mulberryshoots

"Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?" ~ Mary Oliver

honey crisp apple crisp! . . .

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I remembered there were four small honey crisp apples in the refrigerator bin that needed a purpose in life. So, this morning, I peeled and cored them, dressed them with a mixture of flour, sugar and cinnamon and placed them into a fluted white porcelain baking dish, one of my favorites. Dotted the top with unsalted butter bits.

For the topping, I used a food processor and whizzed about a cup and a half of steel cut oats, some flour and brown sugar, cinnamon and a stick of cold butter cut into pats. What resulted was a crumbly topping that looked like too much for the dish, but I managed to pat it all onto the top. I remembered that these oatmeal crisp toppings sometimes needed some extra oomph to do their best.

I took it out after about fifty minutes in a 400 degree oven. Looked good and smelled even better. Tonight, we’ll heat it up in the microwave so it’s just warm and add a scoop or two of vanilla ice cream for dessert. My husband, G. likes to call any of these crisps “Apple Pan Dandy” – I don’t know where he remembered that from, but I’m good with it!

 

 

cream of (fresh) corn soup! . . .

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It’s almost the end of the fresh corn season – sometimes it goes into October if you’re lucky. I had three ears of corn in the fridge and decided to make a cream of corn soup to go along with our supper tonight. The fresh corn is important, no matter how long it’s been around – and is perfect to use up in this delicious soup.

So here goes – melt about a third of a stick of unsalted butter, shuck the corn, rinse the silk off and dry. Then, using a sharp paring knife with a serrated edge, hold the corn by the end and slice the kernels off the cob into the melting butter. Repeat until all of the kernels are simmering in the butter.

For three ears, I added a half gelatin pack of Knorr’s chicken stock. About a cup of filtered water was added to make a light stock. Stir and cook gently for about twenty minutes or so. The corn mixture will be cooked down a bit. When cool, put it all into a food processor and pulse until creamy.

Place the pureed corn back into the pot and add one can of Goya coconut milk. Yep, that’s what I said. It will lighten and make the corn creamy (other times, people add cream.) Taste for seasoning and add salt (a healthy pinch.) This will enrich the flavor of the soup so don’t omit. Stir until the coconut milk is well blended into the soup and the salt has had a chance to do its magic.

I think this cream of fresh corn soup may be my favorite right now – superceding cream of cucumber soup – a family favorite. I hope you’ll enjoy it too!

 

asian noodle salad . . .

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This morning, I saw a photo of a rustic Japanese pottery bowl filled with cold noodles. It inspired me to make an extemporaneous Asian noodle salad to chill in the fridge for supper tonight. Along with it, I might add some avocado slices, navel orange slices and some cold shrimp.

For the noodles, I boiled up a packet of my favorite Asian noodles – from “Wel-Pac” I order them by the box and find them handy to make stir fries or lo mien with vegetables and any kind of protein – beef, chicken, shrimp.

While the water came to a boil, I cut up some hearts of Napa cabbage, a Persian cucumber and a green onion. I remembered that I had some Teriyaki pressed tofu from Trader Joe’s in the fridge and cut up one cake into thin slivers. The sauce ingredients were Ohsahwa soy sauce, Japanese Marukan vinegar, fresh lemon juice, a little sugar, a couple of dollops of oyster sauce and a half teaspoon of Korean Gochujang sauce. Tasted it for seasoning and let it sit until the noodles were cooked. I ran a knife through the noodles so that they were in shorter lengths and let them drain and cool before adding them to the vegetables.

At room temperature, I added the noodles and scooped the mixture gently until the sauce was evenly distributed. Put some cling wrap on it and placed the bowl in the refrigerator – will probably mix together a couple more times during the day. And voila! most of tonight’s dinner is prepared and it isn’t even noon!

old-fashioned Sloppy Joe’s . . .

DSCN9283It’s easy to grab a can of Manwich Sandwich and add it to ground beef to make sloppy joes for supper. I used to make it that way when the kids were home, but have started to make it from scratch, as they say. It’s not hard and it’s a lot more tasty!

For this recipe, I browned half a chopped vidalia onion in vegetable oil, added about 3/4 pound of ground beef and cooked them together, breaking up the beef along the way. When the beef and onion mixture were cooked through and broken up in the skillet, I add the following ingredients to make a piquant, rich flavor:

1) a half cup or so of Heinz organic ketcup

2) 2 tablespoons of apple cider

3) 1 or 2 shakes of Worcestershire sauce

4) 2 tablespoons of brown sugar

5) 1 tablespoon of coarse mustard

6) cracked pepper

Stir the sauce ingredients together and combine some at a time with the beef, scraping it towards the center of the skillet until well mixed. Taste for seasoning. I like it piquant and flavorful. If you like it more bland, then add the sauce gradually until it’s to your taste.

