Adventures of an unfussy foodie.

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July 27, 2010

A Summer Recipe

Is it sweltering where you are right now?

I confess, summer is my least favorite season. Heat and I simply do not get along well together.

In the summer, those who cook desperately seek ways to avoid turning on the oven -- I usually turn to the microwave or crock-pot to avoid heating up the house. And then there are summery salads; no cooking required! A good salad can be so refreshing on a summer evening, but I tire of lettuce in a hurry.

When my mom broke out this recipe one Sunday, I knew I had to recreate it for myself. And share it with all of you. RUN to the store to get the ingredients for this one. Your tastebuds will thank you. :D

Jicama and Watermelon Salad

1/2 cup fresh orange juice, plus 1 teaspoon zest
1/4 cup fresh lime juice, plus 1 teaspoon zest
2 tablespoons honey
pinch of kosher salt
dash or two black pepper
1 jicama, cut into matchstick pieces
4 cups watermelon in 2-inch chunks
1/3 cup roughly torn fresh mint leaves

Whisk together juices, honey, pepper and salt in a large bowl. Add the jicama, watermelon and mint and toss to coat. Let chill until ready to serve -- up to one hour.

Daring Baker Challenge: Swiss Swirl Ice Cream Cake

**A special thanks to my brother for the great pictures! You can definitely tell which ones I took myself! ;D
The finished product. Gorgeous!
WELL... [wipes brow with corner of apron]

I have finally completed the July Daring Bakers' Challenge, and I am pooped.

This is only my second month participating in the Daring Bakers' group, but I am having so much fun with it! This month we were challenged to create a Swiss Swirl Ice Cream Cake -- essentially a swiss roll cake (jelly roll) sliced and frozen with layers of ice cream and hot fudge sauce to make sort of a bombe glacĂ©e. The inspiration for this recipe can be found here.

Sunita gave us a lot of creative latitude, which I appreciated because I'm a little chocolated out
(GASP! I know.)
I decided to create mine with a vanilla/raspberry/lemon flavor combination to keep it light and summery. And can I just tell you that I have never made a dessert with so much WOW factor! My family went crazy over it at Sunday dinner. The cake was a nice textural contrast with the creamy vanilla ice cream and slightly gooey lemon curd, and the raspberry sorbet rounded things off with a tangy, refreshingly summer-like flavor.

Vanilla Raspberry Swiss Swirl Ice Cream Cake with Lemon Curd Filling

It was a lot of work, but I was bursting with pride at my family's reaction, so it was worth every minute!
For those of you following along at home, let's get started. We have 5 components to make -- all from scratch:
Raspberry Curd
Lemon Curd
Sponge Cake
Raspberry Sorbet
Vanilla Ice Cream

Let's start with the fruit curds. I know, the name isn't particularly appealing, but the final result is scrumptious. A fruit curd is kind of a butter/jam/custard combo; it has the consistency of pudding, kind of. It can be used as a filling or topping for cakes, eaten with scones for afternoon tea, or just eaten by the spoonfull (because I can't help myself -- don't judge).
I used a recipe for rasberry curd courtesy Tea, of Tea and Cookies. It turned out fantastic -- the most beautiful shade of purple. I won't list the recipe here, but click over to her site if you are interested.

Lovely, lucious raspberry curd. Mmmm...
Lemon Curd
3 eggs
1 c. sugar
1/2 c. fresh lemon juice (the juice of about 3 lemons)
1 tbsp. lemon zest ( the zest of one lemon will do. freeze the zest from the others with a little water for later use in cakes, etc.)
pinch salt

The easiest way to make this is to combine all ingredients in a microwave-safe bowl (I use my pyrex measuring cup, 1 quart size) and cook on high for 30 second intervals, stirring well with a fork or whisk between each interval until the mixture coats the back of a spoon (or the fork you're using because why dirty another utensil, am I right?). In my microwave, this took maybe 3 minutes -- but as microwaves vary, keep going until the consistency is right. It will be a tad runny but it will thicken as it cools.
If you find you have one or two clumps of egg white in your curd, just pick them out or pass the mixture through a seive and discard solids.
Easy right? Now, set it in the fridge and ignore it for a bit. When it has cooled completely, cover it with a lid or some plastic wrap. (I won't tell if you just have to eat some, promise.)

