Wednesday, September 28, 2011

#Irene Chocolate Mousse Cookies with Peanut Butter for #BakeTogether

#Irene Chocolate Mousse Cookies with Peanut Butter Filling

This has not been a year for rain in due season.

Indeed, there’s been too much rain in places, not enough in others.

Abby Dodge, #BakeTogether’s organizer, was among thousands of folks inundated by rain and wind from Hurricane Irene. The storm worked its way up the eastern coast and dumped on New England.

While holed up, she announced these Double Chocolate Mousse Cookies for September’s #BakeTogether event.

As New England and other parts of the country battled water damage and mildew, other parts have hoped for rain. The South and Southwest have suffered under prolonged drought caused by the La Nina weather system.

Many crops have failed, among them peanuts. A shortage is imminent and peanut butter prices will rise. Part of the peanut shortage is due to crop failure from bad weather. The other reason is economics. Some farmers didn’t plant peanuts this year, opting instead to grow cotton whose prices were attractively high.

Monday, September 26, 2011

So Splendid: Jeni’s Lemon Cream Ice Cream

Lemon Cream Ice Cream based on a recipe from Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home

Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams opened in Columbus a few years after after we moved away.

My husband had gone back for a visit and was expected to bring home a few pints of Graeter’s (a Cincinnati institution whose Lane Ave. shop in Columbus was where I used to stand in long lines for scoops of coconut or blackberry chip).

He called and said, “Everybody’s talking about Jeni’s. I think you’d like these flavors. Should I bring some home?” He then rattled off half a dozen flavors and I couldn’t decide— which often happens when I am presented with too many choices. (Same reason I could never go to the movie store, but that is another story.)

We settled on pints of Wildberry Lavender and Coriander Raspberry, which were my first introduction to Jeni Britton Bauer’s splendid kaleidoscope of flavors.

Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home was published this summer and it features her secrets for the home cook. Food52 recently featured her Lemon Cream recipe in its genius collection—and for good reason.

One thing that has always bothered me about some ice cream recipes is the abundance of egg yolks, so many that I could taste the egginess. Not using a custard base, though, often resulted in something a bit more icy (un-scoopable really) and it lacked that desirable smooth mouth-feel of rich ice creams.

The genius move by Jeni is to use cream cheese and cornstarch. The cornstarch did not surprise me because many Italian gelatos use cornstarch to bind and smooth the mixture.  The cream cheese, though, is the real stroke of brilliance. Its fat carries flavor and adds a smooth texture. It is so perfect for lemon because the light tang of cream cheese echoes the citrus.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Tomato-Peach Jam with Lime + Vanilla

Tomato-Peach Jam with Lime + Vanilla

Tomatoes and peaches ripen about the same time and both thrive on long hot days. And both of them are good only when they are in season.

They combine well in spicy-savory condiments, such as salsas and chutneys, where their tangy-acid-sweetness can really shine.

But they also play well in a sweet-only theme, too, such as this jam I made recently. There were tomatoes left from my day of canning — not enough to fill a quart jar — and a few quite ripe Missouri peaches staring at me on the counter.

Using the Traditional Old-Fashioned Strawberry Jam as my guide, I combined equal weights of peaches and tomatoes with sugar at 75%. In other words, 3/4 pound of sugar for every one pound of fruit.

To round out the flavors, I added the zest and juice from one lime — plus a very teeny bit (not quite one-half teaspoon) of vanilla bean paste.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

How to Roast Green Chiles

My favorite colors of New Mexico — green chile and turquoise blue.
Sometimes all it takes is a change in latitude. And longitude.

We moved one state south and two states west, and now have access to fresh chiles from Hatch, New Mexico.

It doesn’t fit the 100 Mile Diet, but that’s OK.

New Mexico is among our favorite vacation spots. The landscape, the art and culture. The turquoise jewelry. Green chile, red chile, blue corn.

There, I could eat huevos rancheros three times a day—when I’m not having blue corn enchiladas. And while I like Tex-Mex and Sonoran styles of cooking an awful lot, it’s the flavors of New Mexico that really appeal to me. It’s because of those chiles.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Tomato Dust or Oven Dried Tomato Skins

Tomato Dust — Ground, Dried Tomato Skins
My first thought was that they were pretty, those tomato skins. There they were in a little bowl, squeezed between the saucepan of scalding water and a tall stock pot as I prepped for canning tomatoes.

The next thought was that I hated to waste them. Surely they could be put to good use. I say that about many items — well crafted boxes and sturdy shopping bags, especially—and I say that about people, too.

The pile rose higher.

So I took a break and consulted the oracle Twitter. Seems I wasn’t alone in my query as the Food52 community was discussing what to do with leftover tomato skins. Could they be dried in the oven and ground to a powder, one asked.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Recipe for Tomato Tarte Tatin

The July and August issues of Bon Appetit are favorites because there’s always a gorgeous fruit dessert on the cover followed by enticing recipes inside. The August 2010 issue featured a Tarte Tatin using not the traditional apple, but rather the love apple — the tomato.

Tomato Tarte Tatin
Though they are fruits, tomatoes are type cast as savory stars. I admit that I tend to think of them only for main dishes. Some tomatoes, though, are sweeter tasting than certain other fruits. (I’m thinking of some really tart strawberries and blueberries I’ve had over the years. And bitter blackberries.)

When you see how the tomatoes taste after they are softened and glazed with caramel, you might be inspired to create other tomato desserts.

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