May 30, 2012

PIE À LA MODE

I have a confession to make. I'm not a fan of ice cream. I get bored with it after two bites. Strange, I know. I am convinced that it has to do with the texture. Ice cream that have a lot going on (i.e. cookies and cream, cookie dough, nuts), keep me interested for longer. What I enjoy most however, is ice cream with another dessert, aka à la mode. A classic example is pie. 

Let's return to ice cream for a minute, or more specifically, the ice cream cone. As far as edible vessels go, it's the most efficient, iconic, portable, and delicious thing ever. It's crunchiness complements the smoothness of ice cream. But what about all the other textures in between? 

I decided to create an ice cream dessert with a range of textures. Here is where the pie comes in. I've concocted three flavors: banana cream pie + chocolate ice cream, apple pie + vanilla ice cream, and pecan pie + coffee ice cream.


I almost bought a waffle cone maker, but those things are bulky and only do one thing... so I held out. The cones worked out fine in the oven.

These are easily customizable. You can pick and choose what to fill your cone with, drizzle various sauces, and top with your favorite scoop of ice cream. :)

May 11, 2012

BUTTER TERRINE

Butter or margarine? While butter has been around for thousands of years, margarine is only 142 years old, and it was specifically designed to substitute butter. Which is better for you? That's a hard one to answer. The purist in me chooses butter - it only requires one ingredient to create it. 
 

Making butter couldn't be any easier with a standard mixer. Whip heavy cream until the fat separates from the milk. Strain in cheesecloth and give it a good rinse in cold water. It's important to squeeze all the remaining buttermilk out, otherwise the butter will spoil faster.

 
Compound butters are flavored butters, typically made by mixing in herbs, liquids, or spices. Here, I've gathered a number of ingredients to play with. My goal was to create a range of colors and flavors that work well together.

I was having so much fun that I concocted a total of 16 flavors...! Perhaps I went a bit overboard. Here are three savory butter terrines, and one sweet.



Because these are so colorful, they almost look like pâtés or desserts. I am typically very conservative on the use of butter, but I have been slathering these terrines on everything! They're so inviting, and are packed with a ton of flavors.

And finally, I couldn't resist. I love packaging.





May 1, 2012

1LB CAKE

I found an old cookbook at the Alameda flea market last year. It came in a ziplock bag with a note: careful please! When I opened it up, I understood why. The spine was nearly gone, and the little piece that remained barely held all the pages together. It was published in 1828, when slavery was still around, and the U.S. was an agricultural nation. It was a time when California had yet to exist. What was most fascinating though, was learning that the first restaurant in the U.S. didn't open until 1829. There were cafés at the time, but similar to bars, they were for men exclusively. The idea of dining out hadn't existed yet, which meant women had to cook all the time.


 

This particular cookbook focuses on pastries, cakes, and sweetmeats. I was inspired by the classic Pound Cake - it's true, it got it's name because it calls for a pound EACH of flour, sugar, butter, and eggs. Four pounds of cake?! How about...just one?




I settled on making ONE pound of pound cake, which meant a quarter pound of all the ingredients. This is as basic as it gets and it's easy to remember! What's great is that you can add to it, such as lemon zest, vanilla extract, brandy, or cinnamon + nutmeg. 


A change of plan: instead of going for a 1lb pound cake, I went with these smaller, 1/2lb molds. They are personal size!


Lemon + honey + brandy glaze






One of the biggest differences between 1828 and now is convenience. It would have been 10 times harder to whip without a mixer and to bake without knowing the temperature of the oven. Because of this inaccuracy, the instructions in the cookbook were rather vague: "Bake in a moderate oven for two, three, or four hours, in proportion to its thickness and to the heat of the fire." Great. I think a lot more skill was involved in those days, and I suppose women had time to practice and perfect those recipes. 

All in all, it was fun to decipher an old recipe and to imagine people eating the very same thing 184 years ago.



1lb Cake (or two 1/2 lb cakes)

ingredients:
1/4lb sugar or powdered sugar
1/4lb eggs (about 2)
1/4lb flour
1/4lb butter (1 stick)
a dash or two of brandy or vanilla
zest of 1 lemon

lemon brandy glaze:
juice of one lemon
equal amount of brandy
equal amount of sugar

directions:
Whip butter and sugar for 8 minutes.
In 4 batches, add eggs.
When combined, add the zest and brandy.
In 4 batches, add the flour.
Bake in a buttered loaf or two mini loafs at 325F.
Depending on pan size, can vary from 30min.-1 hr.