NO TRICKS, JUST A TREAT

NO TRICKS, JUST A TREAT

MAPLE-BROWN BUTTER-PUMPKIN LOAF with CINNAMON BUTTER

In today’s post we’re going to skip the tricks, not even begin a conversation and just concentrate on the treat. With apologies to other pumpkin bread recipes, it’s time they step aside. Why is this pumpkin loaf so special? What starts with brown butter and ends with slathering softened maple-cinnamon butter on top packs a (pumpkin) punch!

Happy Halloween, Loyal Readers. 

This recipe works. A fail is not possible.
In Colorado we can’t decide if it’s Indian Summer, Autumn or Winter. This week Mother Nature chose winter which translates to Independence Pass being closed to cars.

MAPLE-BROWN BUTTER-PUMPKIN LOAF with CINNAMON BUTTER adapted from Kayla, The Original Dish

YIELD: 1 10x5x3”Loaf Pan

INGREDIENTS

MAPLE-BROWN BUTTER-PUMPKIN LOAF

1 stick (¼ lbs) unsalted butter

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour*

2 tsp ground cinnamon

1 ½ tsp baking soda

1 ½ tsp kosher salt

1 cup granulated sugar

2 eggs, room temperature

1 (15 oz) can pure pumpkin puree

½ cup sour cream

½ cup maple syrup

2 tsp pure vanilla extract

1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts (optional)

CINNAMON BUTTER

1 sticks (½ lb) unsalted butter, softened

1/2-1 tbsp maple syrup with warm maple syrup, for drizzling (optional)

2 tsp ground cinnamon

¼ tsp kosher salt

Before I began dismantling my kitchen in anticipation of winter rentals, I made a last, nice meal, Provencal Beef Daube with Italian Egg Noodles. Similar to Beef Bourguignon which features mushrooms, baby onions and carrots that are cooked separately and then added to the stew, a daube is flavored with spices like cloves, oranges and olives and cooked with the veggies and meat.

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat the oven to 325°F. Generously grease a 91/2-10x5x3” loaf pan with butter. 
  2. Melt the butter stick to a 2 qt saucepan over medium heat. Turn the heat to medium-low and continue to cook until the butter is browned, swirling often, about 6 minutes. Once deeply golden brown with dark brown speckles running throughout, turn off the heat to let the butter cool for about 5 minutes.

3. Combine the flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt in a small mixing bowl. Whisk to combine. 

4. Put sugar in a separate bowl. Whisk in the cooled brown butter until smooth. Crack the eggs into the bowl and beat with a mixer or hand mixer well.

5. Add in the pumpkin puree, sour cream, maple syrup, and vanilla extract one at a time, mixing until smooth between each addition. Working in batches, sprinkle in the dry ingredients, mixing gently until smooth. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan.

 

Ready for the oven.

6. Bake in the oven on the middle rack for 1 hour and 10 minutes, or until a small knife inserted comes out just barely dry (there should be no runny batter left, but there should still be moisture). Cover the bread with a piece of foil and let sit for 10 minutes.

7. Remove the foil and allow the pumpkin bread to fully cool in the pan. When fully cooled, run a sharp knife around the edges of the pan and carefully remove. Cut into slices and serve with a swoosh of cinnamon butter (recipe below) on top and an extra drizzle of warm maple syrup, if desired.

CINNAMON BUTTER

When the loaf came out of the oven, had cooled a bit but was still warm, I brushed some cinnamon butter on top to give it more flavor and a shiny look like a glaze.

1. Combine the softened butter, maple syrup, cinnamon, and salt in a food processor or mixing bowl.

This loaf tastes (and, cuts) even better the following day. Make the cinnamon butter at your convenience.

Blend until fully incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.

To Serve: You can serve this bread at room temperature or heated for about 10-15 seconds in the microwave.

To Store: Wrap the cooled bread tightly with plastic wrap and store at room temperature for approximately 3-4 days. Store the cinnamon butter in an airtight container in the fridge. Allow the butter to soften at room temperature before serving.

