Monday, July 25, 2011

The Shores' Dark Chocolate Ganache and Friends

 Azure at The Shores

Our wine dinner at Azure in The Shores Resort & Spa, Daytona Beach Shores, Florida, presented superbly simple grilled courses perfect to a hot summer evening. Dessert, however, was an incredibly complicated, multi-part creation that sounded doomed to failure but tasted divine.

Alas, I have no photo and it's still a mystery how these disparate parts came together, but Chef Michael Archer's talented team turned out a tour de force of flavors that somehow worked and ended the meal with an indelibly sweet memory.

The title's a marathon, the calorie and carb levels are off the charts and the preparation of so many parts might be tedious but believe me, the result is worth it. If the parts are too daunting, the ganache and the frozen custard will sufficiently wow your guests.

Dark Chocolate Ganache, Mint & White Chocolate Frozen Custard, Hazelnut Toffee, Butter Cookie, Citrus Foam

Dark Chocolate Ganache
2 lbs. dark chocolate coins
8 oz. heavy cream

Bring cream to a boil, pour over chocolate coins and mix until smooth.
Line a small terrine dish with plastic film, pour mixture in and chill until solid. Cut as desired.

Mint & White Chocolate Frozen Custard
2 qts. heavy cream
1 cup Creme de Menthe
3 oz. fresh mint, chopped
2 egg yolks
2 oz. granulated sugar
1/2 cup white chocolate, melted
2 oz. peppermint candies, crushed

In a large saucepan heat creme de menthe until it reduces to a syrup. Add cream and mint and scald.

In a large mixing bowl, combine egg yolks and sugar. Temper in the cream until finally incorporated.

Return egg and cream mixture to saucepan and cook on low heat, stirring constantly, until thick. Remove from heat and cool overnight.

Pour custard into a running ice cream maker and run for 30 minutes. In the last five minutes drizzle in white chocolate and crushed peppermint candies. Allow to set up overnight in freezer before serving.

Hazelnut Toffee
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup butter
1 1/2 cups chopped hazelnuts
2 TBS light corn syrup

In a small saucepan pver medium heat combine sugar, butter, hazelnuts and syrup. Bring to a boil, stirring to blend as the butter melts. Heat mixture to 250-260 degrees.

Pour mixture into a greased baking sheet and cool. Crumble for service.

Citrus Foam
1/2 cup orange juice
1/2 cup grapefruit juice
1 egg white

Combine all ingredients and beat with a hand blender until a foam forms on top. Scoop foam onto dish.

Butter Cookies
1 lb. 8 oz. butter, soft
6 oz. confectioners sugar
12 oz. granulated sugar
6 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 lbs 4 oz. cake flour

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Using stand mixer, cream butter and granulated sugar until flufy. Add confectioners sugar and continue mixing.

Add eggs one at a time until incorporated. Add vanilla extract and continue mixing.

Add flour until completely combined.

Place cookie dough into a piping bag with a plain tube tip. Pipe quarter-size onto a greased baking sheet. Bake for 5-10 minutes.

To serve, place small slice of ganache on a plate and add a scoop of the frozen custard. Sprinkle around toffee, topping the ganache with a dab of foam and adding a cookie.

Paired nicely with Benziger Cabernet Sauvignon.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Grilled Swordfish with Blood Orange and Thai Basil Salad and Roasted Summer Vegetable Couscous

The main course of June's Wine Dinner in Azure at The Shores Resort & Spa, Daytona Beach Shores, FL, was a grilled swordfish steak that proved the finest ingredients cooked simply are always best.  Especially for a hot weather meal.

We gave kudos to Executive Chef Michael Archer and your guests will give kudos to you when you serve this simply smashing entree.

Grilled Swordfish with Blood Orange and Thai Basil Salad
 Four servings

4 7-oz swordfish steaks
2 TBS olive oil
3 blood oranges, peeled and sectioned
3 oz. Merlot
1/2 small red onion, julienned
1 oz. Thai basil (do not substitute Italian basil, the taste is very different), chiffonade
Salt and pepper to taste

Season swordfish steaks with salt and pepper and rub with 1 TBS of the olive oil. Grill to desired doneness (Remember, the fish is aleady dead!).

