Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The gift of years

When I started this blog a little over three years ago, I was an enthusiastic baker (and cook), but not a very experienced one. I wanted to broaden my horizons, but was nervous to try new recipes, reluctant to stray from recipes as written, and quick to panic when anything didn't go as planned. I eagerly joined challenges (the BBA followed by the Modern Bakers and the Mellow Bakers), hoping to learn more.

This Christmas, I really felt the difference the past few years have made. For one thing, I made everything - Christmas Eve dinner (chicken wild rice soup in bread bowls, salad with poppyseed dressing, doughnuts), Christmas morning breakfast (BBA cinnamon rolls), and Christmas dinner (glazed ham, mashed potatoes, rolls, green bean casserole, sugared cranberries, rustic apple pie, and vanilla bean ice cream) completely from scratch, and without asking our guests to bring anything.

Recipes that just a couple of years ago gave me fits - Maida's big apple pie, which I swore I would never make again - came together without a hitch.

Mishaps were easily dealt with: when the roll dough I was working with (a new recipe that I'd altered slightly - still not sure what went wrong) just would not behave normally, even after an hour of doctoring/waiting, I tossed it and was still able to have fresh rolls on the table at 6:00.

I was able to add two new recipes: these sugared cranberries which looked beautiful and were a good way to use up part of a leftover bag of berries, and this from-scratch green bean casserole which I absolutely loved (but I'm glad I didn't try it for Thanksgiving because I don't think it would've gone over well with the traditionalists).

When I realized in the midst of getting ready to put the ham in the oven that I'd forgotten to buy apple cider, I confidently subbed in chicken broth, and wasn't upset when it meant that the final product wasn't quite as good as last year's.

I'm so happy that even though everything in my kitchen doesn't turn out perfectly every time, I now have the experience and confidence not to panic, or get frustrated and give up, or even worse, let it ruin the celebration. Because a happy, healthy family, gathered together around the table, laughing and eating, is of course what the holidays are really about.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Holiday wishes

Merry Christmas to those of you who celebrate it....

And wishes for sweet family time, love, peace, and joy to you all.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Mint chocolate brownie cookies (Virtual cookie exchange)

Winter appeared with a bang last weekend, dumping about 14 inches of snow on us by bedtime on Sunday. Great fun for the kids; not so fun for us, especially living in the frozen tundra where they don't cancel school for a measly foot of snow.
School may not have been canceled, but the weather took its toll on the roads. It took my husband 90 minutes to travel home from work, a drive that usually takes 30. As for me, I was standing on the corner, waiting for my kindergartener's bus, in 19 degree weather, with a little girl who suddenly had to go potty. We stood freezing and waiting and worrying (and her, after a while, crying and dripping wet) for 45 minutes.
By the time we got home with our tired boy in tow, Mama needed a glass of wine. Or a brownie. Or a massage. Or all of the above, times 10.
I'm not actually a drinker, so instead I started browsing for a quick chocolate pick-me-up treat. I stumbled on these brownie cookies from KAF, and they looked like just the thing. The little girl washed up, and we got to work.

I had picked up some Andes mint chips the other day, and since chocolate and mint is one of the best combinations ever, I decided to doctor the recipe just a tad.
I'm not sure I'd describe these as brownies, but they definitely aren't like a regular cookie, either. They've got the most marvelous fudgy texture with a crackly top, and the family and I found them completely irresistible.
My friend Di is hosting her annual virtual cookie exchange today, and I'm happy to bring these along to the party. They come together quickly, and will improve your mood, whatever Mother Nature throws at you.

