Archive for June, 2011
Credit for the ice cream soda is usually given to Robert M. Green, who created it in 1874. The story goes that he ran out of ice for his sodas and decided to use ice cream instead, hoping it would pass unnoticed. He later said that it was an intentional concoction he created to compete with another vendor. Obviously, it went over well. Green put into his will that “Originator of the Ice Cream Soda” was to be engraved on his tombstone.
Here is Ina Garten’s Ice Cream Soda recipe over at Food Network.
- Raspberry Syrup, recipe follows
- Chocolate Syrup, recipe follows
- Pure vanilla extract
- Heavy cream, chilled
- Club soda or seltzer, chilled
- Vanilla ice cream
- Strawberry ice cream
- Chocolate ice cream
- Coffee ice cream
Pour 3 tablespoons of Raspberry or Chocolate Syrup or 1 teaspoon vanilla plus 3 tablespoons heavy cream in a tall ice cream soda glass. Whisk with a fork, then slowly, while still whisking, add the club soda until the glass is three-quarters full. Add 2 scoops of ice cream, add soda to the top of the glass, and serve with a spoon and a straw.
- 3/4 cup cocoa powder, sieved
- Pinch kosher salt
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon instant coffee granules
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Combine the cocoa, salt, sugar and 1 cup of water in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Add the coffee granules, and simmer for 5 minutes. Pour the syrup into a bowl and add the vanilla. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
- 1 pint fresh raspberries, sliced in 1/2
- 1/2 cup sugar
- Juice of 1 lemon
Combine the raspberries, sugar, and lemon in a container. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or overnight. Strain the syrup into a pitcher, pushing down on the berries to extract all the liquid.
Phew! My mid-terms at the Natural Gourmet Institute are finally over. I can take a breather, at least for a little while. Then I have to start prepping for my finals because there’s a lot I need to know. (By the way, have you checked out my blog about Greenmarkets over at the NGI blog site? Click HERE.)
The exam was in two parts: a practical and a written. For the practical, we had to make creamy carrot soup, a salad with a vinaigrette, and a poached pear. For the most part, I thought everything came out really well, except that my vinaigrette was too salty. Precisely the things that I thought I had done wrong was pointed out by the instructor:
1. My soup was too thick. (I didn’t know if we were allowed to get more stock. I should have asked and the fact that I didn’t is my own mistake However, my personal feeling is that cream soups should have some body to them, and I thought mine was perfect.)
2. My vinaigrette was too salty. (I forgot to taste it first, and as I’m putting it on my salad, I realized my mistake. I tasted it and it was waaaay too salty. But I would have had to make a whole new salad at that point and time was running out.)
3. As I pureed my soup, I thought about putting my towel over the top, the way they pointedly told us to. I thought about it, but didn’t do it. I knew I’d get nailed for it. And I did.
But he also said that my soup was a little starchy and that he would not have ground the spices into the soup the way I had. While it gave the soup a nice complexity, he said, it dulled the color of the soup. I disagreed―I thought my soup was a lovely creamy orange color. But I kept my mouth shut because what I thought didn’t matter.
On the other hand, the apple juice that my pears were cooking in dried out too soon and I had to add more, and I thought for sure that he would deduct points for that. I don’t think he did. Phew!
As for the written exam, I’ll find out probably on Saturday.
Today I was finally able to get back to my hunt for untried foods. And I wasn’t disappointed. I found a black velvet apricot. It was truly almost black, with almost the appearance of being coated with charcoal. The actual color is really more a deep purple, and when you
bite into it, a winey hue lines the underside of the skin and tints the flesh. It was juicier and a tad sweeter than regular apricots, as if a dose of plum had been shot into it. (Oh, wait, they’ve already done that. Those are pluots.)
I love finding new foods. It’s like going on an exotic adventure without having to check your luggage.
Today is National Peaches and Cream Day. How perfect for the first daysummer. And what better time to hit the farmer’s of markets and—if you’re lucky enough to live near one—the farm stands. Together, peaches and cream make a simple, beautiful dessert. The recipe below, from Olivia17 at Allrecipes.com, takes it to another level by grilling the peaches, using cream cheese, and adding a touch of honey. Get out the grill and Happy Summer!
- 4 peaches, halved and pitted
- 2 tablespoons clover honey
- 1 cup soft cream cheese with honey and nuts
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- Preheat a grill for medium-high heat.
