Theme & Variations: Dolce e Delizioso III

Dolce e DeliziosoIn our final recipe collection in the Theme & Variations series, we’ll play sweetly in the kitchen; calling upon a single versatile cake recipe to deliver an array of tempting treats fit for finishing a meal or rounding out a special occasion.

Dolce e Delizioso

I really hope you’ve enjoyed following along as we’ve taken the Classical form of “Theme & Variations” into the kitchen — making simple changes to recipes to create exciting new dishes. Marrying food and music — two of my most favorite things — is something of a passion of mine.

To demonstrate the Classical form that inspired this series, here’s probably one of the finest examples of Theme & Variation form: Mozart’s 12 Variations in C major on Ah! vous dirai-je, Maman, K.265. The theme you’ll immediately recognize; in America, we know this tune as “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.” Listen to all the ways Mozart turned this simple tune on its ear. By the end, it’s barely recognizable!

As you can see, performing a piece in Theme & Variations form — while exhilarating — can be quite demanding for a musician. Fortunately, our culinary spin on this form has been both fun and delicious for both the chef (the musician) and the tasters (the audience).

In today’s final variation in our Dolce e Delizioso collection, we take one more layer of that easy-to-make butter cake and turn it into a decadent layered dessert marrying its buttery flavors with toffee and coffee to make a fancy treat that can be made into elegant individual servings or an impressive presentation in a trifle dish.

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Toffee-Coffee Trifle
Serves 8
Trifles make an exciting dessert because their layered presentation and variety of textures offer a different experience in every bite. With ample chilling time, the toffee pieces maintain a bit of crunch, but yield a caramel-odius counterpoint to the coffee and buttery flavors in the rest of the dessert!

Vanilla Custard:
Toffee-Coffee Trifle2 1/4 cups milk
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
1 large egg
3 tablespoons corn starch
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Whipped Cream:
1 cup heavy cream
3 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar

Layer Ingredients:
1 8-inch layer of Golden Butter Cake
(recipe here)
1/2 cup Kahlúa (coffee liqueur)
1 cup crushed toffee pieces (e.g. Skor or Heath)

To make the vanilla custard: heat the milk, sugar, and salt in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stirring to dissolve sugar, heat until milk is scalded but not boiling. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together the egg and corn starch until thoroughly combined. While whisking, slowly add the hot milk mixture; whisk until completely incorporated. Return entire mixture to the saucepan and heat over medium heat until thickened and just beginning to boil; remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Pour into a bowl, cover with plastic wrap placed on surface to prevent skin from forming. Allow to reach room temperature, then refrigerate 1-2 hours.

To make the whipped cream: pour the cream into a medium bowl. Beat at medium speed until frothy; add confectioners’ sugar, Toffee-Coffee Trifleincrease speed, and whip until stiff peaks form. Cover and chill until needed.

To assemble, slice cake layer into bite-size pieces. In individual containers or in a trifle dish, alternate layers of cake pieces, drizzle cake with Kahlúa, sprinkle with toffee pieces, top with vanilla custard, then whipped cream. You can make as many or as few layers as you like. Chill for about two hours before serving.

___________________________________________________________

Don’t miss

Variety: It’s the Spice!

,

______________________________________

Sunday, September 24th, at 4:00pm

St. Andrews Presbyterian Church
1890 Lincoln Road
Beulah

____________

Admission is free.
Freewill offering for Northwest Michigan Supportive Housing &
Habitat For Humanity of Benzie County .

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Theme & Variations: Dolce e Delizioso II

Dolce e DeliziosoIn our final recipe collection in the Theme & Variations series, we’ll play sweetly in the kitchen; calling upon a single versatile cake recipe to deliver an array of tempting treats fit for finishing a meal or rounding out a special occasion.

 

Dolce e Delizioso

When you start with a cake that’s super-easy to make and tastes great, it takes only a little more embellishment to send it way over the top. Today’s variation turns one cake layer into a simple but decadent layer cake sure to please any fans of the classic Moon Pie sandwich cookie: buttery cake layers separated by fluffy marshmallow creme, all enclosed in a shell made of rich chocolate.

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Mezzaluna Cake
Serves 6-8
Who knew one cake layer could reach such celestial heights? With a little time in the freezer to anchor the layers into place and align the straight side of the cake, you’ll find the Mezzaluna Layer Cakechocolate coating will cover a multitude of imperfections (not that anyone will notice once they have a taste!).

1 8-inch layer of Golden Butter Cake (recipe here)
1 1/2 cups marshmallow creme
1 cup semi-sweet or milk chocolate chips
4 tablespoons unsalted butter

Using a long serrated knife, split the cake layer into two rounds; leave stacked atop one another. Split the two round layers down the middle to form four semi-circle layers. Place the layers (still arranged as a single round layer) into the freezer for about 10 minutes to firm them up.

