Saturday, November 22, 2014

Cuisine Méditerranéenne Melange Omelette

Omelette Of Mixed Mediterranean Cuisines - French Herb Omelette, Asparagus, Sausage, Chèvre, Middle Eastern Spice Tomato and Grecian Olives!  

     Today's Omelette
     I have notice that the amount of ink needed for writing a recipe name does vary greatly from one language to the next.  Some of the shortest recipe titles in this website were written in Vietnamese, Turkish, Persian or Arabic.  Writing a descriptive recipe title in German, French, English or Spanish language can result in a recipe name that has more words than a novel.  

     Naming a food creation does require some forethought.  Sometimes when a specific cultural theme is the basic recipe concept, it is better use the language of that culture.  Often this thinking process becomes complicated, when there is no translation for a special key ingredient.
     When several regional ethnic cultural cuisines are combined to create a new recipe, it is best to keep the name of the recipe simple.  Applying a common name to an omelette that combines the flavors of four cultural cuisines that are located in one easy to recognize region is best.  Every item in today's omelette represents cuisines in the Mediterranean region.  Since the flavors of separate cuisines are represented, it is best to mention that a mixture of Mediterranean cuisines is the theme.  This is reflected in the name of today's recipe.  
     Frittata or Omelette?  A frittata is flat and an omelette can be flat too.  Since a variety of herbs that are not commonly used in Italian cuisine were added to the eggs, it is best to call today's egg entree an omelette.

     Italian cuisine is represented by one item in the omelette recipe and this item is something that has increased in popularity during recent years.  Turkey has been taking the place of pork in many Italian recipes, because it is a healthier meat choice.  Plain Turkey Breakfast Sausage Links are usually flavored with sage and fennel.  These are common Italian herb flavors, so these sausages fit in with the Mediterranean omelette theme.   
     Turkey breakfast sausage links are becoming more popular in America too.  Consumers that have cholesterol concerns choose turkey breakfast sausage, in order to reduce cholesterol intake.  When 2 eggs are part of the breakfast omelette entree, substituting turkey sausage for pork links does reduce the hard cholesterol count by more than half.  This keeps the cholesterol content of the 2 eggs within a healthy daily intake range.  To reduce cholesterol intake even more, egg whites can be used to make the omelette.  Saffron Water or turmeric will give the eggs a yellow color.

     A composed omelette presentation always creates eye appeal.  An omelette presentation that is composed so it creates eye appeal, really does impress guests.  Only a little bit of extra effort is needed to make an omelette look stylish and classy!  
     In a typical breakfast restaurant that sells omelettes for inflated prices, a composed omelette should be the least that a customer should expect.  At home, a composed presentation of an omelette shows that a lot of heart went into the cooking and guests at the table will certainly smile!  

     Why Settle For A Breakfast That Is The Lesser Of Two Evils?
     Unfortunately, very few American restaurants offer high quality breakfast cuisine these days, if they even offer breakfast at all.  I happen to take great pride in creating great breakfast food.  There certainly is a strong consumer demand for gourmet breakfast cuisine, yet overall, the restaurant industry ignores the demand.  
     Boring standard American diner style sloppy breakfast food appeals to people that do not think outside of the box.  There are plenty of breakfast restaurants that serve low quality standard breakfast food for an inflated price.  There are plenty of consumers that settle for lousy restaurant breakfast food that is on a par with canned corned beef hash dog food.  If more consumers refused to dine at lousy breakfast restaurants, restaurant breakfast cuisine would have to improve.  

     Societal behavioral conditioning is the reason why consumers settle for low quality restaurant breakfast food.  People in North America are conditioned to accept lousy breakfast food as being the norm.  This mental attitude can be summed up as choosing the lesser of two evils.  This psyche amounts to preferring the breakfast at one restaurant, just because it is not as lousy as the breakfast that is served at the restaurant next door.  Consumers rarely rave about how great breakfast is at a restaurant in this modern age.  This says it all!    

     Why settle for the same old worn out breakfast menu items?  Consumers should not feel like this is normal to do!  Since there are few good breakfast restaurant dining options, the best choice is to not support the breakfast restaurant industry status quo and cook a great breakfast at home.  
     This is why I write so many good breakfast recipes.  I know that a breakfast that is cooked in my home kitchen is better than any breakfast that is offered at any local restaurant.  Not settling for a second class breakfast is the best consumer attitude to have.  Breakfast should be inspirational and it should not be like choosing the lesser of two evils.   

     This entire recipe yields 1 omelette!
     Middle Eastern Spice Stewed Tomato:
     This recipe yields about 2 1/2 to 3 ounces!
     Heat a small sauce pot over medium low heat.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of minced garlic.
     Saute till the garlic turns a golden color.
     Add 1/3 cup of chopped canned whole peeled seeded plum tomato and a proportion of juices from the can.
     Add 1 cup of light chicken broth or vegetable broth.
     Add 1 pinch of cumin.
     Add 1 pinch of coriander.
     Add 1 small pinch of mace.
     Add 1 small pinch of cinnamon.
     Add 1 pinch of ginger powder.
     Add 1 pinch of ground fenugreek.
     Add sea salt and white pepper. 
     Bring the liquid to a gentle simmer.
     Simmer and reduce, till nearly all of the liquid evaporates and only the moist stewed tomato remains.
     Add 1 teaspoon of chopped mint.
     Keep the stewed tomatoes warm on a stove top.

