Tarzan Was My Sous Chef

August 2nd, 2018

You Tarzan, Me Cook

This week on Mass Appeal I cooked lovely seasonal foods and had an unexpected helper.

One of the fun things about appearing on this lifestyle show is that I get to meet other guests, some of whom have become friends over the years.

On Tuesday the main other guests were members of the Berkshire Theatre Group in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, who came on the show to talk about their new production of the musical Tarzan.

A nice young man named Tim immediately came into the kitchen and offered to help me prepare my food, telling me that he loved to cook. I ALWAYS say yes when someone offers to help cook. Tim turned out to be the star of the show; he is playing Tarzan.

I hope to see him swing through the jungle next week. Meanwhile, although Tim was in training (Tarzan’s muscles have to be impressive) I managed to persuade him to nibble just a little. After all, no one should cook and then not be able to eat!

We made peach cobbler, rendered extra flavorful, and extra crunchy, with cornmeal. I am teaching an all-corn class at the Baker’s Pin in Northampton, Massachusetts, in a couple of weeks, and I have been pondering how to incorporate corn into a dessert since I always like to serve a full meal. Using cornmeal might be cheating—but it IS corn based!

We also made a lovely bright blueberry salsa.

Happy August!

Crunchy Peach Cobbler

Ingredients:

for the fruit base:

1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
4 cups chopped peaches (or half peaches and half blueberries or raspberries)
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon butter, diced

for the cobbler crust:

3/4 cup flour
1/4 cup cornmeal
2 tablespoons sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
1/4 cup milk
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons brown sugar

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Butter a 1-1/2-quart casserole dish.

Begin by making the base. Combine the sugar and cornstarch in a smallish nonreactive pot. Stir in the fruit and lemon juice. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring occasionally. Boil, stirring gently, for 1 minute. Remove the fruit from the heat and stir in the cinnamon. Spread the fruit in the prepared pan. Dot the top with butter.

To make the crust whisk together the flour, the cornmeal, the sugar, the baking powder, and the salt. Cut in the butter, but don’t overdo the process. You should still have tiny pieces of butter in the mixture.

Whisk together the milk, egg, and vanilla. Add them to the dry ingredients, and mix just until moist. Drop the resulting mixture onto the peaches, and spread it around to cover the fruit. Sprinkle brown sugar over all in little clumps. Bake until lightly browned, about 25 minutes. Serves 8.

Blueberry Salsa

Ingredients:

2 cups blueberries
the juice of 1 lime
1/2 teaspoon salt (more or less, to taste)
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and finely chopped
3 to 4 tablespoons finely chopped red onion
a handful of fresh cilantro, chopped

Instructions:

Chop or lightly crush about 1/2 cup of the blueberries. Stir them back into the remaining berries.

In a bowl stir together the lime juice and the salt. Stir in the pepper, the onion, and the cilantro; then add the berries.

Refrigerate the salsa for a couple of hours for maximum flavor. Serve with tortilla chips, over chicken or fish, or with crackers and cream cheese. Makes about 2 cups.

And now the videos…..

Crunchy Peach Cobbler

Blueberry Salsa

Nobody’s Perfect, and I’m Not Nobody

July 19th, 2018

The Palace Hotel (center right) in the 1920s

This week I committed what journalism professors and editors call a “gross factual error.” When talking on television about green-goddess dressing, which I first made a few years back and chronicled here, I said that the dressing was invented by a hotel in Los Angeles.

In fact, it was the Palace Hotel in San Francisco that created the dressing in 1923.

I apologize to the hotel, to the Green Goddess, and to Donna Hill at Strictly Vintage Hollywood (who gave me the original recipe).

The dressing was still delightfully tangy over lettuce, even if I didn’t describe it correctly.

My theme that day on Mass Appeal was cooling summer foods so in addition to the dressing I made coffee ice cream. Both co-host Lauren Zenzie and I swooned when we took a spoonful. The ice cream was rich, but the coffee flavor cut the sweetness and made us feel like ice-cream goddesses.

Here is that recipe, perfect for National Ice Cream Month. Happy mid-summer!

Swooning

Swoon-Worthy Coffee Ice Cream

Ingredients:

1-1/2 cups milk
4 egg yolks
2/3 cups sugar
1-1/2 tablespoons espresso powder
1-1/2 cups heavy cream
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 pinch salt

Instructions:

Heat the milk until it is steamy but not boiling. In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and the sugar until the mixture is thick and light yellow (about 4 minutes).

