Monday, June 28, 2010

Another use for rhubarb

Several weeks ago we received more rhubarb in our weekly CSA. As I've mentioned before, there are two things I don't really like (only two): pie and rhubarb. Unfortunately for me it seems like the most common thing to do with rhubarb is mask it in some sort of pie (see: cherry rhubarb, strawberry rhubarb, peach rhubarb). I just feel like rhubarb is not a worthy vegetable if the only way to eat it is when it is hidden by the flavors of another, more tasty fruit/vegetable. 

So, since I don't really like pies and I'm sick of crumbles and crisps I decided to do something different with this obligatory produce--ice cream. The original recipe calls strictly for rhubarb, but we also had a bunch of cherries to use up so we decided to add them in (and, yes, mask the taste of the rhubarb). The end result is good--Aaron loved it--but not something I would do again. The worst part is the stringy pieces of rhubarb left in the ice cream. The flavor is very rich and fruity, it actually tastes like a rhubarb pie in ice cream form.

Cherry Rhubarb Ice Cream
adapted from Not Without Salt

1 lb. rhubarb, chopped in 1/2" chunks
1 cup cherries, pitted and chopped in half
2 oz. butter
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 t. salt
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup milk

Combine the rhubarb, butter, vanilla, sugar and salt in a medium saucepan on medium low heat. Simmer until the rhubarb is soft (if you are using cherries you should add these a bit later since they don't take as long to cook). Remove the lid and break up the fruit with a spoon. In a medium bowl combine the cream and milk and then add the rhubarb/cherry mixture. Let the mixture cool completely in the refrigerator. Churn according to your ice cream machine's instruction. 

And, here is a picture of Joe after his bath. He went swimming in the lake yesterday and was all muddy and smelly so this was what he got.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Oreo Cupcakes

When I was growing up my family would go out for ice cream a lot. When we were in St. Louis this meant Ted Drew's for custard, but when we were at home this meant Dairy Queen and I would always get an oreo blizzard. Even today, whenever I go to a soft serve ice cream place I always get some variation on this mixture of soft serve and cookies. So, when I saw this recipe for oreo cupcakes with whipped cream icing I thought it just might come close to capturing the creamy goodness of blizzards.

This recipe is chocked full of oreos, each cupcake has half an oreo on the bottom plus oreo chunks throughout the batter. I also added oreo "dust" to the icing and had I not run out of oreos I was planning to put crumbs on top as decoration as well. I think they are perfect for summer--light and sweet and a touch of nostalgia.

Oreo Cupcakes with Whipped Cream Icing
from Annie Eats

24 Oreo halves, with cream filling attached
2¼ cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
8 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 2/3 cup sugar
3 large egg whites, at room temperature
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup milk
20 Oreo cookies, coarsely chopped

Preheat oven to 350 and line 24 cupcake pans with liners. Place half an oreo in the bottom of each liner, cream side up. In a medium bowl combine the flour, baking powder and salt. In an electric mixer, combine the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Blend in the egg whites, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Blend in the vanilla. On low, beat in half of the dry ingredients and then add the milk, beating on low until combined. Add in the remaining dry ingredients. Fold in the chopped oreos. Pour the batter into the prepared cupcake tins and bake for 18-20 minutes. 

1 3/4 cups plus 2 tbsp. whipping cream
3 tbsp. powdered sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
6 tbsp. Oreo cookie crumbs

 In the bowl of an electric mixer beat the whipping cream, powdered sugar and vanilla until gentle peaks just form. Gently fold in the cookie crumbs.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

My favorite combination

You might recall that I have a slightly unhealthy obsession with Nutella, that smooth and creamy chocolate hazelnut spread that is perfect on bread, crackers, fruit, spoons, right out of the jar--you name it and it makes anything better. As of late, I have been on a kick to recreate the deliciousness of Nutella in other forms, a.k.a. the intense chocolate hazelnut flavors of this spread in cakes, ice cream, tortes, etc. I recently made a hazelnut torte with chocolate ganache glaze and it was good, don't get me wrong, but i did not think the combination was quite right.

So, I found this recipe and decided to give it a whirl. Again, I'm not totally pleased with the intensity of hazelnut--it is a bit more chocolate heavy, but who can really complain about that? The crust is one of my favorite parts because it is slightly salty and has a nice crumb--I think it would be perfect for many different kinds of cakes or even by itself as a shortbread cookie. This is also a good summer dessert because it requires very little baking, only the crust needs to cook for about fifteen minutes.

Chocolate Hazelnut Mousse Cake
from Gourmet

Shortbread base:
2 T. hazelnuts, toasted and skins rubbed off
3 T. sugar
1/2 c. flour
1/2 stick butter, softened
2 T. cocoa powder
1/8 t. salt

Mousse Filling:
1 t. unflavored gelatin
3 T. cold water
1/2 c. chocolate hazelnut spread (Nutella)
1/2 c. mascarpone
1 1/2 c. chilled heavy cream
2 T. cocoa powder
3 T. sugar

1/4 c. plus 1 T. heavy cream
3 1/2 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped

8 in. springform pan

To prepare:

-combine hazelnuts and sugar in a food processor, pulse until nuts are finely chopped. Add the flour, butter, cocoa powder and salt until a dough forms. Line your springform pan with parchment paper and press the dough into the bottom. Bake at 350 until the dough is dry to touch, approx. 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool, in the pan, on a wire rack until completely cool, approx. 30 minutes. When cool, remove the rim of the pan and carefully discard the parchment paper. Put the rim of the pan back in place and lock

-Sprinkle gelatin over the water in a pot and allow to soften, about two minutes. Heat over low heat until gelatin melts, stirring about five minutes. Whisk in the nutella spread and remove from heat. Whisk together the nutella/gelatin mixture and the mascarpone in a large bowl.

