We have a saying….when asked just how hot something is…we often say “hotter than hell”. Meaning, really, really, really hot. We have another saying when something is extremely odd or unlikely. We say something is “like a snowball in hell”.
The pooling of these two sayings made me think of snowballs…which made we think of ice cream…which made me want an ice cream treat because it is truly hotter than hell today in Nashville…I am pretty sure.
Vanilla Ice Cream softened, fresh blackberries, finely chopped candied ginger is all you need.
All stirred together……
….then refrozen in a plastic box for a few hours or overnight. Scooped and formed using your hands into balls and then refrozen for a bit. They look like snowballs studded with lots of fruit and ginger. They are a bit crunchy and icy, spicy and creamy, cooling and delicious.
A little listen while you make your own snowballs. Enjoy and Chill. It’s as easy-as-that.
Frozen Blackberries and Ice Cream Snowballs in Hell
1 pint of vanilla ice cream softened to where you can stir it
1 cup of fresh blackberries (or blueberries or raspberries)
1 tablespoon finely chopped candied ginger
Stir together the softened ice cream, fresh blackberries and candied ginger until well blended. Scrape mixture into a glass or plastic box container with a tight fitting lid.
Freeze for a few hours or overnight. Mixture will be very hard when you pull it out of the freezer. Let it sit on counter for at least 10 minutes before scooping.
Scoop out and form into “snowballs” using your hands. Don’t worry if they are perfect. Place snow balls on a metal tray. When all ice cream is scooped and formed into snowballs re-freeze for an hour or so before eating.
Certain foods are ubiquitous. One such food is Pesto. Of course you can buy jars of it in supermarkets and specialty food markets, but there is none to compare to what you make at home. Most pre-made pestos are too oily, too smooth without any character and with little flavor. One of the easiest things to make at home is pesto. This is a version that doesn’t even call for a food processor. I just chopped it!
I want my pesto to have texture and lots of flavor. I want the olive oil to enhance the pesto, not be the main ingredient. I often use greens other than basil such as kale or parsley. Hardly ever do I use pine nuts as I feel they are too oily. Walnuts, pecans, pistachios and pepitas are some of my favorite nuts to use. The constants in my pestos are good fresh garlic, the best olive oil I can afford and freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano. Paired with a good short pasta noodle such as Campanelle, this pesto is divine and delicious.
First I smashed two garlic cloves using the flat side of my knife and then finely chopped them, adding toasted walnuts to my board and giving them a medium to fine chop together with the garlic. Grated parmesan was added and chopped into the garlic-walnut mix.
I harvested my first basil of the 2019 season and gave it a medium to fine chop as well. All the ingredients I then put into a bowl, adding a generous sprinkle of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
All the ingredients I then drizzled with a good olive oil and smushed it all together with a wooden spatula.
I cooked some Campanelle noodles, topped them with a few spoonfuls of this chopped pesto. Bon Appetit.
Freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano – 1 cup or more divided
2 cups or more fresh basil leaves
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 to 1/2 cup good olive oil
1 lb Campanelle pasta noodles or other short noodle
Put a pot of water on to boil for the noodles.
Meanwhile working on a cutting board, smash the garlic cloves with the flat side of a knife and then chop. Add walnuts and give them a medium to fine chop along with the garlic. Every now and then smush it all with the side of you knife. This releases the oils from the garlic and walnuts.
Add half of the grated Parmigiano and chop into the garlic-walnut mix and scrape all into a mixing bowl.
On the same board chop the basil medium to fine and add to the bowl tossing with other ingredients. Season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Drizzle olive oil over all and toss together well. Taste and adjust to suit your palate.
When you pasta water boils add the noodles and cook al dente. Drain well.
Serve pasta topped with a generous serving of chopped pesto and more Parmigiano, sea salt and black pepper. Drizzle with additional olive oil if you like. Enjoy.
Strawberries. Most local berries are gone for the season unless you are growing your own. The weather has been testy and now it is summer-hot. Strawberries don’t like that very much.
