Frozen Treats for Hot Summer Days

Image

Ingrid loves her summer popsicles, so I have equipped myself with some good recipes.   I like to experiment with various juice, fruit, vegetable and other flavor combos, such as chocolate or vanilla…or lavender….although we don’t let Ingrid have chocolate.  Sometimes the pops turn out well and sometimes they don’t.  Here are a few of the ones that we have enjoyed over the last few summers.  I’ve even thrown in a couple of adult-only pop recipes!

For this first one, you can use any type of fruit that you like.  Ingrid really enjoys orange ones, but you can use whatever you have around.

Image

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup diced kiwi
  • 1/3 cup diced watermelon
  • 1/3 cup diced strawberries
  • 1/3 cup fresh pineapple, diced
  • 1/4 cup fresh orange juice or sweetened lime or lemon juice

Directions:

Combine diced fruit in a bowl and fill each 5 oz cup with fruit. Add 1 tbsp of juice and insert craft sticks into each cup. They easily stay in place because of all the fruit. Place in the freezer a few hours until firm. To remove the pops from the cups, run under warm water a few seconds. Enjoy!

Image

Frozen Nutella Coconut Banana Pops

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium ripe banana
  • 8 oz Nutella spread
  • 1 tsp canola oil
  • toasted sweetened or unsweetened coconut flakes

Directions:

Cut the banana in half lengthwise, then in half to make four quarters. Insert popsicle sticks into bananas and freeze on a wax paper lined cookie sheet. When the bananas are frozen, fill a coffee mug with Nutella and melt in the microwave.  (Watch it carefully, because it only takes about 20-30 seconds, if that long.)  Dip the bananas one at a time into the Nutella, scraping off the excess chocolate from the back of the banana, and place it on a cookie sheet lined with wax paper. Quickly add the coconut shreds on the rounded side before the chocolate hardens (you have to work quickly here). Place on wax paper and return to the freezer until frozen and ready to eat. Eat frozen and enjoy!!

Image

* You can also use semisweet chocolate instead of the Nutella in this recipe.  Based on 0.5 oz of chocolate per banana. If you use a large banana, you will use more chocolate and will need to adjust.

The next two recipes are for the adults in the scenario:

Image

French Popsicles

yield: 10 popsicles (plus a little bit left over to drink!)

  • 12 oz. of champagne
  • 4 oz. of cognac or gin Either  are a good choice.
  • 4 oz. of simple syrup
  • 3 oz. of fresh lemon juice

Combine all ingredients together into a large measuring cup, then evenly distribute in your popsicle molds, leaving about 1/4 inch of room at the top. (You’ll have around 3 oz. left over after filling the molds.)

Honeydew Cucumber Margarita Popsicles

Image

 

Makes five 2-and-1/4-oz. popsicles

1 cup approximately a whole melon weighing 1lb – juiced…or 1 C honeydew juice
1/3 cup cucumber juice (about half a 5 oz. cucumber).
½ cup gold tequila
1 tablespoon Gran Marnier
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon mint simple syrup (recipe follows)
3 large mint sprigs

Instructions:

1. Place the honeydew and cucumber in a food processor or a blender and process until everything is pureed. Add tequila, triple sec, lime juice and mint syrup and process for another 20-30 seconds to blend well. Pour mixture into popsicles mold.

2. Freeze for about 2 hours or until mixture starts to solidify enough to hold a popsicle stick upright. Insert popsicle sticks and finish freezing popsicles overnight. To release popsicles run hot water on the outside of popsicle molds for a 2-3 seconds.

Mint Syrup
(You will have more syrup than you need. Save for other cocktail uses.
· 1/2 cup water
· 1/2 cups sugar
· 1 cup mint leaves, loosely packed

Instructions:

1. Place sugar and water in a pot over heat until sugar dissolves. Allow mixture to cool to room temperature and place mint leaves in mixture and muddle. Allow mint leaves to steep for 20 minutes. Strain and discard leaves. (Depending on the fineness of the sieve tiny pieces may remain)

Pannekoeken and Mountain Exercise

Imagearist

When we lived in Western Massachusetts, twice a month we would go to a little German pancake place in a nearby town for their outrageous Apple Pannekoeken.   For those of you unfamiliar with Pannekoeken, it is a gigantic Dutch/Belgian-style puff-pillow of a pancake that comes filled with fruit or custard or plain, to be eaten with (usually) butter and maple syrup.  They are rather light in texture; although a good Pannekoeken will have a bit of density per nibble as well.  I could never finish one on my own.  In fact, to say that I could even eat half of one is stretching the truth, but I enjoyed every bite that I did take, regardless.  They taste good!

The place, whose name escapes me, made Pannekoeken using the traditional addition of 50% buckwheat flour, which is a good thing, since buckwheat is so nutritious.  This method is less common nowadays, but makes a denser, more substantial and healthful pancake.   The basic ingredients for this concoction without the buckwheat include either plain, self-rising or both types of flour, eggs, salt and milk.  If you are not into dairy milk, soymilk can be substituted with almost the exact end results.

