Sunday, August 23, 2009

Caprese salad

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I’m always surprised by how long it takes to get fresh local tomatoes. I mean, it’s nearly September! Can’t these things be ready when I want them—say in July? Somehow, summer seems nearly over by the time the tomatoes come in, probably because school starts on Monday. These particular tomatoes are lovely little orange cherry tomatoes that are so sweet I had to restrain myself from eating the entire lot in one go, standing over the sink where I just finished rinsing them. Most of them did make it into this salad, along with fresh sweet basil, fresh mozzarella, salt, pepper, and olive oil. Food of the gods.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Cookies and Cream Ice Cream

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So, the other week, I made mocha ice cream. It had a pretty strong coffee component, of course. Just the thought of it made Isaac wince. To make up for that self-indulgence (I love coffee ice cream), I made him his favorite. I used the recipe in Making Artisan Gelato, but I thought it called for a ridiculously small amount of cookies (5!), so increased that to about 12, which I froze before chopping into chunks and stirring into the finished ice cream. You can see all thank chunky hydrogenated vegetable oil laden goodness in the photo. I discovered, by the way, that big chunks of stuff will stop the Cuisinart from churning. Who woulda thunk?

The ice cream was a big hit. He said something like “this is a cut above store-bought.” Without thinking, I answered, “I should think so!” Immediately I realized how awful that sounded and added on some fawning thank-yous.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Diet Cookies

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How do you make diet cookies? Put something in them that you hate. For me, that’s coconut. What would you add (that is edible and tasty to some people) to a basic chocolate chip cookie that would make it inedible for you?

Monday, August 10, 2009

Panzanella


August and September are the time to celebrate tomatoes. And this is one of my favorite ways to do that.

A deconstructed sandwich. A caprese salad with chunks of bread added. Bread salad. All of these are useful ways to describe panzanella. This is best made with slightly stale bread, the freshest tomatoes (nothing from the grocery store will do), and lots of basil. The cheese can vary, but my favorite is fresh mozzarella.

First, chop the tomatoes into bite-sized chunks and salt them. Let that sit for a while so that the juices of the tomatoes run out a bit. You'll want all that flavorful liquid in the salad, though, so don't throw it away.

If your bread isn't stale, cut it into chunk and let it sit out in the air until it's somewhat dried out (this is easy in Utah).

Meanwhile, prepare your favorite vinaigrette. Mine is 2 parts olive oil, one part decent vinegar. For this, a red wine vinegar is okay (or champagne vinegar), but not balsamic. I think it ruins the color.

When the tomatoes have released some liquid, the bread is stale enough, toss these together with bite-sized chunks of fresh mozzarella (or a roughly shredded not-too-soft cheese like Fontina), and vinaigrette. Don't be stingy with the vinaigrette—this is supposed to be kind of soggy.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Strawberry Gelato

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Are you sick of ice cream/gelato posts yet? I hope not, because I’m not fat enough yet to quit making it and eating it.

The lovely mauve color came from frozen organic strawberries that I pureed with sugar and a tiny bit of vodka. The base was made using the gelato recipes in Making Artisan Gelato. As promised in the definition of gelato in this book, this stuff is not hard as a rock, but instead is light and fluffy, while still being completely frozen. The texture isn’t totally smooth, but I think that is the tiny air pockets, not an excess of watery crystals or, heaven forbid, seeds (they were strained out).

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Mocha Gelato

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The difference between gelato and ice cream is, well, there is no difference. Gelato means something like frozen stuff. Some claim that gelato has lower fat content overall. Whatever. I think the main difference is the temperature at which it is served. Gelato should be, I think, a little less hard when served than ice cream so that you really get to enjoy the texture. In gelato stores, the freezers keep the gelato at an optimum temperature for scooping and eating.

I accidentally achieve this texture with this mocha frozen dessert. I made it and processed in the Cuisinart ice cream maker but only had time to let it harden up in the freezer for about an hour. This turned out to be the perfect length of time. Also, I didn’t get in a hurry with the Cuisinart. I let that sucker keep running until the mixture was totally bound up in the beaters. It was at its maximum frozenness before I hardened it in the freezer.

Coffee ice cream is one of my favorites. This recipe achieved coffee deliciousness by steeping a cup and a half (!) of whole beans in hot milk and cream for an hour. Then I reheated it a bit and made a slurry of it in the blender and let that sit for a while longer. After straining out the beans (but leaving little flecks of bean), I made the custard with it, carefully tempering the eggs before adding them in. I looked at the custard and thought, “This needs chocolate.” I had made some chocolate syrup with dutch process cocoa, sugar, and water. Several globs of this added to the warm custard gave the whole mess a lovely mocha glow.

After the aforementioned freezing process, five of us ate all of it in one sitting. Heaven.

Recipe was derived from The Perfect Scoop and Making Artisan Gelato.