Sunday, July 31, 2016

Roasted cherry bourbon ice cream

Chicago is HOT this year, and I'm loving it. Which means my favorite food has been on regular rotation here!

Ice cream is considered part of a complete and healthy diet, right?
So far this year I've made peach ice cream (recipe was meh) and this roasted cherry bourbon ice cream. Yummmmmmmmmmmmm.

The cherry bourbon part of the ice cream was delicious, though I wished the flavor was even more intense. But what makes this recipe killer is the vanilla ice cream baseit's creamy, dreamy, and loaded with tons of vanilla flavor. Definitely some of the best vanilla ice cream I've ever had. If only I had a restaurant-grade ice cream maker, I'm sure this would be the smoothest ice cream ever.

So even if you don't like cherries or if they're out of season, make the vanilla portion plain, or swirl in anything else you like (another fruit puree, chocolate, caramel, etc).

Buen Provecho,

Roasted Cherry Bourbon Ice Cream, adapted from Use Real Butter (with inspiration from A Perfect Scoop)

Note: If you'd prefer cherry ice cream instead of cherry swirl, just add in the cherry/bourbon mixture before churning the vanilla ice cream base. 

I'd recommend making this recipe over 2 days and eating on the 3rd day. Day 1: make cherry swirl and vanilla ice cream base. Day 2: churn ice cream and freeze to set. Day 3: enjoy! And don't forget to freeze your ice cream inset for at least 24 hours!


For the cherry swirl
12 oz. sweet cherries, rinsed, stems removed
1 TBSP sugar
3 TBSP bourbon, divided (1 TBSP + 2 TBSP)
For the vanilla ice cream base
1 cup milk
2 cups heavy cream, divided (1 cup + 1 cup)
3/4 cup sugar
pinch salt
5 egg yolks
1 whole vanilla bean, split lengthwise
1 TBSP bourbon
1 tsp lemon juice

  1. Cherry swirl: Preheat oven to 450°F. Place cherries in a single layer in a baking sheet lined with parchment paper (or silpat). Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of sugar and 1 tablespoon of bourbon over the cherries. Roast for 15 minutes until the juice from the cherries is oozing, but not burning. When the cherries have cooled, remove the pits by hand, making sure to reserve all the juice coming off the cherries. Puree the pitted cherries, juices, and remaining 2 tablespoons of bourbon to your desired consistency (I used an immersion blender and kept it a bit chunky, but a food processor or blender can be used). Chill in a refrigerator.
  2. Vanilla ice cream: Combine the milk, 1 cup of heavy cream, sugar, and salt in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir to dissolve the sugar. When the liquid is steaming, but not boiling, turn off the heat. Scrape the vanilla seeds from the vanilla bean pod and add the vanilla seeds and pod to the hot milk mixture. Cover and let steep for 30 minutes.
  3. Remove the lid and reheat the liquid until it is steaming, but not boiling. To temper your eggs, place the yolks in a medium bowl and whisk to combine. While continuously whisking the egg yolks, slowly pour a half cup of the hot milk mixture into the yolks. When the liquid is incorporated, whisk in another half cup of the hot milk mixture. Pour the egg yolk mixture into the saucepan containing the rest of the milk mixture. Set the pan over medium heat and stir constantly until the custard slightly thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon. (Note: the mixture won't be thick like a typical custard, but it will have slightly thickened. If you have a thermometer, you're looking to cook it to no more than 170 degrees F.) 
  4. Remove the custard from the heat and pour custard through a fine-mesh sieve to strain out any eggy bits. Stir in the remaining cup of heavy cream. Place the vanilla bean pod in the custard. Chill the custard over an ice bath then refrigerate the custard covered until completely chilled, preferably overnight.
  5. Churning the ice cream: Stir bourbon and lemon juice into the custard. Remove the vanilla bean pod. At this point, you can stir the chilled roasted cherry bourbon mixture into the custard for a uniform ice cream, or keep them separate for a swirl effect. Pour the custard into the bowl of your ice cream machine and churn according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Scoop the churned ice cream into a container. If making a swirl, spoon the cherry mixture over the ice cream and gently fold it into the ice cream a couple of times. Cover and freeze the ice cream. Makes a little more than a quart.