Pile Thai basil leaves together and slice into strips (that's chiffonade).

Combine blood orange sections, red onion and Thai basil. Toss with Merlot and remaining olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.

Roasted Summer Vegetable Couscous
6 qts. water
2 cups Israeli couscous (again, don't substitute another kind of couscous)
2 ears of corn, grilled, kernels removed
1 zucchini, small dice
2 carrots, peeled, small dice
1 yellow squash, small dice
2 red bell peppers, small dice
2 TBS. olive oil
Salt and pepper

Add water to large pot and bring to a boil. Add couscous and cook until al dente. Strain couscous and hold for later.

Combine zucchini, carrots, yellow squash and red bell pepper in a bowl and toss with olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Spread vegetables onto a baking sheet and roast in a 350-degree oven for seven minutes.

In a large saute pan, heat remaining olive oil and add corn and roasted vegetables. Saute for one minute and add couscous. Saute together until couscous is heated through. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

To serve: Nestle swordfish steaks with couscous, top with blood orange salad and serve.

Pair with Benziger Merlot.

To read my report on The Shores Resort & Spa, go to, the July 11 post.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Peach and Fennel Brochette a la The Shores

Wine dinners can be a whole lot of nothing or memorable.

A recent wine dinner at Azure, the restaurant at The Shores Resort & Spa in Daytona Beach Shores, Florida, hit the memorable class from the arrival of a huge puff of Rosemary Bread and the Grilled Fennel & Peach Brochette with Benziger Sauvignon Blanc to the finale of Dark Chocolate Ganache, Mint & White Chocolate Frozen Custard, Hazelnut Toffee, Butter Cookie and Citrus Foam with Benziger Cabernet Sauvignon.

Executive Chef Michael Archer was generous and shared recipes with us so you can have a memorable grilled summer feast. I'll be posting them weekly. Let's start with Grilled Fennel & Peach Brochette, a surprisingly good combination of flavors.

The Shores' Grilled Fennel & Peach Brochette

2 fennel bulbs, well trimmed
4 peaches, peeled
2 cups sauvignon blanc
2 oz. olive oil
1 tsp. garlic, minced
1 TBS. salt
1 tsp. cracked black pepper

Combine sauvignon blanc, oil, garlic, salt and pepper in a medium mixing bowl and hold as marinade.
Cut the fennel into quarters and remove the rot core. Cut the remaining fennel into roughly 1 1/2-inch pieces and add to marinade.
Remove pits from peaches and cut into quarters.
Place fennel and peaches, alternating, onto skewers (if wooden, soak overnight)
Grill brochettes until fennel is soft. Drizzle with the marinade and serve.

This paired nicely with a Benziger Sauvignon Blanc.

To read more about The Shores Resort & Spa and their wine dinners, go to my other blog, Travel on the Level.

NOTE: Next week, Char-Grilled Atlantic Swordfish with Blood Orange and Thai Basil Salas and Roasted Summer Vegetable Couscous.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Texas Hill Country Strawberry Dessert Pizza

You don't have to be patriotic to appreciate this colorful dessert featured on the Texas Hill Country Facebook page.

Texas Hill Country Strawberry Dessert Pizza

1 - 16 oz package refrigerated cookie dough
2 - 8 oz package cream cheese, softened
2/3  cup sugar
1 - 16 oz container fresh strawberries, halved
1 - 13 oz container strawberry glaze (I use Marzetti's)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut cookie dough into 1/4 inch slices and arrange on a lightly greased 14 - 15 inch pizza pan. You can also layer foil over the pizza pan for easy cookie removal. Press the cookie dough pieces together to form a pizza crust. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 15-18 minutes or until the cookie dough is cooked and golden brown. Let cookie crust cool completely.

Beat cream cheese and sugar together until smooth and creamy. Spread cream cheese mixture over cooled crust to within 1/2-inch from the cookie edge. Spread the strawberry glaze over the cream cheese mixture and top with strawberry halves. Serve immediately. Or, cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Store leftovers in refrigerator.

Leftovers? You've gotta be kidding.