Sunday, August 26, 2012

Fairy Carnival

I don't know what is up with True Blood this year. Isn't the finale usually in October?? Nevertheless, it has become my custom to watch the finale of each season with my dear friends, The Padulas--after we have a fabulous potluck dinner, of course! In years past, we've just made Cajun or Creole food, but more recently, our dinners have a theme. This year, is was...wait for it...A Fairy Carnival! Janice and Domenica made all kinds of fun fair food, from pizza to (organic) corn dogs, stuffed zucchini flowers, fried dough, cupcakes topped with cotton candy (aka fairy floss), and caramel corn. (Fairies don't need insulin after consuming such things, I guess!)

My contributions to the Fey Affair were: Mushrooms Stuffed with Turkey Sausage, Corn, Tomato and Fresh Basil, and Forest Loam Cake with a Chocolate-Honey Glaze Topped with Hazelnut Crunch. My rationale: Mushrooms are found in the forest, and I think fairies would appreciate fresh, seasonal fillings (some of which I grew myself). Then the sheet cake was rich and dark and earthy, and we know fairies love chocolate and honey, and also nuts, which can also be gathered from the forest floor. And any kind of crunchy, nutty candy topping says carnival to me! :-) 

Stuffed Mushrooms for the Fey Folk

2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 onion, finely chopped
5 links turkey (or pork) sausage
1 /2 pounds fresh mushrooms, caps and stems separated
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 tomato, chopped
1 ear of corn, steamed and kernels cut from the cob
1 cup panko (I used a lemon garlic flavor)
1/4 cup romano (or parmesan) cheese, shredded
1 8 oz. package cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons fresh basil, finely shredded
salt and pepper, to taste
pinch of cayenne
shredded Italian cheese blend (or whatever you have on hand)

In a large skillet, cook the onion, sausage, and the chopped-up stems of the mushrooms until the meat is no longer pink. Then add the garlic and cook for another minute or two. Remove from heat and drain the excess fat. Stir in the chopped tomato, corn kernels, panko, romano cheese, cream cheese, fresh basil, salt, pepper, and cayenne. Blend until thoroughly combined. Use a cookie scoop to fill each mushroom cap (this makes enough filling perhaps 32 mushrooms, depending on size). Sprinkle with shredded Italian cheese, and bake at
350 degrees for 25-30 minutes until the tops are golden and the mushrooms are tender.

As for the cake, I made my favorite chocolate sheet cake, and to the glaze, I added two tablespoons of honey, and one big spoonful of Nutella to tie it into the special topping. When I Googled hazelnuts and chocolate, I came across a new Bon Appétit recipe for a magnificent-looking Devil's Food Cake with Hazelnut Crunch. Someday, I'll get around to trying the cake, too, but I just made the hazelnut topping this time. And it's SO GOOD, you could happily eat it on its own. But it makes a delighfully crunchy surprise on top of a luscious chocolatey cake.

Hazelnut Crunch
(Source: adapted from Bon Appétit)
1/2 cup hazelnuts
1/2 cup semisweet or bittersweet chocolate (do not exceed 70%), chopped (I used Ghirardelli bittersweet chocolate chips)
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup Nutella
3 cups toasted rice cereal
pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 350°. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Spread out nuts on sheet. Toast until fragrant, six to seven minutes. Coarsely chop nuts; set aside.

Combine chocolate and butter in a medium heatproof bowl. Set bowl over a large saucepan of simmering water. Heat mixture, stirring often, until melted and smooth. Remove bowl from over saucepan. Stir in hazelnuts and Nutella. Fold in toasted rice cereal. Spread mixture out on prepared sheet; don't worry about spreading it evenly. Freeze until set, about 30 minutes. Using your hands, break crunch into small pieces.

DO AHEAD: Hazelnut crunch can be made 4 hours ahead. Cover and chill.


Whitney said...

I may have to try this! I have a Nutella addiction :). On a side note, I spent a little time in your neck of the woods back in my jr. high days; best place the air force sent us, fall foliage-wise!! It must be gorgeous there by now...

Joy Bugaloo said...

Hi, Whitney! Nice post. It's just starting to turn here. Usually the best color isn't until early to mid-October. The season is short but GLORIOUS! (Almost makes seven months of winter worth it...ha ha.)