Y’know, Delicious

Heh. Couldn’t find my mini scone pan, and with close to a quadruple batch, would’ve spent forever baking if I’d used it anyway, so I just went for tray bakes. I’ve seen triangular scones and round scones — not sure I’ve ever seen rectangular scones? And I think I overworked it slightly (or Kevin did), as the consistency is kind of halfway between scone and cake. But, y’know, delicious. 

Will let these cool, then make a jaggery & brown butter glaze. Some of them are going out in a birthday present treat box tomorrow; the rest will be frozen and set aside for the September Patreon treat boxes. If I don’t want to be frenzied when it’s time to send those out, it seems like it makes sense to make and freeze as much as I can in advance.

I think I want to make some kind of lime & coconut bar next, probably drizzled with white chocolate. Coconut in the crust sounds tasty.

Recipe for the scones here: http://serendibkitchen.com/…/banana-scones-with-cranberry-…/

I Got to Use a Flamethrower

Kevin made creme brûlée for Kavi’s French-themed birthday, and Kavi got to try torching for the first time.

She excitedly texted her friends afterwards: “I got to use a flamethrower!” 

Dandelion & Honey Ice Cream

I’m feeling particularly frugal these pandemic days, so it seemed like the right time to try cooking with dandelions. I mostly dig them out of my garden, but they keep coming back, and I had no trouble harvesting enough to gather a cup of dandelion petals. I wish I’d saved the roots too, as apparently when roasted they make a coffee-like ice cream. Next year — I’m out of dandelions now. 

I honestly wasn’t sure I’d like this! But it turns out I love it — I kept going back to the ice cream churn to see if I could scrape out a little more before rinsing it out. I think this is delicious, and well worth your time.

I ended up using a clover honey picked up at our local store, Carnivore Oak Park, one that came advertised as being loaded with pollen, I assume because pollen is supposed to be good for you? I don’t know — something new to research. I would recommend choosing a mild honey, to let the subtle dandelion flavor shine through.

I served mine with fresh mango — springtime and summer mixed together in a bowl.

*****

Dandelion & Honey Ice Cream

The flavors here are delicately floral / herbal — this reminds me of Indian ice cream, oddly enough, maybe because I’m more used to honey and floral rose flavors there? It takes like sunshine on a warm spring day.

Ingredients:
* 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
* 1 1/2 cups half and half
* 1/2 cup mild honey
* about 1 cup dandelion petals
* 1/4 tsp salt
* 6 egg yolks

1. Harvest about 2-3 cups of dandelions (grown in an area that’s free of pesticides / herbicides), rinse well, and let dry. Remove the petals, being careful to separate out and discard the bitter green leaves and stem. You’ll need about 1 cup of dandelion petals for 1 batch of ice cream. (This part is a little time-consuming, but fun to do with a willing child, should you have one on hand.)

2. Combine cream, half-and-half, honey, salt, and dandelion petals in a saucepan. Turn heat to medium for a few minutes to bring the temperature up, then turn down to a simmer, stirring the whole time. When it’s simmering (with little bubbles around the edge), remove it from the heat and add the dandelion petals. Let steep for 30 minutes.

3. Strain the dandelion blossoms out, pouring the cream into another container (one with a spout will make the next step easier, such as a glass measuring cup). Rinse the saucepan to cool it and return to stove.

4. Add egg yolks to the pan and whisk in the cream mixture. Turn the heat to low and continue to whisk until it thickens to a custard (thick enough to coat the back of a spoon).

5. Remove from heat and pour back into the container you used before. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours.

6. Churn in an ice cream maker. If you like, stir in a few more dandelion petals at the end for a pretty presentation. Perfect for a picnic in the grass. 

Sunshine-y Sunburst

I went for a sunshine-y sunburst pattern for the seeni sambol star bread. My shaping could use a little work, so don’t look too closely at the details.  But so, so tasty, and what a fun way to present seeni sambol for a party, instead of a stack of buns. Someday, we’ll have parties again, I promise.

Will post recipe tomorrow, along with recipe for dandelion & honey ice cream, today’s other experiment. Now, must sleep.

Bake-a-long With Pooja Makhijani

Kavi helped me make star bread for the first time today — I did a bake-a-long with Pooja Makhijani teaching us. Super-happy with the results — it’s so damn pretty. I can’t stand it. And making the twists was VERY satisfying.

My first one was chai-spiced: sugar, cinnamon, cardamom, clove, nutmeg, ginger, black pepper. Mmm…. I have a second going in the oven, a savory one — will post details soon.

I don’t have a recipe for you, because I’m not sure where Pooja got the one we used, and I don’t want to share it without permission, but if you follow the King Arthur Flour recipe for star bread, just add 1/2 teaspoon of the other spices listed above to the cinnamon and sugar, and you should end up with something very close to mine.

I brought it warm to the kids to eat for a last treat before bed, after our nightly Doctor Who. They were VERY happy. It’s half-gone already.

Lime, Rosewater, and Ginger Shortbread, Dipped in White Chocolate

Lime, Rosewater, and Ginger Shortbread, dipped in White Chocolate

When you find yourself going back into the kitchen to see if there are any crumbs left on the plate, you know you have a winning recipe; I think this is now my absolute favorite shortbread. Adding in some citric acid gives a seriously tangy punch to these buttery-rich bites, but they would still be tasty without. The white chocolate’s sweetness balances the tang beautifully, but they’re delicious straight up too, especially warm from the oven.

