Lemon Buttermilk Sherbert

August 20, 2011


If you told me 5 years ago that I would someday go to a gamer store and ask advice from someone who talked just like Comic Book Guy, I would have called you a liar. Good thing I never bet on that one!

It all started with the Settlers of Catan. I was having dinner with some Math friends when they decided to break out this game. I mocked the game for having rules that took over half an hour to explain. “This is way too complicated to ever be fun,” I whispered to my friend, Angela.

At the end of the game, I was yelling things like “Well I’ll barter my sheep for your grain!”

I came home that night and ran over to Will who was working at his desk. “Will! I just played the best game EVER! It’s called the Settlers of Catan.” Will had a very skeptical look on his face. I asked him why. He said, “No, I’d… I’d love to play with you but… it’s just… I’m a little surprised you liked that game. I mean, I like that game a lot but…” But what? I asked him. “Well, it’s really nerdy.”

“What are you talking about?” I asked. “That, that’s not a nerdy game. That’s a normal people game. Like Scrabble. Or checkers.”

Will consulted Wikipedia. He read aloud, “The Settlers of Catan is used as the icebreaker game at the Silicon Valley Engineering Conference.” Suddenly, it all started making sense. It had a hexagonal board! You barter for grain! You can’t play it in less than two hours!

Since that time, Will and I have purchased several board games like it: Pandemic, Dominion, Gloom. But Thursday night, our nerd-dom reached a new level. Because we bought an RPG game. RPG means Role Playing Game. And to find this game, we didn’t just go to a normal game store, like we had for all the other games. We went to a game-r store.

We had some trouble finding the store, until we saw windows covered in paintings of dungeons and elves. On the bulletin board next to the door was a flyer that said, “Larpers* wanted!” with little paper tabs that had a phone number you can tear off. (*Larpers are people dress up and act out Dungeons and Dragons. No I will never reach that level, and if I do I give you permission to stop reading my blog.) Another wall was filled entirely with glitter for larping costumes.

We knew that the game we bought (Arkham Horror, if you are wondering) would take a long time to figure out so we decided to spend a night in, make a feast, and get down to evil demon fighting biz-nass. We grilled some burgers, broiled some sweet potato fries, popped open some beers and started beating back “the uncaring forces of the universe.”

While Will tackled the Encyclopedia-like rule book, I made dessert. To balance the heaviness of the burger and beer feast, I was looking for a dessert that was  light, tart, and refreshing. Earlier in the day, I saw a recipe for Lemon Buttermilk Ice Pops on Epicurious and was intrigued. I turned it into a sherbet (which apparently has only one “R” instead of two), and it fulfilled my every dream. Tart, tangy, sweet, cold, refreshing. Perfect summer dessert!

And if you’re wondering, yes the game is nerdishly awesome. In that special, gamer way.

LEMON BUTTERMILK SHERBET (adapted from Bon Appétit  July 2002)

Makes about 3 cups

Keep the buttermilk in the fridge until the last minute so it stays cold. This will help get the overall mixture cold and prevent formation of ice crystals.

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 5 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons grated lemon peel
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 2/3 cups buttermilk (chilled)
Recipe

Whisk sugar, lemon juice, lemon peel, and salt in a bowl until sugar dissolves. Whisk chilled buttermilk into mixture. Prepare in ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions.

Peach Custard Pie

August 12, 2011

We just came back from visiting Will’s family in South Carolina! It was so relaxing. I read 4 books (including The Hunger Games SO GOOD), stuffed myself with fried chicken, and, let’s be honest, watched a lot of reality television. And received this trivial pursuit question during a game with my sister-in-law, Brianna and her boyfriend. Q: What animal is produced when a bottle-nosed dolphin is crossed with a false killer whale. A: A wholphin. FOR REAL.

One spectacularly hot day, our friends Vickie and Mike invited us to their lakehouse.

We did this:

And this:

And a whole lot of this:

Will’s mom and sister, Lily, and I baked this pie, too. There are a good amount of steps, but the sweet peaches, creamy custard, and buttery crust are well worth the effort. You know what else is worth the effort? Driving down a country road for boiled peanuts and an ice cold Coke.

Happy August, everyone!

PEACH CUSTARD PIE (from Martha Stewart Living, June 2011)

Serves 8

Ingredients (Pate Brisee)

2 3/4 cups all purpose flour

1 tablespoon sugar

Salt

2 sticks plus 2 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter cut into small pieces

1/3 to 2/3 cup ice water

Recipe (Pate Brisee)

Dump flour, sugar, and 1 teaspoon salt in  bowl, mix until combined. Cut butter into flour mixture using either a pastry cutter or 2 knives, until mixture looks like coarse meal. Slowly pour 1/3 cup ice water over flour/butter mixture, and stir in with a fork until dough holds together when pressed together with two fingers. Dough should be damp, but not wet or sticky. If dough is too dry, add more ice water by the tablespoon until dough is proper consistency.

