Apr
16

Dessert Course! Bourbon Pecan Pie with Vanilla Bean Sea Salt

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We’ve made it to the last leg of our marathon. Dessert! The perfect ending to an absolutely amazing and delicious feast. In keeping with our rich and indulgent theme, why not make a pecan pie? Better yet, a bourbon pecan pie. Why don’t we serve that with one (or three) scoops of vanilla ice cream as well? There may have been a possible food coma on the horizon for all of us, but we welcomed it with open arms.

Bourbon Pecan Pie with Fusion Vanilla Bean Sea Salt  

Earlier in the day, somewhere between the third and fifth meal, one of my friends turned to me and exclaimed “Morgan, you know how to bake, make the pie!” Without hesitating I jumped into action, thawing the puff pastry dough and organizing my station (I take baking very seriously). However, the recipe I was working with came from the UK so converting into cups took some serious brain power, and may or may not be a bit off (it still tasted great)!

 

Like I said, I take baking pretty seriously, so using Fusion Vanilla Sea Salt for baking just makes sense. Vanilla has a place in just about every baking recipe so I thought why not get an extra layer in there if I could (two birds with one stone right)? The pastry dough turned out light and flaky, while the filling became thick and rich. A must have finish for our Louisiana feast!

 

So there you have it folks! As Disney Pandora brought our evening to a close, we danced and sang our hearts out to Phil Collins and Sir Elton. Some of us may have gotten a tad emotional, but who could judge after exceptional food and good times with friends (the wine may have also had something to do with it). This weekend was certainly a highlight for 2014 and I hope this means there are even greater things to come.

 

Bourbon Pecan Pie with Vanilla Bean Sea Salt
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Ingredients
  1. Puff pastry shell
  2. 2 cups pecan nuts
  3. 3 large eggs
  4. 1 cup sugar
  5. ½ tsp Fusion Vanilla Sea Salt
  6. 1 tsp cinnamon
  7. 1/3 cup black strap molasses
  8. ¼ cup unsalted butter, melted
  9. ¼ cup Bourbon
  10. Additional melted butter for pastry dough
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Thaw pastry and line baking dish (9X13), you may need to use multiple puff pastry sheets, brush with additional melted butter
  3. Bake for 5-7 minutes or until puff pastry is golden
  4. While pastry is baking, make filling by whisking eggs, sugar, salt and cinnamon in a large mixing bowl
  5. Add pecans, molasses, melted butter and bourbon, mix well
  6. Pour filling into baked pastry tart, and bake for additional 25-30 minutes or until filling starts to set
  7. Let cool for 2 hours before serving
Grain of Salt http://www.grainofsalt.com/
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Apr
14

Course 7: Duck Confit with Sel Gris

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Duck Confit with Sel Gris Sea SaltThere is no such thing as a perfect evening (at least when I’m in the kitchen). With all the chaos from cooking, eating and cleaning up again for the next courses we all kind of forgot that our seventh course, duck confit, took three hours to cook. The whole idea behind duck confit is to slowly roast it in its own fat for a LONG time so the skin gets golden and crispy, while the meat is juicy and tender. By the time we realized this, however it was around 10 p.m. and there was no way we were waiting three more hours. We opted to cook the duck the next afternoon and had a little picnic before packing up and heading home.

When we finally got to cut into these babies the meat was practically falling off the bone. It was so tender!

The meat was the perfect kind of salty, due to the Artisan Sel Gris salt brine it had sat in the night before. Sel Gris is the perfect choice for duck confit because of it’s high moisture content. A dryer flake would absorb some of that moisture released from the meat, but sel gris doesn’t, so it creates the perfect crusty skin. I would recommend this meal to anyone who has the patience. It was a real treat and a great way to end the weekend. With that being said we’re not done yet! We need to go back in time for one last plate….DESSERT!

Duck Confit with Sel Gris
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Ingredients
  1. ¼ Sel Gris Fine
  2. 2 lbs. duck legs and thighs
  3. 1 bay leaf
  4. 8 ounces duck fat
  5. 1 ounce fresh thyme
Instructions
  1. Dissolve the salt in 4 cups water in a large container, add the duck and bay leaf and cover/refrigerate overnight
  2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  3. Drain the bring and discard the bay leaf
  4. Place the duck, duck fat, and fresh thyme in a roasting pan
  5. Wrap tightly with plastic wrap, and then foil. Place in over for 3 hours
  6. Remove foil and plastic and strain fat from pan (be sure to save it, this stuff is gold)!
  7. Serve hot
Grain of Salt http://www.grainofsalt.com/
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Apr
9

Course 6: Tagliatelle With Wild Boar Bolognese Sauce

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We have made it to the main event folks, tagliatelle with wild boar bolognese sauce! This was the main and most anticipated dish of the evening. The sauce took 4 hours to make and I’ll admit I stood over the pot sneaking spoonfuls all night. This sauce was so rich and so meaty, it was definitely worth the wait! I might go as far to say that it was my favorite course, but I’m a pasta fanatic so that’s not saying too much.

