Tuesday, May 31, 2011


Mostly I find that bars have the most amusing signs like the one in Brooklyn that said:

"If you lived here you'd be drunk by now!"

Or this one, which caught my eye because Neil is a liver doctor and because it implies somehow to me that if you drink more your liver will be in better shape (wrong!) but funny nonetheless:

Then there was this one at a Bubble Tea place in Chinatown which I guess is appealing to those lactose intolerant bubble tea drinks.  (Are Asians more lactose intolerant?  Certainly dairy isn't traditionally a big part of their diets so maybe...)
It occurs to me that you could have an entire blog about funny/weird/inappropriate signs a la Cake Wrecks.

Green Man on the J Train

It was sweltering hot on Sunday. I was coming home from running a quick errand in Williamsburg.  The minute I got on the train I saw this guy totally dressed up in green gear with large boots, a mask and a hat sitting on the train.  He looked like one of the guys from the Blue Man group (only... well... green).

No one seemed to even notice him.  He did however notice me when I took his picture - I felt bad for not asking, but then I thought, he must be doing some sort of performance/installation art or something otherwise why would he be dressed like this all painted green riding the MTA?

The New York subways are many things, but boring isn't one of them.

Monday, May 30, 2011

All-In-The-Pan Chocolate Cake

When I saw this recipe I loved the idea that you could make the entire thing in the pan.  When I read over the recipe I saw that it included no eggs or butter so was perfect for Vegans, not to mention really easy to make.  The full description in Regan Daley's In the Sweet Kitchen , where I found this gem, is
All-In-The-Pan Chewy Chocolate Cake - but the two I made were not so chewy so I took it out of the name.  True to form I had to fiddle with this recipe instead of just making it as instructed.

First off I wanted a round cake that I could ice and use for a Birthday cake.  I wanted something easy and chocolate and old fashioned.  So instead of making it in the pan I made it in a bowl, with minimum mixing in order to try and recreate the original intent.  I buttered then lined with parchment paper a 9" round spring form pan and used it instead of the 8" or 9" square originally called for. 
This picture is actually the 8" spring form I used first, but it didn't turn out so well: after 30 minutes at 350 the cake looked done, nice and round and beautiful, I tested it, it came out clean and so I took it out of the oven,  5 minutes later the center fell and when I cut in in half I saw that it was clearly undercooked and needed about another 10 or so minutes.  I was not happy, but I was glad that the recipe was so easy and only called for the most basic larder ingredients that it wasn't going to break the bank to start again.  Besides Neil needed a birthday cake!  The second one turned out perfect, I cooked it at 350 for 40 minutes and instead of just testing it with a toothpick I pressed down in the middle of the cake to make sure it was spongy and solid, not wobbly!
 OK enough of my narrative, here is the recipe minimaly adapted by me:

 All-In-The-Pan Chocolate Cake

Preheat the oven to 350 F.

In a large bowl whisk together: 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour, 1/4 cup American Cocoa (like Hershey's or Ghirandelli)  1/2 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon baking soda and 1 cup of sugar.

Make three wells in the dry ingredients, Large, Medium and small.

In the large well add 6 Tablespoons of Canola Oil or other flavorless oil (I used Sunflower).
I the medium well add 1 Tablespoon White Vinegar and in the small one add 1 Teaspoon of Vanilla.
Over it all pour 1 cup of Cool Water. Mix with a spatula until just mixed and spoon into the prepared pan.  Or if you are making it in the pan skip this part and mix it all in an un-greased pan. 
 Bake 30 or 40 minutes, testing to make sure for done-ness when a ckae tester comes out clean and the top of the cake is solid with a little spring.  Cool on a rack, eat out of the pan or for an added treat ice it!
Chocolate Icing

In a bowl add 1/4 cup Unsalted Butter at room temperature, 2 cups organic sifted Icing Sugar
2 Tablespoons of Cocoa, about 3 Tablespoons of Milk, Cream or Water a pinch of salt and a 1/4 teaspoon of Vanilla.

Whisk to desired texture adding more milk or ice sugar until you have the consistency you want.

Franklin Wishes You a Good Memorial Day

Probably my most popular post over the last couple of weeks was a picture of Franklin the pet miniature pot belly pig at Crest Hardware in Williamsburg that I posted a couples weeks back.

I had to go pick something up at Crest yesterday and was very excited about the prospects of visiting with Franklin again. 

