I can’t believe we’re more than six months into the pandemic. I hope you and your families remain safe, healthy, and, most importantly, sane. With all the demands on my time (not), I still can’t get it together to write blog posts.
Earlier in the month, we made So-Good Miso Corn. At our house, corn is usually served on the cob. Microwave and serve. Summer sweet corn stands on its own. We prefer it plain (no butter). It can’t get any simpler. However, this recipe provided an excuse to dress it up a little bit.
The kernels are cut off the cob and sautéed in oil to char a bit. Then, you add butter and miso, adding a depth of flavor plus some umami. Some spices (za’atar, cayenne, and some fresh scallion) finish things off. We truly enjoyed this twist on corn with dinner. It wasn’t even that much more effort than plain microwaved corn, and so delicious! I served the corn alongside that other star of late summer dining, a tomato tart for a perfect meal.
This week, I embraced Salted-Chocolate Hot Fudge Sundaes. There’s almost a full pound of chocolate involved with this recipe. I’ll be honest, though I hope we can still be friends… I am not a chocoholic, and I don’t love ice cream. On the ice cream front, I do love ice cream outing especially if a top-down convertible ride is involved in reaching the destination. That’s leftover from childhood, but fortunately, Howard shares enthusiasm. Of course, the pandemic summer of 2020 has limited those options. Further insight on my ice cream philosophy: my preferred flavors reflect my view of ice cream as a vehicle for pieces (such as chocolate chips, heath bars, chopped up brownies or other such add-ins). Plain ice cream flavors are better served as the foundation for hot fudge. This is a long-winded way to say that I was probably going to like these sundaes.
The first step is making the salted-chocolate bits. You melt bittersweet chocolate, stir in some fleur de sel, then spread it into a thin layer to harden back up in the freezer. You might think “why not just chop of the chocolate and use that?” Non-chocoholic that I am, I will tell you that it’s worth the extra step. Just as salted caramel is a worthwhile enhancement to dulce de leche, the salt in the chocolate bits makes a difference.
Next you chop more chocolate and add cream, sugar, and corn syrup to make the simplest hot fudge I’ve ever made. Simple and so delicious. Before you’re ready to compose your sundaes, you also need to toast some slivered almonds. And, of course, you need to select your ice cream flavors. This recipe suggests vanilla and coffee ice creams. We have at least a dozen pints in the freezer (yes, really), none of them plain, so I picked the Ben & Jerry’s Coffee Toffee Crunch as the closest to coffee or vanilla and one that wouldn’t clash with the other sundae ingredients. (Note that most of the ice cream in the freezer is for Howard, not me…)
No one really needs instructions to make a sundae, but I really like how Dorie’s recipe sprinkles chocolate bits and almonds underneath the first layer of ice cream. Then it’s standard assembly: ice cream, hot fudge, more chocolate bits and almonds, followed by a second layer of ice cream, hot fudge and bits and nuts. Pretty decadent, but also quite wonderful. The heath bars in the ice cream weren’t shabby either, though I’ll admit that they might have pushed things over the top. We were both quite happy with this dessert!
So, I highly recommend you try both of these recipes. You can find them in Dorie Greenspan’s Everyday Dorie. The corn is on page 216 and the sundaes on page 297. Corn is almost out of season, so be sure to try that one soon. If you’re curious what other people thought of these recipes, you can find reviews from my Cook the Book Friday friends here for the corn and here for the sundaes.
Be safe! XO
I think it was January 2019 when Epicurious launched the Cook90 challenge, challenging home cooks to prepare 3 meals a day at home for an entire month. I’m not one for that type of challenge so I never participated. However, this morning, as I updated my kitchen chalkboard where I keep track of the day of the week, date, number of days/weeks/months “safer at home”, and the recently added election countdown, I realized that as a result of the pandemic, I’ve been doing that challenge unexpectedly. As of yesterday, I’ve successfully completed Cook166 and will continue for the foreseeable future.
That’s almost 500 meals! I’ve ordered takeout 5 times (our favorite BBQ restaurant in Boston, the local Thai and Chinese restaurants, lunch from the local Italian place, and a fancy dinner from a place in Cambridge), but Howard or I have prepared the rest. Fortunately, we both enjoy cooking. We started with a well-stocked pantry and freezer, and we haven’t experienced food shortages in our area. Since June, we’ve been well supplied with fresh produce from our CSA share and our backyard garden. Cooking is a great diversion: conversations about what to eat for the next few meals and creative substitutions to avoid shopping, togetherness as we prepare and eat the food, and the satisfaction of being able to take care of ourselves.
Anyone who has followed my blog for a while knows, Howard and I don’t always agree on what to eat. He has lots of rules about what he does and does not consider edible combinations. The zucchini and eggplant in our CSA share present a challenge because I enjoy them and he absolutely will not eat. I’m running out of easy ways to prepare these vegetables that will last a while. Suggestions anyone?
Fruit has its own set of rules that seem to change constantly. Blueberries used to be on the “do not fly” list. That started to relax when we had wild blueberries on our property in Maine. And now that the bushes we planted in the backyard have started to produce, fresh blueberries have become acceptable for breakfast. They also moved up a rung as an acceptable addition to a baked fruit tart, though not when featured as the main event. However, I don’t see cake, such as this week’s Cook the Book Fridays recipe for Blueberry-Buttermilk Bundt Cake, as ever passing muster.
I, on the other hand, enjoy cake with fruit. I don’t make it often because, without an off-site occasion to share, I’d be eating the cake singlehandedly. Some would find it hard to believe, but I like a cake with fruit much more than a chocolate cake.
I considered making a half-batch as mini-Bundts. However, this recipe had an odd number of eggs, which is not an insurmountable problem, but a deterrent. Also, Dorie mentioned that the cake is prone to sticking to the pan. I didn’t really want to multiple that issue by six (for each mini cake). So I made the whole thing.
I’m so glad I did. Blueberry season is over in my yard, so I had to buy the berries, but everything else is always on hand. This cake came together so easily. I greased the pan VERY GENEROUSLY and had no issue with it sliding right out. The crumb is tender and moist, and the underlying flavors (butter, vanilla, and lemon) along with the berries scream of summer. I think this cake would be delicious made with other berries as well: raspberries, blackberries or a combination. I still can’t eat the whole thing myself, but I’ll freeze some in chunks for later.
I also made the Ricotta Spoonable, the selected recipe for Cook the Book Fridays from earlier in the month. I made it on time but didn’t get around to writing about it. I need to remember to use Instagram for weeks like those. This creamy spread reminded me of recipes I’ve made before, maybe even as part of this cooking group. Ricotta is enhanced with lemon juice and zest, shallots, scallions, and fresh herbs. It can be used as a spread for crostini. I intended to dollop most of it on pasta I made with cherry tomatoes and corn and serve the rest as crostini the next day. Unfortunately, the container dropped and cracked (OK, I admit that I dropped it), and I was only able to rescue enough for the pasta. It was nice, but not a definite repeater (though maybe).
If you’d like to try either of these recipes, they can be found in Dorie Greenspan’s book Everyday Dorie. The ricotta is on page 22 and the cake on page 254. You can’t go wrong with either. Impressions on the recipes from my Cook the Book Fridays friends can be found here for the ricotta and here for the cake.