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Monday, January 10, 2022

Spaghetti Ice

When our family lived in Europe, we were introduced to Spaghetti Ice, an ice cream dessert which, at the time, was served mainly in German Eis Cafés. It's a relatively simple concoction as far as ingredients go but making them at home requires a less-common gadget--a potato ricer (or a spaetzle press). In the Eis cafe's we visited in Germany, they had electric presses that extruded vanilla ice cream in thin, long spaghetti shapes. (I suppose, but don't know, that an electric pasta maker might work.) Strawberry sauce is the stand in for spaghetti sauce, and grated white chocolate looks like Parmesan. If you happen to have a ball shaped chocolate candy, you can include a "meatball". We often use Ferraro Rocher Hazelnut Chocolates, but current supply chain issues keep us reluctantly flexible.


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Spaghetti Ice


Source: German Eis Cafés 


These instructions are for roughly 4 people, depending on appetites and ages. See this as a guide, not a true recipe.

1-1 1/2 c heavy whipping cream, whipped with some vanilla and a T of granulated sugar 
1 generous pint of strawberries, cleaned and trimmed if fresh, or thawed if frozen
1-2 T sugar
1 bar of white chocolate (preferably real chocolate, rather than imitation, if you can find it
vanilla ice cream, softened a few minutes at room temperature if your freezer runs very cold

Keep the whipped cream in the fridge to keep it as cool as possible.

You may want to place your bowls in the freezer or refrigerator before prep so the ice cream doesn't melt as fast. 

Place strawberries and sugar in a blender or food processor and run until smooth. Don't worry too much about getting it completely smooth since real spaghetti sauce can be chunky. Taste this to be sure it's sweet enough for you and add more sugar, if you'd like.

Grate the white chocolate on a microplane if you have one. Or grate the chocolate on the small wholes of a grater.

We prepare and serve these immediately to each individual, meaning the cook with the job of pressing the ice cream eats later. You could prep them and place bowls back in the freezer and serve all at the same time if that's important.

Place a big spoonful of whipped cream in the bottom of the bowl. Push a couple of scoops of vanilla ice cream through a potato ricer over the whipped cream and allow to mound up like a pile of spaghetti. This often ends up being a two-person job with the stronger person managing the pressing and a helper using a butter knife to cut the strands of ice cream off the bottom of the ricer.

Quickly top with some of the strawberry sauce and a spoonful of the grated white chocolate.  Place a chocolate "meatball" or two on the side and serve.




Friday, January 7, 2022

Sheet Pan Chocolate Chip Pancake

 Here's a way to cook multiple pancakes all at once.



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Sheet Pan Chocolate Chip Pancake 


Adapted from:  New York Times Cooking
Serves 6-10

This can be halved for a smaller crowd. I also like to cook this on two quarter-sheet pans so one can stay warm in the oven if needed. It also helps me deal with the effects of my high altitude.

2-3 T unsalted butter, softened, plus 8 T  cut into half-inch cubes and chilled
1 1/2 c cold buttermilk
1 1/2 c cold milk 
3 c AP flour (I used half whole wheat)
1/4 c granulated sugar
1 T baking powder
1 teas baking soda
3/4 teas salt
3/4 c mini chocolate chips   


Preheat your oven to 450F. Prepare a sheet pan or two quarter-sheet pans by greasing with one tablespoon of the softened butter and lining with parchment paper. Alternatively, so you don't waste a bunch of butter under the paper, spray with cooking spray and then line the pan with parchment paper.

In a large liquid measuring cup, measure the buttermilk and milk and set aside.

Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and soda, and the salt in a food processor. Drop the cubed butter in and process together until the mixture is coarsely sandy with some pieces the size of small peas. Place in a bowl and pour the milk mixture over . Use a whisk to combine and set aside for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, place the sheet pan into the oven to heat up.

Pull the hot pan from the oven and place 2 T of the softened butter on it. Return to the oven and allow the butter to melt. This won't take long if the pan is quite hot. Once more, pull the pan from the oven and spread the butter all over. You might be able to do this by tipping the pan but I found it easier to use a pastry brush to spread the melted butter everywhere. Carefully pour the batter into the pan; spread out to corners and sprinkle the chocolate chips over all. Set the pan back in the oven and allow to bake for 13-15 minutes until completely a toothpick comes out clean from the center. Place under the broiler for a minute to brown the top. 

Cut into squares or rectangles and serve with maple syrup, if desired. 

Notes:

I like the idea of cooking a number of pancakes at once but this recipe pays cooks back with more dishes than I like (and in the past I had to wash my food processor by hand). So I advise keeping the cold butter whole until you want to mix it into the dry ingredients; then grate in the butter (a flat grater easily fits into the dishwasher) and stir. If you feel you need to, blend the butter in a bit more with your fingertips. Also, if you have a very large liquid measuring vessel you can use that to hold the milks and then add the flour/butter mix. Just be sure this vessel is correct. I inherited a big glass measuring bowl but have found out the hard way that it measures incorrectly.