He is so damn cute! He even wags his tail like a dog when he's happy. 

If Franklin isn't enough of a reason to convince you to go visit and buy your hardware sundries at Crest here's another:

June 18th is the opening day of the 11th annual Crest Fest - an art show in a hardware store.  Only in Williamsburg, don't miss it!   

Have a great, food and and friend filled Memorial Day.

Neil's Birthday Menu

The Ginger Pineapple Mojito's were delicous and deadly!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

First Strawberries of the Season

Wow that was fast, but the farms in South Jersey brought to the Union Square market today the first Strawberries of the season.
and of course I also bought some rhubarb!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Keeping Bees with Ashley English

Lark Crafts (an imprint of Sterling Publishing) has added two more titles to there DIY (do it yourself) library this year: Keeping Bees and Home Dairy both by their resident DIY expert Ashley English. 
Like the first two books:  Keeping Chickens and Canning and Preserving, these books are wonderfully designed, chock full of information that walks you through everything you need to know from how to get started to becoming a skilled expert.

In each of the books there is a section where they profile regular people who do what the books describe: keep bees, chickens, can or make cheese.  I love it because it gives you real insight into how people make it work for them and how they got it together to buy all the stuff and get started.  These sections are truly inspirational: after you have all the knowledge about how to do something the key ingredient is the energy and inspiration to DIY and these books give it to you!

Of course my favorite thing about all the books are the recipes.   A nice practical touch to the end of each book. 
Bee keeping is not something you have to live in the country to do.  There are a lot of New Yorkers who keep bees. There is even, not surprisingly, a New York City Beekeepers Association (a great place to start if you live here and want to star Bee keeping).

For even more inspiration to you urban, bee keeping wannabees ;-)  here is a video of the naked Brooklyn Bee keepers with tips on how to care for your hive (thanks Chris for the heads up on this).

And finally this was highlighted at Grist.org - beautiful, meditative contemplation on bee keeping in Hong Kong.

Nokia - HK Honey from The Silentlights on Vimeo.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Asparagus Pickles

My friend Michael has gone canning mad!  I went up and joined him for his second canning of the season: Asparagus Pickles.   The recipe is from an wonderful new canning book called Tart and Sweet.

Fresh tarragon, dill, mustard seeds both yellow and black, a bay leaf, whole garlic, and a hot pepper topped off with a simple brine.

I'll have to get the exact recipe for your from Michael, but for now enjoy the pictures.

Michael very focused, ladling up his brine to pour over the prepared asparagus.
 In action...
 Ready for a hot bath.
 So pretty, the perfect swizzle stick for a Bloody Mary.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Adult Pleasures at Hester Street Fair

This is Sarah. She makes some very serious, not too sweet granola, with top of the line ingredients like the Mast Brothers chocolate in her Pecan Chocolate granola.  It was a bit of a surprise to see her here at the Hester Street Fair as I've seen Sarah for years in yoga class even though I don't think we'd exchanged more than a few words to each other.

I knew she was a kindred spirit when she started to wear her Mast Brothers t-shirt to class so it wasn't a total surprise that she was making small batch gourmet granola.
The day I was there she had 4 flavors on offer, each bag is $8.  Check out Spatzi's Granola for more information.

Also at the Hester Street Market:
Bhut Jolokia (Ghost Pepper) is the hottest pepper on the planet, on the website you can get it from these folks in many forms, at the market he was selling spicy, but not kick your butt spicy, candies and individually packed single whole peppers.  1 pepper could last months as you only need a small amount to heat up any dish. 

"Eating is an Agricultural Act"

Alice Waters speaking at the New Museum

"Eating is an agricultural act" is a Wendell Berry quote that Alice Waters referenced in her talk Monday night at the New Museum.

Indeed, eating is an agricultural act! Seeds, soil, sun, plants, animals, birds, farmers and farm hands all help to make sure we put food on the table.  In our modern factory food culture this is something that we often forget, but then there is Alice Waters, indefatigably reminding us about how important farm fresh, seasonal produce is.

Contrary to her detractors Ms. Waters is just telling us how it is important, but showing us how accessible and affordable it is to eat locally, seasonally and organically.

Although her talk was mostly a reading of her new book 40 years at Chez Panisse reminiscences of 40 years at her famous Berkeley California restaurant - she managed to touch on many essential points about food and farming.

