Ice cream bread is a real thing

Ice cream bread is a real thing

I thought the email that Downtown Tom forwarded me from a distant cousin was a joke – the one that said “ICE CREAM BREAD TWO INGREDIENT (no joke!)” in the subject line. It had to be a joke, right? The only two ingredients were 2 cups of softened ice cream and 1-1/2 cups self-rising flour. But it made sense that it would work. Ice cream is milk and eggs and sugar; self-rising flour has baking soda and salt, so all the components are technically there. So in the interest of science, we made it. The Kids brought home Dryer’s low-fat cookie dough ice cream and regular flour for the project*,  so I added the baking soda and salt myself to make it self-rising. I didn’t have the required 8×4 inch bread pan, so I used a larger 9×5 inch. And it was bread, to be sure, but not a particular interesting or flavorful one. The dog like it, though: So I made it again. The problem had to be the low-fat ice cream, we thought, so the second time around we used Marianne’s 1020 ice cream, a rich, luscious creamy caramel ice cream with fudge swirls and chunks of Oreo cookies that’s made locally in Santa Cruz. Oh, and I bought actual self-rising flour and an 8×4 inch loaf pan, just in case that made a difference. I didn’t, really. It was still a lovely small loaf, dense and moist, perfectly passable but still disappointingly bland. There is something lost in translation, I suppose. We were expecting sweet ice cream flavor and all we got was, well, bread. Bread...
Crispy prosciutto and melon salad

Crispy prosciutto and melon salad

This is an elegant twist on the quintessential Italian prosciutto e melone – crispy prosciutto tossed with melon chunks and garden mint and then drizzled with a lovely rich olive oil. The recipe came from an old Sunset Magazine my mother-in-law brought over one day; I can’t find it right now for proper attribution, but here is the link on Sunset’s recipe page. It’s very simple. Cook 2 slices of prosciutto on your skillet on medium heat for 3 – 4 minutes. Remove to a plate and let cool. In the meantime, cut a half of a cantaloupe into bite-sized pieces, or use a melon baller to scoop them out. Crumple the cooled prosciutto over the melon. Chop 6-8 mint leaves and add to the salad. Drizzle with 2 teaspoons high-quality olive oil, toss gently, and serve. I’ve been serving this all the time this summer, with poached eggs for weekend brunch, as a side dish with spaghetti and artichokes, or by itself for a solitary lunch in the...
Rosemary and garlic brined pork

Rosemary and garlic brined pork

I never really got the whole brining-meat thing. . . seemed like a lot of time and effort when, presumably, a decent piece of meat cooked well and/or a nice sauce would do the trick. But after watching enough cooking shows – most recently Bobby Flay’s Barbecue Addiction – I caved and decided it was worth an experiment with a lean pork loin. And I totally get it now – it was tender and juicy, infused with rosemary, and perfectly seasoned without adding extra salt. Why is brining such magic? Harold McGee explains in On Food and Cooking. First, the salt “disrupts the muscle filaments,” so it acted as a tenderizer. The salt also interacts with the protein on a cellular level, which means the roast held more water, and all the flavors of my aromatics moved into the meat. (Remember osmosis? Never mind.) Any moisture lost in cooking is balanced out by the brine, so I ended up with an internally salted and flavored protein. Technically a brine is just salt and water, or vinegar and water. Most recipes include sugar to balance the saltiness as well as herbs or aromatics for added flavor. Because fat adds flavor and moisture to meat already, brining works best on lean or tough cuts of meat, pork, chicken, and turkey. It’s not a quick process, though. Here’s what I did to make the magic this first time through: Based on Bobby Flay’s brine recipe, I boiled 8 cups of water and then added 1/2 cup salt and 1/4 cup sugar, 4 garlic cloves, a handful of thyme and 4 sprigs of rosemary from my...

Which Tea Should You Drink With Your Meal?

