One of the most recognizable sounds of summer is the nostalgic jingle of the approaching ice cream truck. For generations, all across America, children have been lured out of a near coma-like sleep, dragged from hours in front of the television, or torn from their video games at the first tinny note emitted from that frozen dessert god on wheels.
Some of my favorite childhood memories are those evenings when the ice cream truck would visit our block. I can still hear the screen doors from houses all around slam in Pavlovian unison, and vividly remember the feeling of the cool evening lawn between my toes as my sister and I would go running barefoot to the street. All the neighborhood kids would have their money shoved in their pockets or grasped tightly in their fists. We would wait patiently by the curb for the truck, which, by the way, felt as if it would NEVER get there, so we would attempt to catch the first emerging fireflies of the evening and try to figure out which of the ice cream novelties we would order.
I loved fudge pops and ice cream sandwiches, but sometimes I would go for those cones with the nuts and chocolate on the top. Whichever sticky-sweet delight was the choice of the day, the paper was hastily peeled off, and the battle to finish the treat before the summer heat took over was on. I never won, and spent the next few minutes licking the drips and then licking my fingers.
So, while I’m grown up now, my tastes haven’t really changed all that much. I still desire a cool, sweet treat on a hot summer evening. But some things HAVE changed. I’ll always love ice cream, but sometimes I need something a bit lighter, with a sophisticated shape for entertaining, like these gorgeous, cloud-like meringues with Yagoot frozen yogurt. They’re light, creamy, delicious, and perfect for a dinner party. Best of all, there’s no waiting for a truck. There is, however, a bit of finger licking, as I would never want to miss a single bite.
Author: Adapted from Joy of Baking and Wolfgang Puck
Recipe type: Desert
3 large egg whites (3 ounces or 90 grams)
¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
¾ cup (150 grams) superfine or caster sugar (if you don't have superfine sugar simply take granulated white sugar and process it for about 30-60 seconds in a food processor)
¼ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Raspberry Puree (wolfgangpuck.com)
1 pint fresh raspberries
¼ cup sugar
½ large lemon (zest and juice)
¼ cup chopped pistachios
Preheat oven to 200 degrees F (95 degrees C) and place the rack in the center of the oven.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
You can form the cookies with a pastry bag fitted with a ½ inch (1.25 cm) plain tip.
In the bowl of your electric mixer, with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites on low-medium speed until foamy.
Add the cream of tartar and continue to beat the whites until they hold soft peaks.
Add the sugar, a little at a time, and continue to beat, on medium-high speed, until the meringue holds very stiff peaks.
Beat in the vanilla extract.
Note: The meringue is done when it holds stiff peaks and when you rub a little between your thumb and index finger it does not feel gritty. If it feels gritty the sugar has not fully dissolved so keep beating until it feels smooth between your fingers.
Note: Before placing the cookies on the cookie sheet, place a little of the meringue on the underside of each corner of the parchment paper. This will prevent the paper from sliding.
Transfer the meringue to a pastry bag fitted with a ½ inch (1.25 cm) tip.
Pipe 3½-4 inch rounds of meringue in rows on the prepared baking sheet.
Bake the meringues for approximately 1½ to 1¾ hours, rotating the baking sheet from front to back (about half way through) to ensure even baking.
The meringues are done when they are pale in color and fairly crisp. (The meringues will release easily from the parchment paper.)
Turn off the oven, open the door a crack, and leave the meringues in the oven to finish drying several hours or overnight.
The meringues can be covered between sheets of parchment paper and stored at room temperature in an airtight container for several days.
Makes about 8 - 3½-4 inch meringues.
In a nonreactive saucepan, combine all the ingredients.
Place the pan over medium heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until the berries have given up their juices.
Bring the liquid to a boil and continue cooking until the mixture has thickened but is still fairly liquid.
Transfer to a covered nonreactive container and refrigerate until ready to serve.
The puree will keep well for several days.
In individual serving plates (or bowls), pour about 2 Tb raspberry puree on bottom of dish.
Add a meringue shell on top of puree.
Scoop desired amounts of Yagoot into each meringue shell. I used a melon baller.
My tomato plants are happily growing and full of baby heirloom tomatoes…but none quite ready for us to pick yet. Simple fix, a leisurely trip to the farmer’s market over the weekend took care of that.
I may have overdone it a bit, but no worries, I can always think of something to do with sweet, summer tomatoes.
I came across this recipe last week on a wonderful food blog called bella eats (and is now happily pinned to my pinterest foodies board.) I think I wrote…must try this.
Today was the day.
No surprise, I tweaked the recipe a bit. I added basil as a topping and instead of spreading the goat cheese over the entire bottom, I sliced and arranged it alongside the tomatoes. Either way, goodness awaits.
6 oz fresh goat cheese, crumbled (about 1-1/3 cups)
3 medium, delicious tomatoes, cored, sliced crosswise ¼-inch thick, and blotted dry between paper towels*
1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
salt + freshly ground black pepper
First, make the crust dough (about 1 hour before you're ready to assemble the tart). Place the flour, salt, and rosemary in a food processor and pulse several times to combine. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles pea-sized crumbs, about ten 1-second pulses. Add the water, 1 tbsp at a time, and pulse briefly after each addition. After 4 tbsp of water have been added, process the dough for several seconds to see if it will come together. If not, add the remaining 1 tbsp water. Process just until the dough comes together in a rough ball. Do not overprocess or the dough will not be flakey. Transfer the dough to a lightly-floured work surface and knead briefly to for a smooth ball. Flatten the dough into a 5-inch disk and wrap it in plastic wrap. Refrigerate the dough for at least 1 hour and up to 2 days. Note: My dough was very sticky with just 4 tbsp of water, so I wound up adding some flour to help it to come together. The final dough should be smooth and supple before refrigerating. Also, if you don't have a food processor, you can still make the dough by using forks or a pastry blender to cut the butter into the flour mixture, then add your water.
