I think it was my friend Nelly from Cooking with Books who first showed me a picture of Chocoflan, or impossible cake, and I have had it in the back of my mind ever since. I mean, who wouldn’t want moist chocolate cake and smooth, creamy flan all in one bite? Nobody? I didn’t think so.
Cancer is the worst. If you are a human being, I’m sure you know this, either through first-hand experience or through a family member’s or a friend or acquaintance’s journey.
I got to know cancer when my brother was diagnosed with Chronic Myeloid Leukemia back in 1996. Though we were ever-hopeful, his story ended exactly 2 1/2 years later.
Cancer is one of those diseases that is so ubiquitous in our society that there are many rallying points. Walk-a-thons, bake sales, lemonade stands. People raising money at the grassroots level all the way up to huge corporate-sponsored fundraising, all with the goal of providing more money for more research to help find a cure.
Fortunately, the search is bolstered by success stories. Stories of people who have beaten the odds. Stories of types of cancers that are becoming more and more treatable. Knowing that a diagnosis of cancer is now about fighting for your life rather than waiting for your death. Cancer is no longer whispered about. You can’t whisper an enemy away. You have to defy it.
I have resisted the “let’s post pumpkin in the summer” trend with all I have in me. I never used to be a pumpkin fan until I realized that most pumpkin desserts I’d ever had suffered from an anemic amount of salt and pumpkin pie spice overload. Once I figured that out, I realized that I quite like the earthy, mellow sweetness of pumpkin. I have said it before, but I’ll say it again. My rule for most pumpkin dessert recipes I find is to double the amount of salt and half the amount of spices.
Since I’ve spent so much time–probably six weeks now–pointedly looking the other way as folks posted dozens upon dozens of pumpkiny items, I decided to go All In For Fall with this week’s ice cream. It is now officially Fall, and it feels right to start off with a bang. I bring you an ice cream that’s like two fall dessert treats in one: pumpkin pie and pecan pie. It’s like having the best Thanksgiving desserts all in one bite.
I have been absent from my corner of the Hinternets for awhile. It has been only a week, but it feels much longer than that.
On Saturday, The Beloved and I attended a dear friend’s older brother’s memorial service. Rich was one of a kind. His family requested that his favorite song, The Wheel by The Grateful Dead, be played at his service. The Episcopalian priest who officiated told them that he could lose his job if he did, but he used the text of the song for his homily, referencing Voyage of the Dawn Treader to boot.
Everyone who knew Rich had a favorite Rich Story. This one is mine. One day as Rich was working in his yard, some Jehovah Witnesses approached him. Rich never shied away from conversation, so he engaged them. They stood talking on his lawn for about 45 minutes. At one point, Rich had them bend down to grab a handful of dark, moist earth, telling them that this was what it was all about. I wonder if those Jehovah’s Witnesses still talk about their encounter with Rich.
I entered a recipe contest, you guys. The contest, which I heard about at the Food & Wine Conference in Orlando a couple of months ago, was sponsored by Cabot Cheese to help publicize their Farmer’s Legacy Cheddar Cheeses. The Beloved and I had had one of the Farmer’s Legacy cheeses, White Oak Cheddar, long before I even heard about this contest. I even used the White Oak Cheddar in the Envy Apple Salad I posted a few months ago, although I didn’t name it then since it was a sponsored post for the fine New Zealand fruit folks. And now you know.
The contest challenged entrants to use at least 2 ounces of one of Farmers’ Legacy Cheddar Cheeses in an update to a family recipe, and I chose to update my mom’s baked macaroni and cheese.
So sorry the ice cream is late this week, guys. Yesterday was the inaugural posting of the new #BreadBakers group, so I made naan. Yay! And honestly, I wasn’t inspired, ice cream-wise.
It is transition time here, both in season and in weather. I know lots of folks are jumping on the pumpkin wagon already, but it’s still hot here, and I just can’t bring myself to post pumpkiny harvest Items when it’s still summer. I do have some roasted pumpkin puree in my fridge that a thawed last week, and I need to do something with it. Pumpkin ice cream will be happening, but just not yet.
Out of no inspiration, I started to get an Idea. Here’s what happened:
Vegan. We need another vegan ice cream.
So coconut and peanut butter.
Can I make a vegan chocolate swirl? (research, research)
What can I put in there that will be lovely with these flavors?
Consult The Flavor Bible
I have made a few forays into Indian cooking over the years. I make plenty of “Indian inspired” food, but sometimes, I pull out all the stops and try to be as authentic as I can. Remember that time I made Lamb Biryani and about killed myself what with all the steeping and toasting and frying and layering and entombing? Even while performing all those cooking verbs, it didn’t occur to me to make naan, perhaps one of my very favorite breads of ever.
But when Renee and Stacy decided to start Bread Bakers and asked me to join up, I thought, “This is my chance!” What better way to stretch myself than in a group that posts monthly, right?
The Beloved and I went to see Chef a couple of weeks ago. Several scenes really struck me, in that they really spoke to me about who and what a chef is as well as reminding me of scenes in other “foodie” movies. Since then, I’ve been giving the common threads some serious thought, and now I’d like your input as well.
I would like you guys to watch these video clips. I’ve embedded four, and I’ve linked to the one that is not embeddable. Whether you have worked in or work in the food industry or not, ask yourself a couple of questions while you watch.
How is the way in which the food is prepared in these clips different from the way you prepare food at home? Or is it any different?
Does the attention paid to the cooking process make the final dish taste any better than it would or could otherwise?
What do you think it is that makes a chef a chef?
Heading into the long weekend, I had no idea what sort of ice cream I’d be making for today. And then I walked down the candy aisle. The dark chocolate Toblerone bars were staring me in the face, and I could not look away.
For straight up eating, I adore the milk chocolate Toblerone, but I was afraid that the milk chocolate would be too sweet and not chocolatey enough for the gelato I had in mind. Besides, I was adding a lot of milk to the chocolate anyway.
For those of you who have never had a Toblerone bar, they contain lovely wee bits of honey nougat and pieces of almond. They are delicious. I underscored the honey by adding just a touch to the base, and a little bit of Amaretto helped to bring out the almond. This gelato is dangerously rich and delicious. It has three bars of Toblerone melted into the base and another one chopped into tiny pieces and mixed in after churning.
I’m calling this Toblerone Gelato because the base is made from whole milk. When I use dairy that’s higher in butterfat, then I call it ice cream. And now you know.
tahini swirl challahThe last time my friend Nadine and I collaborated to make the Communion bread for her church, the passages were about sowing seeds and eating rich foods. At first we discussed making brioche, but then I realized that challah would be much more appropriate. After all, Jesus was Jewish, and even though he and his disciples ate unleavened bread at the last supper, they certainly would have enjoyed an enriched bread for other holiday celebrations. And that means challah. The seeds were easy enough to work in. Sesame challah is an actual Thing, so not only did I sprinkle the tops of the loaves liberally with sesame seeds, I also added tahini, or sesame paste, to the dough itself. Nadine’s congregation enjoyed a wonderful communion celebration and happily ate the leftovers after church. And that’s how we like it.
The tahini swirl challah I’m sharing today is based on that communion bread, hence the Throwback Thursday. I also incorporated another element from a recent post. The lovely, lightly sweet Sukkar bi Tahin or Beirut Tahini Swirls I made for Cookbooks&Calphalon a few weeks ago are swirled with a simple 1:1 mixture of tahini and sugar that bakes up smooth and creamy and delicious. After checking with a Jewish friend to see if it’s okay to add a swirl to a challah (she said yes), I married the tahini swirl element with my tahini challah, and Tahini Swirl Challah was born!