Tag Archives: friends

Sunday afternoon

Sunday afternoon is just about the perfect time for ice cream. (Although I might also argue that ten-thirty Tuesday night or five on a Friday evening are  also the perfect times for ice cream.) This particular Sunday is no exception, in fact it might be the kind of Sunday that begs for an ice cream interlude.

Enter the ice cream of choice this sunny afternoon: Cherry-Almond.

This ice cream took me three days to make. And I don’t regret a moment of it. I took it slowly, working on a piece here (Tuesday morning), another piece there (Wednesday evening) and a finally getting around to finishing it (Thursday) so that I could enjoy it this weekend. It’s a recipe from a new ice cream book I bought, Sweet Cream and Sugar Cones, from the Bi-Rite Creamery in San Fransisco.

I was drawn to this recipe – mostly because cherries were on sale and this recipe doesn’t require me to pit them. But also because in the course of making it, it creates a cherry simple syrup that is simply delicious with sparkling water. Did I mention it’s also my friend, Laura’s, favorite flavor combinations? And Laura undoubtedly deserves something special. I’ve chewed her ear off over lunch or cocktails or splitting the CSA for the past several weeks while I was working on my manuscript. So I made up a batch of ice cream just for her – although I managed to squirrel some away for myself. I ate some this afternoon with such enthusiasm that I managed to drip all over myself.

But that’s okay. It’s Sunday and I still haven’t dressed for the day.

Cherry Almond Ice Cream
adapted ever-so-slightly from Sweet Cream and Sugar Cones
makes ~1 quart
2 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups water
2 cups cherries
3/4 cup raw slivered almonds
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
2 cups milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
5 egg yolks

Poach the cherries:

In a small saucepan bring the 2 1/4 cups sugar and water to a boil over medium-high heat. Once it reaches a boil, reduce heat to a gentle simmer and add the cherries. Cook until the cherries are soft and cooked through, about 5 minutes. remove from heat and let the cherries cool completely in the syrup. Drain the cherries (Save that syrup … consider it a cherry simple syrup and is an excellent component of cream soda or cocktails) and squeeze the pits out of the fruit. Chop in 1/4-inch pieces.

Prepare the almonds:

Preheat oven to 350º. Spread almonds onto a baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes or until the nuts are fragrant. Cool completely. Combine with 3/4 cup sugar in food processor and pulse until finely ground.
Infuse the cream:

Transfer the almond mixture to a large saucepan. Add the cream, milk and salt. Warm over low heat until small bubbles begin to form around the edges. Remove from heat, cover and let steep for ~45 minutes.

In a large bowl, whisk the yolks to break them up. Set aside. Return the almond-dairy mixture over heat and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium. Slowly pour warm dairy into eggs, while whisking constantly. Pour back into the saucepan and cook until thick, stirring slowly with a heat-proof spatula. Strain through a very fine mesh strainer into a clean batter bowl. Chill thoroughly.

Freeze in an ice cream maker. Fold in chopped cherries.

Rainy afternoons spent in the company of friends

These sesame poppy seed crisps demand a glass (or two) of wine, a rainy afternoon and the company of dear friends. I was lucky enough to extend the whole experience for an entire weekend. I flew myself, and these crisps out to North Carolina to spend a few days revisiting old haunts and experiencing new ones all the while talking, laughing, crying and avoiding the rain with two of my very closest friends.

I don’t form friendships easily. But those I do, run deep and strong. I am tempted to be angry at this cruel world of academics for scattering us across the country (California, Minnesota and North Carolina), but the truth is, it was academics that drew us together years ago as grad students in Durham. It’s not to be taken for granted, these friendships. I treasure these people who I can talk to about everything and nothing over the course of brunch.

But I miss them, and surprisingly, the South, terribly. I didn’t quite realize how much my heart ached for it until I was there, amidst the sultry smells and heavy air (with the exception of the passing of Ammendment One … how disappointing). The conversations, but not necessarily the content, were easy and fluid. It’s hard to believe that it’s been over two years since we all at Duke, toiling away at our PhDs through our young adulthood. But, two years it’s been and life marches forward. Despite the time, the distance and life, friendship survives. It might only be through emails, texts and the occasional weekend, but there it is.

And this particular weekend it involved sesame poppy seed crisps. Crisp like a cracker, sweet like a cookie and seemingly lighter than air. An excellent use for any leftover egg whites (perhaps from a recent batch of ice cream …). I stumbled upon the recipe here, a useful collection of uses for egg whites, sorted by how many the recipe calls for. One bite and visions of rainy afternoons with heartfelt discussion were dancing in my head. And I was lucky enough to have that turn into a reality.

