Easiest and tastiest ice cream ever!

November 20, 2009 at 6:36 pm (dessert, ice cream, wedding)

I made caramel apple ice cream a few weeks ago.  And I’ve just made a batch of caramel pear ice cream for Thanksgiving.  It’s David Lebovitz’s recipe from The Perfect Scoop.  It’s ridiculously easy and spectacularly tasty.

It’s so flavorful and rich.  It has the feel of a custard ice cream, but with no eggs.  In fact, it only has 3 ingredients.  4 if you count the little pinch of salt.  5 if you count the squeeze of lemon juice.

The basic idea: caramelize sugar (3/4 cup + 2 Tbsp), throw in a couple pears or apples chopped (3) and cook those in the sugar.  Pour in 2 cups of cream.  Blend.  Recipe calls for straining, but I never do that.  Fiber’s good for you.  The last few things just brighten the flavor, but they’re so easy that I don’t really count them: Pinch of salt, squeeze of lemon juice.  Chill and churn in ice cream maker.

It’s going to be my go-to ice cream now.  And I imagine that in the future, I’ll be tweaking it a bit and trying some variations.

I’m on the bus to Boston now.  For a weekend of cake tasting!  It all starts with the infamous, annual one egg cake… Stay tuned.

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I found the perfect cupcakes

October 14, 2008 at 6:07 pm (dessert, fruit, ice cream, new york city, restaurants, review)

Remember how I said that all the cupcake bakeries that I’ve tried don’t make ’em the way I like ’em?  Well, I’ve found a bakery that makes cupcakes pretty darn close to what I think is ideal… Dessert Club ChikaLicious.  Ignore the too-long and slightly annoying name.  They’ve got the right amount of frosting, right level of tenderness, right level of lightness, right intensity of flavor, and the right frosting texture – fluffy, but still smooth and rich.  They are slightly too sweet, but that’s really my only complaint.  And that’s a tricky one because if you decrease the sugar in cakes or frosting, it can adversely affect other things like the texture.

We tried the banana, mocha, red velvet, and the s’mores cupcakes.  The banana cupcake was outrageously yummy.  My banana-hating sister would really hate this one because the banana flavor is so intense and perfect.  I’m not a huge fan of red velvet cake, but this one was the best that I’ve ever had.  The other two, mocha and s’mores, were pretty tasty, but because they had a chocolate ganache filling, there wasn’t enough cake for me.

I heard about this place from Serious Eats: New York.  Here’s a series of photos that they took of DCC’s cupcakes.  Yummy looking, yes?

This cupcake discovery is not included in the whole NYC vs SF competition because, even though there are plenty of cupcake places in SF, I haven’t really tried very many of those.  But if it’s a NYC vs DC bout, NYC wins this round.  But so far, DC holds the gelato title.  That may change after I try some gelato around here, but the DC gelato was mind-blowingly amazing.  It’s going to be tough to surpass Dolcezza‘s gelato and their use of local/fresh/in-season ingredients.

In other news, I ate the best apple that I’ve had in a long time.  I think it was a Jonagold apple, but I’m not sure.  I grabbed a bunch of different varieties and put them into the same bag.  I wish there were a way for me to reduce the bags that I use and allow me to keep track of what type of apple is what.  I guess I could try harder with my memory…

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DC Gelato Discovery – Dolcezza

October 5, 2008 at 6:00 am (dessert, food, ice cream, restaurants, review, washington dc)

This is the best gelato that I’ve had in my life.  Dolcezza.  We went to the one in Georgetown, but apparently they have some other locations and are available at some of the local farmers’ markets.

The gelato is so smooth – it must be nano-sized particles in it.  It tastes rich, but not because it’s high in fat.  In fact, it doesn’t taste that fatty.  It’s the high intensity flavors and the smoothness, I think.  They appear to try to use local and in-season ingredients.  The fruit flavors were all bright and intense, and just like the fresh fruit, but more intense.  It was glorious gelato.

It’s quite expensive (approx $4.50 for a small cup), but I thought it was really worth it because it’s so much better than other gelato places that I’ve tried.

Mark had pineapple honey lime and mocha.  Odd combination but they were both very good.  I had white peach prosecco and concord grape.  Pow!  So flavored!  And so smooth!

