Thursday, June 23, 2005

Peach Melba

This famous peach recipe was created in 1893 at the Savoy Hotel in London by the famous chef Auguste Escoffier to celebrate diva Dame Nellie Melba’s visit to London. Countless variations have been served since then. Our version was a layering of lightly poached peach halves, homemade vanilla ice cream (recipe below), Rose's raspberry sauce (we finally finished it!), almond flavored whipped cream, sliced almonds and ground pistachios for color and crunch, and a maraschino cherry for decoration. It turned out to be a nice summer dessert.

Vanilla Ice Cream:

I have previously posted a custard-based vanilla ice cream recipe. This one is much simpler, and--in my opinion--more delicious. It reminds me of ice creams I had as a child. It is still soft when it comes out of the ice cream machine and needs a longer maturing time in the freezer, though.
  • 1 c whole milk, well chilled
  • 3/4 c sugar
  • 2 c heavy cream, well chilled
  • 1-2 tsp vanilla extract, to taste
Use a hand mixer or whisk to combine the milk and sugar until the sugar is dissolved, about 1-2 minutes on low speed. Stir in the heavy cream and vanilla to taste. Turn machine on, pour mixture in and let mix for 25-30 minutes until thickened. Freeze for at least a couple of hours before serving. (Recipe from Cuisinart Instruction and Recipe Booklet.)

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Gingered Creme Brulee Tartlets and a Small Kitchen Fire

A while ago, I bought some stem ginger to use for Pierre Herme's Apricot and Ginger Chocolate Cake. I am really not a ginger lover, neither is anyone else in my family. But that recipe really sounded great, and I had read rave reviews about it on a Pierre Herme thread in egullet, so I really wanted to try it. It turns out that stem ginger is not easy to find nor is it cheap--deservedly so, too, as it is nothing like the more readily available crystallized ginger. In the end, I mail ordered a small jar. You may remember that when I finally made the cake, I was a little disappointed with it. So the opened jar stayed in my refrigerator for quite a while. I checked on it every now and then. When I saw yesterday during one of these routine checks that its syrup had started to crystallize, I decided not to let it go to waste, hence these tartlets from Simple Tarts by Elizabeth Wolf-Cohen.

From the top to right: Root ginger, crystallized ginger and stem ginger

The tartlets were easy to prepare, and the ginger gave them a subtle Eastern flavor. I doubled the recipe and was a little more generous with the ginger than the recipe suggested, but I still have more than half the jar left. I have to be on the lookout for more ginger recipes. Preferably something summery, ginger ice cream, maybe?

Coming to the second and more exciting part of the title to this post, while I fueled my kitchen torch to caramelize the sugar for the tartlets, some fuel must have dripped into the kitchen sink. As soon as I turned the torch on, big flames rose from the sink. Luckily, they died as fast as they rose, but it was a very scary 5 seconds there. A good reminder to return my fire extinguisher (that I had put away to make room for "more important" kitchen gadgets) to its well-deserved place on the kitchen counter.
  • 4 tartlet pans lined with crust pastry, blind-baked
  • 1 1/4 c whipping cream
  • 1 egg
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 tbs sugar
  • 1 tbs ginger syrup (from the stem ginger bottle)
  • 1 piece stem ginger, finely chopped
  • 3-4 tbs granulated sugar
Preheat oven to 325F. Set the tartlet shells on a baking sheet for easier handling. Bring cream to a boil. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk the egg, egg yolks, sugar and ginger syrup until lightened, about 1 minute. Slowly whisk in the hot cream, stirring constantly. Strain and mix in the chopped ginger. (I admit that I also added a little vanilla, as Yurdaer can be picky when a dessert smells eggy.) Divide the mixture evenly among the tartlet shells. Bake until the custard is lightly set, about 15 minutes. Refrigerate at least 4 hours. Before serving, sprinkle tartlets with a thin layer of sugar and use the broiler or a kitchen torch to caramelize the sugar. Wait for a few minutes to allow the caramel to harden. Enjoy!