Now make your sponge cake.
A sponge cake is an old fashioned cake that uses only whipped egg whites for leavening. Traditional sponge cakes use no added fat and very little flour. I chose a basic recipe which turned out very well:

My sponge cake/jelly roll ready for chilling

Vanilla Sponge Cake
7 eggs
Pinch salt
3/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
3/4 cup granulated sugar sifted
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup cake flour (I put 2 Tbsp. conrstarch in my measuring cup and filled it the rest of the way with AP flour.)
*For chocolate sponge cake: substitute 1/2 cup cocoa powder for 1/2 cup cake flour.
Line jelly roll pan (mine is smaller than a standard half-sheet pan, about [measurements] with parchment paper. Set oven at 400°F. Separate eggs; beat egg yolks together with vanilla 1 minute.
Add pinch of salt to egg whites; beat until foamy. Add cream of tartar and continue beating whites until they cling to bottom and sides of bowl, then beat 1 minute longer.
Fold beaten egg yolks into egg whites gently but quickly. Gently fold in sifted sugar and flour. Do not over mix. (I like to use a wooden spoon, it seems to work better than a spatula)
Pour batter into pan, spreading evenly from center out with a spoon or spatula. Tap pan several times on table to break any air bubbles.
Bake in center of oven 8 to 10 minutes or until cake springs back when touched lightly.
Remove from oven. Immediately loosen sides with a table knife and turn cake out onto prepared dish towel. Roll tightly while still warm and let cool 10 - 15 minutes.
Carefully unroll cake and fill as desired (I used my raspberry curd). Reroll immediately and wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Chill until ready to use.

Are you tired yet? Me too. Go take a nap and come back.

July 07, 2010

Wishlist Wednesday: KitchenAid Ice Cream Attachment

It seems that making homemade frozen confections is all the rage this year, and it's no wonder. Making ice cream at home is remarkably simple... when you have the right tools.

Enter the KitchenAid Ice Cream Attachment

This attachment is compatable with any variety of KitchenAid mixer, and makes a large batch (2 quarts!) of delicious, creamy frozen goodness. I also love the price point -- around $80. (On sale right now for $58.95 at Amazon!!!)

I love that it makes a large batch of ice cream, and I love that I wouldn't have to buy yet another small appliance. It would make my KitchenAid mixer and even larger asset in my kitchen -- I didn't think that would be possible!

What do you think? Would you buy this? Are you interested in making your own ice cream? Do you have one of these, and if so, how do you like it?

PS: Don't want to wait for your ice cream fix? Head to your local grocery store and pick up Haagen Dazs five ice cream. I swear, you won't regret it. (Okay, your hips and thighs might... but let's leave them out of this.) It's the best ice cream I've had in a long long while.

July 02, 2010

Table for one: a confession

I don't share too much of my personal life on this blog. I'm not entirely sure why that is, but I don't.

So you may not know that I am currently cooking for one.

My husband left for a summer internship in Ireland almost a full month ago, and I have been trying to adjust to the many changes his absence brings: No one to fix the broken swamp cooler, having to pump my own gas and drive everywhere myself, coming home every night to an empty house, realizing that all the mess is mine and that no one is going to help me clean it up, and cooking for just little old me.

I think that's been the biggest change. I still itch to grab that second gallon of milk at the grocery store, I still grab two chicken breasts from the freezer and reach for the bigger frying pan. I still think twice about cooking something P might not like.

The changes not withstanding, I am enjoying having the freedom to cook whatever I like and not worry about starving my husband if I don't start dinner right when I get home. I'm exploring ideas I might have been to timid to try if I had an audience, and it's fun, in a way.

But it is also easy to fall into a rut and cook the same things over and over.

I still have another month more to do this, so I put the question to you guys:

What do you cook when you're cooking for one?
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