Place one of the bottom semi-circles on a cake plate or cardboard round. Stir the marshmallow creme only until it reaches a Mezzaluna Layer Cakefairly spreadable consistency. Spread about a third of the cream onto the cake layer, leaving about 1/4 border all the way around to avoid seeping. Lining up the straight sides as evenly as possible, place a top semi-circle layer over the filling; spread with another third of the marshmallow creme. Continue with remaining cake layers and marshmallow creme. Carefully turn the assembled cake onto its straight side (see photo) and place in the freezer for 15 minutes to firm up the filling and align the layers.

Meanwhile, combine the chocolate chips and butter in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave for 20 seconds, stir, and continue Mezzaluna Layer Cakemicrowaving in 10-20 second intervals, stirring between each heating, until mixture is smooth. Remove the cake from the freezer and place it upright. Spread the chocolate glaze over the top and then sides to completely cover (the chocolate will harden and help keep layers and filling in place. Serve slices chilled or at room temperature.

___________________________________________________________

Don’t miss

Variety: It’s the Spice!

,

______________________________________

Sunday, September 24th, at 4:00pm

St. Andrews Presbyterian Church
1890 Lincoln Road
Beulah

____________

Admission is free.
Freewill offering for Northwest Michigan Supportive Housing &
Habitat For Humanity of Benzie County .

Theme & Variations: Dolce e Delizioso I

Variety Poster

Our September concert (Variety: It’s the Spice!) is a celebration of musical variety — a daring departure from organization and the expected! The program is a secret, but you may get a few clues from our website and Facebook page in the weeks leading up to the performance. In the meantime, we hope you’ll enjoy a new series of recipes from the Woodwind Gourmet enticing you to embrace variety in the kitchen.

Dolce e Delizioso

Dolce e Delizioso

Even with the myriad elements of musical notation available, composers often add descriptive words to help musicians read between the lines. How each musician interprets these words is as unique and person as their choice of instrument. One of my favorite words to find in a musical score is dolce which simply asks you to play “sweetly”.

In this final collection of recipes, we’ll play sweetly in the kitchen; calling upon a single versatile cake recipe to deliver an array of tempting treats fit for finishing a meal or rounding out a special occasion.

We’ll start with a golden, buttery theme: butter cake! My first memories of butter cake are thanks to my paternal grandmother who taught me the fine art of adding butter to things! My grandmother always made her cakes from boxed mixes (perish the thought), but I think my simplified recipe would be one that she would have loved to try. There is such a thing as too much butter, of course, and there’s also such a thing as a complicated recipe with too many steps or ingredients. Thankfully, this recipe is the perfect balance of both!

Key ingredientKEY TECHNIQUE: Cutting in Butter — Sadly, many homemade cakes are doomed from the start because the butter was either too soft or too hard (cold) to be creamed with the sugar. In most cake recipes, the softness of the butter affects the entire texture and rise of the cake to follow (not to mention you can also over-mix and cause problems). How soft is too soft?! For this recipe, we soften the butter to room temperature and simply cut it into the dry ingredients, skipping that whole “creaming” step. You won’t miss the extra drama and your cake will turn out perfectly!

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Golden Butter Cake
Serves 12-16
If you have room for only one cake recipe in your recipe box, this one deserves the spot: it’s easily made and versatile. With its rich, buttery taste and moist texture, it can serve as the center attraction or take on myriad toppings, fillings, and frostings.

2 cups all-purpose flour (8.5 ounces)Butter Cake
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar (11.5 ounces)
1 tablespoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature (plus more for pans)
3 large eggs, room temperature
1 cup whole milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350-degrees. Butter two 8-inch round cake pans, line bottoms with parchment rounds, butter parchment lightly; dust pans with flour, tapping out excess.

In the bowl of a stand mixer or a large bowl, Working in the butterwhisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add the softened butter and cut the butter into the dry ingredients at low speed using the paddle attachment or a handheld mixer (mixture will be uniform and sandy). Add eggs and beat well, scraping down sides of bowl as necessary; add milk and vanilla, beat until just combined.

Divide batter between pans; smooth tops with an offset spatula. Bake until golden and a toothpick inserted into centers comes out clean, 33-35 minutes. Cool in pans on wire racks 15 minutes. Turn out cakes onto racks to cool completely. Serve with one of the berry toppings below or as desired.

*Blueberry-Maple Compote
Serves 6-8

2 cups blueberries, fresh or frozenButter Cake with Blueberry-Maple Compote
1 teaspoon corn starch
1/3 cup maple syrup
1/4-1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
pinch of salt
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-3 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

Combine first five ingredients (blueberries through salt) in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until some of the blueberries burst and mixture thickens slightly. Remove from heat; add vanilla and lemon juice to taste. Serve warm or chilled.