Monday, June 20, 2005

Banana Pudding

I've been meaning to try this banana dessert for a while. Finally I got a chance to make it on Father's Day. It is from Reader's Digest Quick, Thrifty Cooking. Very simple to prepare and surprisingly delicious. Raspberry sauce I borrowed from Zinnur went very well with it. Since it is not a very sweet dessert, alternatively chocolate sauce could equally be a good companion for this dessert.
  • 4 medium size ripe bananas peeled and sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • pinch of ground nutmeg (I prefered to use cinnamon instead)
  • 1/2 cup soft fresh bread crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans or same amount shredded coconut
Preheat the oven to 350F. Arrange a layer of sliced bananas on the bottom of a greased 8" by 8" inch baking pan. Sprinkle one tablespoon of lemon juice, spread with 1/4 cup of the sour cream, then sprinkle with 1/4 cup of the sugar, a few grains of the nutmeg and 1/4 cup of the bread crumbs.

Repeat with another layer, using the remaining ingredients. Dot with butter,and bake, uncovered, for 25 minutes until golden. Sprinkle with the pecans and seve warm or cold. If you wish for a more elegant touch ladle a little raspberry sauce on the side.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Father's Day Italian Cherry Torte

Zeynep and I made this torte with father's day in mind. The recipe is from Alice Medrich's Cocolat. Initially, we wanted to glaze the dessert with white chocolate such that the underlying dark chocolate torte would not show through. However, when we realized somewhere along the way that this would require too much white chocolate, we gave up on the idea. We pressed sliced almonds on the less-than-perfect sides and finished the torte with marzipan roses and dark chocolate leaves. I usually serve this torte without the glaze, with a simple dusting of powdered sugar or cocoa, but on this occasion, we tried to dress it up a little bit, and found out that the white chocolate glaze offset the tartness of the cherries and complemented the bittersweetness of the chocolate very well.
  • 1/4 c Amareno cherries, drained and quartered
  • 1/4 c Maraschino cherry syrup
  • 1/8 tsp almond extract
  • 6 oz bittersweet chocolate, cut into small pieces
  • 4 oz unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 3 large eggs, separated
  • 1/2 c plus 3 tbs sugar
  • 1/4 c flour
  • 2/3 c ground, blanched almonds
  • 1/8 tsp cream of tartar
  • White Chocolate glaze (recipe below)

Preheat oven to 375F. Line bottom of 8" springform pan with parchment paper. In small bowl, combine cherries with maraschino syrup and almond extract; set aside. Melt chocolate and butter in a small bowl placed in a barely simmering water bath, stirring occasionally until smooth. Remove from heat.

Beat egg yolks and 1/2 c sugar until pale and thick. Stir in the chocolate, flour and almonds. Add the cherries and syrup. Set aside.

Beat egg whites and cream of tartar at medium speed until soft peaks form. Gradually sprinkle in the remaining 3 tbs sugar, beating at high speed until stiff but not dry. Fold one-fourth of whites into chocolate mixture to lighten it. Fold in remaining whites. Turn batter into prepared pan and smooth top. Bake 30-40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted about 1 inch from edge of torte shows moist crumbs. The center of cake will test very moist.

Cool torte. The cake will have risen and the fallen in the center, leaving a higher rim of cake around the sides and possibly some cracking. Level and unmold the torte onto an 8" corrugated cake circle. Glaze with White Chocolate glaze and decorate as desired.

White Chocolate Glaze

(Makes enough for a 8"-10" torte.)
  • 10 oz white chocolate, cut into tiny bits
  • 1/2 c heavy cream
  • 1 tbs corn syrup
Bring cream and corn syrup to a simmer in a saucepan. Remove from heat. Pour in the cut bits of chocolate and stir until completely smooth and all of the chocolate is melted. Cool the glaze to 100F and use.