Friday, October 9, 2009

Summer's Last Gasp

Knowing full-well that fall in Denver could easily mean a foot of snow covering my lawn, we had a guest over alfresco to celebrate the last few days of Colorado summer. I also wanted to share some of my favorite flavors from Chef Eve Aronoff, talented owner of Ann Arbor’s eve.

I wrote a story about Eve for Edible WOW magazine last year, and instantly became smitten with her surprising mix of global flavors and classical French technique, all lavished on the very best of what is seasonal and local. Eve is a lovely person as well; warm, humble, but absolutely driven and meticulous in her craft. She was also a contestant on this season of Bravo’s Top Chef, and though she was eliminated early in the season, the fact that she earned a spot on the show in the first place speaks greatly to her talent.

For this last meal of summer, I served some tasty country-style ribs, rubbed with Eve’s chili mélange (a spice mix) and then braised in a cast iron skillet on the grill (too hot to have the oven on inside). With no time for a grocery run that day, I improvised using only the ingredients in my fridge and pantry, so I rubbed the ribs with the spice mélange, let them sit for a couple of hours, and then used Dr. Pepper and a sliced onion as the braising liquid. That’s right—Dr. Pepper. Don’t knock it till you try it. These ribs turned out tender and spicy-sweet, with minimal effort and expense.

The ribs were served with a simple Caprese salad using tomatoes and basil from the garden. And for dessert, I made Eve’s luscious Pots-de-crème, which is about as velvety and melt-in-your-mouth as chocolate can get. Best of all, each person gets their own portion of Brown Sugar Cream to accompany the cup of chocolate. My husband endearingly describes this dish as “being threatened by chocolate,” which means it’s perfect. It was also gluten-free, as required for our guest that evening. (And hey, if you’re going gluten-free, Pots-de-crème is a hell of a way to go.)

(from Eve: contemporary cuisine- methode traditionelle by Eve Aronoff, 2006, Huron River Press)

(Serves 6)

(Note: the cookbook specifies the brands of chocolate used; I used the same types and percentages of chocolate, but not the same brands)

6 ounces Callebaut semi-sweet chocolate
4 ounces Cuizel 72% dark chocolate
2 ounces El Ray 41% milk chocolate
1 ¾ cup half and half
6 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon instant espresso (The restaurant uses Medaglia d’oro brand; I did too.)
Pinch of kosher salt
7 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla

Brown Sugar Cream (recipe follows)

1. Chop chocolate.
2. Bring half and half and sugar to just below a simmer in a medium, heavy
bottomed saucepan. Add chocolate, and whisk until smooth.
3. Add espresso and kosher salt.
4. Whisk yolks just to combine being careful not to over-mix.
5. Ladle chocolate mix into yolks, beating on low- just to incorporate and being careful not to over-mix.
6. Stir in vanilla.
7. Pour through strainer into pitcher, and divide equally into 6 small cups.
8. Chill until set, about 4 hours.
9. Garnish with a dollop of Brown Sugar Cream and an additional cupful of Brown Sugar Cream on the side so you can alternate bites.

Brown Sugar Cream
(makes 4 cups)

1 pint heavy whipping cream
¼ cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 tablespoons sour cream

1. Whip cream with whisk in mixing bowl or electric mixer until slightly thickened.
2. Add brown sugar, continue to whip. When still peaks form, add vanilla and sour cream.


Kim said...

This sounds so yummy - it's definitely my favorite dessert at Eve! Looks like you had a lovely evening. ;)

Lorin Core said...

I have no idea how many times I've made this and whoa heavens, it is always amazing!