Thursday, July 29, 2010
Tuesday, July 27, 2010
CHEATER TORTILLA SOUP1 10-ounce can red enchilada sauce4 cups chicken broth1 small onion, diced1 chicken breast, bone-in, skinned2 cups baby spinach1 medium avocado, peeled and diced1/2 cup queso fresco Mexican cheese (jack will also do)6 corn tortillas, cut into stripscanola oil to spraysalt, to tastelime, to tastecilantroPreheat oven to 400 degrees.Combine enchilada sauce, broth, onion, and chicken in a large pan and bring to boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook until chicken is done. Remove chicken and allow to cool. Continue cooking soup, which will reduce a little. When chicken is cooled enough to handle, shred and return to pan. Add salt and lime to taste.Spread tortilla strips over a baking sheet, spray with canola spray, and toss to coat. Bake until crisped.In individual soup bowls, place spinach, avocado, cheese, and tortilla strips. Ladle soup over.Serve with lime slices and cilantro.
Monday, July 26, 2010
Who knew how much I would like it? And how interactive I got??
Here's Sophie finding out what the Spaniards who first came to California brought with them. All kinds of stuff, apparently. The theme of the California history section is on coming to California, starting with the native Americans and progressing through various waves of invasion, immigration, and migration. I tried to explain how California is different that way and when I lived in Massachusetts for a while many people I met had entire families going back generations who still lived right there. Weird. My boyfriend's mother would exclaim, after a few cocktails, "But people in California don't know who their people are!!!" To which I would reply now "Of course we do. We've got a whole goddamned museum about them." At the time, of course, I was too shocked by the fact that the grownups seemed to get more wasted at parties than the kids to say anything at all.
In the portrait gallery, Sophie used a lightboard to create a portrait of herself. You choose a color at the top and sort of fingerpaint with it. When you're done, it goes into a bank of portraits by other visitors that you can access on the screen on the left. But first it goes for a few seconds into a frame on a wall with other real portraits.
Look—I'm an artist featured at the Oakland Museum! The museum is supposed to email us our pictures, but they haven't shown up yet. They're not nearly as efficient as Disneyland, which always has my BuzzLightYear ride picture waiting for me when I get home.
Here we are enjoying jazzy art while listening to jazzy music (Dave Brubeck's Blue Rondo) and looking through funny glasses.
It was a nice way to demonstrate that art need not be a solemn and quiet experience.
Thursday, July 22, 2010
Monday, July 19, 2010
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
It was amazing the first day
and the second as well. There's probably only one other day's worth, so we'll be making it again soon. We want MORE!
I was inspired after overpaying for a scoop of this flavor at a local gourmet chocolate shop following a painful visit to Sophie's orthodontist. Something cold and sweet was in order, and we had only a limited amount of time before her violin lesson. I sucked up the $4.00 charge and posed the question I always do when enjoying something delicious and expensive: "Could I make this??" Turns out I can.
My standard obsessive internet recipe research yielded this recipe from David Lebovitz, an apparently charming man currently living in Paris after cutting his chops at our local Berkeley pride, Chez Panisse. It is always so much fun to discover when searching for a specific recipe a site containing a treasure trove of other recipes you cannot wait to try.
Levovitz's recipe is well worth referencing. His instructions are clear and easy to follow and his illustrations helpful, which is good because I've always found melting sugar scary.
Husband wasn't paying attention, so I filched his laptop for a use I've always envisioned: Referencing on-line recipes while cooking. Having open two windows, one for the ingredient list and another for the illustrated procedures, was sublime. And even though Husband kicked up quite a fuss when he caught me in the act ("You will get FOOD on it!!!"), he agreed once he tasted the result that this was worth the risk to his favorite toy.
I wish I had followed David's (I think we should be on a first-name basis) recipe to the tee, but I made a couple of adjustments.
His recipe calls for salted butter, but whoever buys that anymore? I grew up in a household with only that, kept in the pantry rather than the refrigerator so it would maintain a spreadable texture, but converted to unsalted once I understood salt is used only as a preservative and can always be added to a recipe but never subtracted from butter when a baking recipe calls for unsalted. I increased the salt amount to compensate for my unsalted butter.Second, the custard from his version did not taste quite sweet enough (remember that I was attempting to recreate Sophie's $4.00 scoop). I increased the sweetness by adding a couple teaspoons of light corn syrup, an ingredient I've noticed in other ice cream recipes and one I suspected would only enhance texture.Third, I omitted his praline. I'm funny that way: I often do not like stuff in my stuff. Hence, nothing crunchy in ice cream, no ice cream with my pie, and nothing added to my coffee.
Here is my adaptation:
SALTED CARAMEL ICE CREAM
2 cups whole milk, divided
1½ cups sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon fleur de sel or sea salt (not table salt!!)
1 cups eavy cream
5 large egg yolks
¾ teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoon light corn syrup
Make an ice bath by filling a large bowl about a third full with ice cubes and setting in it a smaller bowl, at least 2 quarts. Pour about 1 cup of water around the smaller bowl into the larger one. Pour 1 cup of the milk into the inner bowl, and rest a mesh strainer on top of the bowl.
