Apple Bourbon Cake

Apple Bourbon CakeOctober Fest
Last weekend some friends hosted their annual Oktoberfest celebration. It was perfect. The weather was crisp and fall-like. The beer flowed and many pretzels were consumed. There were tasty brats and my favorite bockwurst. There may also have been lederhosen but it’s a visual that I’m trying to ignore.

I was in charge of bringing a dessert. But, what does one bring to a beer party? Chocolate seemed wrong. So, I figured a harvest-y flavor like apples would pair nicely. And, since the group was mostly adults, I knew something boozy would also work well. I went with this Apple Bourbon Cake, and it didn’t disappoint.

Don’t be afraid of the bourbon glaze. The flavor is not as overpowering as you might think. Some lightly sweetened whipped cream is a must, though…

Apple Bourbon Cake Recipe
Adapted from Melissa Clark, NY Time Cooking
Yields 10 to 12 servings Read more…

Strawberry Balsamic Ice Cream

Strawberry Balsamic Ice CreamBerry Different
When you ask most kids what their favorite ice cream flavor is, more often than not it will involve chocolate, and/or caramel, and some sort of add-in like marshmallows or Oreo cookies. My son always had a different answer. Don’t get me wrong, he would never refuse a scoop or three of something gooey and chocolatey. But, if you ask him was his favorite is, he will tell you it’s strawberry.

I like to do as much as possible with the summer produce that’s available. This includes making ice cream out of the best peak-of-ripeness fruits I can find. I am a peach lover. So, it goes without saying that I make peach ice cream at least once during the warm months. Sometimes I whip up a quart of cinnamon ice cream because it’s ridiculous melted on a warm slab peach pie.

Strawberry is the flavor I make most because I like to have it readily available in the freezer for craving emergencies. A “Rescue Ice Cream”, if you will. For the record, I use the phrase “rescue” a lot. I have a stash of “rescue” chocolate in my pantry for those times when nothing but chocolate will do. Alas, I have to constantly move my stash because others in my household freely “rescue’ themselves and they are like bloodhounds on the scent.

Most people think of strawberry ice cream as the sad, artificially-flavored third of the Neapolitan carton that only gets eaten because there are no other options. In fact, strawberry ice cream can be amazing if you use really good and ripe strawberries. Anything less will produce a lackluster finished product. This recipe for Strawberry Balsamic Ice Cream is one of my favorites.

And, don’t be scared off by the addition of balsamic vinegar. You don’t really taste it in the ice cream. It’s purpose is to intensify the flavor of the strawberries for a fantastic summer treat.

Strawberry Balsamic Ice Cream Recipe
Adapted from Sweet Cream and Sugar Cones by Bi-Rite Creamery
Yields 1 Quart

This is one strawberry ice cream recipe that you can use even if you have slightly out-of-season berries. The addition of the balsamic vinegar adds both complexity and some of the acidity that was lost from freezing the strawberries.

If you want a smoother ice cream, you can also strain the seeds out of the purée—or enjoy the crunch of the tiny seeds. Read more…

Blueberry Salsa à la Amy

Blueberry Salsa à la AmySalsa Berry
I admit I am not a big blueberry fan. I don’t dislike blueberries, but they are not my go-to for a berry snack. I have raspberries for that. That being said, we’re getting into blueberry season when they are really good.

When I eat blueberries, most of the time they are in something and cooked like a muffin or pie. And, almost always it is something sweet. Don’t get me wrong, I am a fan of sweet blueberry treats. But, I have been on the hunt for a recipe that is as savory as you can be with a sweet berry—but also doesn’t mess too much with the berry itself. I found salsa…

You can never go wrong with fresh tortilla chips and salsa, no matter what the salsa is made out of. Though some might disagree, a blueberry salsa really isn’t that crazy to me. After all I make salsa out of mangoes all the time. So, I know the sweet will work with the spicy.

There are plenty of versions of blueberry salsa out there if you are looking. A lot of them cook the tomatoes. I don’t. I prefer to dice everything up and keep the fresh flavor. But, it all depends on what flavors you like when eating salsa. It also depends on your tomatoes. If you have fresh tomatoes from your garden, just dice ‘em up. Those babies are gold…

Type of chili pepper is another point of personal preference. I like hot salsa but not super hot salsa. If it’s so hot that I can’t taste anything but the heat, what’s the point? I tend to go with jalapeños, or Fresnos if I want a tad more heat. I also add a little bell pepper because that’s what I do in my mango salsa and if it ain’t broke don’t fix it.

Give this recipe a try next time you have some really great blueberries and want a snack, And, if you find this rolls into being your dinner, I won’t tell…

Blueberry Salsa à la Amy
Yields 6 to 8 servings Read more…

Strawberry Milk

Strawberry MilkMilking It
My kids give me a hard time because I watch a lot of the History Channel. (Ummm…hello? History major?) To be fair, I do watch a lot of the History Channel. One of my favorite shows is The Food That Built America, which looks into the history behind the foods we eat. And, it’s perfect for me for obvious reasons. It combines my love of history with my other love, food. If you haven’t seen it, take a minute and search it out. The show is fascinating. Who knew Cheetos were invented because the U.S. government had too much powdered cheese left over after WWII? Or that Hershey’s tastes the way it does because they actually burn the milk a little? Mind blown, people…

This curiosity about food can get me into trouble when I am surfing food blogs looking for interesting things. Case in point, this recipe for Strawberry Milk. I love the Smitten Kitchen blog almost as much as I love the cookbooks. And, while scrolling through the site one day I was drawn to this recipe at first because I was horrified. To me, strawberry milk means strawberry Nesquick—which is a memory from my childhood I would rather forget. So, like a bad accident on the highway, I couldn’t help but click on the link to gawk at it and see what this was all about.

I’m not sure what it was that made me uncomfortable about this recipe. Maybe it’s the idea of the acid in the strawberries reacting with the milk? I’m not totally sure but upon further inspection, I realized that this recipe in no way resembles the alarming neon pink beverage of my youth. If anything, this recipe reminds me of a more liquefied version of a smoothie or a Kefir.

Because of the addition of buttermilk, the strawberry milk is not super-sweet. And, since it has to sit overnight in the fridge, it’s not a bad option for a quick (not that one!) and tasty breakfast on the go. I’m not going to lie, I was skeptical. (And, the kids were somewhat concerned.) But, I found after tasting it that I just kept going back for more. The good news is that it’s all natural, though there is a decent amount of sugar.

If you are a lover of all things strawberry and dairy (ice cream, milkshakes, yogurt, etc.), or are just looking for something different to brighten up your summer day, give this treat a try. I’m thinking of turning this into frozen popsicles. We’ll see how that goes.

Strawberry Milk Recipe
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Strawberry milk is wonderful with breakfast. So, start this recipe the afternoon or evening before. You can macerate the strawberries in the fridge for a few hours before mixing the Strawberry Milk. It sits overnight in the fridge so the flavors can steep and deepen. Read more…