*Macerated Strawberries
Serves 4-6

1 pound hulled strawberries, whole or sliced, fresh or frozenButter Cake with Macerated Strawberries
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
pinch of salt

If using fresh berries: combine all ingredients in a non-reactive bowl and allow to sit at room temperature for about an hour. If using frozen berries: combine all ingredients in a non-reactive bowl and allow to sit at room temperature until berries have softened (about 4 hours).

___________________________________________________________

Don’t miss

Variety: It’s the Spice!

,

______________________________________

Sunday, September 24th, at 4:00pm

St. Andrews Presbyterian Church
1890 Lincoln Road
Beulah

____________

Admission is free.
Freewill offering for Northwest Michigan Supportive Housing &
Habitat For Humanity of Benzie County .

Theme & Variations: Lines & Spaces III

Lines and SpacesIn our second recipe collection in the Theme & Variations series, I decided we should explore the lines and spaces of the musical staff to uncover what savory surprises we can experience when we use simple ingredients to create a masterpiece.

Lines & Spaces

For the final variation in our Lines & Spaces series, we’ll stick with our vegetarian motif, but throw a few new twists into the taste. Swapping out the greens with some colorful beans and aromatic veggies, next we’ll take out the familiar ricotta cheese and replace it with nutty, creamy fontina for a lasagna like no other.

Key ingredientKEY INGREDIENT: Fontina Cheese — Noted for its nutty, earthy, slightly mushroomy taste, this creamy cow’s milk cheese originally from Italy is right at home in a homespun vegetarian lasagna. You can find it in the fine cheeses case in your supermarket. The best Fontina is Fontina Val D’Aosta (the original fontina), but there are many makers of good fontina, so feel free to use what you like best and is easiest to find. Can’t find Fontina? Try shredding Raclette or thinly sliced Brie or Camembert for an equally cheesy experience.

 

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Lasagna con Fagioli
Serves 4
Not quite as tomato-y or as saucy as the typical lasagna, the earthy flavors of the beans and fontina cheese are what really stand out to make this a vegetarian lasagna worth coming back to over and over again! Feel free to mix varieties of beans together for a more colorful presentation.

1 15-ounce can cannellini beans or red kidney beans, drained and rinsedLasagna con fagioli
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
3/4 cup finely chopped carrots (app. 2 medium)
1/3 cup finely chopped celery (app. 1 large rib)
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
3/4 cup white wine (try sauvignon blanc)
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes with juices
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
Salt & Pepper to taste
6 ounces Fontina cheese, shredded
8 no-boil lasagna noodles

Preheat oven to 375-degrees. In a medium bowl, mash half beans together to form a thick paste. Reserve the mashed beans separately from the whole beans.

Heat the oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium-heat. Add the onions, carrots, and celery; cook until softened, about 10 minutes. Add the minced garlic, bay leaf, and thyme; cooking, stirring constantly, until fragrant (about a minute). Pour in the wine, scraping the bottom of the pan to deglaze; cook until wine has nearly evaporated. Stir in the tomatoes (including juices), bring to a simmer; lower heat, cover and cook 7-10 minutes until carrots are tender. Stir in the mashed beans and 1/3 cup water; stirring to dissolve thicken the sauce. Remove from the heat, discard bay leaf; stir in parsley, reserved whole beans, and salt and pepper to taste.

Spread 1/2 cup bean sauce in the bottom of an 8-inch square baking dish. Top with 2 lasagna noodles, a fourth of the sauce, and a fourth of the shredded fontina. Repeat layering with remaining noodles, sauce, and cheese. Loosely cover with parchment-lined foil (keeps the cheese from sticking to the foil!). Bake 30 minutes. Uncover and bake until bubbly and delightfully browned, about 15 minutes. Let cool 20 minutes, then slice and serve.

___________________________________________________________

Don’t miss

Variety: It’s the Spice!

,

______________________________________

Sunday, September 24th, at 4:00pm

St. Andrews Presbyterian Church
1890 Lincoln Road
Beulah

____________

Admission is free.
Freewill offering for Northwest Michigan Supportive Housing &
Habitat For Humanity of Benzie County .

Theme & Variations: Lines & Spaces II

Lines and SpacesIn our second recipe collection in the Theme & Variations series, I decided we should explore the lines and spaces of the musical staff to uncover what savory surprises we can experience when we use simple ingredients to create a masterpiece.

Lines & Spaces

Our first variation spins our lines and spaces in a brand new, green direction — replacing meat with leafy Swiss chard and coarsely chopped onions for a lighter lasagna that still delivers the warm-fuzzies we all expect from comfort food.

Key ingredientKEY INGREDIENT: Swiss Chard — With an earthy, non-bitter taste, the greens and colorful stems of Swiss chard add nutrition and deep flavor that plays so well with tomato sauce, you won’t miss the meat! If you buy frozen greens, be sure to defrost and squeeze them dry before putting them into the skillet. Can’t find Swiss chard? You can substitute equal amounts of spinach or kale to get a slightly different flavor profile, but an equally tasty dish.

