Stay Classy, Vice President Biden

Vice President Biden called the manager of a custard shop outside of Milwaukee, Wis., a “smartass” after the man asked him to lower taxes.

Biden made the comment Friday after the Kopp’s Frozen Custard shop manager told him that his dessert would be on the house if he lowered taxes.
“What do we owe you?” Biden is heard saying in footage captured by WISN-TV.
“Don’t worry, it’s on us,” the manager replied. “Lower our taxes and we’ll call it [the custard] even.”
“Why don’t you say something nice instead of being a smartass all the time?” Biden said a few minutes later.
Biden had walked in to Kopp’s mistakenly asking for ice cream instead of custard.
The manager said later in an interview with WISN that he thought Biden didn’t seem happy initially about the taxes comment, but that the vice president later whispered that he was just kidding.

Of course, if that were my custard shop (Oh, I wish I owed a custard shop!), I’d get a big sign, with a picture of the event, and make sure everyone knew that this was the place that the Vice President stuck his foot in his mouth yet again.Updated: Ann Althouse says: “Bite me!”  Stay classy, Althouse.  Oh, who am I kidding; I like you unclassy.  If you seek higher office, then I’ll expect class.

Peach Ice Cream

I didn’t expect good, ripe peaches to be available yet, but I was thrilled to find some the other day (BTW, the only way to tell is to smell them- overwhelming peachy scent= ripe and delicious), so I decided to use them to make peach ice cream.  This recipe, by Curtis Aikens, was divinely creamy and peachy.  It is very important to chop the peaches very finely, or they will create hard bits in the ice cream that don’t lend much flavor. 

Next time, I think I will add a bit more peaches (because I love them) and perhaps puree some of them, but on the whole, it was a delicious dessert. 

PEACH ICE CREAM, by Curtis Aikens

Ingredients

  • 2 cups chopped fresh or frozen peaches, peeled if preferred
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons peach brandy
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 egg yolks

Directions

In a bowl combine peaches, 1/2 cup sugar, lemon juice and peach brandy. Cover and refrigerate for 2 to 3 hours or overnight, stirring occasionally. Remove peach mixture from refrigerator and drain juice into a cup. Return peaches to refrigerator.

In a saucepan combine 3/4 cup sugar, heavy cream, milk and vanilla. Bring just to a boil.

In bowl whisk egg yolks. While whisking stream in about 1/3 of the boiled cream mixture. While whisking cream and sugar mixture, stream in egg and cream mixture. Return to the heat and continue to heat while stirring. Mixture will thicken as it returns to a boil. Remove from heat and strain into a bowl set over ice. Add the reserved peach juice.

Transfer the mixture to an ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer’s instructions. After the ice cream begins to stiffen, when very close to done, add the peaches and continue to freeze until done. Variation: Use fresh raspberries

My Favorite Springtime Dessert

OK, if given the choice, I’d probably still take this pie (speaking of which, I should make that next week …mmmm), but since pie generally takes a bit of advance planning, it’s nice to have something on hand that celebrates the season without a lot of fuss. 
 
This isn’t a recipe per se, more of a “way” to prep fresh fruit in minutes with ingredients on hand.  When strawberries start appearing in the bargain flyers, we make this several times a week. 
 
For 2 people, roughly chop 6-7 large strawberries and place in a small bowl.  Stir in about a tablespoon or two of sugar, depending on your taste and the ripeness of the fruit, and about 1/2 tsp. balsamic vinegar.  If you happen to have some leftover wine or flat champagne around, toss in a couple teaspoons of that, too. 
 
Ideally, you would let that sit about an hour to macerate.  Ideally.  If not, (particularly if your berries started out cold), microwave on low (I use the defrost setting), stirring every 15-20 seconds, until the berries are just ever so slightly warm (not hot!) and the juices are red.  Set aside.
 
In a medium bowl, beat some cream (about 1/4 cup) to stiff peaks with about 1 tsp sugar, more or less to taste.  If you like, you can add vanilla extract, almond extract, amaretto, or whatever else you like, but it’s up to you.  (Tequilla gives an interesting flair).  
 
Divide the berries into 2 dishes (lovely in martini glasses) and top with whipped cream.  Delish!