Some will downplay her message by pointing out that her ideas regarding food are "elitist."  And, sure, for people overly sensitive to such concerns, she does have a demanding, I'd say passionate idea about how we should eat, and yeah there are a lot of celebrities in her anecdotes, but you meet a lot of celebrities when you run one of the best restaurants in the country for 40 years.  She tells an amusing story about how Werner Herzog said if you lost a bet (he did) he would eat his shoe (he did) cooked in duck fat (but it was still inedible) and the Dalai Lama doesn't eat root vegetables (but loved Alice's lamb stew).  It's easy for her detractors to latch on to this.

But these concerns are mere distractions in the face of the bounty of her dedicated, hands-in-the-dirt stories of bringing the awareness of real food to real people. Her celebrity stories are just entertaining side notes to a bigger, very consistent message:  locally grown, organic good food tastes better and is accessible to all.  And if it isn't accessible she gives many concrete suggestions about how her and her staff have over the years made it accessible.

Her personal accounts of how giving children or inmates or university students the opportunity to grow and cook their own food, changed lives.  And through her foundation she has done just that.

As any New Yorker with a fire escape and a plastic container can testify growing food isn't so hard and be done even in New York.  If you are lucky enough to have a front yard then the possibilities are endless.

Here's an anecdote she told that gives the lie to concerns about elitism and demonstrates her fundamental commitment to grassroots activism: one of her staff was bicycling through Oakland and noticed that in so many yards was fruit unpicked. So she started to organize and knock on doors and got people to help pick and share each others bounty. By putting these people, these neighbors in touch with each other,  she created a fruit collective. Now these neighbors had a far larger selection of fruit and the overabundance of fruit they couldn't use was no longer going to waste.  And how much did it cost?  Nothing.  How elitist is that? Unused fruit became food, neighbors became friends. 

Personally, as a cook, I think the Art of Simple Cooking is one of the best all around basic cook books you can buy.  I admit my bias, but I think that despite what may seem like "lofty" goals, she has spent a lifetime proving that everyone - regardless of economic status - can afford good food.  She's has worked indefatigably all her life, and still is, setting a standard for food activism that is an inspiration.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Bespoke Cocktails

Mulberry Project 149 Mulberry between Grand and Hester

So the other day I was trying not to get soaked in the rain by dodging into stores, I had just turned off Chrystie and was walking south towards Delancey when I came across Against Nature a clothing store I have always admired since it opened about a year again, but had only been in once.  This seemed like a perfect opportunity to visit again and stay dry!

Against Nature is on the second floor, it's very fancy but in a funky fun sort of way and very much out of my price range.  At first glance it seems to sell mostly suits, a small selection of high end footwear, ties and a few well curated vintage accessories (I want one of the old leather Swiss messenger bags) .   I got chatting to the sales woman and she told me that what the shop specialized in was "bespoke" clothing.   

Bespoke? You mean like custom made?  No not really... bespoke is made for your specifications, made for you.  Even with custom made there is a template of sorts, she tells me.  The suits on the wracks where just suggestions. To be changed and altered to your needs. Somehow it was hard to wrap my head around.

Bespoke.  I pondered the word and wondered if I'd ever really heard it before.  Here is what Wikipedia says:  Bespoke is a term employed in a variety of applications to mean an item custom-made to the buyer's specification (personalized or tailored). While applied to many items now, from computer software to luxury car appointments, the term historically was applied only to tailored clothing, shirts, and other parts of men's apparel involving measurement and fitting.

The distinguishing points of bespoke tailoring are the buyer's total control over the fabric used, the features and fit, and the way the garment should be made. More generally, bespoke describes a high degree of customization, and involvement of the end-user, in the production of the good.

Then I get home and am reading about Mulberry Project a speakeasy type cocktail bar in Little Italy that makes Bespoke Cocktails.  I'm going tonight, having already searched it out, I didn't find it so easy to locate, it's south of Grand, on the West side of the street down some stairs....look for the red door.

What they do at the Mulberry Project is list ingredients behind the bar (I'm going tonight so will have more details later) and you just tell the bar tender what you feel like:  Something with Scotch, spicy but not sweet, something I can sip.  And they make it for you!  All cocktails for $14

How fabulous is that?  It's so bespoke! And it's just down the street!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Neil is Away Pizza

Anchovies, Black Olives, Capers...all the things I love on a a pizza and Neil doesn't so when he was away yesterday I made myself a treat.  The crust is made almost exclusively from whole wheat bread flour, I had run out of white and it was really tasty, not to Hippy, healthy good for you tasting...just nutty and sweet and delicious.