Divide dough in half and pat into 2 disks. Wrap plastic wrap around in disk. Place in refrigerator until firm, (at least one hour and up to one day).

Ingredients (Pie)

4 medium ripe but firm peaches (about 1 1/3 pounds)

2 large eggs

3/4 cup sugar

1/2 stick unsalted butter, melted

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Pinch of salt

Recipe (Pie)

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Sprinkle flour over surface and roll out pate brisee. Place dough onto a 9-inch pie plate, and trim crust so it has about an inch of dough hanging over the edge. Fold the trim under the edges and press it down using your fingers or the tines of a fork. Use a fork to prick holes in the bottom of the pie. Freeze for 15 minutes.
  2. Place a piece of parchment over the crust. Fill crust with pie weights, dried beans, or uncooked rice. Bake for 20 minutes, take out of oven, and remove parchment and pie weights/beans/rice. Remove from oven; remove beans and parchment. Return crust to the oven and bake until the crust turns a golden brown color (about 11 more minutes).
  3. Make your filling: Boil a pot of water. Make an ice water bath. Slice an X into the bottom of every peach. Boil peaches for 1 minute and then dunk them in the ice-water bath. When cool enough to touch, peel and pit your peaches. Cut peaches into wedges but, if you’d like, leave one half peach in tact for the center of the pie.
  4. Place eggs, sugar, butter, flour, and salt and whisk until combined. Pour this mixture into pie crust. Place peach half in the center of the pie, cut side down, and surround it with wedges.
  5. Bake for 45 minutes. (Tent crust with a foil ring after 15 minutes.) Transfer to a wire rack; let cool for 1 hour. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving.

My state no longer allows the selling of raw pistachios. They are now considered “unpasturized” (PLAYA WHAAAT?). So instead of the bright, green boarder of ground pistachios I envisioned on this tart, I created one that is mostly brown. Feh.


But it tasted good. It was a bit labor intensive to slice and arrange all those strawberries, and Lord knows I didn’t want to turn my oven on when it was 80 degrees outside, but this dessert was greatly appreciated by my friends. It is a light-tasting, springtime dessert. The brightness of the strawberries, the crunch of the toasted nuts, and the crisp puff pastry are just right for a springtime potluck. Winner.

STRAWBERRY PISTACHIO TART (from Everyday Food, May 2011)

Serves 12

I wouldn’t wait more than a few hours to eat this. My instincts tell me that it wouldn’t take long for the puff pastry to get soggy.

Ingredients

All purpose flour, for rolling

1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed

1/2 cup unsalted, shelled pistachios

2 tablespoons sugar

5 cups thinly sliced strawberries (about 1.5 lbs)

1/4 cup apricot jam, warmed

Recipe

Preheat oven to 350. Cover work surface lightly with flour. Roll puff pastry into 12 by 16 inch. Line baking sheet with parchment. Move puff pastry to baking sheet and trim edges to make them neat*. Place in freezer until dough is firm (about 10 mins).

Prick pastry all over with a fork. Place another sheet of parchment paper and then another baking sheet on top of the pastry to stop if from puffing too much in the oven. Bake until its lightly golden in color (20-25 mins).

While the pastry bakes, put 1/4 cup pistachios and sugar in a food processor. Grind until they are a fine, sand-like consistency. Sprinkle this all other pastry.

Return pastry to oven and bake until the pastry and pistachios turn a rich gold color (15 to 17 mins). Remove pastry from oven.

Roughly chop the rest of the pistachios. Arrange strawberries on the pastry in an overlapping pattern. Brush berries and the boarder of the pastry with jam, then sprinkle chopped pistachios on the  boarder. Serve warm or at room temperature.

(To store tart, allow it to cool fully and wrap it tightly in plastic wrap. Leave at room temperature for up to one day).

I used turned the scraps into mini apricot chocolate pastries. I rolled them out, put a dab of leftover apricot jam and some dark chocolate in the center, folded them in half and pressed the edges together, brushed them with a beaten egg, sprinkled them with sugar, and baked them at 350 until they were browned. Deeelicious.

Apple Crumble

September 20, 2010

A few days ago, two of my friends and I were discussing our favorite desserts. I had a slight epiphany when I realized mine was a cobbler or crumble. What a great favorite dessert! It’s so easy to make. Hooray for me.