Other readers of the NY Times suggested topping with nuts and/or berries or other fruit, chopped. Blueberries sounded really nice. 

Saturday, January 1, 2022

Shortbread Brownies

This luscious brownie is my current favorite. 


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Shortbread Brownies 


Source: New York Times Cooking 
Yield: one 9X13 pan

 
4,000-5,000 ft elevation tweaks:
No adjustments for the shortbread layer.

For the brownie layer, subtract 2 T sugar and add 1 T flour.


For the shortbread:

1 1/2 c cold unsalted butter (3 sticks) cut into half-inch pieces
3 c AP flour
3/4 c granulated sugar
1 teas fine sea salt or table salt

For the brownie:

1 c plus 2 T unsalted butter (2 1/4 sticks)
3 oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1 1/4 c light brown sugar
1 c granulated sugar
1/2 c plus 1 T cocoa powder
3 large eggs
1 T vanilla
1 1/2 c AP flour
1/4 teas fine sea salt or table salt
3/4 c chopped walnuts or pecans, or slivered almonds, toasted
flaky sea salt, optional

Preheat your oven to 350F. Lightly oil a 9X13 baking pan and line with some parchment paper, ensuring some overhang on the two long sides.

In a stand mixer's bowl, place the flour, sugar, and salt and mix to combine. Add the butter cubes and with the paddle attachment, mix on low speed until the ingredients are incorporated and come together. It's all right if it is still a little crumbly. You may also pulse the ingredients together in a food processor if you prefer.

Drop the dough into the prepared pan, pressing with your hands until it is in all the corners and is spread evenly. Use a fork to prick the dough all over. Place in the oven and bake until it is golden, about 30-35 minutes.

As the shortbread bakes, begin prepping the brownies. Melt the chocolate and butter together. The easiest way is to place them in a large glass bowl in a microwave and heat for 30 seconds at a time, stirring afterwards. In my microwave it took bout 4 30-second periods. Another option is to place the bowl over a pot of simmering water and the chocolate and butter to melt, while stirring occasionally.

When the chocolate and butter are melted, stir in the sugars and the cocoa until smooth. Then add the eggs and vanilla and stir well.

Mix the flour and salt together in a medium bowl. Stir into the chocolate mixture until there are no streaks of flour. If you chose to use the nuts, fold them in at this point. Using an offset spatula or a rubber spatula, spread the brownie batter on top of the still warm shortbread. If desired, sprinkle with flaky sea salt.

Place in the oven and bake for 23-28 minutes until the batter is pulling away from the sides but the center is still soft. You'll find if you test with a toothpick, it will come out still gooey. Remove from the oven and cool on a rack until completely cool. Use the overhanging parchment paper to remove the cool brownies from the pan and slice into sizes of your choice. I find these brownies particularly rich (look at all that butter) so I cut them about 2 inches by 3/4-1 inch.

Swiss Chard Salad with Prosciutto and Cheese

 This is an easy salad if you don't mind making your own salad dressing (I think it's worth it).





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Swiss Chard Salad with Prosciutto and Cheese


Source: Cook's Country Magazine
Serves 4-6

12 oz Swiss chard of any color
3 T extra virgin olive oil
3 T red wine vinegar
2 T fig preserves
1 small shallot, minced
2 teas whole-grain mustard
1/2 teas table salt
1/2 teas freshly ground pepper
1/2 c fresh basil, sliced just before it gets stirred into the dressing
1/2 c thinly sliced prosciutto, torn into bite-size pieces, divided
1/2 c walnuts, coarsely chopped and roasted, divided
1/2 cup of crumbled bleu cheese (2 oz) divided or substitute, as I did, with cheese you have on hand 

Prepare the chard, by removing any stems that are larger than a quarter inch. Stack them on a cutting board and cut in half. Cut the stacks crosswise into thin slices (1/4-inch). 

In large bowl place the olive oil, red wine vinegar, preserves, shallot, mustard, salt and pepper. Whisk until emulsified. Move the chard to the bowl. 

Thinly slice the basil and place it on top of the chard. Add half of the prosciutto, walnuts, and bleu cheese and toss the salad. Toss the ingredients in the bowl until well mixed. Top the salad in the bowl, or on serving plates, with the remaining prosciutto, walnuts, and cheese and serve.  

Tuesday, December 14, 2021

Pear and Pomegranate Salad

 One of the best things about fall and winter is having pomegranates, the jewel of my garden. 




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Pear and Pomegranate Salad


Adapted from:  Autumn Gatherings by Rick Rodgers
Serves 4-6

Pomegranate Vinaigrette:

1 1/2 T sherry vinegar (or white wine vinegar if that is what you have)
2T bottled pomegranate juice (or 1 T pomegranate molasses)
1/4 teas salt
1/8 teas freshly ground pepper
1/3 c vegetable oil
2 T walnut oil

Salad:

2 ripe pears, cored and cut lengthwise into thin wedges (red pears are particularly pretty)
1/3 c pomegranate seeds
1/3 c walnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped
5 ounces mixed greens, including some lettuce
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Place all the vinaigrette ingredients into a pint jar and briskly shake until emulsified. If you use pomegranate molasses you will need to shake it again just before dressing the salad.

