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For the past two years, good mornings in the SiS household have hinged on two drinks. One is coffee. The other is Hanne’s genius invention: The Peanut Butter Banana Smoothie. Yeah, you’ve seen it around, but Hanne came up with it first. It might be SiS’s most unoriginal original recipe, but the other PBBS recipes you’ve seen online are all gross.
SiS’s PBBS is more milkshake than globby smoothie. Don’t worry, it’s all illusion. Frozen bananas only seem to turn into ice cream when blended with milk. It’s a healthy drink. Protein from the peanuts and milk. Calcium… Bananas… they’re good, right? One morning I put leftover whipped cream on top, which was awesome. But I digress…
So first, you’ve got your frozen bananas. Buy lots. Peel them, split them in half and freeze. Second, you’d better use real peanut butter. Don’t make this with the sugary pretend stuff. You need to use the creamy, chunky, pain-in-the-ass natural peanut butter that takes some stirring before use. Sucks, but it’s worth it.
TIP: get as big of a jar of real peanut butter as you can so that you don’t have to do this too often. Spatula the PB out into the bowl of a stand mixer. Use the dough mixing attachment (the curly spike). Once the machine’s done the work for you, spatula the PB back into its jug. Refrigerate it or it’ll separate and you’ll have to mix it again.
So how to? Combine two banana halves, a cup or so of milk, a generous spoonful of peanut butter, a dash of vanilla and blend. Don’t overcomplicate your morning by measuring. If you must, the recipe’s below. Experiment with proportions until you get the taste and consistency you like. The only way to mess this up is to use bad milk (guilty) or accidentally blend a loose blender seal into the drink (again, guilty). Otherwise, this drink is idiot proof.
SiS’s Peanut Butter Banana Smoothie
1 frozen ripe banana, halved
1 cup milk
3 tablespoons REAL peanut butter
1-2 teaspoons vanilla
1. Put stuff in blender and blend.
AND, if you have a blender that blends in the same cup you drink out of, then there’s hardly any mess. Unfortunately, the only product I know that does this is the Magic Bullet. It’s cheap and also built cheap. We’re on our second machine in two years. I had to plug my ears while running the last one, which is why it didn’t make the cut when we moved from Montreal. I hope another company that makes good blenders copies Magic Bullet’s single cup style and I hope that happens before the Tasmanian devil busts out of our appliance. Man dies from Magic Bullet shrapnel?
Yes, you read that title right. Don’t be alarmed. Just look at this:
|From Coronation Grape Cake|
How can that gorgeousness not be good?
This cake came about because of an impulse purchase. I spotted dusky purple grapes at the market and couldn’t resist. If you’ve wondered all your life why grape candy doesn’t taste like grapes, wonder no more–it’s modeled after grapes like these. In Canada, we have coronation grapes, which are similar to concord. They have deep purple flavour, and are much less sweet than a green or red table grape. While I know these aren’t wine grapes, they’re the first grapes I’ve ever tasted that made a grape-wine flavour connection for me. So there you go! Grapes, real, grapey grapes.
But what do you do with a grape like this? Well, I’ve got plans for sorbet, but my first thought, maybe because the grapes remind me a bit of blueberries, was cake.
This recipe is adapted from a Patricia Wells recipe, and I highly recommend it. The grapes are tart and flavourful, and I substituted some ground almonds for the flour, which gave a rich nuttiness that’s fantastic. The recipe also calls for olive oil. I’m not sure exactly what this adds to the flavour, not having tasted this cake with butter, but it makes for a great texture. This is the kind of cake I love, a dense, rustic treat that you can serve as dessert, or slice for a decadent breakfast. Plus, you get to say “would you like some grape cake?,” which at least gets people’s attention.
|From Coronation Grape Cake|
2 large eggs
2/3 cups sugar (use less if your grapes are on the sweet side–mine were quite tart), plus extra for finishing the cake
4 Tbsp melted butter
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 cup milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup ground almonds (feel free to substitute flour here if you don’t have almonds, or even scale back the flour a bit and add more almond flour)
3/4 tsp baking power
a pinch of salt
zest of one lemon
2 cups flavourful grapes
Equipment: a 9″ round cake pan
Butter and flour a cake pan, then set it aside. Preheat your oven to 350 F.
