Friday, June 24, 2011

strawberry frozen yogurt

Frozen yogurt has always been one of my favorite desserts. But this week, well, this week frozen yogurt is just going to have to count as health food. This week is my first back in New York after two spent in Italy. And while I promise to tell you much more about the trip very soon, for now, lets just say that it involved lots of gelato.

Lots of gelato. We're talking, two flavors, twice a day, every day. Hazelnut and Pistachio. Lemon and Chocolate. Nutella and Tiramisu. And don't even get me started on the Tartufo.

Clearly I couldn't abandon all that cream and sugar cold turkey. Instead, I'm gradually weaning myself back to healthy eating, which is where this strawberry frozen yogurt comes into play. Loaded with Greek yogurt and fresh strawberries, it's healthy enough that I can feel good about indulging, but sweet and creamy enough to satisfy my gelato cravings. Now if I could just find a healthy stand in for pizza and wine, I'd be all set.

Strawberry Frozen Yogurt
Recipe Slightly Adapted from David Lebovitz

1 lb. strawberries, washed, hulled and sliced
2/3 cup sugar
scant 1 tablespoon vodka
1.5 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 cup Greek Yogurt (2% or full fat)
sprinkles and cones for serving, if desired

Combine the strawberries, sugar and vodka in a bowl (you can omit the vodka if you'd like, but it helps keep the frozen yogurt from getting too hard in the freezer). Cover and let the strawberry mixture sit for about an hour (David Lebovitz recommends two hours but I simply could not wait that long) before pureeing in a blender or food processor (I used a Vitamix).

Add the yogurt and lemon juice to the pureed strawberry mixture and blend until combined. Chill the mixture in the refrigerator for an hour, then process in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

{twd} blueberry almond cakes

Bells and whistles can be nice. Brownies loaded with cookies. Cupcakes filled with cream. But sometimes a girl just wants to keep it simple. These Blueberry Almond Plain Cakes, this week's Tuesdays with Dorie recipe, do just that. They are light, fruity, and enough like a blueberry muffin that I for one think it would be totally appropriate to eat one of these babies for breakfast. I replaced some of the all purpose flour with almond flour which made for a sweet and nutty cake, and sprinkled sliced almonds on top halfway through baking for a little crunch.

I also forgot to add the baking powder, which is why my cakes are so flat. (I blame Bentley, as I was watching The Bachelorette while baking. Are you guys watching? That show is growing increasingly insane but I Just. Can't. Look. Away.) Despite my error these were cute and tasty, and would be perfect for an afternoon tea party. This week's Tuesdays with Dorie host is Cindy of Everyday Insanity and she has the recipe posted here.

Monday, June 6, 2011

gwyneth paltrow's buttermilk pancakes

Years ago, I had a friend who went to the same private school as Gwyneth Paltrow. My friend was several years younger than the actress, but one of her middle school yearbooks contained Gwyneth's senior picture. In the black and white photo, the Oscar winner smiles up at the camera, blowing a bubble with her gum. The photo is quirky and irreverent, and Gwyneth looks...well she looks like the prettiest girl in your high school. Beautiful enough that everyone notices her, but not so beautiful that you don't catch yourself stealing the occasional glance at her lunch tray or her makeup bag thinking that if you ate that or wore that, you'd look like her too.

Between her Glee appearances, her Goop newsletter, and her new cookbook, Gwyneth Paltrow seems to be everywhere these days. And this month, everywhere includes the cover of Bon Appetite Magazine. The decision to put Gwyneth on the cover caused quite the stir amongst some food bloggers and Bon Appetite loyalists who claimed that Gwyneth isn't a food expert, that her shift from macrobiotic eater to homestyle cookbook author is disingenuous, and that the cover of food magazines should be reserved for, well, food.

I for one look at Gwyneth's new cookbook like a peek onto her lunch tray. Sure, she may not be a professionally trained chef, but I'm intrigued by how other people cook and eat. I can't resist those "what's in my fridge" magazine features, and I can get lost in the archives of The New York Diet for hours. Make that how a celebrity with superior access to tools (wood burning pizza oven) and teachers (Mario Batali) cooks and eats, and I'm hooked. And Gwyneth clearly does both things very well.

