Monday, July 30, 2007

Cinnamon Ice Cream with Roasted Fig Sauce

My entry into Waiter, There's Something in My--Sauce hosted by Andy of SpittoonExtra. Thanks, Andy for extending the deadline.

This years fig crop is very short due to no rain and then too much rain. I bought my figs from a small farm stand whose owner buys his figs from two little old ladies who who have a small pension from the government. I was told they were Brown turkey figs, but with the exception of the black Mission figs, they all look pretty much the same to me. I remember as a child that everyone seemed to have a fig tree and we were always being given fig preserves which I couldn't bear to eat. I guess my palate has gotten more sophisticated.

The recipe for the Roasted Figs comes from the August issue of Martha Stewart Living. I have substituted the Brown Turkey figs for the Mission figs.

Roasted Figs

1 cup ruby port
3 star anise
3 cinnamon sticks
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
2 strips orange zest (3 inches long and 1 inch wide)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon honey
2 vanilla beans, halved lengthwise
1 1/2 pounds fresh Mission figs (about 24), halved lengthwise

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Combine port, anise, cinnamon sticks, peppercorns, zest, granulated sugar and honey in a roasting pan. Use the tip of a knife to scrape vanilla seeds into port mixture, then add pods. Add figs and turn to coat. Roast, basting once, until figs are soft and liquid is syrupy, about 45 minutes. Let cool. figs and syrup can be refrigerated up to one week.

Cinnamon Ice Cream

2 cups whole milk
2 cups heavy cream
2 cinnamon sticks
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 extra-large egg yolks
1/2 cup granulated sugar(if making ice cream on its own, increase sugar to 3/4 cup. The Roasted Figs are quite sweet.

Place the milk, cream, cinnamon sticks, and ground cinnamon in a medium pot. Bring to boil over medium heat. Turn off heat, cover and let stand for 30 minutes to steep.

Bring mixture back to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally;turn off heat.
Whisk eggs with sugar until light yellow. To temper the custard, whisk a few tablespoon warm cream into the eggs. Add another few tablespoon warm milk, then incorporate the remaining eggs into the warm milk mixture. Place pot on stove over medium low heat and cook for 6-8 minutes over medium low heat, stirring until mixture is thickened and coats the back of a metal spoon. Remove from heat;strain and and place container in a bowl of ice, stirring until cooled. Refrigerate at least 2 hours. Process in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer's instructions.Makes 1 quart.

To serve, place ice cream in dish; top with roasted figs and a little syrup poured over.

Hay, Hay It's Donna Day #14 - Gnocchi

First of all, I want to thank Barbara of winosandfoodies, for creating the very popular Hay, Hay, It's Donna Day blog event.Also, thanks to Laura of eatdrinklive for her excellent hosting of the previous HHDD #13.
For those of you reading about this event for the first time,Donna Hay is a food stylist and cook from Australia who has a superb magazine with the same name and loads of cookbooks with easy recipes and gorgeous photographs.

Issue 28, Winter 2006 of Donna Hay's magazine had an article on making homemade ricotta gnocchi which looked fantastic and not very difficult. After all, they were just dumplings and had only a few ingredients with simple directions. But it seemed a daunting task, especially when pre-packaged potato gnocchi was so convenient for a quick main or side dish. Ricotta gnocchi was totally new to me. Well, time went by and I got busy with other things.

Now that I have the privilege of hosting HHDD #14, it's a perfect time to pull out the magazine again to tackle Ricotta Gnocchi. Now that I have made the gnocchi, I feel confidant that you too can make it. It will be a challenge if you have never made gnocchi from scratch, but all of you are savvy food bloggers, so I'm sure you will be up for the task.

Here are the details:

* The gnocchi should be homemade and can be a main dish, salad, side or dessert. You can use any ingredient, such as cheese, potato or any other vegetable or fruit to make the gnocchi.

*Post your recipe no later than August 18, 2007. When you post, send an email with the HHDD #14 in the subject line to staranise.ld[at}gmail[dot]com. Include your name, the name of your recipe, your location, the name of your blog and the permalink to your post.

*Round-up posted and voting begins on August 25, 2007.

*Voting closed and winner announced on September 1, 2007.

Here's Donna's recipe from Issue 28, page 56.

