Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Peach Sorbet

I made peach sorbet over the weekend, but forgot to blog about it until I saw another peach recipe photo on my phone today. Found a good sounding recipe at the Food Network. Surprisingly, none of my ice cream books (I have three, plus had another one checked out) had a recipe. (I think I found one later in Joy of Cooking.) BTW, sorbet has no dairy. Sherbet has no cream but does have milk.

I actually followed the recipe for once, so I will just link to Curtis Aiken's Peach Sorbet. The recipe for simple syrup provides far more than you need for one sorbet recipe. I did 3 cups each of water and sugar and ended up with about 4 cups of syrup. I need to make more sorbet, but we haven't finished it yet. It's been cooler (and actually raining, but mostly just cloudy till today when it's been pouring) so ice cream just isn't as on the top of the head as during summer. (Summer is over in Maine. It lasted about 4 weeks this year, split in two sections. I love summer in Maine.)

The sorbet is like eating a frozen peach with extra sugar. Frankly, I could just eat a peach and be happy. But we have so many peaches to use up, it's another way to preserve them a bit and eat a few more each day. I've also put some in the freezer and started drying them. And we each eat about 1.5 peaches a day.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


One of my favorite foods is pesto. Sort of. I learned last year that pesto has to have pine nuts (or some kind of nuts) while pistou is the same thing without nuts. I don't use nuts in mine--at first because I couldn't find pine nuts and when I did they were expensive. And using other kinds of nuts just sounds weird. By the time I learned I was using the wrong word, I was so used to saying pesto that I couldn't switch. Besides, everyone knows what pesto is and no one has heard of pistou.

This recipe is based on one my Dad sent me. I make it in large batches and freeze it to eat all winter. Or longer. I still have a jar labeled 08 in the freezer, although I think I may have just reused the lid last summer.

  • 2 c fresh basil
  • 1/2 tsp salt (or less)
  • 1/2 tsp pepper (or 5 twists of a grinder)
  • 3 cloves garlic or more
  • 1/2 c olive oil or less
Put everything in a blender. Using Lo/Grind, blend a few seconds, push herbs down (if you don't have an awesome blender that really mixes well), repeat until thin but not liquid. Or, if you don't have a blender (I don't), put in a large bowl, preferably taller rather than wider, and use a stick blender on 2 or 3 to combine.

  • 1/2 grated Parmesan cheese (not the Kraft kind we used as kids on spaghetti. Your cheese can affect the flavor greatly. I tried a ME-made parm that I don't care for in my first batch. Then I returned to the Bel Gioso I used in WI (it was local there). I like the pesto better.) You can also use Asiago or other dry cheeses, of course.
Mix well and put in fridge or freezer. Makes about 1 c.

I have made enormous batches (8x recipe) in a metal bowl with the stick blender; far more than I could put in a regular blender. This is the only thing I used the blender for, so I got rid of it and bought a really nice stick blender instead. I don't recommend making 8 batches at once. It took me 3 hours, and I didn't have to grate the cheese that time. But my basil was all bolting so I had to process it right away.

This year, I'm going slowly and have made 3 batches so far on two days. I don't think I have as much basil either; although I have more plants than ever before, they aren't as big as they were in WI. For the first time, my basil actually sprouted and grew--it's the only thing that's growing better in ME than in WI! By the time I knew it would grow, I'd already bought 6 basil plants, too.

Nutmeg and I both love this on pasta, making our favorite dish, pestasto! I've also made some breads (fougasse) with it. I'll make more this winter and post them.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

More garlic bread

I did make more garlic bread Monday night. The bread is hard to cut in half, being rather dense and not very thick, with a hard crust. So I was cutting very carefully, worried about slipping, but telling my self it would be pretty difficult to hurt myself since the knife moved pretty slowly. And then I hit the center, where my two cuts met and suddenly it wasn't so difficult anymore and the knife went into my finger.


