Wednesday, October 23, 2013

I scream. You scream

Growing up ice cream was always a thing. Soft serve was my favorite. My dad liked rocky road or New York Super Fudge Chunk, or NYSFC for short. He is a loyal man and prefers Ben and Jerry's over most.  Ice cream, or 'scream', as he did and still does call it was never in short supply. I have always been partial to east coast ice cream, even the crappy stuff. I mean has anyone else ever had the Red Sox Ice Cream, with tiny chocolate sox, chocolate ice cream, and fudge? Generally I am an ice cream purist, but this, if they even still make it, is insane in the best kind of way.   I don't know why it's taken me so long to put my (it's not really mine, but for the time being successfully commandeered) Ice Cream maker to use.
But now that I've started I don't know if I can stop.

Today I made a list of potential future 'scream' flavors on the dry erase board that's sitting on my kitchen counter.  In addition, there's also a note that says: create positivity! because sometimes you need that too. In the last five minutes while writing this I have also contemplated putting on Christmas music...twice.  I think it has something to do with the ice cream I made and ate yesterday, or how I really want it to snow.

I am very sad all the ice cream is gone.

Salted Rye Ice Cream

I played with a couple different recipes and only used a little over a tablespoon of Rye, but you can use up to three tablespoons according to most people, and still end up with ice cream. Also the alcohol helps give the ice cream a softer texture, which I like. I made a custard (egg based base). I like the cream cheese version too, but I didn't have any. I used brown sugar too, because the caramel notes complement the rye, and mostly because I was low on the white stuff.  Ice cream is pretty forgiving if you are down to experiment with the outcome. Part science, part experiment, and most certainly delicious.

 Get ready for ice cream everyone, lots and lots of ice cream.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Summer, now and past, and a million apologies.

The weather here is still great. There have been the occasional long sleeved nights and one or two mornings that called for a rain coat, but really it isn't over yet.  What I really mean to say is I'm sorry. This apology is mainly for me, but when I looked back and say I last wrote about Popsicles in June and it's now September 1st, I felt very, very guilty.  I guess that's what happens to summers- they slip by. Sometimes lazily and sometimes in a blink.  The best part though is what lingers.  As a young child I remember get dressed to go skiing in depths of winter, pulling my many pairs of long underwear over a pale belly and legs and arms still so kissed with sun, that hardly faded until early spring.  Now that I am older, and live in Seattle where my tan (if there ever was one) has already faded, I will wake to wintry mornings and a freezer full of preserved fruit.  I am of course still ridiculously afraid of botulism, but am working hard to over come that fear. I can't even imagine how much summer will linger once I do.

My family was never really one for family vacations. The few I do remember occurred deep into the middle of winter. While I was sometimes jealous of other peoples summer vacations, I've come to realize that the reason we never wandered far was because there really was no place else as beautiful. Rural New England in the summer, the vast expanse of our natural playground extending across New Hampshire, Vermont, and Maine was in and of itself vacation enough.  Backyards full of blueberries, endless loops on your bicycle, the rivers and ponds for morning, afternoon, and evening swims. Some of my favorite memories are from summer camp, where I spent one precious month of every summer for five years on Lake Coniston, a lake almost unidentifiable, but still to this day one of the most beautiful places I've ever been.

Really what I am getting at is the essence of summer. It's how you choose to spend your days. It's the things you remember long after they are gone and the things that bring it all crashing back.  For me, it's marshmallows.  There is nothing more charming and wonderful than an s'more.

So in celebration of another well spent summer that is sure to linger I give you these fancy s'mores:

These days summers don't really mean vacation, but they still mean a lot of good people, picnics, bbqs, and the occasional birthday-rainy-day-late-summer-indoor-fire-pit.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

For the love of sprinkles, let's talk about Ice Cream.

I just returned from Vermont where I spent four days visiting my two older sisters, my dad, and my new nephew. Among the not so long list of things to do in Vermont, standouts included lots of baby time, eating lots of things with maple syrup, looking at stone walls, watching hot air balloons, playing with farm animals, more baby time, and of course eating lots of soft serve ice cream.

In fact, I even visited the Whippi Dip, my first "restaurant" job in which I flipped burgers, twirled cones, and scooped sundaes.  I won't lie to you, back in the day I was the Queen of the Whippi Dip. Despite being hot, sticky, and generally disgusting all summer long, those two summers of ruling the Dip instilled in me a long lasting love of soft serve ice cream. And of course rainbow sprinkles...

