First of all, I want to mention that it’s really great that Daniel is using local resources as his ingredients. It’s really sad that people are so urbanized and removed from nature that they don’t even trust the fruit that grows on their local trees! Just like Daniel used the local quinces for the Yinzer torte recipe, I have often thought about using the ginkgo “stinky” fruit that falls from the female trees that are common all over Washington, D.C. Stinky Gingko Fruit – unfortunately, it is SO stinky, that it will probably never happen!
The first point I want to make is that I am not a proponent of pairing dessert wines and dessert. The way I see it, there’s a missing synergy. In my book, I Drink on the Job (www.idrinkonthejob.com), I have a complete chapter on pairing wine and food, and the principle that comes to mind is “1+1=1/2”. It seems weird, but when you put a sweet food in your mouth and then you drink a sweet beverage (it could be any beverage – fruit juice, cola, etc.), the sweetness is significantly reduced. The pairing rule I often learned was that the wine should be at least as sweet at the dessert, but I don’t see how it makes a difference–sweet and sweet mostly cancel each other out!
Another point is that the Yinzer torte is made with highly acidic quince fruit turned into a butter emulsion. So now you have acidity – and yes, you do want to match acidity in a dish with an equally acidic wine, or the wine will taste really flat! You could easily pair this dish with a traditional dessert wine like a Sauternes or a Hungarian Tokaj, and that will do just fine. But let me throw you a few curve balls:
I prefer to have contrast to a sweet dessert dish. Just like many people really enjoy coffee with sweets because the tannin in coffee contrasts the sweetness of dessert on your palate, I would rather pair this with a spirit – and my spirit of choice for this dish is either a Cognac or a Calvados. Cognac is distilled from grapes and has a nice fruit component. Calvados is distilled from apples and has that fruit component as well. You could have a whisky or a Scotch, but definitely avoid a really smoky/peaty version of the latter – there are no smoke components to this dessert (unless you’re puffing on a cigar at the time!),
Change the dish a bit to make it go better with wine–this is called a pairing “bridge”. For example, you could put some chopped walnuts on top and maybe serve with a slice of blue cheese and now Ruby Port goes perfectly! Crunchy nuts would also add texture which makes food more interesting on the palate. Add a caramel sauce, and now a Tawny port, which is port that has been pre-aged in barrel will work with those flavors. You could even bridge this dessert by making a dessert wine reduction, and that would bring the flavors together.
Add fresh whipped cream with a little liqueur in it like Cointreau. OK, it won’t match better with any wine, but certainly it will make the dish all the better, and isn’t pleasure what you’re really after?
For this recipe you don’t need to toast the nuts. Put them in a food processor and grind them as fine as possible. Add the Maria cookies to the nuts and grind them all up. In a separate bowl cream the sugar and butter. Add the egg, and as you mix pour in the vanilla. Zest the orange and lemon into the butter mix, and then add the ground nuts and cookies. Add the cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Quickly combine. When every ingredient is uniformly mixed, add the flour and baking powder. Mix to achieve a cookie-dough-like consistency. Make into a loaf. If at this point the dough is too soft, put it in the fridge for 20 to 30 minutes.
Divide the dough into two parts, one a little larger than the other. The larger portion will be the base of the torte.
As you can see, I couldn’t find my torte pan so I used my springform pan. But of course you can use a torte pan.
Evenly distribute the larger half of your dough on top of your pan. Work quickly, or it will get too soft and difficult to work with. Then spread the fruit jelly over the dough. The final decoration of the torte is really up to you. I illustrated the most common way to go about it, but you can be creative with this step. I did use my pasta cutter, but a knife will do.
Bake at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 to 25 minutes or until the dough turns light golden brown. Let it cool down and dust it with powdered sugar. Before you serve and enjoy, don’t forget to check out Charlie Adler’s wine pairing for yinzer torte!
In keeping with my philosophy of bringing chefs closer to those that appreciate food, I would like to mention David Bulman. David’s fire for his love of cooking burns strong. He’s young but full of information and always eager to try new things and share them. David talks of these memories that formed him to be the food professional that he is today:
I started cooking professionally at the age of 19. After the first week I knew I had found my profession of choice. Not long after that, I decided to attend le cordon bleu culinary program in Pittsburgh. I have a great love for fresh and sustainable produce and agriculture. I love all aspects of cooking including learning about food and food cultures.
The first recipe I can remember producing as a child is a horseradish sauce. Simple but versatile. Capable of making the most bland roast come to life. I learned to find the roots from my grandfather. At times it could be unbearably hard to learn anything from him, probably due to that pint of cheap vodka he usually kept stowed away in his cowboy boots, but I did manage to learn a thing or two from him before I became a food professional. We used to find the wild horseradish in ditches in the spring. Later on, I learned that due to the hardiness and general invasiveness of the root, it could grow in just about any conditions. We would only dig in months that had an “R” in the spelling (September, October, April, etc.). Now as I do some background research for this particular article I’m finding that ideal cultivation is actually done in late fall and early spring. This might make sense for most places, but I come from Western New York, 20 miles from Lake Erie. If you try to harvest horseradish there in December, January, or February you will probably find yourself in the same situation as the roots you seek–buried up to your crown in snow! If you were able to submerge your shovel into the dirt, though, you would theoretically be able to harvest some of this hardy perennial.
When harvesting for culinary purposes you generally want the smaller roots that tend to be crisper and more pungent. These grow off the main root which is generally woody and not suitable for eating. It does still have an excellent use though: it can be split in half and replanted. I would not recommend planting it in your garden then forgetting about it since it tends to spread like soft butter on hot bread. After harvesting the root several times with my grandfather and my family, I eventually planted the root in a very wet patch of ground behind my childhood home. The next spring I found that the root had flourished, and to my knowledge still grows there today.
The first time I made horseradish sauce myself I did it over the phone, with my grandpa walking me through the recipe each step of the way. It’s a very simple sauce. The sauce goes great with roast beef. It lends an excellent kick to pork. Paired with a little ketchup, it makes a great accompaniment for shrimp in the form of cocktail sauce. Goes well on a sandwich, too, like mustard (which is a horseradish cousin in the same family).
I like it best on a good old simple saltine cracker, which is how my family generally ate it as a snack at home. It’s also a well known fact if you need to clear you sinuses, a couple tablespoons of horseradish will clear up the problem in no time! If you tend to water up when cutting up fresh onions, be prepared to cry more than that time somebody kicked your dog.
If you have a few older second or third generation European relatives you can probably find a jar of the good stuff in their refrigerators. The root has deep origins in Eastern Europe, throughout most of Europe, actually, and is commonly used in America in place of another cousin root: wasabi.