Strawberry Dreams

April 30, 2010

This is a picture of the dessert I made last weekend.  I had some chocolate waffles in the freezer that were left over from a dinner party several months ago that I popped in the toaster oven (Leggo my chocolate Eggo!).  I had bought 8 quarts of strawberries on Saturday  to make jam, and with the extras I made some strawberry ice cream.  Some chopped strawberries with a touch of Cointreau added a nice touch, finished with whipped cream.   It was a fantastic dish, very appealing to the eye, and totally captured the essence of the strawberries.

It might make a comeback tomorrow.


Apples, Apples, and More Apples

November 10, 2008

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In the last few weeks, I’ve made apple crisp, a traditional apple pie, a sour cream streusel apple pie, and apple sauce.  I’ve tried two different kinds of apple cake and tasted apple and brie crepes.  Needless to say, my kids (and particularly my oldest, the 14 year old boy) love apple desserts.  So I’m going to be looking to you, my faithful readers, to help me with some new apple desserts, as I’m looking at doing something different.  I’ve made apple turnovers and puffy french apple pancakes.  I’ve not made apple dumplings or a classic tart tatin.

So, what do you got for me???


Ice Cream, Uncooked

July 1, 2008

The only ice cream cookbook I have ever owned is the Ben & Jerry’s Homemade Ice Cream & Dessert Book.  I think I got it as a Christmas present along with a Donvier ice cream maker, back in the late 80s, when Ben & Jerry’s was all that and more.  And so I made ice cream — a buttload of it.  Combined with my suddenly sedentary lifestyle, I’m blaming Ben and Jerry for much of my weight gain over the years.  The bastards. Read the rest of this entry »


World’s Simplest Cobbler

June 26, 2008

(This is a big old cobbler with lots of peaches before baking.  Photo courtesy of Jason Perlow.  I don’t have a shot of the finished product, so you’ll just have to make it to see how good it looks!)

People love them some cobbler.  I knew I made a lot of people happy when I recently posted my recipe for Bill Neal’s Four Berry Cobbler, which certainly wasn’t a secret (I don’t believe in secret recipes, quite honestly — especially for home cooks).  But that’s not the only type of cobbler I make: one of my favorite desserts is a simple peach cobbler where the crust makes itself.  Yup, you don’t have to make a biscuit dough and cobble it on top — you  start with a simple cake-like batter that creates its own crust as you bake.  It’s extraordinarily simple, and you really can use any kind of fruit you want, but I prefer peaches.

This recipe came from the wonderful cookbook, Coastal Carolina Cooking, which is very near and dear to me because the first chapter focuses on my wife’s late grandparents, Emest and Katherine Taylor, from the Currituck County town of Maple (population 50, including livestock).  This cookbook is a treasure trove of wonderful stories and great recipes, but the one I use more than anything else is the one for Cherry Cobbler.  And I rarely make it with cherries. Read the rest of this entry »


Four Berry Cobbler

June 9, 2008

Many gastronomes have a food “epiphany,” and I’m no exception. It was either 1985 or 1986, and my roommate and I went to Crook’s Corner for the first time. Crook’s was still run by Bill Neal, the “godfather” of Southern cooking, and I remember that meal like it was yesterday. She crab soup. Pimento cheese. Shrimp and grits. And a dessert that has become my primary summer staple — a four berry cobbler featuring sweet butter biscuits.

I talked to Bill Neal a fair amount back then, when I’d sit at the bar, being completely clueless about food and slowly soaking things in. I was a major science geek — working on my Ph.D. in molecular pathology of all things — but I had a love for history. And Bill Neal was certainly a food historian. Read the rest of this entry »


Cherry Chocolate Cake

May 15, 2008

My wife likes chocolate, but she loves cherries. Seeing it was her birthday recently, I thought I’d combine the two and make a special chocolate cherry cake. Sounds simple enough — just search the internet for cherry chocolate cake, and something yummy will pop up, right? Wrong. Well, there are a lot of recipes for a chocolate cake that had cherry pie filling in the middle. I wanted there to be bits of cherries in the chocolate cake batter. And cherry flavor in the icing and in the filling, too. So I started to improvise. The results were pretty damn good — not perfect — but that’s where you come in! Read the rest of this entry »


Buttermilk Pie

April 22, 2008

When strawberry season hits, I first think of strawberry shortcake, then Belgian waffles. But right after that, buttermilk pie comes to mind. Buttermilk pie with fresh strawberries. OH MY GOD!!!!

Most Southerners understand the glory of buttermilk pie, but others would choose any other dessert in the world before this classic dish. It’s really nothing more than a simple custard pie, with a touch of lemon and nutmeg to round out the flavor profile. It’s also very light and is very good with fresh berries or a berry coulis. I last wrote about buttermilk pie several years ago on eGullet, and I’m resurrecting the pictures from that time to show you how simple this dish is. Even if you don’t know how to make pie crust (and you MUST learn), you can always use a store-bought version.

