Buying items just because they are on sale is only a bargain if you use them. Otherwise they’re a huge waste of money. Impulse grocery shopping usually comes back and bites me in the butt. My most recent example? Those cherries on sale at The Fresh Market were a great price. I was expecting cherries as delicious as the ones I got direct from the farm at Baugher’s. What I got instead was a heaping serving of disappointment. Continue reading
You never get a second chance to make a first impression. Not only is that some commercial tag line, it’s also the God’s honest truth. Sometimes, bad first impressions can’t be overcome. Other times, if you look past them, you find that you were totally wrong. Like that time in middle school when both Kristen Heher and I thought each other was trouble, with a capital T. Maybe we were, but after we got to know each other, we were best friends for two years. As hard as it is for me to admit when I am wrong, it’s even harder not to share with you something so ugly it’s good. Continue reading
The moment I picked those berries, the clock started ticking. One reason the strawberries you buy at the grocery store taste so blah is because they’ve been in suspended animation. They get cold stored which prolongs their shelf life. Fresh picked berries, however, have essentially been removed from their life support system. The morning after harvest, the berries I had set aside from the mega batch of jam were already starting to dry out and wither. Their once shiny exteriors were flat and dull. I needed to get these berries into the kitchen stat. Luckily, the recipe on call that day was Strawberry Frozen Yogurt. I was asked to assist.
We scrubbed up and got operating. Berries were rinsed, hulled, and sugared. A splash of vodka (optional) was applied. After sitting for two hours, yogurt and lemon juice was added and mixed with a stick blender until smooth. The mix needed additional time in the refrigerator to chill. Then it was off to the ice cream machine. Thirty minutes later, the operation was a complete success and the yogurt was ready to go into the freezer.
This is one time suspended animation is your friend, not your foe.
Strawberry Frozen Yogurt
The recipe I worked from called for french yogurt. I used Fage Greek Yogurt which the folks at Trader Joe’s usually have on hand. If you can’t get Fage or another greek yogurt, strain regular plain yogurt through a paper towel lined sieve in the refrigerator to remove the liquid. You will be left with a thick, creamy yogurt similar to Fage.
I’ve had this recipe for so long that I forgot where it originally came from. It was definitely something I got online. If it’s yours, thanks for sharing.
1 pound strawberries, rinsed and hulled
2/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vodka (optional – this helps the frozen yogurt keep a soft consistency)
1 cup plain, whole milk yogurt
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
Slice the strawberries into small pieces. Toss in a bowl with the sugar and vodka (if using) until the sugar begins to dissolve. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature for 2 hours, stirring occasionally.
Transfer the strawberries and their juices to a blender or food processor. Add the yogurt and lemon juice. Pulse the machine until the mixture is smooth. Strain the mixture through a sieve to remove any seeds, if you like.
Chill until cold, at least 1 hour. Then freeze in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s directions.
This is what can happen when you remember there is an entire Sara Lee pound cake in your freezer, chocolate chips in the cupboard, and a grill press in the drawer.
I wonder how this would be with some peanut butter thrown into the mix?
We now return you to your regularly scheduled program, already in progress.
What’s that? You say that you want more chocolate?
Molten Chocolate Magic
Adapted from “Jean-Georges: Cooking at Home with a Four-Star Chef” by Mark Bittman and Jean-Georges Vongerichten
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, plus more to butter the molds
- 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate
- 2 eggs
- 2 egg yolks
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 2 teaspoons flour, plus more for dusting
In the top of a double boiler set over simmering water, heat the butter and chocolate together until the chocolate is almost completely melted. While that’s heating, beat together the eggs, yolks, and sugar with a whisk or electric beater until light and thick.
Beat together the melted chocolate and butter; it should be quite warm. Pour in the egg mixture, then quickly beat in the flour, just until combined.
Butter and lightly flour four 4-ounce molds, custard cups, or ramekins. Tap out the excess flour, then butter and flour them again. Divide the batter among the molds. (At this point you can refrigerate the desserts until you are ready to eat, for up to several hours; bring them back to room temperature before baking.)
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Bake the molds on a tray for 6 to 7 minutes; the center will still be quite soft, but the sides will be set.
Invert each mold onto a plate and let sit for about 10 seconds. Unmold by lifting up one corner of the mold; the cake will fall out onto the plate. Serve immediately.
From the looks of my blog stats, we all had the same idea about making a special Valentine’s Day dinner. Those scallops from Jacques Pepin got even more traffic than usual on the 14th. Luckily, that is a recipe that you can pull together at the last minute. And from the look of Wegman’s Saturday afternoon, there was a lot of last minute happening. Even I was not immune to lastminuteitis and found myself standing at the seafood counter for scallops. But I had another, equally easy, recipe in mind for them…no offense to Jacques, of course. Continue reading
The ultimate Hallmark Holiday is nearly upon us. Why not whip up a little happiness courtesy of The Minimalist’s Chocolate Souffle? The souffle doesn’t care if you are alone on Valentine’s Day and savoring its chocolaty goodness all by yourself or if you’re sharing it with someone special. C’mon, desserts don’t discriminate. Remember the black and white cookie from Seinfeld? “Look to the cookie”.
Me, I like to look AT the cookies, and souffles, and tarts, and all sorts of treats. And I especially like to gobble them down. But if you happen to be around when I make this, I will most likely share some with you. You might have to shoot me with one of Cupid’s arrows to get my hands off the spoon though…just so you know what you’re getting yourself into.
Oh, and if chocolate doesn’t happen to be your thing (as if), Mr. Bittman has kindly shared a non chocolate, Simple Souffle.
Mark Bittman – The New York Times
About 1 tablespoon butter for dish
1/3 cup sugar, plus some for dish
3 eggs, separated
2 ounces good quality bittersweet chocolate, melted
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter two 2-cup or one 4-cup soufflé or other deep baking dish(es). Sprinkle each with sugar, invert it and tap to remove excess sugar.
Beat egg yolks with all but 1 tablespoon sugar until very light and very thick; mixture will fall in a ribbon from beaters when it is ready. Mix in the melted chocolate until well combined; set aside.
Wash beaters well, then beat egg whites with salt and cream of tartar until whites hold soft peaks; continue to beat, gradually adding remaining tablespoon sugar, until they are very stiff and glossy. Stir a good spoonful of whites thoroughly into egg yolk mixture to lighten it; then fold in remaining whites, using a rubber spatula. Transfer to prepared soufflé dish(es); at this point you can cover and refrigerate until you are ready to bake.
Bake until center is nearly set, 20 minutes for individual soufflés and 25 to 35 minutes for a single large soufflé. Serve immediately.