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Swiss Chard Lasagna
Serves 4
Easily one of my favorite ways to eat leafy greens! Remember to squeeze dry frozen greens before adding them to the recipe. If you’re using fresh greens, you’ll want to keep the chopped stems separate so you can saute them first to make sure they’re tender before adding in the greens to wilt.

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Swiss Chard Lasagna1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
1 pound Swiss chard, stems and leaves separated, thinly sliced
Coarse salt and pepper
6 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
1 can (28 ounces) whole peeled plum tomatoes with juices
8 no-boil lasagna noodles
8 oz whole-milk or part-skim mozzarella, shredded

Preheat oven to 375-degrees. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 2 tablespoons oil, onion, and chard stems. Cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 4 minutes. Stir in chard leaves, season with salt, and cook until tender, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a plate. Wipe skillet; return to medium-high heat. Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil, garlic, and pepper flakes. Cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add tomatoes with juices and simmer; simmer, breaking into pieces, until thickened, about 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Spread 1/2 cup tomato sauce in the bottom of an 8-inch square baking dish. Top with 2 lasagna noodles, 3/4 cup sauce, one-third of chard mixture, and 1 cup cheese. Repeat layering twice. Top with remaining noodles, sauce, and cheese. Loosely cover with parchment-lined foil (keeps the cheese from sticking to the foil!). Bake 30 minutes. Uncover and bake until bubbly and delightfully browned, about 15 minutes. Let cool 20 minutes, then slice and serve.

___________________________________________________________

Don’t miss

Variety: It’s the Spice!

,

______________________________________

Sunday, September 24th, at 4:00pm

St. Andrews Presbyterian Church
1890 Lincoln Road
Beulah

____________

Admission is free.
Freewill offering for Northwest Michigan Supportive Housing &
Habitat For Humanity of Benzie County .

Theme & Variations: Lines & Spaces I

Party Horse by Margie Guyot

Party Horse by Margie Guyot, 2017 Collaborating Artist

Our September concert (Variety: It’s the Spice!) is a celebration of musical variety — a daring departure from organization and the expected! The program is a secret, but you may get a few clues from our website and Facebook page in the weeks leading up to the performance. In the meantime, we hope you’ll enjoy a new series of recipes from the Woodwind Gourmet enticing you to embrace variety in the kitchen.

Lines & Spaces

Within the five lines and four spaces of a staff, a composer creates all manner of beauty and complexity. Everything the composer wants to communicate to both the musician and the audience is condensed into the staves on the page. Whether summoning all the colors of a full orchestra or the singular artistry of a solo instrument; it’s all contained within those lines and spaces.

Lines and Spaces

For our second Theme & Variations recipe collection, we take our cue from the staff to make a delicious composition of our own in the kitchen using everyone’s favorite comfort food as our theme: lasagna!

Today’s recipe is what most people imagine when they think of lasagna: layers of hearty meat sauce alternating with luscious lasagna noodles and a tempting mixture of cheeses. It’s a recipe with a fancy look but humble origins — you can find everything you need in almost any grocery store (some of it’s probably already in your kitchen!).

Key ingredientKEY INGREDIENT: No-Boil Lasagna Noodles — Homemade lasagna doesn’t get more convenient than a package of no-boil lasagna sheets. Unlike the traditional lasagna noodles which need to be par-cooked before you layer them into the casserole dish, no-boil or “oven-ready” noodles can go right into the casserole dish. They cook while the casserole bakes, absorbing liquid and flavors from everything around them. Barilla is probably the brand easiest to spot.

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Classic Lasagna
Serves 4
Unlike traditional lasagna recipes with pre-boiled noodles filling a gigantic pan of sauce and cheese to meld together in the oven, this smaller four-serving casserole goes into the oven with very little babysitting required. The hardest part is letting it cool for 20 minutes before digging in.

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oilClassic Lasagna
8 ounces mild Italian sausage, casings removed (or 8 ounces lean ground beef or turkey)
1 large onion, finely chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
2 14.5-ounce cans whole tomatoes with juice
salt and pepper
8 ounces whole or part-skim ricotta cheese
1 large egg
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley (plus more for garnish)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
8 ounces part-skim mozzarella cheese, shredded (divided)
8 no-boil lasagna noodles

Preheat oven to 375-degrees. Heat the oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until just shimmering. Add the Italian sausage; cook and crumble until evenly browned and no pink remains. Using a slotted spoon, remove crumbled sausage to a plate. To the skillet, add the onion; cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and just beginning to brown. Add the garlic, oregano, and thyme; cook, stirring, just until fragrant (about 30 seconds). Add the canned tomatoes, scraping the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Stir and crush the tomatoes into mixture; bring to a low boil and allow to simmer for 5-10 minutes until slightly thickened; season with salt and pepper to taste. Set sauce aside to cool slightly.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine the ricotta, egg, parsley, grated Parmesan, and half of the mozzarella. Season to Classic Lasagnataste with salt and pepper.