Image

Old timers still use “Beestings” in their Pannekoeken instead of milk or soy, otherwise known as Colostrum, or the first form of milk that is produced by the mammary glands of mammals (including humans) during the last months of pregnancy.  This is the stuff that has antibodies that protect newborns against diseases.  It is a lower fat milk that is higher in protein than regular dairy milk.  You’re probably not ever going to find Pannekoeken in a restaurant that is made with beestings, however, and I’m sure you’re not going to get human milk Beestings, no matter what…unless you make it at home, I suppose…but why?!  

To make Pannekoeken, the ingredients are whipped into a runny batter and then ladled onto a hot griddle that has butter or oil on its surface.  The pancake is cooked until it is dry and the edges begin to brown before it is flipped and cooked on the other side.  It takes a great deal of skill and practice to master this technique, and I’ve not obtained this level of expertise, myself.  I have turned out a few good Pannekoeken, but thus far, my efforts have been hit or miss…. with the miss part being the majority of my tries.  Mine have always tasted good.  I just haven’t been able to achieve that big, fluffy, beautiful finished product that is so impressive, more than a half dozen times.

Image

In some cultures Pannekoeken is commonly eaten as a main course.  In winter, it is sometimes consumed after snert (a type of pea soup….and a word that I love…) in a double-coursed meal.  It is also a popular choice for a child’s birthday meal in Belgium and in the Netherlands where my former husband and good friend, Steve, lives.

So this next part is a bit of a departure…

After John and I would eat it in this little café, it became our tradition to drive over to Mt. Skinner and climb …ok…walk….to the top to get some extra exercise.  Pannekoeken can sit at the bottom of the stomach for a LONG time, and exercise is necessary to dislodge it! J  Mount Skinner is a small “mountain” near where we lived in South Hadley (near Amherst and across the Connecticut River from Northampton) where I would go frequently either with John, my daughter, friends or alone.  At the top was a building called The Summit House, that overlooked the beautiful Connecticut River Valley.

Image

Once, when I was walking up to the peak by myself, I saw an ever-so-slight movement out of the corner of my eye.  I turned to look and there were two tiny fawns curled up into little balls underneath a tree.  They couldn’t have been any older than one or two days.  I stopped briefly and just stared at them in wonder, my eyes tearing up with awe of the miraculous discovery that I had made.  Of course, deer can be dangerous so I was very cautious, but I didn’t want to disturb them anyway.  It was such a special moment in time, and one I will never forget.

The Summit house was, in effect, an old museum that was once a resort area for wealthy New Englanders who would take a cable car, sort of like a ski lift, to the top.  It is a very pleasant place to go and hang out for a day.  We used to take all of our visitors there.

Image

My daughter, Sarah, who was a rock climbing enthusiast at the time, would sometimes accompany me up Mt. Skinner and scale the boulders that were available along the way.  I always got so much joy out of seeing her do that.  I tried a few times myself, but never did keep it up.

Image

Anyway….long story sort.  Here is a Pannekoeken recipe courtesy of the Food Network…. but I highly recommend you climb a small mountain after you eat it….especially if you eat a whole one!  Total Time:

35 min
Prep
15 min
Cook
20 min
Yield:
2 to 4 servings

This makes a tasty dessert for a dinner party. You can use a pizza cutter to slice it into wedges and serve it with some vanilla ice cream.

Ingredients
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 Granny smith apple, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
1/2 cup whole milk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3 eggs
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup brown sugar
4 tablespoons cold butter
Powdered sugar, for serving
Whipped cream, for serving
Directions
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Add the cinnamon, nutmeg and apples to a pan. Saute the apples over medium-low heat until slightly soft, 3 to 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare the batter. Mix the milk, vanilla and eggs in a bowl. Add the flour, granulated sugar and salt and whisk lightly (some lumps are ok but not too many).

Increase the heat under the apples to medium and add the brown sugar and butter. Cook until a syrup forms, about 3 minutes, then add the batter all at once to the center of the pan. Swirl the apple syrup mix through the batter, using a heatproof spatula, to form ribbons (you do not want to fully combine the apple-sugar syrup into the batter). Cook until small bubbles form around the edge.

Finish cooking the pannekoeken in the oven, 12 minutes. To serve, invert a 12-inch plate over the pan and flip the pan to turn out the pannekoeken. Sprinkle with powdered sugar, top with whipped cream and enjoy!

Hey Diddle Diddle……

Image

I have just consumed fiddlehead ferns for my dinner.  I lightly steamed them for just under 5 minutes, then flashed them in a pan with a wee tiny bit of butter and garlic, gave ’em a squeeze of Meyer lemon and sprinkled them lightly with pink Himalayan sea salt.  They were incredible!

