilled Prawn & Mallard Farms Sweet Corn Ceviche*
Dry-Poached Faroe Islands Salmon*
Smoked Canadian Goose & Endive Cups/Sous Vide & Grilled Mallard Duck Breast**
Brined, Confit, Grilled Duroc Pork Loin
Bone-In, Whole, Dry-Aged Ribeye, Slow Cooked 24 Hours*
Mallard Farms Sweet Corn Ice Cream*
*my favs

Make a donation to the Sun Foundation

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