Spread 1/2 cup of the tomato sauce in the bottom of an 8-inch square baking dish. Top with 2 lasagna noodles centered in the dish (the noodles will expand quite a bit during cooking and cover all the way to the edges). Spread 1/3 of the ricotta mixture atop the noodles and top with 1/3 of the remaining sauce. Repeat layers with the remaining noodles, cheese, and sauce. Top the entire casserole with the reserved shredded mozzarella cheese and additional chopped parsley as desired. Loosely cover with parchment then top with foil to seal (keeps the cheese from sticking to the foil!). Bake 30 minutes. Uncover and bake until bubbly and slightly browned on top, about 15 minutes more. Let cool 20 minutes, then slice and serve.

___________________________________________________________

Don’t miss

Variety: It’s the Spice!

,

______________________________________

Sunday, September 24th, at 4:00pm

St. Andrews Presbyterian Church
1890 Lincoln Road
Beulah

____________

Admission is free.
Freewill offering for Northwest Michigan Supportive Housing &
Habitat For Humanity of Benzie County .

Theme & Variations: Musical Fruit III

Musical FruitFor our first recipe collection in the Theme & Variations series, I decided we should explore the musical fruit (beans!) by starting with a very basic recipe and then expanding its flavor horizons a bit…

The Musical Fruit

Our theme was a Cajun-inspired pot of red beans and rice, last week we turned that theme into a Tex-Mex number with chorizo and peppers. Our final variation on the theme abandons flashy spices but still provides a show-stopping performance through a touch of elegance and subtlety.

Once again, we’ll swap out the beans; this time replacing them with navy beans. Instead of cured or heavily-seasoned meat, we’ll impart deep flavors by adding dark meat chicken and an all-star cast of herbs and spices. We’ll transform the recipe into a hearty dinner reminiscent of cassoulet (but with a lot less time and effort!).

Key ingredientKEY INGREDIENT: Lemon Juice — Though it’s one of the handiest kitchen appliances ever invented, filling your home with amazing aromas, a slow cooker can sometimes turn even the most flavorful ingredients a tad bland and flat. To sharpen those flavors a bit, add a hit of lemon juice for a spark to reawaken the herbal flavors; you’ll probably find you’ll need less salt too.

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Braised Chicken Thighs with White Beans
Serves 4
Even if you aren’t a fan of eating the skin, browning dark meat chicken and allowing the skin to cook along inside the slow cooker infuses everything in the pot with a deep chicken flavor. This is a very easy but elegant dinner.

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
4 bone-in chicken thighs (app. 1.5 pounds)
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
White Beans with Braised Chicken Thighs1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 medium carrots, finely chopped
2 large celery ribs, finely chopped
1 cup dried navy or cannellini beans, rinsed and sorted
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried savory
1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Salt and Pepper
4 cups cooked basmati rice (optional)

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Meanwhile, sprinkle the chicken pieces on all sides with the salt, pepper, and thyme. Add the seasoned chicken pieces to the skillet skin side down; cook 3-5 minutes or until just browned. Turn and cook an additional 2 minutes or until lightly browned on the underside.

Meanwhile, in the slow cooker, combine the next 10 ingredients (onion through chicken broth). Place the browned chicken thighs atop the bean mixture, nestling them into the broth but not submerging them. Cover and cook on high for 5 hours or until beans are sufficiently tender.

If you’d like to crisp the skin on the braised chicken before serving, remove the chicken pieces to a broiler pan and place them beneath the broiler for about 2 minutes; otherwise just remove to a plate and keep warm. Meanwhile, using a slotted spoon, remove 1 cup of cooked bean mixture to a medium mixing bowl; mash with a fork to form a paste. Stir the mashed beans back into the slow cooker to thicken the beans. Stir in the lemon juice; add salt and pepper to taste.

If serving with rice, divide the cooked rice evenly onto four plates. Top with the beans, and serve the chicken atop the beans. Served without rice, this goes excellently with toasted baguette pieces or a side salad.

___________________________________________________________

Don’t miss

Variety: It’s the Spice!

,

______________________________________

Sunday, September 24th, at 4:00pm

St. Andrews Presbyterian Church
1890 Lincoln Road
Beulah

____________

Admission is free.
A freewill offering will be taken to benefit a local charity.

Theme & Variations: Musical Fruit I

Party Horse by Margie Guyot

Party Horse by Margie Guyot, 2017 Collaborating Artist

Our September concert (Variety: It’s the Spice!) is a celebration of musical variety — a daring departure from organization and the expected! The program is a secret, but you may get a few clues from our website and Facebook page in the weeks leading up to the performance. In the meantime, we hope you’ll enjoy a new series of recipes from the Woodwind Gourmet enticing you to embrace variety in the kitchen.