- Brush peaches with a light coating of oil. Place pit side down onto the grill. Grill for 5 minutes, or until the surfaces have nice grill marks. Turn the peaches over, and drizzle with a bit of honey. Place a dollop of the cream cheese spread in the place where the pit was. Grill for 2 to 3 more minutes, or until the filling is warm. Serve immediately.
Rambutans are grown in Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Australia, and can be found usually in Asian markets.
The “shell” of a rambutan looks like a sea urchin, with spindly “tentacles,” and
it’s usually reddish or yellowish. The inside is very much like a lychee, except that it is firmer. The texture of a rambutan is also like a lychee, but its flavor, although also similar, is milder and less perfumed. And, also like a lychee, the flesh surrounds an almond-like pit.
Rambutans are high in vitamin C, and have some copper, manganese, and trace elements of potassium, calcium, and iron, among other nutrients.
If you have a hard time finding rambutans locally, Melissa’s produce will ship them overnight to you.
Here are a couple of recipes that Melissa’s offers for rambutan. Have fun and let me know what you think of them.
By Ida Rodriguez
8 ounces Rambutan peeled halved and seeded
8 ounces Longans peeled halved seeded
1/2 each Organic Bell Pepper (use Red and Yellow Bell Peppers) diced
1 Jalapeno Chile minced
3 Organic Green Onions chopped
3 tablespoons Lime Juice
Salt to taste
Combine all ingredients in a small bowl, gently toss to mix. Season with salt.
By Andrew Faulkner
18 ounce Organic Tofu, cubed
5 tablespoons Peanut (Groundnut) Oil
12 pieces Organic Ginger
2 Red Fresno Chiles
2 Cardamom Seed Pods
3 cloves Organic Garlic
2 tablespoons Garam Masala
2 teaspoons Coriander ground
2 tablespoons cumin – ground
1/2 teaspoon Turmeric
1 teaspoon Salt
1 small South African Baby Pineapples
5 Rambutan (or Lychees)
1 Pineapple Juice
7 ounces Coconut Milk
Fry the tofu and set aside. Heat the oil in a heavy bottomed saucepan. Add the ginger, chiles, cardamom pods and garlic and sauté. Add the garam masala, coriander, cumin and turmeric and lightly fry. Add the salt, tofu, pineapple, rambutan and pineapple juice and simmer. Add the coconut milk. Serve with rice when cooked.
It’s National Apple Strudel Day. Oh, the horror of it all.
Courtesy: Food Network
- 1/4 cup bourbon or apple juice
- 1/2 cup golden raisins
- 2 to 3 Granny Smith apples (about 1 pound), peeled, cored, halved, and thinly sliced
- 1/2 lemon, juiced
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest, finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, plus more for sprinkling
- 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
- 1/2 cup crushed shortbread cookies
- 1/4 cup chopped pecans
- 2 tablespoons butter, cut into pieces
- 5 sheets phyllo dough from 1 pound package of frozen dough
- 2 tablespoons butter, melted, for brushing phyllo sheets, plus more if needed
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- Confectioners’ sugar
- Caramel sauce, purchased
- 2 cups confectioners’ sugar
- 3 1/2 tablespoons milk
For the Strudel:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a small bowl, pour the bourbon or apple juice over the raisins and microwave on high for 45 seconds. Let sit for 15 minutes.
Combine the raisins, apples, lemon juice, lemon zest, cinnamon, brown sugar, cookie crumbs, pecans, and butter in a large bowl.
Remove the phyllo dough from the box, unfold, and cover with a damp towel. Place 1 sheet of phyllo on the work surface and brush lightly with melted butter. Repeat with the remaining sheets, brushing each with melted butter, stacking when done, being sure to keep the unbuttered phyllo covered.
Place the apple mixture on the nearest third of the phyllo stack, being sure to leave a 2-inch border. Gently lift the bottom edge of the phyllo stack to cover the filling and fold the side edges over. Continue to roll the stack away from you until the filling is completely sealed in and the seam is on the bottom. Transfer to the prepared baking sheet. Brush the top with melted butter and sprinkle with granulated sugar.
For the Glaze:
Mix ingredients thoroughly.
*Cook’s Note: If too thick add a little bit of milk. If too thin add a little bit of confectioners’ sugar.
