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Nothing on Earth so beautiful as
the final haul on Halloween night.
~Steve Almond

 

OCTOBER 2011 NEWSLETTER

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Chocolate as dark as his heart...

Spacer issue six, volume eight  

Halloween Master
MARILYN IT'S ME, JOHN

Like many if not most adults these days, Tracy and I enjoy Halloween by dressing up and while we don't trick or treat (that would be a little awkward as we fast approach 50) Halloween Basketwe do still stroll the neighborhood and enjoy the decorations. Well, Tracy tends to always go as a witch, and whatever costume I might be wearing, and they are often minimalist, I always give a nod to Marilyn Monroe. Now you have to understand I don't have a thing for Marilyn, it's just all so easy. OK, you want to be Marilyn too? 1. Go out and find a black eye liner pencil. 2. PumpkinsTake the pencil and apply the largest beauty mark you can just above your lip. Size doesn't matter, side doesn't matter. No one remembers anyway. 3. Your in costume. That's it! I tend to be Marilyn with a mustache, shorts and an Oxford shirt. You get the picture. Total realism is the key. I also been Marilyn as a pirate, ghost (beauty mark on the sheet), zombie, etc. Filled ItemsAnother homage is to Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia. For this you need a white sheet and a pair of the largest cinnamon buns you can find and I mean large. Hopefully you can find buns that are at least 5" in diameter. Let them go stale, wire them together with an old coat hanger and wear them over your head like ear muffs. Now for the final touch paint a large beauty mark over your lip. You can't forget Marilyn! And of course you can't forget the true meaning of Halloween: Chocolate! Ghosts & GravestonesAs always we stand ready (all right, I'm currently sitting ready) to fill your needs for witchies and ghosties and things that go bump in the night! We even have one witch whose face is green from holding her breath waiting to go home with you (their faces don't go blue actually, different physiology). As for ghosts, we have two on the web to rattle your chains and more in the store. Pumpkins (you can't forget pumpkins) come in various sizes, with faces and without, including two sizes of pumpkin shaped truffles flavored with caramel apple or milk chocolate caramel mousse. If you want to create your own video of the old song "Somebody's Watching Me" for YouTube we have Eyeball Truffles, Eyeballs in Spoons and Hands and fortunately after the shoot, they are delicious. Whatever your need or goal, when it comes to Halloween treats, we won't let you down. In the words of the Bard, "Trick or Treat, Smell My Feet, Give Me Something Good To Eat".


John and Tracy Anderson

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La Condesa

We have been playing a bit of musical chairs in the restaurant scene in St. Helena of late. If you're keeping score, Martini House and AKA Bistro have closed, Go Fish has transformed into Brassica, Vanderbilts is being converted into a restaurant and the best news of all, La Condesa has opened in the old AKA space. La Condesa is a high end Tex-Mex restaurant presided over by chef-partner Rene Ortiz. He brings a winning formula of innovative food and over 200 tequilas and mezcals from the original restaurant in Austin, Texas. Tracy and I have eaten there twice so far and the food and cocktails are outstanding. Both times we have eaten family style and made a meal of their wide selection of small plates. We start with their salsa sampler (four different salsas) and add small tostadas of yellowfin tuna sashimi, huaraches of Snake River Farms pork belly and taquitos of royal trumpet mushrooms. Of particular note is their Hawaiian opa ceviche; we could have had three of those! Their menu of soups, salads and entrĂ©es look wonderful, we simply haven't gotten into them yet. Well we have lots of time. If you are into chicharrĂ³nes as I am be sure to order a side, they are very good. As for sweets, be sure to try the Redwood Hill Farm chevre cheesecake with caramel popcorn; an absolute show-stopper. One other thing we particularly enjoyed, when I ordered a shot of Chinaco they brought it Bandera (flag in Spanish) style. Something we had previously only enjoyed in Mexico: the lime represents the green, the shot of tequila the white and a shot of Sangrita the red. Very impressive. We plan to live here.
www.lacondesanapavalley.com

 


SAUSAGE AND PUMPKIN PASTIES

 

Serves 4

It's Pumpkin time again! I know I said that last year, but darned if it doesn't come around EVERY October. This year, I have decided to take a longer walk around town on Halloween and splurge on these yummy English pies that can qualify as finger food, or something more dinner-like if you add a salad. I have substituted pumpkin for the usual potato and threw in a bit of my not so secret ingredient (that would be chocolate of course). If you are afraid of rolling pins, buy some already made pie dough. I won't tell.

