Saturday, March 8, 2014

Found! Chocolate Crepes from the Eighth Grade!


Beautiful, sophisticated chocolate crepes.
Back in August 2013, while preparing Zucchini Crepes, I reminisced fondly about a chocolate crepe I ate in eighth grade French class, made by one Carrie S. So how cool to get an email from her sister Erin S., who had found the original recipe  – yes, the very one Carrie elegantly rode all the way to an A+ for a class project back in 1988!

I can see myself eating those crepes in Mrs. Collins’ second period French class, having walked down the hall from Pre-Algebra, and hoping against hope the boy I had a crush on would say hello when we passed. (He didn’t.) I was wearing an acid-washed miniskirt, oversize hot pink polo shirt and Keds – an outfit I had sweated over for hours the night before. But though it contained a requisite number of trendy items, it somehow still left me feeling unfashionable. My hair was long and permed and my bangs would not behave, no matter how much time I spent with the curling iron and hairspray. (Oh how I envied the bangs of Kristi K., who sometimes took pity on me after P.E. and coiled them expertly around her own curling iron, teasing and spraying without fumbling or questioning herself the way I did every morning.)

At 14, I had about as much experience with French food as I did with that boy in the hallway. That is to say: Precious little. Loading up my plastic fork with Carrie's class project, I felt like I was the only person in the whole world who didn't know what the heck was coming next, both taste- and life-wise. 

Erin found the original recipe from 1978!
The fact that I'm still waxing rhapsodic about a dessert eaten 26 years ago should give you some clue to how good they were, right? Those crepes were loaded, not just with a rich and decadent chocolate mouse, but, it seemed to me, with the possibility of an entire world I was just about to discover.

So though I never wish to relive the awkward age of 14, I was thrilled to revisit these crepes. Turns out, Carrie used a Bon Appetit recipe from 1978 which is still good enough to make time stand still.

Then, as now, I was intoxicated by the pure over-the-top chocolateness of these crepes. And I was delighted to find out that they’re fairly easy to make. The batter, in fact, whips up quickly in the blender. There are several periods of chilling or waiting required, though, so this is not a recipe for the spur-of-the-moment.

That said, these crepes are kind of crazy-perfect for a busy cook (or eighth grade French student) because they are meant to be stored in the freezer until you need them. (Pause for just a moment while I contemplate being the kind of woman who keeps homemade French crepes in her deep freezer for whenever a craving, or nostalgia, strikes. So much more sophisticated than fish sticks. Sigh.)

Easy enough for an eighth grader, easy enough for you!
Batter ready, you swirl it around a hot buttered skillet or crepe pan. Though Bon Appetit says to cook the crepe for at least a minute, I found I liked the texture at 30 seconds a little more. If you’ve used enough butter, they should flip out of the pan easily. Take the recommendation to cool on waxed paper to heart; these are very fragile and tear easily.

Erin also found the mouse recipe her sister used, though it isn't the one referenced in the original Bon Appetit recipe. It requires a few more steps, but isn't difficult. A stand mixer will make short work of all the whipping required -- of egg whites, egg yolks and whipping cream. It's so light and fluffy and deluxe-tasting, and definitely worth making on its own.

Once everything is thoroughly chilled, assembly is straightforward. I used about 2 T. of mouse on each crepe, though if you don't mind a little "squidging," add more. And though the original version comes with instructions to top with crème anglaise, I skipped this step, and not just because I’m lazy. In all honesty, I remember Carrie S. serving hers with whipped cream, which I’ve done here, too. But if you want to gild the lily or you've got your own class project coming up, by all means whip up the crème.

Taste memory is a powerful one. Taking a bite, I felt for that 14 year old, self-conscious and unsure. I closed my eyes and sent a silent message of compassion back through the ether. Then I took another bite, thankful I could have my crepe and eat it too -- in the here and now.

Look at my lovely line of crepes!
Frozen Chocolate Crepes (Bon Appetit, Dec. 1978)
Makes 12 crepes

1 c. milk
1/2 c. flour
1/4 c. sugar
2 eggs
2 T. unsweetened cocoa
1 T. butter, melted
1 tsp. vanilla

Butter

With blender (do not use food processor): Combine first 7 ingredients and mix on low speed about 30 seconds just until combined; do not overblend.

