I know. I can’t believe there’s another plum recipe on the blog but, really, I just can’t help myself. For one thing, I had a huge windfall of plums a couple of weeks ago from old friend Helen Brockman — they’re still chilling and willing. For another, this was my week to teach the Frolicking French Fall Dinner Party cooking class and — what could be a better, nearly instant, homey French dessert than clafoutis? (cluh-FOO-tee) I had never heard of a plum clafoutis as they’re typically made with cherries and a just sweet enough custardy batter, though I make them with rhubarb, too. Purists would offer the opinion that it isn’t a clafoutis if it isn’t made with cherries but this is my kitchen, isn’t it?! And, of course, when I googled plum clafoutis, other able and thoughtful cooks have gone before me. (I shouldn’t have done it and let myself believe I’d invented the dish. Story of my life but I’ll still give myself the private credit.)Continue reading
Rhubarb pie — not to be confused with strawberry-rhubarb pie — is probably my husband’s favorite dessert. This isn’t to say he won’t eat every bit of a strawberry-rhubarb, or even a Blueberry-Rhubarb Crisp (see below), but just that plain rhubarb pie is it. There are years when due to a move or gardening delays, there is no rhubarb in our garden or yard. I’m then reduced to begging from friends, who immediately know why I’m calling come spring. I also haunt the local grocery produce section where rhubarb does indeed appear but also disappears mysteriously…and not always when you need it. “Oh, sorry! It’s all gone. You know we get produce in every single night. Try again in the morning!” Rats.Continue reading
For as long as I’ve had my own kitchen, I’ve been making scratch brownies out of the 1971 BETTY CROCKER COOKBOOK. People say things like this, “That’s the best brownie I’ve ever eaten in my whole life.” And you know why? It’s not because I’m the best brownie baker or Betty’s the top of the recipe developers, it’s because most folks are used to boxed mix brownies made with cocoa instead of luscious whole bars of melted chocolate. You know, brownies are nothing but fudge on steroids. Think of them as fudge with flour… and eggs… … and sometimes a little leavening. But unless you make scratch brownies, you don’t know that.Continue reading
Baking at Thanksgiving. It’s a big deal to some people and a late afternoon stop at the grocery for others. Perhaps because often folks are cooks OR they’re bakers and rarely both. The pumpkin pie may have all the memories the turkey never garnered and the homemade yeast rolls and butter just might be why your grandson shows up. On the other hand, it could be all about the dressing, gravy or even the ham at your house where no one looks twice at dessert. I once brought turkey and dressing to a summer potluck, where a close friend refused to eat a bite. When I asked why, she said, “You didn’t make gravy. I don’t eat dressing without gravy.” She truly had some serious food traditions and it’s not unusual. Listen to your friends and family talk about Thanksgiving and you’ll see.
For the next two weeks, I’ll at some time during each week feature one recipe from my new book, Soups & Sides for Every Season (click HERE to order). Make the recipe, photograph it, email the pic to me: firstname.lastname@example.org. If yours is the first email with a recipe photo I receive, I’ll mail you a book! Don’t forget to include your snail mail address in the email as well as any adjustments you made to the recipe. Now get “cooking!” I can’t wait to hear from you.
My first for-real book signing is Saturday, July 19 (11am – 1 pm) at Aspen Kitchens and Design Studio here in Colorado Springs: 5134 North Nevada Ave. Colorado Springs, 80918 –University Village Complex. I’ll have a few books with me, but you still have time to buy one and bring it! There may even be some soup or something else to taste. Come see!
If you haven’t had a chance to look at the book yet, it’s a soft covered paperback, 174 pages, and was a more than two-year effort that included a wonderful team: Patricia Miller, editor; Amanda Weber, designer; Daniel Craig, artist; and Drew Robinson, CS, sommelier. I had a dedicated team of testers and they’re all listed in the acknowledgment section. Continue reading
|Tiny, fluted, showered in sugar: “Sparkly, Very Sparkly Stars”|
|Raspberry Sandwich Cookies|
|Dipped in Vahlrona chocolate and topped with fleur de sel|
These cookies are always on all my cookie trays in one version or another. Each shortbread cookie is made from the same recipe, but is simply finished differently. The recipe is Eli Zabar’s (NYC) and I took it straight from Ina Garten, who I guess took it straight from Eli, who, it appears got it from his mother! My cookies, however, are quite different than Ina’s. Your cookies will be something else as well. And while these are not terribly innovative or cutting edge, they are terribly delicious. Addictive, in fact. Just add coffee. Just add tea. Just add sherry. Just add…you.
|“Can she bake a cherry pie, Billy Boy, Billy Boy? Can she bake a cherry pie, charming Billy?”|
She’s a young thing and cannot leave her mother…. is poor Billy’s lament. She can, however, bake a cherry pie quick as a cat can blink an eye! (Click on above link to hear the song; guitar chords included.)