Herb Gnocchi with Basil Oil

1 quantity basic gnocchi(recipe follows)
2 teaspoons lemon zest
1/4 cup chopped mint leaves
1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves
1/4 cup chopped basil leaves
sea salt and cracked black pepper
Parmesan cheese to serve

Basil Oil
1 cup chopped basil leaves, extra
1/2 cup (4 fl oz) olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
sea salt and cracked black pepper

To make the basil oil, place the extra basil, oil, lemon juice, Parmesan, salt and pepper in the bowl of a food processor and process until finely chopped. Set aside.

Follow the basic gnocchi recipe, adding the lemon zest, mint, parsley, basil, salt and pepper to the mixture. Spoon the basil oil over the cooked gnocchi and toss to coat. Top with the Parmesan cheese. Serves 4

Basic Gnocchi

500 grams(1 lb) fresh ricotta cheese
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup plain all-purpose flour
sea salt and cracked black pepper

Place the ricotta, Parmesan, eggs, flour, salt and pepper in a bowl and mix well to combine. Turn out the mixture on a lightly floured surface and roll into 4 15cm (6 in)long ropes. Cut into 2cm (3/4 in) lengths and press lightly with the back of a fork.

Place in a large saucepan of salted water over high heat. Bring to a boil and cook the gnocchi in batches for 2-3 minutes or until cooked through. Remove with slotted spoon and place in serving bowls. Serves 4.

See prize for winner here.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Hay, Hay, It's Donna Day-I Won! Wow!

I am thrilled to have been chosen as the winner of the HHDD #13 hosted by Laura of eatdrinklive with my entry blackberry lemon verbena sorbet.Thanks, Laura for such a great job hosting and to all of you who voted for me. I was very surprised! There were so amazing entries from so many talented cooks out there in the blogging world. I hope to try all the recipes as sorbets are one of my favorite light and refreshing desserts.

A special thanks to Barbara of winosandfoodies who created this very popular blogging event.

I will be shortly posting my theme for the next Hay, Hay, It's Donna Day.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Basil Pesto Bread

Emerald green basil pesto swirled through this easy French bread recipe makes a delicious companion to a grilled poultry or meat dish. The pesto bread is also a great picnic bread served with summer tomatoes. I used this pesto bread for the open-faced egg, applewood smoked bacon and tomato sandwich drizzled with basil here.

2 cups fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup parsley leaves
1/2 cup olive oil
2 garlic cloves
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

Puree the basil, parsley, oil, garlic and salt in a blender or food processor. Stir in the cheese. If not using immediately, store in refrigerator with a thin layer of olive oil on top or freeze.

1 1/2 packages active dry yeast
2 cups warm water
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon sugar
6-7 cups all-purpose flour
Cornmeal for the baking pan

In a large bowl of a heavy duty mixer, dissolve yeast in the warm water and add the salt and sugar. Mix thoroughly and set aside until foamy.

With the paddle attachment, beat in flour one cup at a time, until a smooth dough forms. Using the dough hook attachment, knead until dough is elastic. Place in a lightly oiled bowl, cover and set in a warm place until doubled, about 1 1/2 hours.

When doubled, turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board, punch down and knead again. Divide the dough into two equal pieces, cover and let rest for 5 minutes. Pat out 2 rectangles, each about 10x12 inches. Spread a thin layer of the pesto mixture over each, leaving a 1-inch border. Beginning with the long side, roll each rectangle into a cyclinder and shape into a loaf.

Place the loaf on a baking sheet sprinkled with cornmeal. Brush with cold water and place in a cold oven. Place a pan of boiling water in the bottom of the oven and turn the oven to 400 degrees F. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until the loaves are browned and sound hollow when tapped on the bottom. Cool on a rack and serve warm for the best flavor.

Makes 2 loaves.

Recipe from "Herbs, Gardens, Decorations, and Recipes by Emelie Tolley and Chris Mead.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Part Three: Herbal Oils , Open Faced Egg and Bacon Sandwich Drizzled with Basil Oil on Toasted Basil Pesto Bread

Michael Chiarello's book, "Casual Cooking" has a great recipe for basil and other herbal oils which are designed to be used as a flavor enhancer whereas true infused herbal oils are generally used for cooking and for salad dressings. Chiarello's basil oil is a great drizzled over tomatoes or as in this recipe called "green eggs and ham" which I have adapted using applewood smoked bacon for the prosciutto, adding fresh sliced tomatoes and substituting my basil pesto bread for the thick-sliced country bread Chiarello used.

