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January 2009
Recipes Contributed by:
Jacksonville Mercantile

Dear Fellow Foodies:

With the New Year comes new ideas for enjoying your favorite foods. I have had several discussions with customers over the last few months and many have shown an interest in creating fellow foodie cooking groups. If you are interested in starting a women’s gourmet group (we’ll start with the women first) in your area, please send back a response to this e-mail, state where you live, and I can try to help coordinate like minded foodies in your area. The Mercantile will also have available a foodies blog on our website in the next few months to share ideas. For those of you who know me, I have to get our web designer to do this since computers are still a foreign object to me.

The holidays are over and winter is here for a while. Now that old man winter is hanging around, we all want comfort foods. Most of the available produce in the markets is root vegetables. Long gone are the summer tomatoes and delicate lettuce so we need to feed our inner comfort zone with hearty, warm dishes. We have found by using unusual peppercorns you can liven up any dish with minimal effort or cost. Like salts, different peppercorns bring different flavor nuances to each dish. The Jacksonville Mercantile has several peppercorns available in stock for your cooking pleasure. We like the hand-picked Muntock White Peppercorn with winter root vegetables. These add a nice heat without being too over powering, allowing the sweetness of the root vegetables to shine.

About the White Muntock Pepper:
In the hills behind the village of Muntock, on the Indonesian island of Bangka pepper farmers climb traditional bamboo tripods and hand-pick fruit spikes of red ripe pepper berries. The fruit spikes are packed into rice sacks and soaked in a slow running stream of water that come down off the mountains above. 7 days later the outermost skin of the pepper has disintegrated and the peppercorns are piled together for a traditional trampling called “nari mereca” or the Pepper Dance. The dancing separates the peppercorns from the fruit spike and after a final washing the berries are left to dry in the sun where they will bleach to a whitish-cream.

Carrot Souffle Bundles
Cornish Hen under a brick
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Carrot Souffle Bundles - Serves 4

The following is a different spin on the lowly carrot. Most people use carrots in salads or maybe cook them as a side dish. This is a different way to serve carrots using a method for soufflés. We like to serve this on the side with a roasted Herbed Cornish hen or baked Greek Chicken.

Carrot Souffle Bundles
6 large carrots, peeled, cut into small pieces and cooked until soft
3 egg whites
½ cup Crème Fraiche
2 cloves garlic – minced fine
½ Sweet Onion – minced fine
Olive oil
Sea salt and cracked white muntock peppercorns
1 head Romaine Lettuce - Blanched and shocked and dried

Cardamom Orange Glaze
1 cup orange juice
2 Tablespoons Green Cardamom Pods – crushed
Sea salt and cracked white muntock peppercorns
1 large bunch parsley stems – roughly chopped (reserve the leaves for garnish)

Pecan Oil or Hazelnut Oil for serving
Crushed pecans or hazelnuts for serving

Make the carrot soufflé base: Drain the carrots (reserve ¼ cup cooking water). Place carrots into a food processor or blender and blend until smooth (add some of the cooking water if necessary). Add the crème Fraiche and egg whites and process until smooth. Cook the garlic and onion in a small amount of olive oil or butter until just cooked (approximately 5 minutes) add this to the carrot mixture. Season with salt and white pepper, set aside.

Oil 4 six-ounce ramekins and place a large piece of shocked and blanched lettuce into the cup allowing the extra to fold over the edge. (The extra will be folded over the top of the ramekin to enclose the carrot mixture). If the lettuce has ribs that are too rigid, cut out the ribs and fold the lettuce onto itself to close the gap. Fill the lettuce-lined cup to the top of the ramekin with the carrot mixture, and then fold over the lettuce to enclose the mixture. Bake in a water bath at 350F for approximately 30-40 minutes. The carrot mixture will rise a bit in the cup. You should be able to stick a wooden skewer into the soufflé and it will come out clean when cooked.

Make the Orange Cardamom Glaze: While the carrot bundles are baking, place the orange juice, crushed cardamom, parsley stems, sea salt and pepper into a pan and reduce by more than ½. Drain and reserve the liquid discarding the herbs, cardamom and pepper.

When cooked, turn out the carrot bundle from the ramekin onto a plate, drizzle with the orange-cardamom glaze and drizzle with pecan oil and garnish with crushed pecans. Serve while still hot.

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Cornish Hen under a brick - Serves 4

Here is a simple recipe to cook Cornish hens quickly. This recipe can be done after work or if you have unexpected company. By spatchcocking the bird, the cooking time is cut virtually in half. To spatchcock a Cornish hen, you need a sturdy pair of kitchen shears. Place the hen, breast-side-down, on a cutting board. Using the shears, cut away the backbone and discard it. Then, flip over the bird and press down to flatten it. You will hear a snap when the breast plate cracks allowing the hen to lay flat. To keep spatchcocked birds from drying out too quickly over a grill or under a broiler, brine or marinate them first. Another trick to keeping them flat is to use a metal skewer and skewer the bird through the legs and body to keep it flat. This also allows you to flip them easily.

2 brined cornish hens – spatchcocked
2 large bricks – coated in 2 layers of aluminum foil
Sea Salt and Cracked Pepper (try an unusual pepper here)
Avocado oil or other neutral oil for cooking.

Heat the avocado oil in a pan – large enough to hold one hen laid out flat. When the oil is hot, place the Cornish hen back side down in the pan and place the bricks on top to hold it flat in the pan. Cook until brown and the skin is crispy (about 10 minutes) place this hen onto a cookie sheet in a 375F oven brown side up and cook the other hen the same way weighing down with the bricks. When the Cornish hens are cooked to an internal temperature of 150F (check the temperature in the thickest part of the leg) remove from the oven and let rest for 5 minutes covered.

To serve: Cut the hens in half. Serve 1 half a hen along side the carrot bundles.

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