Beat the eggs and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer until they’re thick, about 3 minutes. Beat in milk, butter, oil, and vanilla.
Sift together the flour, almonds, baking powder and salt. Add the zest, tossing it to make sure it is well-distributed. Then stir the flour mixture into the wet ingredients, making sure it is well-combined. Allow this mixture to sit for 10 minutes to make sure the flour has absorbed the liquids.
Gently stir in 1 1/2 cups of grapes, then transfer the batter to your cake pan.
Bake on the middle rack for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, pull out your cake and top it with the reserved grapes. Sprinkle coarse granulated sugar overtop. Bake for about 40 more minutes, until the top of the cake is golden and springy. Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the pan.
Something else to do with grapes: check out this beautiful tart at Lottie + Doof
|From Apple Jellies|
It’s 7:30 and I’m watching the sunrise. I do this every morning, and (lucky me?), I get the full effect, since I’m up at 5:00. Nowadays, it’s still completely black at five, so I wait for the sun with great anticipation. My desk faces the window, so I get to watch all the phases of light in the morning while I sit on the phone discussing the present perfect tense or the differences between “say” and “tell” with my students. My favourite phase of sunrise comes just after the sun is up, when a beautiful apricot light illuminates the apartment and everything in it lights up with gold.
One of the lovely idiosyncrasies of our apartment is that, although our windows are completely east-facing, we get a beautiful sunset to go along with the sunrise I witness every morning. Impossible, you say? Never! You see, directly east of us is the downtown core, a place full of mirrored glass buildings. We get a pre-sunset reflection off those glass buildings that fills our evening with the same apricot gold that I see every morning. An urban sunset!
The reason I’m telling you this is that when I was looking through pictures of the apple jellies I made over the weekend, they reminded me of my lucky sunrise-sunset. While they’re not exactly the same colour, they have a sunny peachy tone that makes me think of the sky at sunrise.
Anyway, I discovered this apple jelly recipe in Alice Waters’ “The Art of Simple Food,” which I’ve raved about before. It’s a simple but not a quick recipe. If you’ve got good apples, it’s well worth your time. Mine came from a tree in my parents’ backyard.
Sugared, these jellies are great little treats. Alice Waters also recommends keeping them unsugared as a cheese-platter addition. They’d be fantastic with a hard, full-flavoured cheese. I meant to try it out, but my jellies have all disappeared! They’re almost as fleeting as the sunset.
3 pounds of apples, quartered and seeded
1 cup water
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
Line a lightly greased 8×8 square baking dish (or a 9″ round cake pan, if you’re like me and don’t have a square) with waxed paper. Set the baking dish aside.
Cook apples with water in a covered heavy-bottomed pot until very soft. This should take about 20 minutes.
When the apples are soft, remove them from the heat and send them through a food mill, or if you must do it the hard way (I had to. There was a bit of swearing.), press them through a sieve.
When the fruit is pureed, put it back into the pot and stir in the sugar and lemon juice. Simmer this mixture on low heat until it is very thick. This took me about 1 1/2 hours. You will need to stir it often to make sure it’s not sticking. The jelly is ready when it stays in place where you’ve scraped it instead of flowing back to cover the bottom of the pot. Waters says to use an oven mitt to protect yourself from splatters, but I had no problems with this.
When your jelly is sufficiently thickened, spread it into your prepared dish and allow it to cool. When it’s completely cooled, invert it onto another piece of wax paper, remove the top layer of paper, and allow it to dry out overnight.
If your paste isn’t dry enough (again, not a problem I had), you can put it in a barely-warm oven (150 F) for an hour until it firms up, allowing it to recool before cutting.
When your jelly is ready, you can toss the pieces in coarse sugar if you like, or stash it, wrapped in plastic, for whenever you’d like a little taste of sun. Waters says it will last a year!
|From Apple Jellies|
Hanne and I having built up our reputations as cooks sometimes pays off! Or we’ve at least convinced some people that we know enough about food that they humour us by asking us to make stuff for them. And sometimes they pay for the expensive ingredients, which is, in case you were wondering, the payoff.