Toast some sesame buns in a skillet and cook some farm stand corn on the cob. Too bad there’s no football game tonight but there’s U.S. Open tennis! In the meantime, this is a simple and very tasty meal! Yum!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

creamy corn chowder . . .

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It’s Sunday and I have a dozen ears of fresh corn in the fridge. What better meal to make than homemade creamy corn chowder? I was inspired by a recipe I saw online but am following some of it (coconut milk) but not all the ingredients.

Mine includes:

1) Cooking a whole medium chopped onion in half a stick of unsalted butter.

2) Add about 2 tablespoons of fresh baked ham (leftover) cut into small pieces and add to the onion.

3) To this smoky aromatic pot, cut kernels off of 6 ears of shucked and cleaned off corn, reserving the cobs.

4) To the cut corn, place the cobs back into the pot and add water to cover. Cook on low medium heat for about a half hour to allow the corn “milk” from the cobs to flavor the broth.

5) Remove the boiled cobs and discard. To the remaining corn broth, add half a packet of Knorr chicken stock gelatin and stir to dissolve in the broth.

6) Let the soup rest after simmering for another 10 minutes or so. When cool, process half of the corn kernals in a blender until smooth and add back to the pot. This step is important because it provides a dense, creamy texture to the soup. Add a can of whole coconut milk.

7. Clean and rinse 1/3 pound of salad shrimp – removing tails. Dry off with a paper towel. When close to serving the soup, slightly heat the shrimp in a skillet with melted butter and stir until warmed through. When the soup is ready to serve (warm, not piping hot,) add the shrimp on top of the soup. Cut some fresh parsley and sprinkle on top of soup.

8. Heat up a loaf of hearth bread in the oven until crust is crispy and warmed through.

9. Serve with a fresh butter lettuce salad with avocado, cherry tomatoes and red onion in a vinaigrette with fresh lemon; the crusty bread with unsalted butter and bowls of the cream of corn chowder with shrimp on top.

And for dessert, a small slice of creamsicle ice box cake! Yummy and tasty for an August Sunday summer meal!

Postnote: This soup was delicious! The ham bits I sauteed with the onions made for a smoky broth. Pureeing half of the corn is key to making the soup creamy and delicious. I wouldn’t use shrimp the next time because it isn’t a natural complement. I might use more ham or bacon next time, and puree more of the corn along the way. The coconut milk made it sweet but not cloying. Definitely a keeper – now that corn is really in season, I’m going to make a big batch and freeze it to enjoy when the snow flies!

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Creamsicle Ice Cream . . . Cake!

A recipe for a creamsicle ice cream cake was published in the NYTimes today.

I pounced on it because I love creamsicles and have fond memories of eating them in my childhood. It doesn’t require much – I made a small one in a 5 inch cake pan, placing the vanilla wafers on the bottom, then layered vanilla ice cream, mandarin orange sherbert, vanilla finishing with orange sherbert on top! I wrapped it in cling wrap and set it in the freezer for dessert tonight.

On second thought, I could probably have just as easily done this by alternating the sherbert and ice cream in a dish with the cookies on the side. In any case, I’m looking forward to trying it tonight! Yum!

 

“summer delight”: fresh strawberry and rhubarb crisp!

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I wasn’t planning to make this summer delight until I happened across a special on strawberries at the local grocery store – buy one quart and get one free! Plus, they had fresh rhubarb for sale! Who could resist?

When I got home, I found online recipes for making a crisp – which seems to be a popular way to cook the fruit – unless you want to make a pie. G. is partial to crisps made with fruit although he always calls them “apple pan dandy!”  I don’t know where that comes from, but here we go anyhow – a strawberry rhubarb pan dandy!

Here’s the recipe I followed adding sugar, cornstarch and fresh lemon to the combined cut up berries and rhubarb (I split them and chopped them up.) To make the topping, I combined rolled oats (the traditional kind,) a little flour and brown sugar. Mixed it with a cold stick of unsalted butter to make a topping that I spread over the fruit. Into a 350 degree oven for an hour. The aroma was wonderful while it was baking!

Now, all that’s needed is some creamy vanilla ice cream to serve with it! Yum!

