Thursday, October 22, 2015

A Great Harvest Indeed!

Tuscany 2015 Tour.
 From the looks of things throughout the countryside, it appears it is going to be a great year for wine and olive oil. 

Unfortunately, we missed most of the grape picking due to an extraordinary hot summer! Sometimes we hit it just right, something we can not predict! Nevertheless, beauty surrounded us!

One of our favorite white roads where we are able to enjoy the groves. These tree branches were bursting with weight and promises of liquid gold. Such a gorgeous site as the wind whips the leaves  into their silver shimmering state.

Just from looking, it is going to be a great year for wines! We wish all our friends a bountiful harvest!

Monday, August 31, 2015

Summer Rustic Peach Galette

The fun of preparing a rustic tart is you really can't mess it up! You just pray the crust will hold together! Well, fear not. This is an easy one!
 A few years ago I had a class with Susan Hermann Loomis On Rue Tatin in Paris. We have remained friends on FB through the years and recently she posted a video on making the pastry for a tart, similar to what I used. Susan did bake hers in a tart pan and her crust was perfectly executed! She has a great recipe on that video. One thing she mentions several times is how necessary it "is not to handle the dough too much" because you do not want to melt the butter or rather warm it with your hands while kneading the dough. I was so careful in handling the dough.  Most likely this was the reason  I had such success with this tart. Using the food processor was a lifesaver as well.

CRUST: a very simple butter crust~

1 1/4 cup of flour~a tad more for when rolling it out flat
1 3/4 teaspoons of sugar
1/8 teaspoon of salt
8 tablespoons of butter, cut into very small cubes/pieces. My butter was actually frozen.
4 - 6 tablespoons ice cold water


3 large peaches, peeled and sliced
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon of butter~you will use this to dot the top when all compiled
1 tablespoon of flour
3/4 teaspoon of vanilla

1 egg beaten, and maybe if you desire, course sugar to sprinkle on top.

Using a food processor, pulse the dry ingredients. Add the chilled butter slowly and pulse. Add the water a few tablespoons at a time, pulse until the dough clumps together. Turn out on hard surface, spread a tad of four down first. Form the dough into a disc shape. Do not over- knead the dough. Sprinkle the dough with a little more flour on both sides and wrap in plastic then chill for about one hour.

Place the flour and sugar on the sliced peaches and gently toss to coat. Add the vanilla gently over the peaches and toss again. Mix the egg and have it ready to apply on the crust as a final touch.

After the dough has chilled, roll it out into a 12 inch circle. Carefully remove and place it on a rimmed baking sheet. Arrange your peach slices however you like in the center of the dough, using about a 6-7 inch circle area to arrange the peach mixture. Dot the top with the teaspoon of butter.

  Fold the outer edges of the dough over the filling all the way around. Use pastry brush to apply the egg wash and now add the course sugar, if desired.

Cook in oven at 425 degrees, 15-25 minutes or until browned. Let cool before cutting.

Friday, July 03, 2015

Horsing Around in Mongolia ~

Mongolians show deep affection for their horses. The horses are not their pets nor are they ridden for leisure, but remain a working part of the family and used in races. Their horses are symbols of wealth.
 Racing is and has been a national sport passed down through generations of the Nomadic tribes since the days of Genghis Khan. Children learn to ride horses as soon as they can walk and then spend much of their lives in search of stray horses, as there are almost no fences in the entire country to restrain them.
Several of my most memorable moments while out in the countryside were sitting by the door of our ger and watching the horses pass right in front of me, racing, grazing and sleeping as care free and completely unconcerned about what was around. I have never  observed such freedom that horses possess in be able to roam wherever they wanted, day and night.
Below I have photographed several  young jockeys preparing for their local  midsummer Naadam, a traditional festival, which young boys age 3 to 15 will compete. We happened to be camped near the grounds where one festival was taking place and also on another occasion, we were able to photograph another group getting ready for their race. Notice the horses are much smaller ......

                                                              Local farmer passing by

                                                    Traditional round up time

                                                  Father training young son

                                                      Waiting to begin their race

                                                                Race is over

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Making Cheese in Mongolia ~Nomadic Style

Fresh milk ready for the fire.
There are always a few rare opportunites to learn different methods of cooking when you travel.  For instance, like making worked! With this family's help, their cow milk was turned into cheese. I probably would not have this on my list of favorites, but then again I have not acquired a taste for this particular kind of cheese. Sort of chewy, a tad flavorless, but fresh! I am sure it was perfect and very suitable for this nomadic family lifestyle.

                                                           The Cheesemaker

                                                           Straining the curds

                                         Necessary to press out all the moisture.

A weight was placed on top to add extra pressure for releasing all the liquid. This remained on top for about 15 minutes. I have no idea what that weight belonged to ~ maybe part of a vehicle. It was clean.......

                                   There you have it! Ready to slice, serve and taste in under an hours time.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Yak Herding and Tea Time.

I had the opportunity to meet with a Yak-herding family on the Mongolian steppe. This experience certainly revealed the hard and austere lifestyle of these nomadic families. Here the owner of the house is carrying fresh milk back to her ger which she will serve  in a steaming bowl of milk tea.

After the milking of the yaks is complete, they are herded off into the pastures again where they will remain until the next morning.

One side of the ger is organized with all the cooking utensils. A  wood stove can be found dead center of the ger.

The nomadic families depend on these long-haired bovines for virtually all of their core needs: milk, shelter and clothing.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Bread Store ~ Mongolian Style

Situated close to the Siberian border in one of Mongolia's most picturesque destination is Khovsgol. The surrounding area is home to camels of the Gobi and reindeer of the taigan (coniferous forest) as well as several Mongolian ethnic groups. These groups include the Buriat, Khalk, Darhat and the Tsaatan. The next few photos were taken at a local bakery close to Khovsgol Lake, a pristine alpine lake stretching out almost 100 miles long. The owner of this bakery also was the local ice cream producer and seamstress. All three businesses were located in one building.

                               Breads displayed on shelving for sale. Store open 6 days a week.

                                    Whole wheat and sourdough breads were also available for sale.

                     Bread molds were placed in long tubular shaped oven for baking two loaves at a time.

                                                             Bread kneading machine

                                         Oil and brush prep table for oven equipment.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Canneles ~ Baking Chez Moi,Dori Greenspan

The name "canneles", as Dori Greenspan describes in her fabulous cookbook, Baking Chez Moi, refers to the shape of the small ridged  mold used to bake these little gems, meaning "channeled"or "crenelated". Copper molds are traditionally used  to produce that flat and slightly indented top and rounded side. As the price of the copper molds are expensive, I chose another route: silicone. This mold,with 8 cups, worked perfectly and I do believe my heart skipped a beat as the cakes fell so easily from the mold when I flipped it over.  I found the silicone mold in Seattle at "Sur La Table", costing $20.00.

I made only one change in Dorie's recipe. I turned down the temperature from 450 degrees to 400 degrees. I noticed that my first batch was a little darker on the top and the little cakes had blistered from the intense heat. Simple remedy; I ate most of those, so there are no pictures! These cakes are so sweet, moist and chewy along with their rich, dark caramel color, you can't stop at one!

The recipe can be found on page 222. I found it a very easy recipe to duplicate  in my little Florida kitchen, so far away from France.