Do you always drop all the spaghetti all over the floor? Do you burn everything, including water? Do you splash tomato sauce on your walls? Then you are a kitchen klutz. But no need to cry over your spilled milk, for today you are the person of honor. Today is National Kitchen Klutzes Day!!
That’s right, now you and your kind can rejoice in knowing you are not alone and you should not be ashamed. No need to hang your heads, no reason to hide in the shadows. Come on out into the light, count your fingers and toes (make sure they’re all there), and sing a rousing round of “Yummy Yummy Yummy.” It’s all good!
Today is a most sacred day for peanut butter cookie lovers. It is, my friends, National Peanut Butter Cookie Day. PB cookies is one of life’s gifts to us. Peanut butter, credited to George Washington Carver, is believed to have been created by the Aztecs, which wouldn’t surprise me, since they utilized nuts, seeds, and legumes in every possible way.
But however peanut butter originated, it is the genius of using it in cookie dough that deserves kudos. With its salty-sweet taste, reminiscent of molasses, and its trademark fork-made cross-hatch pattern, PB cookies have become a staple of the American pantry.
According to Whatscookingamerica.com:
It is not until the early 1930s that peanut butter was listed as an ingredient in cookies. The 1933 edition of Pillsbury’s Balanced Recipes by Mary Ellis Ames, Director of the Pillsbury Cooking Service, contains a recipe for Peanut Butter Balls. It instructs the cook to roll the dough into balls and press them down with the tines of a fork. This practice is still common in America today.
I remember very vividly learning how to make peanut butter cookies in Home Ec class in junior high school. (Do they still teach Home Ec in school?) I only remember three things from that class: 1) Stainless steel sinks stain (from water), 2) how to make peanut butter cookies, and 3) practicing fire safety procedures by rolling ourselves up in asbestos blankets. Yeah, good times.
I’m not a huge cookie monster, but put PB cookies in front of me, and I’m done. I have a tremendous weakness for them. So, today is a day of reverence for me, and in honor of the day, here is a PB cookie recipe from Epicurious.com, originally appearing in the January 1998 issue of Bon Appétit. Enjoy! (I know I will.)
Yield: Makes about 4 dozen
3 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup creamy or chunky peanut butter (do not use old-fashioned style or freshly ground)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper. Mix flour, baking powder and salt in medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat butter, peanut butter and vanilla in large bowl until well blended. Beat in both sugars. Scrape down sides of bowl. Stir half of dry ingredients into mixture. Add eggs 1 at a time, stirring well after each addition. Mix in remaining dry ingredients.
For each cookie, roll 1 heaping tablespoonful of dough into 1 3/4-inch-diameter ball. Arrange dough balls 2 1/2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets. Using back of fork, flatten dough balls and form crosshatch design on tops. Bake cookies until dry on top and golden brown on bottom, about 14 minutes. Cool cookies on baking sheets 5 minutes. Using metal spatula, transfer cookies to racks and cool completely. (Can be prepared up to 3 days ahead. Store in airtight container at room temperature.)
This week’s class at Natural Gourmet Institute was hors d’oeuvres. We made vegetarian, vegan, fish, and chicken hors d’oeuvres, including:
* Phyllo Triangles with Savory Mushrooms
*Tempeh Nori Packages
*Fried Shrimp with Wasabi Garnish
*White Bean Spread with Sundried Tomato/Kalamata Tapenade on Rosemary and Garlic Pizzelle
*Curried Chicken Salad on Papadam with Yogurt Raita
*Rosemary, Pumpkin, and Leek Dumplings
*Mini Salmon Cakes with Lemon Dill Aioli
*Parmesan Tacos Filled with Baby Mesclun Greens
*Pine Nut Ricotta on Endive
*Pumpkin Cornmeal Tartlet with Avocado Cream
*Phyllo Triangles with Herbed Greens
The staple of any party or gathering is the hors d’oeuvre. Whether it’s an intricately constructed piece of art or just a bowl of salsa and chips, everyone loves them.
As a guest, you want something to nibble on while you’re talking, walking, listening, whatever. As a host, you want to make sure that your guests have a little something to put in their stomachs so they don’t roll out of your home stinking drunk. (They might anyway, but at least you’ll know it wasn’t your fault.)
The hors d’oeuvre (which literally means “outside the work”) has been around almost as long as people have been eating foods other than brontosaurus drumsticks. Romans, Greeks, and other ancient civilizations had little bite-sized snacks before their main meals.