Here is a deliciously easy recipe I made using the the last of the local strawberries from the Farmer’s Market Downtown Nashville. “Roasted Strawberry-Lemon Dessert Topping” can be put into glass jars and frozen for enjoying later. The results are not cloyingly sweet. This topping has a hint of lemon which brightens up things and the color is a deep crimson. This quick recipe (although lots of passive time) could be used for making other berry toppings. Blueberry, raspberry and blackberry topping would all be scrumptious, maybe even peach or plum?
I was inspired by a recipe I found in an early issue of “Sweet Paul Magazine”. Do you know this magazine? For many years now it has been an inspiration and delight for me with lots of doable good food and craft ideas, just wonderful stories of people and travel. I don’t know Paul, “Sweet Paul, Lowe, but I wish I did.3 lbs of fresh berries, lemon zest and sugar.
After 24 hours just sitting around in a bowl of sugar….this is what you have (above)….
…after a few hours in a low heat oven this is what you have (above). The berry juice cooks down and thickens to a perfect topping consistency.
Spoon into clean glass jars. Freeze or refrigerate for a few weeks. Eating some immediately over ice cream is a good idea as well. Good Eating.
3 lbs fresh strawberries, hulled, large berries cut in half, small ones left whole
3 lemons zested + juice from the lemons
2 3/4 cups granulated sugar
Put prepped berries in a large bowl. Add lemon zest and juice and toss well.
Sprinkle sugar over berries and toss again. Cover and refrigerate overnight or up to 12 hours.
Preheat your oven to 300 degrees. Put berry mixture into a large non-reactive baking dish (enamel, glass, stainless steel or ceramic).
Bake berries, uncovered, stirring every now and then for 3 to 3 1/2 hours. Remove pan from oven. As mixture cools it will thicken up somewhat but not as thick as jam. It will be a more “juicy” topping.
Fill small (1/2 pint) glass jars with roasted berries, leaving about 1/2 headroom and seal with tight-fitting lids. Let cool completely and then store in refrigerator for a couple of weeks or freeze for using later in the summer or fall.
Serve topping over vanilla ice cream or your favorite pound cake. Also good on top of pancakes or waffles.
Recipe based on “Slow Roasted Strawberry Jam” from Sweet Paul Magazine.
I have always used books to escape or to avoid things or to soothe my bothered brow. I realized a few days ago that I have never, ever read so much in my life as since mr. Trump has been president. Most days I just need to tune out his vitriolic hatred for all things good in this world as much as possible. I tune out by reading. Magazines, newspapers, recipes and books. I have, in fact, taken my reading to an entirely new level in the past few years. More than read, I devour pages, upon pages of novels….thousands of ideas and words. No quicker than I finish one, I am on to the next. On the other hand, one cannot live off books alone….one has to eat real food…so a few days ago, between chapters, I tossed a few ingredients to my blender for this batch of green gazpacho. A drinkable lunch while moving to the next chapter. (Dare I say, thank you mr. president? Hmmmm…probably not.)
A few small Persian cucumbers, fresh arugula, garlic, basil, mint, a splash of vinegar and olive oil with a pinch of sea salt and black pepper. No particular amounts of each, just whatever you have. Blend until smooth, taste and adjust flavors, drink while reading.
No recipe is needed for this refreshing summer soup, but I will share a list of some of books I have read recently for your own little summer escape. Bon Appetite while reading.
Bright crimson to deep carmine local strawberries are at their peak. Please do yourself a favor and stop by your local farmer’s market or roadside stand or pick-your-own farm to get your own berries before they are all gone. It is a sweet short season not to be missed.
Have you ever made labnah, or yogurt cheese? If you have then you will know what I am talking about when I say it is the easiest cheese to make requiring no special skills or ingredients other than a good plain Greek yogurt and sea salt. I first encountered Labnah in Mexico years ago and have loved it ever since. Tart and just a bit salty it is the perfect foil for sugared fresh strawberries.
