Friday, August 24, 2012

Banana Ice Cream Pie - Aug 19, 2012

When I was little, my Mom used to buy these pre-packaged ice cream pies that I don't remember the brand name of.  I do remember both a chocolate flavor and a banana flavor.  The banana was my favorite.  I was in love with these things.  They had a graham cracker crust and some sort of whipped cream topping.  The banana ice cream was a bright, sunshine yellow, and clearly flavored with some sort of fake banana flavoring concocted in a food science lab somewhere.

Well, I decided to try my hand at a homemade version, with Nick enthusiastically supportive of my plan.  I picked up a pre-made graham cracker crust, although I'm sure this would be extra gourmet with a baked-from-scratch graham cracker crust, see here, and here

Now, finding a banana ice cream recipe online proved to be more of a challenge than I had hoped, mostly due to the Kitchn's massively popular "one ingredient banana ice cream" recipe that became an Internet meme.  I'm sure it's awesome, but I wanted some cream in my ice cream, if you know what I mean.

I eventually decided upon Alton Brown's recipe, although it wasn't exactly what I was looking for (mostly due to the inclusion of light corn syrup).  I didn't follow directions exactly, but in the end this was an easy and relatively quick (the way I did it at least) way to make banana ice cream.  As you can see, mine is not the lovely, if potentially harmful, sunshine yellow of my memories, but the flavor was pretty close.

I ended up with a half a cup of heavy cream left over from the ice cream recipe, which was the perfect amount to make a whipped cream topping for my pie.  After filling the crust with ice cream, I popped it in the freezer while I whipped up the cream.  Then, I spread the whipped cream over the top of the pie in a thin layer and put the pie back into the freezer.  After a couple of hours, everything was ready.  Nostalgia on a plate.

And, speaking of nostalgia, here's another childhood favorite of mine.  It turns out that I had some ice cream left over after making the pie.  And it also turns out that I had purchased these chocolate wafers earlier in the summer from a great little bulk grocery store in downtown Osage, Iowa that we sometimes visit while staying with my parents in southern Minnesota.  How fortuitous!  While I actually prefer my ice cream sandwiches with the traditional vanilla ice cream, banana and chocolate is not a bad combination. 
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Thursday, August 23, 2012

Weekly CSA Hash #2 - Aug 19, 2012

Here is the latest rendition of our new weekly routine, CSA Hash.  For this go around, Nick and I used potatoes, cauliflower, green peppers, onions, and cabbage sauteed in the rendered bacon fat.  Once cooked, we mixed in fresh, sliced tomatoes, fresh basil, and chives.  Scrambled eggs topped off our bowls for a lovely summer weekend brunch. Nick referred to this as a glorified "bubble and squeak," which I had never heard of before, but quite like the sound of.
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Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Another Eggplant Parmesan - August 22, 2012

Jess's post on eggplant parmesan inspired me to try making my own tonight. This version is loosely based on the recipe in Marcella Hazan's Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking, though scaled down dramatically to be just a single serving since I'm dining solo while Richie is out of town.

I've actually not eaten a lot of eggplant parmesan in my life, so I'm not really sure what it should taste like, but this turned out to be delicious. I salted and drained the eggplant slices per Hazan's directions, then dusted them in flour and fried them. I layered the fried slices with some quick cooked sauce from my home grown tomatoes, basil, mozzarella, and of course parmesan. The eggplant did drink up quite a bit of oil in the frying process, but the end result wasn't too greasy.

Potato Leek Soup - August 20, 2012

Even though the temperature is still climbing into the 90s here in Virginia, my appetite is starting to turn to fall comfort food... particularly creamy soups. I picked up leeks at the farmer's market last week without any real plan as to how to use them, but I was thumbing through my favorite new cookbook, The Homemade Pantry by Anna Chernila, and stumbled on this very simple recipe for potato leek soup. A seasoned breadstick made from some leftover pizza dough completed the dish and I sat next to the air conditioning vent and pretended it was a chilly fall evening!

Eggplant Parmesan - Aug 16, 2012

Minneapolis has had a little hint of fall in the air lately.  Because of this, I've been craving some heartier, autumn fare.  Last week I made a small batch of eggplant Parmesan for Nick and I.  I like to make portions sized for two in my thrifted Nordic Ware loaf pan, although any loaf pan would be the correct size.

Essentially, eggplant Parmesan (this recipe, at least) is a lasagna where battered and fried slices of eggplant stand in for the lasagna noodles.  I actually chose to bake the eggplant, however, because my attempts at frying eggplant have resulted in a soggy, greasy mess.