To Soften Butter: Allow the butter to sit out at room temperature until soft to the touch, usually a couple of hours, depending on the temperature of the room.*

*Note:  If baking at high-altitude, I recommend using King Arthur or Hungarian High Altitude Flour. 

Hello, Old Man Winter.
CELEBRATING DORIE & ME

CELEBRATING DORIE & ME

Saturday morning I received a FaceTime Call from Emma, my college junior. “Hi Gramma, I just called to see how you’re Celebrating You today?”

Believing I was Celebrating Me by opting out of applying make-up, forgetting to comb my hair and on my 3rd cup of very dark roast, “Uh, Emma,” I asked, “why should I be Celebrating Me?”

Remembering she was live on FaceTime, forbidden to Eyeball Roll her grandmother, she went with the exasperated sigh. “Grandma, it’s your b-i-r-t-h-d-a-y month. You must Celebrate You every single day,” she replied seriously.

My Newest Gougères by Dorie Greenspan, Everyday Dorie cookbook

Racking my memory, quite sure I’d never celebrated me for 31 straight days, I decided this was something new she’d learned in college. “Enlighten me,” I suggested.

She proceeded to explain. Ending our call, I called up Mr. Google. Self Celebration is not new. Now, however, it’s been enthusiastically embraced by the 72 million Gen Z’ers born between 1997-2019. I even found a link to 100 Ways to Celebrate You. Says Oprah, “The more you praise and celebrate your life, the more there is in life to celebrate.”

Realizing I am about 6 decades late to the party, if Emma wants to celebrate her grandmother, I won’t argue. Surprisingly this exercise has already made my days richer, more meaningful.

Arc de Triomphe, Wrapped.

Shared by a friend in Paris.

DAY 8, Friday : CELEBRATING DORIE

Although I’ve provided Days 1-7 examples below to encourage you to Celebrate You, birthday or not, let’s begin with Day 8.

There’s a stack of reasons to celebrate Dorie Greenspan. First, it’s her birthday month also. Her 14th cookbook, Baking with Dorie: Sweet, Salty & Simple, will hit my mailbox on October 19th. In 2010, my joining French Fridays with Dorie, a virtual cooking group cooking through Dorie’s Around My French Table, provided the footing, support and friendship needed to begin rebuilding a life.

Today I baked gougères, cream puff look-alikes but not sweet. The dough is the same, pâte à choux, but these are cheesy. Gougères are the first thing I baked after joining FFWD in 2010. Today I’m baking them again only using Dorie’s newer recipe, My Newest Gougères, from Everyday Dorie. It’s a simpler recipe (below) but just as tasty.

Dorie has often written about gougères in her books, articles and The NYT Magazine. The past 20 years when she and her husband, Michael, entertain, she serves this little dreamy puffball as an appetizer. I know that’s true. Recently I’ve been spending my winters in Paris. Once, when Dorie knew my Aspen friends were in Paris, she invited us to dinner. “However many are visiting,” she said, “bring them all.”

The view from the balcony. Although I believe the Eiffel Tower is lit up every night now, it only flashed on the hour at that time.
An evening for the memory book

The short version. We cleaned our plates! We left their apartment at 12:30 am after jumping up from the table on the hour to watch the tour Eiffel’s light show. (Dorie and Michael, charming hosts, were amused.) Their balcony view started from the Arc de Triomphe to the tour Eiffel to the The Dôme des Invalides. Awestruck. An amazing evening.

CELEBRATING ME, Days 1-7 (my version )

Here’s an example of my first 7 days. Predictable, quirky and courageous (#7). Your turn.

Day 1, Saturday, October 1st: Looking a bit weary but glad to be here. We’ve all been Celebrating Women 50-some years. Longtime friends gathered to support the young organizers of the Women’s March.

Day 2, Sunday: Finding Joy today with my monthly Zoom Call with 6 childhood friends. Since Covid began, we’ve pulled up 70 years of memories, offered support and mourned the loss of one of us. RIP Carol.

