Saturday, February 27, 2010

An Evening at Jasper's....
Pig 102,
from Snout to Tail
Pig 102 is now in the past and I have had a full day without pork!
Thursday evening, 45 guests arrived at Jasper's Restaurant here in south Kansas City to participate in an 8 course dinner featuring "the Pig". As I have said in previous blogs, we started this dinner over a month ago. The Guanciale, Italian dry cured hog jowl, was the first item we decided to prepare. When I asked Jasper what he thought of the idea of making Guanciale, he was all for it. The next step was to find the jowls.... you can't just walk into your local grocery store and buy them! Steve's Meat Market in DeSota, Kansas was my answer. With menu in hand, I went to Steve's and ordered 8 jowls, pounds and pounds of ground pork and ground pork fat, huge amounts of pork shoulder, 5 pounds of pork liver, and 20 pounds of pork neck bones. When another snow and ice storm made it impossible to make the drive to DeSota to pick it up, our preparations were put on hold. I was a little nervous as the days went by, still no pork. The hog jowls needed to rest in the wonderful Tuscan seasoning sent to us by our friend, Judy Francini, all the way from Italy. When Jasper was finally able to drive to Steve's, we met and the preparations began.
As each jowl was sufficiently seasoned with our Tuscan seasoning, it was then rigged with a butcher's twine "hammock" to be hung in the walk-in cooler at the restaurant for another 2 weeks. (see the photo of Guanciale, taken by Chris Perrin of Blog Well Done ) After that they were to hang in the wine cellar at Jasper's until the day of the dinner.  At long last, our Guanciale was underway.
Next came the Cotechino, a wonderful clove infused sausage. I made three large sausages, wrapped in cheesecloth and tied with butcher's twine, then simmered gently in a pork broth.
My second project was Coppa di testa, otherwise known as head cheese. Now, don't get upset, I did not use the poor pig's head, but I doubt  he would have cared if I had. Instead I used ground pork shoulder, with minced carrots and red bell peppers, both red and green onions and celery. To replace the natural gelatin provided by the bone and skin of the hog's head, I turned to good old Knox.
We were now down to two days before the dinner and it was time to make the Italian Country Pate. I want to thank my sister and brother-in-law, Ann and Bruce Wilkinson of Raleigh, North Carolina (they planned a visit home to coincide with the dinner) who painstakingly diced 5 pounds of pork liver into tiny little 1/2" cubes. Those cubes were blended into 5 pounds of ground pork, 3 pounds of ground pork fat, onions, brandy, herbs and spices. The mixture was packed into bacon-lined loaf pans and baked in a water bath.
While all of this was going in my kitchen, Jasper and his staff were planning the evening with great care. They had the 20 pounds of neckbones to prepare in Jasper's own sauce, and a large pork butt to turn into the world's best Porchetta. The patio room at the restaurant overlooks Watt's Mill Creek and with the melting snow, it was running fast over the rocky falls. The white tablecloths, candle light and the sparkling wine glasses gave the room a festive air. In the kitchen the Tuscan Bean Soup was simmering on the stove, the Porchetta and Truffle Potatoes were in the oven, the Caramelized Pancetta Gelato was waiting in the freezer. The pasta was cooked and the salad greens were ready to be tossed with Jasper's Tuscan Dressing. He had prepared 3 wonderful sauces to be served with the sausage, head cheese and pate.
As the guests arrived, they were greeted with a gleaming glass of Somerset Ridge Traminette wine, the first of many of Somerset's wonderful wines that would be served throughout the evening. On the tables were silver platters of artisian breads prepared by fellow Slow Food member, Suzanne Frisse....... Suzanne had used the Traminette wine in her bread and was amazed at the almond flavor it created.
When the guests were seated, the first of the small starter plates were served. 8 plates later, we rolled them out to their cars! All were smiling..... groaning...but smiling!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Slow Food Kansas City Presents Pig 102
 "From Snout to Tail"

Local Duroc Pork, Local Wine & Local Chefs
February 25, 2010 6:30 PM

Jasper's Ristorante 1201 W. 103rd. Street
Kansas City, MO 64114

Call 816.941.6600 for reservations
45.00 per person
(Tax and gratuity not included.)