My brother purchased himself a tin of matcha for 30 bucks. 30 bucks! His request was green tea ice cream. We used David Lebovitz‘s recipe, word for word. It worked perfectly and you can find it HERE. If you are one of the people out there that we’ve convinced to buy an ice cream machine and it’s since been relegated to your never-used single-use appliance cupboard, then buy this book and get your freezer bowl back in the freezer.
This turned out to be the best green tea ice cream I’ve ever had. Or made. Or Hanne made. Or whatever. My brother, when my Mom asked him if it was the best green tea ice cream he’s had said, “yeah, it’s good.” Maybe it was the victim of extortion talking (30 bucks!!?!). Let it be known that when he tried making green tea ice cream himself, he used brewed green tea. Brewed tea! So the lesson here is not to damn cooks with blogs with faint praise or their small world of readers will find out that you suck and that when you worked in a kitchen and dropped a knife you tried catching it by the blade. Anyway, thanks for the photos, little brother!
I only come by here now to say hi, apologize, then post a Daring Bakers challenge. I hope this will change soon, as soon as we move into our new! apartment!, but for now, I’d like to say hi, sorry, and tell you that eclairs are delicious, fun, and (mostly) easy to make. And yes, this is a Daring Bakers challenge.
Eclairs are easy, if you follow instructions and proportions, and if you don’t get greedy. I offered to make these as a dessert for a dinner my in-laws were hosting. The recipe claims to make 20 eclairs, and I thought “pssh… who wants puny little 20-to-a-recipe pastries? I’m going to make REAL sized ones.” This was a mistake. My first batch of choux pastry went horribly, horribly wrong, coming out like lumpy oblong pancakes. I worried and complained and generally acted miserable. My mother-in-law and auntie-in-law tutted and pooh-poohed, and said, “don’t worry, you’ll cut them and put cream in them and top them and they’ll be gorgeous.” And I allowed myself to be soothed, but the psychological weight was too much. Inferior! Eclairs! To guests! I couldn’t take it, so I marched back to the kitchen and started my pastry from scratch, thus inconveniencing the other cooks and guests, and hogging the oven, which needed to be used for important things, like, you know, dinner. Some house guest I am. But the eclairs did turn out.
The pastry was tender, the pastry cream was sweet and smooth and cold, and the chocolate sauce on top was just the right balance of gooey and firm. So, yum!
I modified the recipe for chocolate pastry cream, eliminating chocolate and adding half a vanilla bean and some Jameson, trying to create an Irish cream flavour. The flavour was fantastic, but I’m not a big cornstarch fan, so I wouldn’t use this except as a filling, where it holds its shape beautifully. The chocolate sauce, while fiddly, is all stations go delicious, and I wish that I had some right now, so I could eat it on ice cream.
All in all, a great challenge, thanks to MeetaK and Tony Tahhan, both of whom you can visit to check out the recipe. Also, check out the Daring Bakers blogroll to see what those bloggers more dedicated than me have produced.
We’re still floating and mildly homeless, so I took over someone else’s kitchen (my mother’s) to perform this month’s Daring Bakers challenge. I’m glad I did! I discovered that danish pastry is time-consuming but not that tough and super-rewarding. The final result is buttery, melting, and super-tender.
I’m grateful to Kelly of Sass & Veracity and Ben of What’s Cooking? for a great challenge! I’m a little too lazy to copy out the recipe, so if you’d like to try it out (do! It’s fun and delicious!), you can find it here.
It seems that I’m spending most of my time lately apologizing– I’m late, I’m absent… Well. So I’m late posting this and I’ve been absent. And we’ll be absent some more for the next month, I think, as we are packing up our life and moving ourselves across the country. Carlo’s been getting shooting pains in his head, and I’ve suddenly developed a neck problem. Ha. So this is my final apology and from here on out, if we post we’ll be acting as if everything’s normal and there’s nothing to apologize about.
