Don’t let the thought of making exquisite chocolate truffles for Valentine’s Day scare you; it’s easier than you think! With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, homemade chocolate makes the perfect gift. Here is my recipe for homemade chocolate truffles – a treat sure to make your loved one smile.
Place the 30 ounces of bittersweet chocolate and butter in a medium size glass mixing bowl. Microwave for 30 seconds, remove from microwave, and stir. Repeat this process one more time, then set the mixture aside.
Heat the heavy cream and corn syrup in a small saucepan over medium heat until simmering. Remove from heat and pour over the melted chocolate mixture–let stand for two minutes. Using a rubber spatula, stir gently, working in concentric circles, starting in the middle and continue until the mixture is smooth and creamy. Gently stir in the sherry. Pour the mixture into an 8” x 8” glass baking dish and place in the refrigerator for 1 hour.
Using a melon baller, scoop the chocolate onto a sheet pan lined with parchment paper and return to the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
Place the cocoa powder, nuts, and/or toasted coconut in separate pie pans and set aside. Place a mixing bowl on top of a heating pad lined bowl – set the heating pad to medium. Depending on the heating pad, you may need to adjust the heat up or down. Place the 8 ounces of chocolate into the heated mixing bowl. Stirring the chocolate occasionally, test the temperature of the chocolate and continue heating until it reaches 90 to 92 degrees F. Once you have reached this temperature, adjust the heat to maintain it. Do not allow the chocolate to go above 94 degrees F. If you do, the coating will not have a nice snap to it when you bite into the chocolate.
Remove the truffles from the refrigerator and shape them into balls by rolling them between the palms of your hands. Use powder-free vinyl or latex gloves, if desired.
Dip an ice cream scoop into the heated chocolate and turn upside down to remove any excess. Place the truffles, one at time, into the scoop and roll each one around until coated. Roll each truffle in either the cocoa powder, nuts, or coconut until fully coated. Let each truffle sit in the coating for 10 to 15 seconds then remove the truffles to a parchment lined sheet pan. Repeat until all truffles are coated. Allow to set in a cool dry place for at least 1 hour; or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
The holidays are over and the long, Maine winter has set in. But cold winter weather gives us an excuse to make bold hearty meals, like Chuck’s goulash soup – one of my favorites! Warm your kitchen, and your tummy, with this comforting goulash recipe.
Serves 6 People
In an 8-quart heavy kettle cook bacon over moderate heat while stirring. When crisp, transfer to a large bowl using a slotted spoon. In the remaining bacon fat, brown the chuck in small batches over high heat, transferring the browned meat to a bowl with a slotted spoon. Reduce heat to medium and add the oil. Add onions and garlic and continually stir until golden. Add in mushrooms and cook for a few minutes. Stir in paprika, caraway seeds, and flour and cook, stirring for two minutes. Whisk in vinegar and tomato paste and cook, whisking for one minute – the mixture will be very thick. Stir in broth, water, salt, bell peppers, bacon, and chuck and bring to a boil, stirring. Simmer the soup, covered, stirring occasionally for 45 minutes.
Peel potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch pieces, and add them to the soup and simmer, covered, until tender – about 30 minutes. Add in sour cream and season with salt and pepper. Serve garnished with a dollop of sour cream and fresh dill.
I hope you enjoy this goulash recipe as much as I do on cold winter days!
Here at CVC we’ve toasted the New Year and are looking forward to the year ahead. With that in mind, we want to help you kick off 2017 right by drawing your attention to some well-known foods recognized far and wide to lend themselves to good fortune or prosperity in the upcoming year.
If you’ve resolved to eat healthier in the new year, leafy greens are a great place to start! Not only are leafy greens healthy, but they also resemble money, and will supposedly bring you financial prosperity. So make sure to eat some of these ASAP this year!
Beans are thought to represent coins because of their size and weight. In this way, beans are another food that signifies money and financial prosperity for the year.
Hoppin’ John, a new year’s dish originating from the southern U.S is made of black-eyed peas and rice, and eating the peas is said to bring wealth to you. To go one step further, it’s said that leftovers from this meal are called Skippin’ Jenny. Eating Skippin’ Jenny is representative of frugality and an act that is considered to bring a financially prosperous year.
Noodles & Grains
Craving pasta in the New Year, despite your resolution to cut carbs? Here’s one good reason to eat them: long noodles like spaghetti or soba are said to represent longevity, while copious smaller grains like quinoa, rice, and barley represent plenty, or abundance.
Donuts and other ring-shaped desserts symbolize the year coming full circle. In Eastern Europe, a single coin is baked into a large lemon-flavored cake called vasilopita. Whomever happens to get the coin in their slice will have good fortune in the new year, just don’t bite into it!
If you’ve never eaten a fresh pomegranate, now is the perfect time to start! The inside of a pomegranate is filled with small red seeds, and unlike other fruits like apples and oranges, you eat the seeds and leave the flesh. The plentiful seeds found in pomegranates represent prosperity, as do other fruits with many seeds, like figs.
Among meats, pork is considered the luckiest because of the pig’s rotund body shape, which represents prosperity. Additionally, the pig’s act of rooting with their nose in a forward direction represents progress. Here’s to progress!
Besides being packed with flavor and nutrition, fish offers abundant representations of good luck. Their shiny coin-like scales are associated with wealth, and their habit of travelling in large schools represents prosperity. What’s more they swim forward, which most identify as the direction of progress. Eating a whole-roasted fish is the traditional way to take advantage of all the good fortune that comes with fish.
We hope these foods bring you good fortune in 2017. Please let us know which ones you decided to try!
The holiday season is in full swing, and while you might be feeling jolly as you blast your favorite holiday tunes in the background, it’s possible that when you begin to plan your holiday parties, you might start feeling stressed.
Everyone wants to plan a holiday party that will dazzle their guests, but the combined pressures to decorate, organize a menu, cook, and bake for the party can become overwhelming. But have you ever thought about catering your party?
We’re here to assure you: catering is not a cop out. In reality, it’s the perfect idea! Think of us as the merry little elves to your Santa, the key assistants to your survival of the holiday season with your sanity in tact. So in case you’re not already on board, we’ve got five reasons to cater your holiday party this year:
If you choose to cater your holiday party this year you will likely decide to start a new holiday tradition. We’re here to tell you that CVC’s catering services are top notch and we absolutely love serving the good people of Maine. So call us at (207) 756-7599 to discuss your catering needs this holiday season. We look forward to bringing fun to your holiday festivities this season!
This month, I’ve decided to have our gravy guru Zach McBean tackle the time-honored tradition of making gravy from your Thanksgiving drippings. Enjoy, and let us know how it turns out!
That oh-so-special time of the year is fast approaching. Thanksgiving means time with family and friends, the last throes of fall giving way to snow, and the panic-stricken moment when you realize it’s time to turn that pan of shiny roasted meat juices into gravy.
Now personally, I love gravy….a lot. I mean, I will turn anything left in a pan from any kind of roasted anything into gravy. This has been a lifelong love affair, but I certainly was not successful right away. I’ve learned a few simple rules and tricks that can up your protein-topping credentials and have everyone fighting over who can chug from the gravy boat the longest. Ok, that’s a little gross…..but let’s make some good gravy!
Method 1 – Strain and Thicken
This is the tried-and-true reliable way to make gravy. For the gravy novice, this is the recipe for you.
1 or 2 Bay leaves
1 Onion, chopped
1 sprig each of rosemary, thyme, or other aromatic herbs
For Slurry – equal parts:
1 TBS Cornstarch
1 TBS Water
For Roux – equal parts:
½ Cup Whole butter
½ Cup All-purpose flour
Remove the roasted item from pan when it has finished cooking. Heat roasting pan on the range burners. Gently scrape the bottom of the pan to remove any stuck-on bits of tasty goodness. For those of you that binge-watch Food Network, you will know this process is called deglazing.
Place the drippings in a sauce pot with the bay leaves, onion, and herbs and simmer on low heat for 10 to 15 minutes.
At this point, you can use your drippings base to make one of two styles of gravy: a shiny, velvety, and less viscous version known as a slurry, or a hearty and creamy version called a roux.
For making a slurry, you can thicken your gravy with equal parts cornstarch and cold water mixed together with your fingers. Add this mixture to the gravy base, a little at a time, whisk slowly, and return to a boil as you watch it thicken. How thick is up to you – keep adding the cornstarch mixture until it’s just right.
Strain the mixture and serve. This method will also be the most effective at preventing lumps.
For a roux, follow these steps after the initial simmer. In a separate pan, melt the butter on low heat and once it is melted, whisk in an equal amount of flour. Cook the roux on low heat for 5 minutes, stirring often with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula. Set the roux aside for a few minutes to cool – adding hot roux to a boiling liquid will cause lumps!
When your roux has come to room temp, whisk it into the gravy base in small amounts. This will also not thicken until it boils so keep adding a little at a time and keep on whisking. Once you have the desired thickness, strain and serve.
Method 2 – Milk Pan Gravy
I remember being mystified watching my grandmother do this. It’s a little more challenging, but the tradeoffs are fewer dishes, no straining, and a nice rich finished product.
Ingredients – equal parts:
¼ Cup Whole milk, to taste
¼ Cup All-purpose flour, to taste
Remove the roasted item from pan when it has finished cooking and measure the remaining drippings. Add the whole milk in an 8:1 milk-to-drippings ratio and bring to a simmer. Mix equal parts flour and cold milk until smooth, usually about ¼ cup each, to thicken a quart of gravy.
Whisk in the milk-flour mixture to the simmering pan. Allow to thicken and serve.
Method 3 – Traditional Pan Gravy
This style appeals to the thrifty chef in me and utilizes everything brought to the table by roasting a turkey.
½ Cup All-purpose flour, to taste
Remove the roasted item from pan when it has finished cooking. Pour the drippings into a cup or shallow Tupperware container and let cool. Ladle off the fat from the top of the drippings (the fat will be a clear yellow, the juices brown) and measure. Mix the fat in a pan with equal portions of flour.
Deglaze the roasting pan with chicken broth, then add in the drippings. Thicken by slowly bringing to a boil and whisking in the fat/flour mixture. Strain if desired and serve.
Hopefully, these recipes will take some of the pressure off the daunting task of this holiday favorite. Enjoy!