Join Slow Food Members Kay Tucker & Chef Jasper Mirabile for our 2nd annual
small plate dinner featuring Pork Belly, Jowl, Trotter, Neck Bones & more.
Our Mission: To teach the home cook how to use the whole hog from snout to tail.
Jasper will be serving Tuscan Bean Soup, Mama's Sunday Sauce & Neck Bones and
Bucatini all'Amatriciana, & Porchetta.

I am making Guanciale, Head Cheese, Zampone & Country Pork Pate.
To finish off our Pig 102 Dinner, how about an
Extra Virgin Olive Oil Cake with Gelato and Caramelized Pancetta!

Slow Food members Dennis & Cindy Reynolds will be offering their
Somerset Ridge wine produced locally in Somerset, Kansas.

A portion of the dinner price will be applied to Slow Food philanthropies.

Jasper and I had such a good time preparing our Pig 101 dinner last year that we have decided to continue on with our mission to use every part of a pig.
If you are planning on joining us but have not made your reservation yet,
please do not delay. Seating is limited!
Call Jasper's today at
I would love to see you there!

One of the dishes that I am making is head cheese! So many people draw back when I say that....the dreaded head cheese.  Sure it may sound peculiar, but it is actually very good! It isn't like I grind up a pig's head. Instead, you gently simmer it (by the way, it is completely clean of strange stuff like brains, eyeballs, tongue, etc). You see, the skull bones have a great deal of natural gelatin in them. As I simmer the head, the meat on the cheeks, which is absolutely succulent, and the natural gelatin separate from the bones. I strain the meat from the broth, dispose of the skull bone and proceed to make a formed meat sausage from the broth and meat. It is flavored with good things like onions, carrots, celery, and garlic. See, it isn't so bad after all!
Now, as for the Zampone.....
you take pig trotters (the feet)...
Okay, I never said I was normal!

So, now I feel I need to share a pork recipe that does not call for strange body parts! Are you tired of sausage that has so much fat that each patty shrinks drastically when you cook it? Try this, I think you will be pleased. And, you get some bran!

Lean Pork Breakfast Sausage
3/4 cup shreds of whole bran cereal
1/3 cup apple juice
1/2 pound ground pork loin
1/4 teaspoon fennel seed
1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon hot pepper flakes

 In medium bowl, combine cereal and apple juice; let stand 5 minutes. Add remaining ingredients; mix well. Shape into six patties. Heat broiler. Place patties on oiled broiler pan. Broil 4-5 inches from heat for 4-5 minutes on each side, or until no longer pink. Makes 6 patties.


Monday, February 15, 2010

What a weekend it was for the Art Community here in Kansas City! It started off Friday evening with a roaring success at ARTichokes Gallery in Mission Farms. ARTichokes consistently shows the regions best art, featuring artists that are as varied in medium as they are in subject.

I felt particularly proud as I entered the gallery. The featured artist is a delightful young woman that I have gotten to know well over the last 12 months. There on the largest wall of the gallery, I found the amazing work of Kristin Goering. Kristin works in Acrylics and is particularly adept in painting both Kansas and Colorado landscapes as well as vibrant florals and still life paintings.
Kristin is one of the happiest people you will ever meet; her beautiful smile and laugh make you want to get to know her. Her happiness is apparent in every one of her paintings!

The shows at ARTichokes are the result of hard work and love of art by both Becky Pashia and Megan Sutherland, the 2 owners of the Gallery. The two women consistently choose the right mix of artists and then hang the show, utilizing movable walls, creating a magnificent showcase for each individual artist. As a student at ARTichokes, I am always excited to enter the Gallery! Stop by and see what I mean, it is a great experience.