Allow batter to stand one hour before making crepes.

Place 8-inch crepe pan or skillet over high heat and brush lightly with butter. When butter is sizzling but not brown pour about 1/4 c. batter into the skillet. Quickly lift pan off heat and swirl to coat bottom and sides, pouring excess batter back into bowl. Return to heat and cook about 1 minute until bottom darkens slightly and looks dry. Watch carefully, since both cocoa and sugar can cause crepes to burn easily. Turn crepe onto paper towel or waxed paper. Continue until all batter is used, brushing pan with butter as needed.

When crepes are cooled, place about 1 heaping tablespoon mouse on each and roll cigar-fashion. Place seam-side down on baking sheet and freeze. When firm, wrap carefully and keep in freezer until ready to serve. Filled crepes may be wrapped and frozen up to 1 month.

Wait a minute ... rum and coffee for eighth graders?!
Chocolate Mouse
1 T. butter
3 oz. unsweetened chocolate
2 eggs, separated
1/2 c. sugar, divided
2 T. dark rum
1 T. strong coffee
1 cup heavy cream, whipped

In small saucepan over low heat melt butter and chocolate. Stir until smooth; set aside. In small bowl, beat (egg) whites until foamy. Gradually beat in 1/4 c. sugar until stiff peaks form; set aside. In large bowl, beat yolks with remaining 1/4 c. sugar until lemon-colored and light. Beat in rum and coffee. With rubber spatula fold in (cooled) chocolate mixture, then gently fold in egg white mixture and whipped cream just to blend. Serves 4.

Notes:
·      The handwritten note at the top of the mouse recipe says it's from the legendary Lutece, where it sold for $6.50.
·        If you're wary of using raw eggs, try this alternate recipe from Bon Appetit's website: Chocolate Mouse. The texture is very different than the Lutece recipe, however -- more like peanut butter -- so you'll need to play around with quantity when filling your crepes.
·      I don’t have a crepe pan, but given how much I loved these I may put one on my wish list. I used a small non-stick skillet and buttered it well before every crepe.
·        It's true -- these really do go into the freezer until you're ready to serve. (I froze them on a Silpat until firm, then wrapped each individually in plastic wrap and stored inside a freezer bag.) You may find you like the texture straight out of the chill, or you may want to defrost a bit on the counter top. Either way, you're going to win points for classiest freezer contents ever.

Why Don’t You …
·      Experiment with variations on the filling? How about sweet cream and berries? Or lemon curd folded into whipped cream? Or Nutella with chopped hazlenuts?
·    Give thanks that 14 is behind you? For that matter, give thanks that 1988 is, too!

Hmmm, what to do with the leftover mouse ...




Thursday, October 24, 2013

Homemade Seasoned Croutons


Even better than Sizzler!
When my brother and I were young our idea of a sophisticated night on the town began and ended with the South Everett Sizzler. Mom usually opted for a steak entrée, but Todd and I went with the all-you-can-eat salad bar. Always.

I don’t know when the salad bar concept really gained traction, but in the mid-80s we had never seen its like. Bins of chilled greens, peas, beets, hard-boiled eggs, Krab salad (a family favorite; Todd and I could and did regularly clean that sucker out), bacon bits and an endless assortment of gloppy dressings whose ladles identified their type (and all, inevitably, sticky with the dressing that had run down the handle). And then at the end of the row, beckoning you and your piled-high plate across the finish line, the croutons.

Like any child of the ‘80s, I realized only in adulthood that croutons could be made – I thought they arrived fully formed, and I only ate them at restaurants or on sad airplane salads. Yet here is a recipe urging me to slice up some bread, coat it in margarine and toast it for five minutes. Really? That’s all that stood between a crunchy, delicious crouton and me? Well, not anymore.