I ate a lot, a lot, of soft serve. Considering the time constraints, I really tried to do my part to contribute to the local, small-town economy. Personally, I'm not a fan of the twist, I prefer plain chocolate or vanilla in a cone with a side dish of rainbow sprinkles for consistent sprinkle coverage. It's a method I've developed over the years. Laugh all you want, but it's delicious.

There's also something fairly satisfying about eating it in the car it feels more summery that way, but I won't hold you to it. While I am working on my plans for soft serve in Seattle, I've been working on something that's almost just as good. Or rather, it's good in a different way, and I won't tell if you dip them in sprinkles.

Salted Chocolate Fudgesicles.

I probably have to call them Fudge Popsicles, or Fudge Pops or something like that, but just for the purpose of being a descriptive nomenclator, they really are Fudgesicles. I didn't grow up in a town with an Ice Cream truck, but if I did, I think this is all I would have wanted...

This recipe is adapted from On a Stick 

1/4 cup milk chocolate chips (I used Valdrona Chocolate)
2/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
2 1/2 cups whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon plus a pinch salt
1 tablespoon butter

Melt chocolate until smooth using a microwave in short bursts, or the stove using a heavy sauce pan and a very low temp. Stir in sugar, cornstarch, cocoa powder, milk, vanilla, and a teaspoon of salt and cook over medium heat until mixture thickens. The originally recipe says ten minutes, but it took me around five minutes. The mixture at this point should look like pudding.  Let mixture cool slightly and add remaining pinch of salt. Stir and then pour into Popsicles molds (depending on you mold size 8 to 16 Popsicles). Place in freezer and let freeze for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes add Popsicle sticks and continue to freeze until fully frozen.

To remove place molds in hot water and rotate Popsicles sticks slightly until fudgesicle pops out.


Saturday, March 30, 2013

Finally, Biscuits

Well it's about time. I've finally figured it out. Buttermilk Buiscuts, that is.

A lot of my favorite combinations involve biscuits.  Biscuits and jam. Strawberries and biscuits. Biscuits and Maple Syrup. I could go on and on. But here's the thing, I've never been able to make them. Sure, I've tried a million times and some were fine, some were ok, and some were just awful.  I've tried all kinds of recipes.  Some were simple and some  involved all sorts up-your-sleeve-tricks. I even tried one that swore by adding hard boiled egg yolks to the biscuit dough before baking.  It didn't work.

But then I found this recipe and well, nothing else matters.

They're flaky, tall, and split perfectly in half with just a slight twist of the wrist.  I can't even begin to list all of things I want to make these for or with.  But, I do know they'll be sticking around.  I finally found them and I don't plan on trying any other way.  These are just too easy, and too good.

Tomorrow I am brining them to brunch.  I hear there will will be gravy and ham- but honestly I'll probably just eat mine with Jam.  So however you like em', here you go...

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

New Tricks

Over the last few months, I've been up to a lot and I've been up to nothing, all at the same time.  The upside about an injury is that you have a lot of time to read and bake and mostly just putz around. The truth is, I like to putz. But I'm quickly learning I like to intermittently putz around. When those moments where you have nothing to do are sprinkled between moments when you have a lot to do.  Mostly, I miss having a lot to do.  Luckily, my days of lounging are winding down.  With a little luck and lots of elbow grease, after three weeks of physical therapy, I'll be back at it.  Well, back at a lot of it, and back to enjoying those periodic moments with nothing to do and nowhere to go.

Don't get me wrong, I feel like I've been using my time.  Most of my allotted standing time has been spent in my kitchen.  Nothing too fancy, just old recipes with new tricks.

Like theses.  The peanut butter cookies I've made forever, with some new milk chocolate chips.

Or this lemon tart, now with a whole wheat short bread crust. 

So, I'll admit a good bit of all this has been fun and I've definitely learned some things. Some valuable things.  I've learned that these peanut butter cookies really are better with chocolate chips and that four year old boys really appreciate scooping out the dough and picking out all the chocolate chips.  I've also learned that I am obsessed with whole wheat short bread crusts. Like really really into everything about them-- texture, taste, and color.  

I've got some work to do, but hey- I've got some time. 

Monday, March 11, 2013

The last of the huckleberries

As a kid we had several blueberry bushes in our yard, mostly they were just for show, the birds would eat most of the bounty, but we were never short of berries. Between the backyard and our down the street neighbors Pick-your-own-blueberry farm, our pancakes never went without and our freezer was full all winter long. My sister used to eat the frozen berries straight from the bag until her teeth and fingers were numb and her hands and mouth stained a purple you were sure would last weeks.