As if Friday evening wasn’t enough, along came Saturday and another thrilling art experience! The Kansas City Artist’s Coalition held their 27th Annual Art Auction in the Coalition’s gallery space in the River Market area. Each year, the Coalition holds this fund raiser, auctioning off pieces of art donated by the member artists. The auction is divided into both a silent auction and a live auction.. The official auctioneer was Colonel Wes E. Schlobohm, assisted by his father and cousin. With hundreds of pieces to auction, they kept it moving and fun. I always did like a man in a Stetson!

I am sorry to say I did not place a winning bid to bring home one of the treasures, but I met some wonderful artists and ran into many I already knew. The food and wine were delicious and the volunteers who worked throughout the evening did a magnificent job of keeping the hundreds of guests very happy.

I am already looking forward to the 28th Annual Art Auction!


Thursday, February 11, 2010

Mardi Gras! So many food blogs are coveringValentines Day,
and because of that, I am choosing to talk about Mardi Gras. Whether you call it Mardi
Gras, Karneval, Carnival, or Carnevale, whether you are in New Orleans, Rio or Venice,
food and drink are BIG! Our own New Orleans has been partying for a week because of their Super Bowl victory last weekend; they switched gears today with the big Mardi Gras Parade. It has arrived! Dig out your beads and is time to party New Orleans style!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Pig 102 is coming
From the Somerset Ridge Vineyard newsletter....
After the great success of Pig 101 last year, we're pleased to announce: Pig 102: From Snout to Tail, 6:30 pm February 25,, at Jasper's Restaurant!
Chefs Jasper Mirable and Kay Tucker will show us how to prepare delectable dishes from every part of the noble pig, with pairings of Somerset Ridge wine with every course.
This event is presented by Slow Food Kansas City. It sold out quickly last year, so make your reservations now by calling Jasper's Ristorante at 816-941-6600.
$40.00 per person - Includes wine.
$5.00 from every purchase goes directly to Slow Food KC Chapter.

Nothing says "I love you" on Valentines Day like a handmade Chocolate Truffle, unless it is a handmade Somerset Ridge Tawny Port Chocolate Truffle! Chocolate and Port have been perfect together forever, now you can have them both in one fabulous bite. Make these for the one you love and your evening will be amazing!

Classic Bittersweet Chocolate-Somerset Ridge Tawny Port Truffles


8 1/2 ounces finely chopped bittersweet (not unsweetened) chocolate
3/4 cup heavy (whipping) cream
2 Tablespoons Somerset Ridge Vineyard Tawny Port


2/3 cup sifted unsweetened cocoa powder, preferably Dutch-process (European-style), for dusting truffles (see Note)
1 1/4 pounds coarsely chopped bittersweet (not unsweetened) chocolate
2 Tablespoons solid white vegetable shortening (no substitutes)

