From Dish Amelia:
Last week I got a voicemail from my dad, who was visiting family in North Carolina, “Hey, Mee-Mah, I need your mailing address again, I’m gonna mail you a small box though the U.S. Post…The uh…American Postal Service. K? Thanks.” What arrived was a seasonal treasure from the south, three perfect peaches and two bags of an Item I had to google. Turns out they were green and black Muscadine grapes, a gigantic and extremely flavorful grape with a thick skin. Thanks Dad – good timing!
I am fully aware that I made Concord grape sorbet in my last post but I have recently committed to an intensive grape immersion program, so this is what you get. These are not your average grapes so I wanted to make unconventional grape things, and I wanted more practice with yeast and gelatin, the original shape-shifters.
The panna cotta is elegant and interesting, fruity and creamy, both refreshing and satisfying at the same time. The focaccia is familiar but different: a sweet and savory snack.
Grape Prep Meditation: If you didn’t do this, you would just eat them and ignore all the following business.
Wash them. They are effing huge. Remove the skins. This is pretty easily done by squeezing them. They just slip out. Set skins aside. I divided them by color, but without skins I couldn’t discern a difference in flavor. Remove and discard the seeds – this is best done with more squeezing. Do all this over a bowl or container so you retain the juice. Chop up some of the skins and put in a saucepan with a little sugar. Cook a bit until they are more tender and fragrant.
Both recipes adapted from Gourmet Magazine. (January 2001 & September 2006).
For Panna Cotta:
1 tsp unflavored gelatin (powder)
1 cup reserved grape juice
1 T lemon juice
1 cup of grape globs, sliced
1 T Calvados
8 oiled ramekins
In a saucepan, sprinkle gelatin over 1/4 cup juice. Let soften and then bring to a simmer. Stir until gelatin is dissolved. Remove from head and add rest of juice, Calvados, lemon juice, grapes and a few chopped purple skins. Pour into bottoms of ramenkins and place in freezer 40 minutes to set.
2 tsp unflavored gelatin powder
1 cup 1/2 & 1/2
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 tsp molasses
2 cups lowfat greek yogurt
1 T Calvados
Stir together gelatin and 1/4 cup half and half in a clean saucepan to soften. Bring to a simmer and stir until gelatin is dissolved and add remaining half and half, brown sugar, and molasses and stir until sugar is dissolved. Whisk together yogurt, Calvados and salt and whisk into sugar mixture. Pour gently into ramekins (with set gelee) and cover. Chill in fridge 8 hours. To unmold, run a knife around the edge, dip bottom of ramekin in hot water for 6 seconds, and either invert plate over ramekin and turn rightside up, or stick a small spoon or knife along side, aim, and pull just a bit to release the vacuum, without damaging the form. Plop. Or use more oil on ramekins next time, darn it.
1 packet active dry yeast, (or .6 oz fresh yeast – which is what I used)
2 T dry sherry
1 T honey
3/4 cup warm water
2 1/2- 3 cups AP flour
1/4 cup good olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
3 cups drained grape globs and some skins
1/2 cup sugar
Kosher salt and pepper
a handful of chopped rosemary
1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
Stir together yeast, sherry, honey, and warm water in a bowl and let stand for 10 minutes until yeast is bubbly. Stir in 1 cup flour and cover with kitchen towel until doubled in bulk (40 min.).
In mixer with dough hook, add starter, 1 1/2 cups flour, oil, and some salt and pepper. Knead on machine until sticky dough forms, adding about a 1/4 cup more flour until dough is more smooth and elastic. (5 min.) Place dough ball into large oiled bowl, turning to coat, with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel over it and set it near the stove to rise about an hour.
Oil a half sheet tray. Turn out dough onto floured surface and divide in half. Roll out one ball into a rectangle that would cover the tray.
Stretch dough onto tray and scatter with half the grapes, skins, rosemary, onions, 1/4 cup sugar and liberal pinch of salt and grind of pepper. Roll out second dough ball and lay on top of first. Create Jackson Pollock #II. Make sure doughs are pinched together, cover and let rise a bit more. (1 Hour).
Preheat oven to 400 and bake focaccia on middle rack for about 45 minutes until golden all over and firm in center. You can lift up the whole thing out of the tray and transfer to a different tray to cool. I sprayed it with olive oil and sprinkled a bit more salt and sugar over the top, and cut it with kitchen shears.
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