Savory Dinner Series: Farewell to Summer Dinner

The first dinner in our savory dinner series went so swimmingly, it’s time for another.

Mark your calendars now for Wednesday, September 12th, 2012, Thursday, Sept 13, Friday Sept 14, 7:30 PM at LL HQ (25 North Front St, New Paltz).

****IMPORTANT NOTE:****

Wednesday and Thursday’s dinners are sold out. We’re opening up Friday, September 14th at 7:30 as well. We currently have 2 seats left for Friday’s seating. Come into the shop or give a call at 845-255-8834 if you want to prepay to  reserve a seat. 

$60 per person.

We have some exciting things happening in chocolate land this fall, and the period from Hanukkah-Passover (OK, really it’s Christmas-Easter that are much busier, but I just wanted to mix it up) are insanely busy for us, so there’s a chance we’ll be doing an October dinner (I really hope so, because cooking fall dishes is my most favorite thing to do in the universe), but there’s a bigger chance we won’t be doing another dinner until…um. April 2013!!

So come into the shop or shoot me an email or give a call (845-255-8834, we’ll probably have chocolatey hands/be helping customers and you’ll need to leave a message) to reserve your spot ASAP.

This menu will almost certainly change according to whim and produce availability, but here’s the working draft:

Farewell to Summer

Liquid:

Complimentary Tomato Water Bloody Mary

Soup:

Chilled lemon zucchini soup

Lemon thyme crystals

Lemon thyme foam

Shaved green almonds

Salad:

Amaranth and arugula salad

Meyer lemon dressing

Crystallized maple syrup

Watermelon

Nasturtium

Small plates:

Cipolline in agrodolce

Peperonata

Caponata

House-baked Kalamata olive focaccia

Pasta:

Sweet potato tortelloni with smoky cashew cheese filling

Lacinato kale olive pesto

Main:

Slow cooked eggplant with white bean cream

Sweet:

Plum crostata

Nectarine ice cream with nectarine spheres

Mignardises:

Pine nut cookies with rosemary

Red wine ganache bonbon

Take my recipe—PLEASE! (How to make your own Butterfingers!)

OK, you can also buy them from me, but I HIGHLY

HIGHLY

HIGHLY

recommend making them yourself.

Because if you don’t, we have to make them and…um. I know I’m not supposed to say this, because candy-making is supposed to be all rainbows and sunbeams, but making these is actually rather torturous.

But we’re going to keep making them forever, because they are, horribly, one of the tastiest things we’ve ever made.

After we sent these out to club members as part of the Chocolate of the Month, we almost instantly got a bunch of reorders. Here’s what one said:

Just a note to say that yes indeed, I intended to order 20 of the peanut butter bars. My husband requested one a day for a month, and we compromised at 20. They are phenomenal!

And

This bar blew my mind! The flaky layers on the inside—not too hard, not too crumbly, not too sweet, just perfect—replicate, nay, upstage and outshine the “real” butterfingers of my youth. This is by far the best vegan candy I have ever tasted. Make it a staple!

And

OMG I love this bar!! And I never liked Butterfingers. That is all.

And

I don’t eat candy and I ate an entire one last night. It was so good.

And

I just had one – and…. Yes, you are going to be making them for the rest of your life!

And

It really rocked!

So, well—argh.

Here’s the recipe. Please share my pain at what a pain it is.

Let us begin our journey.

Peanut Butter Toffee Crunch Bars

(that’s what we call them since we can’t really call them Butterfingers)

Oh wait, we also call these:

The Ridge Bar

Because their beautiful striated layers are reminiscent of the gorgeous mountain range 10 minutes from the shop, the Shawangunk Ridge, which is famous for its stratified folds.

Enough chitchat.

1. CLEAR THE ENTIRE DAY. You will have 24 bars at the end of this epic saga. We do four times this recipe, and we swear like sailors the whole time. In fact, I whined so much about making these that in the end Maresa took over the recipe (now we call these bars Mareese’s!) in order to save everyone’s sanity from my endless whimpering.

I could just tell she thought I was protesting a bit too much about what an ordeal it was. Because of this, I greatly looked forward to her whack at the ol’ recipe.

About halfway through, she turned to me and said, “You know what? This is ridiculous!!

And I laughed and laughed, safely on the other side of the kitchen, deep into the wonderful world of truffle-making I was ensconced in—beautiful, beautiful truffle-making! How unpeanutbuttery it is! How many you can make at one time! How not molten hot it is! (Even though other chocolatiers gasp when they find out we make hand-rolled truffles—no one does it these days because it’s so time-consuming, instead everyone makes these square thingies with something called a guitar cutter and an enrobing machine, which are fine to make other things but truffles are called truffles because they’re handmade looking, like truffle mushrooms, and round, like truffle mushrooms, and AHHH SQUARE TRUFFLES!! DON’T GET ME STARTED!!—making truffles is pretty much instant compared with these PB bars.)

Here’s Mareesey after finishing a portion of the batch of bars:

Ready to feel the same way?

Let’s go.

Have you ever made croissants? If so, you’ll have a slight jump on this recipe, which is basically the croissant-making technique (puff pastry) crossed with molten hot sugar that requires you to work superfast. It’s a technique called leaf croquant, if you wanna get technical about it.

2. Make your filling.

400 grams peanut butter. We use organic, salted, smooth pb.

