Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The last thing to come out of my kitchen

Well, not really last, and not “forever” last… Just the last thing worth blogging about to come out of my old kitchen.   I am very excited, finally, the day I am getting an all new kitchen is here.  I have been dreaming about this day for a long, long time… So in the next few weeks, while I cannot cook, I can still entertain you with kitchen tales (hopefully not horror stories).
So where do I begin?  Let’s just say, I have gone nuts and decided that if I can’t live on an old vineyard, in an old farmhouse in France, I am going to re-create it in New Jersey in the house build in 1995.  Combine this nuts idea and a limited budget and you get me, trying to be really, really creative…  Some people get to live in Paris and just happen to “discover and preserve” old brick walls and beams while renovating (yes, it’s the shot out to David Lebovitz here…), and some get to fake them from scratch.

So here I am, spending all weekend distressing wood (Why?  To make it look old, silly!).  Staining wood to make it look like it was burned, bleached and dirtied with time (Why, you ask?  Because it will look better this way!).  The “Whys” coming out from the skeptical men of my house, they just don’t get it.
And here are my tools of the trade…  Nothing like a hatchet and a nice glass of Pinot with that wonderful, subtle aroma of the wood stain… note the paint fingerprints on the glass, these do not come off.

 It took me a full two days to get the paint off my hands, just in time to hand-roll the chocolate truffles for my son’s school language fair.
I was happy with the way the wood came out, oozing with distressed character and looking all beat up and dirty.  It takes a lot of effort to take new wood and make it look 100 years old, who knew?


Makes about 30 truffles
  • 9 ounces bittersweet chocolate
  • 2.5 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
  • 1/4 cup brandy or Amaretto
  • 1/2 cup Dutch process cocoa powder,
  • 8 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate

Combine the chocolate and butter in the heat proof bowl and melt over a double boiler, stirring often until just melted and smooth.  You can also do the melting in the microwave, using 40 second intervals and stirring well between the zaps.
Combine the cream, corn syrup and liquor (if using) in the small pot and heat until small bubbles appear on the sides.  Do not boil.  Pour the mixture over the melted chocolate and whisk until smooth.  Pour the chocolate mixture to a 9’ by 13’ glass dish, cover and park in the fridge for 1 to 2 hrs.

After the chilling time, scoop chocolate with a spoon and roll in the palms of your hands.  Do not make the truffles too large, these are very rich.  Place the rolled truffles on the parchment paper lined baking sheet.  The truffles do not need to be perfectly round or smooth, hand-rolled truffles rarely are.  If you feel that your hands are getting too hot and begin to melt the chocolate, run them under some cold water (just make sure to dry thoroughly before handling chocolate again).

Let the rolled truffles rest and set in the fridge for another 1 to 2 hrs.  When ready to coat, melt the remaining chocolate slowly over the double broiler or microwave.  Stirring often, taking care not to let it reach beyond 90F – 95F degrees.
Working quickly, dip each truffle into the chocolate, drizzle off the extra and roll in the ditched cocoa.

Place in the individual wrappers or on parchment pepper.  You can use a toothpick to do the dipping, rolling and transferring of the truffles or your hands.  Regardless of the method, it does get petty messy around you… good thing I do not care if my kitchen remains messed up… it will be gone soon.
Park the ready truffles in the fridge one more time for a few hours.  At this point you can keep them in the fridge in an airtight container for a 2 weeks.  Remember to bring to room temperature before serving; truffles are best when they are creamy.

Next time my teenager snarls at me, I will remind him of the hand-rolled truffles.... Oh, I just remembered I have to make Russian Blini for his Social Studies class this week… Oh well, so much for the last thing coming out of my kitchen…I guess this was not it

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