Big Gay Ice Cream Shop

I promised a picture of the about to be opened Big Gay Ice Cream Store which I wrote about a few days back.  Finally I managed to fight my way through the rain to get this shot of the of the new, in progress, store front. Can't wait! 

From the website here is some insight into Douglas Quint who started Big Gay Ice Cream:

The truck debuted in June 2009 at Brooklyn Pride. Since then, the business has seen a whirlwind of publicity and has become a New York favorite. With a playful attitude, Doug and the Big Gay Ice Cream Truck spin a new take on old-school soft-serve by creating fun and unique toppings that appeal to a diverse mix of clientele. In mid-July, the now infamous Choinkwich — chocolate soft-serve and caramelized bacon sandwiched between two chocolate cartwheel cookies — debuted and bacon lovers everywhere danced in the streets!

When not “slinging the chilly” Doug is a classically trained bassoonist and holds degrees from The Manhattan School of Music and The Julliard School. He is currently a candidate for the Doctorate of Musical Arts degree at the CUNY Graduate Center. Doug has performed with the Orchestra of St. Luke’s, the Brooklyn Philharmonic, the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, the Boston Pops, and the Chamber Music Society of the Lincoln Center. He is a member of the Pro Arte Chamber Orchestra of Boston and of the award winning woodwind quintet, Zephyros Winds.

Additionally, Doug has performed in many countries around the world, and has worked with diverse pop icons including Bryan Adams, Stephin Merritt, Bono, and Quincy Jones. He can be heard on numerous records, movie soundtracks, and on many television cartoons. He has been a concerto soloist with the Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra and was a finalist for the coveted Naumburg Award.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Rally Today

For some reason I didn't see this in my in box so am posting it rather late, but if you are around today the New Amsterdam Market folks are having a rally, here:

A Rally for the Seaport
Sunday, May 22 at 2:00pm
On Pier 16, where Fulton Street meets the East River

Please join us at a Rally for the Seaport at 2:00pm this Sunday.

Speakers will include Peter Stanford, who led the Friends of South Street in the 1960's to protect the Seaport District from destruction; and Robert LaValva, the Founder of New Amsterdam Market.

Together, we will call for new leadership to restore the Vision for the Seaport as a reminder of our city's past, a beacon for its future, and a thriving, public gathering place for all.

The New Amsterdam Public Market Association

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Have You Got Your Alice Waters Tickets?

Alice Waters is going to be speaking at The New Museum on Monday at 7 pm as part of their Visionary Series. 

I'm going to be there so please join me to listen to one of the great food visionaries of our time! 

Get tickets here.

George Motz Burger Meister

Yesterday I went to a luncheon launch of George Motz's revised Hamburger America.

Mr. Motz is very charming and if you are a burger eater his book is the essential guide to finding diner style burgers in American.  In it is a list of 150 burger joints all across the country, with a description of the food you will find there and the people who make them.  In addition to the revised edition comes an iPhone app which has a GPS component to help you find these burger joints if you are on the road and in need. 
Why you would be in need for food like this is a wonder to me, but I understand very clearly that I am not the demographic for this kind of food.  I was a little disappointed that with such an array of actual quality burgers in New York City that he didn't include any of what I would call the best burgers in town: Shake Shack, Back 40, or in particular Diner's burger, which is made from locally raised grass fed beef which is then butchered right up the street from the restaurant.  Seems to me this is the most honest reflection of how burgers used to be made and how they should still be made, given that when all is said and done a grass fed burger just tastes better.

Here is a description from a burger George encountered in Montana at Matt's Place Drive-In it's called the Nutburger:

"the counter person spoons chopped salted peanuts from the sundae bar into a coffee mug and adds Miracle Whip.  It's that simple.  The texture of the nuts and the creamy sweetness of the Miracle Whip* synthesize perfectly the salty greasy meatiness of the burger"

What Mr. Motz is doing is at once exploring the vast array of burgers in America and talking to the people who make them to get the back story of the burger.  Some people, as you will see in the trailer, are very much about the care and love of the cows that the meat comes from, others, not so much.  It's a good cross section and it certainly is, to me, a very upsetting insight into how America eat.