Whisk a bit of the hot milk into the egg mixture. Then whisk more, up to about 1/2 or 3/4 cup. Whisk the milky egg yolks into the remaining milk.

Cook over medium heat until the custard begins to thicken but does not boil (about 2 to 3 minutes on my gas stove!).

Remove the custard from the heat, whisk in the espresso powder, and strain the custard into a heatproof bowl or pot. Cool thoroughly.

When the custard is cold whisk in the cream, vanilla, and salt. Place this mixture in your ice-cream freezer and churn until done.

This recipe makes a little more than a quart of ice cream.

And now the videos:

Tinky Makes Green-Goddess Dressing


Tinky Makes Coffee Ice Cream

 

Foods of Our Fathers

July 4th, 2018

This post will be quick because it’s hot outside, and I really, really want to spend all of Independence Day by the water!

For my TV appearance this week, I decided to make dishes beloved of a couple of our founding fathers. I started out with George Washington’s Hoe Cakes, which I first wrote about here after my visit to GW’s gristmill near Mount Vernon. They were as tasty as I remembered: crispy and corny.

I went on to make a strawberry fool in honor of John Adams and his pioneering wife Abigail Smith Adams. According to The Food Timeline and other sources, the pair were fond of a simple, rich gooseberry fool. I didn’t have any gooseberries—but strawberries have just reached their peak here in Massachusetts. So I made those into a fool. Everyone who tasted it raved.

Neither dish will warm up your kitchen too much, and both will make you respect the taste of our first and second president.

Here’s the recipe for the strawberry fool. If you have strawberries and cream in the house, you can eat it in less than 15 minutes. I wish you a Glorious Fourth!

 

Strawberry Fool (inspired by John and Abigail Adams)

Ingredients:

1 pint fresh strawberries, hulled and cut into quarters
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla

Instructions:

Toss the strawberry pieces in half of the sugar, and let them sit for 10 minutes to juice up.

Place half of the strawberries and all of the strawberry juice in a blender. Puree the mixture; then stir it into the remaining strawberries.

Whip the cream until it holds stiff peaks, adding the remaining sugar and the vanilla when it is almost ready. Fold in the berry mixture. Serve immediately. Serves 4.

And now the videos:

Tinky Makes Hoe Cakes on Mass Appeal

Tinky Makes Strawberry Fool on Mass Appeal

Rhubarb-Glazed Meatballs

June 8th, 2018

I hope you’re not tiring of rhubarb! I’m still surrounded by it, going from event to event selling my cookbook, Love, Laughter, and Rhubarb.

I’m having fun trying to convert the entire world to the love of rhubarb.

If you’re in New England, please join me at one (or more) of my upcoming events. This evening, Friday, June 8, at 6:30 p.m. I’ll be talking about the book at the Arms Library in Shelburne Falls. Boswell’s Books will be on hand to sell copies of the book, and nibbles will OF COURSE be served.

On Saturday, June 9, from 10 to 3, I’ll have a table at the Lenox Rhubarb Festival in Lenox, Massachusetts. I’ll sign books, of course, and serve samples (until the samples run out; I gather the festival attracts quite a crowd).

On Saturday, June 16, from noon to 5, I’ll be signing books in Sherman, Connecticut, at the White Silo Farm and Winery Rhubarb Festival. I don’t have to bring food to this event because the chef at White Silo is making a number of tasty rhubarb dishes, including my own rhubarb pizza! If you’d like to learn more about my upcoming events (yes, there will be quite a few), visit my website.

The recipe below, which I made on Mass Appeal this week, won’t be coming with me to any events; it’s wet and warm and therefore not ideal to transport. Do try it, however, especially if you like sweet/sour combinations. I have served it as a main course, but it also makes an excellent appetizer.

If you have my book, please let me know what you’re cooking from it. And if you don’t have it, here’s a great place to find it!

I’m having trouble embedding videos these days, but you may watch my TV appearance by clicking on this link. The second dish we made, “Bee Mine Rhubarb Crumble,” substituted honey for the white sugar in my standard rhubarb crumble recipe as noted last year. (Note: I would cut down on the honey in this recipe; that stuff is sweet!)