Hors can be as simple as crudités and dip; however, “pretty” hors d’oeuvres are labor intensive. But an outstanding hors d’oeuvre is what people often remember most about a meal, even more so than dessert (unless that dessert was out of this world).
For a bunch of students, we made some very nice plates (see photos).
And they tasted pretty damn good, too.
I’m wrapping up work on a book of hors d’oeuvres for my second cookbook. I’ve been working on it for years and I’m hoping that a publisher picks it up. Wish me luck.
Here’s the recipe for Parmesan Tacos Filled with Baby Mesclun Greens, which is what I made in class. You’ll find it’s fairly easy and not overly time consuming. Let me know what you think.
Parmesan Tacos Filled with Baby Mesclun Greens
© Natural Gourmet Institute
9 oz. Parmigiano reggiano, freshly grated on small microplane grater
1 tbsp unbleached white flour, sifted
1 tbsp + 1 tsp fresh lemon juice
1 small shallot, minced
1 tsp Dijon mustard
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 oz. baby mesclun greens, washed and spin dried
- Preheat oven to 350 F. Line standard size baking sheet with Silpatbaking mat or parchment paper.
- In small mixing bowl, toss grated Parmigiano Reggiano with flour.Sprinkle 1 ½ tbs cheese mixture onto Silpat mat to form a 3-inch circle and flatten. Six will fit on a standard baking sheet.
- Bake until cheese is melted and very lightly golden brown (about 10 minutes) after 5 minutes rotate pan. Remove from oven and let sit 30 seconds. With a spatula, remove one baked round to a paper towel and hold it in the palm of your hand, folding up the edges. Depress a butter knife or small offset spatula adown the middle to form a taco shape. Make sure bottom is flat. Transfer to paper towels to cool. Repeat with remaining cheese.
- While cheese is baking, in small mixing bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, shallot, and mustard. Whisk in the olive oil slowly. Add salt and pepper to taste. When all of the crisps are made a cooled, toss the greens with vinaigrette. Place the greens carefully into the tacos and serve. Assemble as close to serving time as possible.
I’ve said it before—when cooking gourmet food, making perfect little potato squares and joli carrot juliennes is pretty but impractical, there is something to be said about food used to create art. Food is a beautiful medium—colorful, fresh, aromatic, living. I mean, who doesn’t appreciate a beautifully constructed plate of food?
Food styling is a specialty skill and a career in and of itself. (It’s not as easy as it looks.) Magazines (and cookbook publishers) rely on food stylists to make the recipes look enticing to readers so that they will want to make them. They want readers to drool. If the recipes are a food magazine’s foundation, and cooking information its structure, then food styling is its paint and flower garden. The photos are used to captivate people and lure those who would otherwise ignore a recipe, or the magazine, or food altogether.
This past week’s class at the Natural Gourmet Institute was Food as Art, which was about plating techniques, making food look beautiful and appealing on the plate. We whipped out the ring molds and squeeze bottles and created plates of fancy. Teams of two had to make an appetizer and an entrée, and each person made a dessert. It was kind of like Iron Chef or Chopped, where we were given certain ingredients and we had to come up with stuff to make.
For the appetizer, my partner and I made tofu steak with persimmon coulis, sautéed oyster mushroom, and blanched string beans for garnish. For the entrée, we made warm beluga lentil salad with ricotta salata and spinach on a bed of grilled zucchini and green sauce (this was really brown lentils and crumbled tofu–the object of the exercise was not taste but appearance only, so we were able to pretend that one kind of food was really another). For dessert we had almond cake, chocolate sauce, chocolate sheets with pretty designs on them, custard from Egg class, nuts, and various fruits, and we could use any of these items as we wished. I scooped out the custard and mixed it with passion fruit and put it on top of a cake round. I then sliced and fanned out a strawberry, put it on top, and drizzled it with chocolate. Yum.
Of course, I forgot yet again to bring my camera so I have no photos of anything.
I got some beautiful baby lettuces to take home, which provided me with the base for a great salad that I had for two lunches. Below are the elements of my salad (plus a few suggestions, what I marked as “optional”). You can add or eliminate anything you like.
Lettuce-Chick Pea Summer Salad
This makes one very big dinner salad or two smaller lunch salads.
