The perfect day, the perfect hosts, our dear friends Craig and Michael, own one of the most beautiful homes I have ever been in. It is on Lake Rabun, a quaint lake in north Georgia. I met Craig when I was styling one of the homes he had designed on the lake, for Country Home Magazine . Craig is a fantastic designer he specializes in kitchen design, and is a wonderful cook and baker as well. I know his love of cooking makes him great at what he does for a living.
My husband and I had the great fortune of spending the weekend with them at their exquisite home.
On Sunday they invited an array of Chef's, foodies, and just plain good cooks to gather for lunch outside under the colorful fall foliage and the clear blue skies.You could not have ordered a more perfect day.
Lunch for 26 started early in the morning with lots of preparation, it was my pleasure to help them set the tables and cook the risotto cakes, with Craig and Michael's supervision of course.
I used heirloom pumpkins, from a local grower, and berries and foliage from their garden to decorate the tables. Craig had already laid out the flatware and rolled all the napkins each tied with a name tag. Every table had a loaf of homemade bread with the table number stenciled on it by Craig, a wonderful touch. The loaf eventually was passed around the table a piece torn off by each guest, this started lunch with a communal feeling.
The casual setting would set the relaxed mood in the garden that lingered throughout the day. Folks started arriving at 1pm, the meal started with introductions and Prosecco.
I was seated at the chefs table, which was interesting and an honor as well, the noted Chefs at my table were, Chef Drew Belline from Floataway Cafe and Chef Louis Osteen from the Lake Rabun Hotel. Chef Drew brought an amazing triple cream cheese, and homemade breads, he prepared chicken pate with brown butter, and quince, and and amazing squash soup with dehydrated apples and candied walnuts served in a mason jar+ local sauteed mushrooms that were heaven. Chef Louis made a French cassoulet, that was a vision for the eyes, and it tasted rich and creamy.
Dessert was a masterpiece jointly prepared by Richard and Craig, a trio consisting of Salted butter ice cream ( one of the most fantastic ice creams I have ever tasted, check out the recipe* below) in a dark chocolate cup topped with crushed coffee beans, poached apples, candied apple ice cream, with cinnamon twist cookie and the most delicate dried apple slice on top. (Craig made this out of the French Laundry cookbook, pg 296), and Indian pudding
Great conversation, wonderful food, beautiful weather, gorgeous view. What a party, what a day!
Here's the Menu in full:
Rosemary Dried Cherry crisps with fresh herb goat cheese
Triple cream cheese with homemade bread.
African Squash Soup, with dehydrated apples, and candied walnuts, served in a mason jar
Traditional French Cassoulet
Coq Au Vin
Petite Risotto Cakes with Onion Marmalade & Country Ham
Chicken Liver Pate with Sage Brown Butter Sauce & Quince Preserves, served in a jar
Rustic Home Made Bread
Rustic Gratin of Potatoes and Fennel
Poached apples with candied apple ice cream + dried shaved apple slice
Salted Butter Ice Cream in a chocolate cup
Thank you Craig , Thank you Michael, you are the perfect hosts.
I will be back to my Thanksgiving menu soon, it was a must that I share the fantastic Fall Food Festival with you.
Craig and Michael throw a Summer Food Festival that features 2 food items Corn and Tomatoes you can bet that I will wrangle an invite to this party no doubt about it.
Here's the recipe for the Salted Butter Ice Cream~ Simply Dreamy!
Salted Butter Caramel Ice Cream
One generous quart (liter)
I know I'm sounding like a broken record, but be sure to use good salt. I use fleur de sel, but if you don't have it, a mild-tasting sea salt will do in a pinch, such as Maldon, fine gray salt, or kosher salt. Don't use ordinary fine table salt; it's far too harsh.
Because of the caramel in this ice cream, once churned and frozen, it'll remain nice & creamy (as shown in the photo.) To make it firmer, crank up your freezer a bit or store it in a shallow pan.
For the caramel praline (mix-in)
½ cup (100 gr) sugar
¾ teaspoon sea salt, such as fleur de sel
For the ice cream custard
2 cups (500 ml) whole milk, divided
1½ cups (300 gr) sugar
4 tablespoons (60 gr) salted butter
scant ½ teaspoon sea salt
1 cups (250 ml) heavy cream
5 large egg yolks
¾ teaspoon vanilla extract
1. To make the caramel praline, spread the ½ cup (100 gr) of sugar in an even layer in a medium-sized, unlined heavy duty saucepan: I use a 6 quart/liter pan. Line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or brush it sparingly with unflavored oil.
2. Heat the sugar over moderate heat until the edges begin to melt. Use a heatproof utensil to gently stir the liquefied sugar from the bottom and edges towards the center, stirring, until all the sugar is dissolved. (Or most of it—there may be some lumps, which will melt later.)
Continue to cook stirring infrequently until the caramel starts smoking and begins to smell like it's just about to burn. It won't take long.
3. Without hesitation, sprinkle in the ¾ teaspoon salt without stirring (don't even pause to scratch your nose), then pour the caramel onto the prepared baking sheet and lift up the baking sheet immediately, tilting and swirling it almost vertically to encourage the caramel to form as thin a layer as possible. Set aside to harden and cool.
4. To make the ice cream, make an ice bath by filling a large bowl about a third full with ice cubes and adding a cup or so of water so they're floating. Nest a smaller metal bowl (at least 2 quarts/liters) over the ice, pour 1 cup (250 ml) of the milk into the inner bowl, and rest a mesh strainer on top of it.
5. Spread 1½ cups (300 gr) sugar in the saucepan in an even layer. Cook over moderate heat, until caramelized, using the same method described in Step #2.
6. Once caramelized, remove from heat and stir in the butter and salt, until butter is melted, then gradually whisk in the cream, stirring as you go.
The caramel may harden and seize, but return it to the heat and continue to stir over low heat until any hard caramel is melted. Stir in 1 cup (250 ml) of the milk.
7. Whisk the yolks in a small bowl and gradually pour some of the warm caramel mixture over the yolks, stirring constantly. Scrape the warmed yolks back into the saucepan and cook the custard using a heatproof utensil, stirring constantly (scraping the bottom as you stir) until the mixture thickens. If using an instant-read thermometer, it should read 160-170 F (71-77 C).
8. Pour the custard through the strainer into the milk set over the ice bath, add the vanilla, then stir frequently until the mixture is cooled down. Refrigerate at least 8 hours or until thoroughly chilled.
9. Freeze the mixture in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions.
10. While the ice cream is churning, crumble the hardened caramel praline into very little bits, about the size of very large confetti (about ½-inch, or 1 cm). I use a mortar and pestle, although you can make your own kind of music using your hands or a rolling pin.
11. Once your caramel ice cream is churned, quickly stir in the crushed caramel, then chill in the freezer until firm.
Note: As the ice cream sits, the little bits of caramel may liquefy and get runny and gooey, which is what they're intended to do.