 

summer fruit pie! . . .

DSCN9185I had planned to make a small batch of chocolate chip cookies this afternoon but couldn’t find the Nestle’s chips in the pantry. So, I looked around in the fridge and rescued four white nectarines from the fruit drawer.

After peeling them, I cut them into small chunks, added a half handful of flour and mixed it together with some turbinado sugar. I toasted some walnuts and golden raisins, adding them to the fruit and tossed them together. Into a defrosted Pillsbury crust, dotted the fruit mixture with unsalted butter, closed up the pastry into a small loaf shape and sprinkled the outside with a cinnamon/turbinado sugar mixture.

Preheated the oven to 375 degrees and set it into the oven to bake for half an hour or so. Plan to serve it with scoops of vanilla ice cream for dessert tonight. Yay!

updated ice box cake! . . .

DSCN9163DSCN9161DSCN9168Do you remember the chocolate wafer/whipped cream ice box dessert that your family might have enjoyed in the 50’s or 60’s? I’ve made it recently and it’s always a big hit – never mind that it’s so easy to put together with no baking required. This morning, I read an article in the Sunday Telegram and Gazette syndicated from the Washington Post containing new ideas for making ice box cakes. Suggestions for using alternative “cake” fillings got me looking at other crispy cookies at the grocery store. “Tate” cookies from Long Island were on sale, 2/$5.00 and I brought home two bags of white chocolate macadamia nut cookies. I had wanted something toasty almondy but this sounded good too.

Because this ice-box cake idea relies on chilling the cake for 6-8 hours before serving, I took out my mixer when I got home and whipped up a pint of heavy whipping cream and started to put the dessert together. I wasn’t altogether sure about what kind of container to use, and I ended up using a smallish glass loaf baking pan.

To begin, I spread the whipped cream over the bottom and up the sides of the glass loaf pan. Then, I lay the cookies out to cover a layer, breaking some up to fill in the bare spots. A layer of whipped cream went on top, then more cookie layers. We usually like our whipped cream without other flavors like sugar or vanilla – so it’s just plain whipped cream for our dessert. I was careful to lay the whole cookies in different places for each layer so that the weight distribution would be shared over the dessert layers. Two packs of cookies left me with about 5 layers of dessert and three cookies left over.

To store it in the fridge, I put toothpicks in the four corners and gently laid plastic wrap over the whole thing, securing it to the outside of the glass dish. It’s just before noon now, so it’ll have about 7 hours before we take it out and serve it. I’ll be curious about how it will be to serve this out of the glass loaf pan, but we’ll figure that out later, I guess.

Will post photos of the cake when we serve it tonight.

 

‘quick as a wink’ dessert! . . .

DSCN9136.jpgHave you ever been told that guests might be coming over after dinner, and you don’t have anything really suitable to serve? Not Danish dropped off by the mailman. Not day-old fruit salad even though it still looks good. Not ginger molasses cookies that I bought for my husband which he wants for himself. So what then?

I made this quick apple tart dessert and by the time it baked in the oven, took less than 45 minutes altogether. I happened to have some ready-made Pillsbury pie crusts in the fridge (always do!)

On a piece of aluminum foil covered baking sheet sprayed with Pam, I placed a pie crust on it and quickly crimped the edges to make it look like a pastry. Meanwhile the microwave was heating up a third of a jar of Seville orange marmalade and a chunk of butter (probably 2 tablespoons.) Mixed together, I used a pastry brush and slathered the melted butter/jam glaze all over the bottom of the pie crust. I had some medium-size honey crisp apples in the fridge and cored ONE apple without peeling it. On a cutting mat, I used a very sharp knife and cut the cored pieces into very thin slices.

There’s a nice pattern of French apple tarts with a lineup of apple slices going in one direction and then the other two rows beside it going in an opposite direction. You’d be amazed at how this simple trick makes the dessert look1. After the apples were laid out, I used the rest of the marmalade/butter mixture and spread it over the top of the apples. To top it off, I mixed about 1/4 cup of turbinado sugar and cinnamon together and sprinkled it lightly before putting it into a 400 degree preheated oven.

About 18 minutes later, voila! – a glazed apple tart fit for company! After it cooled slightly out of the oven, I squeezed a tiny rib of fresh lemon over the top. Smelled wonderful and brightened up the sweetness of the fruit.

Whew~!

P.S. I’ve also made this using peaches, white nectarines or plums. Might then vary the jam glaze: sour cherry, raspberry, like that.