Saturday, July 16, 2016

Shaved asparagus pizza with bacon and buffalo chicken pizza

I think I have more pizza recipes on this blog than any other--each with a different dough and different toppings:

So let's just go ahead and add 2 more topping ideas and another dough recipe to the mix today, mmmmkkkaayy?

I made this so long ago, so I don't have the exact recipes for the toppings, but for both pizzas I brushed the dough with olive oil, spread it with a thin layer of ricotta, and topped it with shredded mozzarella cheese. That's when things got very, very different.

For the asparagus pizza all you have to do is use your vegetable peeler to create long shaves of asparagus (raw). Pile them up high on the pizza and bake until done. The last minute throw on some cooked/chopped bacon, and enjoy!

I don't think I'd had asparagus on my pizza before, and it was extraordinary. The combination of the early asparagus with the smokey bacon was divine! Definitely my favorite pizza of the night.

The boy's favorite pizza of the night had a lot more meat on it (of course): buffalo chicken pizza! For this we took shredded rotisserie chicken and tossed it with Frank's buffalo sauce, topped the pizza with some sliced onions, and baked until done. Again, top with cooked bacon the last minute or so, and give it a light drizzle of your best ranch dressing (Briana's is my hands-down favorite) and a bit more of Frank's buffalo sauce for an extra kick.

The dough was really great to work with too. Easy to throw together, with a nice crusty exterior and chewy, flavorful interior.

Now I can't make the same claims as the original food blogger and say this dough is the best ever, because (a) I love all different kinds of pizza dough and (b) I haven't done a blind taste test to compare all the different dough recipes I made. So just find a recipe that works with your schedule and what you have in your pantry, and make yourself some pizza! :)

Buen provecho,

Homemade pizza dough, adapted from A Beautiful Plate
Note for dough rising: If your kitchen is very cold you can microwave a large heatproof measuring cup of water for 2-3 minutes. Immediately remove the cup and place the bowl of dough in the microwave until it has risen. 

See this post for my pizza-baking tips.

2.5 cups (300 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon active dry yeast
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
7 ounces warm water (105 degrees F - 115 degrees F)
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons cornmeal, for the pizza peel (divided)

To bake the pizza
parchment paper
baking stone

  1. Prepare the pizza dough: In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, yeast, and salt. Add the warm water and olive oil, and stir the mixture with a wooden spoon until the dough just begins to come together. It will seem shaggy and dry, but don't worry.
  2. Scrape dough onto a well-floured counter top and knead for ~3 minutes. It should quickly come together and begin to get sticky. Dust the dough with flour as needed - it should be slightly tacky, but should not be sticking to your counter top. After three minutes, the dough should be smooth, slightly elastic, and tacky. Lightly grease a large mixing bowl with olive oil, and place the dough into the bowl.
  3. Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel (or plastic wrap) and allow the dough to rise in a warm, dry area of your kitchen for 2 hours or until the dough has doubled in size. (see note above for cold kitchen)
  4. Preheat oven and pizza stone: Place the pizza stone on the center (or top third) rack of your oven, and preheat the oven and pizza stone to 550 degrees Fahrenheit (or as high as your oven will go) for at least 30-45 minutes. If your oven does not go up to 550 degrees, heat it to the absolute maximum temperature that it can go.
  5. As the oven is preheating, assemble your ingredients. See my post above or previous pizza recipe links for some ideas!
  6. Once the dough is done, separate into two equal-sized portions. It will deflate slightly, but that is OK. Place the dough on a large plate or floured counter top, cover gently with plastic wrap, and allow the dough to rest for 5 to 10 minutes. 
  7. Assemble the Pizza: Put a piece of large parchment paper on your pizza peel (or the back of a baking sheet) and sprinkle with 1 TBSP cornmeal. Set aside.
  8. Take one ball of pizza dough and gently stretch into a ~10-inch circle. If the dough springs back or is too elastic, allow it to rest for an additional five minutes. The edges of the dough can be slightly thicker, but make sure the center of the dough is thin (you should be able to see some light through it if you held it up). Gently transfer the dough onto the cornmeal-dusted parchment paper.
  9. Drizzle or brush the dough lightly with olive oil (teaspoon or so). Then top with your sauce (red sauce, white sauce, or ricotta), and add your toppings of choice. If using bacon, precook the bacon and add chopped pieces the last minute or 2 of baking.
  10. Gently slide the pizza from the peel onto the heated baking stone. Bake for at least 7 to 8 minutes, or until the crust is golden and the cheese is bubbling and caramelized and the edges of the pizza are golden brown. 
  11. Remove the pizza carefully from the oven with the pizza peel, transfer to a wooden cutting board or foil, and slice and serve immediately.

