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Chef Heidi

Chef Heidi    |    Weddings


The Rise of White Chocolate

True white chocolate has a beautiful ivory color and a velvety, buttery flavor.  Nibbling good white chocolate is all about the experience of flavor and texture.

Most of us know the general process of making chocolate but how is white chocolate created?  Dark, milk and white chocolate all begin the same way.  Cocoa nibs which are part of the cocoa bean are roasted and ground into finer and finer particles.  This creates a substance called chocolate liquor or cocoa mass.  Despite the liquor term there is no alcohol involved in this step.  At this point the chocolate liquor consists of  50-60% cocoa butter and 46-48% cocoa powder. 

Now the chocolate varieties begin to differ.  The light colored cocoa butter is separated from the dark “powder”.  Dark and milk chocolates will each be created from the cocoa powder by adding vanilla, sugar and/or milk with some cocoa butter added back in.  White chocolate, however, is fashioned from the rich cocoa butter.  The term butter defines the look and feel of the product as there is no dairy in cocoa butter.  Askinosie Chocolate, a chocolate producer in Missouri, adds goats milk powder and cane sugar juice to produce their award winning, white chocolate bar.  Each fine chocolate producer adds their own touches to their cocoa butter to create their unique flavor profile. 

There has never been more chocolatiers creating great white chocolate allowing us to have many nibbling experiences.

 WHITE AND WONDERFUL HOT CHOCOLATE

Serve with freshly baked oatmeal cookies!

 1/2 cup plain, unsweetened Greek yogurt

1 tablespoon granulated sugar or agave syrup

1/2 teaspoon ground dry ginger

1/8 teaspoon almond extract

1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

1 tsp. orange zest

5 ounces grated or finely chopped quality white chocolate, such as El Rey, Askinosie, Valrhona or Guittard

  • Combine and blend above ingredients in a bowl.

 3 cups milk

  • In a saucepan, heat the milk until very warm, about 175F
  • Add the white chocolate mix and whisk until the chocolate is melted.
  • Whisk constantly until the mixture is very warm, about 175F.

 Enjoy!  Chef Heidi

References:

guittard.com

allchocolate.com


Let’s make a soup

 

 

We make all the soups served at Rockhill Bakehouse Café located in downtown Glens Falls.  I am completely in love with ALL of their amazing breads so I consider it an honor to create soups that will be accompanied by thick pieces of buttered Jalapeño Cheddar or Pane Bello Breads.

When ordering from the list of 72 soups that we offer, Rockhill has the choice of one called the Chef’s Choice.  This is a soup that reflects what ingredients are in season and in house at the time.  Today, I am making one and I thought I would write the recipe down for everyone as I make it.

My three main ingredients will be Smoked Turkey, Zucchinis and Tomatoes.  And on we go……..

·         First, I simmer turkey bones/carcasses in water that I save from roasting turkeys.  I just began the process and this will take about two hours for a nice broth to form.

·         I’m dicing lots of onion, zucchini and tomatoes that I will sauté in olive oil.  I want this to be rich in veggies so don’t be afraid to bulk it up.

·         I’ve decided to add minced garlic to the soup.  It is so hard for me to walk past the garlic and not throw it in soups.  And………..I’m going to add carrots.  They offer beautiful color and add great flavor and, ok, they are very good for you.

·         I’ve just strained the broth and it smells amazing.   Rich yet light.

·         I’m adding the broth and all the sauteed veggies together in a soup pot.

·         Let’s add some basil, a little oregano and a bit of crushed red pepper flakes.   Add the pepper flakes to your liking but try to put enough in to give the soup interest without being hot.  I’m now adding kosher salt and some black pepper.  I’m going to add some garbanzo beans here.  It will give the soup body and texture.

·         And I’m now letting it simmer for 45 minutes or so.

·         At this point I’m going to dice the smoked turkey small, add it to the soup and allow it to simmer another 30 minutes.  If you like your turkey to stay in nice little chunks you can certainly simmer it for five or so minutes but I like my turkey to break down just a bit especially since it’s smoked and I want some of that flavor to infuse into the broth. 

