Results tagged whipped cream from David Lebovitz

Cherry Mess

cherry mess

Faced with an overload of cherries, I had no choice but to make a mess. On a trip to London, and at a dinner in Paris, I was served a couple of messes, an English dessert that traditionally incorporates whipped cream, crumbled meringues, and berries. But like most messes (present company included), they can often go in unusual – and unpredictable – directions.

cherries

Over the years, it’s evolved and I’ve seen versions that use everything from stewed rhubarb to tropical fruits. Since we are smack-dab in the middle of cherry season, I can’t resist hauling as many as I can carry home and eating them right off the stem. I keep buying several kilos of cherries at a time while other market shoppers around me are having the vendors weigh little brown paper sacks, most containing a mere poignée (handful) of cherries, and they seem to be content with that.

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Peach Shortcake

Shortcake is one of those uniquely American desserts; a big, buttery biscuit floating on top of a cloud of whipped cream and lots of juicy, sweet, summer fruit. Sure, the components may be inspired from other places, but no one puts them together in a way that celebrates summer like we do.

peaches for peach shortcakepastry blender and butter - peach shortcake
pastry blender - peach shortcakeshortcake biscuit - peach shortcake

One of the high points of my year is when peaches and nectarines are in abundance at the markets. As summer marches on, when prices are reasonable, I just can’t help buying a lot more than any one person would consider prudent. I just keep putting more and more in my bag at the market, until I can barely carry it home. And for the rest of the week, I scramble to use as many as I can while they’re dead-ripe and at their peak.

crumbly butter - peach shortcakepeaches - peach shortcake

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Iced chocolate

iced chocolate

Hard as it is to believe, I have a few extra chocolates lying around. Because it’s almost summer and I’m getting ready for my very own mash-up – An American Under a Hot Zinc Roof in Paris – I need to start using up all of my chocolate, pronto, before the annual summer meltdown commences.

chocolates

Sometime a while back, I recall reading about a Frrrozen Hot Chocolate served at Serendipity in New York City. The recipe was published in a variety of places, and what stood out for me was the fact that it called for using ‘chocolates’ in their beverage. As in dipped chocolates, not chopped up chocolate.

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Aux Merveilleux de Fred

meringues

I cannot not tell you about Aux Merveilleux de Fred. I bought three small meringues to share with friends, and when sitting on a nearby park bench waiting for one of them to arrive, I dug into the first meringue. I don’t swear on this blog so I won’t share exactly what I said, but take it from me, a few expletives were uttered.

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Real Irish Coffee

Irish coffee

Popular legend has it that Irish Coffee was invented in San Francisco, but, of course, it was invented in Ireland at the Shannon Airport. Which was the first place transatlantic flights landed when planes started flying across the ocean, their destination being Ireland. I’m sure the trip took a lot longer than it does now. But it easy to see why the Irish Coffee was popularized 5000 miles away, although going to the source is the kind of adventure I’m always up for.

cows in Ireland

And when you’re in Ireland, and an honest-to goodness Irish lad, whose mum is a cheesemaker) offers you a drink, even if it’s barely 10:30 in the morning, one could reason that since it’s coffee-based, then it’s fine. Which I did. However when I saw that giant jug of Irish whiskey come out, and tasted my first sip, it was easy to see why Irish eyes are always smiling.

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Rome, Again

Today, I’ve had gelato for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. And as I write this, it’s only 3pm in the afternoon.

lunch

It all started on this bright Sunday morning, when I made the onerous hike up to Prati, to Fatamorgana for their daring, wildly-flavored gelati. If you weren’t looking for the place, you’d probably keep going. But being the trooper that I am, in the blazing heat, I pushed past the crowds at the Vatican and trudged upwards toward my goal.

fatamorgana gelato

To say the walk was worth it is putting it mildly. This compact address scoops up some of the most astounding gelato I’ve tasted. I wasn’t quite sure what to order, as there were literally three kinds of frozen zabaglione and nearly ten various riffs on cioccolata.