So here we are late with our Daring Bakers report. This Last month, Morven at Food Art and Random Thoughts chose Dorie Greenspan’s perfect party cake. Now, I’m not much of a cake baker. Too much precision, too much waiting and anxiety, too many fallen cakes. A lot of bakers had problems getting their cakes to rise, and I was no exception. My layer cake had only two layers instead of four, since I didn’t want to try slicing into my pitiful little layers. But! The cake was super-tasty. I made a strawberry-lemon curd filling to layer inside, and the buttercream was thick and delicious. For a basic cake recipe, this one is a good one. Check out some of the other bakers’ cakes by going to the Daring Bakers’ blogroll. There are some good ideas for how to get the cake to rise.
You can check out the cake recipe here.
STRAWBERRY LEMON CURD
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 cups fresh strawberries
zest and juice of 1 lemon
2 large eggs
3 egg yolks
1/2 cup butter, cubed
Put the sugar, strawberries, lemon zest and juice, eggs and egg yolks in the bowl of a food processor and spin them until the strawberries are smooth.
Put the puree in a small saucepan, add the butter and cook over low heat, stirring often, until butter has melted and mixture thickens, about 30 minutes. Don’t allow the curd to boil.
Take the curd off the heat and cool it before placing it in clean jars and refrigerating it. This recipe makes about 2 1/2 cups of curd. It’s great for a cake layer, for spreading on eggy bread, or just to eat out straight out of the jar (I’m not ashamed…).
I have something to tell you. Up to now, this blog has been decidedly positive. We tell you how much we love a food item, give a little run-down on why we like it, maybe give a glowing description and a couple preparation suggestions. Then you get the recipe. This is good. And positive. Everything’s all right here at Supper in Stereo.
But here’s my confession– I’m not generally sunny. I’m a whiner, a complainer, a look-on-the-dark-side kind of person. I complain about my job, curse the cloudy weather, call my cat stupid.
Actually, I only did that last one once. And I felt really bad afterwards.
I’m working on it, I am. But sometimes Carlo’s and my self-imposed exercise of listing three good things that happened every day ends up sounding something like this: Today is over. I survived today. I can go to bed now. This, my friends, is not positive.
Sometimes when you’re busy feeling grey like this, food falls by the wayside. Oh, we still eat, of course. But cookies turn out tough and floury, soup tasteless, meat dry. And we dutifully shovel it in, to get enough energy to slog through another day. January and February are especially bad when you live in a wintry climate. We’re lucky to get one sunny day a week and the rest of the days are plodding and overcast. They’re not even grey, they’re just… nothing.
Have you had enough yet?
Then listen: every once in a while, even I have to poke my head up and say “wait, this is pretty good.” The other night, Carlo and I were contemplating a beautiful pan of chicken parts scattered with chunks of lemon and rosemary that we were about to roast (the recipe was yet another gift from my generous aunt and uncle, and I’ll pass it on to you soon). It was gorgeous, even uncooked, and we could tell just by looking that it was going to be delicious. Carlo said “man, we have it pretty good.” And I agreed.
I had another moment like this the other night, standing in the kitchen, sticking my tongue out while I took a paring knife to the skins of our last Meyer lemons. I was sticking my tongue out because I was concentrating on only getting skin and not pith, so that the mini batch of limoncello that I was preparing wouldn’t come out with any bitterness at all. To be honest, the task of carefully peeling thin-skinned lemons isn’t really all that fun. I was tense and my shoulders were aching. But at the other end of the counter, Carlo was preparing a batch of one of our favorite ice creams. He was talking himself through the steps, pretending to host a cooking show (sample instructions: “…then you take a thing… or a spoon… and you move the stuff in the bowl around with it.” Sample banter: “I’m okay! Do you like me? You’re okay!”). If I wasn’t concentrating so hard, I would have been giggling. Carlo finished preparing his ice cream, and I finished peeling my lemons (it took me 30 minutes for four lemons– that’s dedication). Then Carlo put his ice cream into the ice cream machine and I put my limoncello in the cupboard to steep.
It’s just a little jar, mind you. I only had four lemons left (and incidentally, the more-than-half-empty bottle of vodka on our bar had the exact right amount of alcohol left, which was a nice coincidence). When the limoncello’s finished, it will be enough for a few sips, not much else. But I still like knowing that it’s sitting in the cool darkness of our cupboard, getting more and more delicious, waiting for us. You can steep your limoncello anywhere from two weeks to four months. I’m leaving mine there for all of February. We’ll see how I feel come March.
