Rather than a little snack, Darcie and I have decided to up the ante a little and give you a real dessert today. This is taken directly from my recipe for roasted pears with espresso mascarpone cream; I had leftover cream, froze it, and realized it made an incredible semifreddo. Topping it with chocolate sauce from Thomas Keller’s Bouchon just makes good sense.
For various reasons there was no farmers’ market for us this weekend, but we did eat our weight in ice cream sandwiches, so it wasn’t a total wash.
Who cares if the ice cream was store-bought? Just sandwich some Haagen-Dazs vanilla between homemade spicy molasses cookies and call it a party.
Like I did with the popovers, I subbed Jules Gluten-Free Flour in place of the AP flour in the recipe and the cookies came out great. It’s been my experience that gluten-free cookies spread a bit more than regular, so I used a smaller amount of dough per cookie and they were absolutely perfect. Next time, I’ll try using coconut oil instead of the butter to see if that firms them up a little bit. (There’s less moisture in the cookies from the original recipe because it calls for shortening instead of butter, but man, that stuff gives me the willies.)
recipe after the jump
Not me, that’s for sure. Especially during a heatwave. Especially when that heatwave comes on the heels of a winter that lasted a record-breaking two years and four months. (Well, that’s what it felt like, but I’ll be honest and say I’ll take summer and all of its stankiness over winter’s misery any day and twice on Sunday.)
But we were discussing parfait, right? When a dessert’s based on a premise of perfection, it’s tough to mess up. You can get pretty creative with it — just do a quick Google search to see what I mean — but there’s nothing wrong with keeping it simple, either. For these, I just layered dairy-free coconut ice cream with a rhubarb and strawberry topping I threw together in about 10 minutes, then topped it with toasted slivered almonds. And you know what? It really was perfect.
I don’t keep anything like a dairy-free diet, but there was no milk or cream in the house and I wanted needed to make ice cream. Since I usually have coconut milk in the pantry, I gave that a go with this recipe and loved the outcome — very coconutty/custardy with a rich, creamy texture. The fruit topping recipe came from here, and it’s very bare bones, but when you’ve got stunning strawberries and juicy rhubarb from the farmers’ market to work with, why gild the lily?
recipe after the jump
The word of the week was peaches. They’re my favorite fruit-as-fruit (with tomatoes as my favorite fruit-as-vegetable), so I’ve been heading to the farmers’ market even more eagerly on Saturday mornings than usual. The peaches have been spilling over, so apart from being eaten out of hand, mixed with yogurt for breakfast, atop salads and in salsas, they made a command performance in the quintessential summer dessert — peach ice cream (using my Aunt’s recipe for the custard base).
And because I love nothing more than gilding the lily, raspberry-blueberry coulis really set this off, providing a tart counterpoint to the smooth sweetness of the ice cream. It’s really simple to make, too. Just throw 2-3 handfuls of berries into a small saucepan, add a little sugar (I used about a tablespoon of vanilla sugar) and some lemon juice. Cook it over medium heat until the berries break down and the sauce starts to thicken. Cool, and use it to top whatever comes to mind.
We’ve been eating out a bit lately, discovering new dishes and supporting new restaurants, which resulted in haunted dreams of Picnic‘s truffled corn chowder and the urge to create my own summer dish. Since buying a truffle is hard to justify as part of an experimental dish for only Gil and myself, I went in a completely different (read: cheaper) direction while still keeping it in the chowder family. What I came up with was nothing like Picnic’s masterpiece, but it was a worthy addition to my repertoire. Here’s what I did to make Smoked Corn Chowder.
It started with meat, as you probably knew it would. I scored the skin of two duck breast halves, gave them a good all-over coating of my beef rub, then left them uncovered in the fridge for a few hours before firing up the smoker. To keep the corn from overcooking (and to take advantage of the delicious duck fat that would be rendering from the breasts), I placed two shucked ears of corn on the lower level of my Weber Smokey Mountain (just above the water pan) and the duck breasts in the center of the top rack.
Before I go any farther, you should know that Gil takes whatever’s put in front of him with equanimity, typically. He keeps his head down and eats whatever I make without much censure or praise, no matter the how I feel about what’s on the plate. But these duck breasts earned the title The Best Thing Ever from him. (Take that as you will.) And they were awfully good, even if the skin didn’t get entirely crispy, which turned out to be a good thing for the chowder.
To take advantage of that extra fat on the smoked breasts, I devised a workable solution: I’d chop the seasoned fat from 1/2 of a duck breast and render it in place of bacon in the chowder. When the skin had crisped and given up as much fat as possible, I set it aside to use as garnish for the finished soup. The rest of the chowder was a pretty standard affair, but the smoked corn and slight hint of duck really added something special to it.
I liked the proportion of smoked corn to fresh — the smoke wasn’t overwhelming, but gave the silky chowder a depth it doesn’t usually have. Feel free to play with amounts for more or less of the smoky goodness.
I assume Gil agreed, because we ate it all in one sitting. Nom, indeed.
recipe after the jump
We’ve had a weird spring-into-summer around here. It’s easier to appreciate freakishly cool days now that we’re nearing the end of July, but it was tough going for a couple of months, when the sun kept to itself and seasonal cooking seemed like a faintly-remembered dream. The dreary weather even convinced me that this drink would be a perfectly refreshing and appropriate summer quaff, but when corn debuted at the farmers’ market two weeks ago, warmer weather did too, and any desire to sip on a hot beverage went right out the window.
Despite the thermometer’s reluctance to get with the game, I’ve been experimenting with different ice creams this “summer,” and mostly successfully. (We won’t discuss last weekend’s vegan debacle — it never happened, you hear me?) My latest version was an attempt to 1) rejigger the sweet corn and milk drink into a frozen dessert, and 2) use ingredients already in my house (goat’s milk yogurt) instead of going to the store (for the standard stuff). By combining recipes, I ended up with a frozen yogurt I’ll quite happily nom on all week. The best part is that it’s so well-balanced — not too sweet, not too goaty, not too corny — that each ingredient complements the others without overpowering them.
* * * * * * * * * *
My earlier attempts at ice cream-making actually involved ice cream, not frozen yogurt. Imagine!
My favorite ice cream since I was a little girl has been my godmother’s cherry vanilla (though her banana version was a very close second). K&B had excellent cherry vanilla as well, but they’re gone, pecan, so I kept it in the family and asked my dad to get my aunt’s recipe the next time he saw her. After making both cherry vanilla and banana versions, I’m really happy to say it wasn’t just an exalted memory, but that this ice cream really is that good … so good that peach probably isn’t too far away. I just need to make sure the weather holds up.
Better get to it before an early autumn arrives.
recipes after the jump
And I aim to please. With gorgeous weather predicted for this Memorial Day weekend, I knew I’d have to break out the smoker, and what better way to kick off the summer than with a 7 1/2-pound pork butt?