Not that my ranting will make any difference, because the reality is this is how most Americans eat and Mr. Motz is to be credited with at least stressing in his own burger making the importance of buying the meat from a butcher who can tell you about how the cow was treated and fed before slaughter.  He also stresses how important it is to have all your ground beef come from one piece of meat, as opposed to the kind you get in a big chain grocery store.  The rest is just cultural anthropology, well done and interesting, even to non burger eating people like me.
Here is the trailer for Hamburger America:

Deep fried burger?  Only in America.

Home Made Spinach Pasta

Last weekend I made a batch of spinach pasta for a quick lasagna I was making and then absent mindedly threw the left over dough into the fridge. Days later I was looking for some thing to make for dinner and wanted pasta and I remembered this dough.  After days sitting in the fridge the nicely shaped and divided balls of dough had become one big mass.  I pulled it out of the fridge, dredged it in some flour and cut it back into smaller sections.

Then I quickly passed it threw my pasta machine, first to flatten it out...
...then when it was thinner I used the other end of the past maker and cut it into Linguini.  I find you need to be careful that the strands of pasta are separate and individual otherwise they risk cooking into blobs.  Into boiling well salted water I cook the pasta for just a few minutes, strained, and topped with left over tomato sauce and some fresh grated Parmesan cheese. 
For years I was afraid of making home made pasta it seemed so difficult and tricky.  Then I got a pasta maker and still was intimidated, it takes a little practice to get the dough right and to become comfortable with the how your machine works.  But once you do it is so easy.  This pasta could ave been dressed up in any number of ways and served as a main course at a dinner party, add some clams, garlic and parsley or a nice bolognese a salad and some good bread and presto! 

Because I had the pasta in the fridge (and left over sauce) this meal took maybe 30 minutes to make and there is no comparison between fresh pasta and dried,  the fresh wins every time.

So let go of any apprehension you might have and give homemade pasta a go, if I can do it so can you!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Cocktails By Way Of New York Magazine

photo by Danny Kim New York Magazine

For some reason this January we started getting New York Magazine every week in our mailbox.  I'm not a big magazine reader in part because my environmental sensibilities make me think they are a tremendous waste of natural resources.  Of course my exception to this is airports, where I sometimes love to buy a guilty copy of Vanity Fair or whatever else catches my fancy to have for the plane ride ahead.

New York Magazine is something I had never really looked at except for randomly and fleetingly at Doctors offices so having it in the house every week has really made me realize how much good stuff is in it, mixed with other things that either aren't interesting to me or are annoying (like that questionable piece on Justin Vivian Bond...), but for the most part it has become something I look forward to every week.  The food writing is consistently excellent and interesting. 

While I'm still scratching my head as to why I have a free subscription I can ponder which of the 107 cocktails detailed I want to try next...

My point is that this week there is an amazing article on cocktails , you don't really get the full visual WOW on line as you do in the amazing spread on pages 74-75 in the magazine (May 23rd issue), but you do get an exhaustive collection of cocktails (107) with what establishments serves them, the address and contact info for said bar/restaurant and most importantly, the recipes!  So you don't even need to go out to sip one you can make them at home.  Well you might have to go to the liquor store and a fairly fancy one at that as many of the ingredients are things I've never heard of never mind keep in stock. 

The picture above is a cocktail from my favorite new bar (that also has some awesome food) Dram
(177 S. 4th St., nr. Driggs Ave.; 718-486-3726)  it's called a Fourth Mission here is how to make one:

In a mixing glass, combine 1 1/2 oz. Siembra Azul blanco tequila, 1/2 oz. Del Maguey mezcal vida, 1/2 oz. Dolin blanc vermouth, 1/2 oz. yellow Chartreuse, 1 teaspoon honey syrup (2 parts honey mixed with 1 part water), and 1 drop orange flower water. Stir with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Here is the magazine spread, double click to embiggen:


Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Best Burger

Every now and again these days I am getting invited to press events, I was invited to one tomorrow for a  lunch involving a lot of burgers for the release of the completely revised Hamburger America book
and the 1st-ever expert-sourced burger app, Hamburger America's Burger GPS by George Motz I figured before I went I should do some research on Mr. Motz, first off I realized that the book is a guide to 150 burger joints across the country which explains the GPS iPad app, at first being the foodie that I am I thought it was a cook book.  Anyway with a little more looking I came across this video or George making a burger.  I love how he sources the meat, and he gives some very interesting tips, like grilling a burger isn't the best way to cook them.  I wish when he was talking about meat he would have mentioned how important grass fed beef is and to avoid factory meat always. Yeah it's more expensive, but it tastes so much better and is so much better for the cow and the planet so, really it's a no brainer.

Happy Burger Month! 

Tibetan Aid Project Benefit

The goals of The Tibetan Aid Project are near and dear to my heart: to rebuild, preserve, strengthen, and perpetuate the cultural and spiritual heritage of Tibet for the benefit of Tibetan people and all humanity.

When I first met my partner Neil 24 years ago this month he enthusiastically recommended I read John
Avedon's fascinating book In Exile From The Land of the Snows which tells the story of the Dalai Lama's early years and his escape into exile.  The tragic story of China's invasion of Tibet and subsequent devastation of it's culture and people is well known at this point. The Tibetan Aid Project's work is vital in keeping Tibetan culture and spiritual traditions alive not only for Tibetans, but for everyone who is concerned about the Tibetan peoples plight, it's culture, and it's rich religious life.

I was thrilled to be asked to attend Taste and Tribute NYC (there is also one in San Francisco).   Dinner is being made by some of New York's finest chefs, including Gavin Kaysen of CafĂ© Boulud, Missy Robbins of A Voce, George Mendes of Aldea and Michael Laiskonis of Le Bernardin.  The menu looks amazing and the silent auction actually has stuff you'd want to bid on!  Personally I'm hoping the winner of the 10 day Galapagos cruise aboard the National Geographic's boat The Endeavor invites me along! Of course, push comes to shove, I'd be happy with dinner for 4 at Le Bernardin!

A few tickets are still available at $475 per person.  Go on and splurge!  It's for a great cause and  we'll be able to sit together.

For all the information check out Taste and Tribute NYC 

The benefit is being held at Aradar Gallery on June 1st.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Big Gay Ice Cream Truck Becomes Big Gay Ice Cream Shop!

So we here in New York are having a week of rain.  I had the full intention today to walk over to 7 street and check out the still in progress new Big Gay Ice Cream Shop, the truck is still rolling and for more info on where they are going to be check out: Big Gay Ice Cream Truck

If you haven't tried one of their signature soft serve cones the store front will provide you with even more opportunity to taste them all. 

One of the things I most appreciate about this truck/place is their great sense of humor, cones named Bea Arthur which is a Vanilla soft serve with Dulce de Leche and crushed Nilla Wafers and Salty Pimp a Chocolate dipped Vanilla Soft Serve with Sea Salt and Dulce de Leche.  The food press seemed to be most blown away by the crushed wasabi pea topping option, I want to try the sea salt olive oil on vanilla one.

I promise when the rain subsides I'll put on my rain boots and go do a photo shoot!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

An Old Favorite in a New Form

The no bake peanut butter cookie was a standard recipe of my childhood home - all my friends mom's or grandmother's made them. And for good reason, they are easy and so irresistibly delicious. 

Chocolate and peanut butter are a classic combo and I wanted to re think this easy and so tasty recipe with more chocolate.  At first I thought about dipping them in chocolate, but then that seemed like too much work for a recipe whose primary genius was it's ease and simplicity.  So instead what I came up with was to add cocoa to the dough, chill it, then roll it up in more cocoa - so they look like large chocolate truffles.

There are a million recipes for these "cookies" if you have one and want to share it I'd love to hear from you!

Easy Chocolate Peanut Butter Treats

In a medium saucepan add 1 1/2 cups of sugar, 1/2 cup of dark brown sugar, 1/2 cup half and half, 1/2 cup of cocoa and 1/2 cup room temperature unsalted butter,  over medium heat cook until the butter is melted and the mixture comes to a simmer.  You want to make sure the sugar has all melted.

Whisk in 1 1/4 cup of freshly ground organic peanut butter and a scant teaspoon of salt  (if you use a processed jar of peanut butter that has salt added, don't add the salt, taste the finished dough and if you feel it needs more salt add as you see fit). Stir in 2 Teaspoons of Amber Rum or Vanilla.
Optionally for a richer more adult version you could add 1/2 cup of roughly chopped 70 percent chocolate or bittersweet chocolate chips, but that's optional.  

In a large bowl add 3 1/3 cups of rolled oats then stir in the peanut butter mixture.
When they are well combined place the mixture in the fridge to cool for about an hour.
In a medium size bowl add 1/2 cup of cocoa powder.

Using a Tablespoon scoop up the chilled dough and roll into balls, place the bowls in the coca and coat.  Place the finished treats on a parchment lined cookie sheet.
Chill until ready to serve.  A guaranteed crowd pleasure!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Perennial Plate Season 2 part 1. Well Loved Cows

 I loved watching Perennial Plate last year so was very excited to see the first new episode today!  For those of you who don't know about Perennial Plate, chef Daniel Klein and his girlfriend move to Minnesota and basically live, grow, forage, slaughter, butcher, catch, cook, and then eat locally for the year.  This year they are on the road.  The first episode is in Iowa.  I love the cows.

The Perennial Plate Episode 53: Lucky Cows from Daniel Klein on Vimeo.

Creamsicle Ice Cream: Part 2

This turned out real well, but I had to make some slight changes from the recipe I posted.  Blood Orange season was over when I got around to making this ice cream so I used organic Valencia Oranges, which have that wonderful sour sweet flavor and thin skins.  It's important when using peel to try and get organic oranges as they don't  have the chemical reside on the skin the way conventional do, they still may have some wax on them so it's very important to wash the oranges well before you start.
Pictured above are two little utensiles that make peeling and zested these skin skinned fruits a breeze.  The first is a serrated peeler, it works so much better than the non-serrated kind and allows you to get the skin with out the bitter white pith attached.

The second is a zester.  If you are really OCD you can zest the entire orange in one go, I didn't do that and if you do, you need to chop the zest up into little bite size pieces.
The other change from the recipe I first posted is that I put the peel of 3 oranges into the sugar and let it stand for a half an hour or so.  I did this before at the same time I put the peel into the cream/half half half mixture to warm.
Here are the peel in the cream mixture.  I let it sit 30 minutes.  Strained the peel then re-heated the cream.
I added the 6 egg yolks to the bowl of my standard mixer along with the orange peel infused sugar and beat for several minutes until thick and mayonnaise like.
It's at this point you can start adding the warmed cream mixture.  Once the warmed cream has all been mixed with the egg/sugar mixture simple pour it back into the pot over medium heat until it reaches 165-170 on your thermometer or until it coats the back of the spoon.  
Make sure to stir this mixture constantly as it warms you don't want it to curdle.

When the mixture has thickened remove from heat and add the juice.  In the original recipe I said about 3/4 cups of juice but in reality I added about a scant cup - which was exactly how much juice I got from 4 oranges. Then I added 1 Tablespoon of vanilla and wished I had Cointreau.  Initially I was going to add Vodka but decided I wanted to add something that would enhance the flavor.  
Cool he mixture over night and then pop it into your ice cream maker.
Here is the new updated recipe so you don't have to refer back to the original post:
Creamsicle Ice Cream

Wash 4 oranges (I wanted to use Valencia, but really want to try this with Blood Oranges) organic if you can find them, using a serrated vegetable peeler, peel into strips 1 of the oranges, trying as best as you can to not get any white pith.  

Finely zest the other three oranges and place the zest into a bowl with 1 cup of sugar

Juice all 4 oranges and reserve the juice.

Place the orange peel into a medium heavy bottomed sauce pan with 2 1/2 cups of heavy cream and 3/4 cup of half and half over medium heat warm until it just starts to boil - then quickly it take off the heat.  Let this mixture sit with the orange peel in it for about 30 minutes so it can be infused with the flavor of the orange.

Meanwhile separate 6 large organic eggs, reserving the whites for other use (Angel food cake!) place into a mixing bowl along with the orange zest infused sugar whisk vigorously for several minutes until the mixture resembles a thick mayonnaise.

Strain the orange peel out of the cream mixture then reheat the cream mixture until it hot, but not boiling and slowly adding it to the egg yolk sugar mixture, whisking it all the time, when all the warm liquid has been added pour back into the sauce pan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until the mixture reaches 165-170F on a thermometer or if you don't have one coats the back of the spoon.  Remove from the heat.

If the mixture has curdled at all during this process pour through a fine sieve into a bowl. You will lose the orange zest if you do this.

Stir in the orange juice slowly to the cream mixture then stir in 1 Tablespoon of good quality Cointreau, Grand Marnier, Vodka (Crops Organic is my favorite) or Vanilla Extract. 

Chill in the fridge until cold (overnight) then process in your ice cream maker according to instructions.

I served it with a rhubarb crumble but this is great just by itself!

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