Sunday, August 30, 2009

Cheddar Corn Chowder

So I thought writing a theme tune about blueberries was hard. Try writing one about corn. What rhymes with corn? Horn? Thorn? Born? Forlorn? My attempts were sad and well, not very inspirational. So I leave you with a picture of Cheddar Corn Chowder, recipe c/o Ina Garten (the Barefoot Contessa).

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Tis the season to pick berries!

Fa la la la la, la la la la!

I was attempting to write lyrics for a berry-baking themed "Deck The Halls", but you try and think of something that goes along with, "Strike the harp and join the chorus"! Not easy, I tell ya...
But this weekend I did manage to make a seasonal favourite of mine - Blueberry Lemon Bundt Cake. Unfortunately, the weather was not quite nice enough for us to go picking, but we went to a local farmstand and loaded up on blueberries. Which really wasn't that much more expensive than picking them ourselves.

The first time I made this cake - it came out of the pan in two (maybe even three pieces). Mind you, it was still good, but it looked a little rough. And I had to use a ton of icing sugar to make it look relatively uniform. And looking like it came out of the pan in one piece. I was much more careful this time around and carefully buttered-and-floured the pan - with fantastic results! I've never had a Bundt cake come out quite so...lovely and golden.

I decided not to dust with icing sugar because the marbling of the blueberries was too unique to cover up. It kind of looks like the cake version of Tiger ice cream (what was that anyway? Orange with chocolate swirl? Mmm...that would make a good cake.)

As usual, I didn't have enough patience to wait for the cake to cool before we sliced it up - the inside was so warm and the blueberries would explode with a burst of juice - the dense cake was a wonderful complement! And juice soaker!

Want to give this cake a try? Check out the recipe here.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Recipe for Ice Cream

A variation on my America's Test Kitchen base, plus a little something extra:

3 cups of whole milk/half&half (I use a combination of the two to make 3 cups)
3/4 cup sugar
pinch of salt
1 tablespoon Amaretto
4 egg yolks
1 lb strawberries

Prepare strawberry base:
In a saucepan, cook strawberries over medium-low heat until a good deal of liquid/juice has been produced (roughly 3/4 - 1 cup), gently crush remaining berries.
Strain and return liquid to saucepan, reduce by a quarter - add berries back in and chill until ready to use.

Prepare ice cream base:
In a saucepan, heat up milk/cream, 1/2 cup sugar, salt and Amaretto until right below boiling point - and steam is coming off the liquid.
Whisk together egg yolks and remaining 1/4 cup sugar until smooth. Temper yolks with 1 cup of liquid, and then add tempered yolks into the saucepan.
Strain ice cream base into a bowl set over an ice bath.
Once cool, stir in strawberry base.

Chill 'n churn.


That's my Amy Winehouse moment. She wails, "Blaaaaake"; I wail, "Flaaaaaake". By 'Flake', I mean that delicious chocolately imported goodness that can be found at any reputable retailer. I don't really remember the first time I had a Flake bar. But I didn't like it. Perhaps it had something to do with the fact that when I actually ate it, it was half-crumpled, being a survivor of a trans-Atlantic flight from London. But my second Flake experience was with a full, luscious, intact Flake bar that crumbled at the lightest of touch. And it was...delicious. But back to the main point of this post - strawberry ice cream!

I admit, I have more fun thinking of ice cream mix-ins than I do the actual ice cream. Nuts, fruit, chocolate, cookies…whatever’s in the pantry tends to go in – as well as flavor complements. I had made a rough list of ice creams I wanted to make – I love how completely flexible and adaptable ice creams can be – just make your base and add away! One ice cream I think I will make in the fall, will probably be a maple-apple-spiced ice cream. Oh yum. pie filling…in ice cream! You get your pie a la mode in a scoop! Anyway, I’m getting carried away in my fantasyland here.

Let me set the stage:

Base? Strawberry ice cream.

Mix-in? Leftover chocolate cake.

Kick it up a notch? Flake chocolate bar.

I was writing a shopping list and at the end I wrote, “Flake. Aaaagggghhhh!”

I love, love, love Flake bars. I love that they look like chocolate ribbon candy – with the gentle folds of chocolate piled into a 7” stick of goodness. How do they do that, anyway? That folding thing? What I like to do is crunch up a Flake bar IN THE WRAPPER, open one end and dump a load of chocolate in my mouth. Like one of those Pixie sticks. (you should see how I dissemble a Caramilk-Rolo)

Oh my god. Could you imagine? Orange or lemon sherbet with a Pixie dust swirl? Be still my beating heart.

Strawberry + chocolate = good times indeed.

*the latest David Lebovitz blog post has a recipe for Caramelized White Chocolate Ice Cream. I shall return triumphant with the results!!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Cherry Season

When I used to live in Toronto – my residence was about a 15 minute walk away from the Chinatown market. I used to spend countless hours wandering the streets, visiting my favourite vendors, eating at cramped restaurants and perusing the goods that lined the streets. My two favourite fruit vendors were on the North-West corner of Dundas and Spadina. Conveniently – they were right next to each other, and they would ‘compete’ with each other for the best prices and the most boisterious calls to prospective customers. “Buy, buy, buy!” they would yell proudly, “two for $5! Very ripe! Very sweet!” There were many a time when I was lured over to touch and fondle the fruits on sale. Naturally, there were seasons when certain fruits would be on sale : oranges, apples, strawberries, pineapples – you name it – they had it on special at one time or another. But three particular fruits were always on my ‘watch list’ – lychees, mangoes (the ‘good’ mangoes from the Philipines), and cherries. I would visit the fruit stalls often and look for the signs – I would also lean towards the window while sailing by on the streetcar – always waiting and hoping for one of those three fruits to be on special.

Currently – we are in the busy cherry seasons. The fruits of my labour? Pounds and pounds of pitted and frozen cherries in the freezer, white chocolate-cherry-almond ice cream, Black Forest cake AND Black Forest trifle – and now – cherry coffee cake!

This was a delicious recipe that I found via the tastespotting site – it was moist, dense, and dare I say, better the day after? I changed it up a bit and added a top layer for that added crunch.

So take advantage of the cherry season while it’s still here! And still cheap!

Did I ever tell you about the time I bought 8 kiwis for $1?

Cherry Coffee Cake

(c/o Series of Kitchen Experiments)

1 1/2 cups cherries, pitted and halved

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

pinch of salt

3/4 cup butter, softened

3/4 cup sugar

2 eggs

1/2 cup milk

Preheat oven to 375F, prepare an 8" square cake pan.

Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time until incorporated. Add vanilla.

Whisk flour, salt, and baking powder.

Add half to wet ingredients, then milk, then rest of dry ingredients.

Carefully fold in cherries.

Bake for 45-60 minutes.

*optional: I added a streusel-y type of topping for an added crunch (1 tb cold butter + 1 1/2 tb flour + 1 1/2 tb sugar, mashed up and sprinkled on top)