Menu appears to change according to what raw ingredients are available.  They have “This week’s menu” on their website, but not all the flavors listed were available.

Here’s an image from another the Ethicurean:

And the associated article.

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One more ice cream flavor to try

August 25, 2008 at 12:44 pm (dessert, ice cream, recipes)

Pink Lemonade Ice Cream!  Given the low fat-to-other-ingredient ratio in this recipe, it looks like it’s not going to be the smoothest, creamiest ice cream.  And in the photo, the texture does look a little icy.  But it still looks like a ton of fun!  Maybe the fat can be tweaked by using more cream and less milk.  Or making it a custard.

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Ice cream flavors to try

August 9, 2008 at 9:10 am (bread, chocolate, dessert, food, ice cream, recipes)

Cinnamon Toast Ice Cream! It has cinnamon toast bread crumbs in it.  And apparently, the crumbs stay crunchy for a while.  But it sounds like this ice cream would get eaten up so quickly, that the crumbs don’t have to stay crunchy for that long.

Double Chocolate Peanut Butter Ice Cream! The photo just looks so delicious.  Maybe even my peanut butter-hating sister would like it.  Yes?

If I find time to try these recipes out, I’ll let you know how they turn out.

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Some quick reviews

August 2, 2008 at 11:37 am (books, dessert, education, food, ice cream, international, question, restaurants, review, san francisco)

Three Cups of Tea: One Man’s Mission to Promote Peace… One School at a Time – This guy, Greg Mortenson, is doing great things and building lots of schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan.  And doing it with sheer will and good-naturedness and open-mindedness.  I found this to be very inspiring.  It made me more confident that I am taking the best next step for my career.  The writing is a little clunky at times, but the story and lessons are still really good.  Here’s the link to Amazon.  On Amazon, they appear to have pages for this book title as well as the old rejected title… “One Man’s Mission to Fight Terrorism and Build Nations… One School at a Time.”  The rejected title sounds like something Karl Rove would have chosen for the title.  It looks like the terrorism version is hardcover and the peace version is paperback.  Maybe Amazon thinks that people who buy hardcover books would prefer to see what Mortenson is doing as fighting terrorism and building nations while people who buy paperback books prefer to see this mission as promoting peace?

The Soul of a Chef: The Journey to Perfection – Sequel to The Making of a Chef.  Very interesting insights about cooking and chefhood.  The first section is about the certified master chef exam.  The second is about a chef from Cleveland, Michael Symon.  And the last section is about Thomas Keller and the French Laundry.  I’m finding the section on the French Laundry to be particularly interesting.  Hearing Thomas Keller explain his insights and thinking to the author really fits with how, not reading this philosophy beforehand, I responded to the French Laundry experience.  They really spent the time to balance the flavors and portion sizes, and they took great care and effort to get the most flavor and color out of every ingredient, and that really came through when the plates arrived at the table.  I talked about “magic” in my French Laundry reports, but it turns out that it’s not magic.  It’s chilling the vegetables before blanching and then chilling them right away.  It’s straining sauces 20 times so that they’re incredibly smooth.  It’s washing bones before roasting them for a stock.  One thing that really impressed me is that they realize that a lot of effort and sacrifice goes into the raw ingredients – both with meat and vegetables.  And fungi as well?  So because of that, they treat the ingredients with as much care and respect as possible.  And they are careful to use every last bit of every ingredient.  But then again, they do talk about how if something isn’t blanched right or isn’t chopped right, it has to be tossed.  So that’s a bit of a contradiction.  But I guess if you just always do it right the first time, then there’s no need to waste the food?

Range – This last one is a restaurant.  I was pretty impressed and if I weren’t moving to NYC soon, I’d probably go back.  There were some really good items that we ate, and there were some things that really made me say “wow.”  For example, it turns out that lime and chive are a really good combination and really made the goat cheese and sorrel stuffed ravioli with lime butter and chives appetizer really pop.  Other highlight dishes included the

