Cookbooks: A 16 Food & Wine

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A 16  Food + Wine
Nate Appleman  +  Shelly Lindgren
Ten Speed Press, 2008

I love food and travel. And I get excited about cookbooks that transport me into the soul and heart  of a country or a distinct region. Books that are just accumulations of recipes, or that tell me how watch my dietary intake or how to assemble quick meals don’t appeal to me – I thirst for a strong voice and a big dose of culture.

I want to be woooed in the best way that food can do that, and to be transported somewhere that I am presently not.  To a place where culture and cuisine has had a few centuries to evolve into something  that will sweep me off my feet and keep me smiling for days.

The A16 Food & Wine cookbook does that for me. Not just because it is about southern Italian food ( that is where my maternal grandparents were born ), or because the restaurant is on-fire popular right now.  But because  passion and a joyful sense of abbondanza spills from the pages of the book in an appealing way.

I obtained a copy of this book in November,  fell deeply in love with it’s vibe and purpose, and fortunately for me, ended up in San Francisco in January. Bob and I had dinner one evening at A16 and lunch at Shelly’s successful second restaurant – SPQR.

The meal was delicious, the food as presented in the book, and both restaurants were alive with the joie-de-vivre that is  unique to the food-obsessed Bay area. Since that visit, I have made many dishes from the A16 Food & Wine cookbook, including all of the meatball dishes which we used as the basis of a casual dinner party.  The meatballs were the star of the show ( you need a sympathetic butcher to help here),  but for me, the real jewel in the crown was the dessert.

The recipe for chocolate budino tartlets intrigued me. It looked plain and, well, lusciously chocolaty, but something in the description of the baking process told me that this was different and worth the effort.  Boy, was I right.

Not only did I make it for that dinner party but I made it again a few weeks later, something I never do. ( Why eat the same thing twice, no matter now good, when that just means that you are missing the opportunity to try something else ! )  I am entering this recipe into my hall of fame recipe collection, and for those of you who want to give it a try, here is the recipe courtesy of Ten Speed Press.

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Budino Tartlets with Sea Salt and Olive oil

Serves 12 ( or 8 depending on the size of your tart pans )

Preheat the oven to 300°

Budino Filling:

  • 7 ounces 60-70% bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 1 ½ ounces milk chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • ½ cup whole milk
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 cups heavy cream

To make the filling:

Combine the chocolates in a heatproof bowl, place over barely simmering water in a pot and leave to melt. Warm the milk in a small pot over medium heat until it just begins to simmer. In a bowl whisk together the egg yolks and sugar, then gradually whisk in the warm milk.

When the chocolate has melted, remove from the heat and stir until smooth, Strain the egg yolk mixture through a fine-mesh strainer into the melted chocolate, and stir until combined. In a small pot, heat 1 cup of the cream over medium heat until it just begins to simmer. Remove from the heat and slowly sitr the warm cream into the chocolate mixture. Then stir in the remaining 1 cup cream.

Pour the filling into a small baking pan ( about 8 inches square ) and cover tightly with aluminum foil. Place the pan into a larger baking pan and pour warm tap water into the larger pan to come halfway up the sides of the filling pan. Bake the filling for 50-60 minutes, or until the edges appear set but the center is loose and a bit runny.

Remove the pan from the water batch and briefly whisk the filling in the pan until smooth. Strain through a fine-mesh strainer into another shallow pan and let cool completely without stirring. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or up to overnight.

Tart shells

  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 tablespoon heavy cream13/4 cups all purpose flour
  • ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 7 ounces unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt

To make the tart shells:

Whisk together the egg yolks and cream and set aside. In another bowl, sift together the flour and cocoa powder and set aside, In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle, combine the butter, sugar, vanilla and salt and mix on medium speed for 3 minutes or until creamy and smooth. Reduce the speed to low, add the flour mixture all at once, and mix for 1 minute or until barely incorporated. Drizzle in the yolk mixture and mix briefly.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead gently for a couple of minutes until it comes together completely. Pat the dough into a round disc, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 1 hours or up to 4 days.

Lightly butter 12 tartlet pans, each 3 ½ inches in diameter and ¾ inch deep. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the dough to 1/8th inch thick. Using a cookie cutter or other template cut out 4-inch rounds of dough.

To line the pans:

Place a round in each pan, and starting from the center, gently press the dough against the bottom to flatten. Then, using your thumbs, press the dough firmly against the sides. Trim away excess dough with a paring knife. Slip the lined pans into the freezer for 20 minutes before baking.

Preheat the oven to 350°

Transfer the pans from the freezer to a rimmed baking sheet. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until dry and firm to the touch. Transfer the pans to a wire rack and let cool completely. Then gently remove the cooled tart shells from the pans and set aside.

To assemble the tart:

Spoon about ¼ cup of the chilled filling into the baked shell and gently level off the top with a small butter knife. Place the tarts on incividual plates and sprinkle the top of each tart with about 1/8th teaspoon sea salt ( I used Maldons) . Finish each tart with a generous drizzle of olive oil ( I used Colonna) .

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One thought on “Cookbooks: A 16 Food & Wine

  1. I made this dessert and you are RIGHT…delicious and worth the effort to make it. My guests swooned so thanks to both of you.

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