Cheesecloth, string and a bowl are all the tools needed and 24 hours to drain. The liquid drips out leaving a firm creamy, spreadable cheese. I have, in the past, added fresh herbs for a savory spread or raw sugar for sweetness.
Labnah ready to eat along with berries and baguette slices which I like toasted.
I didn’t sugar the berries ahead of time as I did not want them to “water out” and lose their firmness. I also really enjoy the crunch of raw sugar. You can use as much or as little sugar as you like.
Toasted baguette slices smeared with labnah and topped with fresh Tennessee strawberry slices and raw sugar is either the perfect dessert, snack or lunch. Textural, crunchy, just sweet enough with the tart-saltiness of the labnah. Treat yourself. It’s as Easy-As-This.
Spring Strawberries and Yogurt Cheese (Labnah) on Toasted Baguette
Fold a length of cheesecloth to make three layers. Cut into a large square about 16-18 inches. Fit layered cheesecloth square down into a bowl large enough to hold 1 quart of yogurt.
Stir 1 teaspoon sea salt flakes into the yogurt mixing well.
Scrape the yogurt into the bowl lined with cheesecloth. Gather up the edges, twist the cloth and tie with kitchen string. You will want to have enough of a “tail” of cheesecloth to suspend over the bowl in the refrigerator for 24 hours to allow all the liquid to drip out of the yogurt creating a spreadable “cheese”. (You may have to be inventive in figuring a way to suspend cheesecloth over bowl as I had to be. I wedged the fabric at the top between two refrigerator trays and set the bowl underneath. You will figure out your own way.)
Store yogurt cheese/labnah in an airtight container. It will keep in the refrigerator for a few weeks.
Toast baguette slices. Set aside.
Rinse and drain fresh berries. Remove the cap and slice. Sprinkle with raw sugar to suit your taste.
Smear baguette toast with labnah, top with sugared berries, adding more sugar for crunch if you like. Eat. Enjoy. It is as easy-as-that.
There are peaches, and there are peaches. There are the ones you buy at the supermarket with no taste, or the ones you buy and have to wait for 4 or 5 days for them to ripen before eating them, and there are just picked, juicy, ripe, let’s-eat-them-today peaches that taste like summer sweetness. I have met few folks who do not like a good, ripe peach that you can eat in hand while the juice runs down your arm, which is one of life’s simple joys. This post is an ode to those kind of peaches.
In a few days there will be a new peach cookbook released by Gibbs-Smith Publishers that I had the pleasure of working on. “Just Peachy” by Belinda Smith-Sullivan. She is a person extraordinaire. Not only do her familial roots run deep in the South, she is a woman-of-the-world in both a culinary and travel sense.
Here is one of my favorite pics of Belinda amongst all those ready-to-pick South Carolina peaches. The granddaughter of Mississippi sharecroppers, Belinda is also a chef, food writer, creator of her on line of spice blends and a commercially-rated pilot who resides in South Carolina where some of the best peaches in the world grow which are the inspiration for this book.
The lovely photography in this book is by Mark Boughton. Check out his work on line. I had the rare chance to both style the food and do all the tabletop photo-prop styling for this cookbook and it was a great, just peachy time! Thanks Belinda and Mark.
This recipe, “Blueberry Peach Pecan Scones”, is easy to make and bake in less than 45 minutes total time. Serve them warm from the oven with homemade peach preserves (another recipe in the book you will love) and a smear of softened butter.
Because of all the peaches and blueberries, these scones are not as dry as some and were still good a few days after I baked them.
You can add the lemon glaze that is part of the recipe, or as I did, just sprinkle them with decorating sugar for the crunch.
3/4 cup sugar (I used half white and half raw sugar)
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cardamom (I love this spice so I used a bit more)
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup buttermilk, or heavy cream
zest of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 cup of peeled and chopped ripe peaches
1/2 cup pecan pieces, toasted
1/2 cup frozen blueberries (I frozen fresh berries on a flat tray and used instead of grocery store frozen, which you can use)
1/4 cup milk, for wash
(My addition – 1/2 cup plain decorating sugar)
Glaze recipe: 1/4 cup fresh squeeze lemon juice + 1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar, sifted
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
In a medium bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cardamom. Cut butter into flour mixture using a pastry blender or your fingers until it resembles coarse meal. This step can also be done in the food processor.
