Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Fall at the Beach

I went down to the Eastern Shore one last time for the season with my family. It was a beautiful fall weekend with the temperatures in the 70s!
I forced them all onto the beach for a little amateur photo session and I'm so glad we did because the results were awesome! Between my mom and myself we got some beautiful pics and after some editing they are pure artwork to me :) Hope you are enjoying the beautiful fall weather in your neck of the woods! I should have some food updates soon, but meanwhile here is some eye candy.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Tiramisu Ice Cream

Is it just me, or does it seem like Tiramisu had it's hey-day as a trendy dessert years ago? Regardless I never really got into the sudden hype over Tiramisu. It seemed to be everywhere back in the mid-90's! Every restaurant, even the bad ones, had Tiramisu on their dessert menu. It was mentioned in movies, think Sleepless in Seattle , and seemed to be the ultimate dessert.
I've seen it served in a fancy champagne glass, two pale lady finger cookies swimming in a pool of spiked zabaglione and sprinkled with cinnamon. Other places have it in cake form, layers of lady finger cookies topped with a mascarpone cream, dotted with chocolate and cinnamon and soaked in coffee and rum. Something about it just never appealed to me, but I couldn't put my own lady finger (haha) on what it was (I'm such a sucker for puns!), until recently when I was flipping through David Lebovitz's book The Perfect Scoop . It's the lady fingers I don't like! Because honestly, what else in it is there to dislike? Epresso, good! Mascarpone, good! Chocolate, good! Liquor, GOOOOOOOD!
I didn't see any reason not to make David's Tiramisu Ice Cream . Not only was it easy to assemble - no tempering of raw egg yolks etc. - but, the ingredient list just sounded divine. It's not a traditional ice cream, since the base is made up mostly of mascarpone cheese. It ends up being QUITE rich, which is largely due to the silky chocolate ribbon that gets swirled in. Less is more with a scoop of this ice cream. In fact, I found that a scoop of this mixed with a scoop of Breyer's Vanilla was the perfect marriage. It subdued the richness of the Tiramisu Ice Cream and stretched the flavor a little bit. So if you're not too concerned about your waistline, give this recipe a try. Oh and (as if you haven't heard this a million times) Tiramisu means "pick me up" in Italian and it's named so because of the espresso in the dessert. The taste of this ice cream will definitely wake up your taste buds, but it's so rich and luxurious it won't have you ready to get up and go afterwards. Maybe it's named "pick me up" because it's so tasty you can't help but pick it up and eat it! Enjoy!

Tiramisu Ice Cream
Source: The Perfect Scoop, by David Lebovitz

2 cups mascarpone
1 cup half and half
2/3 cup sugar
pinch of salt
1/4 cup coffee-flavored liquer, Kahlua
3 tablespoons brandy or dark rum
Mocha Ripple (recipe below)

Puree the mascarpone, half and half, sugar, salt, liquer and rum together in a blender or food processor until smooth and the sugar is dissolved. Chill thoroughly in the refrigerator.
Freeze in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions. As you remove it from the machine alternate layers of Mocha Ripple with the frozen ice cream in the storage container.

Mocha Ripple
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup strongly brewed espresso
6 tb unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Whisk together the sugar, corn syrup, espresso and cocoa powder in medium saucepan. Heat over medium heat, whisking constantly until the mixture begins to bubble at the edges. Continue to whisk until it just comes to a low boil. Cook for 1 minute, whisking frequently. Remove from the heat, stir in the vanilla, and let cool. Chill in the refrigerator before using. Can be stored for up to two weeks in the fridge.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Mom's Jewish Apple Cake

So no we're not Jewish. In fact, I was tempted to rename this, Mom's Italian Apple Cake, since we are in fact, Italian-Americans. But I need to give credit where credit is due and unfortunately Italian's can't claim this deliciously moist, rich and fruity cake. Darn.
I don't know who, where or how my mom came into possession of this particular recipe for Jewish Apple Cake, but it's been in her Land-o-Lakes recipe box for decades. Fortunately, the tattered index card is in a protective plastic sleeve so we're still able to enjoy this recipe as often as possible. She's made it countless times for birthdays, neighbors, friends and even a bake sale or two. It's a fairly simple cake to make and it turns out nearly perfect every time. And what makes it even more perfect is when it is made with locally grown, fresh-picked Maryland orchard apples.
I visited a local pick-your-own apple farm a few weekends ago and came home armed with a large bag of Ida Red apples - good for eating, but perfect for baking. These tart, yet sweet apples remain nice and crisp through the baking process and end up with a toothy bite.
They are really the perfect balance of tart, sweet and crisp that you need for a pie or cake. And this cake nestles these delicious apples in a cinnamon-sugar mixture and then envelopes them in dense and intensely moist batter. On top of that, I fortunately, had enough apples to make a hearty apple pie in addition to the apple cake. Gosh I love Fall!! And speaking of apples, here's a pic of the "apple" of my eye, my sweet baby girl :)
She's loving Fall too and I love all the great cutie patootie outfits out there for little babies. I love my girl and love dressing her up! That's her in her first pair of jeans and flannel for the season. Hats off to Fall! There's so many wonderful foods to come - squash, pumpkins, brussel sprouts, turkey, cheesecakes, soups. Strap on those elastic waistbands and let the fall eating begin!! Why not start with this cake? Enjoy!

Jewish Apple Cake

For the apples:
5 to 6 apples, cored, peeled and sliced thinly
3/4 cup sugar
2 tb cinnamon

For the batter:
3 cups flour
1 tsp salt
3 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup orange or pineapple juice
4 eggs
1 cup oil
2 cups sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350. Grease and flour a tube pan for baking.
In a large bowl, toss your sliced apples with sugar and cinnamon and set aside. In a separate small bowl, mix together your dry ingredients - the flour, salt and baking powder. Then in a large mixing bowl combine your juice, eggs and oil until combined. Pour in the sugar and extract and mix until well incorporated. Now in your prepared tube pan, layer batter then apples then batter then apples and finishing up with a layer of batter. If you have any juices that have collected from your apples simply pour them into the cake once your done building up the layers. These sweet, cinnamony juices will contribute to the moistness of the cake.
Bake for 1 1/2 hours until the cake fills the tube pan and a cake tester comes out clean. Let cool in pan and then remove and serve.