Week 37: Mystery Ingredients – White Peach, Sweet Corn, Basil & Mascarpone Pizza with a Blackberry Gastrique

For this week’s challenge, I failed to internalize the instructions properly. Having never seen the two shows cited as examples, Chopped and Master Chef, my mind went to the one “mystery ingredient” show I was familiar with: Iron Chef. Thus, I told my chooser to pick just one ingredient for me to build my flavor profile from. He chose white peaches.

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When asked why he chose white peaches when I had taken him to a grocery store cherished for their diverse produce section, he responded, “Dragon fruit? Too showy. Star fruit? What the fuck is that anyway? There is no season for love, Victoria, but there is for peaches.” How could I argue with that? Peaches it is.

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To complement the summery sentiment established in the choice of mystery ingredient, I decided to make a blackberry gastrique, a trick I picked up in a previous challenge pizza, and charred sweet corn.

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The white corn was a delightfully subtle addition.

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The whole of the ingredients included a shredded mozzarella base with a couple additions of mascarpone.

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The pie was finished with chiffonade basil leaves and almond slivers.

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The choice of wine was not showcasing the same level of sweet summer flavors as the pizza but still offered some refreshing qualities to the experience. Overall, a moderately sweeter style of Chenin Blanc would have been preferred but this pairing wasn’t a complete failure as the whole of the evening was quite enjoyable with many thanks to the tasty components involved.

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Week 14: Food in Disguise – Strawberry Jam & Whipped Mascarpone “Margherita Pizza” crepe

To contribute to the pile of tricks compiled for April Fool’s this week, I created a strawberry jam & mascarpone crepe, which is designed to break hearts by looking like a savory pizza pie.

Working from a basic Alton Brown recipe for crepe batter, I started by creating the batter so it had the minimal few hours of rest to ensure a delicate texture.

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While the batter rested in the refrigerator, I went to work on making a fresh strawberry jam.

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The strawberries were admittedly not fresh but their ultimate demise as a quickie jam experiment was a far better fate becoming engulfed in mold and trashed unceremoniously, IMO.

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For a pristine, pure-fruit style, the jam was made with a modest addition of sugar and a couple ounces of fresh lemon juice to amp up the vibrancy.

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Next, a simple mascarpone cream was whipped up for layering the crepes.

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Again, I reduced the sweetness here to make sure the wine pairing would not be knocked out of balance. More on that later.

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Crepes were made and layered once cooled with a hefty spread of whipped mascarpone between each sheet.

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The final layer was then topped with strawberry jam, dollops of mascarpone and fresh mint leaves for effect.

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When cut, the thin tiers of creme and crepe took on the personality of a delicate cake that could be managed with a fork and knife or manhandled like a slice of pizza. The latter seemed appropriate.

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To pair with such fruit, cream and gentle sweetness, I tapped the 2002 Domaine Huet Moelleux Vouvray, “Le Mont,” 1ère Trie of France’s Loire Valley. The intense minerality and brilliance to the aromatics balanced the sweetness so well within the wine that it was remarkably undetectable to the overall experience. Alongside the crepe, it was perfectly matched as any more sweetness from the crepe may threaten to overwhelm the Chenin Blanc. With a sweeter style crepe, a sweeter wine would be needed.

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And now, back to my honeymoon.