Monday, May 31, 2010

labor of love: foodCrafters

Tonight at 9 and 9:30PM, my new show foodCrafters premieres two episodes on the brand new Cooking Channel. This project is very near and dear to my heart, and I hope to do justice to the amazing people whose stories we're telling. Please tune in, and enjoy!

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Monday, May 17, 2010

signs of spring: strawberry sour cream ice cream

When I was a kid, my mom made amazing waffles. The thin round kind that got perfectly crispy. She would underfill the waffle maker so the edges would be these sort of blobs of batter and get especially crisp. Instead of syrup, my mom would spread the waffles with sour cream - getting it all in the squares - dust it with powdered sugar, then top with thawed frozen strawberries. I have no idea where this combination came from, but to me it is an ultimate comfort food. Sour cream and strawberry waffles are some of my most vivid food memories from childhood.

When I saw this recipe by ice cream maven David Lebovitz for Strawberry Sour Cream Ice Cream, I knew that this would be my first ice cream of the spring season. I waited oh so many weeks for the strawberries to starting popping up at farmer's markets. My wait has finally come to an end.

The sweet, pure flavor of new strawberries, the slightest subtle tang of sour cream, the secret edge of kirsch and lemon juice. The result is smooth and fresh and lovely, and brings back memories of Saturday morning breakfasts. Oh my god, I'm going to go make waffle cones to eat this in. Recipe after the jump:

From The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz

Makes about 1 1/4 quarts

1 pound fresh strawberries, rinsed and hulled
3/4 c. sugar
1 tbsp. vodka or kirsch
1 c. sour cream
1 c. heavy cream
1/2 tsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice

1) Slice the strawberries and toss them in a bowl with the sugar and vodka or kirsch. Stir until the sugar begins to dissolve. Let stand at room temperature for 1 hour, stirring every so often.

2) Pulse the strawberries and their liquid with the sour cream, heavy cream and lemon juice in a blender or food processor until almost smooth, but still slightly chunky.

3) Freeze in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

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Sunday, May 09, 2010

signs of spring: asparagus pesto

After a long couple of weeks of nonstop work, I was WIPED OUT by Sunday evening, and my plans of ice cream experimenting and pie making and who knows what else was slowly slipping away. I needed a simple easy dinner that left very little clean-up, but I still wanted SPRING. So, the logical decision, take a cue from Mark Bittman in this week's NY Times, and turn that lovely asparagus into a pesto.

It doesn't get much easier than breaking out the food processor and blending a bunch of stuff up and tossing it with pasta. All it takes is about 8 minutes of blanching (in the same water I ended up boiling the pasta in), and the asparagus was ready to toss in the processor with the classic pine nuts, cheese, and olive oil. I tweaked his recipe a bit, adding in a bit of basil and more lemon juice. I also iced the asparagus after blanching thinking it might help preserve the vibrant green. I'm not sure that it was really necessary. Tossed with some fresh fettuccine, this dinner was wolfed down enthusiastically. Recipe after the jump:

Adapted from a recipe by Mark Bittman, New York Times

1 pound asparagus, trimmed and cut into 2-inch segments
1 clove garlic, or more to taste
1/4 cup pine nuts
1/4 cup basil leaves
1/4 cup olive oil, or more as desired
3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Freshly ground black pepper
Juice of 1/2 lemon, or to taste.

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt it. Add the asparagus and cook until fully tender but not mushy, 8 to 10 minutes. Drain well, reserving some of the cooking liquid, and let the asparagus cool slightly.

2. Transfer the asparagus to a food processor and add the garlic, pine nuts, 2 tablespoons of the oil, Parmesan, a pinch of salt and a couple of tablespoons of the cooking liquid. Process the mixture, stopping to scrape down the sides of the container if necessary, and gradually add the remaining oil and a bit more of the reserved cooking liquid to moisten if necessary. Add the lemon juice and season with salt and pepper to taste, pulse one last time, and serve over pasta, fish or chicken (or cover and refrigerate for up to a day).

Yield: 4 to 6 servings (about 1 1/2 cups).

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