Berry rhubarb oat bars

What to do when your parents give you a bunch of rhubarb from their garden, and you have some cherries just hanging out in your refrigerator?

You spent way too much time going through all your cookbooks and Pinterest to figure out the perfect dish to make, you find a recipe for cherry rhubarb pie, you decide it's going to be too much work to make with your schedule, you go back to the drawing board (this time adding Google to the mix), and you finally come across this cherry rhubarb recipe that looked really good.

So you make the recipe, and at the last minute decide to throw in some blueberries, because why not? Then you pat yourself on the back, because it was delicious!

I couldn't really taste much of the rhubarb, but I'm sure it helped pull back on the sweetness a bit. I made cherry bars last year that I didn't eat because they were soooooo sweet (yuck). But these were perfect!

I also liked that these were not just cake bars. The bottom is a cake-like base, the middle is a fresh-fruit filling, and it's topped with a buttery oat crumble. That crumble with the fruit was probably my favorite part of the dessert!

Buen provecho,

Berry rhubarb oat bars, adapted from Merry About Town
Note: The original recipe called for whole wheat flour, so use any time of flour for the base. I also think you could probably add a bit more fruit if you wanted to pump up the summertime flavors. 

Make sure the bars are completely cool before storing. I put mine in a container while they were still a touch warm, and I think it softened the oat topping a bit. 


Oat Crumb Topping
1 cup flour
½ cup oats (I used regular oats for the texture; quick oats work too)
¾ cup light brown sugar (or granulated sugar)
⅓ cup butter, melted

Cake Base
1 cup flour
¾ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
½ cup butter, softened
¼ cup Greek yogurt (I didn't have any so used an extra 1/4 cup butter)
1 to 1½ cups confectioners (icing) sugar (I used ~1 1/4 cups because I was worried the recipe would be too sweet, but I think 1½ cups would be good too, even for me)
3 eggs
½ tsp almond extract

½ pound rhubarb, chopped in to ½ inch pieces
½ pound dark sweet cherries, cut in half
½ cup blueberries
4 TBSP granulated sugar
1 TBSP whole wheat flour

  1. Prep materials. Preheat Oven to 350 degrees. Line 13x9 pan with parchment paper leaving an inch of parchment paper overhang. Grease and flour the pan/parchment paper.
  2. Oat Crumb Topping. Combine the dry ingredients in a small bowl. Drizzle melted butter in to the mixture and stir well. Break up any clumps to have a consistent crumb mixture.
  3. Cake Base. Mix flour, baking powder and salt in a small bowl. In a mixer bowl, combine softened butter, Greek yogurt and confectioners sugar. Mix until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time while mixer is running on med high speed. Turn mixer to low and add almond extract. Fold in flour with a spatula. Set aside. 
  4. Filling. Rinse cherries, blueberries, and rhubarb pieces with cold water. Place in a large bowl and add sugar and flour. Toss to coat.
  5. Assembly. Spread cake base evenly on the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle with berry mixture. Evenly cover with crumb mixture. Bake for 50 - 65 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool in the pan. Remove bars by lifting them out with the parchment paper. Cut into bars. 
Cooling in the pan
They're particularly good eaten warm with a scoop of ice cream!