If you are a true tea aficionado, you know that all teas aren’t created equal. There are as many different teas as there are hours in the day, and each one has its own special character. Choosing the right tea to go with your meal can truly enhance your dining experience, in much the same way that choosing the right wine does. Image source: http://www.kombuchakamp.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/Black-Tea-is-Red-When-Brewed.jpg The tea we are all most familiar with is black tea. This is a strong, heavily oxidized tea – which is why it is black – and the powerful taste needs to be coupled with flavorful foods so that it doesn’t overwhelm the meal. There are actually a number of types of black tea, and each goes best with different types of food. For example, a lot of teas from China and Africa have a stronger earthy flavor, and they go well with red meats and savory foods. Other teas, especially those from Sri Lanka and India, have a fruitier flavor, and are the perfect complement for sweet desserts. China also produces teas that have a smoky flavor, which are a bit more of an acquired taste and go well with things like full flavored meats blackened over charcoal. Green tea, on the other hand, has a much lighter flavor and is a staple of Japanese and Chinese cuisine. Japanese green tea has a light, slightly grassy flavor and some people think it tastes slightly of seaweed. Because of this, it goes well with a wide range of seafood dishes. Chinese green tea has a slightly stronger, more smoky flavor that can overpower the...
Sweet on sauerkraut

Sweet on sauerkraut

Every couple of Saturday mornings we go to the Cabrillo Farmer’s Market, where the Kids breakfast on loaded baked potatoes and sample the offerings from local cheesemongers and I make a beeline for a shot of Farmhouse Culture’s kraut juice. More often than not come home with a bottle. This is the real thing, the original superfood, boldly flavored and so loaded with goodness you can actually feel you blood cells dancing for hours afterward. Especially the kimchi juice – cabbagegingergarlicradish all condensed in a tiny cup. My notion of sauerkraut used to be clear mushy sweetly tangy ribbons of precooked cabbage that came packaged in plastic bags. The ones my mom used to buy and heat up with Polish sausage and boiled potatoes. You too? Then toss that idea out the window. It’s so . . .  last century. Or at least mid-last century. Real sauerkraut is the stuff of tradition, of home preservation, of real foods – crunchy and aromatic, and, because it’s fermented, not boiled it’s a raw food, loaded with healthy microbes and micronutrients. Plus, and most importantly, it tastes great. I was awakened to this new-old wave of sauerkraut after reading Burkhard Bilger’s profile of “fermentation fetishist” and raw food activist Sandor Katz, AKA Sandorkraut. He’s quite a passionate and fascinating guy, author of The Revolution Will Not Be Microwaved, The Art of Fermentation, and Wild Fermentation. He argues that we’re killing ourselves with cleanliness: pasteurization, processing, packaged prepared consumables. He’s onto something; quite a bit of recent research points to our gut microbes acting as an 11th organ system. So fermented sauerkraut is something I’d want to...

What’s The Best Program To Help You Lose Weight?

Everyone wants to know the best way to lose weight, but few people realize that the problem has already been well and truly solved. While many people anxiously wait for the next crackpot diet involving baked beans or baby formula, there are others who are walking, talking examples of what we already know. Look around you and you probably know many people who have been overweight and got back in shape. You probably also know a lot of people who have managed to stay at a healthy weight their whole lives. It’s unlikely that those people explored The Blood-Type Diet or The Alkaline Diet, which seem to be much more based on marketability than fact. The medical profession has brought us cures for some of the most horrific diseases, including polio, diphtheria and other diseases that once plagued millions of lives. This same medical community has already brought us a cure to being overweight, and it doesn’t involve chomping on asparagus or nibbling on fish bones. The answer lies in calorie-controlled diets, just as diet plans by Weight Watchers and the medical profession has been telling us for an eternity. For most of us, the problem is rarely not knowing what food and diet will help us lose weight. It all comes down to the emotional pull we find ourselves under as we lead busier and busier lives. Humans also have hedonistic hunger. This is when we want to eat not because we’re hungry, but because of the pleasure we derive from it. “Subjective feelings of hunger are more likely to reflect our hedonic hunger level than our body’s...