     Turkey Sausage Links:
     Heat a griddle or small sauté pan over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 1 teaspoon of blended olive oil.
     Add 4 breakfast turkey sausage links.
     Grill the sausages till they are fully cooked and lightly browned.
     Keep the sausages warm on a stove top.  

     Asparagus Spears:
     Blanch 4 asparagus spears in boiling salted water, till they are al dente.  (Peel the asparagus if they are thick.  The spears should be about 4" long.)
     Place the asparagus in a dish. 
     Brush them with melted unsalted butter.
     Season with sea salt and white pepper.
     Keep the spears warm on a stove top.   

     Greek Olives and Chèvre Cheese:
     Place 1 or 2 pitted assorted Greek Olives of your choice on a small roasting pan.
     Cut 4 to 5 small cube shape pieces of soft fresh chèvre cheese and place them on the roasting pan.
     Gently warm the cheese and olives in a 300ºF oven for a few minutes.  (Chévre contains no fat, so it will not melt!)
     Keep the olives and fresh goat cheese warm on a stove top.
     Keep the oven warm!

     French Herb Omelette:
     Place 2 large eggs in a mixing bowl.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of lemon juice.
     Add 1 tablespoon of milk.
     Add sea salt and white pepper.
     Add 2 pinches of Herbs de Provence.
     Add 1 teaspoon of minced Italian parsley.
     Add 1 small pinch of tarragon.
     Whisk the ingredients till the eggs are foamy.
     Heat a 6" non-stick sauté pan over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter.
     Add the egg mixture.
     Use a rubber spatula to even the edges of the omelette.
     When the bottom half of the omelette is cooked firm, place the pan in the 300ºF oven.
     Bake for a few minutes, till the eggs are fully cooked.
     Slide the omelette onto a serving plate.
     Keep the oven warm!

     Cuisine Méditerranéenne Melange Omelette:
     Evenly space the 4 asparagus spears on the omelette, so they point out from center.  
     Do the same with the turkey link sausages.
     Mound the stewed tomatoes on the center of the omelette.
     Garnish the tomatoes with the olives and petite chèvre cheese pieces.
     Sprinkle 1 pinch of plain fine French bread crumbs over the eggs and sausages.
     Place the entire omelette plate in the 300º oven.
     Bake for about 45 seconds to 1 minute, so the toppings warm up.
     Remove the plate from the oven.
     Garnish the stewed tomatoes with an Italian parsley sprig.  
     Be sure to tell guests that the plate is warm!

     Flavor, flavor and more flavor!  This omelette has no shortage of great Mediterranean cuisine flavors.  Yum! 

Friday, November 21, 2014

Pompano and Surf Clams en Papillote with Scotch Cilantro Butter Heirloom Orange Amana Tomato ~ Hopi Blue Corn Jack Polenta

     Today's Recipe
     It has been a while since I have followed the Friday night seafood format.  Many cultural and religious traditions around the globe call for no red meats to be served on a Friday night.  A a chef in a restaurant, offering a few special seafood entrees on a Friday night pleases this crowd.
     Pompano en Papillote used to be an item that was reserved only for fine dining restaurants.  Modern fine dining for the most part has gone in a direction that abandons classic style and taste.  Fans of classic high cuisine have been alienated by this fine dining trend.  Consumers that are disappointed with modern fine dining petite portion cuisine trends, now seek simple presentations of classic cuisine at casual French Café style restaurants that market classic cuisine favorites and better dining value.     

     Today's Pompano en Papillote is an example of a classic casual café style presentation, that is designed to satisfy new customers that were possibly disappointed with a recent experience at a fine dining restaurant somewhere else.  A good French café offers entrees that serve this purpose! 

     Fine dining customers, that are disappointed with the lack of fine dining value during a recent restaurant experience, usually seek a casual restaurant that offers better value the next time that they dine out.  When this kind of customer finds skillfully crafted food combined with dining value at a casual restaurant like a French café, customer loyalty is instantly achieved.  
     The customer that was disappointed by a recent fine dining experience does not care to see excess garnishing of an entree, which only serves to drive the menu prices sky high.  The customer does not want to see a large white plate that is 90% empty.  This kind of customer wants dining value, satisfaction and indulgence combined with comfortable simplicity.  This is why disappointed fine dining customers flock to casual French Café restaurants. 

      I worked as a sous chef, saucier and sauté chef de partie in French Café restaurants for many years.  I aggressively managed a list of special du jour menu entrees each day, that were designed to create customer loyalty and to capture new customers.  
     For some reason, I designed some of the special entrees each day, with the sole intention of satisfying fine dining customers that may have been disappointed at fine dining restaurants in the area.  The strategy actually worked.  
     Customers appreciate realistic quality oriented dining value.  A French Café menu combines dining value with high food quality to achieve this ideal. 