Unfortunately, Eric was cutting up jalapeno peppers for his salsa so he certainly wasn't going to help me. The bathroom closet door was locked so Nutmeg couldn't get a bandaid for me, if she could even reach that shelf. And I was bleeding quite a bit. Luckily, I managed to get it taken care of. The cut isn't terrible, and is more wide than deep. And we were lucky to have a set of finger bandaids, including ones for fingertips. They are awesome. We will definitely keep these in stock. (They are water blocking, too, which is so nice for fingers.)

Back to the bread--I used about 3 Tbs of butter this time and it didn't pour off the bread onto the pan (just a little bit when I cut it up). I used the same herbs and garlic, since that's the best part.

The peach ice cream, by the way, is delicious! We're having small servings each night to make it last. I'm looking forward to trying peach sherbet or sorbet next. I should remember to try those more often--one of them doesn't use any cream and then I wouldn't have to wait to get to the grocery store. We tend to make vanilla ice cream the most, however. I've never heard of vanilla sherbet/sorbet. Can you make either of those without fruit? Oh, I could try apple! Always have lots of apples around.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Peach ice cream

The Connecticut peaches came in to the farmer this week. Some are already ripe enough to eat, so we dove into them yesterday, including peach ice cream. The base recipe is based on the sweet cream II recipe in Ben & Jerry's Homemade Ice Cream & Dessert Book (Amazon link) with the peach from their peach recipe. We thought the sweet cream base was too rich, and tried it with many variations on amounts of heavy cream, half & half, whole milk, 2% milk, and skim milk over the years. Basically, as long as you have 2 2/3 c of milk & cream, it's okay. The more cream, the richer the ice cream, of course. We used to use some half & half all the time. It took me a couple years to realize that using half & half was purposeless, as I could just use half cream and half milk instead.

Peach Ice Cream
  •  2 cups chopped peaches (just two peaches)
  • 1/2 sugar
Macerate in the fridge for 2 hours, stirring occasionally if you remember to do so. (Macerate: Something I've been doing with fruit and sugar since I was kid, but only learned the name of recently. Basically, it just means put fruit and sugar together and let them sit to draw out the juice and soften the fruit.) Mash remaining peaches or leave chunky as desired. We like them mashed but not quite pureed.
  • 1 c heavy cream
  • 3/4 c sugar
  • 1 2/3 c skim milk
Put cream in a bowl. Slowly add sugar and whisk till you can't hear the sugar granules anymore. Whisk another 1-2 minutes. Add skim milk. Drain juice from peaches and add.

Let chill for 2+ hours in the fridge. Freeze according to the ice cream maker directions. If using mashed peaches, put them in when freezing is about half done. If left as chunks, put in when 2-5 minutes remain.

I have a manual crank new fashioned ice cream maker. I love it! The electric ones are terribly loud. And use electricity. The new ones all have a metal container with a special gel inside (like freezer packs have) so you don't need ice and rock salt. This one, Salton brand, is the only one that doesn't plug in that I could find. Sure, it takes paying attention to it every 1-3 minutes for 30 minutes. But it gives you the fun of cranking your own ice cream. Nutmeg loves helping to make ice cream.

And it was delicious! We will probably make more this week. And with frozen peaches later in the year.

    Garlic bread

    Sometime last week, Eric caught a cooking show tip that he thought I'd just love. And since it was such a good one, he decided to tape the whole show. We enjoyed watching Tyler's Ultimate; we actually wanted to make the recipes! Including a lovely garlic bread, which I went and made Saturday. First, I needed baguettes. My ABin5 dough was on its last pound, so perfect for something small and flat. So Saturday morning, I made 2 baguettes. They are supposed to be 2" around, but mine went a bit flat and are more like an inch by 3-4" wide. Then, that evening, garlic bread with one baguette:

    Tyler's Ultimate Garlic Bread (slightly revised)
    • 1/2 stick butter (1/4 cup), at room temperature (or, if you forget, microwave for about 10 seconds. Not 15.)
    • 2 garlic cloves, mashed to a paste with a pinch of salt and extra-virgin olive oil
    • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley leaves
    • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves
    • (Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper; I forgot these but didn't miss them)
    • Parmesan cheese, optional
    • 1 loaf crusty baguette
    Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Stir together the butter, mashed garlic, and herbs in a small
    bowl and season with salt and pepper. Tear or slice open the loaf of bread lengthwise, spread the herb-garlic mixture over both halves. Sprinkle with cheese if desired. Place on Silpat and bake for 15-20 minutes. Picture is from before baking; the one in back has the cheese.

    I loved the plain garlic bread. Nutmeg loved it with cheese. Eric doesn't like my really sour sourdough bread, which he thought overwhelmed the garlic and cheese.

    It might be too much butter. A good deal of oil was left on the Silpat afterward. But it was nicely soaked into the bread. Probably depends on how much surface area and bread depth you have. I'll be making this again tonight with the remaining baguette.

    Oh, and the tip? If you will be using a mixing bowl, take a tea towel, and wrap it up like a bandanna. Form a circle on your counter with the towel and place the bowl in it. It shouldn't slip around. I will use this the next time I'm mixing cookies or whipping egg whites, or such.

    Monday, August 9, 2010

    Yogrut [sic] Parfait

    One of our favorite meals lately is Yogrut Parfaits. The spelling is intentional--Nutmeg has never been able to say yogurt properly. She always says Yogrut. We're working on it, but she really hates practicing saying something correctly so it's an uphill battle. Pictures would show a lumpy, soggy mess, so I won't bother. Maybe if I layered it in a pretty clear glass like they do at restaurants...but I don't have such glasses and I don't like plain yogurt so I eat it all mixed up anyway.

    Yogurt Parfait
    • yogurt
    • honey to sweeten if desired (I desire it!)
    • fruit (fresh, frozen, canned, or dried)
    • granola
    Everything is to taste. I make my own yogurt and it's pretty sour. Maggie adores it plain (or, lately, on pretzels). I think it's terribly tart and don't like it at all. But if you add about a teaspoon of honey (more or less depending on the tartness of the fruit and granola) all is well. I use a baby spoon, which encourages small amounts of honey.

    Some flavors lately have included blackberries (freshly picked by Nutmeg in our front yard), dried peaches (new peaches arrive Saturday, so I HAD to finish the last couple pieces I was savoring), apples (dried, fresh, and frozen for apple pie filling which needed no honey), and pear (canned spiced pears Mom made a couple years ago--fabulous in this). I often mix flavors, too. Blackberry pear was quite good.

    A very simple recipe to include here, but until the past couple weeks, I don't think I'd ever made this for myself. Yet, I always have yogurt around since it's an ingredient in my favorite dip/dressing. Usually I get Maggie to eat it up. I know it's good for me, but I didn't have anything good to do with it. I'd tried putting jam in to sweeten it, but it was so boring. Adding in granola made it so much better. And I eat granola for breakfast already, so it's been easy to make the parfait instead.

    We also like this for lunch, dinner, dessert, and snacks. It's all in how you present it to the kid!

    I also baked bread this weekend. I missed the morning it was 50 degrees at 6am, but I did get it in the oven the following day, when it was about 60 (it's been over 70 at 6 am lately). It's very sour so very delicious. Also made a foccacia with pesto on top with the remainder of the rye dough; it was rather old and I recently saw a tip to make flatbreads with older dough. Perfect since when I make a loaf, it usually is less than 2" tall and is so hard to cut. As a flatbread, I don't care that it doesn't rise and it tastes just the same. And gives me an excuse to use my pesto.

    Oooh, recipe for that coming up soon. I made my first batch of pesto last week. I thought the basil was about to flower, but the sudden coolness held it off. I hope it doesn't flower till the weekend when I have more time to make it.