For the Crust:

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup cold butter
1/2 cup cold vegetable shortening
8 Tablespoons ice cold water
1 egg for egg wash + 2 Tablespoons water

In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, salt and baking powder. Cut the butter and shortening into small cubes, then add to the flour mixture. With a pastry cutter, or with a big fork, cut the fat into the flour until they are pea sized. Add cold water 2 tablespoons at a time, stirring with a fork. Keep adding water and lightly mixing with the fork until the dough mostly holds together. Turn out onto a floured surface and press together to form a ball. Flatten the ball to about 1" thick, wrap in plastic and refrigerate at least 30 minutes. You will want to make your filling before the next step, giving yourself time to cool the filling.
Roll out dough on a floured surface to 1/8" thick. Using a small plate, or like I do, a ramen bowl as a guide, cut into 6 1/2 inch circles (more or less), or whatever size you wish your pasties to be. You can make canape sized ones of you want, or monster pies. I don't care. Do what you feel. Anyway, once you have your rolled and cut your first set of circles, pile the dough together and roll out again. I got 8 circles, but I had to roll the last bit of dough a third time to get the 8th circle, but it should be okay (over-rolling can make the dough tough). Make an egg wash by beating the egg with about 2 tablespoons water until frothy. One at a time, brush the outside edge of each circle, put about 1/2 cup of the filling in the center, then push it around so that it fills 1/2 of the circle, leaving the edge free to press the top and bottom together. Fold the dough in half over the filling, press the edge together lightly with your fingers, then press with the tines of a fork to make it pretty and more firmly pressed together. Put on a baking sheet that has been lined with parchment paper, foil or silpat (I prefer parchment for this one) and repeat with the rest of the dough. Brush each pastie lightly with egg wash and cut a few slits in the top with a small knife. Bake at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 30-45 minutes depending on how your oven behaves - until nicely browned.

Pasties


For the Pumpkin Filling:
P. S.-It is not a bad idea to prepare this an hour or a couple of days ahead and refrigerate until ready to use.


2 Tablespoons butter, divided
1 sugar pie pumpkin, peeled seeded and cut into 1/2 inch cubes (you can substitute butternut or acorn squash)
1 yellow onion, diced
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh sage
salt and pepper
1/2 lb. bulk breakfast sausage
3/4 cup chicken stock

1 Tablespoon dark cocoa powder
1 Tablespoon flour
4 ozs. Gruyere cheese, grated (you can substitute just about any cheese you like)

Heat a medium skillet over medium high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of the butter and when it is melted, add the onions. Season with salt and pepper and saute until translucent. Add the sage, saute another 30 seconds or so, then put the onions in a medium sized mixing bowl. Put the skillet over the heat again and add the second tablespoon of butter, then the pumpkin, seasoning with salt and pepper. Saute, stirring every now and then until the pumpkin is browned and mostly cooked through. Put the pumpkin in the bowl with the onions. Put the skillet back on the heat AGAIN and add the sausage, breaking it up as you cook it. Let the sausage brown and when just cooked through, add the cocoa powder and flour. Stir to coat the sausage, then add the chicken stock, stirring constantly. Let simmer down until the sausage is coated in a thickened sauce, not swimming in broth. Add to the pumpkin and onions and let cool. If you are in a hurry, spread it out on a baking sheet and move it around every now and then. (FYI- hot filling on pie dough is a no-no. You would end up with a sticky mess.) Once your filling is cooled to at least room temperature, add the cheese and mix thoroughly.

To serve, either put them all on a platter and let people pick them up and eat them- add napkins, or plate them and add a nice fall salad. Either way, they are just as yummy!

  Pumpkin Head
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