  • puree of squash soup with sour cream and dill – This soup had a really nice kicky flavor.
  • roasted chicken with a broccoli rabe, toasted almond and sausage bread salad – different from Zuni’s version; equally good, but in different ways.  Zuni’s version has really tasty big pieces of bread.  And a few other ingredients, but it’s mostly bread.  Range’s had vegetables, lots of nuts, and sausage, so there was more variety for your bites.  And I liked the lemony-ness.  Chicken was impeccably done.  One thing that could have been improved was that the veggies in the salad were too salty.  But overall, I enjoyed the dish.  It also makes really yummy leftovers – I tossed my leftovers with some extra bread, tomatoes, and some of the dressing that I had made for my tomato bread salad and it was a spectacularly delicious lunch.
  • cornmeal crepes with blackberries and wildflower honey gelato – the cornmeal crepes were so delicately flavored and textured.  Really yummy.  I expected the wildflower honey gelato to be delicate as well, but it was more like “pow!”
  • bittersweet chocolate and armagnac souffle – Pretty perfectly done souffle.

I also tried one of their cocktails.  I had heard that they were supposed to be good.  And when we arrived in the restaurant, the air smelled like fresh citrus.  Figuring that the citrus smell was from all the drink preparation, I decided that since the air smelled so good, the drinks must be good too.  So I tried the sungold zinger which is 209 gin, sungold tomatoes, agave nectar, and lemon.  I love sungold tomatoes.  It turned out to be much more lemony (Meyer lemony) than sungold tomatoey.  So it was good, but it was not what I was expecting, so that was disappointing.  If you call it a sungold zinger and not a Meyer lemon zinger, I’m going to expect more sungold tomato flavor.

One last thing – I saw balut eggs being sold at the egg stand today.  If you don’t know what balut is and you want to find out, you’re going to have to do your own google or google image search.  I don’t want to put in links or images and then be responsible for grossing someone out.  But my question is if I buy balut eggs from the egg guy at the market, can I incubate it and get a duckling?

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The French Laundry Day: The Manifesto, Part IV

July 13, 2008 at 10:08 pm (bread, dessert, food, ice cream, restaurants, review)

Part I
Part II
Part III

I feel like now that I’ve already been so thorough and detailed, it would be really bad to stop.  Plus, there’s all this momentum!  So, I give you… what Mark and Ben ate…. more pictures, fewer words.

puffs

puffs

beet/salmon cornette

beet/salmon cornette

sorbet

"PIMM'S CUP" - Cucumber Sorbet, Pimm's No. 1 Gelee, Borage Blossoms and Lemon Salt

brioche

brioche

compressed

COMPRESSED SUMMER MELONS - Nicoise Olive Crumbs, Jacobsen's Farm Arugula and Mint "Aigre-Doux"

gelee

"BOUILLON DE LEGUMES EN GELEE" - with Armando Manni "Per Mio Figlio" Extra-Virgin Olive Oil and Garden Herbs and Blossoms

They got to try this special olive oil… so special that they only needed to add three drops of it.  Or so special that they could only spare three drops of it.  I forgot to ask Mark and Ben how the olive oil was.

ciabatta

ciabatta

omelette

"OMELETTE FARCIE AUX COURGETTES D'ETE" - Crispy Sea Beans, San Marzano Tomato Vinaigrette and Squash Blossom Salad

I wonder why some menu items have quotes and others don’t.

annelini

HAND-CUT SEMOLINA "ANELLINI" - Sweet Corn, Castelmagno Cheese, Lovage "Nuage" and Shaved Black Truffles

One of the best dishes of the whole evening.  If it weren’t so hard for me to chose a favorite, I’d think about which one dish was the best.  But it’s very likely that it was this dish.  It was magical.  It’s too bad that it was on the vegetable menu and not the chef’s menu.  Or it’s too bad that I didn’t get the vegetable menu.

mushrooms

CALIFORNIA CEPE MUSHROOMS - Ramp Top "Subric," Nantes Carrots, Pickled Ramp Bulbs and Dijon Mustard Emulsion

cheese

"BLANC BLEU DU RIZET" - Silverado Trail Strawberries, Celery Branch and Black Pepper Gastrique

These were the reddest and deepest strawberries that I’ve ever seen.  This is the blue cheese that had the blue cut off.  This cheese course was much better than the other one.

basil sorbet

FRENCH LAUNDRY GARDEN BASIL SORBET - Lychee Fruit and Basil Seeds

Wow, what a plate!

tea

oolong

"COFFEE AND DOUGHNUTS"

