Archive for August, 2014

Re-Learning about Whipped Cream

Wednesday, August 27th, 2014
Not my most together creation--although it tasted pretty darn fine.

Not my most together creation–although it tasted pretty darn fine.

I learn something every time I appear on television. I like to think of this as a good thing—but I would like to minimize the learning EVENTUALLY and become completely organized on camera.

Unfortunately, during my most recent appearance on Mass Appeal I forgot what my mother taught me about the fragile nature of whipped cream.

We were making an ice box cake, a mid-20th-century creation that relies on refrigeration for its basic structure. This particular cake was made of Graham crackers, peaches, a few berries, and … whipped cream.

Whipped cream, as my mother always told me, MUST be whipped cold. And it must be handled gently.

Unfortunately (mistake number one), I left the cream I was whipping on the air sitting in the studio lights a little too long. It didn’t whip.

I brought a pre-made cake from home. Unfortunately, I messed that up as well!

First, I decided to move it onto a pretty cake plate when I arrived at the studio. It collapsed and had to be re-glued together. (Apparently, ice box cakes shouldn’t be moved.)

Next, I left it, too, in the lights a little too long. When we arrived at its moment of cutting, it didn’t slice so much as fall apart.

The good news is that I can show you photographs of another ice box cake I made the week before at home that came out very nicely.

ice box cakeweb

The evening after the broadcast, my nephew Michael, my neighbor Alice, and I spooned leftover messy ice box cake into bowls with additional peaches. This made a trifle-like dessert that was FABULOUS.

One of these days I’ll manage to do a little better on the air. Meanwhile, of course, I still had fun. (I always have fun.) And hosts Seth Stutman and Ashley Kohl were forgiving.

The video link appears after the recipe below. So that you don’t think I’m a total klutz, I also include the link to our previous segment, in which we made BLTs with no major mishaps.

Enjoy peach season! And remember, when life gives you messy cake, you can always make trifle.

Assembling the Cake

Assembling the Cake

Peach Ice Box Cake

Ingredients:

3 cups peeled peach slices (2 to 3 peaches, depending on size)
1-1/2 tablespoons sugar
the juice of 1/2 lemon
1-1/2 cups heavy cream
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons fruit liqueur (I used framboise, a raspberry liqueur, or blueberry cordial)
Graham crackers as needed (I used a little more than 1 sleeve of crackers)
blueberries or raspberries as needed for topping

Instructions:

In a nonreactive bowl toss together the peach slices, sugar, and lemon juice. Set aside for 2 hours.

Whip the cream until it forms stiff peaks, stirring in the sugar and liqueur at the last minute.

Find a decorative plate. Put a little whipped cream on the bottom of the plate, underneath the spot on which you will place the crackers. Put a layer of Graham crackers on top of the cream. Follow this with a layer of whipped cream, a layer of peach slices, and another cracker layer.

You should end up with four layers of Graham crackers with three layers of whipped cream and peaches in between. Save enough whipped cream to cover the top of the final layer of crackers as well as the sides of the cake. (You MAY use a whole 2 cups of cream, but this seems excessive to me.)

Loosely cover your cake so that it is protected but isn’t exposed to odors from the rest of the refrigerator, and chill the cake for at least 6 hours. (Overnight is best.) When you are ready to serve it, place fresh berries on top.

Serves 6.

And now for the sad but yummy video:

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=68nq3XWyJSk&list=UUhrpfuBCFEPoURYVpsi4iHw[/youtube]

And here is the video about the BLTs, which definitely looked better.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XTmGmbybFVo&list=UUhrpfuBCFEPoURYVpsi4iHw[/youtube]

Betsy’s Herbed Zucchini Soup

Monday, August 4th, 2014

zucchini basil soup web

Zucchini has arrived in these parts. This squash is much maligned because it tends to overwhelm gardeners before they can finish uttering the word “zucchini.” I have a couple of suggestions to help readers embrace zucchini and avoid feelings of inadequacy.

First, when you are doing your spring planting, don’t feel obliged to place an entire six pack of zucchini seedlings in your vegetable patch. A plant or two will do nicely. Zucchini is a friendly neighbor that likes to wander all over the garden, and it CAN take over.

Next (this is the part at which I am bad), once the zucchini gets going check it every single day and pick ruthlessly. You want delicate squash, not baseball bats.

If you do end up with giant zucchini, do what my neighbors Susan and Peter Purdy did a few years back and throw a Zucchinipalooza party. Everyone in the neighborhood brought zucchini-related foods, and we played games. Large zucchini were literally used as bats in a ball game. Strangely shaped squashes were placed in a tub for bobbing. And so on.

Finally, in addition to throwing zucchini into lots of different dishes—stir fries, soups, stews—look for zucchini recipes you can make and freeze. In a very few months, you’ll be missing this vegetable and longing for a taste of summer.

The recipe here, from my friend and former babysitter Betsy Kovacs, is eminently freezable. It’s also great fresh (hot or cold); it positively bursts with flavor.

If you don’t have the exact proportions of ingredients listed below, go with what you have. With more zucchini it will be thicker; with more stock, thinner. With more herbs it will just taste more summery.

As you can see from the video below, I made it recently on Mass Appeal. It comes together very quickly so it’s perfect for a TV appearance—or for a summer day.

zinpotweb

The Soup

Ingredients:

1 to 2 medium onions, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup olive oil
2 pounds zucchini, with stems removed, coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon salt
4 cups water or stock (chicken or vegetable, depending on your taste)
1 handful basil leaves, tightly packed—or dill or parsley; your herb of choice
salt and pepper to taste
a little half and half, sour cream, or yogurt (optional)

Instructions:

In a 4-quart Dutch oven cook the onion and garlic in the oil over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until they soften, about 5 minutes.

Add the chopped zucchini and the teaspoon of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 more minutes. Add the water or broth plus the herbs. Simmer the soup, partially covered, until it is tender, about 15 minutes.

Purée the soup in a blender or food processor. Remember to use caution with the hot soup; you will want to process it in batches to avoid eruptions.

Add salt and pepper to taste. Adding a little half and half to the soup or serving it with a dollop of sour cream or yogurt can give it a bit more depth. Or you may prefer leaving it as is to let the zucchini and herbs shine. Serves 4 to 6.

[youtube width=”560″ height=”315″]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F4Mje3MfHgA&list=UUhrpfuBCFEPoURYVpsi4iHw[/youtube]