    Monday, August 2, 2010

    Bread, salsa, and concussions

    Aack! It's been too long since I posted. I have done a little in the kitchen, but after making so many desserts while Eric and Nutmeg were gone, I realized I needed to hold off on more sweets for a while. It's continued to be hot, well, at least for Maine (our two weeks of summer have passed and now it's only hot for part of the day to be honest), so I haven't felt like turning on the oven much. Plus, last Wed, Eric got a concussion and it's barely gotten better so I have been a lot busier than usual with Nutmeg, the animals, and everything else around the house.

    I did bake bread, but those photos seem rather repetitive after a while. However, the last two times, I let Netmeg make something with a small piece of dough. Since I use a rather wet dough, this hasn't worked out too well (it gets stuck all over her hands) so I've "helped" her make a figure: both times, she's made Sweetie (her kitten). This last time, I remembered to take a picture. See the tail, legs, eye (slightly darker brown bit towards the right) and ear (tiny point on the right above the eye)? She got to actually eat this one. The first one she was eating downstairs, we got an idea and everyone headed upstairs...and about 15 minutes later I remembered it had been left in easy reach of the dogs. Sure enough, it was gone. (And maybe Emma had bread dough stuck in her teeth and that's why she was hacking and licking a bunch?)

    It's finally time for some non-cooking adventures in the kitchen: the farmer's market finally has something other than plants and a very few salad items. (My delight at the early opening of the market here was short-lived. Almost no one had rhubarb, there was no asparagus at all, and only a couple folks had salad fixings in June. Mostly they sold plants.) It's time for TOMATOES! And that means salsa time in the Johnson house. We did this a little in Oshkosh, but something clicked last August and we made salsa a few times a week, buying a ton of tomatoes, peppers, and hot peppers every single week. And there weren't many tomatoes in Maine last year due to the extremely wet season combined with the late blight. So we're hoping to have salsa even more often this year.

    I used to follow recipes, except that didn't really work since we didn't have the right ingredients. So I finally realized the basic formula and now I just make sure to use the right things and taste for a few (salt and lime juice) and just put in all the tomatoes and peppers we want. Sometimes, I also make a corn and black bean (with my homegrown dried Cherokee Trail of Tears beans) salsa.

    • tomatoes, chopped into whatever size you like (it does work best if you take out the seeds and pulp; be sure to put these innards in the discard pile, not your salsa bowl or it will still be really wet. Yeah, I wasn't paying attention.)
    • sweet peppers (lovely to use a variety of colors although red and orange ones will blend in with the tomatoes. Unless you use a variety of tomato colors, too)
    • onions, chopped (green, scallions, or regular; the smaller the pieces, the more the onion taste and chance of tearing up while chopping)
    • garlic (I usually use the garlic press, but could also be chopped)
    • lime or lemon juice (I really like lime juice and this is the only thing I use it in)
    • cilantro if at all possible. Mine didn't grow well this year, so I hope the herb lady sells it by the bunch. It's okay without it, but lovely with it
    • salt to taste (often, this is what is missing when the salsa tastes a bit bland)
    • hot peppers to taste (Nutmeg and I prefer none while Eric likes his salsa really hot. In the picture, his bowl is to the right, adding them in after the whole batch is mixed together)
    • other veggies as desired. I've never done anything other than beans and corn, but you can put a lot of different things in salsa if you like! I might grate some carrots next time, as Nutmeg stopped eating them (except from our garden, which has only about 12 and they are radish sized).
    The flavors are best if you make ahead, but also tastes great freshly made. I tend to use more lime juice when it won't be sitting.

    I'm looking forward to trying a salsa with pineapple sage. Eric's favorite salsa has some pineapple in it, so why not?

    We all love salsa and every ingredient is good for you and hardly has any calories at all. So why not eat as much as you want? We do buy tortilla chips to go with it, but I actually think the fresh salsa tastes fine without any accompaniment. It's rather like a cold, uncooked veggie soup in a way (especially if you don't take out the tomato pulp).