     Since most of my French Café cooking experience was in coastal cities near the Gulf of Mexico, I naturally excelled at creating nice café style seafood entrees.  Pompano en Papillote was a classic café style gulf coast customer favorite.  
     There literally is no limit to accompanying flavors that can be applied to a recipe that uses the papillote technique.  The garnishes and compound butter added to the pompano in today's papillote recipe is a good example of this statement.  
      The papillote technique offers room for creative flair, which inspires customer satisfaction.  The creative flair involved with papillote focuses on flavor and aroma.  Scotch whisky butter tastes nice with clams and the aroma is irresistible when applied to papillote.   
     When the paper bag is cut open at the table and the aroma fills the air, the customer's senses are satisfied well beyond expectation.  It is funny how something as simple as cooking a few choice items in a paper bag can create long term customer loyalty.  A nice Pompano en Papillote creation can really impress guests at home too.     

     Highland Breeze Blended Scotch Whisky
     Blended Scotch that sells for a bargain price is the best whisky choice for making recipes.  A cheap Blended Scotch that tastes okay on its own is also a good choice for folks that live on a tight budget.  
     Since I currently am a college student that can barely make ends meet, I figured it would be a good opportunity to explore the realm of bargain price Blended Scotch.  Most cheap Blended Scotch is only worthy of being used as cocktail mixer, as everybody knows, so it is better to focus on where a good bargain price Blended Scotch can fit into the overall scheme of things.
     Since the holiday season is near, hosts can expect guests to raid the liquor cabinet.  There is no use leaving a fine bottle of pricy Scotch out in the open, where guests can pour the expensive contents into a mixed cocktail.  That would be a waste of fine Scotch and money.  Break out the cheap stuff and hide the pricy old bottle of fine Scotch!  

     Highland Breeze is one of the few thrifty priced brands of Blended Scotch that can actually be served on its own.  This blend has gentle characteristics, a mild peat roasted barrel flavor and it has a sweet barley malt finish that novice Scotch fans appreciate.  
     I actually poured a dram of Highland Breeze for a couple of married friends in Vegas, who both happened to be half Scottish.  These folks were very familiar with Scotch Whiskey.  They both complimented the flavor of Highland Breeze.  When I told them the price, they were pleasantly surprised.  
     This is about as good as a thrifty priced Blended Scotch recommendation gets!  Highland Breeze Blended Scotch definitely can be stocked in the holiday season liquor cabinet as a cost reducing measure and guests will not be disappointed with the quality.  Highland Breeze also has flavor that tastes great in gourmet food recipes.  Offering this Blended Scotch to an experienced fine Scotch Whisky enthusiast is not really a wise thing to do, because such a guest would be taken aback.  

     Scotch Cilantro Compound Butter:
     This recipe yields enough for 2 to 3 papillote applications.  (About 3 ounces)
     Place 4 ounces of low priced Blended Scotch Whisky in a sauce pot over medium low heat.
     Add 1 teaspoon of glace viande.  (Dark Meat Glaze)
     Add 2 teaspoons of minced shallot.
     Simmer and reduce the liquid, till the volume of the entire reduction equals less than 1 tablespoon.  
     Set the Scotch reduction aside.
     Place 2 1/2 ounces of softened unsalted butter in a small mixing bowl.
     Add 1 tablespoon of minced cilantro.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of lemon juice.
     Add the reserved Scotch reduction.
     Add 1 pinch of sea salt and white pepper.
     Whisk the ingredients, till the butter is combined.
     Chill the compound butter mixture, till it becomes solid.
     Cut the solid compound butter into 2 or 3 portions.  Keep the portions chilled till they are needed.    

     Sushi Quality Surf Clams Preparation:
     Fresh surf clams are rarely sold at fish markets.  Surf Clams are usually only gathered fresh by local clam diggers in western Canada.  
     Surf Clams for sushi making is the next best option.  Sushi quality surf clams are sold as a packaged frozen product in Asian Food Markets.  The frozen surf clams are already poached, cleaned and trimmed.  This product is very easy to work with and these red tipped clams look nice when used as a fish topping.
     All that needs to be done is to thaw and rinse the frozen surf Clams, shortly before they are needed for a recipe.  About 8 surf clams is enough to garnish 1 portion of Pompano.  

     Pompano Preparation:
     I always purchase whole Pompano and filet it myself.  This reduces food cost dramatically, because Pompano sells for a high price.  Clerks at a fish market will filet Pompano by request, but the price will increase.
     One large whole Pompano will yield 2 boneless filets that weigh about 3 to 4 ounces apiece.  So, 1 whole Pompano equals 1 entree portion. 
     Keep the Pompano Filets chilled till they are needed.    

