Thursday, August 1, 2013

Patrick Evans-Hylton at The Essex Inn

Recently we, at The Essex Inn in Tappahannock, VA, welcomed well-known Virginia Chef and Author, Patrick Evans-Hylton, whom we hosted for a night at our luxurious bed and breakfast inn. Patrick was exploring our region of eastern Virginia which sits along the Rappahannock River on the western side and the Potomac on the far side.  The next day he continued on across the bridge to the Northern Neck to sample our local wines and culinary offerings.
Bob and I had a lovely visit with Patrick and learned all about his new book, "Dishing up Virginia", which is on the market now. If you would like to read the article that Patrick wrote about his adventures in our area of Virginia check out the summer/fall edition of Virginia Wine Lover magazine.

Here is the recipe that we served to Patrick for his breakfast:

Blood Orange Polenta Upside-Down Cake with Whipped Creme Fraiche

This upside-down cake is made in a skillet instead of a cake pan.  When you invert the dessert, thin slices of vibrantly colored blood oranges end up on the top.

Yield:  Makes 8 servings

Ingredients:  Cake
7 TBS. sugar, divided, plus 3/4 cup sugar
3 TBS water
8 TBS (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature, divided
3 unpeeled small to medium blood oranges
3/4 cup plus 3 TBS unbleached all-purpose flour
3 TBS polenta or coarse yellow cornmeal (preferably stone-ground)
1 1/2 Tsp. baking powder
1/4 Tsp. coarse kosher salt
3/4 Tsp. vanilla extract
2 large eggs, separated
6 TBS whole milk

Whipped creme fraiche:
2 TBS sugar
1 cup chilled creme fraiche. *
* Creme Fraiche can easily be made at home:  take one cup of heavy whipping cream and put it in a small jar or crock, add 2 tsps. of sour cream or white yogurt, stir and let sit on top of stove or in a warm place for 3 to 4 days til thickened.  Then use and /or store in refrigerator for a week or so.  This is a great way to use up any left-over whip cream on hand.  If  creme fraiche is not an option, just use real whip cream, sweetened.

Special equipment:  Ovenproof 10-inch diameter skillet with 8" bottom and 2 1/2-inch high sides

Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350 degrees.  Combine 6 tbs. sugar and 3 tbs. water in skillet, stir over medium heat til sugar dissolves.  Increase heat and boil without stirring until syrup is golden amber (not dark amber), occasionally brushing down sides of skillet with wet pastry brush and swirling skillet, about 4 minutes.  Remove skillet from heat and whisk 2 TBS butter into caramel.  Set aside.
Cut off both rounded ends of each orange so that ends are even and flat.  Using sharp knife, cut oranges into 1/16 to 1/8 inch thick rounds. Remove and discard any seeds.  Arrange orange slices, overlapping slightly, in concentric circles atop caramel in bottom of skillet.

Whisk flour, polenta, baking powder, and coarse kosher salt in medium bowl to blend. Using electric mixer, beat 3/4 cup sugar, remaining 6 TBS room-temperature butter, and vanilla in another medium bowl until light and fluffy.  Add egg yolks 1 at a time, beating well after each addition.  Add flour mixture in 3 additions aternately with milk in 2 additions, beating batter just until incorporated.

Using clean dry beaters, beat egg whites in large bowl until soft peaks form.  Add remaining 1 TBS sugar and beat until stiff but not dry.  Fold 1/3 of egg whites into batter to lighten, then fold in remaining egg whites in 2 additions.  Drop batter by large spoonfuls atop orange slices in skillet, then spread evenly.

Bake cake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 45 minutes.  Cool cake in skillet 10 minutes.  Run small knife around cake to loosen.  Place platter atop skillet.  Using oven mitts, hold platter and skillet firmly together and invert, allowing cake to settle onto platter.  Rearrange any orange slices that may have become dislodged.  Cool cake completely at room temperature.

Using electric mixer, beat chilled creme fraiche and 2 TBS sugar in medium bowl until mixture thickens.  Cut cake into wedges and serve with a dollop of creme fraiche.

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