Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Even when it's stupidly hot..

...you still need to eat. And not only sorbet. Sad, but true.

I had a mad craving for curried chicken salad yesterday and what I came up with was brilliant if I do say so myself: a lovely combo of creamy and cool, zippy, fruity, and crunchy with lots and lots of color.

I could have been deterred by the fact that despite my copious collection of Indian spices (seriously, you should see my freezer which is stuffed with things like curry leaves and mango powder and enough mustard seed to fill a small pillow) I had absolutely no curry powder in the house. But nothing was going to stop me from having my salad and nothing was going to force me out into the heat. I ended up making my own curry powder, and that may be why this salad was so lovely but then again, it would probably be just dandy with a good commercial brand of curry powder.

My other imrov move was using dried mangoes instead of fresh. Fresh woudl be delicious, I'm sure, but again, the heat. I stayed put and rehydrated some dried mangoes from Trader Joe's and they added the perfect bit of sweetness to the salad.

This was a huge hit at my house, enough so that I think I will be making it again very soon. There's really no end to this heat wave in sight, so I'm pretty happy to live on salads, smoothies, and sorbets.

Printable recipe here

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Heat Wave

You've just got to love the weather forecasters here in Portland. We get a week's hysterical notice for any potentially dramatic weather. They've been carrying on about the coming heat wave for days but as far as I'm concerned, it's already here. I'm having a harder time with the heat this year than usual. All I want to eat is ice cream.

Unfortunately ice cream and I don't really get along. It's pretty hard on my stomach though I have been known to suffer for a good coffee ice cream. Gelato I can handle pretty well and I adore Coconut Bliss, but it's awfully spendy. Sorbet, however, goes down with no trouble at all. When I stand in front of the freezer case, there are so many tasty looking ice cream flavors and then, maybe, there's lemon sorbet. Yawn.

Luckily it's a snap to make my own sorbet. In the last few weeks we've had cherry, blueberry-banana, and nectarine, all based on the recipes in David Lebovitz' most excellent book The Perfect Scoop. Although his recipe for nectarine sorbet was simple enough, I made things even easier by cutting out one step. I opted not to cook the nectarines --I just threw everything in the blender, transferred the mixture to my trusty Donvier, and we had a lovely fresh nectarine sorbet in no time at all.

I might try this again and cook the nectarines just to see what happens, but I really love the way my raw version burts with super fresh nectarine flavor. I'm sure you'll want to have some of this tucked away in your freezer when the heat wave hits.

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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Colleen's Poison Jam

Ok, folks, you are in for a real treat today. I'm going to share a recipe for, quite simply, the best jam in the whole world. This summer I've already made strawberry jam, sour cherry jam, and lots of blueberry marmalade. They are all very, very good. But nothing touches Colleen's Poison Jam which I am sharing here with her permission.

The first thing you should know it that it isn't actually poison, but it's so good that you'd willingly eat it even if it were. Back in March we took a trip down south to visit Colleen and her lovely family in California. We had a wonderful week and when our departure day arrived, I was quite sad about leaving. Colleen had thoughtfully gotten up early, thrown together some fabulous scones, and served them with an array of tasty homemade jams. The apricot was absolutely divine and I was delighted when she pulled a couple of jars out of the freezer and gave them to me to take home.

It was a long drive and I thought about the jam tucked away under the seat quite a few times. After many hours, we got home and unpacked and went about the business of switching from vacation mode to real life mode and it was quite a few days before I thought about the jam again. When I went looking for it, it wasn't in the refrigerator where it belonged. Both jars were right where I left them under the seat in the van.

In my defense, I will say that the weather was very cool and rainy all week. It never could have heated up in the van. And jam is full of sugar, a natural preservative. When I brought the jars in, I told the kids in no uncertain terms not to touch the jam as it was surely spoiled. And then I proceeded to eat an entire jar myself in the pre-Passover rush to get all the bread out of the house. My kids eventually realized that I wasn't dying from the jam and they took care of the rest of it. And thus the (terribly unfair) name was born.

I'm sure many of you are shrieking in horror by now. But here's the thing. I would risk my life for this jam. It's that good. And there wasn't a thing in the world wrong with it despite all my husband's grim doomsday warnings.

I thought it must be terribly complicated to make such a lovely treat but in fact it's a snap. Really. Couldn't be easier. Apricots, sugar, lemon juice, a pat of butter, and a vanilla bean which is crucial to the heavenly flavor. The only thing I changed was the method of preservation. Instead of freezing, my jars have been water bath canned so they're safe for long car rides and forgetful gift recipients. It takes about half an hour to make a couple of pints of the loveliest apricot jam ever. Apricots are in all the farmers markets these days (at least in our area) so don't miss your chance!

Printable recipe here.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Blueberry Breakfast Cake

I woke up the other morning with blueberry breakfast cake on my mind. It probably had something to do with the more than 20 pounds of blueberries the kids and I picked at a lovely farm out in Canby. However, much as I liked the sound of it, I've never actually had blueberry breakfast cake so I had to come up with something that would live up to the name.

This cake has all kinds of things to get your day off to a good start. Yes, it's filled with those super healthy fruits, but there are also lots of whole grains and nuts to fuel your day. Lemon zest and cinnamon accent the berries beautifully.

I hope you'll give this one a try. I think it's the new summer breakfast of choice around here.

Printable recipe

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