Monday, March 17, 2014

March 16, 2014 - Nuts and Espresso

Okay, full disclosure - this is NOT an Irish recipe.  And as I'm going through our previous posts, I've realized that our Irish postings are the MOST viewed postings around this time of the year.  So we totally appreciate you coming to us for some St. Paddy's day inspiration, and we totally apologize for not flexing our Irish muscles again this year.  But once again - corn beef and cabbage just isn't our thing.  

So instead, we had some fun this week and built a recipe around nuts and espresso... that's right... coffee and nuts... because why the heck not?

Cocktail - Espresso Tequila Cocktail

Cold brewed espresso, tequila, the juice from brandied cherries... delicious!

Appetizer - Sweet Potato Souffle with Frangelico Goo and Toasted Hazelnuts

Yup, we subbed Frangelico for the rum because it's a hazelnut liqueur.  We also halved the souffles (which made 5) and did one quarter of the goo, which still made plenty.  Delicious!  Sweet but savory and the goo was insane.  Unexpected and absolutely brought this souffle to a whole new level.

Appetizer Wine - 2010 Murrieta's Well the Whip

This white blend combines a ton of different varietals for a wine that just explodes with peach, vanilla, and butterscotch.  It has a nice grassy-ness to it, and some minerality to balance the richness of the predominant chardonnay grape.  A superb white!

Entree - Duck Breast Crusted with Honeyed Nuts, Coffee Infusion and Brandied Cherries

Oh yeah, let me walk you through this.  First - the sauce will take about an hour to properly reduce.  Give it time and be patient.  We also halved the sauce for 4 people and should have actually quartered the sauce because there was a ton leftover.  Also, we had no duck consomme (which is actually just clarified stock) so used the veal/duck demi-glace that we've used for other recipes.  2 cups cream, 1 cup of the demi-glace.  Secondly, the nut crust is fairly straightforward - just don't burn the nuts.  When cooking the duck, we do not recommend using the oil to cook the duck - it will hinder the duck breast from getting crispy.  And the cooking time is perfection!  Flavor-wise - very good!  The combination of nuts, honey, coffee, brandied cherries - insane!  The coffee sauce turned out fantastic - mild, light, and full of flavor.  (Keep in mind - we did not use cracked espresso beans, but instead used 2 "pods" for the coffee machine I have at home and steeped.)  Side dishes - quinoa from a box and the endive from the recipe.  The endive was great as well, especially with the orange in it!  Refreshing, light, and almost palate cleansing.

Entree Wine - 2010 Moncayo Alto Campo De Borja

Stop the presses.  Best wine I have had so far this year!  This Spanish red is explosively perfumed with dark berries, flowers, and spices.  There are lots of berries on the palate, but a nice smokiness to counter it from being too sweet.  And the finish is smooth and lingering with well-balanced tannins.  If you're looking for a nice bottle to bring to a dinner party - this will make you a rockstar.

Dessert - Chocolate Espresso Flourless Cake with Brandied Cherries

This rich, dense cake is perfection!  It has a fudge like texture and took to our brandied cherry topping very well.  Keep in mind - it uses mostly semi-sweet chocolate and unsweetened chocolate so it is not very sweet.  We thought it was a perfect balance but those who prefer the flavors of milk chocolate vs. dark may want to sub out the unsweetened chocolate for semi-sweet or milk.  Delicious!  

All in all, a fantastic meal.  Who knew we could create such a gourmet menu with nuts and coffee as inspiration.  See you all soon!

PS - There are a few most posts on our sister blog