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Date or walnut-filled Iraqi cookie (kleicha)

I always say that I need to learn my families Assyrian/Middle Eastern dishes, yet I don't do enough to recreate and capture those recipes.

So for the Assyrian New Year this year (April 1) I wanted to make a traditional Iraqi cookie I've eaten since my childhood: the kleicha (pronounced "kill-EH-cheh" in Assyrian).

The idea of the cookie is generally identical no matter who makes it: kleicha are either a rolled date-filled cookie or a walnut-filled one. But the execution can vary wildly. Some people skimp on the dates (boooo) while others make cookies with a dry, crumbly texture (double boooo). I like my kleicha tender and soft, with just enough dates to make it sweet.

Although this was my first time making kleicha, I can honestly say it was better than most I've had. It may not be the absolute bestI've been lucky to experience kleicha nirvana a few times in my life but unfortunately don't have those recipesbut mine were pretty damn awesome (tootin' horn).

The recipe itself is very easy, but the individually-wrapped walnut ones can take time to form.

The date ones are much faster to make, since you prepare them much like cinnamon rolls (spread out the dough, top with the filling, roll it up, and slice them).

There is usually more of a swirl with these cookies; see my notes in the recipe section below on this.
And while a wooden mold is definitely not required, it helps create more uniform cookies (for the walnut-filled ones). This mold here was my grandmothers, and one of my most cherished possessions. So glad to finally be able to actually use it instead of just stare at it. :) If you want one of your own just google "maamoul mold" (maamoul is another Middle-Eastern sugar cookie filled with dates).

Below I'll post the recipe I used and a lot more detailed photos to guide you through the process. I hope you enjoy these cookies as much as I do!

Buen Provecho,

Kleicha (Iraqi cookie) adapted from International Cuisine and Make Cupcakes Not War  (who also has great step-by-step photos)

Note: I love me some date-filled kleicha, but it may have been even too much dates for me (honestly didn't realize that was even possible)! I think I'm just not used to these cookies being that sweet, but other people really loved them. It could also get a bit pricey to use that many dates if you're making a giant batch of these cookies (as most Assyrians do). So feel free to cut down the dates by 1/4; but don't cut down too much, I think cutting it in half would be a bit skimpy. 

One batch of dough (below) will be enough for the date and walnut filling recipes below (half for each type of cookie). 


3 cups flour (380 g)
2 tsp ground cardamom (freshly ground, if you can; or 1 tsp mahlab and 1 tsp cardamom)
1 tsp sugar
scant 1/2 tsp salt
1/3 to 1/2 cup milk (you can use half coconut milk:half water if you want to veganize these cookies)
2 tsp yeast
1 cup butter (2 sticks), melted

1 egg, beaten (for egg wash)

Date filling
8 oz chopped dates (~1 cup; medjool dates if you can)
2 tsp butter/oil
1/2 ts ground cardamom

Walnut filling*
1 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 to 1/3 cup sugar (to taste)
1 tsp ground cardamom (or rose water, which I don't use)

*I remember having some filling left over, but I used it on top of my oatmeal and it was perfect! 


To make the dough
  1. Combine the flour, cardamom, sugar, and salt in a large bowl. In a measuring cup microwave 1/3 cup milk until warm. Add yeast to the warmed milk. Let sit for a few minutes.
  2. Pour the milk on top of the flour mixture and mix with your hands--it will be crumbly.
  3. Add butter to the flour mixture and knead with your hands until it is dough like (~5 minutes). If you need more liquid add a bit of milk. The dough will be very greasy and shaggy. 
  4. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and allow to sit and rise for 1-2 hours (Note: it won't rise a lot like a typical bread dough. It'll just look nice and puffy).

