Happy International Sherry Week 2018 to everyone! I am delighted that the Sherry week for me became a yearly celebration. Last year’s contest was a blast for me, as for of this year, I’ve enjoyed so much the brainstorming around a glass of Sherry wine to find out the best pairing possible with the local ingredients.
In my previous Sherry wine and food pairings, I’ve used the dry Sherries; Manzanilla and Fino. With Manzanilla, I’ve paired lobster which is very abundant and delicious in Nova Scotia while with Fino I’ve paired Atlantic salmon which is also very good in this province.
And this year, the bottle that was sent to me for the pairing challenged me in a different way and led me to another direction.
I have received a bottle of Medium. As all the types of Sherry wines, there is a huge effort going into, to be able to put a bottle of Medium on the table. Medium is produced by the must of the authorized grapes in the region (mainly Palomino and Pedro Ximenez) which then fortified until 15%, and aged in the barrels in soleras y criaderas system. After this biological aging, it’s fortified again until 17% and aged oxidatively. These different types of aging and a touch of Pedro Ximenez wine which is added in the end of process give Medium the complexity and characteristics sweetness that it has.
Medium is the type of Sherry wine that has the widest range of residual sugar. Actually it can have from 5 to 115 grams per litre of residual sugar. To make the selection easier for the consumers, Medium is divided into 2 types: “Medium dry” when sugar content is between 5 to 45 grams per litre, “Medium sweet” when between 45 to 115 grams per litre.
In my case, I have received a bottle of Pemartin Medium, the producer is Bodegas y Viñedos Diez Mérito S.L., made with 85% Palomino and 15% Pedro Ximenez grapes. It has 17% percent alcohol and almost 60 grams per litre residual sugar, which puts it to “Medium sweet” category.
As soon as I’ve received it, I’ve made a tasting: It has a lovely mahogany colour in the glass and in the nose I was impressed by the complexity of the aromas; hazelnuts, roasted almonds, a touch of coconut, butterscotch, fig jam and even some candied orange notes – just impressive. In the mouth it has medium sweetness and a very good acidity which balances it out. Roasted nuts and candied fruit aromas are also present in the mouth.
Then I took a sip of it, I closed my eyes, and imagined the first pairing that comes to my mind. Was it a tapa? Was it a samosa? Was it a spicy chicken? No! It was pumpkin spices! Pure pumpkin spices; cinnamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg, allspice… Than the alcohol and the sweetness touch into my tongue and I said OK, let’s make a plated dessert which won’t be so sweet and pair perfectly with this Medium.
My main ingredients for this dessert will be; wild blueberries, pumpkin and pumpkin spices. Let’s give a closer look to those ingredients one by one before giving the recipe.
Moving almost 2 years ago to Nova Scotia, I was exposed to some new local products that I was not very familiar with. One of them was blueberry. Wild blueberries. Wild blueberries in Nova Scotia are literally everywhere: they cannot be planted, they just grow naturally – that’s why they are called “wild”. I am not going to go so deep to explain the difference between cultivated and wild blueberries, since it might take quite long; but here I am sharing a photo that will show how they look:
When October arrives, I am thrilled to be surrounded by pumpkins in this season – basically there are pumpkin everywhere. It gives me so much inspiration to cook, sweet and savoury. Again, I don’t want to throw myself to the broad topic of different pumpkins and squash types – so I am choosing my “classical” pumpkin, this was called “pie pumpkin”.
This will be key point of my recipe. The pumpkin spices will give the complexity to my dessert to be able to accompany the roundness of Medium in the mouth.
For pumpkin cream:
- 1 small size pie pumpkin
- ½ cups of granulated white sugar (or more depending on the size of pumpkin and your taste)
- Unflavoured gelatin
- Pumpkin spices of your taste:
For wild blueberry jam:
- 1 cup of wild blueberries
- 1 cup of sugar
For wild blueberry-crème chantilly
- 2 cups of Whipping Cream 35%
- 2 spoons of wild blueberry jam
- ½ of icing sugar
- Unflavoured gelatin
For the mille-feuille
- 1 cup of unbleached white flour
- 1 cup butter
- ½ of cup of cold water
- ½ teaspoon of salt
- ½ teaspoon of lemon juice
How I made it?
First thing first, I suggest to make the mille-feuille dough from a day before because it has a lot of chilling time. If you don’t have time for this, you can also buy a frozen puff pastry – but of course it will not be as tasty as homemade.
For mille-feuille, I’ve mixed the flour, salt and 2 spoons of the butter in bowl and united them with my hands. Then I’ve added water and lemon juice in the middle, and incorporated gradually with a fork and knead until it’s a semi smooth dough. After patting it into a flat shape, I’ve wrapped it in plastic to refrigerate for 2 hours. When I was waiting for it, I’ve beaten the rest of the butter until it’s soft and I’ve formed it into a square – smaller than the dough. This also went to refrigerator.
I’ve took out dough and butter and started to work on a floured surface. I’ve placed the butter in the middle of the dough and with the corners of the dough I’ve completely hidden the butter in it. Then I’ve rolled it into a rectangle and started folding each sides to the centre and rolled again. I wrapped it again to plastic to refrigerate for 2 hours. This folding and refrigeration ceremony repeated by me for 3 times, until the dough is finally ready!
For pumpkin filling, I’ve cut the pumpkin into 2, scraped out the seeds and pulp from inside. After that I’ve cut the pieces into smaller pieces so they can cook easier. I’ve placed the pieces on a baking paper, and baked them for 45 minutes in 350°F (180°C) oven until they are fork-tender. When they are cooled down, I’ve carved it out from the skin and mashed them roughly with a fork and pass them from a colander. At this point, I’ve added the sugar and pumpkin spices and let it cool for a while before I’ve add some dissolved gelatin to give a better texture which would allow me to pipe it and keep the shape.
For wild blueberry jam, I’ve just put the washed wild blueberries and sugar in a sauce pan and cooked it in medium heat until it boils. Then I left to cool down, to use it later as a sauce in my plate, as well as in the other filling.
I’ve whipped the whipping cream, added the icing sugar, wild blueberry jam and around 2 table spoons of dissolved gelatin into the whipped cream. After mixing all these and I’ve put it in the refrigerator and kept until I prepare the mille-feuille.
I preferred a round shape for the pastry, so I’ve cut some rounds from my puff pastry and made some holes with a fork. I baked them for 15 minutes in 375°F (190°C) oven.
When everything cooled down, I’ve used a disposable decorating bag to fill the pastry with cream; one side with spicy pumpkin cream, the other side with wild blueberry cream. I’ve used different piping nozzles for fun! Look at those pretty colours – they are perfectly matching!
Finally, I’ve poured myself a glass of Medium and enjoyed it with this delightful plated dessert.
This pairing is a harmonious assemblage of flavors and colours which happened to be at the same place at the same time… I’ve chosen the ingredients, passed them through my palate and my imagination to create this pairing.
I hope you enjoy this pairing and try at home by yourself. Don’t forget to let me know if you do so!
All images © 2018 by Nedret Neslihan IVIT. All rights reserved.