I decided to go for it and had Kentucky, flavored with chocolate and tobacco, ricotta-coconut, and pure zabaglione. When I took my cup outside and spooned in my first bite, I almost started crying. In fact, I did cry a bit—it was so good.

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Bicerin Recipe

Bicerin

The city of Torino (or Turin) is one of the great centers of chocolate. In the early part of 1500, a Italian named Emmanuel Philibert served hot chocolate to celebrate a victory over the French at Saint-Quentin. And in 1763, Al Bicerin opened it’s doors and began making a celebrated coffee-and-chocolate drink called il bavareisa. The hot drink was a soothing mixture of locally-produced chocolate, strong Italian coffee, and topped with a froth of whipped cream.

The drink was often served in a small glass, called a bicerin (bee-chair-EEN), hence the name got changed to what we know now today as il bicerin.

Just across the border from France, Torino is the city where chocolate is an integral part of life, and where ice cream on a stick, the pinguino popsicle, was invented in 1935. Now there are exceptional chocolate-makers throughout the city, such as Peyrano and A. Giordano, who still make gianduiotto by hand, selling it at their historic chocolate shop on the Piazzo Carlo Felice.

The Piedmontese region is famous for a few other things than just chocolate and hazelnuts, most notably white truffles, but also for their exceptionally delicious hazelnuts. Back in those days, cacao beans were very expensive and rare, so a local chocolatier named Michel Prochet began blending hazelnuts into the chocolate to extend it, inventing gianduja (gee-an-DOO-ya) and is now perhaps most famously consumed as Nutella, which has become the most popular sandwich spread in the world.

But even now, every afternoon you’ll find the locals stand in one of the city’s historic caffès, sipping a hot bicerin from a small, stemmed glass. Or sitting at a marble-topped table and letting one of the waiters present them with your bicerin, savoring the atmosphere.

barattimilanotorino.jpg

My favorite place is the overly-ornate Baratti & Milano, where I like to sip my bicerin surrounded by crystal chandeliers and bronze sculptures. And I always am sure to pick up a few bars of their handcrafted chocolate or gianduja at the gilded-and-mirrored confectionery counter on the way out. Here’s my recipe…

Bicerin
Two servings

It’s important to use a clear glass; you need to be able to see all three layers.

To make a bicerin, warm one cup (250 ml) whole milk in a medium-sized saucepan with 3 ounces (90 gr) of chopped bittersweet or semisweet chocolate. Whisk the mixture until it begins to boil, then let it boil for 1 minute, whisking constantly (the chocolate mixture will foam up a bit.)
Afterward, remove it from the heat and set aside. Make a small pot of very strong coffee, or good Italian espresso.

Fill the bottom third of a clear, heat-proof glass with the warm chocolate mixture. Pour in some coffee or espresso. (If you want to help it create a definite layer, pour it over the back of a spoon, into the glass.)

Top with a nice swirl of sweetened, freshly-whipped cream.

Places in Torino/Turin, specializing in local chocolates, gianduiotti, or to find an authentic bicerin:

A. Giordano
Piazzo Carlo Felice, 69
Tel: 011.547121

Al Bicerin
Piazza Consolata, 5
Tel: 011.4369325

Baratti & Milano
Piazza Castello, 29
Tel: 011.4407138

Caffè Torino
Piazza San Carlo, 204
Tel: 011.545118

Gobino
via Cagliari, 15/b

Confetteria Avvignano
Piazzo Carlo Felice, 50
Tel: 011.541992

Peyrano
Corso Vittorio Emanuele II, 76
Tel: 011.538765

Platti
Corso Vittoria Emanuele II, 72
Tel: 011.5069056

Too Much (Recipe) Information?

Recently, I was thumbing randomly through cookbooks and came across a recipe. Here was the first ingredient in one…

“One Octopus, cleaned

That’s it. No explanation.
It’s like saying…

“One Whale, de-boned

or

“Three Puffins, feathers and beaks removed

I think those actions require perhaps a modicum of an explanation.
Yes? No?