Day 3, Monday: Dazzled by the High Country’s glorious Fall splendor. Patrolled in Ashcroft with my partner, Deb, who hadn’t yet packed her uniform away!!! And, haven’t missed many chances to walk through the Northstar Preserve

Northstar Preserve

Day 4: Celebrating my Mother’s birthday by baking a mini-Apple Crisp, something I can’t replicate.

Day 5: Let’s go quirky…..I wrote down 5 of my Life’s major mistakes, those I regret the most, failures I have dwelled on forever. Did any Good result from them, that lemonade/lemon-thing? Yes, I realize. Forgiving. transformational.

Day 6: Coupling with Day 5. From this day forward, determined to cut myself some slack, eliminate all expectations of perfection and just enjoy the journey. (I’m talking to you, French Language Proficiency.)

Day 7: I always promised when my bum knee diminishes my lifestyle, stops me from activities I love, I’d take care of it. This summer my knee said, “I’m done.” Yesterday I Celebrated Me by scheduling a Knee Replacement. Steroid and Gel shots will get me through the winter in Hawaii and Paris with my operation already scheduled for April. My surgeon promises to have me ready for the 2022’s Forest Conservancy’s opening day.

The Pitkin County Library has been every reader’s savior during Covid and the Pandemic. Thank you dear and special librarians for your service. I read “Hero of Two Worlds, the Marquis de Lafayette” (nf) with”The Women of Chateau Lafayette” (f) to realize my grasp of history is lacking in some areas. “The Paris Library” is about our American Library , which I’ve visited several times, during WW 2. (F) “Damnation Spring” is about lumbering in the Northwest. Just getting started but I like it. (F). I bought “Braiding Sweetgrass” by Botanist Robin Wall Kimmerer. It links Indigenous Wisdom with Scientific Knowledge and the Teaching of Plants. I am anxious to begin this book.

COOK THE BOOK FRIDAYS

My Newest Gougères, Dorie Greenspan, EVERYDAY DORIE,

Yield: about 55 (small), 35 (large)

 Ingredients:                                                                
1/2 cup whole milk                                                   
1/2 cup water
1 stick unsalted butter (8 TBS), cut into four pieces
1 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 cup all purpose flour
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 large egg white, at room temperature
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard (preferably French)
2 cups coarsely grated cheese such as Compté, Gruyère cheese or sharp cheddar
2/3 cup walnuts or pecans lightly toasted and chopped

Directions:

  1. Position the racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat it to 425 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
  2. Bring the milk, water, butter and salt to a boil over high heat in a medium saucepan. Add the flour all at once, lower the heat and immediately start stirring energetically with a heavy spoon or whisk. The dough will form a ball and there’ll be a light film on the bottom of the pan. Keep stirring for another 2 minutes or so to dry the dough. Dry dough will make puffy puffs.
  3. Turn the dough into the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or work by hand with a wooden spoon and elbow grease). Let the dough sit for a minute, then add the eggs one by one, followed by the white, beating until each egg is incorporated before adding the next. The dough may look as though it’s separating or falling apart but just keep working; by the time the white goes in, the dough will be beautiful.
  4. Beat in the mustard, followed by the cheese and the walnuts. Give the dough a last mix-through by hand.
  5. Scoop or spoon out the dough, using a small cookie scoop (11/2 teaspoons). If you’d like larger puffs, shape them with a tablespoon or medium-size cookie scoop. Drop the dough onto the lined baking sheets, leaving about 2 inches between each mound. (The dough can be scooped and frozen on baking sheets at this point.)
  6. Slide the baking sheets into the oven and immediately turn the oven temperature down to 375 degrees F. Bake for 12 minutes, then rotate the pans from front to back and top to bottom.
  7. Continue baking until the gougeres are puffed, golden and firm enough to pick up, another 15 to 20 minutes. Serve immediately—these are best directly from the oven.

MAKING AHEAD: These puffs can be made ahead. Keep the scooped puffs in the freezer, ready-to-bake. Scoop the puffs and freeze them on a parchment-lined baking sheet or cutting board until firm, then pack them airtight. Bake them straight from the freezer, giving them a few more minutes of heat.

