Sunday, September 25, 2011

To Chocolate Or Not To Chocolate

Few more substitutions were made here: as predicted, I couldn't find canned tomatillos, so I went ahead and used fresh ones. (Probably made for a better product, overall.) Conversely, my grocery store was out of creme fraiche, and I know it's ridiculously expensive, so I went ahead and used sour cream instead.

None of this affects the dessert, however, which was my first step. It was very easy to throw together, though I find that when the recipe said to add the dry ingredients slowly, it meant it: the dry ingredients are very reluctant to mix, and immediately flee to the far sides of the bowl. As (almost) always, I wasn't able to get the logs as long as predicted, but they seemed to be the perfect length and just a bit wider - bigger biscotti, in the end.

It took much longer than advertised for them to cook, I think because of the size. I kept eating little bits in between the first and second bake stints, too. Couldn't help it. (What would I say I'm eating? Not biscotti, because that's twice-baked. Proto-biscotti?)

I spent some time debating whether I really wanted to mar them with chocolate: the sweet-and-salty of the cranberries and pistachios seemed enough. At length, I decided to go for it and was quite pleased with the results.

Final verdict (biscotti): These are very good - strong, distinct flavors, the sweet and the salty, the crunch of the biscotti with some softness in the center even without coffee ... definitely recommended.

I did some mise en place for the pie and the cornbread next, then started the latter. I used red pepper instead of the olives, figuring it would give a decent crunch. Unfortunately, I hadn't set out the buttermilk and eggs to warm up beforehand (are we sensing a pattern here?) so it took me longer to get going than I would have liked.

Final verdict (cornbread): This is a very good, hearty cornbread, dense without feeling heavy, subtly cheesy - you won't necessarily notice the cheese, but it's there as a backdrop. It is a bit crumbly, however.

Next step, in went the chorizo, to be mashed with spices, sherry and other goodness. I don't know if I overcooked the chorizo - it didn't taste that way - or if the proportions of the recipe were off, but when I tried to put it in my 7x11 baking dish, half the meat didn't even cover the bottom, so I swapped to an 8x8 ... which turned out to be almost too small for all the other ingredients. 12 corn tortillas is a lot of tortilla strips: I didn't end up using quite all of them. (And the dog ate a few, which surprised me.)

Once I got it in the oven, I started on the sauce. I had been worried that the fresh tomatillos wouldn't break down as readily as the canned, but my fears were misplaced ... and I was dangerously cavalier with the serrano peppers, but I was in a hurry. It's amazing the kind of wonderful sauce you get from tomatillos, serrano peppers, garlic, a little cilantro, water and sour cream. I am beginning to think that tomatillos are some of my favorite sauce ingredients ever.

Final verdict (tortilla pie): Despite the oddity of the proportions - I think I'd try using more chorizo and the 7x11 baking dish next time - this is very good, though a little goes a long way. The sauce is excellent and complements the pie perfectly.

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