On the other hand, if a recipe says…

“1 cup almonds, chopped

or

“8 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated

…I don’t think chopped or grated need further explanation. And indeed adding those instructions to a recipe would make it unnecessarily long and daunting. Honestly, any recipe longer than one or two pages freaks me out.

Is it worth the real estate on the page to say…

“Lift the almonds from the bag or storage container and distribute them in an even layer on a clean and dry wooden or plastic cutting surface. Be sure the surface is flat and preferably waist-high. Use your hand to grab the wooden handle of the knife, being sure to avoid the sharp blade end. Lifting from your elbows, direct the knife over the almonds on the cutting board and press downward while gently rocking the knife back and forth, moving the knife as necessary over the almonds, to cut them evenly. If some almonds fling across the counter, set down the knife and retrieve the errant almond pieces. Add them back to the mound of almonds and continue chopping.”

Whew.
Now wasn’t that a mouthful?

A few years back a very talented pastry chef from New York came out with his first book. In the book was a three-page recipe for brownies, complete with full-color step-by-step photos. Holy Mother of Betty Crocker! Is there anyone in America who doesn’t know how to make brownies? It’s one thing to present a recipe, and to show how neat and fabulous they look when stacked on a lovely white Crate & Barrel plate, but do we need to see what the nuts look like when scraped into the brownie batter or an instructional photo of the bowl of melted chocolate and butter?

A writer recently went on a bender about cookbook authors that don’t list water as an ingredient. Often that’s not up to the author, but an editorial decision based on space (space=money, especially in magazines.) Believe it or not, one or two sentences can throw a whole page off-kilter. I’ve had copy editors direct me to go through a page and get rid of 7 words (in editor-speak, the “widows and orphans”.)
But Kate’s right, it is annoying to be making a recipe and find that the 2 cups of water that your supposed to divide between the chocolate cake batter and the frosting, you’ve just added to the mixture, which now looks like a muddy lagoon instead of a smooth, luscious glossy chocolate batter.

While Adam’s on vacation, Lisa’s been dubbed the Amateur Gourmette by Pim and was making a recipe for Butterscotch Pudding and it didn’t come out right.

The recipe calls for “2 cups milk”, but there in her photo is a carton of 2% milk. She is so busted. The recipe turned out to be a disaster. In her defense, the main reason the recipe didn’t taste good is it only calls for ¼ cup of brown sugar, which would add negligible butterscotch flavor. But did the recipe indicate “whole” milk or just say “milk”? Whole milk is normally critical to a pudding recipe. In that case, the recipe writer is so busted.

I decided to let her slide by on this one since she’s just the substitute and everyone likes to pick on the substitute, but I’m sure when Adam gets back, there’s gonna be hell to pay.

So here’s a concise, and photo-free, recipe for Butterscotch Pudding:

Butterscotch Pudding

1 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons butter (salted or unsalted), melted
3 tablespoons cornstarch
2 1/4 cups whole milk
½ teaspoon salt
3 large egg yolks
2 teaspoons dark rum or whisky
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1. In a large bowl, make the butterscotch base by mixing the brown sugar with the melted butter (note the lack of a picture here.) Set aside.

2. Put the yolks in a small bowl and stir briefly (no photo here eith…Huh? ok, I’ll stop…it’s getting obnoxious.)

2. In a small bowl, whisk the cornstarch with a small amount of the milk until smooth. Pour the rest of the milk into a heavy saucepan and scrape in the slurry of cornstarch and the salt.

3. Cook over medium heat, stirring with a whisk constantly, until the mixture thickens and begins to boil. Whisk a small amount of the hot milk mixture into the egg yolks and then scrape the warmed egg yolk mixture back into the saucepan.

4. Keep cooking and stirring the custard until it comes to a boil again. It will become quite thick and mound up like mayonnaise. Remove it from the heat and pour it into the butterscotch base. Add the rum and vanilla and whisk until the butterscotch has dissolved into the custard. Pour into large serving bowl.

Chill (…in the refrigerator, duh!)

Note: I’ve updated the recipe since several readers thought there was too much butterscotch flavor. Feel free to use light brown sugar in place of the dark brown for a milder flavor.