Move an oven rack to the middle position and heat oven to 375°.
Unwrap the chilled dough and roll it into a 12-inch circle on a lightly floured surface. Lay the dough over a 10-inch tart pan with a removable bottom, fitting the dough into the bottom and sides of the pan. Run the rolling pin over the top of the tart pan to trim the excess dough. Prick the bottom of the tart shell all over with a fork.
Finally, fill and bake the tart. Scatter the goat cheese evenly across the bottom of the tart shell. Arrange the tomatoes over the cheese in two rings, one around the outside edge of the tart pan and another in the center, overlapping them slightly. Drizzle the tomatoes with the olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.
Bake until the edges of the crust pull away from the sides of the pan and are golden brown, 45 to 50 minutes. Cool the tart on a wire rack for at least 10 minutes. Cut the tart into wedges and serve. Also, it is really good at room temperature so feel free to make this ahead and let it cool for several hours.
* To dry tomatoes, lay 3 layers of paper towels on a flat surface. Place your tomato slices on the paper towels, and then cover with 3 more layers of towels. Gently press your hands over the tomatoes to extract as much liquid as you can without crushing the tomatoes. When you lift the slices from the towels, many of the seeds should stay behind. This will keep your tart crust from becoming soggy.
Have I ever mentioned that my ‘other’ profession is that of a stylist? Not a food stylist (although i do style the food I cook up for my blog posts) but one of a make up stylist, make up artist or mua. It’s my job to make sure all ‘on camera talent’ look and feel their best. Sometimes it’s fashion based, sometimes it’s just dusting and straightening, sometimes it’s wildly artistic. Always fun and always different. One recent job was for one of our regional restaurants, Frisch’s Big Boy, and their new campaign of sourcing fresh, natural ingredients for their menu. Our first day of shooting was on a farm an hour outside of the city…before daybreak. As the first hints of the sun were starting, members of the crew, as did I, stood and looked out at the horizon waiting for the first glimpse of the sun. It finally came. clear, bright and beautiful. an amazing way to start our day.
One wonderful aspect of what I do are the people i am lucky enough to meet and spend some time with. On this job, it was Frisch’s Director of Culinary, Greg Crisanti. A gentle, generous, and passionate man of food and family. We had time to chat about both and I look forward to meeting up again soon and continuing those conversations.
Our shot list was a fun one; Greg in the fields with cows behind him, Greg in the perfectly dusty barn with bags of grains, and Greg in the vegetable patch with fresh plump tomatoes and fresh, just out of the ground, sweet onions. I admit, as soon as I saw the freshly plucked onions (and the shot was done) I quickly ‘borrowed’ one and went off to shoot a few iphone frames. Happiness. As I returned the onion to the farmer’s wife, she quickly offered it back to me along with a couple more freshly picked ‘props’ from the set. Overjoyed.
The shoot went smooth; smooth enough for me to be slightly preoccupied with thoughts of how to prepare these jewels. Once home, I turned to my new cookbook chef obsession, Nigel Slater. He did not disappoint. Simple, roasted whole onions. 5 hours out of the earth, olive oil, thyme, kosher salt, flower pepper, a 400 degree oven, finished off with a touch of sauteed mushrooms and creme…sweet, creamy layer after layer. Perfection. I hope you make it to your favorite farmer’s market, pick out some big, plump, beautiful onions, bring them home and make this treat for your family, or just for yourself.
sweet layers of tender baked onions atop mushrooms and creme
8 oz. your choice of mushrooms (I used pre-sliced baby Portabellas)
4 medium to large onions, kept whole
2 small cloves garlic, crushed and chopped
1 ½ T butter
1 ½ T plus 3 T olive oil
6-7 sprigs of fresh thyme plus some for serving
½ cup heavy whipping cream
kosher salt/pepper to taste
preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
wash and place the onions (skin left on) in a deep pot of gently boiling water. (the water should cover the onions) Simmer for about 20-30 minutes until tender and the layers come apart if pulled. They will be soft in the middle.
when the onions are soft, drain them and place them in a shallow baking dish lined with parchment paper.
gently open each onion and drizzle with 3 T of olive oil, sprinkle with salt/pepper. add half the sprigs of thyme over all the onions.
bake for about 20-30 minutes or until onions start to caramelize and get nice and brown in color.
while the onions are in the baking, wipe the mushrooms with a damp cloth and set aside.
place a large sauté pan on med/high heat and add butter and 1 ½ T olive oil. heat till frothy.
add the garlic and sauté for about 2 minutes, being careful not to burn it.
add the mushrooms and the rest of the thyme, a pinch of salt and pepper and cook on med/low heat, for about 15 minutes.
add the cream and just warm through. let sit in the pan and keep warm.
to serve, ladle some of the mushroom mixture into a bowl, carefully add an onion, add a touch more mushroom mixture over the onion, add a bit more fresh thyme, salt and pepper.