Friday, May 20, 2011

Machineless Chocolate Ice Cream (with Poached Pears)

For realz! Ice cream made in a pan in the freezer! I couldn't believe how nicely this came out. It *looks* a little funky, but let it soften and scoop it out, and it's amazing.

Here's the recipe. I won't rehash, but will just mention that (1) I forgot the straining step, which didn't cause any catastrophes (except maybe the aforementioned unpromising visual aspect), (2) I don't have a kitchen scale to measure everything superprecisely and this still came out fine.

Regarding pectin: If you buy Pomona Universal Pectin (they have it at Whole Foods, in the aisle with the spices), the box will contain 2 little packets. One of them is calcium - you don't need it here; the milk provides that. The other has the pectin mix, and that's what you use. Again, I have no kitchen scale, and I decided somewhat arbitrarily (math skills failing me in the heat of the moment) that 1.6 grams would be about 5/16ths of a teaspoon - that is, 2 1/8 teaspoons-ful, and then another half-filled 1/8 tsp. It worked.

Nor do I have an immersion blender, but pouring the wet stuff into a glass bowl and using a hand mixer to add the dry stuff worked fine and seemed easier than getting my blender dirty.

I added cinnamon to the ice cream, too, and served with (1) some tasty store-bought caramel sauce and (2) poached pears. Serious yumminess.

Squash Gnocchi with Coconut-Tomato Sauce

Somewhat unseasonal, but my sense of Spring has been totally ruined by weeks of rainy 40- and 50-degree weather. For a small dinner party, I served stacks of pale orange little gnocchis on a thick, boldly spiced tomato sauce, with a swirl of Greek yogurt & toasted cumin seeds on top.

I like the lightness of squash gnocchi compared to their potato brethren. I made 'em with butternut squash, because you can still get it in May (shipped from god-knows-where....), but I would have liked to try kabocha. Must remember this next winter.

Bake the squash well ahead of time (like the night before) so it's cool enough to handle, and leave yourself plenty of time for forming the gnocchi - it took me over an hour (granted, I may have been watching Project Runway at the same time) to make the dough and turn it into enough gnocchi for 4 servings.

I have to admit, this whole dish is just deconstructed version of this soup. Perhaps if I start with my overactive soup imagination, and force myself to put some of the ingredients in other forms, this blog will get a lot more interesting. :)



Halve your squash, brush all sides with oil, place facedown in a glass baking dish, and bake at 350 for an hour or more, 'till it's well and truly softened. Mine was big - the length of a 9x13 dish - and made a lot more dough than I needed.

The next day, scoop your cooled squash into a bowl. For mine, I added 3 eggs; for a smaller squash use 1 or 2. Mash with potato masher, then start adding flour.

The size and moist-ness of your squash will cause the amount of flour needed to vary greatly. The dough will be sticky, and will stick to your fingers even when ready, but you want it floured enough that it's no longer wet, just shaggy, like a ciabatta dough. I used 4 cups before I could handle it well enough to make the leetle gnocchis. (In retrospect, I probably could've left out an egg and thereby reduced the necessary quantity.) If you're uncertain, it's easy to test: get a little water boiling and drop a ball of dough in, and see if you like the result! Once the consistency is good, salt to taste (and add any other spices you like - cumin would be nice with this recipe).

To form the gnocchi, heavily flour a surface or some wax paper, as well as your hands. Scoop up a baseball-sized hunk of dough, plunk it into the flour, roll it around, and form it into a long snake. Anything not flour-coated will stick to your hands, so flour up. Once you have a snake, slice it to make gnocchi, and roll each one in flour again if needed. Use the tines of a fork to give them pretty ridges if you care. Freeze or refrigerate till the sauce and everything else are ready - you want to eat 'em fresh and hot!

Then, it's just a matter of dropping them in boiling water in small batches. They only need about 3 minutes in the water, and are ready when they float to the top. (I tried frying one and thought it tasted too fried, but that's an option too.)

Coconut-Tomato Sauce:

Bring the following to boil in saucepan:

4 large heirlooms, roughly chopped
1/2 can coconut milk
Turmeric, ground cumin, salt, pinch of asefoetida if you have some, dash of lemon juice
Add tomato paste if coconut flavor overpowers tomato

Sautee 1/2 an onion sliced paper-thin, and a handful of dried coconut, then add them to the sauce. Simmer till tasty.

Chipotle Potato Pizza

Let's grant this recipe a handicap since it arose from the questionable creativity (/panic?) engendered by an empty veggie drawer. It was a man-pleaser and a little off my beaten flavor path, so it gets a post.

All the veggies I had were 3 red potatoes (refugees from a barbecue a few weeks ago) and 1/2 a bunch of kale, plus of course onions. Hence the following pizza toppings:

1. Onions and potatoes, sliced thinly on mandolin, sauteed in oil until tender, with salt, apple cider vinegar, and a ton of paprika, and torn kale added at the end.

2. A chipotle-tomato sauce, made with a small can of unflavored tomato sauce; 4 finely chopped chipotle peppers from a can, with their adobo sauce; salt, sugar, and molasses.

Served with dollops of plain yogurt to take the heat off.

Oh, and if you should happen to buy a new pizza stone that you *just can't wait* to try out, for heaven's sakes read the instructions and don't forgot to dust the thing with cornmeal. Otherwise, your pizza will cement itself stubbornly to the stone. If this DOES happen (and it shouldn't, once you've read this!), give the pizza time to cool. Its ardor for the stone will cool with time, and they will become much easier to pry apart.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Spicy Tomato Corn Sauce & Grilled Eggplant

Another not-too-remarkable, but very nice, summer pasta dish:


Put the following in pot. Bring to boil. Thicken a little if needed. That is all.