I’ll let you know how the limoncello turned out in a couple months. And Carlo’s ice cream? It was perfect, perfect. Life is good and we are lucky. I just don’t feeling like talking about it.
BROWN SUGAR SOUR CREAM ICE CREAM
We follow the recipe for brown sugar sour cream ice cream from Mercedes at Desert Candy faithfully. The last few times, we’ve used panela instead of brown sugar, just because I found panela in the store and felt that it needed to come home with me. I highly recommend this variation, as the panela has a great intense smoky, molassesy flavour. However, you MUST try the original recipe as well. It’s great! I love the addition of bourbon to the mix, but you could easily leave it out and still have a great ice cream. Plus there’s no custard to fiddle with (Farhan, I’m thinking of you…).
If you want to make limoncello, here’s the recipe I used. I used vodka, as it’s what we had around, but if you can find a grain alcohol, that would probably be better. The linked recipe makes a huge amount, but I scaled it to the following proportions:
4 lemons, preferably unsprayed and unwaxed
350 mL vodka or grain alcohol
1 1/4 c. water
1 1/3 c. sugar
Wash and dry the lemons, then peel them. Place them in a mason jar with the alcohol. Make sure the lemon is fully covered. Put the mason jar in a cool, dark place, shaking it once a day. Leave this for at least two weeks, but I’ve read you can go up to four months.
When your lemon concoction has steeped to your satisfaction, it’s time to sweeten it. Bring the water to a boil and add the sugar. Stir until the sugar has dissolved, then remove from the heat and allow to cool. When the mixture is room temperature, put a strainer over the saucepan that’s holding the sugar syrup and strain your steeped lemon mixture into the sugar syrup. Combine the liquids well, then place the mixture back into a mason jar. Put the mason jar back into your cupboard and repeat the first process, shaking twice every day for about three weeks.
Finally, after all that time, it’s ready to taste! The Washington Post recommends storing your limoncello in the freezer, where it will turn a milky yellow.
By the way, I juiced the lemons after I peeled them and boiled the juice with sugar in a 1:1 ratio to make lemon syrup. You could use this syrup to make lemonade, or you could pop in a vanilla bean and do a bit more fiddling to make something like this (which looks super-lovely).
We’ve been away from the blog for a little while now, but it’s not because we’re not cooking– it’s just that we haven’t been cooking anything really, really good. And instead of subjecting you to mediocrity (why share a so-so recipe?), we’ve been waiting until we had something great to share with you. And ta-da! Here’s an incredibly simple dessert that I’m planning to keep in my arsenal forever. Would you believe it has just three ingredients? Cream, sugar and lemon juice combine to make a mousse-y dessert that’s rich but light-tasting. We loved how the lemon lifted the thickness of the cream off our tongues so the dessert felt decadent but not heavy. I wish even more that it actually wasn’t heavy so that I could eat it every day, but that’s another matter.
I did a bit of research and found out that this dessert evolved from a strange-sounding Elizabethan (or maybe older?) drink of warmed milk curdled with sack (sherry) or ale. I’d like to try this out too, just because “sack” always makes me think of Shakespeare’s Falstaff. Anyone know of any literary references to posset?
I followed a recipe from the LA Times for this modern posset, and it called for Meyer lemon in particular. Any lemon will work, but you might need to add more sugar to balance the flavours. Next time, I’m using blood orange juice (thanks to our beautiful, beautiful new vintage chrome juicer) and cutting back on the sugar to make blood orange posset. I’m excited!
MEYER LEMON POSSET adapted from the LA Times
This recipe makes two 1/2 cup portions. Feel free to double it.
1 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup sugar
Juice of 1 Meyer lemon (about 1/4 cup)
Combine cream and sugar in a small saucepan. Heat them over medium-low heat until the sugar is dissolved and the surface of the cream just begins to ripple and steam. Remove the saucepan from the heat and set it aside to cool, stirring it occasionally to prevent a film from forming on the top of the cream. Allow it to cool until lukewarm, approximately 20 minutes.
