July 6th, 2012

Blueberry Cornmeal Shortcakes with Lemon Cream

Blueberry Cornmeal Shortcake with Lemon Cream

There's something so rustically pretty about shortcake

I love strawberry shortcake.  It and tiramisu tie for first place in the race for the title of my favorite dessert.  I love it so much that last summer I began experimenting with different types of shortcake + fruit combinations.  I got to thinking, “Why isn’t there a shortcake shop like there are ice cream parlors and cupcake boutiques?” There are so many ways to make fruit shortcakes, it can be really mind-boggling!

So last week when I got some truly fantastic blueberries from the farmer’s market, I got the idea for these blueberry cornmeal shortcakes with lemon cream.  We ended up eating the whole pint of blueberries in two days, with the exception of a small handful I saved for The Sprout since she loves blueberries! I have to admit, I am not a huge fan of them, but these were just so good I couldn’t stay away!

So this week I bought another pint of blueberries specifically with these shortcakes in mind.  I thought blueberries and lemon go really well together, and blueberries are also good with cornmeal, so this seemed like a natural combination.  And you know what? cornmeal shortcakes are one of the most successful culinary experiments I’ve ever tried (another being hazelnut shortcakes but that’s a different story for a different day).

If you like blueberries as much as our four-year-old does, you’ll love these shortcakes.  She got so excited watching me whip the cream and assemble that she was nearly squealing.  And as far as desserts go, it’s not too unhealthy.  So get yourself a freshly-picked pint and enjoy these blueberry cornmeal shortcakes this summer!

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February 17th, 2012

Irish Cream Truffles

Irish Cream Truffles

Creamy, buttery, boozy. Everything a candy should be.

Happy belated Valentine’s Day, my dears! I hope you had a wonderful day with your loved ones.

It’s been a very crazy time, lately.  January was so full of stuff going on, it just blew right by me, and to be honest, I’m glad for it.  February seems to be doing the same; although this time it’s for better reasons.  I’m making more progress with my Graphic Design business, and we’ve been working on redecorating the apartment.  It feels good to be accomplishing things we’ve been wanting for a couple years now.

Something else I’ve always wanted to do and never been able to accomplish satisfactorily, is give chocolates to my love.  In Japan, the Valentine’s Day tradition is that women give chocolates to the men in their lives (special ones for a special man, and “obligation” chocolate for the others that isn’t usually as nice, but makes them feel thought of).  I like this idea.  It’s much more simple and seems less shallow than Western traditions, but few men in my life know of it or understand it.

The Grump, who used to live in Japan, knows of the tradition but is rather apathetic toward chocolate so he never wanted any from me.  Then sometime in January, I learned that he actually likes white chocolate.  Having thought white chocolate, like all sweet things, fell into the same category of disdain, I gave up on getting to give homemade chocolate on Valentine’s Day.  Giving a Valentine’s gift was lumped into the same thought as receiving one: not going to happen.

But armed with this new found knowledge and a fantastic recipe for Irish Cream truffles made once upon a time with a friend, I was able to go through the excitement of making homemade truffles.  The first step is to choose a good chocolate bar: true white chocolate is not chocolate per se as it has no cacao, but it does have cocoa butter – beware cheap brands that lack this crucial element, replacing it with “flavor.”  Bleh.  After that, it’s really ridiculously easy to make!

I hope you like these truffles.  I am not a fan of white chocolate, but these are just so creamy and buttery that I can’t resist them for too long! Valentine’s Day may be past us this year, but I’m sure you can find an excuse to make a batch of these.

Beaucoup d’amour

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January 23rd, 2011

This one’s for the tree-huggers: Almond Crescent Cakes

crescent cakes

The powdered sugar was melting off...I didn't let them cool enough first!

Back in high school when I first decided to follow the spiritual path my heart was pointing out for me, I followed it diligently.  I’ve always believed that if something is worth doing, it’s worth doing all the way.  It’s really a mantra of mine.  Not to say I’ve ever been fanatical about anything – life is about balance, you see.  But therein lies the problem.  I knew paganism was right for me because I felt so complete and ebullient practicing it.  Following my natural propensity for finding joy in nature really solved a lot of problems for me, and it still does.

