Wednesday, July 28, 2010

I’ve Been Eating Ice Cream

Pavel, the girls, and I have been on the road.  We visited assorted nieces and nephews, brothers and sisters (and their spouses), parents, cousins, and aunts and uncles in the Bay Area.  We watched four baseball games in Seattle.

We also ate numerous ice cream cones. In Ashland, on our way south, I had a salted caramel and roasted banana cone at Mix (incidentally, a great coffee stop between here and there). 

In San Francisco, I tried a malted vanilla and chocolate (twirled together) soft-serve (made with organic Straus cream) at Bi-Rite Creamery.  I also had one of their addictive toffee chip cookies (studded with pecan toffee and chocolate chips).  If you remember my last adventure at Bi-Rite, you’ll be happy to know I learned my lesson.  This time we arrived on foot.

Bi Rite malted vanilla chocolate softie
 Soft-serve at Bi-Rite

We also made it to Humphrey Slocombe Ice Cream.  Last time I was in San Francisco I’d planned on going, but my mind got a little addled after visiting Bi-Rite.  This time I stayed focused.  I was a bit worried we’d be fighting lines, since the New York Times ran a splashy article in their magazine the Sunday before we went. 

Humphrey Slocombe Shop

Of all the ice cream I ate on vacation, theirs was the most unusual.  But how soon will some of their flavors seem normal?  Most ice cream shops we visited offered salted caramel ice cream, which would have seemed unusual just a few years ago.  Suddenly Salt and pepper doesn’t seem such a stretch.  Pepper and mint (my daughter had that one) was delicious.  Balsamic caramel was also good—it reminded me a bit of sekanjabin, the sweet and sour middle eastern drink made with a wine vinegar syrup and mint.

 Humphrey Slocombe secret bfast salt and pepper
Humphrey Slocombe Secret Breakfast with Salt and Pepper

I was sorry to miss their salted licorice ice cream, but happily made do with a scoop of Secret Breakfast (bourbon and cornflakes—talk about inspired!) and a scoop of salt and pepper.

One small confession: I’d already tried the Humphrey Slocombe Secret Breakfast in an affogato at the SFMOMA rooftop garden coffee bar, made with Blue Bottle espresso (eaten, appropriately, well before noon).

Okay, I also had a piece of Thiebaud cake at SFMOMA.  Can you blame me? Butter cake with (on the day I was there) lemon curd and strawberry buttercream.  Pretty as, well, a picture.  But much prettier than my picture. 

Thiebaud cake
Poor photo of a beautiful piece of cake

Check out the pictures at Design Sponge instead (though they’re of a Thiebaud chocolate cake).

When in Berkeley, we always stop at Ici.  In my book, it’s the perfect ice cream shop.  The decor is reminiscent of old-time ice cream parlors, and yet charmingly fresh.  And it’s less than a block away from my (long gone) childhood favorite, Bott’s Ice Cream.  So on the off chance the part of my brain that tells me I want ice cream needs priming, walking that block of College Avenue puts me straight into my ice cream mood. 

And the ice cream? It's fantastic. How to choose between flavors like apricot, Black Mission fig ice, anise candied orange, chocolate with pink peppercorns, and cardamom rose?

Ici counter
The counter at Ici

The line at Ici was the perfect length—just long enough to carefully consider the flavors.  In the end, I went with a double scoop: apricot noyeaux and toasted almond sour cherry.  Heaven.

On our way back north, we stopped in Healdsburg at Downtown Bakery and Creamery.  We usually stop by when visiting; my mother and sister started the bakery with Kathleen Stewart back in 1987 (the same year my Grace was born).  Today Downtown Bakery is Kathleen’s baby.  The kids always want to stop in for doughnut muffins.  I’m happy to oblige.  And get an ice cream cone, this time apricot and blackberry.  Does anything taste more like summer?

Downtown Apricot Blackberry
Downtown's ice cream

In Seattle we only made it to Molly Moon’s.  But we made it there twice.  That’s because on the first day we tried their Theo Chocolate flavor, made with, you guessed it, chocolate from the local Theo Chocolate (who’s supposed to offer an outstanding tour—I’m still kicking myself for not planning ahead and reserving a spot).

So we went back a second day.  Funny story.  Since The Capitol Hill Block Party was going on, parking was at a premium.  We scored a decent spot, and went to lunch at Oddfellows (where I enjoyed my first BLT of this late-in-coming tomato season).  Before going for ice cream, Pavel went back to feed the meter.