Mint chocolate brownie cookies
barely adapted from King Arthur Flour
8 oz bittersweet chocolate (I used a quality 70% 4 oz bar and 4 oz of semisweet chocolate chips)
1 1/2 oz unsalted butter
7 1/4 oz sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp espresso powder
1 tsp vanilla
4 1/4 oz all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
3 oz mint chips
3 oz chocolate chips
1. Melt the chocolate and butter together in the microwave in 30 second increments, stirring after each, until the butter is melted and the chocolate is almost melted. Stir until the chocolate melts completely.
2. Beat the eggs and sugar in a mixer until combined. Add the butter/chocolate and beat until thoroughly mixed.
3. Use a spatula to gently mix in the rest of the ingredients.
4. Put the batter in the fridge for 30 minutes. (I actually left some in for a couple of days so we could bake a tray whenever we wanted.)
5. Preheat the oven to 325.
6. Drop the cookies in tablespoon-sized balls onto a pan covered with parchment or a baking mat. Bake for about 13 minutes, until the tops have some cracks or look set. Cool on the pan for 5 minutes and then remove to a cooling rack (or your mouth).

Sunday, October 14, 2012

I love this kind of Sunday

Hubby spent the day reading The Fellowship of the Ringto the kids and then watching football while the kids were upstairs building giant forts out of every pillow and blanket in the house.

I spent the day in the kitchen. Hadn't planned on it, but things kept coming up, and at the end of the day, I was looking at this counter full of food. I love it.

Today's breakfast treat was pumpkin doughnut muffins, recommended by Di. I made a half recipe, which made eight muffins. I baked them for 26 minutes; we loved the flavor but they were a tad dry...I'll take them out earlier next time.

Rebecca tweeted about Sara's baked applesauce yesterday, conveniently a day we spent at the orchard. I made 5 pounds of apples with a sprinkling of sugar, cinnamon, and fresh nutmeg, and they baked for about 55 minutes. It made a much smaller yield than I'm accustomed to, but this is easily the best applesauce I've ever tasted in my life (and that's with forgetting to add the pats of butter!).

My little girl has a cold and was sneezy and drippy all morning; I said, "What about chicken noodle soup for dinner tonight?" "YES! [it's a favorite] With flour bread!" That's what the kiddos call ciabatta, because of the dusting of flour. I got right to work, using the recipe from ABED, and letting five hours in the middle of the day sub for the overnight rest it's supposed to get.

And then I remembered reading Deb's post for chicken noodle soup the other day, and decided to give it a try. I always make turkey stock for gravy, but believe it or not, I've never made my own chicken stock for soup. I ended up using a combination of Deb's recipe and the recipe from ATK's family cookbook. Knowing that I wanted broth for tonight's soup, as well as tomorrow's dinner, I upped the recipe by about half. The soup was so good, with a light and clear broth. I'm not sure it will fit into our schedules to make it this way all the time (we eat chicken noodle soup a lot), but if I have a Sunday at home, I can certainly see stocking up (hehe) again.

Finally, I picked up a bag of Meyer lemons at the grocery store today and it's been ages since we've had homemade ice cream, so I whipped up a batch of Meyer lemon curd frozen yogurt.

It was a good day.

Homemade chicken stock
makes 13 cups broth, 6 cups cubed chicken
5 pounds chicken pieces (I used 4 leg quarters and 2 bone-in breasts)
1 1/2 onion, chopped
2 bay leaves
1 T salt
freshly ground pepper
12 c water
1 T safflower oil
1. In large stock pot, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and cook until softened and beginning to brown, about 4 minutes.
2. Pat chicken dry with paper towels and add half to the pan, making sure the skin is touching the bottom of the pan. Cook 10 minutes, until chicken is nicely browned. Remove first batch of chicken and repeat with second batch.
3. Add remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Simmer with the lid mostly on until chicken is done (took about 45 minutes for me; some of my chicken pieces were very large). (Skim off scum as necessary.)
4. Remove chicken. Let cool, remove skin and bones, and chop.
5. Strain stock into a large measuring cup.