I used this recipe, but altered the amount of ingredients.  I found that one eggplant and one quart of my canned tomatoes, cooked along with some garlic, basil and oregano while the eggplant baked, worked out pretty well.  Otherwise, I stuck to the recipe and layered my eggplant and sauce with fresh mozzarella slices.  It was delicious, and perfect for the two of us. 
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Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Summer Anchovy Salad - Aug 10, 2012

This salad recipe is from August 2012's issue of Bon Appetit.  I had high hopes because it combines several of our favorite things.  Nick and I love hard boiled eggs, tinned fish, in-season tomatoes, and simple summer salads.  On paper this looked like a clear winner.  In my bowl, however, I did not enjoy it as much as anticipated.  The salt content in the anchovies we used was way too concentrated for me to enjoy.  I think this recipe would work better with one extra step involving incorporating the mashed anchovies into a dressing with the olive oil and balsamic, and then drizzling it over the salad.  This would disperse the saltiness more evenly throughout the bowl.  While I had a hard time with it, Nick really enjoyed it as is, although he did make a point of manually organizing each forkful of salad to get a little anchovy across each bite.  Perhaps I should follow his lead, rather than shoving a whole anchovy fillet into my mouth at once.
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Monday, August 20, 2012

Jess & Nick's CSA Delivery #8 - Aug 9, 2012

Here is what arrived from our CSA last week: summer squash; melon; cucumbers; peppers; tomatoes; broccoli; celery; eggplant and zucchini; more melon.

I sliced the watermelon open immediately and found this pretty, yellow flesh inside.  It was sweet and crisp and delicious.

I've already used the zucchini to make a chocolate zucchini bundt cake.  Nick and I have also made use of some cucumbers and tomatoes, combined with fresh mint, to make a refreshing garnish for onion pakoras.  Heidi Swanson has an intriguing celery salad recipe up on her blog, which I may try and reproduce with our beautiful celery.  I am also planning on making an eggplant Parmesan since there has been a little chill in the air, causing me to crave some warm, comfort foods.

Thank you to Harmony Valley Farm for our beautiful fruit and vegetables!
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Friday, August 17, 2012

Summer Tart - Aug 6, 2012

I made this tart using our eggplant, a green pepper, and some tomatoes from our CSA delivery. Fresh mozzarella garnishes the top, while the crust is a frozen puff pastry I found in our freezer.

It looks really pretty, and it was quite flavorful.  The only thing that wasn't great was the center crust never got crispy, probably due to the high concentration of moisture in the vegetables (especially the tomatoes).

Regardless of the sogginess issues, Nick and I managed to eat up every last crumb in one sitting. 
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Thursday, August 16, 2012

Grilled chicken and pesto sandwich - August 14, 2012

This was a simple sandwich I threw together after teaching a late yoga class, but thought it was worth noting due to the many elements that were the result of my own gardening and cooking skills!

The pesto was made from our prolific basil plant, the tomatoes were of course grown in our container garden, and the bread is my latest (not yet perfected) attempt at homemade sourdough. Combined with some leftover grilled chicken breasts and a lettuce salad on the side, it hit the spot!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Weekly* CSA Hash - Aug 5, 2012

On the menu at Wise Acre is the aptly named CSA hash, made up of fresh vegetables grown on their farm just outside of Minneapolis.  Nick and I enjoyed our lunch there so much, that we've vowed to imitate it with our own CSA bounty each week.  For round one, we cooked up some bacon in our largest skillet.  Once that was done, we set it aside, drained off some, but not all, of the rendered fat from the skillet.  To the hot skillet we added potatoes, carrots, cauliflower and onions and let everything cook until the edges started to get brown and crispy.  Next we added zucchini, green peppers and cabbage and let everything cook a bit longer.  Finally, after turning off the heat, we mixed in some tomatoes and fresh basil and poured everything off onto our plates.  Nick used the same skillet to make up some eggs while I made toast and then, with plates piled high, we enjoyed a lovely summer brunch in the porch.
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Monday, August 13, 2012

Cold Roasted Beet Salad with Smoked Trout - Aug 1, 2012

Cold, roasted beets are getting quite a bit of play in my summer kitchen.  I wrapped our CSA beets (from both deliveries #6 and #7) in foil and roasted them in a 400 degree oven for 45 minutes to an hour, a la Mark Bittman.  I let them cool a bit on the counter before chilling them in the refrigerator, all the while leaving them wrapped in their shiny aluminum suits, mind you.  Then, when dinner time rolls around, I simply have to pull one out, unwrap it and remove it's peel, which comes off in my hands quite easily and tidily.