"COFFEE AND DOUGHNUTS"

sorbet

"PARFAIT AU GINGEMBRE" - Shiso "Water," Ginger Pearls and Apricot Sherbet

The vegetable menu got a lot of extra goodies that were added at the table (olive oil drops, shaved truffles, poured Shiso “Water”).  I wonder if it’s because usually women get this menu and they think that women like the extra service touch.  ??  If so, they loose points for that.

creme brulee

creme brulee

shortbread

shortbread

macadamia

macadamia nuts

shortbread

shortbread

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The French Laundry Day: The Manifesto, Part III

July 13, 2008 at 5:43 pm (bread, dessert, food, ice cream, restaurants, review)

Part I
Part II

Huei in The French Laundry's garden

Huei in The French Laundry's garden

Okay, now for Huei’s meal.  This is also from the Chef’s Tasting Menu, but she selected many of the alternative options.  To give you a sense of the flow of the meal, I am going to put up photos of the items that I’ve already discussed from my meal, that also were a part of Huei’s meal.

puffs

puffs

salmon cornette, but this is a photo of the beet cornette

salmon cornette, but this is a photo of the beet cornette

Maybe Mark or Huei or Christina can describe how the salmon cornette was?

"OYSTERS AND PEARLS"

"OYSTERS AND PEARLS"

bioche

bioche

fois gras

MOULARD DUCK "FOIE GRAS AU TORCHON" - Jacobsen's Farm Crab Apples, Heirloom Beets, Caraway Seed Streusel and Frisee

salts

3 types of salt for foie gras

The foie gras was also served with brioche – that’s the pile of bread next to the salt in the top photo (sorry for the blurriness).  That was really good bread – a less rich bread would have been lost being eaten with that foie gras.  After she finished her first few slices, they were kind enough to “refresh” her bread.  And then she finished that too.  And she finished the whole meal.  My sister is amazing.

Okay, let’s talk about the salts.  The pink one is from Hawaii.  It had an immediate and sharp saltiness.  The white one is Jurassic salt from a mine in Wyoming.  This one was really salty as well – it’s had many years to become more concentrated?  The grey salt (sel gris) was my favorite.  The saltiness was much lower and you were able to taste other minerally flavors.  The Hawaiian and Jurassic salts were way too salty to really taste anything else going on. (Update: Huei says that I mixed up the Jurassic and Hawaiian salts.  I may have mixed up the names, but I’m pretty sure I didn’t mix up the flavors.)

alt fish

GULF COAST COBIA "CONFIT A LA MINUTE" - Glazed Carrots, Sugar Snap Peas, Red Radish and Young Ginger "Mousseline"

Here are the adorable vegetables that I was talking about in the first part of the manifesto.  The carrots (whole carrots!) are about 1.5 cm and the snow peas are 2-3 cm.  I tasted a bite – it was good, but not that interesting, once your amusement from the mini veggies wears off.  The tartare that I choose was a much better option.  Good job, Ranyee!

ciabatta

ciabatta

scallop

BEDFORD SEA SCALLOP "POELEE"

baby cow heart

"CONFIT DE COEUR DE VEAU" - French Laundry Garden Swiss Chard, Bing Cherries, Spring Onions and Dijon Mustard

I talked about some baby cows in my thesis seminar (to help explain enzymes).  And my sister really latched on to that.  I guess for her, that means that she wanted to eat some baby cow hearts.  She really enjoyed the dish.  I tried a bite – it was good, but maybe not worth feeling the whole ickiness that comes from realizing that you’re eating baby cow hearts.

beef

SNAKE RIVER FARMS "CALOTTE DE BOEUF GRILLEE"

cheese

JUNIPER GROVE "TUMALO TOMME"

tea

white tea

sorbet

CANTALOUPE SORBET

"COFFEE AND DOUGHNUTS"

"COFFEE AND DOUGHNUTS"

dessert

"REGAL DE FRUITS ROUGES AU ROMARIN"

pot, shortbread, macadamia nut

pot au creme, shortbread, chocolate-caramel macadamia nut

shortbread to go

shortbread to go

Okay, it’s time to take a stroll in the garden before we move on to the last five and a half hour meal, the Tasting of Vegetables.  (Update: Part IV is up!)

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The French Laundry Day: The Manifesto, Part II

July 12, 2008 at 2:09 pm (bread, dessert, food, ice cream, photography, restaurants, review)

… in which I discuss the food in more detail, as promised.