S T O R I N G : The puffs are best soon after they come out of the oven and nice (if flatter) at room temperature that same day. If you want to keep baked puffs, freeze them and then reheat them in a 350-degree-F oven for a few minutes.

Semaine de la Salade Française Chez Moi

Semaine de la Salade Française Chez Moi

Each year, in late September, I take inventory of what’s tucked away in my pantry, hanging out on my shelves and threatening freezer burn in my fridge. As diligent as one tries to be, aren’t we all guilty of buying more than we need and using less than we can? But when I leave my condo each winter, like Old Mother Hubbard, my cupboards are (must be) bare.

SALADE NICOISE

Over time, and this is my eighth year of winter travels, I’ve turned the chore of ‘What do I want to eat tonight?’ into ‘What can I eat tonight?’ My palate is only limited by what I have on hand. It’s a game I play with myself.

Admittedly, I do sometimes suffer buyer’s remorse. Why in the world did I buy a quart of Chinkiang Vinegar or 26-oz. can of whole Jalapeño Peppers or 30-oz. jar of coconut oil during a Pandemic when I’m only cooking for One?

Shana, Stephen and I are about ready to close down our second year of bagging vegetables from Two Roots Farm for local Pitkin County Seniors. I’ll miss my Thursday-morning pals. Hopefully, same time next year? (And, yes, we mask-up.)

What causes me no remorse, however, is the abundance of fresh garden vegetables and fruits available from our valley’s farmers. The farmers markets and CSA boxes are harvest-rich, overflowing with produce right now. Because some of my bounty was nearing its use it or lose it limit, I needed to get serious about not wasting it. That’s how Classic Bistro Salads Week became a reality.

WHEN LIFE GIVES YOU CARROTS…..
Make Carottes Râpées

When Life gives you carrots, make Carottes Râpées. Had enough with the Beets? Icy sliced red onions, chunky roasted beets and a tangy vinaigrette play well together with grilled meats, soups or a baguette sandwich. For lunch? Lose the onion and bring greens, grapes, Roquefort and walnuts on board. Here’s a tip…fresh radishes, sea salt and butter. Delicious. Céleri rémoulade is addictive. And, who can’t stand and cheer for Salad Niçoise?

Celery Root – When Michael and I had our large garden at our Silver King Drive home, I actually grew Celery Root for our Contractor/Friend Gerd Zeller. He told me his Mother, who came here from Germany, did magical things with this vegetable. I usually could hand off 5-6 large bulbs to him.
Céleri rémoulade and Chunky Beets & Red Onions.

The unexpected bonus of pulling together these bistro classics were the memories which came alive with each meal and snack. I hope this post brings to mind food memories from your travels.wherever they may have been. Bon Appétit

On most days I walk either to our local market or the library. My shortcut is purposely down this alley so I can walk by this home. A happy house, for sure.
You can take the Girl out of Iowa but you can’t take Iowa out of the Girl.

With Love, Friendship & Appreciation to Dorie Greenspan for her support and encouragement to my becoming more skillful at my own french table. And, to my French Fridays with Dorie colleagues for ten years of friendship, support and memories. May it continue…

This cookbook is tattered and torn. The binding may be, ahem, separated from the contents. The pages are stained. Do I even catch a whiff of garlic? They call it cookbook love.

Chunky Beets & Icy Red Onions from Around My French Table by Dorie Greenspan

Serves 4

Thinly slice one red onion, toss into a bowl of icy water before sticking in fridge. Roast a pound of beets, peel and slice into 1/2-inch cubes. Mix together 1 tsp. Dijon mustard, 1 tsp. honey, 1 TBS extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper. Toss the cubed beets together with the vinaigrette. Chill for at least an hour. When ready to serve, fold in minced parsley, adjust s/p, drain the sliced onions and sprinkle them on on top of salad.

Although often served individually, you’ll sometimes find Salade de Crudités (raw salads) on the menu. This trilogy of salads, Carottes râpées, Céleri rémoulade and radishes with butter and salt, is a popular starter. The butter-filled radishes are shown in my first photo.