Delish like this ...
This recipe is simple, sure, but it’s also a great use for that half loaf of “artisan” bread I regularly find myself staring down in the pantry. There are few things that gall me more than paying $5.99 for a loaf of bread that my family only eats a portion of, unless it’s an ingredient list that’s longer than my arm – like, say, the ingredients used to make some boxed croutons. So this DIY version will bring peace of mind to your pocketbook and stomach.

These croutons take minutes to prepare and are divine on top of salad or soup, as the recipe suggests, but also by the handful right after they come out of the oven. In fact, make a double batch.

I’m sorry to report the South Everett Sizzler is long gone, though other branches do exist around the country. A few years ago, while on vacation in California, we stopped in for lunch. Naturally, I ordered the salad bar.


... or like this!
Homemade Seasoned Croutons

8 slices day-old white bread or French bread
1/3 cup melted margarine
½ tsp. garlic salt
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese

Makes about 2 cups croutons

Slice bread and cut into ½-inch cubes. Lay cubes flat on a cookie sheet.

Melt margarine over low heat; add garlic salt. Drizzle melted margarine over bread cubes. Sprinkle grated Parmesan cheese on top.

Bake in a 400-degree F oven for about 5 minutes, turning cubes over halfway through cooking time. Croutons should be golden brown.

Store croutons in an airtight container and sue when desired on salads and soups.

Notes:
·      Frequent readers know I have nothing against margarine, per se, but I’m going to insist on real butter here. For a recipe with so few ingredients, the flavor of butter will really be noticed.
·      Sub ½ tsp. each garlic powder and salt for the garlic salt.
·      As evidenced in the pictures, my croutons were not brown or, more to the point, crispy, until almost 10 minutes had passed. Check yours often.
·      “Store in an airtight container?” Please. These will be lucky to last ‘til dinnertime.

Why Don’t You …

·      Stop making fun of Krab salad? It’s still a favorite, although sadly lacking from many salad bars these days.
Must ... stop ...

Friday, September 6, 2013

Japanese Noodles and Chicken Salad


Better than young love?
I know exactly what prompted me to pluck this recipe card from the rack at Everett’s now-defunct Olson’s grocery store back in 1990. The best reason of all: love. You see, it reminded me of the one-time object of my affection, Tim G., a boy who never really knew I existed.

Starting high school was emotionally fraught for a number of reasons, the sudden influx of new boys not the least of them. Tim G. was one of those new boys, and I was smitten the second I saw him whip his three-ring binder out of his Everett High duffel bag during second period English. Despite my best, non-verbal intentions, however, he ignored me mightily. But then I received a helping hand from on high: I was invited to a supper hosted by my friend Annemarie’s church youth group. Glory hallelujah! Tim G. was a member of the same church and was going to be in attendance!

The thrill! The proximity! Eating dinner in a stranger’s house never felt so titillating, so do-or-die. I was sure this was going to be the night Tim G. looked up from his appetizer course and realized the beauty across the table only had eyes for him.

Original Olsen's Grocery Store recipe card!
But then, a funny thing happened that forever doomed any chance of a relationship. You see, the hostess served a “Chinese” Chicken Salad, and from the minute I placed the loaded fork in my mouth, I failed to care that care that Tim G. was sitting a mere six feet from me.

I was in love. In love! In love with the crunch and sass of cabbage and noodle and chicken drunk with soy sauce. Every part of that salad worked so well together. I was dizzy with delight. Stunned that I had never eaten anything so perfect, so intriguing, so plain good. My mind raced, trying to identify all of the ingredients so I could recreate it at home. Too soon, the hostess came by to clear the table and I looked up, sure the entire world must have changed in the last 10 minutes. I stole quick glances at my fellow diners but I seemed to have been the only one who’d had any kind of religious experience. To my complete horror, I noticed Tim G. still had salad on his plate.

I couldn't get the chunks to break "long."
I was converted that night, but not to the Lutherans – no, to the delicious and exotic combination of Top Ramen and Napa cabbage.  I’ve made and eaten variations on this kind of salad so many times over the subsequent years that I’ve lost count. To be fair, this particular recipe, while reminiscent of the salad I had at the church supper, is different. But it’s worth your attention nonetheless. The dressing itself is a refreshing keeper, with its lemon, honey and ginger. The noodles and cabbage soften into the dressing while retaining their crunch.  It’s a solid entry into the “Chinese” Chicken canon, even if it prefers to call itself “Japanese.”

