Friday, December 31, 2010

Easy, Yet Decadent Appetizer: Prosciutto Rolls

One of my favorite indulgent appetizers is a bacon wrapped date with a almond stuffed in it. A couple of my favorite friends would always have when entertaining for me & my husband. For me, it showed how much they loved me. Making such a thoughtful, gluten-free treat that is gourmet, adult, and complex in flavors. Last New Year's Year, this favorite played as an inspiration for a new creation: one that is easier to make (no cooking); more "healthy" with some green stuff in it; and more balanced complexity by addition of flavors and modifications. Prosciutto rolls: a little date, fresh goat cheese, almonds, arugula, with pepper and herbs all wrapped up in a thin slice of cured meat. Easy to eat with the fingers in two bites. Perfectly balanced harmony of umami, sweet, creamy, peppery bitterness, and freshness from the greens. Differentiation of textures, too with the tender cured meat, chewiness of the date, crunch from the almonds, and crispness of the arugula. When I went to Whole Foods to purchase some prosciutto, I could not immediately find it. So, I bought a package of smoked salmon, too. Turned out great! These rolls would work well with bresaola, too. Bresaola is one of my favorites: an Italian air-cured, thinly sliced beef. Reminds me of a more sophisticated chipped beef I grew up with. Can be found at Italian/specialty stores. For an extra fancy, impressive spread, you could make all three (prosciutto, salmon, bresaola) for a variety of flavors and colors. With these rolls, the sum is great than all of its parts. Therefore, the better quality ingredients will make for a more scrumptious roll. And the thinner the meat, the more you can see the arugula, which is a great look.

Now, ingredients needed and how to make it:
- Prosciutto, Smoked Salmon, &/or Bresaola
- Goat Cheese, Fresh (Chevre)
- Dates
- Arugula
- Almonds, roasted & salted (I used Marcona)
- Black Pepper, fresh ground
- Chives, Fresh, finely chopped (optional)

1. First, prep the dates by removing the pit and quartering lengthwise.
2. Lay out the piece of meat/salmon flat on a cutting board.
3. Season with fresh ground black pepper & chives (if using).
4. Place 1/4 date at one end, centered. On that pack on the goat cheese & almonds (2-3 matching length of date).
5. Compress lightly for best results when wrapping.
6. Lay out the arugula along the length of the slice of meat/salmon.
7. Fold the meat/salmon over the date/cheese/almonds. If there is significant extra width, just fold over the meat/salmon just like an egg/spring roll.
8. Continue rolling up, while making sure everything is snug in the roll but not too tight.
9. Arrange on a platter. Cover with plastic wrap. Serve chilled/room temperature. Enjoy!

This is a treat that everyone will enjoy. And added bonus: by using goat cheese, it is lactose free. Happy New Year! Feliz Año Nuevo! Feliç Any Nou! Bonne Annee!

-Erin Swing
The Sensitive Epicure

Friday, October 15, 2010

Grand Marnier Bread Pudding

Today is the day. TheDailyMeal.com is launching at 3 pm ET. My favorite food writer, Colman Andrews, is at the helm of this mega-food web site as the editor-in-chief. I have reason to believe that this venture may even be better than one of his other start-ups, Saveur Magazine. I am honored that he asked me to be a contributor on the gluten-free front. He gave me my first recipe assignment for The Daily Meal: gluten-free bread pudding. Recipe development had to be completed within two days. Efficiency was critical for making sure I had the best recipe possible. My first strategy was to keep in mind the autumn season is upon us, and the flavors had to embrace comfort, warmth. Then to figure out what store-bought GF bread works the best for this. Most importantly, I had to determine where to test my prototypes. Easy, my husband's office. All of his coworkers never ask if it's GF, they are always game for whatever I bring in and happily provide feedback. My kind of crowd. I felt like I had shut down his office for the 30 minute expert panel tasting. All of them were winners, but the favorite was the Grand Marnier. The prettiest of the bunch, too.

This bread pudding has a simple, bright, orange flavor. Crunchy bread on top, with a delicate custard towards the bottom. Works equally as well for either a dessert or a decadent brunch treat. Udi’s sandwich bread works very well for this recipe, either the white or whole grain varities. Available nationwide: http://udisglutenfree.com/ Of course, it can be made with regular (gluten-filled) bread, too. I prefer to weigh ingredients when I bake, I find it easier & more fail-safe. Makes about 12 servings.

Ingredients:

Amount:

Ingredient:

Notes:

8 slices / 200 g

Udi’s gluten-free bread

Leave crusts on

1 1/3 cup / 300 g

Heavy Cream


1 1/3 cup / 300 g

Milk


½ cup / 90 g

Sugar


4 large

Eggs

room temperature

½ cup / 60 g

Grand Marnier


from 1 orange

Orange Zest


from 1 orange

Orange Juice

seeds removed

1 teaspoon

Vanilla Extract


¼ teaspoon

Salt



Equipment:

Knife, Zester/Grater, & Cutting board

Whisk, Cooking Spoon, Ladle

Measuring Cups, Spoons; Scale (if prefered)

Medium Sauce pan, Large mixing bowl

Muffin Tin or 8”X8” pan or Casserole Dish

Toothpicks



Procedure:
1. Cut the bread into ½ inch cubes (with the crusts on). Toast at 325oF spread out in an even layer on cookie sheet or jelly roll pan. Toast for 5 minutes, just until it has dried out & is just a hint of gold on the edges.
2. Combine the cream + milk + sugar in a heavy saucepan. Heat over medium heat, stirring, until the sugar is dissolved and foams forms on top.
3. In a large mixing bowl, whisk the eggs.
4. Slowly add in the hot cream + milk + sugar as a slow stream into the eggs constantly stirring to gently temper the eggs.
5. Whisk in, one at a time, the Grand Marnier + zest + orange juice + vanilla extract + salt.
6. Using either a sprayed or buttered 12-muffin tin, an 8 inch x 8 inch baking pan, or a casserole dish, evenly distribute the bread cubes.
7. Evenly pour or ladle the custard into the pan. Push any bread that is not covered to absorb the custard.
8. Let stand, refrigerated, for 1 hour or longer, so the bread absorbs the custard mixture. If necessary, push the bread down into the pan once or twice after the mixture has had time to stand.
9. Bake at 350°F (175°C) until set and golden brown on top, about 30 minutes for the muffins and about 45 minutes for a single pan. Use a toothpick to test for done-ness: if it comes out clean, it’s done.
10. Allow to rest until cool enough to handle before serving or cutting.

-Erin Swing
The Sensitive Epicure