Which technically you’re not supposed to do.  But he did.  Later, we walked leisurely back to our car, licking our cones.  We turned the corner, looked towards our car, but didn’t see it.  Both Pavel and I instantly feared the worst.  We’ve developed bad ice cream parking consciences.

All was okay.  There was just a really big car blocking ours.  My nerves would be much calmer if people wouldn’t park monster cars behind my parked car.  At least when I’m getting ice cream. 

And those pictures?  Sorry about the low-quality.  I snapped them with my iphone, my hands shaking with summertime ice cream anticipation.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Good to the Grain

My review of Kim Boyce’s Good to the Grain: Baking With Whole Grain Flours just went up on the Culinate website.  It’s a wonderful book—full of new tastes and thoughtful recipes.

Favorite recipes (so far!) include the whole wheat chocolate chip cookies, the Sand Cookies (made with Kamut flour), the seeded granola, and these oatmeal cookies.  My spattering technique can use some work, but I’ll be making lots more of these.

oatmeal cookie 1

Oh. And the rye crumble bars, filled with jam (I used sour cherry). 

Monday, July 5, 2010

Heading Off

I'm off for a couple of weeks, visiting family, eating ice cream, paying attention to parking signs, and reading lots of books.  You might hear from me.  But then again, I might not be able to pull myself away from all that fun.

Have a great few weeks!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Rødgrød med Fløde (Red Porridge with Cream)


Rødgrød med fløde is a Danish dessert, traditionally made with red currants combined with other red berries and fruits, such as raspberries, cherries, and strawberries.  Served cold, the fruit soup is slightly thickened with cornstarch (or potato starch).  I like mine made primarily with red currants and  some raspberries for their perfume.
 rodgrod 1

Rødgrød med fløde is also an excellent way to humiliate exchange students, as the phrase is notoriously difficult to pronounce.  When I lived in Denmark rødgrød med fløde graced the table often.  I always approached it with anxious pleasure.  Or was it pleasurable torment? Because I knew I’d have to make my lame attempt at pronunciation and smile through the family’s laughs before I could even pick up my spoon.

 rodgrod 2

In Denmark we ate our rødgrød ladled into soup plates for an afterschool snack, or as a light dessert (cakes and cookies were only served at teatime, never for dessert) after dinner.

The cream (fløde) pitcher made its way around the table, everyone adding generous sloshes into their bowls.  It was hard to resist the bright pink and white--when no one was looking I liked to marbleize the cream across the top with my spoon.  Sometimes we even spooned a bit of whipped cream on top.  You’ve got to love a place where people put both cream and whipped  cream on their desserts.

rodgrod 3

Nowadays I have my own red currant bush.  No matter what I do (or more to the point, what I don’t do) it produces pounds and pounds of currants every year.  I freeze most of the berries, saving them to make jelly, summer pudding (into  the fall), pies, and, of course, rødgrød med fløde.

Because it’s such a pretty dish.  And so good.

empty rodgrod bowl 1

Rødgrød med fløde

In Denmark, we ate many thickened fruit soups through the year: rhubarb, strawberry, cherry, and my favorites: rødgrød med fløde (in spite of the humiliation) and Mirabelle plum soup. 
I generally use frozen berries for this.
Serves 4
  • 300 grams red currants (a generous 2 cups, without stems)
  • 200 grams raspberries (a shy 2 cups)
  • 1-1/2 cups water
  • 75 grams (5 tablespoons) sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch, dissolved in 3 tablespoons water
Combine the red currants and raspberries in a saucepan with 1-1/2 cups water.  Bring to a boil, and simmer until the berries are tender—about 10 minutes.  Blend the berries with an immersion blender, then put through a sieve.  You will have about 2-1/2 cups liquid.

Put the juice back into the saucepan and add the sugar (use more or less to taste).  Bring to a boil, and then stir in the dissolved cornstarch.  Stirring constantly, bring to a boil again, and boil for a full 3 minutes.

Remove from the heat, and pour into a serving dish.  Some suggest sprinkling sugar over the surface to keep a skin from forming.  I haven’t had luck with that.  Maybe you will?

Let cool to room temperature, then put in the refrigerator to chill.  Serve with cream and/or whipped cream.

  • It's tempting, and easy, to oversweeten this, as the currants are tart.  Resist the temptation--the currants have an intense taste, and when combined with too much sugar the dish tastes like a bowl of jam.  Pass a bowl of sugar at the table for those who want more.
  • For more of a ‘company’ dessert, after the rødgrød med fløde is chilled, layer it in parfait glasses with whipped cream.  Add some amaretti crumbs to the layers, or, my favorite, caramelized pumpernickel crumbs.

rodgrod parfait 3
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