     Hopi Blue Corn Jack Polenta:
     This recipe yields 2 portions!
     Blue corn meal is popular these days, because it is a healthy food item.  Corn meal polenta that has a mild cheese flavor is a nice accompaniment for seafood.  Blue Corn Meal creates an interesting polenta color.
     Place a sauce pot over medium high heat.
     Add 1 1/4 cups of light chicken broth.
     Add 1 1/2 cups of water.
     Bring the liquid to a boil.
     Add 3/4 cup of corn meal, while constantly stirring with a whisk.
     As soon as the cornmeal starts to thicken the liquid, reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Add 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter.
     Add sea salt and white pepper.
     Add 1 pinch of coriander.
     Add 1 pinch of cumin.
     Slowly simmer and stir, till the cornmeal becomes very soft and thick enough to gather on a spoon. 
     Reduce the temperature to very low heat.
     Add 1/4 cup of grated Monterey Jack Cheese.
     Stir till the polenta combines with the cheese. 
     Adjust the consistency if necessary, by reducing or adding a splash of broth.
     Place the polenta in a star tip pastry bag.  
     Keep the polenta warm in a bain marie or on a stove top.

     Pompano and Surf Clams en Papillote with Scotch Cilantro Butter Heirloom Orange Amana Tomato: 
     This recipe yields 1 entree! 
     If the assembly is done carefully, the clams and tomatoes will be undisturbed an in their original place when the paper bag is cut open after baking.  
     Cut 8 petite Orange Amana Heirloom Tomato wedges that are about the same size as a prepared surf clam.  Set the wedges aside.
     Cut 2 equal size pieces of parchment paper, that are about twice as big as the width and length of the pompano filets.
     Place the pompano filets on the center of one sheet of the parchment paper.
     Arrange 8 surf clams and 8 Orange Amana Tomato wedges on top of the filets, so these items stand tall and look nice.
     Chop 1 portion of the chilled solid Scotch Cilantro Compound Butter into small pieces.
     Sprinkle the butter pieces over the fish and clam topping.
     Sprinkle 1/4 teaspoon of lemon juice over the pompano. 
     Sprinkle 1/2 teaspoon of Scotch Whiskey over the pompano. 
     Place the second sheet of parchment paper sheet over the fish and toppings.
     Fold the edges of the parchment paper to seal the fish inside the parchment paper bag.
     Place the pompano en papillote on a baking pan.
     Bake the pompano en papillote for about 10 to 12 minutes in a 350º oven. 
     Note:  The baking time depends on the size of the pompano.  After the parchment bag puffs up like a balloon in the oven, then it should be done baking and the fish will be steamed from its own juices and the compound butter sauce.  
     Remove the pan from the oven and be prepared to serve this entree quickly, before the aromatic steam cools!   
     Carefully use a spatula to transfer the papillote package to a plate, so the toppings inside are not disturbed.
     Use the pastry bag to pipe a portion of the Hopi Blue Corn Jack Polenta on the plate.
     Place a vegetable of your choice on the plate.  Buttered steamed peeled white asparagus is nice!
     Serve the platter immediately.
     Use a razor sharp knife to cut the papillote open.
     Watch as the guest takes a whiff of the fantastic aroma!    

     Viola!  A gourmet aromatic Pompano en Papillote entree for a Friday night.  Yum!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Strozzapreti e Salsa di Pomodoro

     Strozzapreti ... The Priest Choker Pasta!
     There are a few stories as to how Strozzapreti Pasta got its name.  The moral of each of the stories amounts to a similar meaning.  
     The word Strozzapreti, in its reference to pasta, translates as "Priest Choker or Priest Strangler."  In this modern world of excessive violence in the mass media, it is all too easy to misconstrue the context of the phrase "Priest Strangler."  The meaning of Strozzapreti really has nothing to do with violence.  

     Throughout the history of Italy and Europe, clergy members from nearly any religious order have had times when they ruled over communities in a way that can be compared to a monarch with absolute authority.  In many instances, the clergy members that were civic authority figures actually formed a pact with rulers of kingdoms.  In order to rule a kingdom, religion had to be part of the plan.  
    When religion played a part in ruling citizens in a kingdom, members of the church demanded their piece of the action.  Monks and priests often collected what can be described as taxes from folks living in the kingdom. 

     More often than not, the peasants living in the countryside were not expected to cough up money, gems or precious metals, when paying their societal debt.  If the peasants had any valuables, they were usually well hidden, before tax collectors arrived.  Maintaining a poverty level image was important for subjects of a kingdom to do in the old days.  Most country folk had no false image to keep, because they were dirt poor to begin with, so other means of payment were sought on collection day.
     Since peasants and dirt poor farmers had no valuables that could be used for payment to priests on collection day, food was used as a monetary currency.  Women in poor farm country households prepared food items that could be used as a tax payment.  On collection day, the priests gorged on the peasant food that was taken away.     
     Everybody has heard the anger filled expression, "I hope that he chokes on it!"  This old expression is actually a curse that applies to Strozzapreti Pasta.  Nobody likes to be excessively taxed, especially when they are poor to begin with.  So, way back in the days of feudal existence, peasant housewives designed a pasta shape that was capable of causing a gluttonous tax collecting priest to choke to death.  
     The shape of Strozzapreti Pasta says it all.  This pasta resembles a curtain or a sash that is twisted like a rope, which could be used to choke a priest!  This twisted ribbon pasta can hold plenty of sauce, so it inspires a gluttonous person to consume it in a ravenous manner.  As far as vengeance filled deadly food designs go, Italian Strozzapreti Pasta is ingeniously clever! 
     As one can plainly see, not all Italian food is romantic or compassionate.  Emotion plays a major part in Cucina di Italia.  When angry emotions fill the air, preparing food items that are filled with angst is apropos.  
     Strozzapreti definitely is an angry pasta.  Adding a few pinches of crushed red chile pepper to the sauce adds fuel to the fire.  Strozzapreti Pasta is like vengeful poetry in motion.  This pasta curses those who practice gluttony, with the fate of choking while gorging on food that was confiscated from poor country folk! 

