Cookies for a Fool

July 27th, 2011 / Comments 0

Our son Matthew came to Vermont late last week. He lives in England, has been doing research in Indiana and will be at a conference in Paris in two weeks. His visit was the perfect opportunity to make cookies for a fool. The cookies were old fashioned, ice-box cookies flavored with browned butter and almonds and the fool, certainly not Matthew, was a dreamy, creamy concoction of fresh and frozen berries, heavy cream, sour cream and a bit of sugar.

Strawberry 1 Cookies for a FoolBy doing all the preparation the day before his arrival, the flavors in the berry fool had time to develop and the cookie dough was ready to be sliced and baked when we got back from the airport. … read more

Strawberry Shortcake from My Garden

June 9th, 2010 / Comments 1

My mother gave her mother, my Nana, daffodils three times each spring, in February on her birthday, in March for Nana’s birthday and in May for Mothers’ day. When I was ten, we were buying daffodils for Nana’s birthday when I saw bundles of strawberry plants for sale.
daffodil c egbert Strawberry Shortcake from My Garden
I convinced my mother that since Nana loved to garden, strawberry plants would be a perfect present. There were June bearing plants and everbearing varieties. Everbearing was the obvious choice. Naively I assumed that everbearing plants meant strawberries all the time, strawberries every day, long after the small, dark red strawberries in square, wooden baskets with red stains disappeared from the market at the end of June. In fact it everbearing means that there would be a berry harvest in June and a second in August. It wasn’t until years later that strawberries were flown from California to markets around the country and available year round.

Nana was delighted with both the daffodils and the strawberry plants. After lunch we went out to her garden to make a strawberry bed. When she unwrapped the bundle of plants, she said that there were enough plants for two strawberry beds, that I was old enough to have my own garden and that she would help me. I picked a sunny spot near the climbing, pink rose bush and it didn’t take long to make my garden. I watched the plants carefully and learned that each flower held the promise of one sweet red berry.
strawberries c egbert Strawberry Shortcake from My Garden I watered the plants with gentle streams from my watering can and Nana taught me how to recognize weeds. My first crop was less than the bounty I had hoped for – only one harvest and three and a half cups rather than two pails but there were enough berries to make my first ever, strawberry shortcake for Sunday dinner with Nana and my grandfather.

I wasn’t sure what traditional strawberry shortcake was. I had seen curious sponge cake cups and aerosol cans of whipped cream displayed next to the strawberries at the market, but they were not what I wanted for the strawberries I had tended for nearly two months.

pink beater c egbert Strawberry Shortcake from My Garden

I would make proper shortcake and top each dessert with real whipped real cream. When I found a recipe for shortcake at the library, I was surprised to learn that shortcake was really a biscuit and nothing like the shortbread cookies we had at Christmas time. Here’s how I made it: … read more

Honey Strawberry Sandwich & Minted Carrot Salad

February 20th, 2010 / comments 12

Honey in the morning, honey in the evening. Honey is a staple in my Sicilian kitchen.  I drizzled this light, delicately scented gift from the bees onto rustic breakfast sandwiches.
Pt a honey bee c egbert Honey Strawberry Sandwich & Minted Carrot Salad

Assembly was a breeze – toasted crusty ciabatta bread + a layer of marscapone + strawberry slices + honey = sticky fingers and a delicious way to start the day.

strawberry honey sandwich Honey Strawberry Sandwich & Minted Carrot Salad

For a simple salad to accompany pasta minted carrot salad was a perfect contrast. I put it together before I began to cook the pasta so that the dressing would wilt the carrots a bit. Here’s how I did it: … read more

Sweet Yorkshire Pudding for Summer Visitors

August 23rd, 2009 / comments 3

When friends come for a visit and spend the night breakfast often goes on for an hour or two. We start with cups of tea and coffee, sharing the paper and considering how to spend the day. Breakfast is a cooperative affair, I cook, volunteers set the table and pour the juice, and conversation begins in earnest.

tea+cup+MG+ Sweet Yorkshire Pudding for Summer Visitors

When making breakfast for more than two people, I’d don’t make a traditional breakfast like pancakes, French toast, or individually cooked eggs. Often I make a frittata, a savory Italian omelet, in a cast iron skillet. For breakfast when there are berries in the market, a Sweet Yorkshire Pudding is perfect.

blackberries+04 Sweet Yorkshire Pudding for Summer Visitors

A combination of eggs, milk, and flour, the batter is made in a blender or with an electric mixer and can wait until everyone is awake, showered, coffee’d and ready to eat before it is put into the oven to bake. Half an hour later – Breakfast is served.