Yet.  I began to wane a little my last few years of college, because I did not have the time to celebrate rites and holidays as much as I would have liked.  My practicing has waned even more since, even though I’ve wanted to keep the spirit alive in my life and home.  I’ve had doubts; the old agonies of doing what I feel is true to myself versus what others want from me.  My struggles with severe obsessive compulsive disorder, which had finally found some semblance of peace when I embraced my true faith, have begun to return.

So around this past Yule (the pagan holiday celebrating the Winter Solstice), I made a decision.  Not an “I need to do blah blah blah” decision, but a deep-down, soul-grabbing decision.  I am going to find that inner peace again by rekindling the passion.  Peace from passion.  See? Balance.

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May 9th, 2010

Fried apples and an award!

Fried Apples

Sautéed in butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon

First, I must ask, no implore you to forgive the chip in this bowl.  You see, for all my aptitude for dancing, I am ridiculously clumsy and have a tendency to break things; usually dishes.  I can’t have nice things, and this pretty little Chinese dish set from my mother is no exception.  I just didn’t realize which bowl I was using when I took the photo.  D’oh!

Looking past the chipped Chinese china, please focus on the gorgeous, gooey, golden (let’s see how many times in one post I can use alliteration, eh?) apple slices nestled together.  Please also know that this delectable delight is insanely easy to make, and only involves 4 ingredients: an apple, some butter, and a bit of brown sugar and cinnamon.  The butter and brown sugar create a light caramel to glaze the apple, and joined by the juices of the cooking apple, becomes sticky and sublime (that’s 5 now).

It’s apples, so it’s healthy, right? And a little butter is good for you! And the brown sugar and cinnamon aren’t all that intrusive…so I claim this divine dessert also works well as a sweet side dish.  It’s fruit.  It’s good for you.  Don’t argue with my logic. :cool: I’ll give you the recipe at the end of this post.  But first, an award!

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May 3rd, 2010

Simple Strawberry Ice Cream

Homemade Strawberry Ice Cream

It's hard to get a good picture of ice cream in 80° weather...

It’s “Children’s Week” in WoW right now, another one of the many annual events.  A week where you pick up an orphan NPC and take them around doing quests for them.  One of the quests is to buy them a “Tigule and Foror’s Strawberry Ice Cream.”  This made me think of strawberry ice cream, and since strawberries were on sale at Big Y for “buy 1 get 2 free”, I could resist and picked up 3 pounds. They are not all going to this, though, oh no.  I have already washed, hulled, sliced, and frozen 1 1/2 pounds, and I plan to keep adding to the gallon-sized bag in the freezer until it’s full and stash it for winter.  Maybe stash more than one.

Then I did what I always do when I decide to make up a recipe for something – research it on the internet.  I found a lot of different ways to make it: some with egg yolks, some without, some with powdered milk and corn syrup (seriously? that must be how most commercial ice cream is made…), and some with food coloring.  I went the eggless route, and ended up not needing any food coloring.  The strawberries themselves gave it a nice pink hue.

So the following recipe is strictly my own, and I’m very proud of its simplicity – both in preparation and taste.  It’s sweet but not overly so, with a bright berry flavor.  Enjoy!

Simple Strawberry Ice Cream

  • 1/2 lb ripe, firm strawberries, washed & hulled
  • 1 tbsp freshly-squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 c sugar
  • 1/2 c whole milk
  • 1/2 c heavy cream
  1. Slice the strawberries into quarters and put in a metal or glass bowl. Toss with lemon juice and sugar, then let sit at room temperature for 15 minutes to soften slightly and get juicy.
  2. Mash strawberries with a pastry blender, fork, or potato masher, leaving a few chunks.
  3. Stir cream and milk into strawberries and refrigerate for minimum of 2 hours, maximum of overnight.
  4. After strawberry/cream mixture has chilled, process in an electric churn according to manufacturer’s instructions. Transfer to a freezer-safe container and freeze for at least 1 hour until firm. Or sample straight out of the churn, as I tend to do. :blush: