Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Sparkling Wine and Cheese Party

I like Lavina's new job.  She sends me all kind of food articles and recipes that she thinks I will enjoy.  She also sent me the idea for a sparkling wine and cheese themed party.  I knew we had to have this party to kick of 2011! 

We each brought a few cheeses from the specified countries - Italy, France, Spain and good old US of A.  And of course, some bubbles to accompany the cheeses.  Of course.  

All in all a fun night of giggling, girl talk and dairy-induced food comas.  
A sampling of the cheeses, including some kind of champagne cheese (from France, of course)

In addition to the fine cheeses, I made bread and for dessert, I made vegan cupcakes - raspberry tiramisu to be precise.  I know - to all you carnivores out there - this probably sounds disgusting - but - these cupcakes got approval stamps from some pretty big-time meat eaters (myself included).

Preparing the raspberry sauce

For moist vegan treats - I think coconut milk is the way to go

Amaretto.  The only thing I really remember about amaretto is how in like 1998 or something, pre-21 drug abuse Lindsay Lohan said something like, "I don't drink.  Maybe sometimes I'll have a sip of my mom's amaretto sour".  How's that for irony?

Do not be intimated by home-made bread!  While it may seem daunting, the process is actually quite simple.  The longest prep time was the rising time for the dough - but that was all hands off.  Remember the first fondue night of 2011, and the Stecca that Alyx over at infinite table made?  I used that recipe because the bread was perfect.  

This is roughly what the dough will look like after rising for about 18 hours:

Punching the dough down...

Pre-toasted loaves

Look at this perfection - crusty yet soft on the inside.  Just how a good loaf of bread should be.

The finished cupcakes...

I had to taste test the bread to make sure it was acceptable for the wine and cheese party and guests.

Stecca, recipe from Jim Lahey 

Makes 4 loaves

  • 3 cups of bread flour
  • 1/2 tsp. table salt
  • 3/4 tsp. sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. instant or active dry yeast
  • 1 1/2 cups 55-65 degree water* (note: to achieve this, I simply turned my kitchen faucet onto the hottest setting, poured that into a measuring cup, and let it come down a little bit - so my guess is it was probably closer to 65 - 70 degrees)
  • additional flour for dusting
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 3/4 tsp. kosher salt
  • Optional: The original recipe calls for toppings to press into the bread before putting it in the oven - i.e. cherry tomatoes, olives, etc.  I did not do this.
In a medium bowl, mix together the first four dry ingredients.  Add the water, and, using a wooden spoon, mix until you have a wet, sticky dough.  I think I added maybe 1/4 cup more of water.  

Cover the bowl and let it sit in a warm spot (maybe near your stove) for 10-18 hours.  It is ready when the surface has bubbles and the dough has more than doubled in size. 

Once the first rise has completed, dust a work surface with flour.  Use a bowl scrapper or rubber spatula to scrape the dough out of the bowl in one piece.  Fold the dough over itself about three times - and shape it into a somewhat flattened ball.  Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with 1/4 tsp. of the kosher salt. 

Take a large bowl (or large pot) and coat the inside with olive oil.  Place the dough, seam side down, into this bowl, for the second rise.  Cover the bowl with a towel and let it rise for another 1-2 hours.  You will know it is ready when you touch it and it does not spring back (check around the 90 minute mark).  If it does spring back - let it sit for another 15 minutes.  

About 30 minutes before the dough is done rising, set a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat it to 500 degrees.  Oil a large baking sheet (though I used my silpat).  

Cut the dough into quarters.  Then, gently stretch each piece into a long, thin baguette shape.  Place on the prepared baking pan, leaving about an inch between each loaf.  Sprinkle the rest of the salt over the loaves of bread.  If you are using other accompaniments such as the cherry tomatoes, now would be the time to press them into the loaves.  Brush olive oil over the loaves.  

Bake for 15-25 minutes.  You'll know when it is done when 1) you smell it at the other end of your apartment or 2) it is golden brown.  Cool on the pan for about 5 minutes, and then transfer the loaves to a cooling rack.  

Vegan Raspberry Tiramisu Cupcakes, recipe from Chef Chloe

Makes 12

  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 1/3 cup amaretto
  • 1 tbsp. instant espresso powder
  • 1 cup raspberries (fresh or frozen)
  • 1/2 cup agave nectar or sugar
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract, divided
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice
  • 1/8 tsp. cinnamon
  • dash of salt
I'm not going to include the frosting recipe because I thought it was kind of gross.  

For the Cupcakes

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Line your cupcake baking pans with liners. 

Sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.  In another bowl, mix together the wet ingredients: coconut milk, canola oil, vanilla and vinegar.  Combine the wet and dry ingredients until blended.  Distribute into the prepared pans, and bake for about 15-20 minutes.  Let the cupcakes cool completely before assembling.  

For the Raspberry Filling

While the cupcakes are baking, you can prepare the filling.  In a medium saucepan, cook the raspberries and the agave nectar on medium heat until the raspberries are wilted.  Let it simmer on low for 5 minutes, then remove from the heat.  Mix in the vanilla, lemon juice and cinnamon.  Let the mixture cool in the refrigerator.  

For the Tiramisu Soaking Liquid

Combine the amaretto and espresso powder in a small bowl, and set aside. 

To Assemble the Cupcakes

Scoop a small hole out of the center of each cupcakes - approximately 1 tbsp. worth.  Fill the hole with 1 tsp. of the soaking liquid and 1 tbsp. of the raspberry sauce.  If you would like, you can top with frosting.  I left mine out for a day and let's be honest - they did not last much longer than that! 

Ending Notes: My friends loved the bread - and made the same comments I did - crusty on the outside, soft, carby goodness on the inside.  One friend even suggested that the crustiness made it almost like pizza crust!  They also loved the cupcakes.  So I think both recipes were a hit! 


Anonymous said...

AGREED, both were def amazing. lavina and i had cupcakes for breakfast the next day :)

Lavina said...

and i had them for breakfast the day following...yes the bread was such a hit nobody even needed crackers. we devoured it ALL! love the collage of pics up top too jyo!!