Note the Radishes with Butter and Sea Salt. The Baguette is a Jambon-Beurre, a ham sandwich.

Carottes râpées (grated carrot salad) from Around My French Table by Dorie Greenspan

Serves 4

1 pound carrots, peeled and trimmed
2 TBS Dijon mustard
1 TBS honey
1/4 Cup cider vinegar
1/2 C canola or grapeseed oil
Salt & Pepper
Currants or Raisins

Use the large holes on a box grater to grate the carrots. In a small jar, mix the Dijon, honey, cider vinegar and oil together. Add a pinch of salt and pepper and shake until well combined. Pour dressing over salad. Toss with handfuls of currants raisins. (If you wish to add chopped roasted walnuts and/or chopped parsley, now is the time.) Season again if needed and serve.

Céleri rémoulade from My Paris Kitchen by David Lebovitz

Serves 4

This is a strongly-flavored salad of raw celery root sticks tossed in a creamy mayonnaise and Dijon dressing with bits of tangy cornichons. David’s recipe and explanatory essay is the best I’ve read. The Link is here:

https://www.davidlebovitz.com/celery-root-remoulade-celeri-rem/

If we were playing by the rules, a Niçoise is a “composed” salad, with each ingredient artfully arranged on a plate in separate little piles, then drizzled with the dressing. Of all the classic French salads, this is probably the most abused and altered. But the Niçoise has “good bones” and is very supple.

This is Dorie’s recipe but you can add, subtract, improvise and create as you wish.

Niçoise Salade from Around My French Table by Dorie Greenspan

Yield: serves 4

Ingredients:
12 small potatoes, scrubbed and boiled until easily pierced with a knife (about 10-20 minutes)
Blanch two generous handfuls of green beans in potato water until they are crisp-tender (about 4 minutes)
4 hard-boiled eggs
2 jars or tins tuna (4 – 6 oz. each), packed in olive oil
salad greens
cherry tomatoes or regular tomatoes cut into chunks
small olives (Niçoise, but any will do)
capers (drained and patted dry)
anchovies (rinsed and patted dry)

Shallot Vinaigrette
Mix together:

2 Tbsp. wine vinegar (red or white or sherry1 shallot, finely minced
¼ tsp. Dijon mustard
a couple pinches sea salt
a couple grinds of fresh black pepper
4 – 5 Tbsp. olive oil

Assemble on a bed of lettuce as you wish.

PIMENTO CHEESE: CAVIAR of the SOuth

PIMENTO CHEESE: CAVIAR of the SOuth

Please know I don’t normally “do” boxed cakes. Betty Crocker and Duncan Hines don’t usually live in my pantry. But recently, when asked to bake a chocolate cake for a special birthday, I went there. It’s always amazed me how adding pudding in the mix, an extra egg, sour cream, Kahlúa and dark chocolate chips will bake a plain-Jane into fancy Nancy. My chocolate glaze, the icing on the cake, was homemade. When my hostess asked if I’d share the recipe, I did. Some secrets are best shared. (See my blog of August 6th.)

PIMENTO CHEESE ( THE SMOOTH VERSION )

I’ve always believed some purchased food products are better than homemade. Give me all-butter puff pastry, Fage Greek yogurt, Knorr’s Bearnaise and Hollandaise sauces, Fig Newtons and Oreos. Most crackers and chips, marshmallows and, if it’s not a holiday, boxed mashed potatoes are time-savers but still can be delicious. Until last week I would have added Pimento Cheese, the “pâté of the South” to that list.

COCKTAIL HOUR

During my decade living in the South I acquired a taste for pimento cheese, especially the Publix brand from my go-to grocery store. As I recall my appetizer repertoire revolved around Publix’s pimento cheese with saltines and Lipton’s Onion Dip with Lay’s potato chips. When I left the South and with no Publix available, I lost the taste for it.