     Salsa di Pomodoro and Sheet Pasta Recipes
     The tomato sauce recipe yields enough sauce for 4 to 5 pasta entree applications!  The pasta dough recipe yields 3 to 4 portions.  
     Follow this link to the Salsa di Pomodoro Recipe and Sheet Pasta Recipe in this website:

     Strozzapreti Pasta Shape:
     About 15 to 20 Strozzapreti is a good single portion.
     Roll a thin gauge sheet of pasta.
     Cut the sheet of pasta into 5" to 6" long ribbons that are about as wide as a finger or thumb.
     Place a pasta ribbon between two clasped hands and gently rub the hands together back and forth, so the ribbon becomes twisted like a chord.  
     Place each Strozzapreti on a sheet pan that is lined with parchment paper.
     Let the Strozzapreti Pasta partially dry in open air for a little while, so it will hold its shape when boiled.

     Strozzapreti e Salsa di Pomodoro:
     This recipe yields 1 serving!
     Boil a pot of salted water over medium high heat.
     Place about 6 ounces of the Salsa di Pomodoro in a wide sauté pan over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 1 or 2 pinches of crushed dried red pepper.  (optional)
     Gently heat the sauce, till it starts to gently boil.
     Reduce the temperature to very low heat.
     Place the Strozzapreti in the boiling water.
     Use a wooden pasta stick to gently stir the pasta for a few seconds, so the pasta does not stick together.
     Boil the Strozzapreti Pasta, till they all float.
     Continue boiling for about 30 seconds more, so the thick pasta shapes are thoroughly cooked.
     Use a long handle pasta net to gather the pasta out of the hot water.  Be sure to allow the excess water to drain off of the pasta.
     Add the pasta to the sauce.
     Toss the sauce and pasta together.

     Mound the Strozzapreti e Salsa di Pomodoro on the center of a plate.
     Drizzle 1 or 2 tablespoons of virgin olive oil over the pasta and onto the plate.
     Sprinkle a pinch od crushed dried red pepper over the pasta.  (optional)
     Sprinkle a few pinches of fienely grated Parmigiana Cheese over the pasta.
     Sprinkle 2 pinches of finely chopped curly leaf parsley over the pasta.
     Garnish with a curly leaf pasta sprig.

     Strozzapreti Pasta e Salsa di Pomodoro with a vengeance!  Ciao Baby!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Whiskied Indiana Persimmon Pudding ~ Taltree Arboretum & Gardens, Indiana!

     English Style Pudding
     There are many different kinds of pudding in this world.  Rice puddings and grain puddings are popular nearly everywhere.  Maize puddings are an ancient western world tradition.  Custard puddings and tapioca puddings are a modern favorite in North American and Asia.  Bread puddings and custard gratin bread puddings are a favorite in Europe and America.  
     Traditional puddings of the British Isles are kind of in a class of their own.  English pudding is kind of a custard pudding that has the characteristics of a dense rich moist bread.  Many Americans have never knowingly experienced English Pudding, because this style of pudding has a different name in this country.  Old traditional American fruitcake recipes from the colonial age are made like a baked, stirred, heavy English Pudding.  

     English style puddings were a commonplace item during the early American colonial age.  The original fruitcakes from the 1500's and 1600's were made with a heavy fruit, milk and egg batter, just like English Pudding.  Later in history, a moderately heavy cake batter replaced the rich pudding batter in most fruitcake recipes.  

     My own family has been in the Americas ever since my long lost English relatives were placed in charge of colonies in the mid 1500's.  Oddly enough, my family's old fruitcake recipe from the colonial days is made exactly like an English pudding.  The family fruitcake is heavy and rich tasting beyond belief.  A soft fruit puree is part of fruitcake pudding batter recipe.  
     My grandmother was really big on keeping the fruitcake recipe a secret for some reason.  Over the years, I figured out the old colonial family fruitcake recipe.  Part of the insight came from making today's version of Indiana Persimmon Pudding.  The Persimmon Pudding tastes exactly like the rich cake portion of the old family fruitcake recipe.  Native Persimmons were available in the colonies that my family occupied, so the missing link in my grandmother's secret fruitcake recipe came to light.   
     Sometime before the Christmas holiday season, I will whip up one of these old traditional Colonial American fruitcakes and publish the recipe.  When compared to the dreaded "door stopper fruitcakes" that are marketed at grocery stores, the difference can easily be noticed.  
     For one thing, the old colonial fruitcake was soaked with wine and brandy for nearly a week before serving.  Fresh fruit, dried fruit, candied fruit and a variety of nuts are part of the recipe.  When combined with an English style baked, stirred, fruit pudding batter, the result is a heavy rich tasting cake that offers a sweet spice flavor that can be savored for many hours.          