Wild Boar Bolognese

It brought me back to the spaghetti feeds my mother used to cook up for us when I was a child, but this had much deeper flavor and A LOT more meat (sorry Mom)! The holy trinity, (onions, celery, and carrots) which is the foundation for many Louisiana creole dishes, was what set it apart from your average spaghetti feed. That and the red wine, you can never forget the red wine. We used Fusion Toasted Onion Sea Salt in the sauce, which helped to bring out the caramelized onions in the trinity, a must if I do say so myself!

Take the advice of one of my fellow diners and save some of the pasta and sauce for left over breakfast the next morning and top it with a sunny side up egg and some Wildfire sea salt!

Wild Boar Bolognese
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Ingredients
  1. 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  2. 1 cup minced onion
  3. 1 cup minced carrot
  4. 1 cup minced celery
  5. 2 pounds ground boar, pork, beef or other meat (we opted for wild boar)
  6. 1 6-ounce can tomato paste
  7. 1 cup pork broth, beef broth or water
  8. 1 cup red wine
  9. 1 cup milk
  10. 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  11. Fusion Toasted Onion Sea Salt and black pepper to taste
  12. Pasta (we used tagliatelle)
  13. Grated cheese for garnish
Instructions
  1. Heat the butter over medium-high heat in a large, heavy bottom pot
  2. Add the onion, celery and carrots and cook gently for 5-8 minutes, stirring often. Do not brown them. Sprinkle a little Toasted Onion sea salt over the veggies as they cook.
  3. When the vegetables are soft, stir in the tomato paste and allow everything to cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring often.
  4. When the tomato paste begins to turn the color of brick, add the ground meat and the broth.
  5. Allow this to cook down over medium-low heat. When the liquid has mostly evaporated, add the wine and repeat the process.
  6. When that liquid has mostly evaporated, add the milk, nutmeg and black pepper and stir well.
  7. Bring back to a simmer and add salt to taste, allowing to cook for 2 hours.
  8. Serve over al dente pasta, and garnish with cheese.
Grain of Salt http://www.grainofsalt.com/
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Apr
8

Salted Caramel Blackberry Brownies

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After a long winter, seeing fresh berries on the grocery store shelves is as much a sign of spring as morning bird songs and the Easter bunny. When this happens, I want to put berries in everything I make. This recipe for Salted Caramel Blackberry Brownies offers all the comforts of a warm gooey homemade brownie with surprising ribbons of tart berries and rich, sweet caramel.

Salted Caramel Blackberry Brownies

 Getting the Salt Right

Getting the “salty” right is key. You’ll want a salty chocolate but not necessarily bursts of salty crunch because that interferes with the tart blackberries. I made the batter with our Pure Ocean Sea Salt. It dissolves quickly thus makes a consistently salty batter. Depending on how salty you like you chocolate, you can alter the amount. Salt is added for flavor only.

Gooey Vs. Cakey 

Did I mention these are gooey? Insanely! Add a little more flour or refrigerate the dough if it’s important to  you that they can actually come out of the pan in pieces. I brought them in to work and we managed to get along just fine with the gooey mess, but they weren’t exactly finger food.

 Now, Make a Mess

At home, I dropped one in a mason jar, added a scoop of Cherry Garcia froyo, more blackberries, and drizzled the mess with hot fudge for an even bigger, more delicious mess. Had I not been in such a heavenly place, I would have taken a photo of that. It was epic and I’m regretful that I didn’t.

 Flakey Finish or No?

I don’t recommend finishing this salted brownie with flake salt, which seems counter intuitive, but again, you want a salty chocolate, not salty blackberries. 