Musical Fruit

For our first collection in the Theme & Variations series, I decided we should explore the musical fruit (beans!) by starting with a very basic recipe and then expanding its flavor horizons a bit.

Musical Fruit

Beans have a reputation that is only partly deserved. Sure, they can be pretty hum-drum and they have an undeniably unavoidable side effect, but with a few choice ingredients and a hands-off approach thanks to the slow cooker, you can have an exciting, hearty (not to mention affordable) meal on the dinner table any night of the week!

Being a South Louisiana native, this first “theme” recipe is near and dear to me since it features the bold tastes of Cajun cuisine. All of the ingredients are easy to find. If you can’t find a salt-free Cajun seasoning blend, I’ve provided my personal recipe at the bottom.

Key ingredientKEY INGREDIENT: Mirepoix is a mix of aromatic vegetables (traditionally onions, carrots, and celery) forming the base of many soups and stews. The Cajun version of mirepoix replaces carrots with zesty green bell pepper. Be sure to chop the vegetables finely so that they nearly melt away during the cooking time, flavoring the whole dish.

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Cajun-Style Red Beans & Ham
Serves 4
No matter how far you are from the Mason-Dixon line, this simple slow cooker dish features pantry staples sure to be available anywhere. A savory ham hock will flavor the beans perfectly, so don’t be tempted to add salt until after the beans have cooked.

1 cup dried red kidney beans, rinsed and sorted
1 large onion, finely choppedCajun-Style Red Beans with Ham
1 large green bell pepper, finely chopped
2 large celery ribs, finely chopped
7 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon salt-free Cajun seasoning blend*
1 bay leaf
1 large ham hock or a 6-7 ounce chunk of bone-in ham

Combine all the ingredients with 3 cups water in a slow cooker. Cover with lid, cook on high 5 hours or until beans are thoroughly tender.

Remove the ham hock or ham to a cutting board, allow to cool. Using a slotted spoon, remove 1 cup of cooked bean mixture to a medium mixing bowl; mash with a fork to form a paste. Stir the mashed beans back into the slow cooker to thicken the beans. Pick the ham from the bone, discarding fat and bone. Shred ham with fork and return it to the pot. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Serve beans atop a bed of fresh-cooked rice, top with finely-sliced green onion or parsley.

* Uncle Jason’s No-Salt Cajun Blend
Yields approximately 2 tablespoons

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon dried parsley
3/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

Mix all ingredients thoroughly. Use immediately or store in an airtight container. I keep a bunch of this in a bottle in my spice cabinet. Try it on eggs, vegetables — just about anything, actually. It’s also an essential ingredient for blackening chicken or fish.

___________________________________________________________

Don’t miss

Variety: It’s the Spice!

,

______________________________________

Sunday, September 24th, at 4:00pm

St. Andrews Presbyterian Church
1890 Lincoln Road
Beulah

____________

Admission is free.
A freewill offering will be taken to benefit a local charity.

Winter Songs & Carols: Our Guest Vocalists

In our annual winter concert, Manitou Winds presents

a program of music, poetry, and prose inspiring you to embrace winter.

For this year’s Winter Songs & Carols performances, we’re delighted to be working with two talented vocalists who will grace the stage with their glittering interpretation of songs arranged especially for this year’s performances: Christy Burich and Emily Curtin Culler!

Christy Burich

Christy Burich

soprano

Christy moved to Traverse City only two years ago from Chicago, IL, where she’d been working as a Music Together center director for nearly 15 years sharing the joys of making music with young children and their families. Prior to that, she lived in Los Angeles for 10 years pursuing work in TV and film having received her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theatre Performance from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

It was while living in California that Christy decided to pursue working with children and earned her Master of Arts in Marriage, Family Therapy, and Child Counseling. Still thoroughly devoted to her work with children, she currently she teaches Music Together classes at the Elevated Arts studio in Traverse City and works as a teacher assistant at The Children’s House. Christy is also a children’s birthday party entertainer and the self-producer of two children’s holiday CDs.

Marrying her delectably warm voice with her unmistakable stage presence, Christy recently charmed throngs of children and grown-ups alike when she landed the starring role in the Old Town Playhouse’s production of Mary Poppins – The Broadway Musical.

You’ll also have a chance to see Christy onstage, January 2017, in the Old Town Playhouse production of Stephen Sondheim’s Company which, will be under the musical direction of none other than Manitou Winds’ own Sam Clark!

Emily Culler

Emily Curtin Culler

soprano

Emily is an active soloist, chorister, and chamber musician who recently moved to Michigan from Boston. As a soprano Choral Scholar with Boston University’s Marsh Chapel Choir, she performed weekly services for audiences throughout New England and around the globe via WBUR.

She is also an original core member of the Lorelei Ensemble, a nine-voiced women’s chamber group dedicated to expanding the repertoire for women’s voices. The ensemble specializes in performing lesser-known early music while also collaborating with living composers to produce innovative programming that speaks to a wide audience. (Hear recordings of Emily singing with Lorelei HERE!)

