This weeks Friday Cocktail is a bit different and I hope you’ll enjoy it; after all, beverages are only one component of Happy Hour and we need the accompanying foods too, right?
I participate in a monthly event called #Baketogether that was started by my friend Abby Dodge. Abby is a former pastry chef and is now an experienced recipe developer and cookbook author who has graced my life and many others with fabulous recipes in both book and magazine form. For those of us lucky enough to participate in this monthly event, we are always blessed with both inspiration for our monthly post and a delightful and quirky sense of humor. I won’t deny. I love Abby Dodge.
After a great bread called Boule that we went crazy for in January which was followed by cheesecake in February, Abby wisely gave us a savory and wonderful sable, a French biscuit that has a shortbread like texture I love. A combination of butter, cheese, flour and cayenne, they are a lovely hors d’oeuvre that we enjoyed served with some fabulous local dry sausage from Denver’s own Paisano Sausage Company and the perfect accompanying wine from Denver’s Balistreri Vineyard.
Utilizing a technique called fraisage, the dough is quickly pulsed together in a food processor and then dumped on a flat surface where the dough is smeared with the palm of your hand, creating layers of butter and dough and resulting in the tender and flaky biscuit that is a new favorite of mine; as evidenced by all of them being gone. Every. Single. One. If you decide to try these yourself, be sure to check out Abby’s post where she has a nice pictorial illustrating the fraisage technique.
I was late getting my baking project done this month and wondered what I could possibly bring to the table that would be unique; I saw so many great variations being made. As often happens with me, my inspiration came about in a very mundane way. Hmm, wonder what I have in the fridge? What I found? The perfect cheese! I had been shopping with my friend Karen a few weeks ago and we ran to Costco (two food bloggers in Costco…look out!). Karen was familiar with this cheese and highly recommended it and I was game to try it. And now I love it.
Cambozola is a cow’s milk cheese that is a combination of a French soft-ripened triple cream cheese and Italian Gorgonzola. This cheese was initially developed circa 1900 and produced by the German company Champignon; in the 1970’s Champignon patented and industrially produced their product for the world market. In English-speaking countries, cambozola is often marketed as blue brie and that is a perfect description for this wonder, triple cream cheese. I wanted to add a nut to the mix as well and in one of those fortuitous moments I spied a bag of pistachios. Normally reserved for munching straight from the bag in my home, I thought they would not only taste great with the cheese I was adding but would add a great texture and a bit of color too.
I was very lucky to have a gift basket of great goodies that I received recently when I was a guest of Paisano Sausage and their hot, dry sausage was a perfect compliment. The olives had come my way from Star Fine Foods when I helped them put on a food event in Denver a few months ago and even our wine was local; procured for us from Balistreri Vineyards by the folks at Paisano. Although the olives are from California, I was still acutely aware of how ‘locavore’ this Happy Hour assemblage was!
This was a very savory board of goodies so I was happy that I had the Balistreri Sangiovese to serve alongside. This is a beautifully balanced wine; the cream soda on the nose leads you into the big cherry flavors that finish with traces of walnut and a spicy dry finish. The 2010 vintage received a Gold Medal last year at the Colorado Mountain WineFest, Best of the Fest Competition. Taking these savory biscuits over the top was just a smidge of apricot jam; that fruity mix with the blue cheese and pistachios was, well, I already mentioned there were none left, right?
Now I can’t wait to try versions friends have made; make sure you check those out at the bottom of Abby’s post; you could be baking sables for weeks too! And if you are so inclined? Join us; it’s a fun, supportive community of bloggers and I think we all learn something from each other. Abby does a post on the first of each month with her latest idea and we can make it as is or put our own spin on it but however we participate there is always fun during the process!
Missing your cocktail fix? Then be sure to scoot over to my friend Nancy’s site for one I can’t wait to make, the Blushing Lady; a combination of pomegranate liqueur, lemon vodka and pink grapefruit juice. Cheers!
Pistachio & Cambozola Cheese Sables with Denver Sausage & Wine for #Baketogether and #HappyHourFriday
A wonderful and easy to make savory cracker.
- 1 1/3 cups (6 ounces) all purpose flour
- 1/2 cup (2 ounces) Cambozola (substitute a combination of Brie and Bleu cheese if you can't locate this cheese)
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/8 teaspoon (or more to taste) ground cayenne pepper
- 8 tablespoons (4 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into 7 slices, well chilled
- 2 tablespoons + 1 1/2 teaspoons very cold water
- 1/4 cup chopped pistachios (process in a food processor)
- Put the flour, cheese, salt and cayenne in the bowl of your food processor and pulse briefly to combine.
- Add the butter and pulse until the butter pieces are slightly larger than pea size, about 10 to 12 pulses depending on your machine.
- Add the largest pieces of pistachio to the mix (leave the finer crumbs on the counter to garnish the dough) and pulse one or two times.
- Drizzle the water evenly over the flour mixture.
- Pulse until the dough begins to form moist crumbs that are just beginning to clump together, about 8 or 9 more pulses depending on your machine.
- Empty the crumbs onto a counter-top (without flour) and gather into a pile. With the heel of your hand, push and gently smear the crumbs away from you until they start to come together in a cohesive dough.
- Two or three ‘smears’ should do the trick. Using a bench scraper, gather the dough together and turn it about 45 degrees and give it one or two more smears.
- Gather the dough together and shape the dough into a 7 1/4-inch long and 2 1/4 -inch wide rectangle using the bench scraper to make the sides nice and straight.
- Press the fine pistachio crumbs left from processing into the top and/or bottom of the dough depending on how much you have.
- Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate until very firm, about 3 hours, or up to 2 days.
- Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 375°F. Line two large baking sheets with parchment.
- Using a thin, sharp knife, cut the logs into 1/4-inch slices and arrange about 1 inch apart (without leavening you don't really have to worry about them spreading) on the prepared sheets.
- Bake, one sheet at a time, until nutty brown around the edges, 16 to 18 minutes.
- Serve slightly warm or room temperature.
The dough can be shaped and frozen for up to a month and then thawed for about an hour on the counter or in the refrigerator overnight.
Or store the baked and cooled sables in a heavy duty zip top bag and stash them in the freezer. Thaw at room temperature and warm them for a few minutes at 325°F to refresh the flavors.
We enjoyed some fabulous preserves from my friend Wendy at Sunchowder’s Emporia; be sure to check out the wonderful combinations she offers on her website.