Chocolate & Espresso Balsamic Fudge

Espresso

 

Ingredients

 

 

1 1/2 Cups Heavy Cream
1/2 Cup Blue Door Espresso Balsamic
1/2 pound (about 1 cup) 60%+ dark chocolate
1/2 pound (about 1 cup) semi-sweet chocolate
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract1/4 tsp. fleur de sel or sea salt

 

 

Directions

 

 

Butter a 9×13″ baking pan and line with parchment that overhangs the sides.  In a metal bowl or double boiler, add all of the ingredients except the salt.  Set over a pot of gently simmering water, stirring constantly until the chocolate has completely melted.  The mixture will be very thick.  Pour in to the prepared pan.  Allow to cool to room temperature and cut in to squares.  Sprinkle a few grains of sea salt on each square.

Makes about 2 pounds of fudge.

Quality in Traditional Style Balsamic Vinegar

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Customers who are new to our shop are often blow away when we tell them our Traditional Style Balsamic Vinegar is our most popular. They wonder how it can be the most popular with so much other selection in the store? The best way to learn how it has become our best seller is to taste it for yourself.

Our Traditional Style Condimento contains less than 5% high quality, barrel aged red wine vinegar from Modena which is added to inoculate the must with pro-biotic (acetic bacteria).  The rest of the volume is wholly comprised of cooked Trebbiano grape must.  The must is made from grapes cultivated in the region of Modena, which are crushed and cooked in the ancient “Traditional Style” in copper kettles, within the region of Modena, Italy.

Cooking in copper kettles to caramelize the grape sugar is more than just a quaint or romantic production step.  Cooking down the grape must in copper is a rare production step which makes a monumental difference in terms of the quality and authenticity of the end product.  Today most producers in Italy have opted for the vastly more efficient and modern method of condensing grape juice into a concentrate utilizing the relatively new process of vacuum evaporation.  The use of this technology also typically necessitates the addition of up to 2% caramel color/dye to be added to the otherwise pale, anemic white grape must in order to add a deep, rich, mahogany-brown color.  This practice was recently sanctioned by Italian law to allow producers to give the end consumer a false impression that the grape must was in fact cooked and caramelized in the “Traditional Style” in copper kettles.

However, it it not legal in Italy or North America, or most other countries to add artificial color or any other ingredients to a product and not disclose them on the ingredient statement. Despite this, many retail products labeled as balsamic do contain artificial color, thickeners, and types of refined sugar  which are not disclosed on the product’s ingredient statement. Our Traditional Style Condimento and all of our infused dark balsamics which are made with it are certified on Third Party Certificate of Analysis to contain no caramel color, thickeners, or forms of refined sugar.  It is conservatively estimated that upwards of  95% of all retail products labeled as “balsamic” do contain caramel color despite non-disclosure of it and other extraneous ingredients on the ingredient statement.  If there is no traceability and guarantee via lab analysis otherwise, it is wise to be dubious. With no domestic industry in North America to protect, there is little to no interest in regulation of this product category by government.  And with the most proficient third party labs that test for fraud being in Italy, adulteration is rampant in this product category.  Even when the product is tested in proficient labs, it is incredibly difficult to test for caramel color as it’s typically added in less than 2% by volume and requires very specific testing methods to identify it.

