Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Creepy Halloween Treat

We just loved this Halloween Treat from the Food Network. These creepy yet yummy spiders would be a fun addition down or around the center of your Halloween table setting. Or make them an edible place card (write each guests name on a sticker and wrap one end of the sticker to a toothpick and place the toothpick into the spider) to welcome or frighten each guest at the table. Enjoy!

1 1/2 cups toasted pecans
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, in pieces
1/4 teaspoon salt
5 ounces thin black licorice strands, cut into 2-inch pieces
6 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
4 ounces milk chocolate, chopped
Chocolate curls or jimmies, optional
Line 2 baking sheets with waxed paper and lightly spray with nonstick spray. Mound 30 small clusters of pecans, about 3 or 4 pecans each, spaced a couple inches apart on the pan.
Make caramel: Warm the cream over low heat and keep warm while you cook the sugar.
Put the sugar and corn syrup and in a deep, heavy-bottomed large saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally until the sugar dissolves. Stop stirring, raise heat to medium-high, and simmer until the sugar reaches the hard crack stage, or 305 degrees F on a candy thermometer, about 7 minutes.
Whisk the butter and salt into the sugar mixture. Gradually pour in the cream and vanilla taking care since the mixture will bubble up. Reduce the heat to medium and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the sugar reaches soft ball stage, 240 degrees F on the thermometer, about 5 minutes more. Immediately remove from the heat and cool for a minute.
Ladle a couple tablespoons of warm caramel over some of the nut clusters, to make the spider bodies. Then press 6 pieces of licorice into the warm caramel to make the legs. Repeat with the remaining caramel and licorice. (It's helpful to have an extra hand here, since the caramel can set quickly. If caramel hardens, warm over very low heat. ) Let spiders cool 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, put the chocolates in a medium heatproof bowl. Bring a saucepan filled with 1-inch or so of water to a very slow simmer; set the bowl over, but not touching, the water. Stir the chocolate occasionally until melted and smooth. (Alternatively, put the chocolate in a medium microwave-safe bowl. Melt at 50 percent power in the microwave until soft, about 1 minute. Stir, and continue heat until completely melted, 2 to 3 minutes more.)
Spoon about 1 tablespoon of melted chocolate on top of each spider. Sprinkle with jimmies or chocolate curls, if desired. Let cool until firm.
Recipe from: 2007 Television Food Network, G.P.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Harvest Time

Here in the Northbay, Sonoma County has the Harvest Fair. At this weekend event, held every year on the first weekend in October, it celebrates the variety of amazing wines and foods produced here locally. Hundreds of people gather the last weekend in September at the Harvest Fair Awards Night Gala to see who the big winners are in the wine and food industry. This year's winners of the sweepstakes prize (the highest honor given) went to Adler Fels of Santa Rosa for its 2007 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir ($25.00) and Owl Ridge Wines of Sebastopol for its 2008 Sonoma County Sauvignon Blanc ($12.00).

What does this have to do with Table Ambiance....... Well, we thought with all the amazing wines (and foods) that are introduced during this Harvest time it is a prime time to entertain - Host a wine tasting party for friends and/or family, and get their opinions on different wines.

Not sure how? We have a new and fun product called MusicCooks - Wine Tasting. It is a box set filled with fun and easy recipes (along with photos), instructions on how to host a wine tasting, and it also includes a shopping or pantry list for your convenience. To top it off, it includes a CD filled with Wine Country music (a blend of bluegrass, classical jazz, and country). This little box is everything you need to impress your wine tasting guests, but it will be our secret!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Fall Season is Here.......

Happy First Day of Fall
This is our favorite time of year, even though here is Northern California the weather sure isn't feeling very fallish. This time of year is full of rich colors to choose from and wonderful fall foods and recipes to entertain with. And of course, don't forget the numerous reasons to entertain the season. Stay tuned to see some of Table Ambiance's fall entertaining ideas.
Ideas for Fall Decorating
Quick Fall Centerpiece

Create a stress-free centerpiece by setting several pumpkins or gourds on the table. This arrangement contains them on a long white platter, but a low basket or tray would work just as well. Garnish with a few leaves, berry clusters, or flowers to add a bit of color and texture.