Of course things never went anywhere with Tim G. That was inevitable. The final blow came several weeks after the church supper when I screwed up all my courage and asked him to “Tolo” – a version of a Sadie Hawkins’s dance. He acted surprised. It was the first time I had spoken to him, after all. He stammered an excuse and, just like that, my crush crushed me like a package of Top Ramen noodles destined for the salad bowl.

Beautiful purple cabbage.
So later that year, when I saw this recipe card reaching out to me like a frail reminder of what might-have-been, I snatched it up. If I couldn’t have the boy, at least I could have the salad. And a little part of me knew which one I was destined to have a long-term relationship with.


Japanese Noodles and Chicken Salad
¼ cup honey
grated peel of ½ lemon
¼ cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
2 Tbsp. sesame oil
2 Tbsp. soy sauce
2 tsp. grated fresh ginger
1 medium clover garlic, minced
1 pkg. (3 oz.) ramen Oriental soup mix, broken into long pieces
2 cups shredded cooked chicken
4 cups Napa cabbage, cut in long thin shreds
2 cups coarsely chopped red cabbage
2 cups bean sprouts
¼ cup sliced green onions
¾ lb. snow peas, blanched, drained, chilled

Serves 6-8

In large bowl, combine honey, lemon peel, juice, sesame oil, soy sauce, ginger and garlic. Add noodles. Marinate one hour or longer, stirring occasionally, until noodles are softened. Add remaining ingredients except snow peas; toss well. To serve, arrange snow peas around edge of large serving platter and mound salad mixture in center.

Notes:
·      I found one package of Top Ramen too skimpy for my noodle-loving family. I went with two.
·      I don’t know how to break the noodles into “long pieces.” They just splintered apart when I tried. My best efforts results in substantial chunks, but they weren’t long.
·      I struck out with another boy named Tim in college. I asked him for coffee and he made some lame excuse about having to “work.” A likely story! But the third time is the charm, folks, because when I met my now-husband of 13 years I had to smile when he introduced himself. “Hi,” he said, “I’m Tim.” He said yes when I asked him out. And one of the very first things we made together, natch, was Chinese Chicken Salad. 
Eat your heart out, Tim G.!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Zucchini Crepes


Ladies' Home Journal ... ahead of the trends!
One of the many reasons I so love dipping into the Time Capsule is that it unequivocally proves that everything old is new again. Take, for example, the crepe – a hallmark of French cuisine that has become something of a thing here in Seattle. Crepes are sold at farmers' markets, at upscale tearooms, out of food trucks.

On principle, I try to avoid these types of food trends. They irritate me. I do not want to stand in line for an hour and a half for something I can make equally well (or better) at home. No matter if it’s gourmet ice cream, bacon, vodka, doughnuts, cupcakes – to say nothing of coffee – it’s a regular white-trash revival at country club prices. (I will admit to a certain weakening of resolve when it comes to gourmet popcorn. Man how I miss the “Karmelkorn” mall stand of my youth, and pressing my nose against the already-smeary glass to choose between ranch and bubblegum flavor. Ranch won. Always.)
One larger zucchini works as well as several small.

However, back to the trend du jour, crepes. My crepe experience heretofore consisted of eating Carrie S.’s class project in eighth grade French class. Her chocolate crepes demonstrated not only her kitchen savvy, but also her uncanny ability to knock the rest of us losers with our wobbly paper mache Eiffel Towers straight down the bell curve.

But these crepes won’t make you feel inadequate in any way, my friends. They’re straight outta Ladies' Home Journal, circa 1986.  Perfect for this time of year when you may be drowning in zucchini – planting those tiny seeds seemed like such a good idea back in May, didn’t it?

Because I am fortunate enough to live across the street from prolific and generous zucchini growers, I haven’t had to grow my own for years. On August 8 (National Sneak-Some-Zucchini-on-Your-Neighbors'-Porch Day – really) and throughout August they regularly supply me with enough squash to fulfill all my cravings. But, there’s only so much zucchini bread a girl can eat. (Never thought I’d type that line.)