Emily earned her Master of Science in Arts Administration with a Certificate in Fund Raising Management and Master of Music in Vocal Performance degrees from Boston University, while receiving her Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance from Samford University. She also completed a special course of study in vocal performance at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London, England.

In addition to being an in-demand performer, Emily is a non-profit and arts management professional. Presently, she is Director of Development at Interlochen Public Radio, insuring quality programming for listeners all across Northern Michigan (and beyond!).

We were delighted to have both Christy and Emily out to Leelanau County, recently, for a Manitou Winds rehearsal. Naturally, rehearsal was followed by a celebratory dinner prepared by our own Woodwind Gourmet. Jason had asked both our soloists for their favorite winter dishes and then served up a meal featuring a few of their favorites. It was a great time to celebrate our collaboration and to get to know one another a little better. Here are two of the recipes for you to try out this winter!

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Tuscan Bean Soup
Serves 8
This is a wintertime favorite of Emily’s — a savory, heart-warming bowl of comfort. Jason’s version adds smoky bacon and a healthy helping of hearty greens to the mix.

Tuscan Bean Soup - Woodwind Gourmet1 pound dried cannellini beans
6 ounces applewood smoked bacon, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
1 large onion, chopped
2 medium carrots, cut into bite-sized pieces
2 large celery ribs, cut into bite-sized pieces
8 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
3 cups water
2 teaspoons dried summer savory
2 bay leaves
1 bunch collard greens, stemmed and chopped (or 10oz frozen)
1 14.5oz can whole tomatoes, crushed
1 sprig fresh rosemary

Soak beans at room temperature in 4 quarts water seasoned with 3 tablespoons sea salt for 8 hours or up to 24 hours; drain and rinse well. Alternately, you can use the “quick soak method”: in a Dutch oven cover the beans with water, add 3 tablespoons sea salt, bring to a boil, cover and boil for 2 minutes, remove from heat, let soak 1 hour. Drain and rinse well.

Preheat oven to 250-degrees. Sauté chopped bacon in Dutch oven over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until fat has rendered and bacon is lightly browned. Add onion, carrots, and celery and cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are softened and lightly browned (10-15 minutes). Stir in garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in broth, water, Tuscan Bean Soup - Woodwind Gourmetsavory, bay leaves, and soaked beans. Increase heat to high and bring to simmer. Cover pot, transfer to preheated oven, and cook until beans are mostly tender (45 minutes).

Remove pot for oven and stir in greens, tomatoes, and rosemary. Return pot to oven and continue cooking until beans and greens are fully tender (40 minutes to an hour).

Discard bay leaves and rosemary, season with additional salt and pepper. Serve with warm, crusty bread and lots of friends!

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Irish Cream Truffles
Yields app. 30 truffles
Rich and sweet, these are one of Christy’s favorite ways to top off a wintertime celebration. With Irish Cream and dark chocolate, you’ll find it’s really hard to eat just one!

Irish Cream Truffles - Woodwind Gourmet8 ounces bittersweet chocolate chips
1⁄4 cup unsalted butter
1⁄2 cup heavy cream
1⁄3 cup Bailey’s Irish Cream liqueur
Cocoa powder for coating

Place the chocolate and butter in a double-broiler over medium-low heat or melt gently in the microwave; stirring frequently just until melted and uniform. Remove from heat; stir in heavy whipping cream and Bailey’s until fully incorporated. Refrigerate uncovered for at least 2 hours or until the mixture has hardened enough to handle.

Using a teaspoon or a melon baller, scoop the mixture into portions and roll into 1-inch balls using your fingertips. (This works best if you chill your hands in ice water before starting!) Place the portions on parchment. Once all have been shaped, roll the truffles in a shallow dish with cocoa powder to coat. Place on a serving platter or in a covered dish and refrigerate until ready to serve.

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Don’t miss

Winter Songs & Carols

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Saturday, December 3rd, at 7:30pm

Grace Episcopal Church
341 Washington St.
Traverse City

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Friday, December 9th, at 7:30pm

The Leelanau School
1 Old Homestead Rd.
Glen Arbor

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Admission is free for both performances
A freewill offering will be taken

Our Virtual Potluck: Part IV

Potluck

The table is set, the buffet dishes are in place, the napkins are neatly folded, the kitties are on their best behavior. It’s time for the Manitou Winds Virtual Potluck!

The silverware and napkins are over there by the plates. You might as well dig in. I think I hear our next guest arriving…

Anne BaraIt’s Anne Bara, our clarinetist. In addition to her music stand and the requisite reams of sheet music, Anne often brings two clarinets with her — one is her Bb clarinet and the other is an A clarinet (used for all those pieces with sharps in the key signature). They look almost identical except the A clarinet is slightly longer. Do they sound alike? That’s a constant source of debate and discussion!