Note: I find that a pair of kitchen shears is much easier to work with than a knife for cutting up sticky crystallized ginger.

Ingredients:

3/4 pound unsalted butter at room temperature
1 c. sugar
2 scraped vanilla beans or 2 t. pure vanilla extract
3/4 t. salt
1 lime, zest and juice
1 t. citric acid (optional)
1 T rosewater
3 1/2 cups flour
1/2 c. crystallized ginger, chopped fine
1 c. white chocolate chips (optional)
luster dust and a bit of vodka for decorating (optional)

1. Preheat the oven to 350F.

2. Cream together the butter and sugar; add the vanilla and salt, citric acid, lime juice, lime zest, and rosewater. Then add flour and mix on low until dough forms. Stir in ginger.

3. Turn out dough onto floured board. (If it’s not coming together into a dough, the heat of your hands will help.) Firmly pat flat (to desired cookie height, usually about 1/2 inch). If using cookie cutters, cut out shapes, place on parchment-covered baking sheet, and chill for 15 minutes (to help hold shape).

NOTE: Can be kept chilled at this point for several days, covered in plastic wrap, and then rolled, cut, and baked fresh.

Alternately, press into baking pan or shortbread mold, prick with fork. (For this batch, I simply pressed into an 8 x 8 baking pan.) You can also cut shapes out after baking — shortbread is very forgiving that way — but then the individual cookie edges won’t be browned.

3. Remove from fridge and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until the edges begin to brown, then remove to wire rack to cool.

4. Optional decorating — once shortbread has cooled, melt white chocolate in microwave at half power for a few minutes, or in a double boiler. Dip shortbread pieces in chocolate, then set on rack to dry. Once dry, brush with luster dust mixed with a bit of vodka.

Never Uniform Enough

Okay, I am never going to be able to produce desserts uniform enough for a French patisserie! Yet another reason why I won’t be applying to the GBBO or its offshoots.

(I was listening to the Milk Street podcast yesterday while gardening, and they interviewed someone who’d worked at The French Laundry, I think it was, and it sounded just brutal. When they say things like ‘you have to be in your mid-20s to start as a chef, or your body just physically won’t be able to handle it…oof.’)

But still, these white chocolate-dipped lime, rosewater, and ginger shortbreads are pretty darn cute. The sparkly green and gold accents make them look a little more Easter-y than I anticipated, but that’s just fine. 

Waste Not, Want Not

I tried substituting in 1 cup of coconut milk for 1 cup of the heavy cream in tonight’s ice cream experiment. Mostly because I only had 1 cup of heavy cream, and I had an opened can of coconut milk in the fridge with 1 cup left. Waste not, want not…

As expected, the result tasted lighter than usual — coconut milk is 552 calories / cup, as opposed to heavy cream’s 821 calories / cup. I don’t know that I’d want that for chocolate, but I was making passionfruit ice cream and the lighter mouthfeel paired well with the tropical flavor. And of course, the coconut milk brought its own tasty deliciousness as well. I reduced the sugar by 1/4 c., since coconut milk is sweet.

Verdict for coconut milk & passionfruit ice cream? Recommended — would make again, especially on a hot summer day. I had it with the last bit of yesterday’s waffles, and if I’d had fresh mango on hand, I would’ve added that too.

Springtime Cake

I got sort of obsessed by the idea of making a springtime cake with mango curd and passionfruit buttercream frosting, decorated with fresh mango and edible forsythias, the sort of thing one might serve for Easter. Forsythias don’t actually taste like much, like most edible flowers, but v. pretty!

I usually do a lemon daffodil bundt cake for Easter brunch, and in fact, Lori Rader-Day would probably get cranky with me if I didn’t, because she loves it so, but that always made me a little nervous because daffodils aren’t actually edible, so I had to carefully make sure that however I decorated the cake with them, there was no risk of anyone eating a bit of daffodil. Usually I stuck them in a vase in the center of the bundt, but that’s kind of goofy. Anyway.

Once I get a recipe idea in my head, I have a really hard time letting it go, even if it’s not very practical. I even got a little cranky with the kids because they kept needing things from me when all I wanted to do was futz with my curd and frosting and cake (in the end, Kevin took care of both lunch and dinner so I could work on the cake).

I’m not going to give you all a recipe, because it’s not perfect — the mango curd was too sweet, it needed some tang from lime, and all of us agreed that we wanted, oh, twice as much fresh mango — a whole layer of it, along with the curd. And on top of all that, the cake itself, which I thought I could shortcut with a Trader Joe’s vanilla cake, was fine, but if I’m going to this much effort to make a cake, I want it better than fine, so clearly I’m going to have to work to get a yellow cake recipe I’m happy with.

The forsythias are only here for another week or so, and we really don’t need to eat another cake right now (especially since I just bought five different flavors of ice cream), so I suspect it may be another year before I come back to perfect this cake. I actually ended up giving half of it away to neighbors, leaving tupperwares on their doorsteps with a little note that we’ve been social distancing for more than two weeks, so hopefully they trusted the food enough to eat it. (Don’t tell me if you didn’t, neighbors, it’s fine!)

But the cake is a good idea, I think. I’ll get there eventually. And it’s certainly pretty, and Kavi said she liked it enough that she’d want it for a birthday cake, so I guess that’s not so bad then. The passionfruit buttercream really was pretty darn good — take a regular buttercream recipe, stir in 1/2 cup of passionfruit puree. Yum. SO GOOD. I had to fight the urge to just keep eating it straight out of the bowl.