Category Archives: Cook The Book Fridays

Dairy Dreams

I have a mixed relationship with dairy.  I was a kid who had to be bribed to drink milk, even if it was heavy laden with chocolate Quik powder.  Since childhood, if I eat cereal with milk, its sole purpose is to the wet cereal.  I drain the milk off every spoonful and discard what’s left in the bowl.

I’m ambivalent to ice cream.  I’ll eat it.  In fact, a favorite summer activity is to go for a drive where the destination is somewhere to eat ice cream.  I’ll never say no to the trip.  For me, ice cream is a vehicle for mix-ins or toppings.  I seldom order an ice cream that doesn’t contain pieces (chocolate chips, chopped up cookies, cookie dough, candy or nuts).  Plain ice cream requires hot fudge.

On the other hand, I could never live without cheese.  I’m slightly lactose intolerant, but I’m willing to live with the side effects.

I am always enchanted by the idea of making ice cream, enough that we own an ice cream maker, though we seldom make the effort.  David Lebovitz’s Buttermilk Ice Cream, this week’s recipe for Cook the Book Fridays, offered the needed excuse.

This recipe was so simple to prepare.  Sugar and corn syrup are dissolved in heavy cream which then chills overnight.  Stir in buttermilk before freezing in the ice cream maker.  There was leftover peach tart, so rather than serve the ice cream drizzled with olive oil and salt, I served the tart à la mode.

Unfortunately, it was not a hit.  I’ll admit that the corn syrup helped with the iciness that my homemade ice cream often has.  Another positive: the ice cream wasn’t too sweet. Other than that, neither of us liked it.  It tasted too much like frozen milk, more specifically buttermilk, and not enough like ice cream.  What a bummer to pour the rest down the drain.

I’m guessing mine might be the minority opinion.  To see whether my Cook the Book Fridays friends were fans, check out their links here.

Better Late Than Never

I’ve been struggling with my posts lately.  There is too much going on the world at large.  News has captivated my attention, and when I sit at the computer, I end up reading more and more news.  In comparison, taking time to write about what I cooked or ate seems insignificant and irrelevant.

I did make the other August recipe assignment on time, but failed to share the results.  Eggplant caviar is a smooth dip, similar to Baba Ganoush but without any tahini.  Once the eggplant is charred and roasted, it is quick to put together.  Served with pita chips (and maybe some hummus), this is a nice nibble before dinner.  David Lebovitz’s version is tasty, but I preferred the one we made for French Fridays with Dorie which included chopped fresh tomatoes.

Others from Cook the Book Fridays share their opinions here.

Here’s hoping that I’m timely in September.

 

 

 

Catchup Trifecta {CtBF} 

 

Argh!  My blog is so neglected.  It’s the time of year where I’m cooking all the time.  I’ve even kept up with the Cook the Book Fridays assignments.  Alas, I’ve become an expert procrastinator when it’s time to write a blog post.  So, without further ado, here goes.

Panisse Puffs

I was SO EXCITED to make Panisse Puffs.  I can remember leafing through My Paris Kitchen when it first came out.  That must have been around the time I made popovers for a rare participation in Tuesdays with Dorie because I had popovers on the brain.  It’s this recipe that tempted me to buy My Paris Kitchen.  Of course, I never made them.  When this recipe was selected for the Cook the Book Friday schedule, I finally had the motivation I needed, no excuses allowed.

Again, I marveled at how simple popover batter is.  A few staples whirred in the blender and it’s time to rock-and-roll.  The pan preheats along with the oven, so the pan is buttered and then filled with batter when it’s blazing hot.

The puffs puffed.  What they didn’t do is get all that brown.  I’ll admit that the glass window in my oven is not very easy to see through.  After 35 minutes, the puffs looked brown, but I think the baked-on splatters disguised the true color.  They also were stubborn about coming out of the pan.  I used a muffin tin because I don’t have a special popover pan, though I’m not sure it would have made a difference.

These looked much better in the pan.  After prying them out, my puffs were rather disfigured and deflated, no longer “souffléed”.  They tasted OK, but after years of anticipation, I was a little disappointed.

Soupe au Pistou

Typically, I don’t make hot soup in the summer.  Gazpacho, sure, and the occasional “other” cold soup, but little compels me to heat up the kitchen with or hang around to watch a simmering pot of soup.  For these reasons, I was ambivalent about making vegetable soup with pesto.  Trying to stay on schedule with the Cook the Book Fridays gang, I forced myself to soak white beans overnight and move ahead.

As crazy as it seemed to me, this really is a summer vegetable soup.  All the vegetables called for were part of my CSA share that week: carrots, zucchini, fresh sugar snap peas, and loads of basil.  The beans simmered while I chopped everything else up.  Vegetables were added in stages, depending on how long they needed to cook to tender.

While the vegetables cooked, I made pistou (nut-less pesto) in my mortar and pestle.  I’d never done that before, always using the power of the food processor instead of my own muscle.  The result was much rougher but pleasing when dolloped on top of the soup.

So, I was wrong to doubt the delight of a hot summer soup.  This one was delicious.  I’d even make it again with the vegetables of the week if the weather isn’t too hot outside.

 

Herbed Fresh Pasta

Another first.  Those of you familiar with tales of my bottomless (Mary Poppins-like) basement won’t be surprised to know that there’s a pasta machine down there.  I bought it decades ago at a now-defunct discount store for the bargain price of $15.  I must have made pasta a few times back when I first bought the machine, but I don’t think it’s left the basement since we moved to this house almost 25 years ago. (Packrat?  Are you accusing me of being a packrat?)

Pasta is not something I ever think to make myself.  It seems intimidating, especially when making the dough by hand rather than in the food processor.  I was home alone the night I made this, so I made a smaller batch.  Always divide by the eggs, so I made 1/3 of the recipe.  I used a variety of herbs from my garden and just followed the recipe.

No tools required!  I used my fingers to incorporate the eggs into the flour.  Once the eggs were absorbed, not all the flour was incorporated, so I kept sprinkling the dough with water until it all came together.

It rested for about an hour before rolling it into sheets and then cutting the sheets into strands.

I was surprised that the process was so easier than I expected.  I don’t intend to wait another quarter century before the next time I attempt my own fresh pasta.

I made a mélange of pea tendrils, sugar snap peas, and shell peas to top the pasta for a seasonal spring meal (at least, seasonal in June, when I made this).  Delicious!

Summary

You can find all the recipes in David Lebovitz’s My Paris Kitchen.  Panisse Puffs is on page 245, Soupe au Pistou on page 92, and Herbed Fresh Pasta on page 230.  My friends at Cook the Book Fridays were more timely in their execution, but go back and check out their posts for Panisse Puffs, Soupe au Pistou, and Herbed Fresh Pasta.