1. To prepare ganache: Put chocolate in a medium-sized, deep bowl set in a warm place. In a medium saucepan bring cream to a simmer over medium-high heat. Lower heat until mixture just barely simmers and cook, uncovered and stirring occasionally, three to four minutes, or until liquid is reduced to 2/3 cup. Immediately strain cream through a fine sieve into chocolate, stirring until chocolate completely melts. (If any chocolate pieces remain unmelted, set bowl in a slightly larger bowl of hot water and stir until melted.) Stir Port into ganache until well blended. Cover and refrigerate for at least four hours (or freeze, stirring frequently, for about one hour), until mixture is very cold and stiff.
2. To form truffle centers: Using a melon baller or teaspoon, scoop up ganache and roll between palms into 3/4-inch balls. (They don't have to be perfectly round.) Transfer to wax paper lined baking sheet, slightly separated. (As chocolate builds up on hands, wipe it off with a paper towel and continue.) If ganache be comes too soft to shape, return to refrigerator briefly; then proceed. Lightly cover balls with plastic wrap and return to refrigerator until portions are cool and firm.
3. Meanwhile, set out a wax paper-lined tray and a long-tined dipping fork (or a meat fork, fondue fork, or dinner fork). Put cocoa powder in a medium-sized, deep bowl. To hold tempered chocolate at the proper temperature, place a heating pad (inserted in a heavy plastic bag to protect it from drips) under bowl of tempered chocolate. Turn pad to lowest setting. Lay a kitchen towel over plastic bag and, as you work, adjust the thickness of the towel as needed to keep bottom of bowl just barely warm.
4. To chocolate-coat and dust truffles: Tip bowl so chocolate pools on one side. Dip a chilled ball of ganache into chocolate, turning with fork until completely submerged. Immediately lift truffle, tapping fork against pan side and then scraping it against side to remove excess chocolate. Quickly drop truffle into bowl of cocoa powder, shaking and swirling bowl, until ball is completely coated. Push to one side and let rest a few seconds until chocolate layer begins to set. Shake off excess cocoa powder, reshape truffle into a ball with fingers if necessary, and lay on wax paper-lined tray. Repeat procedure, gently stirring chocolate about every two minutes to maintain even temperature, until all truffles are prepared. Wipe off dipping fork with dry paper towel as chocolate builds up. If chocolate begins to stiffen and set before all the truffles have been dipped, remove towel from heating pad and turn up heat, stirring just until chocolate melts and thins out again but is not warm. Immediately lower heat and replace towel. Recheck for tempered state by inserting a knife in chocolate and timing to see if it sets within 1-1/2 minutes. If not, add about 1/2 ounce more chocolate; gently stir to cool mixture slightly and try again.
5. When all truffles are formed, immediately cover tray with plastic wrap and refrigerate for five minutes only. Immediately remove from refrigerator. Pack airtight and keep in a cool place (but preferably not refrigerated) for up to a week.
6. Note: For a sweeter coating that lends the same dusty look as cocoa powder, combine 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder and 2/3 cup chopped bittersweet (not unsweetened) chocolate in a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Process in on/off pulses until chocolate is finely chopped. Continue processing until mixture is powder fine. Then proceed to chocolate-coat and dust truffles exactly as instructed.
7. Yield: about 1-1/3 pounds, about 35 1-1/4 inch truffles

Sunday, February 7, 2010

The First Paola, Kansas Art Crawl was a BLAST!
the Somerset Ridge Painters were very pleased and proud
to be invited to participate.
Donna Nagle, owner of Molly's Table
let us take over her restaurant for the evening.
there were over 30 paintings by
Ada Koch
Audrey Benskin
JoAnne Carlton
Maria Johnson
Vicki Johnston
Winnie Davis
and Kay Tucker

Molly's Table provided the food, including a wonderful Goat Cheese Torte with sundried tomatoes
The wine was from Somerset Ridge Vineyards, naturally!
The event in cooperation with
D'Marie Fine Art Gallery and
the Gas Light Gallery on the Paola Square
was a big success and more Art Crawls will be coming!

Many of our paintings will remain on display at Molly's Table for the next month.
Have lunch at Molly's Table soon,  I recommend you try her delicious Tortilla Soup
and don't forget to check out the paintings!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Introducing the
Somerset Ridge Vineyard Painters
Ada Koch
Audrey Benskin
JoAnne Carlton
Maria Johnson
Patsy Brown
Vicki Johnston
Winnie Davis
and Kay Tucker

Come join the celebration
Molly’s Table
Paola Art Crawl
Saturday, February 6, 2010 6-9pm

I might mention that the restaurant will be closed for dining. They are open Monday through Friday 8am to 2 pm. (I also want to add their soups, sandwiches and salads are heavenly!)

No dining, but there will be appetizers and wine for our guests! Hope to see you there!

Ponte Vecchio, Florence, Italy

Ponte Vecchio, Florence, Italy
oil painting by Kay Tucker

Somerset Autumn on Wea Creek

Somerset Autumn on Wea Creek
Oil Painting by Kay Tucker, Private Collection


oil painting by Kay Tucker

Kansas Storm

Kansas Storm
oil painting by Kay Tucker, Private Collection

Watercolor Collage

Watercolor Collage

Tempo al Tempo....All in Good Time

Tempo al Tempo....All in Good Time
48"x36" sculptural painting by Kay Tucker