·         After tasting the soup I’ve decided I want a stronger smoke flavor.  Now, there are good and there are bad liquid smokes.  Good Liquid Smoke is made with a distillation process. 

·         I’m going to add some good Liquid Smoke a tiny bit at a time until the soup is where I want it to be on the smoke scale. 

       And there it is!  Just what I was looking for and it’s yummy.  Add some aioli on top with some fresh basil leaves. smoked-turkey-soup.jpg

If you want to try some you’ll have to visit Rockhill  Bakehouse Café this week or make it yourself!


Tis the Season

Tis the season for outstanding meals and BBQ. 

This year Adirondack BBQ is very heavy with bookings.  Adirondack BBQ is a company we began as a sister company to Black Diamond Caterers (BDC).  Michael and I are big lovers of real, regional BBQ (I use the word “real” because there is an abundance of shake-out-of-the-bag prepared BBQ meats for restaurants now and too many use them!).  We appreciate BBQ prepared in pits, smokers and slow roasters!  Obviously, many others feel the same way because there are weeks I barely have time to wash the smoke off.  We grill over natural charcoal wood which gives the food (and me) an extra special woody aroma.  My favorite is Texas style beef brisket with my own red BBQ sauce.  I smoke and baste the whole briskets for 12 hours!  Yum!

Track season begins in just days.  Our clients call BDC asking for all sorts of special dishes.  I love this side of catering.  I can really pull out the stops and let my culinary instincts run wild. 

Tomorrow night I’m serving a meal beginning with a White Asparagus Soup with Mussels and Pancetta.  Then I’m following with fresh quail from Vermont served with Truffled Yukon potatoes.  One of my favorite things to make.  It’s all in the sauce.  Cuban Skirt Steak is next, with a Sweet Potato, Black Beans and Chorizo Sofrito.  This sofrito will be full of sauce flavored with Poblano Peppers.  I’ll finish the dinner with fresh figs that are seasoned with cracked black pepper and simmered in a red wine reduction flavored with a healthy scraping of vanilla bean seeds.  Then I’ll stuff the fig with a raw milk goat cheese that is to die for.

 All in all, not a bad way to spend an evening!   


Pesto from your herb garden

I did a cooking spot on WNYT today.  I really tried to impress on everyone to “get out there and grow some herbs!”.  I focused on Basil, Italian Parsley, Cilantro and Mint.  And I made pesto! 

These herbs are so easy to grow.  They can be grown in a window sill or an herb garden and will flourish even if ignored.  This is my kind of herb garden!  My herb garden is not manicured but instead has a used look.  If I need a garnishes, I simply snip off tips of this or that but if I need a lot of something I cut without abandon.  But that’s what an herb garden is for….. so get out there and plant something! 

The following link will take you to my recipes and my video for making three types of pesto and creating a couple of dishes with them.  The Seared Scallops with the Mint Cilantro Pistachio Pesto is my favorite.  What the video does NOT show (because I ran out of time.  I keep telling them I need more time!!) is me adding a drizzle of chili oil and a squeeze of lime to the final dish.  Yum. 

Enjoy! 

Pesto from your herb garden 

 


One of my favorite things to do is to make scones.  Lately, I was fortunate enough to be able to do this with Sarah Le Duke, a producer and radio personality from WAMC in Albany.  This is not only my local public radio station but also my favorite.  They have a Culinary Corner they feature once a week or so and below you’ll find the link to the audio segment I did on the making of Classic Scones.  You can practically smell the baking aromas wafting through the air. 

I mention in the broadcast that this is a recipe that I’ve kept close for many years but I am finally sharing it.  I use this recipe as a base for any sort of scone I might want to make.  If I want a scone with dried fruits and fruit flavoring I will increase the sugar and glaze the tops.  If I want to add shredded cheddar and chopped scallion I might add a touch of cayenne pepper.   

The recipe as it stands here is perfect for a Sunday brunch served with fresh berries and clotted cream. 

Enjoy and if you have any questions, just ask.  Click the link below and then click on “Listen” under the Classic Scone recipe. 