Chicken noodle soup
makes 7 servings
2 tsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
3 carrots, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
2 parsnips, chopped
1 small potato, chopped
1 tsp dried thyme
8 c broth
6 oz egg noodles
3 c cubed chicken
1. Heat oil in large stock pot (I used the same one I'd cooked the stock in) over medium heat. Add veggies and cook for 4 minutes.
2. Add broth, bring to a boil, and simmer 15 minutes.
3. Add noodles and cook for time on package, adding the chicken for the last 2 minutes of cooking time.
4. Serve with flour bread and fresh baked applesauce. :-)

A simple meal, but it makes me happy to know that I know the ingredients of everything I put on the table because it was all made right here.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Weekend doughnuts

A month or so ago, a group if my Twitter pals got to talking about our doughnut pans (because, well, that's the kind of thing we talk about). We decided it would be fun to use our pans more frequently, and, thanks to Kayte, our doughnuts for weekend mornings pinterest board was born.

Baked doughnuts clearly fit in with a weekend full of baking, but they are also quick and easy enough for a busy morning. Mix the batter while the oven preheats, make the glaze and do the dishes during the eight minutes of baking time: 30 minutes tops between deciding we need a breakfast treat and enjoying fresh baked doughnuts...can't beat it! And easy enough for the kiddos to make, with a little bit of help.

First up were these pumpkin doughnuts from KAF, a clear favorite with everyone. I used half the batter to make 6 regular and 6 minis on Saturday morning, stuck the rest of the batter in the fridge over night, and made the rest on Sunday morning. Easy to do and way tastier than eating day-old donuts! We topped these with cinnamon-sugar (although the little girl preferred them plain).

Next, we made apple cider doughnuts, also from KAF. These were my least favorite, but hubby said that, with the glaze, they tasted like apple pie wrapped in apple pie. We used half cider glaze (powdered sugar, milk, boiled cider) and half cinnamon sugar.

Last week were citrus doughnuts: officially orange, but I think some of my orange zest from the freezer may have been lemon zest...who knows. I used a little extra zest and used orange juice for half the milk in the glaze. Yummy.

Today we had simple spiced doughnuts. Based on Kayte's experiences, I made a half recipe, but used the full amount of spice. I also used Kayte's glaze (powdered sugar, milk, cinnamon, and vanilla) for half; cinnamon sugar for the other half. A half recipe made five doughnuts, but it's clear I overfilled my pans, so I'll make six next time.

It's fun to get more use out of a specialty pan, and I can't wait to see what gets chosen for next weekend!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Rebecca's challah

I love twitterbakes. When I heard that Kayte, Margaret, Nancy, and Di were all going to bake Rebecca's family challah recipe one Sunday, I just had to jump on board. Most of the challah recipes I've tried have just tasted like enriched white bread; the only one that tasted like real challah was the very first one I tried, Joan Nathan's recipe via Smitten Kitchen.

It was so fun to get challah updates throughout the day and to read about everyone's different braiding experiences. Due to house guests, I was behind most everyone else, but finally finished my bread late Sunday night (mine did not take the full 30 minutes to bake). This bread was fabulous; the flavor was spot-on challah. We nibbled on slices plain for a snack, and then enjoyed a big dinner of French toast. The kids brought the rest of the loaf to Grandpa Daycare the next day for a French toast breakfast.

Rebecca posted her challah just in time for the Jewish New Year....L'Shana Tova!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Whole wheat rolls (TWD: BwJ)

I seem to be in a once-per-month swing with TWD, but such is the busy life of the beginning of the school year. I was happy to see that one of the September recipes was a nice, easy bread. I know bread baking stresses some people out, but it requires so much less attention and thought than some fancy-schmancy dessert; it's just perfect for me for this time of year. :-)

This whole wheat dough was gorgeous and so easy to work with.....I only had 13 ounces of whole wheat flour, so I used white whole wheat for the other 2 ounces required, and I used bread flour for the rest. Using the info at the beginning of the book, I weighed out the flour, using 5 ounces for each cup of flour. The measurements were just perfect; I didn't have to add anything else.

Because I needed to start making school lunches, I decided to make rolls for lunch sandwiches. My little guy is in his first few days of kindergarten. (sniff) I made nine 3 1/2 ounce rolls and then froze the other half of the dough to use some week when I'm too busy to bake.

My kindergartener. (And apparently the only picture I managed to get of this bread.)

