Wednesday, June 29, 2011

In the Kitchen

I subscribe to an email newsletter called "Notes from the Test Kitchen."  A full online subscription to Cook's Illustrated (I have) or Cook's Country (I don't) costs money, but the complimentary newsletter links to a few freebies, which is where I found these new recipes to try.

I have a great recipe for summer blueberry pie, but the glaze doesn't do a good job of keeping sliced strawberries together.  I think cutting the berries releases something that breaks down the cornstarch mixture. 

The Cook's Country recipe uses frozen strawberries cooked down, sweetened, and held together with plain gelatin.  Fascinating!
The pie starts with 2# of frozen berries in the skillet--nothing else--which get cooked down to a mere 2 cups:
This dessert was tasty, BUT . . . there was too much glaze with not enough fresh, sliced berries.  Next time (yes, it was good enough for a next time) I will try making a 2/3 batch of glaze (1 1/3# strawberries, 2 tsp gelatin, etc.--not sure about the sugar) while increasing the fresh berries.  The 1# made about 3 cups sliced, so I think I'll try using 4 cups.  These notes probably only make sense if you have click on the linked recipe.
I didn't make the cream cheese whipped topping, but it does sound scrumptious!

Just last week the newsletter linked to a recipe for Summer Succotash Salad, and I amazingly had all the ingredients in the house.  Fresh corn and green beans--I'd just been to the store.  Red onion--
only in stock because I'd recently enjoyed it in salad at my aunt and uncle's house.  Fresh basil--this year's crop is starting to prosper.

Len likes lima beans, so I keep some in the freezer, although that doesn't often translate into actually cooking them.  ;-)  I made the salad, and it was tasty BUT . . . I would not add the honey (more tartness needed), and would increase the basil.
I followed the recipe except for the order of cooking the vegetables.  I'm sorry, but frozen lima beans take more than 5 minutes to get tender!  I cooked the limas for 4 minutes, added the green beans and boiled 1 minute, then added the corn and cooked an additional 3 minutes.  The textures were just right.

I don't usually add salt to cooking water, but it really did seem to improve the starting flavor of the veggies.  I like a salad with a bit more zing, so I would definitely omit the honey, and maybe increase the lemon or throw in some vinegar.

And I'll probably only make it for a potluck or grown up meal, since most of my children won't eat lima beans at all.  Maybe with repeated exposure they'll come around . . .
And, finally, a picture of David's birthday cake.  It's nothing new (the hazelnut again), but it's what was cooking this past week.  The decorations are made with the same chocolate ganache used in the filling.  It's too soft to hold ridges for shells, but a round tip made attractive beads on the borders.  The sabre on top (David enjoys fencing) became a flaming sword when surrounded with birthday candles.

Dave requested a larger than usual batch (10" diameter and 6" or more tall) so that leftovers (from the family celebration) would be available to serve at his teenager-bonfire-get together on Monday.  We had just enough left to serve the 16 or so kids who came (many drove 2 hours and slept here overnight) to enjoy summertime and friendships.  I enjoyed being around such a nice group of teens, too.

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