Thursday, January 19, 2012

Dinner at Blue Hill at Stone Barns

Last week we took our first vacation in almost two years. It wasn't to France or Italy. It wasn't to the Grand Canyon or a beach resort. It was to Tarrytown, NY. Just 1/2 hour north of the city. BUT, the reason we chose Tarrytown was to have a meal just as glamorous and unique as any of the places I just listed. That's right - we had an 8 course dinner at
Blue Hill at Stone Barns.

It was a little too cold to take the farm tour, but we arrived for our dinner reservation just in time to watch the sun set over the farm (from the warmth of the car). It was gorgeous. And then there was the food. Such fresh root vegetables, it left you wondering what it was you were eating before ("that's how a carrot tastes?!"). And venison that was delightfully rare. And offal that made Tom utter "barnyardy, but not in a bad way," just like
Andrew Zimmern does!

So without further ado, our delicious, once-in-a-lifetime menu:

1. Raw vegetables from the garden (served as above) including carrots, turnips, cauliflower. And a shot of carrot juice.

2. Sweet potato chip, smoked kale chip, parsnip chip

3. One-bite beet burger on sesame roll and fried pig skin

4. speck with greenhouse greens and pickled vegetables

5. Stained-glass plate of winter fruits and vegetables with mustard seeds

6. Brioche with swiss chard marinade and fresh ricotta

7. Roasted carrot with almond sauce and hazelnut shavings

8. Barely poached egg with mushrooms and spinach emulsion

9. Potato, onion bread served with whipped lard, fresh churned butter, kale and tomato salt

10. Pork belly with rutabaga and walnut salad

11. Venison rack with liver and kidney and salsify rolled in chocolate wheat

12. Squash dumpling with pumpkin seed ice cream with molasses

13. Cheese souffle with coffee ice cream and ginger

14. Chocolate tart with spelt flour and cinnamon ice cream

15. Tiny chocolate milkshake with raspberry & vinegar marshmallow

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Chocolate Truffles x2 and a Ginger Cake

I get that most of you are dieting, so perhaps this post is inappropriate. Or even mean-spirited. Please know it isn't intended that way. See, I'll be joining you on the calorie-count wagon shortly, but not until one last glorious (read butter-laden) meal at Blue Hill at Stone Barns this weekend! I'll be sure to blog about the whole thing so we can all relive it, because when you get to look out the window at the very vegetable patch where, that morning, they picked the carrots hanging out on your plate, you know it has to be divine!

But for now (and since my 2012 diet has yet to begin), not one, but two truffle recipes and a ginger cake for good measure. These are all what I would call "adult desserts." The truffles are rich and the peanut butter truffle rolled in cocoa powder has the perfect amount of bitterness to counter the richness of the creamy center. The ginger cake isn't sweet at all and packs a little punch at the back of your throat all while warming your insides and providing the perfect complement to a cup of after-dinner coffee. So if you want to cheat on your diet, or, if like me you haven't even started yet, give one of these a try!

Peanut Butter Truffles (from Martha Stewart Living, Dec. 2011)
8 ounces semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 cup heavy cream
1/8 tsp coarse salt
1 cup smooth peanut butter
unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder

1. Bring heavy cream to a boil. Pour over chocolate and add salt. Let stand for 10 minutes (don't stir or the mixture will cool too quickly and become grainy).

2. Whisk the mixture until smooth and shiny being sure to scrape the bottom of the bowl to catch any pieces.

3. Add the chocolate little by little to the peanut butter, whisking constantly until smooth. Refrigerate in a 5x8/12 glass loaf pan, covered until cool. About 4 hours.

4. Scoop small, 1 inch balls and roll in the palm of your hands. Refrigerate again for about 20 minutes. Roll in the cocoa powder, tapping gently to remove any excess. Refrigerate in mini baking cups for up to 4 days.

S'mores Truffles (from the comfort of cooking)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 cups (12 oz.) milk chocolate chips
24 mini marshmallows
1 cup finely crushed graham crackers

1. Melt butter in a medium sized saucepan over medium heat; whisk in cream and bring to a boil.

2. Remove pan from heat and stir in chocolate chips until melted and smooth. Chill saucepan in refrigerator for 1 hour, or until chocolate is solid and able to be rolled.

3. Roll chocolate into 24 balls, stuffing each with a mini marshmallow in the center.

4. Chill truffles for about 20 minutes before rolling them in graham cracker crumbs. Chill for a few minutes before serving, or keep for up to 4 days.

Fresh Ginger Cake (from Joy of Cooking)

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup molasses
1/4 cup honey
1 large egg
1/2 cup finely minced fresh ginger
8 tbsp (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup water

1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Line 9x9 inch pan with parchment paper.

2. Whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt.

3. In a separate bowl whisk together brown sugar, molasses, honey, and egg. Whisk in ginger.

4. In a saucepan combine butter and water and heat until butter is melted. Add this to the molasses mixture. Stir in flour mixture just until smooth. Scrape the batter into the pan.

5. Bake about 25 to 30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes. Slide a thin knife around the cake to detach it from the pan. Invert the cake and peel off the paper liner.

6. Once cooled completely, serve with a dusting of powdered sugar.