The opportunity to attend “Bubbles, Bacon and Brunch” (complete with recipes) at the 6th Annual Artisan Cheese Festival, led by Duskie Estes of Zazu restaurant + farm, a place legendary for its Sunday brunch was just too good to pass up.
Of course, artisan cheese was front and center, but Estes and her husband John Stewart, are also known for their Black Pig Meat Co. bacon. “Known” understates the case — last year Stewart and Estes beat out some of the best chefs in the country to win Grand Cochon – the ultimate celebration of heritage pork and the chefs who prepare it at The Heritage Pork Olympic Finals in Aspen, Colorado.
So naturally, bacon was on the menu, too.
Estes kicked off the three-course brunch with a basket of Black Pig Bacon and Beehive “Promontory” cheese cornbread, and Roasted Uva Flatbread with Redwood Hill Creamery cheese – cheese, and more cheese – washed down with a chilled flute of 2007 Iron Horse Vineyard Wedding Cuvee.
While guests entertained themselves with a parfait of whole grain granola and Clover Stornetta yogurt infused with cinnamon and apples, Estes swung into a demonstration of the next course: Black Pig Bacon-wrapped Asparagus with Bellwether Farms Pepato Fallen Soufflés. Aside from the mirror display over the workspace and a big-screen video of the chef at work, it was a bonus for a home cooks to hear Estes talk as she worked. Offhand comments are insights into shortcuts, substitutions, and prep details that carry over to success in home kitchens.
Just as the dish wrapped on the big screen, platters of creamy, cheesy soufflés, with crisp, salty bacon and roasted asparagus on the side, emerged from the kitchen.
Estes wrapped up the demonstration with “Turnovers with Laura Chenel’s Chevre and Passion Fruit Honey Dipping Sauce” – fresh, sweet flavors to balance out the rich, sharp and salty flavors of the previous course. All the while, Estes answered questions from the crowd: “Can the turnovers be done ahead?” Yes. “Can I fry them in lard?” Yes. Or canola oil, but not peanut oil (the flavor’s too strong). Which honey did you use? Marshall’s. Where can I find passion fruit puree? If your local market doesn’t have it, a store that sells Hispanic foods might have it.
The recipe, “Turnovers with Laura Chenel Chevre and Passion Fruit Honey Dipping Sauce,” is reproduced here with the permission of the California Artisan Cheese Festival. Estes also shares a generous archive of her recipes at the Zazu website.
If cooking from the Zazu archive is simply beyond you, no problem. Zazu, an hour north of Berkeley near Santa Rosa, is open Wednesday through Sunday from 5:30 for dinner, and from 9:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. on Sundays for brunch. Call for reservations.
Turnovers with Laura Chenel’s Chevre and Passion Fruit Honey Dipping Sauce
makes 9 servings
reproduced with permission of the California Artisan Cheese Festival
- 8 ounces Laura Chenel chevre
- 1 tablespoon Clover Stornetta heavy cream
- 5 tablespoons sugar
- 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
Combine the filling ingredients in a medium bowl and chill
Passion Fruit puree – sweetened with honey, to taste
Pastry Dough and Assembly
- 2 1/2 cups flour
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 pound (8 ounces) Clover Stornetta unsalted butter, chilled, cut into pieces
- 6-8 tablespoons ice water
- Blend sugar, flour and salt in a food processor fitted with a steel blade.
- Pulse in chilled butter.
- Pulse in just enough water to moisten dough and allow it to pull together.
- Wrap in plastic and chill one hour.
- Roll out into 18 4-inch rounds (1/8-inch thick).
- Divide goat cheese filling between pastry rounds.
- Brush egg wash on one edge, fold over and seal with a fork.
- Heat oil in a large pan or deep fryer to 350F.
- Fry in oil until golden brown. Drain on paper towels.
- Serve (two turnovers per serving) with dipping sauce, or drizzle.