In relation to the artisan method which is used to produce it, our Condimento is lab certified to have an extraordinarily high minimum relative density of 1.28+  – the highest minimum measured density on file for any standard.  It is measured by a third party lab in Italy and carries traceability through each batches certificate of analysis.  We are extremely proud that our Condimento contains on average, a whopping 749+ grams of dried extract solids per liter – a lab measurement which speaks to the extreme loss of moisture through natural evaporation which occurs in the cooking process and also while it ages in five types of wood barrels over time.  The higher the amount of dried extract solids, the more complex a balsamic will be, as we are talking about the concentration of grape solids including grape sugar, which impart flavor and make for a thicker, naturally sweeter, and more complex balsamic.
We like to use these very exact and meaningful measurements and means of certification conducted by third party labs to detail quality as opposed to the often misleading, competing, and confusing Italian based categories and trade association standards such as the Leaf System, Star System, PGI, etc., And we urge you to do the same.  In most cases these categories are ambiguous, romantic and hollow when drilled into.  The common theme most share is that they place high value on the fact that Balsamic must be certified to come from specific regions, yet offer little to no measurable scientific, or production standards beyond geographic location.  They don’t speak to the nuts and bolts of what really constitutes quality in balsamic such as density, dried extract solids, process, fruit maturity and quality, must percentage, barrel system, etc..”But what about age?”, you say.  Age claims are strictly illegal in Italy.  Only here in North America do you see rampant, unqualified, and totally bogus age claims being made which would be prohibited if the product were being sold in the more regulated market of Italy.
With decades worth of experience driving our own balsamic standard ever upward, we are currently in the process of creating the first measurable chemical/production standard for balsamic in North which will use good science and meaningful criteria as opposed to superfluous romance which currently places all emphasis on the idea that place dominates.  It will be akin to the difference between saying I have Italian extra virgin vs. saying “here’s my Fusti tag with all of the pertinent chemical parameters as detailed by my third party laboratory analysis ALONG with full traceability in terms of production method and lastly, origin certification.

Tomato, Sweet Pepper & Onion Confit

confit

 

Ingredients


1 1/2 pounds small whole sweet tomatoes such as cherry or grape
1 large red onion, sliced thin
1 red bell pepper or several smaller sweet red peppers such as Marconi, sliced thin or halved if smaller
8 large garlic cloves
1 – 2″ sprig fresh rosemary, leaves only, stem discarded (optional)
1/2 cup Blue Door Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/3 cup crisp, good quality white wine
1 tablespoon Blue Door Traditional Balsamic Vinegar
2 teaspoons sea salt or kosher salt
Fresh ground pepper to taste

 

Directions


Adjust rack to middle of oven, and preheat to 300.

In a medium roasting pan (9″x13″) or a 12″ oven safe skillet, combine the first five ingredients.  Whisk the wine, balsamic, and olive oil together, drizzle over the vegetables and toss to combine.  Season with salt and pepper.

Place the pan on the middle rack in the oven, uncovered, and allow the vegetables to cook slowly, stirring only a few times during the process, being careful not to break the tomatoes.  Slow roast for 4 – 4 1/2 hours.

The resulting confit, or tomato “jam” can be used to dress pasta, slather on crusty bread, or as an accompaniment to slow roasted meats or poultry.

Fall Garden Greens Spanakopita with Garlic Infused Olive Oil

spa

 

Ingredients

8 cups washed and dried greens coarsely chopped in any combination such as:  kale, beet greens, collards, spinach, swiss chard etc.

1 pound package thawed phyllo dough

1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons Blue Door Garlic infused olive oil

8 oz. whole milk ricotta

1 teaspoon corn starch

8 oz. feta cheese, crumbled

1 large yellow onion, finely diced

salt and pepper to taste

 

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 F.

Brush a 9″x13″ baking pan liberally with olive oil.

In a large saute pan over medium high heat, add 1 tablespoon of garlic olive oil.  Add the diced onion and saute until translucent.  Add the greens and saute until cooked down, about 3 additional minutes.  Add the feta and ricotta to the greens and mix thoroughly.  Add 1 teaspoon cornstarch to 2 tablespoons of water and add to the greens.  Continue cooking over medium high heat until the mixture thickens and season with salt and fresh ground pepper to taste.  Allow the mixture to cool until just barely warm.

Take the thawed phyllo out of the refrigerator. Unroll the sheets and cover with a clean barely dampened towel.

Liberally brush three sheets or spray three sheets with garlic infused olive oil and layer one on top of another, lining the bottom and part way up the sides of the baking pan. Add 1/3 of the spinach mixture and spread evenly over the phyllo.  Continue brushing each sheet with olive oil and layering three sheets at a time followed by two more layers of spinach and ending with three sheets of phyllo on top.

Bake for 35-40 minutes until the top is deep golden brown and crisp.   Allow to cool slightly and cut into squares.