I was just minding my own business. I had stuck the hot cherry pie on a rack on an empty shelf in a kitchen cupboard. A good place to cool pie if you have two golden retrievers. (I made four different pies for Thanksgiving; everyone deserves their favorite once a year. I’m convinced. Cherry is my sister Helen’s favorite. Hence “Helen’s Cherry Pie.” Also my loved “niece,” Kathy’s.)
|An ultra thin ginger snap smothered with hot pastry cream serves as the “crust.”|
How the Quick Kiwi Tart with Gingersnap Crust came to be…
While I love to bake a pie as much as the next woman (more than most, I’d guess), I also like nearly instant desserts that are luscious and don’t wear out the soles of your trainers. (Like after you’ve cooked for company all day and still need dessert.) I have a pocketful of favorites like a 30-second pumpkin custard (it’ll be in my soup book) and a blink-done individual chocolate flourless “cake.” I also have no-bake favorites like a strawberry ice cream parfait layered with crumbled ginger shortbread and fresh peaches. In cases of real emergencies, I buy ice cream and cones–and not just for the kids.
But today I needed a kiwi something. Not exactly in my bailiwick; I use kiwi in fruit salads or the occasional smoothie. I kept picturing the industrial size, looks/tastes-like-Paris fruit tarts they sell at Marigold Bakery and Cafe in Colorado Springs. The perfectly trained pastry chef turned out racks of these tarts daily–as well as many other pastries and breads. You can’t count on him to spell your best friend’s name right on her birthday cake, but you can count on a piece of a tart at 3pm with your coffee or a full tart at 8pm for emergency company. If you order ahead, you can get 12 for your son’s rehearsal dinner. In other words, you can depend on that tart. It’s topped with all the glories of many kinds of fruit. But it’s not spring; it’s not summer. Berries are over and I don’t need a BIG tart at all. I need a T-tiny tart… (as my fine old friend Susan Gimarc would say) Well, one for me and one for Dave. Maybe two for tomorrow, though he usually gets all dessert leftovers. But that’s it. Enter the very petite and quick “Kiwi Tart with Ginger Snap Crust” made in a small ramekin. The crust for each tart is one gingersnap at the bottom of a ramekin or small bowl. Topped with hot pastry cream, the cookie doesn’t crumble, but softens into a beautiful crust made for a spoon. Here’s how:
quick individual kiwi tarts with ginger snap crust makes 4
|Make a small pan of vanilla pastry cream (crème patissière, which is very like vanilla pudding). Recipe below.|
|Place one thin gingersnap in the bottom of each of four ramekins.|
|These are my favorite gingersnaps. (Except for my own, of course)|
|Spoon hot pastry cream into ramekins.|
|If not serving right away, cover each tart with plastic wrap (pressing plastic down to cream) to prevent a skin from forming on the pastry cream. Refrigerate for up to one day. Otherwise, let cool a few minutes, and then go to next step:|
|Stand 3-4 slices of peeled kiwi in the cream. (Optional: Heat 1 tablespoon apricot jam in microwave and brush kiwi with it.) Serve immediately with extra ginger snaps if desired.|
3 kiwi fruit; each peeled and cut into four thin slices
4 thin gingersnaps, store-bought or homemade ( I like Anna‘s Ginger Thins.)
Pastry cream (below)
Optional: 1 tablespoon apricot jam
pastry cream recipe
from The New Basics Cookbook by Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins*
- 1 cup milk (whole or 2%)
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 2 egg yolks
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract**
In a heavy saucepan, combine milk, sugar, cornstarch, and egg yolks. Place over low heat and, whisking, bring to a boil. Cook another minute and remove from heat. Stir in butter, salt, and vanilla extract.
*There are many pastry cream recipes, but a lot of them make a large amount of pastry cream and many more use a larger amount of egg yolks. Use whichever you like best. This one has a very simple and streamlined process, is tasty, and makes just enough for these four tarts. You could also, of course, use a low-fat, light pudding or custard recipe if needed. Difference between pastry cream and vanilla pudding? I can’t tell much, though sometimes vanilla pudding doesn’t have eggs. The difference, however, between pastry cream and custard is that custard is 1. thickened only with eggs (no cornstarch or flour) and is 2. cooked in a water bath (bain marie) in the oven, while pastry cream or vanilla pudding is a stove top process.
**You can also flavor pastry cream with a little brandy or Grand Marnier–try 1/2 teaspoon first and add a second 1/2 if needed.
about those kiwi
Calories: 108 calories per cup of kiwi
Kiwifruit is one of nature’s perfect foods: low in calories, high in energy and an excellent source of antioxidants. Each one delivers a world of nutrition benefits, including:
- Vitamin C: Each serving of kiwifruit has nearly two-and-a-half times the recommended daily allowance of vitamin C, proven to boost the immune system and fight the effects of stress and aging.
- No fat: Kiwifruit is fat-free, an important consideration in today’s healthy diets and a rarity among foods containing so many other nutritional benefits.
- Fiber: Two kiwifruit contain more fiber than a bowl of bran cereal, the tasty way to maintain heart health, regular digestion and lower cholesterol.
- Potassium: A serving of California Kiwifruit has more potassium than a banana, ideal for maintaining fluid and electrolyte balance and for releasing energy during exercise.
- Antioxidants: Kiwifruit is an excellent source of antioxidants which are important in reducing your risk of cancer, heart disease and stroke.
- Low glycemic index: With a glycemic index of 52, kiwifruit is a fat-free, low-carb fruit that’s safe for diabetics and a smart part of any weight-loss diet.
- Magnesium: Two kiwifruit deliver 30 mg of magnesium, which improves nerve and muscle function while boosting your energy level.
- Lutein: Kiwifruit contains the phytochemical lutein, which works to prevent age-related blindness and protect eyes from various kinds of damage.
- Folate: With nearly 10% of the recommended daily value of folate, kiwifruit is a good way to protect the health of mother and baby during pregnancy while helping prevent birth defects.
- Zinc: Men will appreciate kiwifruit’s zinc content, which helps produce testosterone, while everyone can enjoy its other benefits like healthy hair, skin, teeth and nails.
Vitamin E: Kiwifruit is one just a handful of fat-free sources of vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant that helps lower cholesterol and boost immunity. (Info and photo: Courtesy California Kiwifruit Commission)
Join our blogging group!
- I blog with a great group of writers every Friday where we cook our way through the list of foods from Whole Living Magazine’s Power Foods: 150 Delicious Recipes with the 38 Healthiest Ingredients: Read more about tasty kiwi this week at these sites:
Ansh – SpiceRoots.comChaya – SweetSav.blogspot.comJeanette – JeanettesHealthyLiving.comMartha – Simple-Nourished-Living.comMinnie Gupta from TheLady8Home.comMireya – MyHealthyEatingHabits.com
Sarah – Everything in the Kitchen Sink
- We’d like to have you as part of the group. Get in touch with Mireya from My Healthy Eating Habits: Mireya@MyHealthyEatingHabits.com
two-dog kitchen and around the ‘hood
On the Dinner Place (Cooking for One) Blog this week” The 30-Second-No Pan to Wash Egg
This week’s fave post on More Time: Guiness Beef Pot Pie with Cheddar Dill Biscuits
Today I’m baking oatmeal chocolate chips for the reception after the Historic Organ Recital at Prospect Park United Methodist (where I work as a choir director). It’s 7:30 tonight, Friday, October 19. See you there. A favorite activity, I did it last week, too…
- a blog repeat, but fun:
Saturday, I baked oatmeal chocolate chips for the authors in town for Opus and Olives, one of the premiere literary events in the Twin Cities held each fall at the Crown Plaza Hotel in St. Paul. (Mark Shriver said he’d eaten his six all in a row; he’d had no food in hours while traveling!) Dave and I also went the banquet and enjoyed a fine meal with great folks while we listened to the each author speak. (My favorite was Cheryl Strayed, but then again, I adored her book Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail.)
I also meet today for lunch with a wonderful editor/writer who I hope will be doing some editing on the book, 30 Soups in 30 Minutes. This week– test on turnip soup (lovely–no details given away here) and lots of work in Microsoft Word, which isn’t nearly so fun as drumming up new soups in my kitchen. Not sure we’ll be done with this little ditty by Christmas, but who knows?
Sing a new song,
When it’s my friend Sue’s birthday, or at least if I can find one, I send her a birthday card with strawberries on it. Sometimes I can’t find one. Sue loves strawberries and so when I knew she was coming for our Mother’s Day cook-out, I knew what the dessert was going to be. It’ll be just perfect for Memorial Day, too, though I’ll be busy making carrot cake sheet cakes for a graduation party. (Carrot cake was one of my first posts as a blogger. Things, luckily, have really improved! If all goes well, I’ll take some better photographs than I did three years ago.)
|Taking vanilla bean out with my kids’ Mickey Mouse spoon.|
I only make Strawberry Shortcake once or twice a year, so I try and make it light, layered with lots of ripe fruit, full of textural and temperature contrasts, and touched just enough by two kinds sweet cream–frozen and fresh whipped. It’s a celebration of the start of summer, though if we’re lucky, we have strawberries coming for a good part of summer in Minnesota.
For the best Strawberry Shortcake, you need each ingredient to be fresh and/or the best you can find or make. So for this dessert, I made the shortcakes as well as homemade vanilla ice cream. (Baby spoon used at right still in drawer and my kids are 25 and 34. We’ve moved 20 times since the oldest was a baby, so it’s been through at least 20 kitchens. Geez.) Ripe strawberries (some mashed) and just-whipped cream, of course. My other tiny, but critical element is a gentle smear of raspberry jam on each half of the sliced sweet biscuits we use for shortcakes. This recipe makes enough for 8 with a few shortcakes leftover for breakfast the next day. (Slice them, spread with butter, slip under the broiler and serve with jam and lots of hot coffee.)
strawberry shortcake with homemade shortcakes and
ice cream serves 8
8 freshly baked and cooled shortcakes, each sliced in half (recipe below)
1/2 cup best quality raspberry jam, room temperature
2 qts ripe strawberries, stemmed and sliced. Mash about 1/4 of the berries with a tablespoon of sugar
and mix the rest of the berries into the sugared ones.
1 1/2 qts homemade vanilla ice cream*
1 cup whipping cream, whipped with 1/4 tsp vanilla and a pinch of sugar
To assemble...for each shortcake in a deep individual serving bowl or plate:
- Spread the two halves of the shortcake gently with a little raspberry jam, using about half a tablespoon for each half. Place one half (jammed side up) in the bottom of bowl or plate and top with sliced strawberries.
- Dollop in a little whipped cream on top of the berries and place the second half jammed shortcake on top. Spoon on more strawberries and top with whipped cream.
- Garnish with a couple strawberry slices.
- Add a generous scoop of vanilla ice cream to the side of the cake and berries or on top, if you wish.
- Strawberry shortcake is good with a cup of coffee.
*I made Jeni’s Ugandan Vanilla Ice Cream. You can make any kind you’d like or even buy some best quality vanilla if you don’t have time to make it. This recipe from epicurious.com is similar to Jeni’s, though Jeni’s has no eggs.
My ice cream:
|Chilling the ice cream mixture.|
|All frozen and ready for you in about 25 minutes.|
And the shortcakes:
|Making the shortcakes, which are like a sweet biscuit.|
|Shortcakes cooling on the rack. Don’t want them too brown.|
Recipe for Shortcakes from Fanny Farmer’s Baking Book, by Marion Cunningham:
fluffy shortcakes makes 16
- 2 cups cake flour
- 1/2 t salt
- 4 t baking powder
- 1/2 t cream of tartar
- 3 T sugar
- 8 T butter
- 1 egg, well-beaten
- 1/3 c milk or cream, plus droplets if needed
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Get out 2 8 or 9″ round cake pans or a large baking sheet, but do not grease.
two-dog kitchen and around the hood or other stuff I’m cooking:
Bleeding Hearts (I have pink and white) and Pansies…
I’ll decorate the sheet carrot cake next weekend with the edible pansies.
|One of these girls lays eggs so big they don’t fit in the carton! (Top right corner)|
I got more eggs from Cathy’s ladies this week. (Cathy’s a friend and fine pianist whose family owns a terrific coffee business, Velasquez Family Coffee, in St. Paul) I usually save them for an omelet dinner, poached eggs on grilled cheese tomatoes:
|Poached eggs on grilled asparagus and mushrooms with hot balsamic vinaigrette|
and I did make an omelet, but I also spread my wings and beat some up to use in making some fried chicken out of the Olives cookbook (the recipe is actually for cornish hens; I subbed boneless chicken thighs and served them with a spicy black bean-ham salad.) This chicken is worth the price of the book.
|Tucker sneaking around the cookbook corner. Red stool @ counter = my kitchen table!|
|Hey, Mom! Time to eat yet?|
|These are my youngest peonies planted in the shade on the west side. Must be moved to sun. I have some on the south side that are literally on the ground because they’re so big and I don’t have a peony cage for them.|
If you liked this, I think you’d like my Fresh Berry Cake--. Take the components separately to a Memorial Day Picnic. Make it with a one-layer butter cake sliced in half, or buy a Sara Lee (or bakery) pound cake, slice it horizontally, and serve a rectangular version. Time for berries! Recipe for Fresh Berry Cake courtesy Aida Mollenkamp, whose recipes–every one–have been delicious and spot-on.
The other thing I get to do this week is make a BBQ Chicken Pizza for our 50 Women Game-Changers (Gourmet Live); this week–almost the end–is Foodspotting. I really love making pizza, though I don’t do it often. (My son Sean makes the best pizza I’ve ever eaten and I’m embarrassed to think how much pizza I’ve eaten. And in how many countries!)
A little guilty admission: I recently moved my computer to the basement temporarily and find I’m blogging while I watch Morning Joe, one of the few tv shows to which I’m addicted. So as Joe holds forth and Mika never gets to say her piece, the blog gets written. Thanks, guys.