Unfortunately, my little guy didn't like the bread. He hates honey with a passion, and could even detect the small amount in this bread. So I ended up making simple white whole wheat buns for his school lunches. But luckily, hubby and I thought the flavor of the bread was outstanding, and hubby happily ate the rest of the buns for his school lunches for the remainder of the week.

Check out the recipe here: Michele from Veggie Num Nums and Teresa of  The Family That Bakes Together

Saturday, September 8, 2012

CI veggie soup

The cool breeze in the air (it was in the 40s when we got up this morning!) makes me anxious for fall baking, and we started today with these pumpkin donuts from KAF.

But it's not fall yet, and we still have a fridge full of CSA veggies to use up. We are nearing the end of our CSA summer, and I'm breathing a little sigh of relief that the pressure to use all of these veggies will soon be gone. At the same time, I'm sad to say goodbye to the abundance of summertime produce...not to mention summertime weather. :-)

With school back in session, my free time to browse magazines and websites for veggie recipes is just about zero, so I was beyond excited to see a recipe in my newest issue of Cook's Illustrated (the iPad version, which I just love!) that used up almost every single vegetable from this week's box: eggplant, summer squash, tomatoes, bell peppers, onions, basil.

I was a little skeptical because the recipe didn't call for any typical soup filler: no meat, no beans, no pasta. Still, I wasn't going to pass up a perfect opportunity to use up my veggies. I made the soup this morning; as long as it called for a 20 minute rest to "let the flavors meld," I figured it wouldn't hurt to let it rest all day. Besides, soups are usually better when they're reheated.

The flavors in this soup were just amazing, so complex and interesting; it has to be one of my favorites ever. I served it with cheese, fruit, and ciabatta from ABED. A perfect summer-turning-to-fall dinner.

I adjusted quite a few of the ingredient amounts because I just used what I had in the fridge. I get the feeling that this is quite a flexible recipe, and I would happily make it again with whatever amounts of the veggies I receive next week.

Italian vegetable soup
adapted from Cook's Illustrated
makes 6 servings

1/3 cup fresh basil
2 T dried oregano
2 tsp minced garlic
2 T evoo
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes

1 eggplant (mine was 7.5 oz), peeled and cut into 1/2 inch chunks
1 large onion, chopped
1 1/4 lb potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch chunks
2 T tomato paste
2 c water
28 oz fresh tomatoes, peeled and diced (or 28 oz can), save juices
1 - 2 summer squash (mine was 12 oz), cut into 1/2 inch chunks
2 bell peppers (mine were orange), seeded and cut into 1/2 inch chunks
1 1/2 tsp salt
4 T olive oil

1. Process the first five ingredients (basil through red pepper) in the food processor to make a paste.
2. Toss the eggplant with 1tsp salt and lay on a plate covered in coffee filters. Microwave on high until shriveled, about 8 minutes, tossing half way through.
3. Heat 1 T oil in a large dutch oven over high heat. Cook eggplant, potatoes,and onion for 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Push veggies aside and add 1 T and the tomato paste, cooking until the tomato sauce starts to brown, 1 or 2 minutes. Stir the sauce in with the veggies.
4. Add the tomatoes, tomato juices, and water to the pot, and bring to a boil. Turn down to medium, cover, and cook for 20 minutes.
5. In a large skillet, heat 1 T of oil over medium-high. Add the peppers, squash, and 1/2 tsp salt. Cook for 10 minutes, until veggies are browned and softened. Push them aside and add the paste from step 1. Cook for a minute until fragrant, and then stir it in with the veggies.
6. Turn off the heat on the soup and then add the squash/pepper mixture. Pour a little liquid from the soup into the skillet and use it to scrape up any browned bits; stir those in to the soup, too.
7. Cover and let the soup rest for 20 minutes, or refrigerate until later in the day. Add fresh basil before serving.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Popovers! (TWD: BwJ)

I was not all that excited for this week's Tuesdays with Dorie recipe; I think I've only ever had popovers once, the one time I baked them before, and I wasn't that impressed.
But it couldn't be an easier recipe: toss flour, salt, melted butter, warm milk, and eggs into a blender (I was careful to be sure that my milk and eggs were both warm). Pour 1/4 cup into some buttered muffin cups (I did preheat my pan, given some comments on the P&Q). Bake. Eat. Seemed like it would be silly not to try the recipe.