And Saturday, we had a day that was misty and cold that actually felt like a blessing after all these hot and sunny days we’ve been having. I left football tailgating early to do what I have wanted to do ever since the beginning of summer: spend an afternoon making food that reminds me of Fall. No more salad. No more cold soup. Only things requiring cinnamon, oatmeal, brown sugar, or any combination of the three. This is my first apple crisp of the year.

I decreased the flour in this recipe from 1 cup to 1/2 cup, because I like my crumbles to be mostly crispy oatmeal, rather than mostly cake. But if you prefer a more cake-y crumble, keep the flour at the original recipe’s 1 cup.

Happy Autumn, everyone!

APPLE CRUMBLE (adapted from Bon Appetit’s Apple Crumble, October 2003)

Serves 8-10

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 1 1/2 cups (packed) golden brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • Nonstick vegetable oil spray
  • 4 pounds large Granny Smith apples, peeled, halved, cored, each half cut into 6 slices
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • Vanilla ice cream

Recipe

Mix oats, 1 cup sugar, and flour in bowl. Add butter; rub in with fingertips until topping comes together in moist clumps. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover; chill.)

Preheat oven to 375°F. Spray 13x9x2-inch glass baking dish with nonstick spray. Mix apples, lemon juice, cinnamon, and 1/2 cup brown sugar in bowl. Transfer to dish. Sprinkle topping over.

Bake crumble until apples are tender and topping is brown and crisp, about 55 minutes. Cool slightly. Spoon warm crumble into bowls. Serve with ice cream.

Rustic Strawberry Tart

June 4, 2010

There was a giant box (2lbs!) of strawberries on sale at Whole Foods and I decided to go for it. This summery weather does not entice me to spend long hours in the kitchen, but most of this particular day was cloudy and so I decided to make a tart. YUM. I wish I’d made four! I wouldn’t say this is the greatest pie crust I’ve ever made, (not quite as flaky as I wanted), but it’s still really good. Also, I have a secret. I have done something some may say is unforgivable. I made a pie crust from… Cooking Light.  I know, I know. But it seriously didn’t taste like it was light. It was quite delicious, actually.

Is anyone here good at rolling dough into a circle while it’s encased in Saran Wrap? I managed to form something that resembled a parallelogram, but that’s about as close as it got. Fortunately, the name rustic allots for such derivations from the instructions. The truth is, I love things that are rustic and imperfect because I love things that look homemade. Attempting to arrange my strawberries in concentric circles for this tart was laughably futile but the tarts were still charming to me.

So there you go. You can pile on some whipped cream or some ice cream or just eat it straight up and cold like I did at work. It was a much needed break from a crazy day! And, believe it or not, you can’t tell it’s light (I mean, without the whipped cream of course). Seriously, I wouldn’t lie to you. I just thought I’d venture outside the box in honor of swimsuit season. And I am so glad I did!

Tune in next time when Will and I receive our first CSA delivery of the season and figure out what to do with 3lbs mixed field greens, 3lbs arugala, 3lbs spinach, 3lbs of an unidentifiable leafy green, mustard greens, green onions, and easter radishes. You know, besides eat salad for breakfast (TWICE!)

RUSTIC STRAWBERRY TART (adapted from Rustic Strawberry Tart at TheKitchenSinkRecipes.com who adapted it from Cooking Light)

Serves 4, makes two tarts

Ingredients

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/8 teaspoon salt

4 tablespoons chilled butter, cut into small pieces, divided

3 1/2 tablespoons ice water

2 cups sliced strawberries

1/4 cup sugar

2 teaspoons lemon juice

Zest of half a lemon

1/2 teaspoon corn starch

1 pinch salt

2 tablespoon Sugar in the Raw

To prepare crust, lightly spoon 1 cup flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Combine 1 cup flour and 1/8 teaspoon salt in a medium bowl; cut in 3 tablespoons butter with a pastry blender or 2 knives until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add 3 1/2 tablespoons ice water; stir just until moist. Turn dough out onto a heavily floured surface; knead lightly 5 times. Divide dough into 2 equal portions. Place each dough portion between 2 sheets of plastic wrap; roll each dough portion, still covered, into an 8-inch circle. Chill 20 to 30 minutes (until the plastic wrap peels easily away from the dough).

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine the berries, sugar, lemon juice, lemon zest, corn starch and salt. Stir to combine.

Preheat oven to 350°. Uncover dough; place dough circles on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Arrange half of the strawberries in a pinwheel pattern in one of the dough circles, starting in the middle and forming concentric circles of strawberries, leaving a 2-inch border. Repeat with the second dough circle and remaining berries.