Part I

Because the different menus have their own flow through the different courses, I’m going to go through the different menus one at a time.  I’ll cover my own meal, Huei’s meal, and then Mark/Ben’s.  Christina’s was like a hybrid between mine and Huei’s, so that won’t get a designated recap.

First, my meal.  Here’s a photo of the whole Chef’s Tasting Menu.

Chef's Tasting Menu

Chef's Tasting Menu

puffs

puffs

These are little cheese puffs that are made with a pate au choux.  I know these are supposed to be single bites, but I cheated and made it into a few bites to extend the experience.  I probably enjoy smaller bites more than a typical person, so I think this is okay

beet cornette

beet cornette

Three of us had salmon cornettes (which I had heard about), but I was selected to eat a beet cornette.  The little scoop is actually made of hundreds – thousands? – of little minuscule cubes of beet.  I think all that added surface area really intensifies the flavor.  Also, the texture of the fine dice adds another textural layer.  The cone, unexpectedly full of flavor by itself, was filled with creme fraiche.  Do you see that little dot of green on top?  I think it’s chive?  It’s not just for show; it was actually the perfect addition – perfectly sized and a perfect bit of zing.

oyster and pearls

"OYSTERS AND PEARLS" - "Sabayon" of Pearl Tapioca with Island Creek Oysters and White Sturgeon Caviar

If I were to start a food trend, I would have to make sure that balls were somehow involved.  The sabayon provided a deliciously magical* base for all the balls.  The caviar added intense pops, the tapioca added soft, chewy pops, and the green bits (more chive?) added crisp and bright pops.  The oyster, while having a good texture and flavor, had a slight off-ness that I associate with oyster poop and mussel poop.  I’m not sure if that taste is really from poop, I should actually look that up sometime, but that’s what I imagine in my head.  This taste wasn’t strong enough to make this dish unenjoyable, but it’s better to not be so poopy.  So lots of fun pops and, unfortunately, also a little poop.  I loved the pearl spoons.  So smooth on your tongue.  Why don’t we eat more things with pearl spoons?

*There are some really good flavors that I have a hard time describing or pinpointing or deconstructing.  So that’s when I start using terms like magic.

brioche

brioche

Our first bread course – The brioche (from Thomas Keller’s Bouchon) had a great crust – lightly crispy.  And the inside was rich and layered and airy.  Rich and airy at the same time!  And it was a beautiful piece of bread.  Because the bread was so buttery already, it was hard to fully taste the butter with the bread.  So I tried just the two types of butter by themselves.  (The sources of these butters is based on our collective memories, so take it with a grain of salt!)  The unsalted butter (from Andante Dairy) was so diaphanous.  Crazy, huh?  Diaphanous butter?!  You could barely taste it for the first few seconds.  And then the flavor of the butter swells, but only by a little bit.  It wasn’t sweet, it wasn’t rich.  The flavor was more of a texture – smooth and silky.  The salted butter (from Vermont, maybe Diane St. Claire) was much stronger – very good and buttery.  I wish I had another strong butter to compare it with though – I think that would have helped me to explain what it tasted like.

plum hearts of peach palm

SALAD OF HAWAIIAN HEARTS OF PEACH PALM - Green Almonds, Mizuna and Santa Rosa Plums

This dish was one of the less exciting ones.  The plums, very thinly sliced, were amazing and beautiful.  I would say that was the focus of the dish rather than the hearts of peach palm.  It was well-balanced and refreshing and appropriate.  But it didn’t get me to say “wow!” or “oh!”  It’s weird that the alternative choice for this course was the foie gras (you’ll have to wait for Huei’s menu), which is completely the opposite of this.  Even though the foie gras was tastier, I wouldn’t have wanted a whole course of foie gras and a bite of Huei’s was enough for me.

tartare

"TARTARE" OF PACIFIC KAHALA BELLY - Akita Komachi Rice, Compressed English Cucumber, Perilla, White Sesame Puree and Kanzuri

This was one of my favorite dishes.  Every component was perfect and enhanced the other components to be beyond perfect.  Good choice, Ranyee.

ciabatta

ciabatta

Bread course #2 – Really good ciabatta.  Godly ciabatta.  I bet Jesus’ bread of the fives loaves and two fishes miracle tasted just like this bread.