And I really enjoyed them! We ate them warm and buttered, spread with the last of my strawberry-honey jam, with our eggs. Delish!

Check out the rest of the TWDers' experiences here, and check our hosts' pages for the recipe: Paula and Amy....or better yet, buy the book! :-)

Sunday, August 19, 2012

CSA: dinner and reflections

Hubby and I decided to join a CSA for the first time last year. We'd talked about it for years, and every year I would do a ton of research on local farms...and then get totally overwhelmed by the number of choices and give up. Finally, last winter, we bit the bullet: picked a farm and sent in our money.

In case you're unfamiliar,
In basic terms, CSA consists of a community of individuals who pledge support to a farm operation so that the farmland becomes, either legally or spiritually, the community's farm, with the growers and consumers providing mutual support and sharing the risks and benefits of food production. Typically, members or "share-holders" of the farm or garden pledge in advance to cover the anticipated costs of the farm operation and farmer's salary. In return, they receive shares in the farm's bounty throughout the growing season, as well as satisfaction gained from reconnecting to the land and participating directly in food production. Members also share in the risks of farming, including poor harvests due to unfavorable weather or pests. By direct sales to community members, who have provided the farmer with working capital in advance, growers receive better prices for their crops, gain some financial security, and are relieved of much of the burden of marketing.
From the USDA's National Agricultural Library:

Last year was not a good year for many of our local farms, so it wasn't the best for us either. It was too cold and then too hot and then too wet and then too dry...nothing much grew. We got squash, squash, and more squash...and that was it. I appreciated that the farm wanted us to feel like we were getting our money's worth (as much as they could, given the weather), but it was way more than we could deal with. I made every zucchini recipe known to man, froze a bunch of sliced squash and no-noodle lasagna, made countless jars of pickles, gave a ton of food away, and still couldn't keep up.

So hubby and I had a big heart-to-heart this winter; we knew that it wasn't fair to judge CSAs based on last year's experience. We decided to give it another try this year, although we switched to another farm that several friends had joined, knowing that they got a lot more variety than we did, even with last year's crazy weather.

This summer has been a true CSA experience. This farm offers us an amazing variety of veggies each week, but not too much of any one thing (except maybe cukes). The farmer sends fabulously detailed newsletters each week, filled with farm news, recipes, and pictures of the interns working on the farm. We were a little overwhelmed by the amount of greens at the beginning of the season, until we started making green smoothies as an afternoon snack each day.

Our box this past week provided us with this amazing meal: fresh tomatoes, garlic, carrots, celery, and onions went into this fresh tomato sauce. Scallions went into the cheddar and scallion rolls (twitterbaked with Kayte and Margaret). Fresh garlic, parsley, and basil went into the meatballs. We ate delicious broccoli on the side. All of the veggies are incredibly fresh; I can't believe how much better everything tastes than when we buy them from the grocery store. Even the celery, which I think of as being so bland, smells and tastes so celery-y. The whole family is excited to see what we get each week, and the kids love asking which of our foods came from our veggie box.

We still have many veggies to use before our next pick-up on Thursday. Farm potatoes and peppers will go with our grilled chicken tomorrow. Tuesday night's fried rice will include the rest of the broccoli, scallions, carrots, and cabbage. I gave two eggplants to my mom, I'll have to make another batch of pickles, and I'm waiting for inspiration for the giant bag of beets.

Which leads me to my final reflection: as wonderful as the food tastes, as much as I love the connection to a local farm, as much as I believe in the ideals of a CSA, I don't think we'll do it again. I miss choice; we get so much food that our meals are all determined by which recipe uses up the most farm veggies. This is especially challenging at the beginning of the summer when you get the same foods over and over (I could make this bok choy and kale recipe in my sleep!). I miss shopping at the farmer's market; although we still go, I can't justify buying additional produce when I can't keep up with what we have and when we've already spent so much money. And I can't stand the guilt of throwing food away when we can't get to everything, even though our farmer insists that it's still worth it and we're still doing good.

Still, it's been such a valuable experience, and I'm so glad we tried it...and I'm excited to see what's in this week's box! :-)

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: Everyone gets what they like best

Individual berry tart, with Dorie's pastry cream and NM's sweet tart dough, glaze made from strawberry-thyme jam; individual jelly jar parfaits with pastry cream, whipped cream, Dorie's cocoa crumbs, and varied berries depending on preference (inspired by Di)

Monday, August 13, 2012

Waffle cones, take 2

Tonight I tried the waffle cone recipe from David Leibovitz's Perfect Scoop. Again I was surprised by how quick and easy the process was. DL's cones were much thicker than Jeni's and much less fragile. They also needed to cook longer, almost twice as long (1:30 as opposed to :45; Jeni's burned at a minute). I'm glad to know I can achieve a thicker cone, even with the pizzelle iron. Hubby said he thought he preferred the taste of these; I actually preferred the taste of Jeni's, but liked the sturdiness of these.

We enjoyed them with Jeni's darkest chocolate ice cream, with mini chips and cookie dough mixed in (inspiration thanks to Di). Summer dessert perfection.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Mint chocolate chip ice cream

Our final category for ice cream week is original recipe. I have to admit that I was not nearly as creative as Phyl (Guiness stout ice cream), or Margaret (tea and biscuit ice cream), or Rebecca (baklava ice cream), but this is one of our favorite ice cream recipes for my very favorite ice cream flavor: mint chocolate chip.

I start with Jeni's vanilla bean ice cream (can you sense a theme here?):
500 g 2% milk
13 g cornstarch
42 g softened cream cheese
1/8 tsp fine sea salt
312 g heavy cream
130 g sugar
22 g corn syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp peppermint extract
1/2 c mini chocolate chips

I follow Jeni's basic technique (see here), but leave out the vanilla bean and stir the extracts into the base at the end. After an overnight rest in the fridge, I churn it in my ice cream maker, adding the chocolate chips during the final two minutes of churning.

Next to rich lemon curd frozen yogurt (my favorite) and Jeni's vanilla bean with chocolate chip cookie dough (hubby's favorite), this is probably the most popular flavor at our house. Thanks to Phyl for an incredibly delicious and fun ice cream week! :-)

Friday, August 10, 2012

Summer bounty

I meant to do my final post for ice cream week today, but instead spent my day dealing with the over-abundance of produce from our CSA.

The past three week's worth of beets became these chocolate beet muffins (thanks to Sara for tweeting about them yesterday, as I'd had no inspiration for dealing with the shelf full of red globes). They were a huge hit with the whole family, and I'm sure the extra cup of beet puree that I stashed in the freezer will be put to similar use soon.

The drawer full of cukes became seven jars of bread and butter pickles, a hot packed version of these fridge pickles. I love the ease of refrigerator pickles, but just don't have the fridge space.

And finally, I revisited small batch canning when I received a bag full of tomatoes, a ton of green and hot peppers, and onions in this week's box: three jars of hubby's favorite salsa.

For the first time, canning seemed more natural, less overwhelming. I didn't need to review the instructions every two seconds, and I made all of the salsa and almost all of the pickles without needing another pair of hands. Makes me feel more confident about the next over-flowing box of goodies coming my way!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Ice cream week cones