Salted Caramel Blackberry Brownies
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Ingredients
  1. 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  2. 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  3. 3/4 cup dark brown sugar
  4. 3/4 cup extra dark cocoa powder (I used unsweetened cocoa powder: still good!)
  5. 2 eggs
  6. 1 teaspoon vanilla
  7. 1 teaspoon baking powder
  8. 1/2 teaspoon salt
  9. 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  10. 1 6 oz container blackberries
  11. 3/4 cup caramel sauce
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a 9-inch square pan with parchment paper
  2. Place butter, sugars, and cocoa powder in a heat-proof bowl and microwave until butter is melted
  3. Stir until smooth
  4. Add eggs and vanilla, incorporating until smooth
  5. Stir in baking powder, salt, and flour
  6. Add blackberries to brownie mixture and carefully fold in
  7. Pour half of the brownie batter into the prepared pan
  8. Spoon caramel over top in an even layer
  9. Spread remaining brownie batter on top
  10. Bake 35-40 minutes until a tester comes out clean.
  11. Let cool in pan completely
Notes
  1. We have a great caramel recipe here if you want to make it from scratch: http://www.grainofsalt.com/2014/01/sweet-and-salty-dips-for-game-day/
Adapted from food-mouth
Adapted from food-mouth
Grain of Salt http://www.grainofsalt.com/
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Apr
7

Course 5: French Onion Soup with Sel Gris

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Here we are. The fifth course: French onion soup. If I may paint a picture for you folks, my friends and I had been eating, cooking and talking for around four hours and we still had four more courses to go. The wine was flowing and as you can imagine, the level of conversation was growing much deeper and exponentially louder. At one point, I sat back and just took in the sheer volume that nine people were conversing at. 

There’s  no doubt that preparing an 8-course dinner for nine friends requires some deliberation, down to the details (like, even which salt to use for each dish!) But there’s a point in the night when it becomes abundantly clear that cooking for friends – cooking well for friends- just offers a simple satisfaction achieved no other way than through the stomach. There’s just something magical about the laughter, the conversation, and the comfort of enjoying (not rushing) time with each other one indulgent dish at a time!  

By this very jovial point in the evening, we were all excited to welcome our next course, which by the way, these rich spoils can’t be rushed either.

 FrenchOnion-1

Warm bread and bubbly cheese hid a bowl full of sweet and savvy onions, caramelized to perfection. We used Sel Gris again for this dish to bring out the great flavors of the onion without overshadowing the simplicity of the soup. As I mentioned, this soup takes some serious patience; do not rush the onions! Drink some wine or run a couple loads of laundry–but wine is more fun. 

FrenchOnion-2

 

French Onion Soup with Sel Gris
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Ingredients
  1. 1 1/2 pounds (about 5 cups) thinly sliced yellow onions
  2. 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  3. 1 tablespoon olive oil
  4. 1 teaspoon Sel Gris, plus more to taste
  5. 1/4 teaspoon granulated sugar (helps the onions to caramelize)
  6. 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  7. 2 quarts (8 cups) beef or other brown stock*
  8. 1/2 cup dry white wine or dry white vermouth
  9. Freshly ground black pepper
  10. 3 tablespoons cognac or brandy (optional)
Gratinée
  1. 1 tablespoon grated raw onion
  2. 1 to 2 cups (to taste) grated Swiss (I often use Gruyere) or a mixture of Swiss and Parmesan cheese
  3. 1 tablespoon butter, melted
  4. 12 to 16 1-inch thick rounds French bread, toasted until hard
Instructions
  1. Melt the butter and oil together in the bottom of a 4- to 5-quart saucepan over moderately low heat
  2. Add the onions, toss to coat them in oil and cover the pot.
  3. Reduce the heat to real low and let them slowly steep for 15 minutes
  4. Uncover the pot, raise the heat slightly and stir in the salt and sugar
  5. Cook onions, stirring frequently, for 30 to 40 minutes until they have turned an even, deep golden brown
  6. After the onions are fully caramelized, sprinkle them with flour and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes.
  7. Add the wine in full, then stock, a little at a time, stirring between additions. Season to taste with salt and pepper
  8. Bring to a simmer partially covered for 30 to 40 more minutes, skimming if needed
  9. Stir in the cognac, if you choose too. I think you should
Gratinée
  1. Preheat oven to 325. Arrange six ovenproof soup bowls on a foil-lined baking sheet
  2. Divide soup eventually between each bowl
  3. To each bowl, add 1/2 teaspoon grated raw onion and a tablespoon of grated cheese. Stir to combine
  4. Dab your croutons with a tiny bit of butter and float a few on top of your soup, covering it
  5. Cover each bowl with a generous amount of grated cheese
  6. Bake soups on tray for 20 minutes, then preheat broiler
  7. Finish for a minute or two under the broiler to brown the top lightly
  8. Serve immediately
Grain of Salt http://www.grainofsalt.com/
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