Yes! It’s cold out there!! “I grew up in South Dakota,” Anne says, “so a winter without snow and storms and ice would just seem wrong! I will say I miss the sun we always had in South Dakota. Even when there was a wind chill well below zero for days in a row, there was always sun — certainly can’t say that here!”

In spite of the cloudy days a Northern Michigan winter most reliably brings, Anne doesn’t mind winter at all. “My children love to play in the snow,” she says. “This winter I’ve been outside way more than I ever have in previous years. I love to snowshoe and Anne Baraice skate, too, but those are both pretty impossible to do with a 2- and 4-year-old!” In fact, just bundling up all those hands, feet, and faces to brace against the wind is likely a feat of planning unto itself!

Anne was the last official member to join Manitou Winds, coming aboard a few months after we initially began. It was tough to find a clarinetist who was not only up to the challenge but also willing to devote the necessary rehearsal time to learning what’s often very demanding music.

Chamber music places unique demands on clarinetists. A typical clarinet part in a wind quintet contains music that runs the gamut from “backup singer” to “complete diva” — leaving no room for timidity or fumbling fingers. The performer must have a comfortable grasp on the full range of the instrument and be able to change NEO Triomoods and character at a moment’s notice in order to hold up their part of the overall piece.

“My favorite thing about being a part of a chamber group is just being able to play really awesome music and getting to see friends on a regular basis. We then get to perform together this music we’ve worked so hard to perfect,” she says. “My least favorite part? When I screw up during rehearsal or when I know I haven’t had time to prepare like I ought to — I can’t hide!” Nerve-wracking as those wrong notes or missed entries can be for any musician, they’re usually a welcome source of comedic relief during rehearsals! You’re never allowed to take yourself too seriously for very long.

Anne and her husband, Tom, (both musicians and educators) have lived in the Traverse City area since 2002. The area is rife with scenic beauty, cozy lakeside towns, and unique artsy finds of all sorts. What would the Bara’s do if they were given a week-long “staycation” where errands and chores were forbidden? “I would spend lots of time hiking with my family,” says Anne, “That’s one thing we all enjoy — although the youngest prefers to be carried in a backpack! Manitou WindsI’d also love to tour the wineries again — it’s been years since we’ve done that and there are so many new ones now. We’d definitely go to the farmer’s markets and cook elaborate feasts at home.”

Anne and her family tend to eat more meals at home than at restaurants. Their favorite go-to recipes this time of year are chicken paprikash, lentils & rice, chickpeas with spinach & tomatoes, or a big pot of chili. She enjoys cooking and spending time in the kitchen, attributing most of that fascination to a summer off from college she spent in New York City living with her aunt.

“She taught me all about fresh mozzarella and parmesan (I’d only ever had the kind you shake onto pizza at Pizza Hut!),” says Anne. “She taught me about farmer’s markets where we bought countless vegetables I’d never had or even heard of before. She taught me how to make bread — I kept a sourdough starter in my fridge for years after that.”

Anne still enjoys those gourmet pursuits but finds it more challenging with the sometimes finicky palates of her two young children as her critics. Anne Bara“Our kids are mostly tolerant — even if they don’t always eat a lot of the food we make,” says Anne. “My son, particularly, likes to help me cook and bake — even though it does mean an extra hour or two to complete a project!”

Other than cooking, Anne loves spending time in the garden — an activity that the kids are getting more involved with each passing year in the digging, weeding, and watering. “I used to spend the whole summer outside taking care of our flower gardens. Fortunately, I have all perennials, so the gardens still look good even though I’ve taken about four years off.”

For today’s potluck, Anne’s brought a sure-fire party favorite that marries her love of the kitchen with her love of the garden.

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Tex-Mex Guacamole
Yields about 2 cups
Anne says this is her favorite recipe to take to parties. It’s quick and easy to put together and adds a welcome reminder of summer during these cloudy wintry days.

Tex-Mex Guacamole2 medium-size Haas avocados
2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
2 green onions, finely chopped
1 small tomato, seeded and finely chopped
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons finely chopped jalapeño pepper (leave seeds in for a zesty dip!)
1-2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro

Halve the avocados lengthwise. Remove and reserve the pits. Scoop the flesh into a medium bowl. Add the lime juice and salt; mash with a fork or potato masher, mixing well.

Add the green onions, tomato, garlic, jalapeño, and cilantro; mix well. Serve immediately or press the avocado pits halfway into the dip and cover tightly with plastic wrap to prevent browning. Will keep nicely for 2 days. Serve with tortilla chips, salsa, and cheese.

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Looking for more recipes? Check out the other recent Woodwind Gourmet series:

Series I: Oboes, Oranges & Almonds

Series II: Composers & Coffee

Series III: Notable Breakfasts

Series IV: Our Virtual Potluck