Classic Scones from Black Diamond Caterers 


Winter is drawing to a close (I am hoping) but the nights are cold and sometimes the days are rainy.  What could be better than baking for your family or friends.  This is a video from the amazing French Pastry School in Chicago.  It features one of their chefs making a lovely Gruyere Cheese Bread that would go great with your best chili or stew.

It’s simple, staight forward and forgiving.  But I know it will be a huge success.  This chef makes his recipe for multiple loaves but you can make only one or two.  If you have any questions at all, just ask me.  If you need a good baguette dough recipe, I can offer that as well.

 On to the video…….

Gruyere Cheese Bread

 


Bolognese Sauce on WAMC

I have contributed some air time to one of my favorite radio stations, WAMC, located in Albany, NY.  They are amazing and I’m thrilled to be a part of it.  I’m a big supporter of Public Media so anything I can do to help out is OK with me. 

If you would like to listen to the segment of me making Bolognese please click here.  Scroll to “Hearty Bolognese” where you will find the recipe, a photo and a hot link to “listen”.     

Buon appetito!


Just a quick note!

WNYT (Channel 13) has posted the video footage for the food segment I did for them of Sushi.  Check it out here and try it!  I roll a California Roll for you.  Watch it over and over until you get it.  You may fail at first but you will get better and you will be so pleased.  If you have questions please ask.

http://wnyt.com/article/stories/S310199.shtml?cat=10127


Eating the season ………..in January?

Once January hits our catering business slows down a bit but that does not translate into leisure.  We have a huge increase in client meetings and tastings.  This year, more than ever, our brides are asking for local foods to be served at their receptions.  This is great.  But the problem arises when they arrive in the dead of January for a tasting and I’m cooking …………..what?  I’ve done pretty well working with this but I became curious what exactly is available in upstate NY at this time.  I found this chart.  Check it out. 

 http://www.agmkt.state.ny.us/HarvestCalendar.html

So here’s some suggestions using the list:

French Onion Soup- some stale, good bread and aged Gruyere…….. and yum! it’s dinner!

Roasted Cabbage – grab a pound or two of your favorite sausage (get a really good quality one and it’ll be a treat.  German, Polish or Spanish), chunk up two onions and two apples.  Chunk up your cabbage and toss it all in a roasting pan with a bit of water.  Place the lid on and place in oven for two hours at 350F.  Check for salt and pepper seasoning.  Serve with mashed potatoes and a great mustard!

Spaghetti Squash-  there is no easier squash to work with.  Take it out of the fridge and place it in a 375F oven (you don’t even have to remove the sticker) until the skin is browned and a bit crunchy.  Allow it to sit on your counter for 5-10 minutes.  Cut it in half and using a large spoon scoop out the insides into a large bowl.  Toss and break up the chunks with a little butter, salt and pepper.  Top it with a good Pasta Sauce of any kind.  Serve!  It’s amazing.


Sushi on WNYT

On Thursday, January 10, I will be on the Channel 13 (WNYT) Noon News once again.  This time I will be teaching how to make sushi for entertaining.  Sushi is so good and so fun and so beautiful that it’s hard to not love it.  And let me add you don’t have to use any raw seafood or eel or octopus or caviars.  But if you like it then by all means ADD IT!

Check out the recipe I posted on the WNYT website here.  It’s listed under the “Let’s Eat” catagory and will not be posted until 1/10:

http://wnyt.com/article/10127/

If you have questions…….just ask!

Make your sushi about an hour before your guests arrive or if you want to add fun to your party you could wait and involve your guests in the sushi making. 

Decorate your table and counter tops with bamboo in vases.  Display your sushi on beautiful Japanese platters with small Japanese plates for each of your guests.  Add gorgeous chopsticks and you have a fun party.

Go to a good wine store and purchase a nice sake to go with your sushi.  I once participated in a sake tasting.  I have never been a big fan but when I tasted the different brands I could not believe how great a good sake could be.  Do some research, go to a store you trust and serve a great sake with your sushi.  When dealing with Sushi and Sake think quality. 

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