     Whiskied Indian Persimmon Pudding For Thanksgiving!
     Persimmon Pudding is an old traditional American Thanksgiving and Christmas dessert.  This is because harvested persimmons ripen at nearly the same time that these holidays pop up on the calendar.  
     Indiana is persimmon tree haven.  There are many great traditional Indiana Persimmon Pudding recipes available in book form and the internet.  There are many slight recipe variation options that include minor changes, like the addition of cream or certain spices.  
     Overall, the basic ingredients are nearly the same in every persimmon pudding recipe.  The persimmon pudding batter proportions are almost the same as an English fruit pudding batter.  The addition of butter is the same.  The technique of baking and stirring, till the pudding becomes caramelized and brown is the same. 
     Traditional Indiana Persimmon Pudding is never made with Scotch Whisky, Bourbon or Brandy, but these liquors can add a nice complimentary flavor.  It takes a substantial amount of whisky to flavor a persimmon pudding, so replacing the milk with cream is necessary, so the whisky does not thin the rich pudding batter.  

     Some traditional persimmon pudding recipes require no spices.  Others are heavily spiced.  A small amount of winter dessert spices goes a long way in today's recipe, because the heavy nature of the persimmon pudding batter seems to amplify the spice flavor.  It is important to go light when adding spices, or the persimmon flavor will be overwhelmed.  
     The classic choice of persimmon is a varietal that is native to the Americas.  For a richer sweeter persimmon pudding, mixing 1 large Asian Persimmon with 2 American persimmons creates a deeper persimmon flavor. 
     Persimmons take time to ripen.  A few days ago, I posted a sideline article that mentioned something about ripening persimmons about 10 days to 2 weeks before Thanksgiving.  The fastest way to ripen persimmons is to place them in a refrigerator.  Persimmons will never ripen quickly at room temperature.

     Cluny Blended Scotch Whisky
     Scotch Whisky purists, rarely will take a sip of Blended Scotch Whiskey, even though in all truth, the Scotch blender's art is highly respected.  
     Of course, some Blended Scotch is better than others.  Premium quality Blended Scotch does command a high price.  A good Blended Scotch appeals to those who prefer a refined, smooth Scotch Whisky flavor that is similar to a good Irish Whiskey. 

     For those who wonder why there is no letter "E" in the Scotch Whisky spelling, the first modern translated word for this liquor originated in Scotland.  After the whisky making process was introduced to Ireland, the Irish added the letter "E" because this letter simply comes before the letter "Y" in their own language.  
     How the name of this liquor is spelt, does differentiate the two liquors.  The Scottish use the word "whisky" and all other types of this liquor are called "whiskey" by Scottish traditionalists.  
     How the word whiskey is spelled in America does not always refer to the distilling heritage.  There are many American Whiskeys and Bourbons that were created by Scottish distillers that are spelled with an "E," while some are spelt the same as the Scottish word.  Either way, American Whiskey  and Bourbon uses no peat in the whiskey making process, so the Scottish spelling is not really appropriate.     

     To be a Scotch Whisky, the barley malt and barrels have to be roasted with burning peat.  Peat plays an important part in the characteristic flavor of Scotch, but there are many other factors.  
     Highland Scotch tends to have more of a dry bite, while lowland Scotch can be somewhat malty witch a gentler bite.  Whisky from an area like Speyside, Scotland, can be malty with a slightly sweet finish.  Every region in Scotland produces its own signature whisky flavor characteristics.  

     There are at least 100 flavor nuances of Scotch that a master blender has to take into account, when crafting a Blended Scotch.  For the most part, all Blended Scotch was originally created to suit the milder taste preferences of the English and those living abroad.  Basically, Straight Scotch Whisky is for the locals and connoisseurs.  Blended Scotch is for export or tourists that prefer a mellow flavor. 
     When using Scotch in a recipe, selecting a good cheap Blended Scotch is the only choice.  Cooking with a premium Scotch would be a tremendous waste of fine whisky and money. 

     For desserts, a cheap Blended Scotch that has some peat roasted barrel flavor with a sweet malty finish is best.  Cluny Blended Scotch Whisky is a good choice for desserts, because it has a sweet finish.  Cluny Blended Scotch sells for a very low price.  It a bit tough on the old taste buds on its own, but it is a good choice of Blended Scotch for mixed cocktail making.  No bartender uses top shelf Scotch to make mixed drinks, because this would be considered to be a mortal sin.  

     College students like myself do not exactly live on a lavish budget, so students like myself usually end up exploring the world of bargain price liquor.  Honestly, some of the lowest price liquor actually is pretty good quality, but most really cannot be sipped on their own.  
     After recently chatting with a whisky expert, we both agreed that the price and quality of whisky are relative to the geographic location.  In America, a cheap Kentucky Bourbon is much higher in quality than the caliber of a cheap Scotch.  In Scotland, the opposite is true. 