The batter is thin and runs a bit before setting up.
These crepes are the ideal use for your bounty. The batter is egg-rich and simple – really a glorified pancake. A few minutes on your nonstick griddle (or frying pan) and you’ve rendered a delicious vehicle for the sour cream-parmesan filling. The shredded zucchini adds such a pretty green-flecked pattern. And I love a dish that can be served at all hours of the day – brunch to dinner.

I’m not sure these will ever take the place of my beloved zucchini bread (or ranch-flavored Karmelkorn, for that matter) but they are a unique entry that will have you feeling on-trend … for pennies on the dollar.

A tower of trendy, tasty goodness!
Zucchini Crepes
Crepes:
1 cup sifted all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon pepper
5 eggs
2/3 cup milk
5-6 zucchini, finely grated to make 2 cups
1/4 cup olive oil
Filling:
2 cups sour cream
2 cups grated Parmesan cheese

To prepare crepes: Sift flour, salt, baking powder, garlic powder, and pepper into a bowl.
Beat eggs; add milk and beat until blended. Make a well in the dry ingredients. Pour in liquid ingredients and blend. Add grated zucchini.
Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil on a griddle or in a large skillet. Use 1/4 cup batter for each crepe, spreading into a 6-in. circle. Fry crepes until golden on both sides, turning once. Use more oil as needed. Keep cooked crepes warm until all have been prepared and you are ready to fill.
To fill crepes: Fill crepes with 2 tablespoons each sour cream and grated Parmesan cheese. Roll up and garnish with additional cheese and chopped parsley, if desired. Makes 16.

Notes:
·      The original recipe calls for ¼ c. of oil to grease your skillet. Using a nonstick pan or skillet renders this point moot.
·      I like my pancakes like I like my hair: Blonde. These take only about 2-3 minutes, max, to achieve that state.  Flip them when the edges are just set.
·      I found half of the filling recipe easily stuffed the 16 crepes. If you like your crepes positively bursting with sour cream, by all means go for the whole batch. Additionally, I mixed the cheese into the sour cream so I could fill the crepes with one dollop.
·      Definitely sift your flour. The batter is so thin that the lumps really stand out otherwise.

Why Don’t You …
·      Omit the garlic powder and pepper and make these a sweet crepe? A filling of sour cream or crème fraiche flavored with maple syrup or cinnamon would be good.
·      Visit your local Karmelkorn location – if you’re lucky enough to live in the Midwest or California? So sad these went under years ago in Washington. Eat a bucket of Ranch flavored popcorn for me, won’t you?

Monday, July 15, 2013

July: National Ice Cream Month!


No, it's not a photo from deep space, it's homemade ice cream!
Far be it from me to let National Ice Cream Month pass without at least a cursory celebration here at the Capsule. These two surprisingly sophisticated choices seem both out of tune with the ‘80s and my childhood tastes, so I’m guessing they’re contributions from my mother.

Mom loved (and still loves) her hand-cranked ice-cream machine. No one else in the family is as enthusiastic, mostly because it is hard work to make ice cream in her hand-cranked ice-cream machine. As much as I love homemade ice cream, I also enjoy leisure, so I upgraded to an electric version. Fortunately, the first of these recipes doesn’t require any kind of machine; don’t let a lack of one stand in the way of you and homemade goodness.

Due to the number of steps and chilling, homemade ice cream does require some advance planning, but it’s not overly complicated. Both of these recipes start with a cooked custard (a combination of eggs, sugar and either cream or half-and-half), so if you’ve ever made homemade pudding you will feel right at home. Then it goes for a spin in the ice-cream maker, spends some time in your deep freeze and voila! Dessert!

