Thursday, August 28, 2014

Lemon Granita

We've had the most delightful summer--warm days, cool nights, sunshine. Naturally summer decided to go out with a hot, miserable, muggy bang. Oh well. Time for iced desserts. One super hot day I was craving icy lemon. This did the trick.

I had never made a granita before and I'd expected them to come out with bigger chunks of ice (a la Snoopy Snow Cone Machine). Nope. With this you get tiny, velvety ice crystals that could rock any nice dinner party (should the parties you hold not involve sticky people and otter pops). But you don't have to save it for a dinner party because it's cheap and easy and it could also rock any 7-Up slushy cravings you've got (though you might have to skip the dainty serving dishes and super size it).

When Giada made this, she recommended a spoonful of lightly sweet ricotta on top. I didn't have ricotta, but liked the idea of a creamy contrast. I drizzled a little cream on mine and loved it (though it does get freezy, which you might find weird, but didn't bother me).

Also, this is super easy, but it isn't super quick. Sorry. It takes a good 3-4 hours of freezing time. The good news is that it keeps forever. I thought it would turn into an icy lump after a day or two, but it keeps its slushy-like consistency for at least a week and maybe longer.

Lemon Granita
adapted from The Food Network
serves 4
Prep time: 10 minutes
Freeze time: 4 hours
Cost: $.90
sugar: .15, lemons: .75 (cheaper if you use store-bought lemon juice)

1 C water
3/4 C sugar
2/3 C lemon juice
drizzle cream--optional

Combine water and sugar in saucepan. Stir until sugar dissolves. Whisk in lemon juice (if using fresh-squeezed juice, strain it well).

Pour into an 8x8 inch dish and put in freezer. (Note: I put mine in the fridge to cool it down first. The liquid was hot and I didn't want to melt any of my freezer stuff.)

Every 30 minutes or so, scrape through it with a fork until it is completely made up of ice crystals.

Serve with a drizzle of cream or a handful of raspberries if you wish.


Saturday, August 23, 2014

Ice Cream Cake--A Decorating Idea

Remember this ice cream cake? It's delicious, but the top is a plain expanse of white. Someone boring and old like me would likely just add candles or maybe sprinkles (or M&M's anyone?). But not my kids. Thanks to my sister, they like to add Airheads to theirs. But they don't just flop rectangular Airheads on. They heat them, shape them, and then they place them. Airheads, in fact, have become requisite to the making of an ice cream cake in our family.

It's true that these cake decorations, made by actual real-life children, will probably not make Martha Stewart Living's cover page. But they will make your children happy. And that is what birthday's are about.

(and they're still pretty cute)

Here's what you do:

1. Remove the Airhead from its package.
2. Heat an airhead for 6-10 seconds in the microwave. You'll be surprised how fast they heat up. You don't want them melted. Just warm. In fact, if you found yourself with no microwave, you could probably (maybe) put it in your pocket for a few minutes and get the desired effect (public service announcement: put it in your pocket before removing wrapping; thank you).
3. Shape it quickly into whatever you want. It's going to cool and harden, so you don't have to be a whirlwind sculptor or anything, but you can't take all the time in the world here.
4. Set it on wax paper.
5. Add to cake when you're ready.

(flowers, butterflies, and a pond)

Friday, August 22, 2014

Guest Blogger: Squash Soup

For my European readers, I've got a European guest blogger today. Her name is Ella Moss and I hope it's helpful. She starts off with an admonition not to throw away food. How could I resist? For all you American's, know that a pound is about $1.72.

Food waste accounts for 13.9% of our overall waste, second only to paper (28.4%). It’s therefore imperative that we find a way to stop throwing away food. Buying local produce, such as organic vegetables, is healthier, better for the environment and better for the local economy. Buy these in small batches several times a week, rather than doing one large weekly shop so that they stay fresh and you don’t have to throw them away.
If you’re looking to overhaul your diet in order to make it more eco-friendly without spending a huge amount of cash, this guide has advice on how to do this, including where you should buy your food and how you can cut down on waste.

The following recipe utilises vegetables you can find at your local market and can feed the whole family. It’s suitable for vegetarians as well as tasty. The whole batch costs under £5 and could last at least four or five meals – more if you keep adding stock. Also, because of the high water content, it will freeze well and last even longer. Put half in a large Tupperware container and pop in the freezer to eat at a later date when your cupboards are bare instead of opting for a takeaway.

Squash Soup:
·         1 butternut squash (£1.30)
·         3 sweet potato (£1.25)
·         1 red onion (18p)
·         2 cloves garlic (30p for whole bulb)
·         1L Vegetable stock (50p for pack)
·         50g Butter (20p)
·         Sage (75p for whole pot of dried sage)
·         Double cream (optional) (85p for whole pot)

1 – Chop the onions finely and brown with the butter in a frying pan. Grate the garlic to make a pulp and add when the onions are almost cooked. This works better if you keep the heat medium to low, rather than high, as this will slowly soften them without the butter or garlic burning and adding a bitter taste to the soup. Take this off the heat and add the sage to gently cook it with the residual heat. Put this to one side.
2 – Bring the vegetable stock to a boil in a large, deep saucepan.
3 – Chop the squash and sweet potato into small chunks and add to the boiling stock. Boil for 20 minutes until both are soft and easy to break up with a fork.
4 – Add the onions, garlic and sage to the stock and squash and stir together.
5 – If you have a blender, this is where you can blend the mixture together to make a thick soup. Of course, this is optional. If you like chunky soup, blending isn’t mandatory. Blend to the consistency you prefer.
6 – Add salt and pepper to taste – if it needs it.
7 – Serve with a swirl of double cream or crème fraiche for a healthier option.  Why not try baking some homemade crusty bread to accompany it?


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