Sesame Poppy Seed Crisps
from The Washington Post
makes approximately 4 dozen
3 tablespoons sesame seeds
1 tablespoon poppy seeds
4 ounces (1 stick) butter, at room temperature
2 1/4 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
6 large egg whites
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon walnut oil

Preheat the oven to 350º F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone liner.

Toast sesame seeds in a small, dry, heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat until lightly browned and/or fragrant. Cool for a few minutes, then stir in the poppy seeds.

Combine the butter and sugar in a bowl. Beat on low speed until smooth, then on medium speed until fluffy. Stop to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the egg whites in thirds, beating on low speed to incorporate after each addition and stopping to scrape down the bowl as needed. Add the flour; beat (on low speed) until just combined.

Stir in the walnut oil, sesame and poppy seeds by hand. Transfer half of the batter to a piping bag fitted with a 1/2-inch plain round tip or ziploc bag with the corner cut. (The remaining batter can stay at room temperature.) Pipe out 1-inch-wide disks on each baking sheet, spacing them 1 1/2 inches apart. Bake for about 15 minutes or until the cookies are just lightly browned on the edges.

Transfer the sheets to the stove top (off the heat) and let them sit for 5 minutes, then transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely before serving or storing. Repeat to use all of the batter.



What happened to you?

Where did you go?

This month, more so than most, has flown by.

Here are the highlights:

Scott and I went to Chicago and all we did was take this photo at The Bean.

That’s not quite true. We gathered in the windy city to witness the union of our two dear friends, Jenny and Sayan. But I don’t have photos of that. Because, as it turns out, I am really bad at taking the time to take photographs when I am actually having a life (remember Dave and Robin’s wedding?).

It also turns out that I am a romantic sap. I love watching people promise to spend their lives together. To become each other’s family. It’s stunningly lovely. And never fails to bring tears to my eyes. To have the people from all aspects of your life gather, assemble and celebrate love.

Plus, there is the added benefit of their friends being my friends. So in assembling to celebrate Jenny and Sayan, I got to see many of my friends that I had made while in graduate school. Some of whom I hadn’t seen for nearly two years and just thinking about it brings a smile to my face and warmth to my heart.

Somewhere in the middle of November, I spent a week in Minneapolis, where I developed my menu for Thanksgiving.

Then I flew to the best corner of the world, the Pacific Northwest, otherwise known as home.

Where I got to play with babies and toddlers (and force my hugs and kisses on them).

And fuss in my parents’ top-notch kitchen.

Eating more than I thought I possibly could. All the while soaking up the scenery.

Lazy days filled with family. Doing nothing and having the days slip through my fingers without a second thought.

As always, it does my heart and soul good.

November, you will be missed, for you brought me my friends and family (and a lot of food!).

A girl can’t ask for much more.

Celery Root and Apple Soup

Ahh, the celery root. You poor, misunderstood vegetable.

There is a delicious creaminess to celery root and because of it and the chill in the air, I went ahead and made a soup out of this monstrosity. I fear I am getting to be predictable with my soup making. I suppose there are worse things.

I made this soup a week ago. Then I went to Chicago for my dear friends’, Jenny and Sayan, wedding (congrats!). In lieu of a bachelorette party, Jenny wanted to go to a cooking class (I love my foodie friends!). And what else was on the menu but Apple and Celery Root Bisque with Thyme Croutons (among other delicious dishes to be discussed later). I couldn’t believe how ahead of the curve I was with my adventures the previous weekend.

There were some subtle differences – I used homemade garlic croutons instead of thyme; I made a chive oil to drizzle on top of the soup instead of just a garnish of chopped chives and mine lacked cream and maple syrup … In some ways, it was a fantastic opportunity to see how well I fare on my own compared to in the presence of a culinary instructor.

The verdict: I wasn’t too shabby, if I do say so myself. Of course that was after several glasses of wine and an evening spent with fabulous friends, so there is some chance that my self esteem was slightly higher than average.

That’s not to say that I didn’t learn anything at our cooking class, but more on that later. For now, I am going to go ahead and give you both of the soup recipes.