Here’s how I made Sweet Yorkshire Pudding. … read more

Anne’s Birthday Cake

July 28th, 2009 / comments 5

Tonight we celebrate Anne’s birthday with a cake.

Annes+cake+01 Annes Birthday Cake
Strawberries Chocolate Raspberries

Rather than spelling out the details of a two day baking process – I’ll give you the essentials and trust that you will be able to sort out the more mundane elements.

This cake had seven layers, (eight if you count the plate).
Whipped Cream
Berry MousseCake
Berry Mousse
Meringue
Whipped Cream
Cake
Plate

Annes+cake+03 Annes Birthday Cake

To make two layers of the richest, most dense chocolate cake flavored with expresso, rum, and Callebaut chocolate, I adapted Susan G. Purdy’s recipe for Marvelous Mud Cake from my chocolate spotted edition of her book, A Piece of Cake.
Annes+cake+02 Annes Birthday Cake
The meringue was made with four egg whites, a quarter of a cup of sugar, a pinch of salt, half a teaspoon of lemon juice, a teaspoon of vanilla and cup of sugar mixed with two tablespoons of cornstarch.

It’s a simple process, the egg whites are beaten with the salt and lemon juice until foamy, the quarter of a cup of sugar is beaten in gradually until the egg whites have formed stiff shiny peaks, then the vanilla and sugar/cornstarch is folded in. Using a cake pan I drew a circle on a piece of parchment paper, spread the meringue onto the paper and piped small meringue kisses with the rest.

The meringues baked for two hours at two hundred degrees, and spent the night in the turned off the oven, protected from humid air and any mice passing through the kitchen.

The berry mousse I made was a mixture of raspberries, strawberries, cassis, gelatin and whipped cream. Your favorite recipe will work – it can be as simple as sweetened fruit folded into whipped cream or complicated enough to make Julia Child proud.

Mixer Annes Birthday Cake

In Vermont whipped cream begins with cold, heavy cream, in a glass bottle from a local dairy and is not ultra-pasteurized. The cream is beaten until stiff and that’s it. No sugar, no vanilla, no additions necessary. I used three cups of cream.

The party was a delicious event, the cake remained intact for the drive up the beautiful but rutted dirt road and after an amazing dinner, we tried to dance off calories with songs like Rock Around the Clock.

Happy Birthday Anne!
notes – The cake I made took a lot of time, but there are a number of options that will shorten the time considerably. Make a simple chocolate cake, substitute room temperature coffee or espresso for some or all of the liquid in the recipe, use rum or bourbon to replace a quarter of the liquid required, ask a baker if you can buy a cake without frosting, use softened ice cream flavored with berries or strawberry ice cream instead of mousse and you will have an ice cream cake, no one will know if you decide to leave out the meringue layer. You can use real cream in an aerosol can BUT—-if you use whipped topping the cows, the farmers and I will be very disappointed.

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Vermont Strawberry Sandwich & Panna Cotta

June 13th, 2009 / comments 2

Vermont + blue sky + June + sweet red perfection!

strawberry+round Vermont Strawberry Sandwich & Panna Cotta
At the moment — words fail me.

After a good sleep and with the scent of fresh strawberries in the air, I made a strawberry sandwich for breakfast.

strawb+sand+ingrd+01 Vermont Strawberry Sandwich & Panna Cotta
Strawberry Sandwich

I toasted thin slices of Red Hen Four Grain Three Seed bread, smeared it with a thin layer of cream cheese, topped with sliced strawberries and drizzled on a bit of local honey. Divine!
strawb+sand+01 Vermont Strawberry Sandwich & Panna Cotta

One of the easiest desserts I know is  Panna cotta with strawberries, fresh, simple and fast.

panna+cotta Vermont Strawberry Sandwich & Panna CottaHere’s how I made it: … read more

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