 To make the fillings
  1. While the dough is rising make your fillings.
  2. Date filling: place the dates in a small saucepan over medium/medium low heat. Add butter and mix until soft and paste-like. Turn off the heat and add cardamom. Mix to combine and set aside to cool.
  3. Walnut filling: In a bowl mix the walnuts, sugar, and cardamom. Set aside until ready to use.
To make the date-filled cookies
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. After the dough has rested, divide the dough into half (1/2 will be for the date cookies and 1/2 for the walnut cookies) 
  3. Roll dough to 1/4" thickness; mine was about 6" x 14". Set aside. Note for next time: I'll probably add at least another 1" to the width next time (~7+") and roll the dough a touch thinner so that there is more of a swirl in my cookie. I like the layers of my dough and my dates to both be pretty thin, and in the cookies I made they were a bit on the thicker side.
  4. Place the date paste between 2 large parchment sheets or clean plastic sheets and roll out to approximately the same dimensions as your dough. Remove the top sheet from the rolled date paste, then invert over the dough. Peel off the other sheet (see picture below, though I'd recommend having less of a dough edge than I did).
  5. Grab the edge of the longer side, and start rolling the dough into a long tube. If the dough is getting too soft at this point you can refrigerate the log for at least 15 minutes to firm it up a bit (see picture below).
  6. Cut the dough into 3/4" pieces, and place each cookie on your baking sheet seam side down. Brush with egg wash and bake for ~20 minutes, or until golden brown on top (see picture below).
Creating the date paste layer
Rolling your date separately makes it really easy to spread it across your very soft dough.
Next time I'd leave even less of an edge so the date paste was almost the exact same dimensions as my dough.
Cutting the cookies
I cut the cookies 3/4" thick--if your dough is holding up you could cut them thinner if you'd prefer.
Pretty swirl!
Next time I'd roll my dough and date paste a bit thinner so that I'll have even more swirls!
Baked cookies
I found my dough was a bit soft, so some of them "leaned over" a bit. Might help to refrigerate your dough and flatten out the log a bit if its getting too soft and rounded.

To make the walnut-filled cookies
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. 
  2. After the dough has rested, divide the dough into half (1/2 will be for the date cookies and 1/2 for the walnut cookies)  
  3. See picture below for how to form the cookies:
    1. Take pieces of dough and roll/flatten into a circle the size of your palm (I used 20-23 grams of dough per cookie, and spread it ~2.5" in diameter)
    2. Fill with 2 tsp of walnut filling
    3. Pinch the dough in...
    4. ...and seal the edges
  4. At this point if you're not using a wooden mold, use your hand to form them into circles or oblong shaped, and continue with step #6. If you're using the mold, put them in the mold seam side up (see picture below). 
  5. Lightly press onto the dough to fill the mold, then whack the cookie out (see picture below, and my Instagram for a short video)
  6. Place cookies seam side down onto baking sheet, brush with egg wash, and bake for ~20 minutes until golden brown (see picture below).
First you gotta stuff the cookie with walnuts...

...then you stuff it into the cookie mold...
...then you whack it out of the mold (against the table is best).
The ridges on the cookie won't be as defined as your wooden mold, but egg wash
makes them GOLDEN and crinkly when they cook.

Of course as I was literally in the middle of making the cookies my aunt Shamiran (Shamo) shared with me her dough recipe. I haven't tried it yet, but I definitely will next time. Her full recipe is below, which is enough to feed an army (aka: an Assyrian party), so I've also divided the recipe by 4 for more of a normal amount of cookies.

Shamo's kleicha recipe (1/4 the recipe in parenthesis)

Shamo's recipe is generally similar to the one I used with a few differences: she has egg and yogurt in hers in place of some of the butter and milk. Just use the directions provided above (adding in the egg, yogurt, and milk to the flour at the same time), and add in some extra cardamom! (Using my flour amount above as guidance, perhaps 12 tsp for the full recipe and 3 tsp for the quarter)

Full ingredients (1/4 size)
1 cup milk (1/4 cup)
6 eggs (1.5 eggs)
1/2 cup sugar (1/8 cup)
1 cup yogurt (1/4 cup yogurt)
5 lb flour (1.25 lb, or ~567 grams)
6 sticks butter (1.5 sticks)
1 tsp baking soda (1/4 tsp)
1 tsp salt (1/4 tsp)
2 packets yeast (1/2 packet)


Monday, July 4, 2016

Key lime (no-bake) pie and key lime ice cream

With my love of citrus + creamy desserts, its no surprise that I'm a fan of key lime pie. The best I've ever had was a Cooks Illustrated recipe I blogged about a year ago.