For this dinner, I sliced the beets in narrow cross-sections and layered them in the bowls with fresh basil leaves.  I drizzled olive oil and balsamic vinegar over this and seasoned with salt and pepper.  Next, Nick and I topped our bowls with crumbled feta cheese, roasted walnuts and tinned smoked trout.  This was quick, cool and delicious for a summer supper.
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Friday, August 10, 2012

Summer Succotash Salad - July 27, 2012

This is the other salad that came along to my sister's cookout and Opening Ceremonies viewing party.  It's one that I've made and posted about before, so I'll keep this brief.  I used our CSA sweet corn, CSA golden cherry tomatoes plus a tomato from my sister's gardener friend, one of our CSA onions, and some home-grown parsley (yep, that's right.  Even though Nick and I can't seem to grow anything else, our herbs do well out on the deck).  The dressing is a simple olive oil and red wine vinegar affair and everything is seasoned with salt and pepper.  Technically I shouldn't call this succotash because it contains no Lima beans, but I'm going to anyway so you'll just have to deal with it.
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Thursday, August 09, 2012

Marinated Kale Salad - July 27, 2012

Our neighborhood pizza place inspired me to make this salad, as Nick and I enjoyed their version a couple of weeks ago.  I had never entertained the idea of marinating kale, but once I tasted it, I knew I needed to give it a try.  While my sister, Kate, stayed with us for ten days last month, she made the rounds, catching up with many of her local friends.  Fortuitously, one of those friends is an avid gardener and sent Kate home with some kale, along with other items, after their coffee date.  Things were falling into place.

I did some online research and found something that approximated what we had had at Lola's. My version used kale, shredded carrots, thinly sliced onions and roasted hazelnuts.  My marinade used olive oil, lemon juice, tamari, toasted sesame oil, and salt.  We also topped it with feta cheese right before serving.  This, along with one additional salad, came along to my sister Nat's house for some Olympic Opening Ceremony viewing, accompanied by an All-American grill-out in support of team USA. 
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Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Jess & Nick's CSA Delivery #7 - July 26, 2012

Even though I'm incredibly delinquent in posting this, I did manage to take photos of our latest CSA delivery when it arrived nearly two weeks ago.  The photos above show some little squash; green-top carrots; beets; zucchini and eggplant.

And we received a lovely little melon; sweet corn; tomatoes; and assorted peppers.  We also got potatoes, onions, and cucumbers plus fresh basil in the choice box.  Nick and I have been pretty good about working our way through this bounty over the past week and a half, which the upcoming posts should highlight.

Thank you, as always, to the good folks at Harmony Valley Farm for putting such beautiful food on our plates.
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Broccoli-Bacon Salad - July 23, 2012

Nick and I have been having a wide assortment of salads for dinner of late.  Does anyone else remember this one?  This, or something quite similar, was a favorite at my house growing up.  Fresh broccoli florets, crispy bacon, and crunchy sunflower seeds with some sort of mayonnaise-based dressing.  This is not my mom's recipe, just one I found online after consulting with my visiting sister, who begrudgingly informed me that, yes, the dressing mom uses is mayonnaise.  Turn up your nose if you like, but the end result is delicious.  It's classic Midwestern summer food, and you'll likely see a big bowl of it at most pot-lucks and graduation parties.
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Monday, August 06, 2012

Pressed Sandwiches for a Birthday Picnic - July 20, 2012

Well hello, strangers!  It appears that I have a bit of blogging to catch up on, having been absent of late.  Let's begin back when things started getting busy around here.  My mom and sister share a July 20th birthday (and after this year, they will both share their birthday with my other sister's wedding anniversary...did I mention things have been busy around here?).  To celebrate we all decided to meet in Hastings, MN for a picnic and wine tasting at Alexis Bailly Vineyard.

For the picnic, I made some Italian-style pressed sandwiches.  These are great picnic fare as they are made the night before, easy to transport and require no utensils.  I made the one pictured above with tomatoes, zucchini, basil and fresh mozzarella.  I made a second version for the meat lovers with deli ham, salami, and provolone cheese.


I had never been to this winery before, and I loved it.  It's well worth the 45 minute drive from Minneapolis.  Alexis Bailly specializes in sweet and fortified wines, which are excellent for dessert and for mixing up delicious summer sangrias.  The grounds are beautiful with prairie flowers, a sculpture garden, and a host of picnic tables for your convenience.  We all had a lovely afternoon.
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Chicken Enchiladas with Tomatillo Sauce - August 5, 2012

The picture doesn't do this dish justice. I picked up some tomatillos at the farmer's market last week without any particular plan and they were languishing in the refrigerator waiting for inspiration to hit, which came when I was strolling through the "international" section of Whole Foods. Salsa verde! Add that to leftover chicken, some homemade tortillas, and a bit of cheese and we had delicious green enchiladas (also known as "Enchiladas Suiza" - according to Google) for dinner last night.

I used Mark Bittman's recipe, using jalapeƱos from our patio garden in place of the serano chiles he calls for. My only complaint is that it ended up being maybe a little too sweet in the end. The sauce tasted great after I cooked it, but seemed to get a bit more intensely sweet after baking. Next time I will add a bit more lime and maybe even a dash of vinegar to help counter that.


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