A Time for Tradition

I've been friends with "Sweet" Sarah (the current Pastry Chef at The Wood Tavern) for some years now.  She's part Italian and ever since I can remember, when the holidays rolled around, she and the women of her family would get together and make a ton of ravioli for their Christmas celebration.  This year, when I was invited, I couldn't pass up the opportunity to join in on the tradition!

The kitchen was bustling Monday morning as 4 generations of Ballard women (thanks to the recent addition of baby Allia), extended family and close friends began to prep for ravioli making - while enjoying champagne and h'ordeurves of course.  Great-Grandma Anna Ballard and her cousin Anna Capurro oversaw the production. 

The first thing that needed to be done was to make the filling and dough.  The filling is made of ground pork and beef, spinach, swiss chard, onion, olive oil, day-old bread, parmesan, eggs, warm spices, salt and pepper.  The spices are what makes this recipe unique and let me tell you, the filling was quite delicious and full of flavor.  Below is a photo of Tara (a journalist) kneading the dough.  Last year Tara wrote an article "Make 1,000 Ravioli?  It Must Be the Holiday Season."  of this family tradition that was featured in the San Francisco Chronicle.

L to R: Anna C. overseeing the grinding of ingredients for filling, Mixing in cheese, eggs and spices, Tara kneading the dough
These family heirlooms have been passed down for generations - long rolling pin, a rolling pin to form ravioli and a 3'x6' wooden board to roll on

We're now ready to get started rolling out the dough by hand!  It takes a bit of time to get the elastic dough to stretch out, but it's not difficult.  Plenty of flour and some patience will get the job done.  Speaking of which, the dough is thin enough when you can see the board through it!  Also, rolling the dough into a square makes for less waste when forming the ravioli. 

Once the dough is thin enough, it's scooted toward the edge of the board and part of it is draped over the edge for easier workability.  Filling is then spread over half of the dough leaving a nice strip along the edge uncovered.  It is then sandwiched with the other half of the dough.

The rolling pin used to form the ravioli is then lined up with the fold of dough, again to make sure there is as little waste as possible.  It is slowly rolled over the dough with lessened pressure as you go along making sure not to push the filling out.  The ravioli is then cut along the scores left from the form.  They are then transferred to a sheet pan and frozen before being bagged a kept for Christmas. 

Anna B. usually runs a very tight ship keeping a count on all the ravioli made.  This year however, twice as many were made, so I was able to take some home.  I was truly honored to be able to join the Ballard family and take part in their rich family tradition, a tradition that according to Nancy was kept alive by her daughter Sarah and her passion for food.

Thanks so much to the Ballards for welcoming me into their home.  I had a great time and learned so much.  I also walked away with some great blackmail material on Sarah!  Now the only thing that's left is to EAT.  I will wait until my weekend so that I can go all out...


Cookies & Cocktails [FPP v2.0]

You might remember my post on our "Doughnut Making Party," now also dubbed Food Porn Party v1.0.  Cheryl, the 2 Sarahs and I just held the second installment - Cookies & Cocktails!  We decided to get in the holiday spirit, so each of us chose a cookie recipe and a cocktail recipe.  Again, we developed one shopping list and divided it among the 4 of us.

While compiling our recipes and shopping lists, I noticed something kind of funny.  By funny, I mean that something that only people who are consumed with good food would subconsciously do.  Each of our own Cookie & Cocktail recipes complimented each other.  So below is a photograph of our "pairings" and a few selected recipes. 

Chocolate "Aftershock" Cookies & Blood Orange Spritz

"Savory" Sarah
Cookie: Chocolate "Aftershock" Cookies
12.8 oz     Semisweet Chocolate Chips
1.6 oz       Butter

3               Eggs
9.6 oz       Sugar
1 t             Coffee Extract

1 t             Vanilla Extract
1.6 oz       AP
1 t             Baking Powder
1 t             Salt

4 oz           Milk Chocolate Chips
4 oz           White Chocolate Chips
4 oz           Peanut Butter Chips
6.5 oz        Walnuts, toasted & chopped
1.  Over a bain marie melt chocolate and butter, set aside
2.  Whip eggs, sugar and extracts on high in a mixer
3.  Once mixture has thickened, add AP, BP and Salt and mix until combined
4.  On a low speed, add melted chocolate/butter mixture
5.  Once incorporated, fold in chocolate and nuts
6.  Refrigerate batter for 1/2 hour, or until batter has hardened enough to scoop
Frosted Lime Wafers & Blackberry Sage Refresher
7.  Scoop and bake at 350 for about 15 minutes

Cocktail: Blackberry Sage Refresher
Sage Syrup
1 c         Sugar
1 c         Water
2 sprigs  Sage
1.  Bring all ingredients to a boil
2.  Steep for 15 minutes
3.  Discard sage and allow syrup to cool
2 oz       Blackberry Puree
1 oz       Vodka
1 oz       Sage Syrup
2 oz       Tonic
              Fresh Blackberries & Sage for garnish
1.  Combine first 4 ingredients, stir
2.  Add ice and garnish
Brown Butter Pumpkin Cookies & Pomegranate Moscow Mule


 "Sweet" Sarah
Cookie: Brown Butter Pumpkin Cookies
3/4 c    AP
1 t        BP
1 t        BS
1 1/4 t  Coarse Salt     
1 1/2 t  Ground Cinnamon
1 1/4 t  Ground Ginger
3/4 t     Ground Nutmeg
3/4 c     Butter, rt
2 1/4 c  Brown Sugar
2           Eggs
1 1/2 c  Pumpkin Puree
3/4 c     Evaporated Milk
1 t         Vanilla Extract
1.  Combine dries, set aside
2.  Paddle buttter and brown sugar until pale and fluffy
3.  Add wet ingredients, mixing until well combined
4.  Add dries and mix only until incorporated
5.  Pipe 1 1/2 in mounds onto sheet pans
6.  Bake at 375 for about 12 minutes
4 c               Powdered Sugar, sifter
10 T            Butter, browned
1/4 c + 1 T  Evaporated Milk
2 t               Vanilla Extract
1.  Once butter is browned, stir immediately into powdered sugar
2.  Stir in milk and vanilla until smooth
3. Using an offset spatula or piping bag, frost cooled cookies
Alfajores & Warm Apple Pie Spiced Cider
Cocktail: Warm Apple Pie Spiced Cider
1 1/4 qt   Apple Cider
3 T          Brown Sugar
7             Cinnamon Sticks (more for garnish)
1 t           Ground Allspice
1/2 t        Ground Ginger
Pinch      Ground Cloves
Pinch      Ground Nutmeg
Pinch      Salt
1/2 c       Calvados or other Brandy
1.  In a pot, combine all ingredients except Calvados
2.  Bring mixture to a boil and allow to steep for 15 minutes
3.  Stir in Calvados 
4.  Strain into glasses
5.  Garnish with cinnamon sticks

Although we weren't able to follow our cookie recipes to a "T" due to the libations, it was definitely a good time and everything came out quite delicious in the end.  Coming January 2012...FPP v3.0.  I can't wait!


White Chocolate Mousse

White Chocolate Mousse
Pomegranate Sorbet // Mint Gelée // Pomegranate Seeds
Pomegranate Sauce // Shortbread Crumbs // Micro Mint

(New Dinner Dessert 2 of 2)

Orange Creamsicle

Buttermilk Panna Cotta
Mandarin Espuma // Dehydrated Milk Foam
Orange Blossom Kisses // Citrus in White Verjus

(New Dinner Dessert 1 of 2)



I almost forgot to write about Halloween.  Even though we're nearly halfway through November, I still want to share these sweets with you!

You may have seen these two pictures on my Facebook page - Halloween Macarons and Candy Corn Rice Krispy Treats.

The Macarons were for our diners at work.  
Flavors - Black Sesame & Orange

The Candy Corn Rice Krispy Treats were made by Annie and I for the Halloween Party in her 5th grade class.  I met a few of them after their party and I think they really liked them!  :)


♥ E & J Wedding ♥

Elizabeth & Jeffrey (photo by Dien)

I know, I've been MIA for a while.  The short story - I over-extended myself and then I paid the price by getting sick twice in one week.  I'm finally feeling better now, so here's a long-overdue post that I've been wanting to write. 

Dessert Table & Candy Bar
My friend Dien recommended me to her friend Liz earlier this year to make a Dessert Table/Candy Bar for her wedding to Jeff.  It was a big project, but I felt ready to take it on (with some help of course).  My friend Thip helped me to make the macarons, Liz herself did a lot of the shopping for the table and Annie, Dien and Alex helped me to set up. 

8-tier Macaron Tower
Liz and Jeff wanted a clean and simple Dessert Bar - white with splashes of red, purple and gold.

Here's a list of all the items:
  • Macarons
    • Purple - Passion Fruit
    • Red - Dark Chocolate Ganache
    • White - Milk Chocolate Salted Caramel
  • Rice Krispy Pops Dipped in White Chocolate
  • White Mini Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream
  • Homemade Marshmallow S'mores Pops
  • Assorted Candies

Just as we were putting on the finishing touches, Liz and Jeff popped out from behind the scenes to check out the table.  Liz was absolutely gorgeous and had the most beautiful wedding dress - Jeff couldn't be a happier groom.  They were impressed with the table, but unfortunately didn't get a chance to enjoy any of it!  Thanks so much for letting me do my part for your special day - I'm glad to have met such a wonderful couple. 

Congratulations to Elizabeth & Jeffrey!  All the best as you embark on your lives together. ♥