Results tagged syrup from David Lebovitz

Case Vecchie and the Anna Tasca Lanza Cooking School

peach crostata

My life seems to have, as they say in modern-speak (or whatever you want to call it), a “long tail.” Which means that what I do today, or did in the past, will continue to have meaning. Fortunately, that’s not true for everything (I can think of a few incidents in the past that are better left back there…), but something that’s stayed with me forever was getting to meet some of the great cookbook authors, cooks, and chefs from all over the place when I worked at Chez Panisse.

One such person was Anna Tasca Lanza, who not only had the noble title of marchese, but also was an acclaimed Sicilian cook. I’d met The Marchese when she came to Chez Panisse. Her philosophy of cooking — mostly farm-to-table, relying on local producers for most of what she cooked — is a natural way of life on this rugged island.

Sicilian countryside

And in spite of her lofty credentials and sophistication, she was a big proponent of country cooking and the Sicilian way of life, following the seasons, using what the local land produced, in her cooking.

white wine

She planted gardens with pistachio, lemon, citron, and mulberry trees. Peppers grow abundantly, as do cardoons, eggplant, zucchini (and their bright yellow flowers), and artichokes.

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Fresh Ginger Syrup

Fresh ginger syrup recipe 2

Many moons ago, I worked with Bruce Cost at the now-shuttered Monsoon restaurant in San Francisco. Bruce is an amazing Asian cook and I’ve rarely had better Chinese food than what came out of his wok. Early on, he prompted me to make a sharp, gingery syrup that we could serve at the bar, as an elixir, mixed with fresh lime juice and sparkling water. And although the customers loved it, the reason I later found out why I was going through so much ginger syrup every week was that the staff liked it even more.

In Australia, I remember seeing big bins of fresh ginger in the supermarket (I always try to go to a supermarket in a foreign country – it’s one of my favorite things to do.) And when I was telling some Australians how intriguing it was how they’ve adopted Asian ingredients, like fresh ginger, into their cuisine, a few looked at me kind of funny,and said that they considered fresh ginger just be to an ingredient they happened to use frequently – not necessarily Asian.

fresh ginger syrup recipe

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Pith Helmet

pith helmet

When I was in London, it just happened to be Wimbledon weekend and even though there wasn’t a tennis ball in sight where we were, all we wanted were pitchers of Pimm’s Cup. To our dismay, a number of places didn’t have them, and at the one restaurant that did, we were unimpressed. (So much so that the waiter took it off the bill.) Since it’s the perfect summer refresher – and it’s nice to serve drinks by the pitcher, so you can spend more time with your guests – I decided to take matters into my own hands and make a batch as soon as I got home.

cucumbersPimm's No 1

I hit a couple of liquor stores in my neighborhood and, of course, no one had Pimm’s No. 1 Cup. One vendor confessed that he did know what it was, but that he didn’t carry it. So I made the inevitable trip over to La Maison du Whisky, which may be my new favorite place in Paris (they have everything!) and picked up a bottle of Pimm’s – as well as a few other things to keep me well-stocked for summer.

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Orange Syrup Cake with Candied Oranges

orange cake zest

I bought my trusty zester in 1983, back when no one had heard of rasp-type zesters, which are now a lot more popular than their old-fangled counterparts. I got mine in 1983 when I started working at Chez Panisse and the cook training me on my first shift told me that I needed four essential items; a chef’s knife, a paring knife, a bread knife, and a zester.

candied orange recipe

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Marshmallow Cream Fudge

I was told by my somewhat better half that I wasn’t allowed to bring the construction crew – that is, the guys who are working on my apartment – any more treats until they picked up the pace. I don’t think the expression “No more monsieur nice guy” exists in French, but that seemed to be the tone of the sentiment expressed.

However being American, I can’t help being a soft touch and have been sneaking the guys treats over there. They’ve had everything from Date Bars to Panforte. Meanwhile back at home, as I am packing up my kitchen cabinets and boxing everything up for my move, I found a jar of marshmallow cream that I brought back from the states a while back, presumably to make some sort of cupcake frosting that I never got around to.

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Panforte

panforte

I’ve been going through my kitchen cabinets, and refrigerator…and freezer…and desk drawers, which has meant unearthing all sorts of odds and ends. Some were long-forgotten for a reason, and others brought back fond memories. Like the Pyrex glass container in my refrigerator encasing some remarkably well-preserved slices of candied citron. When I pulled the sticky citrus sections out, I realized that they don’t look quite as pretty as they did last year – which is okay, because neither do I – but they still tasted great. And the flavor of candied citron prompted me to make something I love: panforte.

honey, chile, cocoa powder

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Candy Thermometers

candy thermometer

A friend once told me that the one word which terrifies people, enough to dissuade them from tackling a recipe, was the word “thermometer.” Candy making generally requires the use of a thermometer and I’m not sure why people get uneasy around thermometers because like kitchen scales, when things are in precise measurements – like degrees, pounds, or grams – it’s pretty straightforward. In fact, when you think about it, grilling meat or fish to the right point require far more savvy than simply reading the numbers on a thermometer.