60 grams confectioners’ sugar

30 grams cane syrup—we make our own based on this recipe. You could use glucose syrup or corn syrup or probably even brown rice syrup or agave syrup.

  1. Melt pb in a bowl in a double boiler. Add sugar (sift it in) and syrup and knead until malleable and smooth.
  2. Form into a square 10” x 10” (mine in that photo is pretty ragged, yep.). Keep warm in oven.

3. Make your caramel. This is a dry caramel. It takes a bit o’ practice, but it’s a fun technique (I’m not being ironic, I really do enjoy dry caramel making). This photo shows a gross looking scale, because I melted my scale by putting the hot caramel pot on it when I added the cane syrup to the caramel, as described below. Fun times! The scale still works! (It also shows the filling recipe in progress the one time I forgot to sift in the powdered sugar—look at those lumps! Oy. That was a fun batch [I am now being ironic, it was a giant pain.])

¼ tsp lemon juice

450 grams sugar

60 grams cane syrup (see above)

  1. Rub lemon juice into sugar. Make a dry caramel by cooking, stirring slowly but constantly, until sugar is evenly melted and becomes a medium amber color (about 10 minutes. Sugar will not be perfectly dissolved and smooth when the color is medium amber, but if you keep cooking it to try to get it perfectly smooth it will burn and you won’t realize it until later. This is hard to explain.). Turn heat to low, add syrup (it will bubble up, and if you’ve burnt it you’ll realize it now because it will get really dark.), and stir until emulsified.
  2. Pour caramel into a 12” x 12” square on a silicone baking mat (a Silpat) or parchment paper on a full size sheet pan. (DO NOT SKIP THE STEP OF PUTTING DOWN PARCHMENT OR SOMETHING BETWEEN THE CARAMEL AND THE SHEET PAN! I can’t even imagine what fresh hell you’d be into then, trying to scrape magma-like sugar off your sheet pan for the next hour or so.)
  3. Place the square of pb filling onto one end of the caramel, leaving approximately 1” on all sides. Or thereabouts.
  4. Fold mat and caramel over the filling to enclose it.
  5. Peel mat off and tightly seal edges of the caramel to envelop filling.
  6. Put sheet pan in a 200°F oven as necessary to keep warm. You’ll know when to put it in the oven—when it starts driving you crazy and hardening up and cracking, like this:
  7. When it comes out of the oven, the caramel will sometimes get so melty that it spills over, like this. That’s OK. Just work fast.
  8. Roll slab into a thin rectangle then fold into thirds.
  9. Roll slab to ½” thick, to a 12” x 12” square. Fold into thirds again. You’ve done one turn. Repeat steps to do four more turns, putting the sheet pan in the oven as necessary in order to make the dough workable.
  10. Obviously, working as quickly as possible will make your life a lot easier. But try not to burn yourself with all this business of taking pans in and out of the oven and handling super hot sugar dough. Oh, and around the second to third turn, your arms will start really aching. This dough is really hard to roll out, what can I say.
  11. After the fourth turn, cut the 12″ x 12″ sheet into 3 rows by 8 rows, to make 24 bars.
  12. Dip into tempered chocolate (uhhhh…Google it? Buy a tempering machine? Just smear melty chocolate over ’em!).

Just typing that up exhausted me.

Luckily, I happen to have a certain indescribably delicious candy bar right here to pep me back up. HOLY CRAP THIS BAR IS SO GOOD!


Shojin Ryori Dinner: Part Two

Taliaferro Farms melon with shichimi togarashi syrup.
Chocolate mint.
Borage.

Found a seed!

Homegrownnesses: Borage for the melon, chives and nasturtium leaves for the yuba rolls, and purple shiso for the corn fritters.

Steamed mochi with plum.

Making the secret course: Yuzu sake sorbet with rose.

Yuzu sake sorbet with rose….plus! An Australian finger lime! Google it!

Australian finger lime!

Finger liiiiiimes!

MIGNARDISES:
Yuzu Cream.
Black Sesame Truffle.

Let’s eat!

Shojin Ryori Dinner: Part One

This past Tuesday and Wednesday were the inaugural nights of our savory dinner series. Both nights were truly magical. It was such an honor to cook for such a great crowd, and I’ve had such wonderful feedback from everyone. Here are some photos from the process and the dinner itself.

Also, here’s a super lovely blog post with great photos taken by a diner.

Making shiitake tempura for the soup (recipe for this amazing tempura batter coming soon!).

Making yuba rolls.

Yuba rolls with homemade chickpea and kidney bean tempeh with fragrant homegrown herbs.
Sesame scallion dipping sauce.

Making udon noodles.

Hand-pulled udon noodles in Styrian pumpkin seed oil sauce.

TSUKEMONO (PICKLES):
Kelp with preserved lemon pickle, green strawberry pickle, Taliaferro Farms carrot pickle. Black rice.

Green strawberry pickles! These are unripe strawberries, turned pink from pickling brine, with a few riper ones mixed in for flavor.

Corn!

Corn fritters with purple shiso (missing from this photo!)and shiro miso sauce. These fritters are just fresh sweet corn, diluted sourdough starter, and salt and pepper. They were CRAZY GOOD, I gotta tell ya.

listslistslistslistslistslists!

Coming next, Part two: SWEETS!