Fiddleheads have antioxidant activity, are a source of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, and are high in iron and fiber.  They are harvested wild by locals here, and in France (probably other countries as well, but these are the only two that I know of…) They are expensive, delicate and don’t last long, so I anticipate them all year long and revel in their delight for about a week….maybe two…every spring.  They are delicious….sort of taste like asparagus, only better.

Simple pleasures are the best.

Don’t Forget Your Black Eyed Peas!

Image

yield: Makes about 36 fritters

These black eyed pea fritters make great hors d’oeuvre!  Got up early this morning to prepare them for our party tonight.  Fattening? You betcha!  …..so eat ’em up BEFORE you go on your New Year’s diet tomorrow.  These are a New Years tradition at our house.  I use the recipe from Epicurian and have not found a better one.

ingredients

For fritters

  • 1 cup dried black-eyed peas
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced fresh habanero chile, including seeds
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons water
  • 6 cups vegetable oil

For relish

  • 4 red bell peppers (1 1/2 lb), chopped
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 plum tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh habanero chile, including seeds
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 cup peanut or vegetable oil
  • Special equipment: a deep-fat thermometer

Soak peas for fritters:
Put peas in water to cover by 2 inches and soak 8 hours. Drain in a colander.

Make relish:
Purée bell peppers, onion, tomatoes, chile, and salt in 2 batches in a food processor.

Heat oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then stir in purée (use caution as it will splatter). Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until most of liquid is evaporated, 8 to 10 minutes. Cool to room temperature.

Make fritters:
Purée peas, onion, and chile in food processor until as smooth as possible, then blend in egg and salt. With motor running, add 3 tablespoons water and blend until smooth and fluffy (add remaining tablespoon water if necessary to form a batter just thin enough to drop from a spoon).

Fry fritters:
Heat oil in a 4-quart heavy pot (preferably cast-iron) until thermometer registers 360°F. Working in batches of 8, gently drop tablespoons of batter into hot oil, using a small spoon to scrape batter from tablespoon. Fry, stirring constantly (to prevent fritters from browning too quickly), until golden, about 2 minutes, then transfer to paper towels to drain. Return oil to 360°F between batches.

HAPPY NEW YEAR, EVERYONE!!!

(No more fried food after today!)

Fondu for Dr. Freed

My husband was in the mood for fondu tonight, so I decided to whip some up for a nice dinner outside, under the stars.   Fondu is the easiest thing in the world to make, and quick, too.

I began by whipping up a simple baguette. I prefer the heartier flavor of a whole grain bread with my fondu, but some people prefer a more delicate bread.  John would probably eat light bread, if I would let him, but I won’t. 😉

While it baked, I began the fondu.

Image

I use a very simple recipe that begins with a cup of white wine.  I always use an inexpensive, yet tasty, Italian pinot grigio, because the flavors are less delicate than the pinot from the Napa or Willamette Valleys or those from France.  (We reserve those wines for drinking.)  The Italian pinot grapes are much more pronounced, crisper and better (in my opinion) for cooking with cheese.  This varietal is a nice, pale, straw color and has a crisp flavor with hints of melons, peaches, limes and lemons.  It is light and dry….so you could also drink it with this fondu and it would be nice…but I prefer to use it for cooking.

Image

So….to make this cheezy concoction, simply pour one cup of the white wine of your choice into a pan and bring it to a boil.

Image

While the wine is heating, make a roux from butter and flour in another pan.  When it is done, set it aside.

Image

This recipe uses both swiss and gruyere cheeses, 7 ounces each.   Do not skimp on the cheese, because this is the key ingredient….so buy the finest cheese that you can afford.  Shops that specialize in cheese are highly recommended for the best selections.

Image

Cube the cheese and add it to the hot wine .

Image

Stir continually over medium/low heat until it melts, but take care not to overcook.

Image

Just before  the cheese has finished melting, add a little nutmeg.  Do not use nutmeg from a can.  Grate a nutmeg seed with a grater.  The flavor difference is wonderful, and it goes all through the cheese.  Fresh is always best!

Image

Next,  while keeping the mixture on low heat, slowly integrate the roux into the melted cheese mixture.  Continue to stir until it gets nice and thick.  The texture should be smooth.

Image

Once the fondu has thickened, transfer it to the fondu pan and serve with a variety of breads, fruits and veggies.

Image

For this meal, I tossed together a spinach salad with micro greens, candid pecans, walnuts, gorgonzola cheese, dried cranberries and blueberries, and a fresh, homemade raspberry vinegarette dressing.   It’s funny, because  I went to four different stores to get these ingredients when, in fact, Trader Joes sells a similar salad all in one bag.  Thing is, the one from Trader Joe’s is not organic, so I passed on it.

Image

We sat out on our little deck, under the stars, and listened to Winton Marsalis, talked softly, had a few laughs, a few soft kisses, sipped some very nice wine,…..and felt lucky to be alive.  And thankful.

This whole fondu thing is VERY fattening, so we don’t want to do it very often, but for tonight, it was the right thing.

Image

Ahhhhhhhhh!

A simple thing like a meal can mean so much.  Life is sweet.