Candy (also know as deep-fry thermometers) are readily available in houseware stores and almost every supermarket in the states. So there’s no reason to be wary of them as some baking, and candy making projects really do require the use of one. But sometimes recipes don’t turn out as intended and although candy making is famously persnickety (factors such as temperature of ingredients, weather, and variations in ingredients, like various chocolates, butters, and sugars can affect the results) many candy making issues can be resolved by verifying the accuracy of your thermometer.

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Respect Your Elderberries: Elderberry Syrup Recipe

peacheselderberries.jpg

During the summer, like everyone else in Paris, I get outta town for a long break. I often visit friends who live in the country in nearby in the Seine-et-Marne, a region a little over an hour from Paris.

You probably know about the famous cheese from there, brie de Meaux, which is sold in big, gooey rounds at most of the markets in the area. There’s a big one on Sunday mornings in Coulommiers, but I prefer the smaller but better market on Saturdays, in the town of Provins, which features actual producteurs, the folks who grow and sell their own fruits and légumes.

strawberriesunwashed1

Elderberries are pretty prolific and although I’ve not seen them in any markets, the friends who I stay with have a huge tree and if you’re a spry climber, you probably can pick more than you know what to do with all at once.

The difficulty in preparing elderberries, or as they call them in France, sureaux, are picking the tiny berries off the microfiber-like stems. (Earlier in the season, the blossoms can be turned into elderflower fritters or elderflower syrup.) The berries appear in spidery tufts on the farthest end of the branches and I nearly chopped down my friend’s tree trying to get the ripest berries way-high up at the top. And I almost killed myself using their pre-war ladder…and that’s pre World War I, mind you.

Elderberries

But I need to keep busy even when I’m relaxing on vacation, which is my very own French-American paradox, and when I saw the giant elderberry tree practically awash with tiny purple berries behind the house I was staying at, I couldn’t resist hauling out the ladder and spending a good couple of hours clipping away. Unfortunately the berries that caught my eye were higher up than I thought from down below, and I ended up perched too-high up on that rickety ladder with a saw and clippers, risking my life for the little buggers.

Sureaux

The gorgeous syrup is great in a glass of sparkling water over ice, dripped some over plain yogurt, atop a bowl of vanilla ice cream, or use it to make an lively kir. And hello pancakes and waffles! You can also use the berries to make Elderberry jelly.

Cooking Elderberries

Once you get them down off the tree, the fun just keeps coming and coming. You need to pluck the little purple berries off the branches. But too often a little bit of the delicate stem usually comes off with them and that needs to be removed if you’re going to toss them in a compote or a crisp. It’s picky work, but the rewards are delicious.

Elderberry Yogurt

Elderberry Syrup
Makes 1 quart (1l)

Make sure the cookware you’re using is non-reactive and your clothes are stain-friendly. If you use an aluminum pot, it’ll get stained and the next batch of mashed potatoes you make may come out pink. Ditto for spatulas and anything else to plan to use to stir the syrup while it’s cooking.

If you live somewhere where huckleberries are available, you could use them instead.

  • 2-pounds (1kg) elderberries (see note below), woody stems removed and rinsed
  • 4 cups (1l) water
  • 2½ (500g) cups sugar
  • one nice-sized squirt of freshly-squeezed lemon juice

1. Put the elderberries in a large, non-reactive pot with the water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a low boil and cook for 15-20 minutes, until tender and soft.

2. Pass through a food mill, then discard the skins.

3. Pour the juice back into the pot (I use a fine-mesh strainer again at this point, but I’m crazy…), add sugar, and cook at a low boil over moderate heat for 15 minutes, until the syrup has thickened. Add a spritz of lemon juice. Cool completely.

4. Pour into a bottle or jar and store in the refrigerator.

Note: Some varieties of elderberries are not meant for consumption and none should be eaten raw, especially the leaves. I remove all of the hard, woody stems as well before cooking. For more information, Cornell University’s Department of Horticulture has guidelines, noting the fruits are used in “…pies, jellies and jams.” If you’re unsure if your elderberries are edible, consult your local cooperative extension before consuming.

Storage: In the refrigerator, I’ve kept this syrup up to one year. If it shows any signs of mold, scrape it away, and bring the syrup back to a full boil again.

quince and granola