Fold up the edges of the dough circles over the berries, crimping to seal. Lightly brush the pastry with the beaten egg. Sprinkle the two rounds with the raw sugar.

Bake for 45 minutes or until golden brown.

Crepes with Jam

June 1, 2010

Today I fulfilled a dream. I flipped a crepe in a pan by tossing it in the air! Oh, believe me, not all of it was pretty. There was some massive cleaning of burner, pan, and stovetop required after the first few tries. But it was worth it. Also, I did it in an lovely apron Will’s mom brought me back from her trip to France that says “La maitresse de la maison c’est MOI” (The master of the house is ME) which made it even more awesome.

There was a movie (whose actors, name, plot, and all other scenes seem to escape me) where someone was trying to flip a crepe in a pan and kept messing up. And their kitchen mentor said, “Your not doing it with enough guts!”

Sure enough, that was the answer. It requires, guts, cajones, gusto! It is a case of commitment, I suppose. If you do it properly there are only two possibilities. 1) A giant mess 2) Success! It could go either way. But the surefire way to not have any success is to do it half-heartedly. This must be some metaphor for life or something.

CREPES (recipe for Crepes by Katherine Martinez who adapted it from Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook)

Serves 2-4 people (depending on how hungry they are!!! 2 for a big breakfast, 4 for dessert I’d say)

Ingredients

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons of melted butter (plus more for oiling the pan)
  • dash of salt
  • dash of vanilla or a bit of vanilla bean

Recipe

  1. Mix flour and eggs as well as you can.  Slowly add 1 cup of milk, whisking to eliminate lumps of flour.  Add butter, salt, and vanilla.  Whisk to combine.
  2. With a medium skillet over medium-high heat, melt a small bit of butter to coat.  Pour 1/4-1/3 cup of crepe batter, and tilt the pan to coat the bottom.  Cook until golden, then flip.  When the second side is done, spread a small bit of butter over the crepe.  Fold or roll crepe and place on plate.  Repeat with remainder of batter.
  3. Lightly dust the crepes with powdered sugar, and drizzle with warm strawberry syrup (or your favorite topping).  Eat all of them!!

I almost let out a shriek of delight in the produce aisle today. I was scanning the vegetables when, there, nested between the parsley and the carrots was… RHUBARB! I haven’t seen it since last summer, though I have fantasized about it’s return. I know it’s a bit early for rhubarb, but I am impatient by nature and bought a bunch of it. I had no idea what I’d make with it, but I figured 6 stalks should have me covered. (Yes, I do have a tendency to get carried away, in case you haven’t noticed).

Then, as if fate was intervening in my dessert menu for tonite, strawberries were $2.99 per pint! So I bought 4 pints. Thankfully, I know how to can, which is what I did tonite. Can lots of Strawberry-Rhubarb Compote and  spoon a bunch of it over vanilla ice cream.

If you would like to read more about buying and preparing rhubarb, click here for a nice rhubarb rundown. Here is the gist of it: chop the ends off your rhubarb, remove any dark spots with a vegetable peeler, and, most importantly, DO NOT EAT THE LEAVES. They are poisonous. This is why rhubarb is the badass of the vegetable world. And yes, it is a vegetable!


If you like rhubarb you’ll love this. I’m already making plans for my canned compote. These plans include a slump and a topping for waffles. I could also probably eat it straight up. When I was eating this dessert, I kind of went into a rhubarb trance and when I finally came to, I was licking the bowl and Will was laughing.  Now that is what I call a success!

STRAWBERRY RHUBARB COMPOTE (from Martha Stewart Weddings)

I wound up doubling this recipe so I could can it. And because I impulse purchased 6 stalks of rhubarb at the store.

Ingredients

2 cups fresh strawberries (rinsed, hulled, chopped)

1/4 cup plus 1/3 cup sugar

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

2 3/4 cups trimmed rhubarb, cut into 1/4 in pieces (about 2 large stalks)

2 tablespoons water

Recipe

  1. Stir strawberries, 1/4 cup sugar, and lemon juice in a small nonreactive pan; bring to a simmer over medium heat. Cook, stirring often, until softened, about 3 minutes. Remove strawberries; place in a bowl and let cool. Set aside pan with strawberry liquid.
  2. Meanwhile, in another small pan over medium-low heat, combine rhubarb, remaining 1/3 cup sugar, and the water. Simmer gently, stirring often, until sugar is dissolved and rhubarb is almost tender, about 6 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer rhubarb to bowl with strawberries. Add strawberry liquid to pan.
  3. Raise heat to medium and simmer until thickened and reduced to 1/2 cup, about 10 minutes. Let cool. Stir into strawberry-rhubarb mixture.