3 huge, chopped heirloom tomatoes
1 large can diced tomates
2 cobs corn, boiled & decobbed
10 sundried tomatoes, finely chopped, & their oil
Salt, sugar, lemon juice, balsamic
Cayenne to taste


Peel an eggplant, quarter it, and slice into 1/2 inch thick slices. Salt these heavily and let sit in a colander until water comes to surface - should only take 1/2 hour or so. Wipe off the salt and water thoroughly with a towel. Brush with oil from jar of sundried tomatoes. Place under broiler till highest points start to brown.

Served over campanelli.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Warm Tortilla Salad & "Jalapeno Poppers"

Warm Tortilla Salad:

Last weekend I made this amazing warm pita salad, and I think it was still in the back of my mind tonight. I grabbed a bunch of fresh & vaguely southwestern veggies at the store, and had some corn tortillas to use up, and here's what came of it all:


2 calabasitas
1 heirloom tomato
1 ear of corn
1 avocado
small chunk ricotta salata
1/2 package small corn tortillas
Olive oil, lime juice, honey, salt

Before they go into the salad bowl, prepare likeso:

Calabasitas: Cut into tiny cubes and flash-fried till tender in teeny bit of oil
Tomato: Chopped into small dice and tossed in w/its juice
Corn: Boiled, decobbed
Avo & cheese: Small dice
Tortillas: Cut into ribbons, then again into squares. Toasted in oil with the parsley till partly crispy, partly soft.
OO, LJ, H&S: make the dressing, of course!

"Jalapeno Poppers:"

I also had a small package of sweet little peppers (banana peppers, maybe)? Stuffed them with a mix of chedder & manchego cheeses, a little greek yogurt, finely chopped oregano, sauteed thinly sliced onion, and salt and pepper. Baked at 350 till tender.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Guest Post: Gingery Smoothie

Kay says:

"OMG. Best. (Non-dairy.) Smoothie. Ever.

2 kiwifruit (peeled)
1 mango (peeled)
juice from 4 oranges
1 apple (de-cored)
1 cup frozen raspberries
1 piece of ginger, about 1.5 times the size of your thumb (peeled & roughly chopped)
1 Tbsp sugar

Blend. Consume. (All by yourself if you are me, who was hungry.) Yummeh."

Holy Wow Zucchini Bread

Now I realize the general idea of this bloggy is to post things that we, ourselves, have cooked. But someone brought me this zucchini bread, upon which I am munching with great joy, and also sent me the recipe. Its deliciousness arises from characteristic Paula Deen fat content.... but delicious it is, and I commend it to you in advance of the zucchini surplus days of late summer:*

*Unlike most days at work, I am actually reading law today. It makes my sentence structures go completely wackadoo. Sorry!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011


It's been, like, a month since I posted a new tomato soup recipe. Don't worry, my blogidentity has not been hijacked, here's proof! (I KNOW I'm way beyond any reasonable lifetime quota of tomato soups, but this one is the BEST ONE YET except maybe this one and this one oh don't make me choooose!)

All I did was buy 12 Romas and 10 biiiig meaty heirlooms and chop them into a pot with a little olive oil, peeling skins if easy to do so but not really sweating it if not. Turn up the heat and cook 'em down. Meantime, slice 3 shallots paper-thin and cook them over low heat in olive oil & sugar. When soft & translucent, add them & their oil to the tomatoes.

Also add lemon juice, balsamic, sugar, plenty of salt, and, if you need to stretch the soup to have enough, maybe a few cups of broth (but it's not necessary flavor-wise). (After we blend this all up, we'll add the super secret amazing ingredient that vaulted this puppy into the specially reserved Tomato Soup chamber of my heart.) Taste and adjust a lot, and when it's getting there, put the soup through a mesh strainer into another pot. Whatever wont' strain, blend, and stir back in.

THEN! once liquified! You add a few TBs of creme fraiche. (!!!!! so good!) Then you do more tasting & adjusting. Served with homemade croutons and curls of good parmesan on top, with some rapini cooked this way and a salad.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie

Working off of this recipe, I threw some filling in a premade crust for a party last night. I liked it a lot better than the last Strawberry Rhubarb I attempted, so here ya go.

There was a little drama along the way, though (I know, even with a frozen crust.... Deb of Smitten Kitchen, I am not). I used too many pie weights while parbaking [Edit: Long after writing this post, it finally dawned on me one day that you're supposed to COVER THE CRUST WITH FOIL before you add weights.  Live and Learn!], and the bottom layer got totally embedded in crust, leaving me to gingerly pick them out one.... by.... one:

And then I realized the tapioca I had around was not instant like the recipe called for. Perusing the interwebs, I found proportions for substituting instant tapioca / noninstant tapioca / arrowroot / cornstarch as thickeners, and used arrowroot instead (though possibly not enough of it, as the pie was still a little runny).

Foibles aside, though, the final flavah won my heart like a cowboy in a country ballad ("God bless the broken roooooooaddd.... that led me straight to rhu! Barb!"). Mix the following stuff in a big bowl, put it in parbaked crust, and bake (450 for 15, then 400 for 45). Put it on a baking sheet to catch the drips, especially if you can't be bothered to throw a crust on top:

3 cups halved strawberries
3 cups (thawed) frozen rhubarb, drained
1.5 cups sugar
2TB arrowroot & 1 TB flour (maybe change these up, it didn't thicken thickly enough for me!)
1 tsp each: lemon juice, balsamic, vanilla, and cinnamon

My pie crust, like my country song reference, was pretty deep, so this may be too much filling for some pies.

Pre-baking closeup! :