Saturday, July 24, 2010

Chef Dennis' Corn Fritters

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Corn Fritters

Chef Dennis writes about the delicious and healthy recipes he creates at a Pennsylvania prep school at More Than a Mount Full.  The squidgy cafeteria burgers, limp fries, and watered-down, soup-consistency ketchup of my youth can't be found on his blog.  Recently I saw a recipe for corn fritters he made that I just couldn't resist.  These were not just pancakes flecked with corn kernels, but crispy, airy, and slightly sweet.  What I was really impressed with was that the leftovers returned to their crispy state the day after when reheated in a toaster oven.  This is a perfect use for that farmers' market corn.

corn fritter 2
The batter is easy to throw together, and I love how colorful it is.  I had no scallions, but I have plenty of chives in my garden and they were a delicious substitute.

Corn Fritter
I used my trusty tablespoon scoop to measure out the fritters, and fried them until golden brown on each side before draining on paper towels.  They were excellent sprinkled with some fresh herbs and eaten with roasted vegetables.  They look smaller than the ones in Chef Dennis' photo, but I churned out 25.  Recipe after the jump.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Prosciutto Ring Bread

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Prosciutto Bread
I don't know what possessed me to bake bread on a 95-degree day, but it sure was good bread.  It finished baking before I headed out the door.  Later I got a call from Joe...

J: Can I have some bread?
Me: Can't you wait? I was going to take more photos.
J: I can't eat it because you haven't finished documenting??
Me: Fine, but don't hack it apart too badly!!

Only another blogger would understand.  Anyway, a good deal of it was missing when I got home, which you can take as testament to how good it was.

Prosciutto Bread
Clockwise from top left: Prosciutto di Piccolo was the more affordable alternative to Prosciutto di Parma ($16.99/lb!), but we agreed the bread could have used more since the pieces seemed to have shrunk during baking.  I'd also consider substituting small chunks of sausage next time.  The dough looks curdly at first, then kneads out smooth.  Roll it into a ball on a floured surface, then into a rope, and finally into a ring.

Prosciutto Bread1
Clockwise from top left: The ring before rising; the ring after rising; brushing with melted butter; and using a wooden peel to ease the bread onto a baking stone.

Prosciutto Bread Piece
It's a very rustic bread, with a nice crisp crust and a sturdy but moist crumb.  Try it!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Gianduja (Chocolate-Hazelnut) Gelato

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I've been planning to make this for two years, and having tasted it I wonder what the holdup was.  I think it's technically an ice cream instead of gelato, since someone once told me that gelato has less air beaten into it and needs to be made specifically in a gelato machine.  But who needs technicalities?

Scooping Gianduja Gelato

Gianduja is a chocolate containing hazelnut paste.  If you're a fan of Nutella or just the combination of chocolate and hazelnut, you need to try this.  The nuts also lend an almost sandy texture to the ice cream.  I like my ice cream smooth, so I might run it through some cheesecloth next time.  I'd also sub in some bittersweet chocolate for the milk chocolate for a deeper flavor.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Feta, Shrimp & Vegetable Orzo

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I didn't intend for this to look like fried rice, but between the wok and the shape of the pasta it couldn't be helped.  I've been eating this dish a lot lately, since it's nice and light for summer and uses up goodies from the farmers market.  I based it on a linguine recipe I found online years ago, but have long since ceased using a strict recipe, and I chucked the white wine (go ahead and add some if you really want to).  Lately I've been using orzo and adding various squashes I find from the market.  It's quick, fresh, and delicious.

July Garden
As for my own produce, my tomatoes are still taking their time ripening.  I did harvest my first eggplant of the season today, and I've been snipping some flowers from the yard.  This apricot rose starts out as this pretty orange, then as it opens it changes to shades of pink and red.  The white hydrangeas look nice and rustic in my ice cream machine bucket.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Chocolate Buttercream Cupcakes

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There are many cupcake flavors out there, but when it comes to me and sis our favorite is always good old yellow with chocolate frosting.  They weren't made this week, the week of the 100-degree high in Boston, but earlier when sis visited and requested them.  I've tried a similar combination before, but I was looking for a better buttercream recipe.  This is it.  The one I tried last year involved a sugar syrup, but syrups and caramels are just not my friends.  This one's easier and just as freakin' good.

Yellow Cupcake
Making the cupcakes was straightforward and simple, except I halved the recipe and even then only had nine paper liners.  So I sprayed the unlined wells with cooking spray, but don't follow my example.  The cupcakes still stuck to the pan and browned faster.  There was still a bit of batter left so I dug out two silicone baking cups, only to remember why I don't like baking with silicone.  The cake always breaks or sticks to the sides when you unmold it.  Paper is just the way to go.  Afterward, I started the buttercream, cooking the egg whites and sugar a bit to dissolve the graininess, then beating the mixture into a soft meringue.

Yellow Cupcake1
The mixture is transformed into buttercream when you add the softened butter, and then flavored with melted chocolate.  We piped, then kicked back with a cupcake (or two).  Sis thought it looked like a lot of work, but you've got to put in a little love if you're not using Betty Crocker and Duncan Hines, right?