-In a separate bowl, beat together the cream, sugar and cocoa powder until soft peaks just form. Whisk 1/3 of this into the nutella mixture and then fold the remaining whipped cream into the nutella until combined. Pour the mousse into the prepared pan and spread the top evenly. Chill in the refrigerator for at least three hours.

-For the ganache, bring the cream to a simmer in a pot and remove from heat. Add the chocolate and let it stand for 1 minute then whisk until combined and smooth. Transfer the ganache to a small bowl and cool for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until it is thick, but still pourable. 

-Run a warm knife around the edge of the pan and remove cake from the pan. Pour the ganache over the top. Cake with the ganache can be chilled for up to six hours before serving. Cake without the ganache can be chilled for up to two days.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Way better than SnackPacks

When I was a kid I used to take pudding SnackPacks in my lunch, usually chocolate, but sometimes chocolate mixed with vanilla--extreme! I haven't really had a pudding cup or even pudding for years, but I saw a recipe in the June issue of Bon Appetit for this bittersweet pudding from The Sandbar in Vancouver. I've never been to The Sandbar so I cannot vouch for the reliability of the recipe, but the version provided in the magazine is delicious, and pretty easy.

This recipe is slightly more rich than normal pudding because it uses bittersweet chocolate. To top off the whole thing, a caramel cream is added plus pecan pralines--these really help balance the bittersweet chocolate so I wouldn't suggest leaving them out. The extra caramel cream and pralines can be used on ice cream....

Dark Chocolate Pudding with Caramel Cream and Pecan Praline
adapted from Bon Appetit June 2010

Pudding, 6 servings

1/4 c. cornstarch
pinch of salt
2 c. milk
1 t. vanilla
1 2/3 c. plus 1/2 c. heavy whipping cream
7 oz. bittersweet chocolate
1 c. sugar
2 T. water
1/2 c. chilled heavy whipping cream

Whisk cornstarch and salt together in a bowl then add 1/2 cup of milk and vanilla. Whisk until smooth. Stir 1 2/3 cup milk, 1 2/3 cup cream, chocolate and 1/2 c. sugar in a saucepan over medium heat until smooth and beginning to bubble. Whisk in cornstarch mixture and allow to boil for two minutes, whisking constantly. Pour into six bowls and refrigerate for at least three hours.

Caramel Cream: Stir 1/2 c. sugar and 2 T. water in saucepan over medium low heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat to medium-high and boil without stirring until a deep amber color, occasionally swirling the pan. Pourin 1/2 c. cream and stir until caramel has dissolved. Cool mixture. Beat 1/2 c. chilled cream in bowl until peaks form, fold in cooled caramel and refrigerate.

Pecan pralines:
3/4 c. pecans, toasted
3 T. water
3/4 c. sugar

heat sugar and water in saucepan over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat to medium high as mixture boils without stirring and allow mixture to become a deep amber color. Add the pecans and coat well with the caramel. Pour the pralines onto a foil lined cookie sheet and cool completely. Peel from the foil and put in a food processor, pulsing into small pieces.

Top the finished puddings with caramel cream and pralines when serving.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

My NEW favorite pizza

It is pizza season around these parts! Since we have tons of fresh produce and little desire to spend lots of time cooking, pizza is the fastest and most delicious way to eat many days. Oftentimes, we just throw whatever we have on a pizza crust, but some days I plan ahead.

Today was one of those days. I saw this pizza posted (very) recently on Smitten Kitchen and knew that I had to make it. It requires very few ingredients, but one of the main ones is asparagus--something that I have a lot of these days. Smitten Kitchen suggests a few tweaks if you're feeling bold, but I liked this pizza just the way it was. (This pizza is especially delicious when enjoyed with a San Pellegrino Aranciata.

Shaved Asparagus Pizza
from Smitten Kitchen

1 batch of Really Simple Pizza dough (also from smitten kitchen) or other pizza dough of choice
1/2 pound asparagus
1/4 cup grated parmesan
1/2 pound mozzarella, grated or cut into cubes
2 t. olive oil
1/2 t. salt
ground pepper
1 scallion thinly sliced

Using a vegetable peeler, shave the asparagus into thin strands. Put the shavings into a bowl and mix with the olive oil, salt and pepper. To prepare the pizza, spread the dough onto a peel or pizza pan and sprinkle the parmesan on top followed by the mozzarella. Load the asparagus on top of the cheese and bake in the oven at 500 degrees (or the highest temperature your oven goes to) for 10-15 minutes, until the cheese starts to bubble and brown.

Remove from the oven and sprinkle the scallions on top.