I use Bill Neal’s recipe, which is lighter than a typical version because egg whites are beaten and folded into the custard. The tanginess of the buttermilk and lemon offsets some of the egginess and cuts through the richness, so this is really perfect. I also use really fresh, local buttermilk from Maple View Farm. This stuff is a bit richer than what you typically find in the grocery store.

When you take your first bite of this luscious custard treat, be sure you thank me. Yes, it’s that good. Photos and recipe are after the break.

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Clafoutis, Southern Style

April 1, 2008

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Clafoutis. CLAW-FOO-TEE. Go ahead, say it again. And again. And then make up some completely senseless rhymes with it, like, Booty Clafoutis. Or, Clafoutis in Djibouti. Or my kids’ favorites, Clafoutis makes you go pooty. Whatever that means.

But clafoutis is a classic French dessert, and an easy one at that. My parents are in town for a few days, and I wanted to make a quick and simple dessert for them. I had a bag of frozen sour cherries available along with some fig preserves. So I made two desserts, a standard cherry clafoutis and a really great fig version. A double header of clafoutis action, if you will!

If you’ve never heard of clafoutis, it’s a cross between a custard and a dutch baby pancake. It’s loaded with eggs, but it has enough flour in it to give it a slightly more airy feel. The classic version is made with cherries, but I’ve used lots of different fruits. I eat clafoutis for dessert or for breakfast. When warm, it’s light and fluffy. After it cools, it gets much more custardy, but either way, it’s delicious.

Some people say that if it’s not made with cherries, it’s not a clafoutis — it’s a flognarde. Because I like to say “clafoutis” more than I like to say “flognarde,” you bet your booty I’ll call it clafoutis.

I’m giving you my recipe for a Southern Style clafoutis made with whole fig preserves. We’re blessed with friends who give us lots of jars of these sweet delicacies, and they’re really perfect with this dish. If you use fresh figs — and summer’s not too far away — you’ll want to cut them in half and dip them in honey and cinnamon sugar first! Yum. Read the rest of this entry »


Cup Pies — The Next Big Food Thing

March 18, 2008

pieweebl.jpgI’m sure they’ve been around for ages, but a coworker of mine recently introduced me to the concept of “Cup Pies.” They’re like cupcakes, but pies instead of cakes. You make some pie crust dough, put it into muffin tins, add your choice of filling, cover with more dough, and bake. Et voila, a self-contained, non-messy, individual pie. It’s a brilliant concept, and having now had a peach and blueberry version, I’m completely hooked. I may abandon the practice of law and open a cup pie bakery.

The idea appears to have come from the show Pushing Daisies and then the gorgeous blog Eggs on Sundays provided a lovely recipe with pictures on an Apple Cup Pie. These things are really quite wonderful.

My colleague says that pies using an uncooked filling don’t work as well, because these things don’t bake very long. Thus, an apple cup pie with crisp granny smiths may require you to pre-cook the apples a bit.

We are in agreement that these would be great for savory pies.

Now that Ashley Christensen has limited her dessert menu to nothing but pies at Poole’s Downtown Diner (that’s a story for another day), I think she needs to start serving a cup pie.

So have any of you made cup pies? I hereby declare today that cup pies are the next big food thing. You’ll see them everywhere by the end of 2008. Let me know when one of you spots one on a dessert menu.


Pots de Crème? We’ll Just Call It Puddin’

December 10, 2007

pudding.jpgMy wife and I hosted a dinner party for her co-workers on Saturday, and I knew that it was going to be a pretty busy day in addition to the cooking that was needed. I had to come up with a simple dessert that I could make in advance, something fairly light, as the earlier courses were fairly heavy. Plus, my freezer was on the blink, so anything involving ice cream was out.

The solution? Pots de crème (that’s “pots of cream” for you non-French speakers). Traditionally served in dainty and elegant lidded cups, these light custards can be made in a jiffy, particularly if you don’t need to cook the mixture to infuse the flavoring.

Lemon is a natural flavoring for pots de crème, but because Meyer lemons are now available, I used this slightly sweeter and more complex flavored citrus fruit. It took me 10 minutes to prepare the custard, pour it into ramekins, and then left them to bake in a bain marie for a little over half an hour. After chilling, I topped them with a bit of sweetened whipped cream and dusted the dish with some Lemonhead candies that I had pulverized into a powder. Adding an almond and chocolate tuile on the side, and the dish was a perfect ending to a perfect meal. And my guests all told me it was the best pudding they ever had.

Recipe after the break.

Read the rest of this entry »


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