Make the caramel
Spread the sugar in a heavy saucepan.
Heat the sugar over moderate heat until the edges begin to melt. Use a wooden spoon to gently stir the liquefied sugar until it is mostly dissolved. (It's ok if there are still some lumps—they'll melt later.) Continue to cook stirring infrequently until the caramel starts smoking and begins to smell like it's just about to burn. Don't go anywhere! It won't take long.Remove from heat.
Make the custard
Stir butter and salt into the caramel until butter is melted. Gradually whisk in the cream. The caramel may harden and seize, but that's ok.
Return mixture to the heat and continue to stir over low heat until any hardened caramel is melted. Stir in remaining 1 cup of milk.
Whisk the yolks in a small bowl and gradually pour some of the warm caramel mixture over the yolks, stirring constantly. Scrape the warmed yolks back into the saucepan and cook the custard, stirring constantly (scraping the bottom as you stir) with a wooden spoon until the mixture thickens. If using an instant-read thermometer, it should read 160–170 F.
Pour the custard through the strainer into the milk set over the ice bath. Add the vanilla and corn syrup, stirring frequently until the mixture is cooled. Refrigerate at least 8 hours or until thoroughly chilled.
Churn and freeze
Process the mixture in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions. I churn for about 30 minutes in my Braun electric model. But with any model, you should churn until the ice cream is starting to set up and freeze—sort of the texture of soft-serve ice cream.
Chill in the freezer until firm—overnight is good.A note about the timing: Start well ahead of when you want to serve this. The bowl to your ice cream maker should chill overnight (mine lives in the freezer when not in use). The custard mixture needs to be completely chilled before churning. And the finished ice cream is best frozen overnight.
Monday, July 12, 2010
Isn't it pretty? And of course I could use a new summer cocktail. I mean, how many gin and tonics can a person drink? Don't answer that.
But I was stopped in my tracks by the ingredient crème de mûre, a blackberry liqueur. Sounded expensive. So in my best chin-up recession spirit, I set off in search of a recipe to make it myself.
This recipe yielded a little over two bottles, which should (but probably won't) last for quite a while.
Crème de mûre
1 pound blackberries, mashed lightly2 1/2 cups fruity red wine (Zinfandel works well)4–5 cups sugar, depending on the sweetness of the berries1 to 2 1/2 cups vodkaCombine blackberries and wine in a ceramic or glass bowl for at least 24 and up to 48 hours.Puree mixture in a food processor or blender and then strain through a cheesecloth-lined sieve into a large bowl.Measure into a heavy saucepan. For every cup of liquid, add 1 cup of sugar.
Heat gently, stirring frequently, until the sugar has dissolved. Do not let the liquid come to a simmer, as you don't want to boil off the alcohol. Reduce heat to lowest level and simmer for an hour or more, stirring occasionally, until the liquid has reduced a little and become slightly syrupy.
Allow to cool.
Mix together 1 part vodka with 3 parts of the cooled syrup and funnel into clean, dry bottles. Store in a cool place for at least 2 weeks before drinking.
It's not quite as pink as the NY Times', but why should it be? Blackberries are black, not pink. And I have neither a fancy glass, shiny straws, nor extra blackberries for garnish. But I have an amazing collection of jelly jars that are just the right size for summer cocktail over ice, some silver cocktail picks, and a few leftover blueberries.
The BrambleAs festive as a cosmopolitan but infinitely more seasonal. Enjoy.
Adapted from the New York Times Style Magazine
2 ounces gin
1 ounce fresh lemon juice
1/2 ounce simple syrup (see note)
1/2 ounce crème de mûre
In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, shake together the first three ingredients and strain into a glass over ice. Drizzle crème de mûre over the top and garnish with a slice of lemon and two blackberries.
Note: To make simple syrup, combine equal measures of water and sugar and heat until sugar has dissolved. Cool to room temperature and store in refrigerator until ready to use.
Sunday, July 11, 2010
our friend Matt did a lovely job of cleaning out his pool for us?
So the kids could have a great time swimming until fingers and toes were completely pruned?
And that we had (thankfully, among other things) barbecued oysters? I will not will not will not eat them because their texture places them in the category of "yucky," but everyone else enjoyed them very much.
And that I brought a blueberry pie?
And our hand-crank ice cream maker? The rule is that you have to turn to eat. I always get in my licks early when the turning is easy.
And that Chris purchased and supervised our very own fireworks? Safe and sane! He even hosed down the roof before starting.
I can't remember the last time I twirled a sparkler.
And it certainly beat watching professional fireworks through the San Francisco fog.
But it can certainly never be too late to tell you about our holiday drinks. The red ones were a champagne berry cocktail with strawberry Pop Rocks dropped in at the last minute. Ka-bing!
Have you heard of Hpnotiq? Well then obviously you are not hanging out in the cool clubs where this is apparently all the rage. And neither are we, which is why it was completely new to us. It's a blend of blue vodka (what the hell makes it blue???), tropical fruit juices, and cognac.
It was pretty tasty, but we found most interesting the fact that it looked an awful lot like pool water in a glass. Which we agreed is not entirely a bad thing.