This custard is coating the back of my spoon -- perfect!
First up is Cheesecake Ice Cream: As I suspected, this one must’ve been Mom’s. Either that, or I was reading Parade magazine back in 1979. (Possible, but unlikely.) A milkman’s dream come true! It contains yogurt, cream cheese and half-and-half. You’ll get your calcium if nothing else. The “plain” vanilla version is divine, but I opted for the blueberry swirl, which jazzed up the ice cream and added some needed sweetness. Cheesecake ice cream is tangy, no mistake about it. But it’s also pretty and elegant. Gosh, 1979! I never knew you were so classy!

Doesn't hurt to strain your custard -- see the little eggy bits?
Next up is Homestyle Pistachio Ice Cream, which prompted one of my more vivid ice-cream related memories. My mom’s cousin John David came to stay with us when I was about 11. What made this memorable was not so much that we made homemade pistachio ice cream (which we did) but that we went with John David to the grocery store to buy the ingredients. Oh, and did I mention he drove us there in his talking car? Yes, John David was driving one of those wood-paneled Fords that were going to usher in a new era in computer helpfulness. A Tron-like voice warned us if the door was ajar, or our seatbelts weren’t fastened. My brother and I could have stayed in that car all day, opening our doors the slightest of cracks to start the electronic warning, snapping and unsnapping our seat belts.

Cheesecake Ice Cream with Blueberry Swirl
But the craziness didn’t end there, because once we got to the grocery store, John David paid for the ice-cream ingredients with traveler’s checks, a move I felt both urbane and unheard of at our local Albertson’s.  I nearly floated out the talking car and would surely have failed to fasten my seat belt if it had not reminded me.

At that point, I hardly needed pistachio ice cream to round out my ultra-sophisticated day, but, back from the store, we forged ahead with Mom’s hand-crank, and, what seemed like hours later, sat down to rich and creamy goodness.

This Homestyle Pistachio is a truly winning ice cream. For starters, the custard is a delicious, un-”vanilla” vanilla that is both smooth and rich. If you want to stop right there, you’d still be rewarded. But the addition of the pistachios somehow makes the entire concoction that much creamier, even while adding a mildly salty crunch. (A drizzle of hot fudge, while not totally necessary, would make this even more wicked.)

There's no reason to leave either of these ice cream recipes in the past. Choose one or try both, and you’ll be celebrating in style!

Cheesecake Ice Cream with Blueberry Swirl
2 egg yolks
1 cup sugar, divided
1 cup half-and-half
2 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese or Neufchatel (low-fat cream cheese)
½ teaspoon grated lemon rind
½ teaspoon grated orange rind
1 tablespoon lemon juice
½ teaspoon vanilla
1 pint plain yogurt

In heavy saucepan, beat egg yolks with ½ cup sugar; beat in half-and-half. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, just until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Do not boil. Remove from heat; chill thoroughly.

Beat cream cheese until light. Add remaining sugar, lemon and orange rinds, lemon juice and vanilla, continuing to beat until smooth. Add yogurt and chilled egg yolk mixture; beat smooth. Freeze in an ice cream freezer as directed by manufacturer. Or freeze in flat trays, then beat with rotary beater or in food processor. Makes about 2 quarts, 16 servings.

Blueberry Swirl
½ cup water
¼ cup sugar
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries, unsweetened
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon

Combine water and sugar in a saucepan; bring to a boil; stirring to dissolve sugar. Dissolve cornstarch in lemon juice; add to pain, stirring until thickened. Add blueberries and cinnamon. Boil for about 2 minutes, mashing the berries slightly with a potato masher or the back of a large spoon. Remove from heat; chill thoroughly. Swirl into the soft Cheesecake Ice Cream after removing it from the ice cream maker. Freeze firm.

Homestyle Pistachio Ice Cream

1 cup half-and-half
¾ cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 egg yolks, beaten
1 tablespoon vanilla
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup chopped, natural California pistachios
2 teaspoons finely grated orange peel

Heat half-and-half in saucepan; stir in sugar and salt. Pour a small amount of hot half-and-half into egg yolks, stirring constantly. Return yolk mixture to half-and-half; cook and stir over medium heat about 5 to 10 minutes or until thickened and creamy. Do not boil. Cool. Stir in vanilla and heavy cream. Chill. Pour into freeze container; follow manufacturer’s directions for freezing. Add pistachios and orange peel when almost frozen; freeze until firm. Allow ice cream to stand at least 2 hours in freeze to mellow flavors. Makes 1-1/4 quarts.