I, on the other hand, preferred the cakes and breads and pies. I'm still a firm believer in blueberries and this summer when I return home to the east coast to visit my oldest sister and her newest baby boy, I fully intend on eating my fair share-- and then some. 

But, for the past two summers, as I've made my home here in the Pacific Northwest, I've developed a taste for a new type of berry... Huckleberries.  At the end of last summer I had five pounds in my freezer and despite surviving a move across town, I am finally nearing the last of the huckleberries. 

In fact, I'm pretty sure this will be the last baked good I make with them- I have plans to use the leftovers to make huckleberry sipping vinegar for summer cocktails. Huckleberry and Gin anyone? But until then I  leave you with yet again another dessert you can justifiably eat for breakfast. 

Huckleberry Crumb Bars. 

This recipe is adapted from Smitten Kitchen's  adaptation of this recipe from Allrecipes. I liked the first adaptions, but cut down the sugar and upped the lemon a little, to brighten up my frozen huckleberries. Also, since my berries were frozen I kept them that way, but if you have fresh ones, use those. 

1 cup sugar 
3 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder 
1/4 teaspoon salt 
8 ounces butter (cold) 
1 egg
zest of one lemon
1/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice 
3 tablespoons cornstarch 
4 cups (frozen) huckleberries

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and grease a 9x13 inch pan

In a bowl mix together 1 cup sugar, flour, and baking powder, then add salt and lemon zest.  Work in cold butter and egg with a knife or pastry cutter. The dough will be crumbly, however take care not to leave large chunks of butter.  Pour half of the dough into the prepared pan and press it down, with your fingers is fine, to form a bottom crust.  Set aside.

In a medium bowl mix 1/3 cup sugar, lemon juice, and cornstarch until the corn starch is well incorporated. Mix in berries. Spread berries evenly over bottom crust. Crumble the remaining crust over top, but do not press down

Bake for 45 minutes or until top is slightly golden brown.  Let chill completely before cutting. 

Until next summer, I bid you adieu, Huckleberries. You'll be missed. 

Monday, February 11, 2013

For the days I don't eat cake

It's probably not a surprise, but I really don't like savory breakfast. Some day's I'll have an egg, but only if I get to eat it with pancakes or waffles.  Really, I prefer cookies. Sometimes the healthy kind with jam, but somedays (usually Mondays) I go straight for the chocolate chip I often get to take home from work on Sunday nights. Usually there's only a half left over, because contrary to anything any parent or health care professional has told you, chocolate chip cookies make great late night snacks too.

But there comes a day, and it doesn't come often, where you wake up and think-- I should really eat something that is not a cookie for breakfast.  For those days, I've discovered this:

Ginger Granola with Almonds, Flax, and Cranberries.

It's delicious, it really is. Also it makes me eat healthier things in the morning like the goat milk yogurt I've recently become obsessed with.  I loosely followed a granola recipe from Bon Appétit and it really is a better granola.  I know this doesn't mean a lot from the girl who eats cookies for breakfast, but sometimes I like granola to just be granola.   The secret here is the egg white. It gives the granola a good crunch without adding too much of the stuff you'd find in my chocolate chip cookie.... butter...ummmm.

For my version I skipped the brown sugar and used a heavy 1/2 cup of good maple syrup. I also used slivered almonds and toasted flax seeds for my nuts. And added a lot of ground ginger.  Next time I make this I may even use two egg whites for even more crunch.

The above recipe from Bon Appétit is meant to be experimented with. The only thing I would suggest would be to keep the general proportions of oats, to nuts, to oil, to sugar/syrup.  

Here's what I did: 

Ginger Almond Flax Granola

2 egg whites, beaten
3 cups oats
1 cup slivered toasted almonds
1/2 cup toasted flax seeds 
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon 
2 teaspoons ground ginger 
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
pinch nutmeg
pinch ground clove 
1/4 melted coconut oil (could use olive oil)
1/2 cup maple syrup 
1 cup dried unsweetened cranberries (added in after granola is cooked) 

Mix all ingredients except cranberries together and cook for about an hour at 300 degrees, stirring and rotating pan every ten minutes. Mostly you are looking for a golden brown color not a crisp, because the granola will continue to crisp as it cools. 

Also, I feel like this would make good Christmas gifts (get ready everyone) especially when you put it in pretty jars like this. 

Saturday, February 9, 2013

In Celebration

I really like Birthdays. Especially when it's your good friend's and it's one drawn out day of indulgent celebration. Because turning a quarter century old is a big deal and I for one am down for a good PARTY.

Especially a party that involves pizza and lots of dessert.