PIMENTO CHEESE, the chunkier version

This week’s Cook the Book Friday’s recipe choice is Pimento Cheese. Dorie Greenspan adapted this recipe (with its roots in North Carolina) from a friend. I dropped off a mini ramekin to Meredith, my Gant neighbor visiting from Georgia, for a taste test. “Next time I come back from Atlanta,” she said, “I’ll bring you a container of my favorite pimento cheese. It’s delicious.”

That evening she texted me, “I don’t have to… this is the best pimento cheese ever.”

St. Germain, an elderberry-flavored liquor

While pimento cheese with white saltines is humble fare, pair it with a St. Germain Gin & Tonic. Adding elderberry liquor to a common gin and tonic ups the ante for this summer’s favorite cocktail. Here’s another thought. With a bottle of St. Germain sitting in your cabinet, experiment with twenty other elderberry cocktails just posted on the blog The Spruce Eats.

https://www.thespruceeats.com/st-germain-elderflower-cocktail-recipes-4150371.

DEAR AUGUST, THANKS FOR THE JOY

WE SCOUTED OUT SOME REAL ESTATE OPPORTUNITIES DURING OUR EARLY MORNING-HIKES.

After finishing summer school, Emma, my 20-year-old granddaughter, flew to Aspen. It’s been 19 months, Christmas 2019, since I’d seen her. We didn’t waste a minute…..

THE WEATHER WAS FINE, JUST FINE.
WE HIKED TO PINE CREEK COOKHOUSE IN ASHCROFT FOR LUNCH ON THEIR PATIO.
Seared ruby red trout on a bed of peas, turnips, radishes, baby kale, finished with shishito vinaigrette, and steel head roe
SINCE WE ATE MOST OUR MEALS AT HOME, EMMA HELPED ME MAKE HER GREAT-GRANDMOTHER’S PEACH CRISP.
LEFTOVER VEGGIES = LUNCH
ON EMMA’S LAST MORNING WE WERE AT THE MAROON BELLS FOR SUNRISE. SHE SNAPPED THIS BEAUTIFUL PHOTO.

We’ve had rainy days and smoky days this summer which translates to reading days. My favorite books this month included Michael Lewis’s book about the Pandemic titled The Premonition. As John Williams, the New York Times reporter, wrote, “I would read an 800-page history of the stapler if he wrote it.”

AND ,OF COURSE, AUGUST MEANT STREAMING “THE WHITE LOTUS” WITH “NINE PERFECT STRANGERS” COMING UP NEXT.

After Aspen Institute’s CEO Dan Porterfield interviewed MacArthur Fellow Dr. Angela Duckworth, I had to read GRIT. I’ve become a fan of food writer Hetty McKinnon and her cookbooks. The premise of Matt Haig’s novel, The Midnight Library, is unsettling but intriguing.

A FORAGER’S DREAM

Since we’ve had rain this summer it’s been a great month to forage for mushrooms. Friends Judy Wender and Buzz.Patton were hiking in nearby Lenado recently when Judy spotted the motherlode of King Boletes (porcini’s). The upshot was a good hike spoiled. Buzz hiked. Judy harvested.

“I like to sauté them with a touch of butter and some garlic and then freeze them in batches,” she says. “They are also good dried. Nothing better than a fresh mushroom and pea risotto! They are also delicious with eggs, steak and I just made a mushroom, barley and kale soup-yum.”

KING BOLETES (PORCINI’S)

Readers, Let’s take the rest of this challenging summer and make it sparkle.

TO THE ANNOYANCE OF OUR CROWS, LAST WEEK A GREAT HORNED OWL TOOK UP RESIDENCE AT THE GANT. FRIDAY EVENING HE SETTLED INTO THIS COTTONWOOD LOCATED JUST EIGHT FEET FROM WHERE I WAS SITTING ON MY BALCONY. FOR THE HOUR OR SO I WAS THERE, HE JUST GLARED AT ME. IT WAS A BIT UNNERVING.

DORIE GREENSPAN’S PIMENTO CHEESE from Everyday Dorie, The Way I Cook

Yields about Two Cups

INGREDIENTS

Pimento Cheese

One 1/2 oz. Jar of Pimentos
8 ounces high-quality extra-sharp cheddar
2 ounces high-quality sharp cheddar
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
 
DIRECTIONS

You can make this up to a week ahead.

