Thursday, June 09, 2016

Strawberry Shortcake with Sweet Cream Biscuits and Strawberry Frozen Yogurt

I got home from a business trip yesterday with strawberries on my mind.  We've had odd weather this spring, and a local berry farm said it was important to pick berries now while we can.  So I took their good advice and stopped there to pick some on my way home from the airport.


I was looking for a recipe like Zingerman's Sweet Cream Biscuits but found an easier recipe on The Kitchn that required just one bowl.   I was tired after all that travel after all, plus I liked that it was a bit lighter with just heavy cream for all the fat.   And I could save some for whipped cream on top.


Cream Biscuits

Makes 8 biscuits

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 cups heavy cream (divided)


Place a layer of parchment paper across the bottom and up 2 sides of an 8x8-inch pan. Preheat oven to 425°F.  In a medium bowl, whisk together dry ingredients until combined. Add the cream: Pour in all but 1/4 cup of the cream. Stir until the dough is shaggy, then add the remaining cream and stir to combine. Turn the dough out onto a well-floured work surface. Knead the dough for about 30 seconds, just until it all comes together. Form the dough: Shape dough into a rectangle, about 12 inches long and 4 inches wide. Cut it in half lengthwise, then cut each piece into 4 pieces horizontally. Place each of the pieces in the prepared pan. Transfer the pan to the oven, and bake for 15 to 18 minutes, until golden.

I still had some berries left, so I tried David Leibovitz's strawberry yogurt.  He's right, this isn't frozen yogurt you can get at the mall.   I can't wait to check out his book The Perfect Scoop.  I made some changes to make it easier and quicker.  



Strawberry Frozen Yogurt
makes 1 quart

1 pound strawberries, rinsed and hulled
2/3 cup  sugar
 2 teaspoons vodka
1 cup plain 2 % milk Greek style yogurt
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
Slice the strawberries into small pieces. Toss in a bowl with the sugar and vodka until the sugar begins to dissolve. Cover with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature for 3o minutes, stirring every so often. Transfer the strawberries and their juice to a blender r. Add the yogurt and fresh lemon juice. Pulse the machine until the mixture is smooth. If you wish, press mixture through a mesh strainer to remove any seeds. Freeze in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

I love strawberry season!

Sunday, June 05, 2016

Rhubarb Jam with Susan



Rhubarb is one of my very favorite things to eat.   Of course, there is pie....



I made these pies earlier in the season to celebrate the Kentucky Derby and for a woman that won my silent auction donation of "Pie Of The Month" at church.   

Today, I've got a canning project lined up with my friend Susan.   I usually can stewed rhubarb, which I like to eat with yogurt and granola in the morning, but I haven't the past couple years.  I've gotten away from canning things only I will eat around here.  Taking a stroll down memory lane,  I am humored by my rhubarb canning posts from years past.   There's this one, about me trying to can rhubarb in mid May for a farmer's market demo during a bad storm.   And then there was another year when I was doing the same thing  and there was a tornado warning.  That day, a bridge washed out on Maple Rd. in Ann Arbor.   It's only fitting that we got a ton of rain yesterday and we are under a small stream flood advisory in Washtenaw County and the forecast shows more rain for today. Susan and I are going to make rhubarb jam, because she has fond memories of doing the same with her Grandma when she was a little girl.   I am fired up to make jam myself since I spent some time last weekend at the Jam Pot in Eagle River.  Plus, I think the family will eat it.   