scallop

NEW BEDFORD SEA SCALLOP "POELEE" - Summer Squash, Toybox Tomatoes, Greek Basil and Spanish Saffron

Pretty classic flavors and combination of ingredients, but they were done really well.  The tomatoes were magic – they were either extra special tomatoes when they fruited, or they added something to bring the flavor beyond normal tomatoes.  The saffron sauce was SO intense!  Look at the color!  The flavor was at least as intense as that color.  Magic.

rabbit and bacon

DEVIL'S GULCH RANCH RABBIT SIRLOIN - Wrapped in Hobbs' Bacon, Baby Corn, Filet Beans and Black Truffles from Australia

Here’s when my enjoyment of the meal started dipping… Everything was good here, but nothing blew me away.  Even the black truffles from Australia.  Those crazy Australians, apparently not learning lessons from all the other species that they’ve brought in that have wreaked havoc on the whole island, have “inoculated” some trees with truffles.  Pretty good truffles, but I hope that this doesn’t screw up their ecosystems even more.

beef and potatos and morels

SNAKE RIVER FARMS "CALOTTE DE BOEUF GRILLEE" - Fingerling Potatoes, Romaine Lettuce, Morel Mushrooms and "Sauce Bordelaise"

This dish needed to be at most 1/5 of the size of this.  There was no way I was left wanting more.  The meat was really good – flavor and texture.  But I got bored after a bite or two.  I decided that I think that morels are best for making other things more magical but are not especially good by themselves.  Huei thought the potatoes tasted like ranch dressing.  She thinks they used Hidden Valley’s powder.  The wilted Romaine was pretty good, but I can’t dissociate wilted Romaine from the times when my mother cooked old lettuce to keep it from going to waste.

JUNIPER GROVE "TUMALO TOMME" - Panisse, Fennel Bulb Compote, Arugula and Nicoise Olives

The cheese course on the Tasting of Vegetables menu was better than this one.  The most interesting thing was the mind-blowing intensity of the olive sauce.  The cheese was subtle, but not in a particularly interesting way.  What’s a panisse – is that the patty thing that reminded us of quinoa and polenta?

CANTALOUPE SORBET - Compressed Melon and "Muscat de Beaumes de Venise en Gelee"

sorbet course, closer look

Sorbet course, a closer look

This was one of my favorite presentations.  The plate itself was nice.  And the glistening compressed melon pieces were so beautiful.  This course did its job, but I wish the flavors could have been more interesting.  I guess melon is seasonal.  But then again, there are so many varieties of melon.  Couldn’t they have used more exciting melons?

oolong tea, from Ben Shan in Fujian

Best thing about  the tea is the “strainers.”

dessert

"REGAL DE FRUITS ROUGES AU RAMARIN" - Rosemary-Scented Genoa Cake, "Creme Patisseriere" and Summer Berries

I thought rosemary and berries were an interesting combination.  The cake almost had a frangipane texture.  The pink sprinkles tasted like some sort of crumble/crumb thing.  It was more floury than sugary.  Notice the texture on the plate – I mean plate plate.  Christina, Huei, and I all got this same dish and we noticed that the berries were placed in the exact same arrangement on each plate and on each cake.  I get annoyed with a lot of desserts that have way too much cake and not enough berry.  This was not the case here.  It was arranged so that you could very easily take a perfectly balanced bite.  My only complaint was that the portion was too large.

coffee and donuts

"COFFEE AND DOUGHNUTS"

We got the doughnut and the hole!  The coffee is a coffee semifreddo – a very light semifreddo -that’s topped with a foam.  This is the first time I’ve had a semifreddo and actually felt like it was half frozen.  Other times, it’s either too frozen or not frozen enough.  So simple and so perfect.  I kept thinking “Holy S—” as I was eating this – it’s just a doughnut – but it’s so amazing!

pot au creme, shortbread

pot au creme, shortbread

Here are some more of the extra sweets that we got.  The pot au creme was mildly infused with star anise.  The top of the custard had a little bit of a skin – I didn’t like that.  The custard was very dense.  Very good, but a few bites were enough for me.  The cookie was a really short shortbread.  I was trying to explain to the others at the table what I meant by “short” – because I don’t mean crumby.  It’s the opposite of the chewiness that you get from the developed gluten in bread.  It’s tender and soft.