READY TO PULSE
  1. Press the pimentos between sheets of paper towels until they are as dry as you can get them and cut each into a few pieces.
  2. If you’re using block cheese, cut into small chunks. If the cheese is shredded, you’re good to go.
  3. Put the pimentos in a food processor and pulse just a couple of times to finely chop them. Add both cheeses and pulse to begin chopping them. Add the mayo, salt, and cayenne and pulse and process until the mixture has the texture of tiny-curd cottage cheese. (I made it both with tiny-curds and then smoother.)
  4. Remove the blade and, using a flexible spatula, give the cheese a last turn.
  5. Scrape the cheese into a bowl or jar. Press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface of the cheese if you’re using a bowl.
  6. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours. If you can wait a day, that’s even better. The mixture will pick up punch during that time. Serve straight from the fridge.

ST. GERMAIN GIN & TONIC COCKTAIL, with thanks to Liz Berg, https://www.thatskinnychickcanbake.com/

INGREDIENTS

DIRECTIONS

1 wedge of lime (or lemon)
1 1/2 ounces gin
1 ounce St. Germain (elderflower liqueur)
3 ounces tonic water
1 slice or a few thin lime wedges, a lime twist or a sprig of fresh basil to garnish, optional

  1. Squeeze the lime wedge into a “rocks” glass (short, wide glass). Fill glass with ice.
  2. Add gin, St. Germain and stir. Add tonic water and stir. ( If you wish, adjust the ratios of gin to tonic water.)
  3. Garnish with a slice of lime, add 2 or three lime wedges or a lime twist to the glass. It may also be garnished with a sprig of basil. Cheers!


 

MOUSSE (semifreddo) ICECREAM

MOUSSE (semifreddo) ICECREAM

In the late Eighties my daughter Melissa, a junior at St. Olaf College in Minnesota, spent her junior semester abroad in Sumatra, Indonesia. Michael and I were less than pleased about her destination choice but to no avail. She was headstrong, independent and hell-bent to have an adventure on the other side of the world. ( She must have inherited those character traits from her father.) So off she went.

It was a rocky few months. This was the college’s first experience with sending a woman to Sumatra, communication where she was situated was sketchy and safety was an issue. Let’s just say the President of St. Olaf and I had conversations.

Fast forward to her return. We headed to the airport the day of her arrival home to Des Moines where we lived at the time. We were beyond excited. The plane arrived. No Missy. I know that because when she didn’t deplane, I charged onto the plane and looked under several seats. (As I mentioned, these were different times.)

Melissa and Me, Grand Junction Airport

Michael kept his cool. I did not. The airline said she had been routed to Denver. My brother, who lived in Denver, called when he got to the airport, had her in hand and would stay with her until she boarded a flight for Des Moines. Although my recollections of that incident are hazy (or, blocked), she eventually made her way home.

That was the week I found my first gray hair.

Like last summer, every week Shana and I join a crew who unload, unpack, separate home-grown produce and then pack 50-some bags for distribution to Seniors in Pitkin County. This week we received mizuna, butter lettuce, lavender, garlic, kale and zucchini. Quite a nutritious haul.

So it’s not surprising that last week, after 17-months, when she was finally coming to Aspen, I was at the tiny Grand Junction airport 4 hours before her arrival. We’d had more than 20 different mudslides in our area last week causing ongoing road closures. I was prepared for whatever Mother Nature threw my way. Melissa arrived. We drove back to this beautiful Valley where she once had lived and to my mind, our time together was perfect.

The moral of this story may be Always a Mother, Life is Wobbly, Be Brave and Mind the Gap.

.

As I said, Always a Mother, Life is Wobbly, Be Brave and Mind the Gap.

To celebrate a milestone accomplished, I’ve got a little baking adventure for you. Or, if that grinds your gears, sit back and just enjoy reading about mine. Semifreddo is a classic Italian staple that lands midway between mousse and ice cream. It has the consistency of a frozen mousse and the flavor of ice cream. If you’re pronunciation-challenged like me, it’s pronounced SEH – ME – FRAY – DOUGH which means half-frozen in Italian.