These brownies are insane

Saw an episode of Bobby Flay’s Throwdown where he made a fabulous looking German chocolate cake which I wanted very much. But, with only two people in the house, cakes are usually more trouble than they are worth, and this one is a lot of trouble.

But I still wanted that rich, chocolately, coconutty combination.  So I decided to create my own, in brownie form.  The simple, one-bowl brownie recipe, which has been my favorite for a while, is adapted from this one from Gourmet.  The topping is adapted from Bobby’s German chocolate cake. 

Brownies:

  • 3 Oz Bittersweet Chocolate, chopped
  • 1 Oz. Unsweetened Chocolate, chopped
  • 3/4 stick (6 Tbs) Butter, cut into pieces
  • 3/4 Cup Sugar
  • 1 tsp Vanilla
  • 2 Large Eggs
  • 1/4 Cup Cool Coffee (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 Cup All-Purpose Flour

Topping

  • 3/8 Cup (6 TBS) Sugar
  • 2 TBS Water
  • 3/4 Cup Whole Milk
  • 1/4 Cup Heavy Cream
  • 1 TBS Light Corn Syrup
  • 1 TBS Cold Unsalted Butter, cut up
  • 1/2 Tsp. Vanilla Extract
  • Dash salt
  • 1/2 Cup Sweetened Coconut
  • 1/3 Cup Chopped Pecans
  • 1/4 Cup (approx.) Chocolate Sauce (melt chocolate chips with heavy cream to make your own)

Pre-heat oven to 350.  Grease and flour an 8-inch square baking dish, knocking out excess flour. 

In a microwave-safe bowl, melt chocolates and butter, stirring at least every 30 seconds.  Cool to lukewarm and whisk in sugar and vanilla. Whisk in eggs one at a time.  Add coffee and whisk until smooth and glossy.

Stir in flour and salt until just combined.  Spread batter evenly into pan and bake 22-25 minutes, tester should still have moist crumbs.  Do not over-bake!  Place pan on rack and allow to cool. 

Meanwhile, start on topping.  Combine sugar and water in a small saucepan or saucier over high heat.  Cook without stirring until it becomes a deep amber brown, watching very carefully.  Remove from heat and add milk and cream, stir in corn syrup.  Reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until reduced by half and is the consistency of caramel sauce, about 20-30 minutes. 

While caramel is cooking, toast the pecans in a small saucepan over medium heat until fragrant.  Remove from pan and toast coconut until lightly browned.  Set aside. 

When caramel has reduced, remove from heat and whisk in the butter, vanilla extract, and salt.  Stir in pecans and coconut.  Stir well and spread over brownies.  Drizzle with chocolate sauce.

Warm Weather Desserts

When the weather finally starts to get warm, all I can think about is taking advantage of the new spring fruit . . . and delicious desserts.  So, I submit to you, what is probably the tastiest pie I have ever eaten: Summertime Blue Rhubarb Pie

Now, if you haven’t tried rhubarb before, I can understand your hesitancy. I mean, it looks like pink celery, and you’re supposed to use it in a dessert? 

See full size image

But I urge you to try it at least once- don’t eat it raw, just follow the recipe and you won’t be disappointed.  I haven’t tried it with frozen rhubarb yet, but I do use frozen blueberries, which, despite the recipe, I don’t bother thawing first. 

Now, on the topic of pie crusts: I urge you to try the pre-baked crust from Cook’s Illustrated , but I can’t find a link that doesn’t require a subscription (and am not up to transcribing it from my book right now).  The trick is to freeze it solid after putting it in the pan- something about the butter and shortening melting more slowly allows the flour to set earlier, which means that the crust is super flaky. 

But, if you can’t find the recipe, or just don’t like dealing with pie crusts, you can do things one step better and make my all time favorite fruit dessert: The Crisp.  It’s bigger, and better, and can be put together more quickly.  Here’s how:

Take the recipe above, leave out the pie crust, and add: 1 cup of strawberries (diced); an extra 1/3 cup sugar; an extra 1/2 tsp vanilla; an extra tablespoon flour; and then double the topping.  Put the whole thing in an 8×8 baking dish and bake until bubbly and the filling is lightly browned.

Both the pie and the crisp are even better the next day.