Blast from the past.

But today I'm sharing two summertime twists on this classic dish: a no-bake version and key lime pie ice cream!

First up, a simple no-bake* key lime pie in a Ritz cracker crust (a game changer!).

*Technically the crust is baked for a short while, but the filling itself is no-bake.
The filling is pillowy and rich, without being heavy or too sweet. It's a different take on the classic as the whipped cream is folded into the mixture, so the filling is more mousse-like than custard-like. But don't let the picture fool you--the filling does set up enough so that the pie slices like a dream.

The buttery crust was ridiculously good--I could have broken it apart after baking and eaten it on its own. And yes, I know it sounds weird that its made from crackers. But don't let that scare you! Growing up you probably always had Ritz crackers with cheese or meat, and never with sweets. But crush 'em up with your hands, toss with extra butter and sugar, and it'll be one of the best pie crusts you've ever eaten. Guaranteed. (It's like the pie crust version of crack cookies--nobody will ever guess the secret ingredient is a cracker!)

Bonus points: it was one of the fastest desserts I've ever made, with no special equipment required to whip it up.

Next up, key lime pie ice cream--it's all the flavors and textures of key lime pie, but in ice cream form!

There really isn't much I can say about this ice cream, because the name says it all (a frozen version of your favorite pie)! So I'll let the photos do the talking...

Summertime in a bowl

Dramatic ice cream photo.

For all you lovers of key lime pie I hope I've given you a few out-of-the-box ideas to re-discover your favorite pie in different ways!

Buen Provecho,

No-bake Key Lime Pie, adapted from The Sugar Hit!

Note: the crust was really, really buttery. Super delicious, but borderline greasy. It may have been because I crushed my crackers a tad too much (check out The Sugar Hit blog to see her photos of the crust), so not that much butter was needed. Either way I think the butter could be reduced a bit and not compromise the integrity of the pie crust, but I haven't experimented with that. 


For the crust
1 sleeve of Ritz crackers (100g), plain
⅓ cup (75g) caster sugar
7 TBSP (100g) butter, melted (see note above)

For the filling
14 oz (395g) can condensed milk
½ cup lime juice (I used Nellie & Joes Key West lime juice from the bottle and it was perfect!)
zest of 2 limes, divided (half for filling, half for the garnish)
1 cup (250ml) heavy whipping cream, whipped

  1. For the crust, place the Ritz crackers into a large bowl, and use your hands to crush them down.You want some pieces about ¼ of a Ritz, and lots of rubble. 
  2. Add the sugar and the melted butter to the bowl, and stir to combine. 
  3. Pat the crackers into a 9 inch (23cm) pie pan. Bake the crust in a 300 F/150C oven for 15-20 minutes or until deep golden brown. Set aside to cool completely. 
  4. For the filling, place the condensed milk into a bowl and add the lime juice, and half the zest. Stir until combined, then fold through the whipped cream. 
  5. Pour the filling into the crust, scatter over the remaining zest and then refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or until completely chilled and set. Slice and serve! 
Key lime pie ice cream, from Use Real Butter

Note: From what I remember I had a touch too much filling for my ice cream maker. So don't feel compelled to add all of it to your machine, as the ice cream will expand as it churns. You could just drink the leftover mixture with a straw--no judgement. :) 

I'll keep the recipe as the original, where she has the approximate number of key limes you'll need. But after trying key limes once I didn't feel they were any better than regular limes, so use regular limes for the juice and zest if you're like me!