I am inspired rhubarb jam inspired by a couple recipes I have seen on the internet and in my canning book collection.   First, I found a recipe in Marissa McClellan's canning blog "Food In Jars".   (if you haven't yet checked out any of her canning cookbooks, you should!).   I liked the combination of vanilla bean and Earl Grey tea, but I don't use commercial pectin.   I looked in another favorite canning cookbook, Linda Ziedrich's Joy of Jams since she and I are of the same mind about commercial pectin and her recipe doesn't have any added, but calls for overnight maceration a la Mes Confitures.   I don't have time for that....I am going to pick rhubarb this morning at my friend Dan and Joe and Lisa's house.   It's always good to have friends with rhubarb!  Some more googling around led me to Leite's Culinaria and another great cookbook in my collection, Urban Pantry  by Amy Pennington.   Her recipe has a lemon added for pectin.  I am not confident rhubarb has enough pectin in it to set on it's own, and I have seen conflicting reports on the internet, Some recipes say you need it, some say you don't.   I can't find any actual pectin content data, so I am going to play it safe and use lemon for good measure.  Plus, I think the flavor will be nice with the Earl Grey tea,   So, here's the recipe I developed for today's canning ventures.....

Rhubarb Earl Grey Jam with Vanilla
makes about 5 half pint jars

4 lb. rhubarb cut into small chunks
4 c. sugar
1 1/2 c. boiling water
2 Earl Grey tea bags
1 vanilla bean, split
1 lemon

Prepare canning jars and water bath canner. Since this recipe has a processing time of 5 minutes, the jars need to be sterilized.   Read here to learn about how to do this.  Combine rhubarb and sugar in a large bowl, mixing until all the rhubarb is covered.    Juice lemon, reserving seeds and rind  Put the seeds in a tea ball or tied in a cheesecloth pouch.   The seeds and peels will provide pectin.  Brew tea in water for a couple minutes.It should be strong.   Combine rhubarb mixture, tea, lemon juice, vanilla beans, lemon rinds, and lemon seeds in a  large pot, and bring to a boil.  Boil for 15 minutes, stirring constantly and skimming the foam.  Check temperature at this point.   The goal is to get to the gel temperature of 220 F.  (+8 F from the boiling point of water at your elevation.  For less than 1000 ft. use 212+8 = 220 F)  Reduce heat to simmer and stirring frequently, simmer until it reaches 220 F.   Remove from heat.   Remove rinds, seeds, and the vanilla beans.  Ladle in prepared jars, leaving 1/2 inch headspace, process in boiling water bath fore 5 minutes.

I just looked at the radar....of course there is a big storm coming our way! It's time to can some rhubarb, I guess.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Prom Cookies 2016

Even though I no longer have any kids at Dexter High School (my nest is empty) I was asked to make prom cookies again this year.   I enlisted my friends Julie and Jen to help; both of their sons are seniors this year.  The theme was "Candyland".

  
I'm not a great designer of cookies, but I do a pretty good job of execution.  I keep a Pinterest board of cookie decorating ideas and when I see something I like, I pin it there to try later.  For these cookies, I adapted an idea I saw for peppermint candy cookies.  Since I got a late start, I didn't have the chance to order a cutter so I just went with round cutters.   A drinking or shot glass could also be used in lieu of a cutter, too.   I tried to capture the prom committee colors as best I could with colors I had on hand.   It's a good time to share a lesson I learned last year when making high school graduation cookies: the purple and maroon colors often are finicky for reasons I don't fully understand.   Our high school colors are maroon and gold, and I found out the hard way that maroon color seems to change the royal icing texture in unexpected ways.   I asked my friend Heather who decorates cookies and cakes professionally at her lovely cake boutique in Ann Arbor Sweet Heather Ann and she told me this is common and so she very often will hesitate to take on requests for purple colored wedding cakes.    She recommended I use Americolor soft gel pastes for best results.  Nothing I have ever tried equals the coloring strength of these amazing colors. They can be found locally here at Baker's Nook in Saline.  

So I was nervous about the purple, but it came out just fine.  We made about 100 cookies this year using this recipe - my tried and true best tasting sugar cookie recipe I've ever found in an old Taste of Home magazine.   The ingredients are relatively inexpensive and it has an excellent texture for rolling out and cutting.  The flavor is superb on its own, or flavor oils can be added.  Last Christmas, I added anise flavor and it was delicious.   We piped out the outline and white lines with Wilton #2 tip and flooded with a ketchup bottle.



I was happy to stay home last night instead of chaperoning the prom; It was 34 degrees F and it snowed this morning.   Insane!  But the cookies looked good in Candyland.