1 packed cup baby romaine
1 packed cup baby red leaf lettuce
¼ cup grated carrot
1 cup chick peas
1/3 cup walnut pieces or pecans
¼ cup shaved Parmigiano
¼ cup cooked quinoa
¼ cup cooked forbidden rice
¼ cup Kalamata olives (optional)
2 hard-boiled eggs, quartered
¼ cup corn (optional)
½ cup croutons (optional)
Combine all ingredients, except the eggs, croutons, and dressing in a medium bowl and toss together. Sprinkle the croutons and lay the egg quarters over the top. Pour the dressing over the salad and enjoy. To bring this somewhere for lunch, combine the salad as instructed in a tight-sealing bowl and bring the dressing in a separate container. Add the dressing when you’re ready to eat.
The other day, a co-worker of mine walked into the office with a mesh bag full of some kind of round, dark fruit. I knew it was fruit because of the kind of mesh bag it was and because this person is always bringing in interesting foods to eat. Her background is Asian, so she can be relied upon to bring in things like Malaysian sweets, Chinese noodles, and natto (Japanese fermented soybeans).
So, she came up to my desk and pulled out one of these fruits and handed it to me.
“What is it?” I asked.
“Mangosteen,” she responded.
Mangosteen?! No way. I’d been hearing about this exotic fruit for years but had never actually had one. The reason is that up until 2007, mangosteens were banned from the U.S. The FDA feared that mangosteens harbored the Asian fruit fly and would damage American crops. The ban was lifted because —and here’s the sad part—the FDA approved irradiated mangosteens, which means that gamma rays are shot through the fruit to kill bacteria and pests. So, while it’s great to have access to this fruit, there’s a price we pay for it.
But even after the ban, I still never saw any because they are very hard to find, and if you do find them, be prepared to pay a hefty price. My friend paid $20 for the bag she brought in, which probably held about 10 mangosteens. However, it’s not unheard of to see $45 a pound. Originally from Southeast Asia, the mangosteen is believed to be an antiinflmmatory, and it can be found as a juice, in cans, and frozen.
I didn’t try the mangosteen right then and there. I decided to take it home, where I could really experience it (and take pictures of it). The outer shell looks thick and hard, and it is. But you’d be surprised and how fragile it is. I was told to smash it with the palm of my hand to break it open, but it took a lot less force that I thought was needed. The shell is a purplish color, much like an eggplant (although, it also comes in reddish hues). The inside of the shell is ruby red, and the flesh is white and separated into segments, like an orange. A couple of my segments were smashed from the force of my hand, but its flavor was unaffected. And what was its flavor?
It was like nothing I’ve ever tasted. It was creamy, juicy, and delectably sweet with a flavor that was―to me―a cross between a sweet plum and a ripe strawberry. It was truly a treat for my tongue. And although it’s called The Queen of Fruit because Queen Victoria offered 100 pounds sterling to anyone who could deliver to her fresh mangosteens, it’s tempting to think that it was nicknamed that because it truly deserves royal status.
For some great mangosteen recipes, visit Samartfoods.com. They have a Mangosteen Yogurt Panna Cotta, Mangosteen and Lime Sorbet, and Mangosteen Jelly. Below is their recipe for Mangosteen Mousse. But before you try out any recipes, have a mangosteen fresh. It truly is the Queen of Fruit.
1 envelope (1/4 ounce) unflavored gelatin
¼ cup mangosteen juice*
2 cups Mangosteen Puree
1 1/2 cups chilled heavy cream
1/3 cup sugar
pinch of salt
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
In a medium saucepan, combine gelatin with ¼ cup of the mangosteen juice. Stir to soften, about 1 minute
Cook over low heat 1 to 2 minutes until gelatin dissolves. Add Mangosteen Puree and cook, stirring, over medium heat for 5 minutes.
Remove mixture from heat and set aside to cool completely.
In a large bowl, beat the cream, sugar, and salt until the mixture holds stiff peaks.
Whisk in vanilla extract.
Whisk about ½ cup of the cream mixture into the cooled mangosteen mixture until fully incorporated.
Add about a quarter of the mangosteen mixture to the whipped cream, whisking until fully incorporated.
Repeat 3 more times until all of the mangosteen mixture has been incorporated into the cream.
Spoon mixture into small individual serving dishes and chill until set, at least 2 hours. Makes about 8 cups.
*Note: This is not in the original recipe ingredients list, but it appears in the instructions, so I added it. To make the puree, juice put puree mangosteen (or frozen, thawed mangosteen) in a blender until smooth.