Celery Root and Apple Soup

from Bon Appetit

2 tablespoons butter
2 cups peeled celery root, diced in 1/2 inch pieces
2 green apples, peeled, cored and diced
1/2 onion, chopped
2 cups vegetable broth
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup chopped chives
1/3 cup grapeseed oil
Pinch of salt

Melt butter in heavy large pot over medium heat. Add celery root, apples, and onion. Cook until apples and some of celery root are translucent (do not brown), stirring often, about 15 minutes. Add 2 cups broth. Cover and bring to simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer covered until celery root and apples are soft, stirring occasionally, about 25 minutes. Remove from heat; cool slightly.

Working in batches, puree soup in blender until smooth. Return soup to pot. Season to taste with apple cider vinegar, salt and pepper.

Puree chives, grapeseed oil, and pinch of salt in blender until smooth.

Rewarm soup over medium heat. Divide soup among bowls. Sprinkle croutons over each serving. Drizzle each bowl with chive oil.

Celery Root and Apple Bisque

from The Chopping Block (Chicago)

2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 medium-size celery root, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
2 tart apples, peeled and cut into large dice
1 onion, medium dice
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 to 6 cups vegetable stock
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 teaspoons chives, minced
1/2 heavy cream
1 tablespoon maple syrup
Celery salt and pepper to taste
Thyme Croutons
3 tablespoons butter
2 cups multigrain, rye, sourdough or French bread, cut into 1/2 inch dice
1 large clove garlic, minced
2 teaspoons fresh thyme, rough chopped
salt and pepper to taste

For bisque:

Heat a heavy soup pot over medium heat and add the butter and olive oil.

Saute the celery root, apples and onions, stirring occasionally, until they are lightly caramelized, about 10 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook until aromatic, about 1 minute.

Add the stock and apple cider vinegar; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook, uncovered until the celery root is knife tender, about 25 minutes.

Puree the soup in a blender, in batches if necessary, until smooth.

Return the soup to the pot and stir in the heavy cream and maple syrup. Season with celery salt and pepper to taste.

For thyme croutons:

Heat a saute pan over medium heat and add the butter.  Once the butter is frothy, toss in the bread cubes and cook, tossing frequently, until the bread is just starting to become golden brown.

Remove from the heat and toss in the garlic and thyme. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Drain on a paper towel-lined plate and allow to cool a bit before using.

Serve the soup in warmed bowls with croutons.

Curried Pumpkin Soup

Sometimes I don’t have words. The past week has left both my heart and my stomach full.

I love the people in my life. They do my heart and soul good. There is an ease to spending time with them, no matter how long since our last visit that is unbelievably satisfying. I just wish they all weren’t so far away. I spent the past few days in Chicago (after spending a few days with Scott in Florida) with my dear friends Jenny and Sayan.

They love food as much as I do. I was called to Chicago for very important bridesmaid duties, which just happened to include both a dinner tasting Spiaggia (and had that butternut squash pasta that I tried to replicate here) as well a dessert tasting. And Jenny threw in a 5-course tasting menu with wine pairings at Takashi, for no particular reason. Except that we both love food and needed to have a deep philosophical conversation about marriage. So perhaps its no surprise that we would end the evenings on the couch with a glass of wine watching House Hunters. (Note: six years ago, you could find us in a similar situation only we’d be watching Sex in the City. Does that mean anything?)

When I left Minneapolis, we were in the midst of an Indian summer and when I returned, the temperatures dropped and the weathermen have been talking about snowflakes in the forecast. This does not do my heart good. Before I left for my trip I made a huge pot of Curried Pumpkin Soup and tucked it away in my freezer, awaiting my return. Warm and toasty, bright and beautiful – I was glad to return home for the soup, if not for the weather.

Curried Pumpkin Soup

1 small pie pumpkin
2 tablespoons butter
1 onion, finely chopped
3 large garlic cloves
2 tablespoons minced ginger
3 cups chicken stock
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon coriander
1/4 teaspoon cardamom
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon sweet curry powder
3 cups chicken stock
1 – 14 ounce can coconut milk

Halve pumpkin and remove seeds. Place cut side down in a casserole dish and fill with 1/2 inch of water. Roast at 350º for about an hour and a half.

Melt butter in a large stock pot. Add onions and cook until translucent. Add garlic and ginger and cook for another minute or two. Season with cumin, coriander, cardamom, red pepper flakes, salt and curry powder. Add chicken stock and bring to a simmer. Scoop out roasted pumpkin and add to soup. Transfer soup to a blender and puree until smooth. Return soup to a simmer and add the coconut milk, stirring until incorporated.