Friday, July 13, 2012

On-Demand Ice Cream

I'm not sure how practical this is, but I love the idea of on-demand ice cream:
San Francisco-based startup Uber, developer of the Summon-a-Car application, is temporarily giving users the ability to call an ice-cream truck through their app.
The company's app, available on Android or iPhone, can be used to request and book private vehicles in a number of U.S. cities. Today, however, users in seven cities can also use the app to request the presence of an ice-cream truck.

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Strawberry Shortcake

It's July 4th, so what better way to finish up a cookout than with homemade strawberry shortcake? To be clear, this is the traditional version, featuring a biscuit topped with strawberries and whipped cream, not the New Jersey diner version, which is more of a layer cake with strawberry filling.

The biscuit I make is nothing fancy, just a simple Bisquick-based recipe that I adapted from The Absolute Beginner's Cookbook by Jackie Eddy & Eleanor Clark:

2 1/3 cups Bisquick baking mix
3 Tbsp. sugar
3 Tbsp. melted butter
1/2 cup milk
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. Mix the Bisquick, sugar, butter, and milk in a bowl until it forms a soft dough.
  3. Spread in an ungreased 8" round baking pan (I find the disposable aluminum foil ones work well). 
  4. Bake 15-20 minutes until golden brown.
I typically plan a few hours to a day ahead by slicing the strawberries and sprinkling with sugar, so they form a bit of a syrup. Of course, if you're looking to do red, white, and blue on the 4th, you can add blueberries, as well.

For whipped cream, you can go "fancy" by whipping up your own, or "slum it" with Redi-whip.

My wife did a better job than I usually do assembling the shortcake this year. After cutting the biscuit into wedges, she horizontally sliced each in half, added strawberries and whipped cream in the middle, and then topped with the second half of the biscuit, more strawberries, and more whipped cream.

The result was the perfect blend of summer fruit flavor, moist and crumbly biscuit, and whipped creamy goodness. Happy 4th of July indeed!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Watermelon

Photo by moreno0101
Perhaps this is sacrilege on a blog populated by homemade cookies and New Orleans pralines, but today I want to sing the praises of one of nature's great desserts: watermelon. I was pleasantly surprised to find a decent seedless melon at the supermarket this early in the season. My favorite preparation is peeling the melon, cutting it into fairly large cubes (perhaps 1.5 inches per side), and putting it in a bowl in the refrigerator. The melon then gets uniformly icy cold, and it's easy to eat with fingers or a fork.

I love the juicy crunch as I bite into a piece of watermelon and the sweet, pungent flavor that is unmatched by any other fruit. While regular watermelon is equally delicious, I prefer seedless to avoid the crunch of hidden seeds and the hassle of trying to avoid them. A cube of a decently ripe seedless watermelon, though, is a bite or two of pure perfection.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Dark Chocolate Covered Ginger

Add a new entry to the catalog of "snack-y desserts I wish I didn't know existed." Specifically, Trader Joe's Dark Chocolate Covered Ginger. Now, usually I don't like things covered in dark chocolate. Partly that's because the dark chocolate often isn't very good. Partly it's because the bitter, complex flavor of dark chocolate is too strong to blend well with the filling. Somehow, though, Trader Joe's gets it right. Small chunks of crystallized ginger are coated in a smooth, mild dark chocolate that complements the sweet and spicy ginger flavor perfectly. I can "thank" my sister-in-law for the discovery of these morsels, as she decided to try them during a recent run to TJ's while visiting us. In the end, I ate about half the package. That will teach her to keep a delicious dessert within arm's reach!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Kouign-Amann in Montreal

Kouign-Amann? What's that? I'd never heard of it either before my first trip to the bakery of the same name in Montreal. It turns out that Kouign-Amann (pronounced roughly like Queen Amonn) is a Breton pastry. And a very delicious one at that. The Montreal version is served as a wedge of a large round, almost like a slice of pie. It's apparently made from layers of brioche dough, but somehow the virtuoso bakers get the top and bottom to have a delicious, caramelized coating while leaving the middle moist, flaky, and delicately chewy. Beyond that, it's hard to describe, other than with superlatives. If you find yourself in Montreal, it's worth heading up to Avenue du Mont Royal Est just for a taste. Of course, once you're there, you may as well buy a few of the delectable chocolate and almond croissants, too!