Combine buttermilk, egg, lemon zest and almond extract. Stir into the flour mixture along with the chopped peached, pecans and blueberries just until combined.
On a lightly floured work surface, gather dough into a loose ball and flatten somewhat. Dust with flour, dough will be sticky, and roll out to about 3/4 inch thick. Cut dough into 4 inch square and then cut squares diagonally to make triangles. Place on parchment lined baking sheet. Brush with milk. (Dust with decorating sugar if you are using.) Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown.
For the glaze mix together lemon juice and sugar until sugar dissolves. Drizzle over warm scones if desired.
Based on original recipe by Belinda Smith-Sullivan from her cookbook “Just Peachy” published by Gibbs-Smith Publishers.
Let’s talk about Banana Pudding. The real deal, not what I seem to be encountering recently. The Southern iconic dessert I grew up eating in West Tennessee, made by both my Grandmother and Mother, started with a homemade vanilla custard pudding layered with vanilla wafer cookies and lots of bananas, topped with peaks of meringue baked until golden brown and is my absolute favorite dessert.
How and when banana pudding recipes took a wrong turn I cannot say, but they did so, along with homemade fudge and biscuits. The list could go on and on, but that is for another day.
Often what is called banana pudding is made with store-bought custard or pudding mixed with a pre-made whipped topping, a scant representation of wafer cookies and bananas added to the mix and topped with additional whipped topping. Not whipped cream, but whipped topping. This is not banana pudding, this is a dessert made with bananas and some fake stuff.
This recipe for banana pudding is so easy you may not even have to go to the grocery except to buy the vanilla wafers and bananas! The rest is just basic pantry ingredients.
I use “Nilla Vanilla Wafers”, ripe, but not over ripe, bananas, egg yolks for the pudding and the whites for the topping. The pudding takes only minutes to thicken and the meringue takes even less time to whip. From start to finish you will spend about 30 minutes to create this heavenly delicious dessert.
A generous portion of all the ingredients layered in a deep dish….
….egg whites, vanilla extract and sugar whipped together until the meringue “holds a peak” and is piled on top, ready for the oven.
Golden browned meringue to die for. Eat it warm from the oven or chilled. Heavenly good.
Heavenly Meringue Topped Old Fashioned Banana Pudding
1/2 cup sugar for pudding + 1/4 cup sugar for the meringue
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
pinch of salt
4 eggs, separated
2 cups whole milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract, divided
5-6 ripe bananas, sliced
1 box vanilla wafer cookies (you will need about 30-40 depending on your baking dish shape)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Whisk together the 1/2 cup sugar, flour and salt in the top of a double boiler pan.
Whisk in the milk and egg yolks. Turn heat to medium high. Cook over boiling water, whisking constantly for about 10-12 minutes or until custard pudding has thickened. Remove from heat and stir in 1 teaspoon vanilla extract.
Beginning with a layer of pudding on the bottom of the baking dish, add a layer of wafer cookies and then a layer of sliced bananas. Repeat layering until your dish is filled, finishing with a layer of pudding. How many layers will depend on shape and size of dish you use. I used a 2 quart deep casserole dish.
In a stand mixer, or using a hand mixer, beat the egg whites on high speed until soft peaks form. With mixer running, slowly add in 1/4 cup sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, beating the meringue hold a stiff peak. This takes about 5-7 minutes.
Top banana pudding with all the meringue, creating “meringue peaks” with the back of a spoon and “sealing” the meringue to the edges of the filling. Bake for about 12-15 minutes or until meringue is golden browned. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack. Serve warm, at room temp or chilled. Keeps a few days in the refrigerator.
Based on the basic recipe on the side of the box of Nabisco Nilla Wafer cookies sold everywhere.