Monthly Archives: May 2009

“I got some ice cream…”

I went to college in St. Paul, Minnesota and lived through two of the coldest winters ever, which is saying something in that part of America. One record temperature was -75 degrees. So understandably, all of the ice cream shops in St. Paul would be closed during the winter because no one really one more frozen thing.

I always hated this though because I like the act of going somewhere for ice cream. Sure, you can buy it at the store and bring it home. That has its own comfort. But going out for ice cream is one those rare things that makes almost everyone happy.

Nowhere was this more evident than at the recent grand opening of Seattle “ice cream boutique” Molly Moon’s second location in the Capitol Hill neighborhood.

The line that snaked down the sidewalk included sleepy college students, Goth couples, pierced punk rockers, parents with babies strapped to their chests and aging hipsters.

Everyone was giddy. No one was complaining about how long the line was. Children were exuberant but well-behaved. Couples were more in love than ever.

This is the power of going out for ice cream.

My friend Sharon and I tried three flavors that day: salted black licorice, strawberry balsamic and pomegranate curry sorbet. I don’t even like black licorice, but I wanted to at least see how Molly Moon’s would approach this flavor. Maybe years of hating the strong anise flavor would suddenly fall away after my first taste of ice cream. It didn’t–but the salt did add an interesting element and made it at least palatable. Sharon loved it.

I preferred the pomegranate curry sorbet. I didn’t know what to expect from this flavor combo and was pleasantly surprised. It was too strong to eat more than a couple of bites on its own (no way would I ever want this in a waffle cone), but I could definitely see myself enjoying this sorbet after say, a great Indian dinner.

Strawberry balsamic is a Molly Moon’s staple, and with good reason. It’s a nice balance of sweet and tangy.

And now, for all of you Eddie Murphy fans who think of this first when you hear the words “ice cream…”

Does Eddie still rock leather suits? And do more people in America now know him from his work in “The Nutty Professor” and “Shrek” than in “Delirious” and “Raw”?

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Brownie points

Since I gave birth to my son a year and a half ago, it has really been hard getting back in the kitchen. Now that he’s older, I am starting to be able to cook a little more. But I haven’t baked at all until a few weeks ago.

It was a Tuesday night, and I really wanted a brownie. But I didn’t want to go to a bakery and buy a brownie. I wanted the satisfaction of making my own.

But what kind of brownies? I perused my cookbooks and perused Google. I decided to be ambitious and bake two kinds of brownies. There were a study in contrasts.

The first recipe I tried was one from Epicurious for cheesecake-marbled brownies. I have always loved eating these type of brownies, and while I’ve made many separate batches of brownies and cheesecakes, I’ve never combined the two.

I don’t why, but I was surprised at how easy it was to make the cheesecake brownies. I guess any kind of layering, especially in baking, sounds complex to me, when it really isn’t, especially with this recipe. You just make the brownie batter, put it in a pan, make the cheesecake batter, put that on top of the brownies and then swirl everything together with a knife. A few people on the Epicurious forums suggested adding extra chocolate, which was a really good tip. I think it would not have enough chocolate flavor otherwise.

The second recipe was for Bisquick fudge brownies. This may seem like an odd choice, but I was intrigued by the ingredient list, which included sweetened condensed milk and of course, Bisquick. I wanted to see how it would turn out.

The condensed milk gave the brownies an interesting tang, and a nice fudgey texture. I don’t know if using Bisquick was really necessary (unless you have some in your pantry that you’re trying to get rid of!) Regular all-purpose flour would have been fine, but maybe would have resulted in too-dense brownies.

I had friends, family and co-workers try both kinds of brownies and the cheesecake-marbled brownies were the hands down winner. I don’t think it’s because the Bisquick brownies weren’t good, but they just couldn’t match the powerful combo of gooey chocolate and cheesecake.

While sampling my brownies, one of my colleagues at work said, “You know what the best brownie recipe is? The one on the back of the Baker’s chocolate box.”

So last week, I made those too. I have really missed baking!

The Baker’s one-bowl brownies were the best yet. What I liked most about them was the top of the brownie was crispy, almost like it had a candy coating. And these brownies had the most chocolate flavor of the three I tried. The recipe calls for two cups of sugar, but I feel like one would be plenty. If the brownie was less sweet, I feel like even more of the chocolate-ness would shine through.

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Too hot to handle!

Wow–has it really been over a month since I last posted?! The ironic thing is that I think I’ve been posting less because I’ve been cooking more.

I’ve spent most of this morning trying to fix some way too spicy chili that I made last night. I was trying a new recipe, and I didn’t read it as carefully as I should. Instead of putting in two chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, I put in two cans of chipotle peppers. So I probably put in four times as much chipotle as needed. Holy hotness!

As I was slicing up the many peppers, I did think, “This is really a lot of chipotle,” but I figured that if that’s what the recipe called for, then it must be right. Argh–one of my food resolutions for this year is trying to build my cooking intuition. I ignored it this time and paid the price. Or rather my husband did because he’s a big chili fan, and I made the chili especially for him.

The chili was so spicy, it was practically inedible. I am loathe to waste any food so I wondered how I could tone it down and salvage it. I added another can of beans, some canned core, more crushed tomatoes and a little bit of water. The helped a lot, but it was still super spicy. Then I thought, “How about some starch.” So I cooked some rotelle pasta and added it to the chili. That did the trick. The chili was still quite hot, but you actually detect some flavor beneath the spice. And with some cheddar cheese and sour cream, it may even be delicious.

The only problem is that adding all of those extra ingredients tripled the volume of the chili so now I’ve got a lot of leftovers to freeze. I better stock up on the Rolaids.

Chili

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