In a bowl, place the pear slices with the walnuts and mix with about 2 tablespoons of the vinaigrette.

Mix the salad greens with the remaining vinaigrette and toss well until all pieces are covered. Gently stir in the pear/walnut mixture and toss. Taste for seasonings and if needed add salt or pepper. Sprinkle with the pomegranate seeds.  This salad is best served as soon after mixing as possible. 

Notes: 

I like to compose this salad on plates since there are just two of us at most meals. If you mix the salad in a bowl, it might be better to cut the pears into chunks.

If you have a hard time finding the ingredients for the salad try to substitute with similar items. I have used raspberry juice or grape juice instead of the pomegranate. In a pinch you could use olive oil rather than walnut oil. It would be a shame if you didn't make this beautiful salad because of supply train issues.  

Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Pear and Spice Muffins

A bumper crop on my pear tree had me scrambling for recipes this fall. This one is a good one. 




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Pear and Spice Muffins

Adapted from The Washington Post
Yields 12 muffins


4000-5000 ft. altitude adjustments:

add 1 T flour
subtract 1 T sugar


1/3 c neutral-tasting oil, plus more for the pan
1 1/2 c whole-wheat pastry flour or white-wheat flour
2 teas baking powder
1/4 teas baking soda
1/2 teas salt
1 teas ground cinnamon
1/2 teas ground ginger
1/4 teas ground cloves
2 large eggs
3/4 c dark brown sugar
1/2 c unsweetened applesauce
1 teas vanilla extract
1 c low-fat buttermilk
1 medium, firm but ripe pear, peeled, cored, and cut into 1/4" pieces
1/2 c chopped pecans or walnuts (optional)

Prepare your oven by placing a rack in the middle and heating to 400F. Spray a muffin tin with baking spray or brush with oil.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices. 

In another bowl, stir together the oil and eggs until well blended. Add the brown sugar, applesauce, and vanilla. Then add half of the flour mixture, and followed by half of the buttermilk. Stir until incorporated and add the remaining flour and remaining buttermilk. Don't overmix. Stir in the chopped pears and nuts gently.

Evenly portion the batter into the muffin tins. Bake for 18 minutes, approximately, and test with a toothpick  to see if it comes out clean. If so, they are finished. Cool in the pan on a cooling rack for at least 15 minutes. You may need to loosen the muffins with a knife before serving. 

Notes: 

I had some pear sauce on hand after making pear butter. I substituted that for the apple sauce and it worked beautifully. 

I believe you could skip the peeling and chopping steps by coring the pear and grating it. 

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

Brussels Sprout Salad with Warm Browned Butter Vinaigrette

This is a good salad recipe when brussels sprouts are in season. Any number of ingredients can be substituted with what you have in your pantry or fridge or in your time frame. In fact, the CI website has a number of variations, one with different nuts and dried fruits (apricots and almonds) and one with bacon. You can do some experimenting if you don't have access to the website.




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Brussels Sprout Salad with Warm Browned Butter Vinaigrette


Adapted from Cook's Illustrated
Serves 6-7


1/4 c lemon juice
1 T whole grain mustard
1 teas sugar
salt and pepper
1 shallot, halved through root end and sliced thin crosswise
1/4 (or more if desired) dried cranberries or sour cherries
5 T unsalted butter
1/3 c hazelnuts, toasted, skinned, and chopped, or toasted walnuts, instead
1 1/2 pds Brussels sprouts, trimmed, halved and sliced thin
1 1/2 c baby arugula, chopped, or endive, or lettuce
4 oz Manchego cheese, shaved or another cheese you have on hand

CI states that a food processor with a slicing blade can be used to slice the sprouts, but that it will be less tender. I'll have to take their word for it, since I used a knife.

In a microwave safe bowl, stir together the lemon juice, mustard, sugar, and 1/4 teas salt. Stir in the sliced shallots, and cranberries and cover with plastic wrap. Microwave 30-60 seconds until the ingredients are steaming. Stir it once again and try to submerge the shallot and cranberries in the juices. Let it sit out and cool getting close to room temperature.

In a 12-inch skillet melt the butter over medium heat (a stainless steel skillet makes it easier to see the color of the browning butter). Add the hazelnuts. Cook while stirring frequently, until the butter becomes a dark gold brown (depending on your altitude this can happen in a few minutes or may take more like 6 minutes.) Remove the skillet from the heat and stir in the shallot mixture. Add the sliced Brussels sprouts and arugula. Using tongs, toss the vegetables with the dressing until it is dispersed throughout. Season with salt and pepper.  Let the mixture remain in the skillet while the sprouts darken slightly. Serve immediately topping with the cheese, or remove to a serving bowl.

Note:

When I made this a second time for my small household, I halved it because I don't think it holds well. I'm sure it could be doubled for a crowd, as well.