macadamia nuts, covered with chocolate-caramel

macadamia nuts, covered with chocolate-caramel

The nuts were good – very brittle, not too sweet.  But I loved the lidded pot more than what was inside.

shortbread, to bring the French Laundry experience home

shortbread, to bring the French Laundry experience home

Here’s another case where they are able to put extra flavor into something.  I had one of these shortbreads already.  Texture was very good.  The amazing thing was the strength of butter and vanilla flavors.  I don’t think they used vanilla extract here.  I think they were somehow able to infuse the dough with vanilla bean.  This was confirmed by the presence of vanilla beans in the cookies.  Maybe they infused milk or cream with vanilla beans and then that went into the dough?  I don’t know how they did, but I think I will eat one now.

I think I’ll post about one menu at a time.  So that I don’t get overwhelmed and I don’t overwhelm anyone else.  You’re probably either overwhelmed already or you’ve skimmed over a lot.

Huei’s menu will be next… (Updated with the link to Part III, and Part III.)

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Who sleeps all night in a cake made of strawberry?

July 1, 2008 at 10:09 pm (dessert, farm, food, ice cream)

Wakes up bright in a cake made of strawberry?
Livin right in a cake made of strawberry?
Strawberry Shortcake, wouldn’t ya know.

And me too!

I love Strawberry Shortcake!  The original Strawberry Shortcake, not the current tarted up version.  I think that I like thinking of people (and myself) as fruits and fruity desserts!  🙂

I went with a fruity and fun crew to pick our own strawberries last weekend at Swanton Berry Farms near Santa Cruz.

we picked our own strawberries

We had a lot of fun picking strawberries.  Exhibit A:

fun picking, exhibit A

And we also snuck in a few bites to keep ourselves full of energy.  And to do some quality control to make sure we were picking the best strawberries.  Exhibit B:

tasting strawberries, exhibit b

And the picking fun was enhanced by a little competition.  Exhibit C:

comparing strawberries

In addition to the informal competition, we had three official contests (photos from top -> bottom) biggest strawberry, ugliest strawberry, and best strawberry.  The winner of each category got to keep (and pay for!) all the entries in that category.

which one is the biggest strawberry?

which one is the ugliest strawberry?

which one is the best strawberry?

Which ones would you have voted for?

It’s time for me to brag a little… I won the best strawberry category!  Can you tell which one it is?  Although, I did pick at least twice as many strawberries as other people.  But I also was pretty stringent with only picking the very best ones.  So my “best strawberry” was really the best of the best, with a lot of bests.

We also rewarded ourselves after all of our hard work!  “White velvet” cupcakes with white chocolate chips and whipped cream with a little bit of strawberry jam to stabilize it.

strawberry cupcake!

And the yumminess didn’t stop there.  Here’s a run-down of the strawberry feasting that I’ve been doing:

  • oatmeal (stone cut) with brown sugar, Straus milk, and strawberries
  • strawberry shortcake!  Christina aka Plum Puddin’ shared some shortcake that she made.  Yummy!)
  • sesame bagel with cream cheese and… strawberries.  A better bagel would have improved this greatly, but what can you do when you haven’t moved back to NY yet?  The bagel matters less when you’ve got yummy strawberries.
  • strawberry lime ice cream!  This is my new favorite flavor of ice cream.  I made a double batch because I knew that it would be yummy and one batch wouldn’t be enough.  To get the lime flavor, I steeped the lime zest in the milk/cream and macerated the strawberries in lime juice.
  • strawberry sorbet
  • just plain strawberries.  Ha, “just” strawberries.  “Just” the most delicious and lovingly picked strawberries ever!
  • brownies with whipped cream and strawberries

The strawberries would have also made great smoothies and milk shakes.  And Mark aka Huckleberry Pie and I love getting donuts and slicing them in half and putting sliced strawberries inside and eating it like a sweet sandwich.  Tim aka Philbert Wormly III (sorry, the Strawberry shortcake world is like the inverse of the Smurfs world with very few male characters and mostly female characters, so I had to resort to using the worm) says that he’s going to make strawberry milk (milk blended with strawberries and maybe a little sugar).  That sounds really yummy too!

My fruity friends, it sounds like we’re going to have to go pick more strawberries!

Games and chores in a cake made of strawberry?
Strawberry Shortcake, wouldn’t ya know.

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