Tag Archive | chocolate

Quail Eggs

I stopped into Farm Runners last Saturday to pick up some mushrooms, they have lovely fresh shiitake and oyster mushrooms. Nearby in the cooler were a few packs of quail eggs. Quail eggs! Never have I ever. So I grabbed (carefully) a package, knowing I’d come up with something to do with them for Boyz Lunch.

A dear friend ended up coming by on Monday so I made her a burrito with smoked salmon, scrambled eggs and mushrooms, with fresh wild asparagus on the side, and tested the timing for a soft-boiled quail egg. I’m grateful that Farm Runners also offers these 12-inch tortillas (a foot wide!), that I had Bad Dog Ranch happy-chicken eggs, homemade hot sauce, and that neighbor Mary gave me a big bunch of wild asparagus when I passed her out picking on my way to town. I’m grateful that Nancy came for lunch and a walk and a heartfelt talk, and let me experiment on her palate.

Quail egg perfectly soft-boiled, but very hard to peel! And different from chicken eggs, even the best: they taste so rich and buttery.

So for Boyz Lunch today, I boiled the remaining quail eggs (for two minutes), then scooped them into ice water to stop the cooking. A couple of them floated on top, and I recalled that with chicken eggs that means they might be bad, so I pulled those out early, and later fed them to Stellar, shells and all, after cracking them open: they smelled fine, and he was almost as ecstatic as Philip and John were when I served them this starter plate.

Mary Berry’s quail egg-salmon-asparagus salad with tarragon dressing. I’m grateful that tarragon grows in the garden, and that Amy found me this recipe the other night when I couldn’t search the internet myself; grateful that we can find a recipe for any combination of ingredients on hand with a few taps of the fingers on the miraculous world wide web. Grateful that my geezers were ecstatic with this starter dish, and the sirloin tips in mushroom gravy over rice that followed it…
…and that they also loved the brownie-shortbread dessert. Grateful that Amy sent me this recipe too, with the note “You need this!” I’m telling you, whoever you are, if you love chocolate, shortbread, or butter, you also need this recipe.

Above and beyond the culinary delights of this day, I’m grateful for good friends old and new, for great neighbors, for all the opportunities, connections, and experiences in this singular day that will never come again; grateful to have waked up alive, made the most of the day, and be heading to my cozy, clean bed right now.

Okay maybe not so clean, at least on the outside, but that’s not entirely my fault. At least the sheets underneath the blankets are clean. I’m sure grateful for this cuddly little cat, no matter how much she sheds or how many weed seeds she carries inside.
And always, always grateful for my sweet old man Stellar, who had another rough day today, but hope lives.

Chocolate Ganache

Who knew it was so easy? Melted chocolate, whisked with warmed cream and butter. And in this case, a couple of tablespoons of Grand Marnier. The second ganache I made far surpassed the first: I clearly did something wrong the first time.

When we made the chocolate ├ęclairs, I knew I’d done something wrong when I ran out of ganache halfway through dipping the mini two-finger, first-time choux pastries; and it was so thick. I froze the un-chocolated ones and pulled them out the other day to thaw, so I whipped up a second batch of chocolate ganache. I used Ghiradelli semi-sweet chips, heavy whipping cream, unsalted butter, and a splash of Grand Marnier from a bottle with a broken cork — it had to get used up.

I had so much ganache left over! But I made it for the ├ęclairs knowing that I’d be baking Lebkuchen shortly. The one incentivized the other. Lebkuchen, cookie of my childhood. I was raised on Lebkuchen growing up in Germany. Back in the States, we got it only at Christmas. It’s the ultimate spice cookie, in my book, and was always completely dipped in dark chocolate, cut in stars and crescent moons, a thick texture with just a hint each of crunch and chew, and (did I mention?) covered completely in rich dark chocolate. Seems like it’s hard to come by these days, but I’m sure I could find something online.

My first pursuit of the classic Lebkuchen flavors was delicious, but mild: Lebkuchen cake.

Instead, I searched recipes, and baked first a Lebkuchen cake, and then a couple of weeks later, Lebkuchen Honey Bars. I assumed this second recipe would resemble the cookies of memory, but turns out it’s more of a brownie type treat. No worries, I’m adaptable. The recipe (Joy of Cooking) says “Cover the dough tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 24 hours or up to 1 month.” I set it in the cold mudroom for about 27 hours. Then, the recipe says, “If possible, let the cookies age for at least 2 weeks to allow the spices to ripen. What??

I did not used to be a person who used a lot of sugar. Just when I need it least, during Covid, I’m using it more than ever. Making the lemon glaze, with lots of confectioners’ sugar and fresh lemon juice.

It called for a lemon glaze, so I made that too, and poured it over the semi-fallen pan of this delectably flavored – brownie, for lack of a better word. Turns out, brownie defines a particular texture more than a flavor. Huh! Learn something new every day. For that I am also grateful. It keeps life perpetually fascinating. Exciting, one might even say. It could have baked a few minutes longer, though even so it definitely wasn’t a cookie; that will have to be Lebkuchen chapter three.

Lebkuchen bars, glazed, then drizzled with chocolate ganache. Chocolated. (“I can chocolate you some,” said the Southern Maid.) Of course I ate a couple, but have put the rest in cold storage to cure for two weeks, I mean for as long as I can.

And still I had leftover chocolate ganache! Looking for room in the freezer to save it, I found apricot cookie dough from a month ago, so I pulled that out to thaw and bake. Cooled, I rolled one side of each cookie in ganache microwaved just enough to melt it completely, not to heat it up; then stuck the cookie sheet in the mudroom to chill and set overnight.

Apricot chocolate crescents, an unintended consequence of excessive ganache. (First-world problems, gourmet solutions.)

And still there was a cup of chocolate ganache left over! “I like it as fudge sauce,” texted Amy. Like she was reading my mind. Mmmmm, was that good! Just now, finishing a long four days of work and zoom meetings, keeping the woodstove fed, the snow shoveled a couple of times as it accumulated, keeping cat and dog wherever they want to be in or out, never sitting too long at a time so the old sciatica bug don’t bite too hard…

Then suddenly there was a bug, dropped from the sky onto the desktop. I watched it for awhile, til I forgot it was there and almost smashed it with the bowl of vanilla ice cream with chocolate ganache I set down.

Is it some kind of stinkbug? I didn’t want to upset it, just in case, the skunks of the insect world.
I took a Buddha glass upside down and scooped it out to the porch, where I let it drop in a safe dry place by the house. I’m grateful for quotidian late-night adventures.
And finally, the last reason I’m grateful for chocolate ganache. Tomorrow, the last of it, on the last of the birthday coffee gelato.

Making the most of simple things, in this one precious day that will never come again. I’m not so sure we’ll have chocolate for the rest of my life, either, given the ravages of climate chaos on cacao tree countries. So I’m gonna seize the day, while it’s here, to indulge in chocolate while I can. And now I have a new way to play with it. You can even whip it into frosting. So today, just this moment as its taste lingers in my mouth, I’m grateful for multi-function chocolate ganache.