     To make a long story short, this will be no surprise to Scotch enthusiasts.  Cluny Blended Scotch Whisky is a very good Scotch for dessert recipes and it is a good choice for a cocktail mixer.  Serving this Scotch on its own will not really impress snobbish guests, so it is best to use this bargain price Blended Scotch for applications that are best suited for its nature.  This is a fair recommendation in light of the bargain price.   

     Scenic Indiana
     I have been saving an Indiana photo album for some kind of an Indiana recipe article for a long time.  Finally I got a chance to put the Indiana photos into play.  Most of the photos were taken while I was living in Indian for two years, before returning to Las Vegas to continue my college education.  I worked as a technician at Illinois and Indiana steel mills in the East Chicago area, so several points of interest in Northwest Indiana are featured.  
     Many folks avoid East Chicago and Gary Indiana like the plague, because this is a high crime area.  I can agree, because my own apartment in this area was broken into three times in two years.  Apparently some foreigner living downstairs was pretty good at picking locks.  Burglars like this do have a way of ending up being subject to victims that take the law into their own hands sooner or later.  This is kind of how codes of justice go in depressed urban areas, because the police are overwhelmed with cases. 
    Anyway, I made the best of things while living in Northeast Indiana.  Getting out of the city and going on a drive through open farm country always spelled relief.  This region is loaded with historic sights and interesting state parks that are off the beaten path.  
     Once a traveler gets into Indiana farm country, good old fashioned small town midwestern American values and lifestyles can be found.  This is where the land of roadside farmers markets, great local diner restaurants and homemade pies can be found. 
     A few pictures of an East Chicago, Lake Michigan, seagull nesting colony are pictured.  A winter season decoration in the Horseshoe Riverboat Casino can be seen.  Most of the photos feature the Taltree Arboretum & Gardens, which is located at 450 West 100 North, Valparaiso, Indiana.  
     Taltree is a vast environmental conservation area that features acres of lush gardens.  Miniature Railroad Model enthusiasts from all over the world visit Taltree, just to see the unique Railroad Garden Exhibit.  The miniature railroad exhibit depicts the history of early American railroad transportation and industrial applications.  Several tracks have electric model trains running through realistic terrain at the same time.  The design of this exhibit was masterfully crafted and it is very complex.  
     Model train hobbyists from America, Canada, Germany, Eastern Europe, Great Britain and Japan gather to watch these trains for hours on end.  I shot nearly 400 photos and still did not completely cover the entire model railroad exhibit.  
     The Taltree Model railroad exhibit is well worth the price of admission.  Hours can be spent wondering how this miniature railroad was built.  This exhibit inspires many stories of railroad history that can be related to children.  Children that have a knack for hobbies become so enrapt, that they are inspired to pursue miniature railroad modeling skills.  
     Miniature model railroading is a traditional adult hobby that rarely is featured in the limelight these days, like so many other wholesome traditions.  Even so, places like Taltree help to keep this hobby alive, so model railroading continues into the future.   
     The Taltree Model Railroad Exhibit is supported by donations, so when visiting, be sure to help out the cause.  Continuing model railroading heritage certainly is a better option than allowing another great hobby tradition slip into the forgotten past.  For more information, follow this link:
     • Taltree Aboretum & Gardens     

     Persimmon Preparation:
     About 1 1/4 cups of persimmon puree is needed for today's recipe.  2 American Persimmons plus 1 Asian Persimmon will yield about 1 1/4 cups of pulp puree.  
     The persimmons have to be ripe, juicy and soft.  Hard persimmons will ripen in less than 2 weeks when refrigerated.  A persimmon is ripe when the skin starts to split open.  
     The easiest way to prepare persimmons is to boil the whole ripe persimmons over high heat for about 3 minutes.  Cool the persimmons in cold water.  Then squeeze the pulp out of the skin into a mixing bowl.  The skin and the stem bulb are discarded.  
     After the pulp is gathered, use a blender, food processor or blending wand to puree the persimmon fruit pulp.
     Be sure to measure the amount of persimmon pulp puree.  Any extra puree can be saved for other recipes or the volume of the rest of the recipe ingredients can be adjusted in proportion to the total amount of persimmon pulp puree.                  