1 TBSP key lime zest (~4 key limes)
1/2 cup key lime juice (~12 limes)
3/4 cups sugar
pinch of salt
1 cup milk
4 egg yolks
2 cups cream
1/2 cup graham crackers, crushed

  1. Mix the zest, juice, sugar, and salt together in a bowl. Let sit in the refrigerator for a couple of hours. 
  2. In a saucepan heat the milk until it is just boiling, and remove from heat. 
  3. Place 4 egg yolks into a medium sized bowl. Temper the yolks by slowly whisking in 1/4 cup hot milk into the yolks. Whisk in another 1/4 cup of milk. Once the yolks are tempered, pour the yolk-milk mixture back into the rest of the milk and whisk together. 
  4. Place over medium heat and whisk constantly until the custard has thickened (should coat the back of a spoon). 
  5. Place the custard on ice or in the refrigerator until it is chilled completely, preferably overnight. Mix the sugar-lime mixture, the custard, and the cream together in a large bowl.
  6. Churn the ice cream in your ice cream maker according to the ice cream maker instructions. Stir the graham crackers into the soft ice cream. Put in a large container and freeze until firm. Makes about 1.75 quarts.

Classic blueberry muffins

Anyone else wonder exactly what a muffin is, and why it's not considered a cupcake?

I mean some muffins are hearty, full of wheat or oats. So we tell ourselves that we're eating a healthy breakfast, when in fact it's basically a slightly-healthy dessert in a paper cup. But other muffins are super light, with sugar and fruit and leavened for a fluffy texture. So why are we fooling ourselves and calling them muffins??

Semantics aside, this recipe is the fluffy sweet blueberry muffins of your dreams.

It's light and airy, filled with fresh blueberries and topped with a touch of sugar for some extra crunch.

A breakfast cupcake, if you will.

Buen provecho,

Fluffy blueberry muffins, from Yammies Noshery

Makes 10 muffins (you can also go 8 for big muffins or 12 for smaller ones)

1 large egg
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sour cream or greek yogurt
1 cup blueberries
~ 1 TBSP sugar, optional (I used turbinado [sugar in the raw], though regular sugar works)

  1. Preheat oven to 375ºF.  Place 10 muffin liners in a regular-sized muffin pan and set aside. 
  2. Combine the sugar, egg, oil, milk, and vanilla in a large bowl and stir until well combined. In another bowl whisk the flour, baking powder and salt together. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and stir until no longer lumpy. Do not overmix.
  3. Stir in the sour cream just until well distributed. Fold in about half of the blueberries. 
  4. Evenly distribute the batter in the muffin tin. Sprinkle the tops of the muffins with the remaining blueberries and sugar. 
  5. Bake muffins for about 20-25 minutes, or until they spring back to the touch and a toothpick comes out clean.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Watermelon agua fuerte, with hibiscus and tequlia

Summatime calls for boozy cocktails made with fruit!

Namely, watermelon.

And if you want to kick your watermelon up a notch, throw in some tequila and hibiscus tea! Your tastebuds will thank me.

Buen Provecho,

Watermelon agua fuerte, from the Tasting Table


Hibiscus tea
1½ TBSP dried hibiscus flowers
1½ cups water

8 cups diced seedless watermelon
3 cups tequila blanco (for a good, cheap tequila I'm a fan of El Jimador, though the original recipe recommends Gran Centenario Plata Tequila)
1 cup agave simple syrup (1 part agave to 1 part water, boiled until nectar dissolves)
2 cups club soda, optional
Watermelon balls, for garnish

  1. To make the hibiscus tea, bring the flowers and water to a boil and remove from heat. Let steep for 10 to 12 minutes and strain through a fine sieve. Chill in the refrigerator for 2 hours. 
  2. In a blender, purée the watermelon until smooth. If you want, pass the watermelon juice through a fine sieve over a large bowl, discarding any solids. (I don't mind the watermelon pulp, so I left mine as is) You should have about 3 cups of juice. 
  3. When ready to serve, combine the watermelon juice, tequila, hibiscus tea and agave syrup over ice in a large pitcher. Using a wooden spoon, mix until well chilled. 
  4. Top with club soda, if using, and garnish with watermelon balls.