As for the abandonment of her macrobiotic eating program, well, lets just say that if I had a dollar for every time I vowed to stick to Vegan Before Six or to cut down on sweets only to find myself tempted by a turkey sandwich or seduced by a Snickers bar mere hours later, I would be a rich lady. My point is that the way that I eat isn't consistent throughout the years or months or sometimes even the days, and if someone were scrutinizing my every bite, I'd probably seem like a bit of a hypocrite too. To me, the fact that Gwyneth tried a crazy diet and abandoned it in favor of a more balanced lifestyle makes her real. As does her latest Goop newsletter, in which she admits to getting drunk and forgetting a pizza in the oven, thereby burning it to a crisp.

In short, I'm on Team Gwyneth. And, judging from the fact that one of the most popular recipes on this blog is a super old post on Gwyneth's Carrot Ginger Dressing (complete with a cringe inducing picture from the days before I knew anything about food photos), I'm guessing that many of you are too. (That dressing is amazing by the way, and I still make it all the time). So when I found myself with fresh buttermilk as a result of my butter-making adventure, I decided to whip up Bruce Paltrow's World Famous Pancakes, from Gwyneth's cookbook.
People. Regardless of your thoughts on Gwyneth, you should make these pancakes. They are incredible. Light, fluffy and tender, they were so delicious that I may have eaten one straight from the skillet, before it ever made it to the plate. Those that were not gobbled up while standing over the stove were topped with maple syrup and strawberry sauce. You can't argue with that.

Buttermilk Pancakes with Strawberry Sauce
Adapted from My Father's Daughter, by Gwyneth Paltrow
This is scaled down for one large serving. You can find Gwyneth's original recipe here

1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
heaping 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
heaping 1/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/2 cup buttermilk
milk or water for thinning batter

1/2 cup strawberries, sliced
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon lemon juice

Combine the strawberries, sugar and lemon juice in a bowl and set aside. In a medium pan or cast iron skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Pour the melted butter into a small bowl, and return the pan to the stove. Once the butter has cooled slightly, whisk in the buttermilk and the egg. In a separate bowl, whisk the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Make a well in the dry ingredients, add the wet ingredients, and whisk until just combined (better to have small lumps than to over mix your batter).* If your batter is too thick, add a tablespoon of two or milk or water (which I used as I was out of milk) to thin it out (the thinner the batter, the more delicate the pancakes). Ladle batter into the greased pan or skillet working in batches of 2-3 pancakes at a time. (Note that if you use a pan other than the one you used to melt your butter you will need to grease the pan first). When the top of the pancakes are covered with bubbles (after about 2-3 minutes), flip and cook for another 2-3 minutes or so, until pancakes are cooked through and golden. Transfer to a plate and keep warm until it's time to serve.

To make the strawberry sauce, puree the strawberry mixture in a food processor or blender. Heat the puree in a small saucepan before serving.

*Note that Gwyneth says these pancakes are best if you let the batter rest in the refrigerator overnight, but I didn't plan ahead so I made them right away and still found them to be delicious.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

homemade butter

Last week I found myself in the peculiar position of having absolutely nothing to do in the middle of a weekday afternoon.

So I made homemade butter from scratch.

What? Isn't that what all of the cool kids are doing with their free time these days? No? They're actually getting their nails painted chartreuse, shopping for denim rompers that this 5 foot 4 frame could never pull off and listening to music from bands I've never even heard of?

Okay. That's cool. I still made butter anyways.

I followed the method outlined by Diner's Journal, and surprisingly, it was fun, quick, and not difficult at all. Here's what you do:

First, take some cream (I used about a pint but any amount will do) and put it in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Turn the mixer on medium/high, and whisk for several minutes. Soon, you will have whipped cream.

Keep whisking, and after a few more minutes, your whipped cream will start to turn into clumps. A few minutes after that, the clumps will release their liquid into the bottom of the mixer. This is fresh buttermilk! Pour it out of the mixing bowl, and reserve it for another use.

Continue running your mixer for a minute or two longer, until the butter has released all of it's liquid and has formed into one large clump. Squeeze the butter in a piece of cheesecloth and/or rinse it in cold water to get rid of any remaining buttermilk residue (apparently the residual buttermilk will make the butter spoil more quickly).

If desired, mix some salt into your butter (I used a few pinches of Maldron).

To serve, I spread my butter on crackers and topped each with sliced radishes and a sprinkle of salt, but it would also be fabulous smeared on some good bread, or anywhere else you would normally use store bought butter.