Today's theme for Phyl's ice cream week is sorbet or other non-dairy frozen treats. I didn't make sorbet. But I didn't want to be left out. So I'm posting a non-dairy treat FOR frozen treats. :-)
A year ago, my friend Di posted about getting her own waffle cone maker and I became obsessed. Which is funny, because I have never liked cones; I always order my ice cream in a cup. But suddenly, waffle cones sounded soooo good and I began ordering them whenever we went out.
Finally, I decided to bite the bullet and use some of my remaining birthday money to buy a waffle cone maker. Well, after a lot of soul-searching ;-) and researching, I actually bought a pizzelle maker to use for waffle cones. The waffle cone makers come in 7-inch, which seemed huge for the kids, or 3-inch, which sounded too tiny to be worth it. Pizzelles are 5-inches, which seemed just about perfect. Plus my mother-in-law makes pizzelles each Christmas and I love her recipe (hint hint), so this way, I can make my own and I'm not spending money on a single-use appliance. Ta da!
I tried Jeni's recipe (Di posted it here). It was so much fun. I made cones and little bowls, and not only did we love them with ice cream, but they were amazing by themselves as cookies. I ate an embarrassing number by myself.
Check out Phyl, Rebecca, Margaret, and Di's actual sorbet/non-dairy frozen treat posts!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Triple citrus rich frozen yogurt

Today's ice cream week theme is frozen yogurt, and it's no surprise (to me anyway) that I did a new riff on an old familiar recipe.
The one recipe that I look up on my own blog over and over again is this one for rich lemon curd frozen yogurt. It uses the instant lemon curd from KAF in the lemon froyo recipe from Jeni's book, and there is just something about the bright lemon flavor and the incredible creamy texture that just captures me.... I am a chocoholic and normally won't even consider a non-chocolate dessert, but this is the one flavor of ice cream that I can't stay away from, continually sneaking into the freezer to have just one more small scoopful.
Before we went out West, I made a version in which I subbed in orange for the lemon. It was delicious and we ate it before I got any pictures, but it was definitely missing a little something.
Today, I was thinking about both the lemon and the orange froyo, and when I opened my fruit drawer, I ended up pulling out the lime, too. How about a three-citrus frozen yogurt?
Thinking about my discussions with Di yesterday about the unsatisfying non-fruitiness of many fruit ice creams, I decided to up the citrus flavor even more. I made 1 1/2 times my usual amount of curd, and used juice and zest from the three fruits. With the exception of a few spoonfuls "just to see how it tastes," I used it all in the yogurt. My ingredients were:
40 g egg
90 g sugar
45 g melted unsalted butter
60 g fresh orange juice (from one orange)
30 g fresh lemon juice (from one small lemon)
zest from a lime, a lemon, and an orange (a healthy pinch of each)

Then I followed my normal process for making the curd and the froyo, again using a pinch of all three citrus zests in the ice cream base.
I think I love this version as much as the original lemon. Our good friends are visiting from out East. Their comments were, "That's frozen yogurt?!?" and, "It tastes like really good lemon cheesecake." My hubby's addition: "And it will prevent scurvy!" ;-)

Monday, August 6, 2012

Happy ice cream week! Strawberry buttermilk ice cream

When my friend Phyl invited me to participate in ice cream week, of course I happily agreed. Ice cream is my favorite food group, after all! ;-)
Many of my Twitter buds started churning weeks ago, but with three weeks out West and a week at the cabin, I haven't spent much time in my own kitchen. Luckily, ice cream week was just the push I needed. Well, that and the pizzelle iron I just bought myself so I could make my very own waffle cones.
When I took requests for ice cream flavors to initiate our cones, the little girl picked something with chocolate (no surprise...she's my kid!) and the little guy picked strawberry ice cream. My little guy is a huge fruit fan (he calls himself a "fruitavore"), but he usually gets overruled by the rest of us. This time, I decided to make two flavors to make everyone happy.
To make it easier on myself, I made a double batch of base, adapted from Jeni's book:
1000 g 2% milk
624 g cream
260 g sugar
44 g light corn syrup
26 g corn starch
66 g milk
84 g softened cream cheese
1/4 tsp fine sea salt
(The method is here.) This made 8 cups of base. I took out 5 cups to use for the chocolatey treat (post Friday) and 3 cups to use for the strawberry ice cream. To the 3 cups of base, I added 1/4 cup of buttermilk and 3/4 cup of strawberry puree that was in my freezer, leftover from some other recipe.
The strawberry flavor really shone through, which is likely because I used much more puree than in previous recipes I've tried. This ice cream was a hit with both of my guys. Yum!