Semifreddo is basically heavy cream, sugar and eggs. In the frozen dessert category it’s been called ‘the richest, most luscious and most decadent.’ You don’t need an ice-cream maker to create it. Use any fruit or chocolate you have on hand. Add nuts, if you wish. The last semifreddo I made was peach. In my opinion, adding the meringue topping is an extra detour you don’t need to travel. I usually just puree extra fruit and pour it with added chunks on top. For me, the meringue adds an extra sweetness not needed.

Helping put together a Salade niçoise for a special birthday party
I was in charge of the cake. The birthday girl likes chocolate!

CHERRY SEMIFREDDO adapted from Hetty Lui McKinnon and ZOËBAKES

SERVES: 8-10

Although I feel the Meringue is optional, it is very pretty.

INGREDIENTS:

Semifreddo
2 pounds sweet or sour cherries, fresh or frozen, pitted
1 1/2 cups superfine sugar, divided (if you don’t have superfine sugar, just blend granulated sugar in a food processor for 2 minutes)
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 1/2 cups (375ml) heavy whipping cream
6 large egg yolks
1/2 cup whole milk

Meringue Topping (optional)
3/4 cup egg whites
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt

The mixture is layered into the pan wrapped in plastic wrap and is ready to be closed tightly and put into freezer.

DIRECTIONS

  1. Line a 9×5 loaf pan or 9×4 Pullman pan which is used to create the square shape or mini-loaf pans with plastic wrap.
  2. In a saucepan, cook the cherries until they release their juices (this will take longer with fresh cherries), about 5-10 minutes. Whisk together 1 1/4 cups superfine sugar and cornstarch, then add it to the cherries, cook for 3 minutes or until the juices are thick and clear. Allow to cool.
  3. Puree half the mixture until smooth and refrigerate.
  4. Whip the heavy whipping cream to soft peaks in a stand mixer or handheld electric mixer. Don’t over whip or it will not blend well into the mixture. Set aside.
  5. Whip the egg yolks in a stand mixer fitted with a whip attachment until light in color on high speed, about 3 minutes. While the yolks are whipping, heat the milk with the remaining 1/4 cup of superfine sugar until simmering. Turn down the speed of the mixer to low and slowly drizzle the hot milk into the whipping egg yolks. Turn back to high speed and whip until light, fluffy and cool to the touch. Fold the cooled pureed cherries into the egg mixture. Fold the whipped cream into the cherry/egg mixture. 
  6. Pour 1/3 of the mixture into the prepared pan. Add 1/3 cup of the whole cherries to the pan. (If the whole cherries are too juicy, just pour most of the juice off and set aside). Add another 1/3 of the semifreddo mixture to the pan and another 1/3 cup fruit over that. Repeat with the remaining semifreddo and 1/3 cup cherries. Cover and freeze for several hours or overnight, until very firm.
  7. Stick the serving trays into the freezer a hour or two before inverting the semifeddo.  
  8. Invert the semifreddo onto a frozen serving tray, return to freezer.
  9. OPTIONAL: Once the semifreddo is firm again, make the topping.
  10. To make the SWISS MERINGUE: Bring about an inch of water in a saucepan to a simmer. Combine the egg whites, sugar and salt in the bowl of your stand mixer. Place the bowl over the simmering water and stir the egg mixture with a rubber spatula until it is hot and all of the sugar has dissolved, about 5-7 minutes. You don’t want to cook the egg whites, just steam them.
  11. Remove from heat and place the bowl onto the stand mixer, fit with a whisk attachment. Beat on high speed until very think, glossy and stiff peaks when you lift the beater.  Spoon the meringue over the semifreddo and return to the freezer to set for at least an hour before serving.
  12. Let your plated servings “sit” for 5-7 minutes so the mixture turns a bit soft, thus the name for the dessert half-frozen.
A gorgeous Great Blue Heron