The honey pays tribute to yet ANOTHER festival this week, the Langstroth Bee Festival in Greenfield. I wish it weren’t on the same day as the rhubarb festival! But I can always bee there next year.

Happy spring!

Rhubarb Glazed Meatballs

Ingredients:

for the stewed rhubarb:

2 pounds rhubarb (about 6 cups chopped)
2/3 to 1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)

for the meatballs:

1 pound lean ground beef
1/3 cup finely chopped onion
1 garlic clove, finely minced
1/3 cup dried breadcrumbs
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 12-ounce bottle chili sauce
2-1/2 to 2-3/4 cups stewed rhubarb (you will have some extra from the recipe above, which I encourage you to eat as it is!), pureed in a blender

Instructions:

First, stew your rhubarb. Wash and trim the rhubarb. Cut it into 1-inch pieces. In a heavy, nonreactive saucepan, combine all the ingredients and cover. Let the pan sit for an hour or so to allow the rhubarb to juice up; then cook it over low heat until the rhubarb softens (at least 5 to 7 minutes; maybe more depending on your stove).

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. In a large bowl combine all the ingredients except the chili sauce and rhubarb.

Mix well; then shape the mixture into 1-inch balls. Place the balls on a large rimmed baking sheet (I like to line it with nonstick aluminum foil), and bake the meatballs for 25 to 30 minutes (or until done).

While the meatballs are baking, combine the chili sauce and rhubarb in a 3-quart saucepan. Bring them to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.

When the meatballs are done add them to the sauce. Stir to coat, and simmer for 5 more minutes, stirring gently from time to time.

Makes 24 to 30 meatballs.

Before I leave you, here’s a link to another of my appearances, a humorous segment from our local public radio station. The interview was fun, and the video is priceless—not because I sing or play the piano particularly well (it wasn’t a great day for either skill!) but because you can hear my irrepressible dog, Cocoa, sing along with me. Here is the link!

 

Rhubarb Time!

May 23rd, 2018

Have I mentioned lately that I LOVE rhubarb—and that my new book, Love, Laughter, and Rhubarb is coming out on Saturday?

I know I have—but I have to share another recipe here this week in anticipation of the book’s release!

I made these muffins twice this week, first on CT Style in New Haven, Connecticut, and then with my regular crew on Mass Appeal.

I’m suggesting that you watch the CT Style version because if you watch it you’ll see my nephew Michael. Michael has been acting as my intern for the past week and a half and will be with me through the book launch on Saturday.

He has helped me pack and mail books, pick rhubarb, weed the herb garden, move stuff around to prepare the house for the big day, and of course cook and cook and cook.

I have a feeling the other high-school seniors in his class have more traditional internships (without a lot of chopping or harvesting). The internship is supposed to show him what the business life of the person he is shadowing is like, however—and my business life is basically my personal life.

I guess there are worse lessons to learn than that!

Meanwhile, I am grateful for Michael. He is a teenager, and I am a set-in-her-ways slightly older person. So we have had a few tussles over priorities. We have basically had a wonderful time, however. And I’m very proud of him.

I can’t figure out how to embed the video below so that it fits exactly on my blog—but I’m still trying to embed it. You may also watch it by clicking on this link.

Happy rhubarb season! Thanks to all of you who have ordered my book. And if you haven’t yet done so, I’ll be happy to inscribe a copy for you. Here’s how to order.

Rhubarb Sugar-Top Muffins

Ingredients:

2 cups chopped rhubarb (fairly small pieces work best)
2 tablespoons confectioner’s sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) sweet butter
2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
2 eggs
sanding sugar (or regular sugar if that’s all you have) as needed

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Toss the rhubarb in the confectioner’s sugar and set it aside. Melt the butter, and set it aside as well.

In a medium bowl combine the dry ingredients. Stir in the milk and then the eggs, one at a time. Stir in the melted butter, followed by the sugared rhubarb. Use a cookie scoop or a tablespoon to spoon the batter into lined muffin tins. Sprinkle sugar generously on top.

Bake until the muffins begin to brown on top and pass the toothpick test, 20 to 25 minutes. (If you want mini muffins, they may take a little less time.) Makes 12 to 36 muffins, depending on the size of your muffin tins.

This recipe recipe may be doubled.