People have serious opinions about brownies.  There are people who like their brownies fudgey, some cakey, some with walnuts, and still others with frosting on top.  But whatever your preference, I think we can all agree, we brownie lovers are continuously on the hunt for the most perfect one. 

Personally, I like blondies, a whole different kind of brownie, but that's for a different day...

So in celebration of birthdays and the search for the most perfect brownies- I have one to add to the pile.  

Salted Caramel Brownies. 

I am not sure if these take the award or not. They're a little decedent for your everyday brownie consumption, but I think there just right for birthday celebrations. 

I didn't change a thing, and followed this recipe to the tee, both for the brownies and for the salted caramels.  The only thing I will suggest, is that my caramels turned out a little on the softer side- and although I don't have anything to compare it too- I liked it. A lot. So don't fret if you plan on making it all in one day and don't have the patience to let your caramels completely set.  But, if you do have the time, or are not prone to procrastination, by all means let them get fully firm and then make your batter. 


Saturday, January 5, 2013

Year of Happiness

I don't want to knock to 2012, nor do I want to sound cliche, but I am pretty certain 2013 is going to be a great one.  A really great one.  Mostly because it started with this:

Meyer Lemon Bread Pudding.  Right?

It's gonna be a good year.  Full of lemons, resourcefulness, and happiness.  I never really make resolutions, mostly because I feel all the little things we're supposed to resolve to do, or not do,- eat fewer sweets, run more, be a better person, etc. etc. get old too quickly. But I do like intentions.  So for the sake of declarations: this year I intend to live purely in happiness. Oh yeah, that and eat more bread pudding.  I've got to say, so far, I'm off to a good start.

It may seem obvious, but the key to good bread pudding lies in, you guessed it, the bread. I used two day old Columbia City Levin bread, which is as delicious fresh as it is in bread pudding. As I've found myself in possession of a decent amount of stale bread lately, bread pudding was the obvious choice.  One of the things I like most about bread pudding is how it comes to fruition. It's the proverbial making of lemonade, the spinning of straw to gold version of a dessert.  We make the best of what we have, and then we make it better.  I didn't even plan this, but really it's a great metaphor for the new year.

Thanks 2012 you were great, but I'll take what you've got and raise you an even better year in 2013.

I'm a firm believer that all things made with Meyer lemons are infinitely better than any similar version made without them.  I'm working on scientifically proving it too.

As always, I made lemon curd this way.  I doubled the recipe thinking I'd need more than usual, however it wasn't necessary, one batch will be plenty. Side note: Lemon curd freezes well in an airtight container if somehow you can't think of enough other things to eat the leftovers on. So far I've done french toast, a broken piece of leftover chocolate chip cookie, and in honor of a clean slate New Year,  a spoon on two separate occasions.

Also, if your lemon custard is a little soft that's totally fine for bread pudding because you'll bake the whole thing over again. In fact, I would suggest undercooked the first time is much much better than taking your custard too far to start. Additionally, I would make your lemon custard the day before or at least several hours before you want to bake the pudding so it has time to set up properly.

Now for the pudding, pudding.

Begin with your bread. I cut up 3/4 of a loaf of Columbia City Levin into one inch squares with the crust still intact.  Many recipes call for the de-crusting of the bread, but I think the crust gives the dessert a little more texture.  I compensate for the presence of crust by letting my bread soak in the pudding custard for 20-25 minutes before baking it.

Basic Bread Pudding Custard: 

4 eggs
1/2 - 3/4 granulated sugar (depending on where you fall on the sweet to sweet-tart scale) I found that since your adding lemon curd you don't need more than 1/2 cup
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 quart whole milk
1 1/2 teaspoons of finely finely diced lemon zest

In a bowl whisk eggs plus 1/4 cup sugar together, set aside. In a sauce pan bring milk and 1/4 sugar to a  simmer.  Remove from heat and pour into egg mixture slowly while continuously whisky to keep the eggs from cooking. Add salt and lemon zest.  Mix to combine.  Pour mixture over bread pieces and let sit for 20-25 minutes. I used a large roasting or baking pan for this step to ensure all of the bread was covered in custard.

After the bread has absorbed the majority of the liquid, transfer 3/4 of the bread into a buttered 9 inch cake round.  Spread evenly with lemon curd. Cover the curd with the rest of the bread mixture and pour any remaining pudding custard over top.  Bake at 350 for 50 minutes or until the top is golden brown and the sides begin to pull away from the edge of the pan.  Personally I think bread pudding is best served warm, but be my guest; eat it any way you like.

Hopefully, this recipe goes as perfectly with your new years resolutions as it does with mine...