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Summertime bliss

CSA chef salad with maple-dijon vinaigrette and garlic bread from KAF's honey-oat pain de mie

followed by homemade mint chocolate chip ice cream in a homemade waffle cone

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Blueberry and nectarine pie (TWD: BwJ)

I'm back, just in time for the third and final Tuesday of July! I missed the first two July Tuesdays with Dorie recipes of the month (semolina bread and hazelnut biscotti) because we were on our annual three week trip out West to visit my in-laws.

Luckily July has three Tuesdays, and we got back just in time for blueberry and nectarine pie.

The crust and I didn't get along fabulously, but that was mostly my fault: the dough calls for butter and shortening, but I don't keep shortening in the house. I used all butter, with a little extra water...but the dough was still too dry and crumbly. It actually got easier after it warmed up a bit, and I was able to roll it out.

The filling was easy to make, with fresh blueberries and nectarines, half of which were cooked down first. After adding the top crust, I froze the pie according to the recipe directions. I only froze it for a day, but I wanted to be able to enjoy it fresh at the cabin.

At the cabin, I painted an egg wash, sprinkled coarse sugar on the top, and cut slits. Then I baked it for about 60 minutes.

The pie was a huge hit, especially with a little vanilla ice cream. I found it runnier than my favorite blueberry pie recipe (NM's), and I prefer pie with only one crust, but this was still a fabulous dessert. Our hosts this week are: and

(Wrote post via phone from the cabin, so will have to fix formatting/links when we get home.....)

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

French strawberry cake (TWD: BwJ)

Genoise and I haven't always gotten along (read this story if you're interested in a cocoa genoise complete comedy of errors), so I was a little nervous about this week's TWD: BwJ recipe: French strawberry cake.

But then we went strawberry picking on the spur of the moment (I love summer!), and it seemed that I'd have to make it for sure. I macerated the strawberries ahead of time, and assuming I'd make a half-recipe because I always do, I used half the amounts.

The next day, I read the instructions for the cake: oops! The recipe makes an 8" round....which I don't own. I have a 9" or a 6". The 6" was too big for a half-batch, so, being too lazy to try to scale the recipe correctly, I made a full recipe, filled the 6", a ramekin, and had a little batter left over.

I knew many people had struggled with the cake, so I was uber-careful. I let the eggs sit in warm water for a long time, carefully measured out all ingredients ahead of time (including sifting the flour prior to measuring because I noticed that it said "1 cup sifted flour" and not "1 cup flour, sifted"), and read each step about 17 times. When my eggs and sugar hadn't doubled in volume after 5 minutes of whipping, I remembered something I'd read on the P&Q about the egg temperature...sure enough, when I stuck my finger in the bowl, the eggs were cool. I set the mixing bowl in a bowl of hot water, and after about five minutes, the eggs felt warm; they whipped up beautifully after that.

When it came time to fold in the flour, I decided not to use my usual method, which usually yields sketchy results: I usually dump in the flour and use a rubber spatula to fold. Instead, I carefully sifted bits of flour over the top and then used a big balloon whisk. This seemed to work. The batter didn't deflate nearly as much as it usually does. The ramekin baked in 24 minutes, and the 6" cake baked in 27 minutes.

While they baked, I made the whipped cream (a full batch because it sounded too good not to): cream, sugar, sour cream, and vanilla...yes, please!

The cake was tall enough to cut in three layers, but I was just making it for our family dessert and it was late and I was tired, so I went the lazy route: two layers and no fancy decorating. It didn't matter; we all loved this cake. I usually make the kids eat dinner before dessert (on the rare occasions when we have dessert), but once in a while, when I make something extra special, I serve it with the meal. The little guy gobbled his cake up before touching anything else, and then said, "There seems to be a problem; my cake is all gone. I think I need another serving."

For the recipe, check out our hosts' blogs: Sophia of Sophia’s Sweets and Allison of Sleep Love Think Dine, and to see what everyone else thought, check the links.