Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Flavorful memories: Margaritas and Peanut Brittle

When a man is as sweet as his famous peanut brittle and as full of zest as his margaritas, saying final goodbyes are not easy. The services for the late Dan V. Unger III, were neither easy not ordinary yet every one who attended them and the reception that followed at Deerwood Country Club went home with happy memories, tears of laughter and a bit of Dan forever - recipes for his brittle and margaritas.

His wife of 57 years, Darleen, his brothers, sister, son, daughter, grandchildren, golf buddies and friends guaranteed it through photos and Dan stories not to mention slices of his favorite carrot cake, peanut brittle and bottomless margaritas.

Here are Dan's recipes. You will have to add your own joie de vivre.

Dan's Margarita Recipe
(by the pitcher)

6 oz. (one can) frozen limeade
6 oz. (1 can) tequila
3 oz. (1/2 can) triple sec

Fill blender with ice, add all ingredients and blend. Salt glass rims and enjoy.

Dan's Peanut Brittle 
(for personal use only, family retains all rights for commercial utilization)
1 cup corn syrup
1 cup sugar
1 TBS. butter
3/4 tsp. salt
dash of vanilla
16 oz bag redskin raw peanuts
1 tsp. baking soda

Combine all but peanuts and baking soda and cook over medium heat until sugar dissolves.
Add peanuts, and stir hard to crack.
Remove from heat and add 1 tsp. baking soda.
Spread on greased foil to cool.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

A sweet tart for your sweetheart

I came to know Liz Van Hooser when she was the food writer for The Florida Times-Union and I was the society editor, arts and travel writer. She now lives in Missouri and blogs for Community Kitchen. This is a recipe she promised her Florida friends after she first made it.

Here's her blog and the recipe.

Berry Tart
 Rum-infused whipped cream puts this dessert over the top. Those dark shavings on the cream are vanilla bean seeds, which smell and taste divine.

Ever since I met my fiancĂ©, Joe, I’ve been hearing about his coveted, secret blackberry patches. This past summer, enduring the yin to winter’s yang in the form of oppressive heat and humidity, Joe went berry picking on four occasions, with each trip yielding a large bucket of berries.

Last summer, we had them in a cobbler, on cheesecake and over vanilla ice cream. Joe’s mom made a batch of blackberry jelly, the spoils of which we’re still enjoying. But there are only so many of them you can eat, and a half-dozen quart bags were pushed into the nether regions of our freezer.

With visions of blue skies and warmer days, last week I decided to make a berry tart. In my quest to acquire more kitchen accessories than I can fit in my kitchen, I have a rarely used tart pan. If you don’t have one, though, the recipe below will work just fine in a deep-dish pie pan.

In this recipe, you cook the crust completely before adding the filling. The berry mixture is a simple blend of berries, sugar, lemon juice, lemon zest and cornstarch. Although the tart would be fine at this point, the dish becomes a truly memorable dessert when topped with rum-infused whipped cream.

If you’re dreaming of spring picnics and summer barbeques like me, I recommend this simple dessert. You can use any mix of berries, and I’m willing to bet your sweetheart would like it, too. Enjoy!


For the tart pastry:
1/2 cup butter, at room temperature

3 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature

2 tablespoons sugar

Zest from ½ lemon

1 teaspoon orange zest

1 cup all-purpose flour, sifted

In a large bowl, using a large wooden spoon, stir together the butter, cream cheese sugar, lemon zest and orange zest until smooth and blended, about two minutes. Add the flour and continue stirring until a soft dough forms.

Transfer dough to a work surface, and shape into a thick disk. Wrap disk in plastic wrap, and place in refrigerator (or outside) for 45 minutes or until dough is cool and firm.

Lightly dust a work surface, and roll out dough until you have a slightly bigger circle than your baking pan. Turn dough often, and apply flour to prevent sticking. Carefully roll dough around rolling pin and unfurl over pan. Lift edges and ease dough in so it touches the bottom of the center first, then smoosh into the rest of your pan. Fold overhanging dough back over itself, and press into sides of pan.

Place crust in freezer (or outside) for about 30 minutes, or until frozen. At this time, preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Line frozen dough with foil, and fill with dry beans. Bake 15 minutes. Remove foil and beans, and finish baking the crust until golden brown, about 10 minutes. Allow crust to cool completely before adding berries.

For the filling:

6 cups berries

1 cup sugar

Juice from ¼ lemon

Zest from ½ lemon

Shake or two of nutmeg (optional)

4 tablespoons cornstarch dissolved in 4 tablespoons cold water

In a large stockpot, combine all ingredients and bring to a boil. Mixture will thicken. If too thin, add more cornstarch. Remove pot from burner, and allow filling to rest until warm. Spoon mixture into crust.

For the topping:

½ pint heavy whipping cream (the smallest one)

1 tablespoon sugar

1 teaspoon dark rum

With an electric mixer (or a very strong hand), mix cream and sugar and cream vigorously, until soft peaks form. On low, add in rum and mix until incorporated.

— Adapted from “Williams-Sonoma’s Essentials of Baking” and “The Complete Book of Pies” by Julie Hasson.

Thanks, Liz. I owe you one.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Marinated Olives Dali Style

Salvador Dali was a Spanish original so you wouldn't expect any ordinary embellishment to dishes served in the Gala Cafe at the new Dali Museum in St. Petersburg, FL.

Restaurateur Steve Westphal and Chef Tyson Grant did not disappoint. These are some of the best marinated olives I've tasted.

Marinated Spanish Queen Olives

1 gallon Queen olives
2 cups extra virgin olive oil
1 TBS. crushed red pepper
2 TBS. fresh thyme, chopped
2 TBS. fresh rosemary, chopped
1 TBS. lemon zest
1 TBS. minced garlic

Drain and dry the olives from the brine they come in.
Mix all other ingredients, add the olives and marinate overnight.

Add these to your Super Bowl menu and watch them disappear.