Thursday, June 28, 2012

Adventures with the Ice Cream Maker: Each Peach (Pear) Plum

Summer is here!  That means more time for baking and lots and lots and lots of delicious fruit at the farmer's market.  Here in LA, there is a farmer's market everywhere you turn.  We love going to Culver City, La Cienega, Beverly Hills (because our cucumber lady is there) and Mar Vista, but if you are an LA person and there are other markets you like, let me know!

There is one particular stand at the Culver City market that has a huge variety of amazing stone fruit.  They have all the standards, but also lots of interesting things, like donut peaches, red velvet apricots, pluots, and other deliciousness.

This plum ice cream came about because my husband thought he had purchased red velvet apricots for apricot ice cream.  After going back and forth and a lot of tasting, we decided they were plums, but that did not stop me from making ice cream out of them.  I used David Lebovitz's recipe for plum ice cream and the only thing I should have done was taste it before freezing it because it was so so tart.  It verged on being too tart and I should have added more sugar, but we have enjoyed eating it (although we haven't served it to guests).

After plum ice cream, I decided to make peach sorbet.  Haagen Daaz peach sorbet is one of my favorite things and this sorbet tasted exactly like that.  Sometimes when I make sorbet, it is too icy, but this one was smooth and almost creamy, even though there is no dairy in it.  Another David Lebovitz gem that is sure to make a re-appearance in our house.  You can find the recipe here.

I hope you enjoy these refreshing summer treat.  Don't forget -- when you see delicious fruit at your local market, sorbet or ice cream is always a great way to go.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Ethnic Flavor: Well, I Tried

Whenever Rachel and I go to LA, we are treated to the wonderful pretzel challah from Got Kosher? Rebecca, of course, lives in LA, so she can have pretzel challah any time she wants! And now, with the magic of boiling water and baking soda, so can you!

One of my oldest childhood friends moved to Chicago today. She is going to make the world a better place through teaching sixth grade math, and everyone should wish her the best of luck! She came to my house for a long-delayed Shabbat dinner on Friday, and I thought that in her honor, I would make these tasty loaves. I found the recipe in Kosher By Design: Teens and 20-somethings, which my parents thoughtfully bought for me when I moved out of their apartment. 

I titled this post "Well, I Tried," not because of the taste of the challah (amazing) but rather the way it looks, which is totally wonky and strange. I had a lot of trouble extracting the loaves after I dipped them in the boiling mixture, and one ended up kind of weirdly extended while the other one just got completely misshapen. But whatever. Salt! How can you go wrong? (But if you have a better method for extracting them than desperately and spastically maneuvering two spatulas, do let me know.) I halved the recipe and made two loaves but the challot stretched out in the water and were fairly sizable. I doubt that larger loaves would have fit in my boiling solution, but if you have a wider-mouthed pot, be my guest. Also, the dough is very sticky with only 3 (or 6, if you make the whole recipe) cups of flour, so be sure that your hands and your surface are well-floured when you braid the loaves.

As I said, it tasted amazing; plus, it takes less time to rise than my usual challah recipe, so good if you're in a hurry. There's a distinct baking soda taste - unsurprising, in a recipe that involves 2/3 cup of baking soda. It's definitely best warm but I found that it was still moist and delicious the next day. There was no next day after that; Brianna and I ate an entire loaf between us on Friday night, and then my roommates and I made short work of the rest on Saturday. You can find the recipe here; now you don't have to go all the way to Los Angeles to get your fix!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Strawberry Shortcake (Cream on Top.)

In New York, you know it's summer when the fruit stands on the street start selling strawberries for 2 boxes for $3. For me, that's the happy time of year, as I love strawberries. So when I was enlisted to make a friend a birthday dessert and I heard that she liked fruity things, my mind jumped right to strawberry shortcake.

I've never made strawberry shortcake before, but I have enjoyed it many times. What's not to like? Strawberries-- good. Biscuits-- good. Whipped cream-- SO good. The trick was to find a recipe that could be made in advance, and that I could make into individual shortcakes, because those are just so much fun.

This recipe from the Food Network hit the spot. I made the shortcakes in advance and then left them in the fridge for a few days before we ate them. I made 10 small shortcakes rather than one big one, which reduced the baking time a bit. Other than that, the only trick is making sure that you have enough juices from the strawberries to soak into the shortcake itself. Happy summer everyone!
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