When the cream and sugar are cooled, stir in the lemon juice to blend well. I took these instructions very seriously and whisked in the sugar, creating some air bubbles at the top of my posset. If you’re gentler, you’ll probably avoid this. Divide the posset between two small bowls and put it in the fridge to set at least four hours or overnight.
One of the things about food blogging is that if you don’t eat well, you don’t have anything to say. So far, this has proven to be an advantage for us– I don’t want strangers to write me off as a food-loser, so I step up and perform. Usually. However, there’s a flip side. If you aren’t eating well, your blog ends up covered in pictures of robots (I’m sorry I keeping linking back to us. Is it weird to link to yourself?).
And frozen pizza? You’re not supposed to know we eat those kinds of things. And if we do tell you, we’re not supposed to tell you it’s not good. We should be eating gourmet frozen pizzas, maybe made by hand by an Italian nonna and shipped directly to us from Naples. Certainly we shouldn’t be eating robot pizzas. At least Carlo’s drawing turned out well. I like the robot. Check out his ice cream cone hat and his pizza-slice hands. He’s an Italian for sure.
Yesterday’s dinner may have been an eating low point for us, but the dessert didn’t let us down. I got the idea for a Guinness ice cream in the comments thread at another blog (sorry, I don’t remember which one–this is how you know you read too many blogs). Our favourite Montreal brewery occasionally has a special stout that Carlo is particularly fond of– a Chocolate Vanilla Stout. Thus, in thinking about Guinness ice cream, I came to Chocolate Stout. Now, the triumphal part is the thing I didn’t really consider before we tasted our first bite. Stout is a malty drink. So the end result here is a creamy, malty, sweet concoction that tastes like chocolate malt all dressed up for grownups. Don’t you love it when you hit on genius by accident?
I can’t wait to try this recipe again. Next time I make it, I might tweak the proportions to see if I can make it more ice cream-y. As is, it has almost the exact same consistency as the chocolate malts I remember from fast food restaurants (Wendy’s!). Mine turned out quite light, and not very custardy, as I used 1% milk and few egg yolks. I think you could use half and half, for example, or another egg yolk could be added to make a thicker custard base. The chocolate bar we used was Lindt “Noirissime,” with 99% cocoa. We used very little, just enough to add a chocolate flavour, and it added no sweetness. Next time, I might try a sweet chocolate and maybe dial back the sugar just a little. This is delicious as-is, but I can’t wait to see what else I can do with it! Let me know if you have any ideas.
STOUT CHOCOLATE MALT ICE CREAM
Makes approximately 1.5 quarts
1 bottle of stout (341 mL, 12 oz)–I used an Oatmeal stout from McAuslan, a local brew, but feel free to play around with your options here
1 tbsp. cocoa powder
1/2 vanilla bean
2 cups heavy cream
2 cups milk
3/4 cup sugar
5 egg yolks
Bring the stout to a boil in a small saucepan, and boil it until it thickens (maybe to 1/2 its original volume), 15 mins. or so. It might froth up. If it does, take it off the heat for a few seconds before replacing it on the burner. When the beer has reduced, allow it to cool for a few minutes and then whisk in the cocoa powder. Split the vanilla bean and scrape the seeds into the chocolate/beer. Drop the scraped pod in too, and set it all aside to steep.
Prepare an ice bath by placing ice cubes and water into a large steel bowl. Set the bowl aside.
Prepare the creme anglaise. Whisk the egg yolks in a bowl. Combine the cream, milk, and sugar over medium heat in a small saucepan. Bring the cream just to a boil, then whisk it in a slow stream into the egg yolks. When the yolks are combined with the cream, pour the mixture back into the saucepan and put it back over medium heat. Cook it, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens and coats the back of your wooden spoon.
Strain the creme anglaise into a medium steel bowl through a fine mesh strainer. Strain the beer mixture into the bowl as well, discarding the vanilla pod. Whisk the beer and cream mixtures together, then cool your ice cream base by placing the medium steel bowl into the larger prepared ice bath. Cool the mixture by stirring it for about five minutes over the ice bath. At this point, you can freeze the mixture immediately (at this point, it will be slightly less smooth. It also tastes great–I know, because we almost always are too impatient to wait), or chill the mixture further in the fridge until you are ready to freeze it.