But first, the Basil Oil:


4 cups basil leaves, washed and spun completely dry using a salad or herb spinner
2 cups olive oil-not extra virgin

Combine basil leaves and olive oil in a blender and puree until completely smooth. A food processor is not recommended as it doesn't grind the herbs fine enough. When smooth, place basil and oil mixture in a saucepan and bring to a boil over moderate heat. Cook for 45 seconds, then pour through a fine mesh strainer into a bowl. Don't press on the mixture, but you can tap the sides of the strainer with your hand to get the oil to drip through faster.

Immediately strain the oil again through a flat-bottomed paper filter. You may need to change the filter if it clogs. Also, you may squeeze the filter some to hasten the oil dripping through, but take care not to break the filter. Let the filtered oil settle a few hours, then pour in an air-tight container and keep in a cool, dark place. Will keep for a week if you have any left by that time.

For the Open-faced Egg Sandwich

For each serving, toast a 1/2 inch slice Basil Pesto Bread on both sides. Top with 2-3 slices cooked applewood smoked bacon, add sliced tomatoes, top with fried or poached egg cooked to your liking, then drizzle basil oil over the top of the egg. Season with salt and pepper, as desired.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Cantaloupe Granita

Growing up on a farm where there was always a vegetable garden, which included cantaloupes and watermelons, gave me the knowledge of how to pick a ripe cantaloupe. When ripe, cantaloupes have a wonderfully sweet fragrance, the stems should not be attached and the blossom end should yield to moderate pressure.I only buy cantaloupes in the summer time when I know they are fresh from the field. My father, who loved both watermelons and cantaloupes, once planted several acres of both melons and offered them free to anyone who wanted to pick them. As a little girl, there were melons as far as my eye could see. Those images are burned in my mind as mental photographs.

We always ate cantaloupes au naturel which is how everyone ate them when I was young. Now that I have been cooking for many years, I have used cantaloupes in many ways-compotes, cold soups and this granita recipe for a quick, easy and very flavorful dessert.

Adapted from Epicurious


2 cups coarsely chopped ripe cantaloupe
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon triple sec
1 cup ice cubes

Combine all ingredients in a blender and process until smooth. Pour into a 13x9 pan and freeze for about forty minutes. Scrape with a fork and serve in chilled glasses

Serves about 4.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Photo -Per-Diem

Check out my second blog called-Photo-per-diem. A photo a day blog mostly non-food related, but with a few food still-life photos thrown in.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Blackberry Lemon Verbena Sorbet

What a great food event begun by Barbara winosandfoodies and is hugely popular with all us bloggers. Laura at eatdrinklive, the winner of HHDD #12 is hosting HHDD#13. Sorbets are my thing at the moment so I am thrilled to include my Blackberry Lemon Verbena sorbet into this competition.

Taking advantage of the great blackberry season and my prolific herb garden , Blackberry Lemon Verbena Sorbet is my own creation after reading about herbal syrups and compatible herbs and fruits. Sorbets are light and refreshing in the summer months especially where I live in Georgia when the heat combined with the high humidity can wilt you pretty quickly. Not only made with fruits, sorbets can be made with most herbs and vegetables for savory options such as an intermezzo, a term typically used in music as a brief interlude of lighter works performed between longer and more serious works, but in culinary terms,, cleanses the palate for the next course. I wrote earlier posts on sorbets that you can read here and here.

Blackberry Lemon Verbena Sorbet


1 cup (240 ml) water

1 1/4 cup (250 grams) granulated white sugar

10 fresh lemon verbena leaves

1 pound (454 grams)fresh blackberries, washed and drained well, or frozen unsweetened blackberries

2 tablespoons lemon juice

2 tablespoons blackberry or raspberry liqueur (optional)

Bring water to a boil in saucepan, remove from heat and stir in sugar. When dissolved, add lemon verbena leaves and let steep 10 minutes. Strain sugar syrup, discard leaves and place in a covered container in refrigerator until cold.

Meanwhile,( if using frozen blackberries, thaw them), otherwise place fresh blackberries and lemon verbena sugar syrup in a saucepan, bring to a boil and continue to boil for 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool for a few minutes, then pour contents in a blender or food processor and puree until smooth. Strain the mixture to remove the seeds. This may take awhile, just keep stirring the puree to allow the juices to run through the sieve. Add lemon juice and liqueur, if desired, and chill until very cold. Following instructions for your ice cream maker, process the sorbet. The sorbet will be the consistency of soft ice cream. Place in very cold containers and freeze for at least 2 hours. If frozen longer, place in refrigerator for about 20 minutes until soft enough to serve.

Makes about 4 cups sorbet.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Happy 4th of July

Happy 4th of July! American Independence Day
For all my British friends and bloggers-Happy British Thanksgiving