     Whiskied Indiana Persimmon Pudding:
     This recipe yields 5 to 8 portions of Persimmon Pudding, depending on the serving size!
     Persimmon pudding is notoriously heavy.  Portions can be cut small and they still will be very filling.  Each molded persimmon pudding in the pictures above is actually a double portion for two guests! 
     Persimmon pudding has to be baked in a bain marie (baked in a dish that is placed in a water bath).  
     Persimmon pudding has to be stirred once every 15 minutes while it bakes.  It takes nearly 2 hours for persimmon pudding to finish baking, so this recipe requires a timer and some devoted cooking skills.  One simply cannot get too far away from the oven when baking persimmon pudding!  
     Ad first, stirring the pudding is like stirring a custard.  After about 30 minutes, it is like stirring a wet cake.  After about an hour, it is like stirring a dense damp crumbly cake.  Finally the caky pudding browns and the task is finished.  This English style pudding making technique is not familiar for most cooks, so explaining the nature of the process helps to keep first second guessing to a minimum on a first attempt.  
     A persimmon pudding is not finished baking, till it becomes a rich brown color.  After the entire batch is browned, it can be spooned into individual portion molds, double portion size molds or one large casserole dish mold.  The pudding should only be lightly pressed into the mold, or it will be so dense that only a couple of bites will cause guests to feel stuffed.
     Persimmon pudding takes so long to bake that the whisky really does not need to be denatured, before it is combined with the rest of the ingredients.  The alcohol will evaporate in the oven.
     Step 1:  
     Measure 2 cups of all purpose flour.  
     Add 1 teaspoon of baking soda.
     Sift the ingredients into a container and set it aside.
     Step 2:
     Heat a sauce pot over medium low heat.
     Add 1 1/2 cups of cream. 
     Add 1 cup of Blended Scotch Whisky.
     Add 1/4 cup of whole milk.
     Heat the liquid till it becomes warm.  (About 120ºF)
     Remove the pot from the heat.
     Add 1 pinch of ground clove.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of ground ginger.
     Add 1 pinch of allspice.
     Add 1 pinch of cinnamon. 
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract.
     Set the Whiskey Cream aside.
     Step 3:
     Place 1 1/4 cups of persimmon pulp puree in a mixing bowl.
     Add 1 large egg.
     Add 1/4 cup of granulated sugar.
     Add 1/4 cup of light brown sugar. 
     Stir with a whisk, till the ingredients are blended.
     Step 4:
     Alternate adding equal amounts of the Whisky Cream Mixture and the Flour, while constantly stirring with a whisk, till all the ingredients are combined.  The pudding mixture should look like a pale orange color heavy cake batter.    
     Step 5:
     Brush a large wide ceramic casserole baking dish with melted unsalted butter.
     Pour the persimmon pudding batter in the baking dish.  The batter level should be about 2" deep. 
     Cut 1 ounce of chilled unsalted butter into small pieces.
     Scatter the butter pieces on top of the pudding. 
     Place the baking dish in a roasting pan.
     Add enough water to the roasting pan, so the water is about 2" up the sides of the pudding casserole dish.  
     Step 6:
     Bake in a 350º oven.  
     Set a timer for 15 minutes.
     Remove the pudding from the oven once every 15 minutes and stir the pudding.  Just a few stirs with a small spoon to break up the clumps is plenty.  
     Bake for about 2 hours, till the entire pudding becomes a medium brown color.  
     Step 7:
     Lightly brush a large serving pudding mold or several small portion molds with unsalted butter.
     Spoon the persimmon pudding into the molds.
     Lightly press the pudding into the molds.  
     Allow the pudding to cool to room temperature.
     Serve immediately or cover each pudding and chill for later use.  
     The pudding has to be allowed to warm to room temperature before it is served.  Chilled persimmon pudding is just to dense and heavy to be fun.  Persimmon pudding can also be warmed to about 135ºF if it is served plain.  

     The persimmon pudding at the top of the page was garnished with Whisked Crème Fraiche, Lemon Gelee and Cherry Moonshine Syrup.  Lemon sauce of any kind is a classic choice for persimmon pudding.  

     Lemon Gelee Sauce:
     Making a clear lemon jelly sauce with 1 part apple pectin, 3 parts sugar and 4 parts diluted lemon juice is as easy as simmering the three ingredients in a pan till they thicken to a thin syrup consistency.  This lemon gelee can be pour over a pudding like a clear gelatin glaze.

     Cherry Moonshine Syrup:
     Cherry Moonshine syrup can be made by simmering 1 part cherry moonshine and 2 parts sugar, till it reduces to a syrup consistency.

     Marischino cherries or moonshine cherries are both good for decorating a persimmon pudding presentation. 

     Glacage Blanc:
     Glacage Blanc is made by whisking 1 egg white with powdered sugar at room temperature.  
     About a 1 1/2 cups of powdered sugar to 1 egg white will produce a thin glacage that barely coats a pudding and it is more like a sauce.  The dome shaped pudding example above was covered with thin glacage blanc and cherry moonshine syrup was streamed over the glacage to create an interesting effect. 

     A thick glacage blanc requires 3 to 4 cups of powdered sugar per egg white.  The sugar must be slowly added while whisking, till the glacage becomes a consistency that can easily coat whatever it is poured over.  
     It is best to place a chilled pudding on a wire screen roasting rack that is on a drip pan, pour the thick glacage over the pudding, then place it all in a refrigerator till the glacage sets.  A spatula can be used to transfer the glacage coated pudding to a plate.  This method was used to make the heart shaped pudding in the photos above.

     Red food coloring or cherry juice can be used to give glacage blanc a pink or red color.  The addition of liquid may require more powdered sugar to be added.
     Maraschino cherry juice or rose water are both nice flavors for a pink color glacage.  I used rose water the flavor the pink heart shaped pudding.  

     *Basically, persimmon pudding can be decorated with just about anything.  Making a creative nice looking presentation always impresses guests.  A little bit of extra effort goes a long way!