Notes:
·      Considering how much ice cream I’ve eaten in a celebratory fashion already this month, I opted for the low-fat cream cheese in the Cheesecake Ice Cream. Did not miss the fat.
·      I also used low-fat plain yogurt. See above.
·      Both of my ice creams churned for 25-30 minutes until a “soft serve” consistency. Both will require at least two hours in the freezer to firm up. They will also freezer harder than a store-bought ice cream. I think due to lack of preservatives. So plan to take them out a little ahead of dessert time to allow them to soften enough for easy scooping.

Why Don’t You …
·      Go crazy with some Cheesecake add-ins? The options are as endless as the menu at the Cheesecake Factory itself: Chocolate chips, crushed graham crackers, strawberry jam, crushed Oreos … As with the Blueberry Swirl, add these in to the soft serve, then freeze firm.
·      Let me know what you’re going to do with all your egg whites. Pavlova? Face mask?
This is the hilarious article on the flip-side of the Cheesecake Ice Cream recipe. Remember, it's from Parade magazine, 1979. This man is enjoying the audio revolution that was the book on tape. Look at the lengths the poor man had to go to simply to listen to War and Peace during his commute. That tape machine is taking up half his dashboard! Too bad he didn't have my cousin John David's talking car!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Super Milk Drinks


Milk marketing at its finest.
As the solstice approaches, kids stream out of school and the yawning, lazy days of summer beckon, my thoughts naturally turn to … milk.

Well, they do now that I’ve read the fun and thorough booklet, 15 Super Milk Drink Recipes, produced by the Washington Dairy Products Commission. Milk, it turns out, is “a natural for summer.” In fact, the milk marketing verbiage is so good I’ll just quote it:

“Satisfy summer thirsts with ice cold milk. Milk is so refreshing and it can help you feel good … Make ice cold milk your summer thirst quencher. Right now is the time for milk.” (I might have employed more exclamation points, but you get the picture!)

Purple Cow
As an avowed dairy lover, I cannot dispute any of those claims, but I must admit to never truly reaching for a glass of moo juice when the hot rays of the summer sun beat down upon my parched body. But now, thanks to this pitcher’s worth of options, perhaps I will.

Sadly, there is no date on my almost-pristine booklet. But because it’s hole-punched and marked “Free! Take one.” I venture to guess this came from the grocery store, probably the now-defunct North Everett Albertson’s to which my parents were loyal in the early-to-mid 1980s. The reliance of several recipes on wheat germ, as well as raw egg, further dates it to that era.

Peachy Banana Flip
But let me not overlook the obvious: These recipes seem designed to compete with the original (and some would say, best) commercial smoothie. Yes, I’m talking about the Orange Julius, which, just last year merged with Dairy Queen – another tent pole of ‘80s mall culture. (Quick Orange Julius history lesson: A man named, yes, Julius, started it and his original drink was simply called “Orange.” Customers would order by saying: “Give me an Orange, Julius.” And thus an icon was born.)

Raspberry Delight
And so, it was hard to know where to start with this new batch of smoothies. I thumbed thorough the (really very uplifting) booklet for one last fillip of encouragement: “Enjoy these Refreshing Milk drinks. Satisfy your thirst while you give yourself a lift." Thus, I chose these four to (excuse the pun) give a whirl:

Purple Cow
Peachy Banana Flip
Raspberry Delight
Tropical Breeze

I started with the simplest – the Purple Cow. Not to be confused with the delicious, fizzy Purple Cow served at the Evergreen State Fair in Monroe, sadly – that concoction featuring blackberry ice cream, blackberry syrup and 7Up  – but a violet-hued delight nonetheless. Whip up grape juice concentrate and milk and prepare to avoid a diabetic coma. It’s that sweet. It tastes nothing like milk. Although it looks slightly curdled and separates into a fluffy upper layer and dense juicy layer after about five minutes, this one is surprisingly refreshing. (Made more so by the addition of ice cubes, unless you’re starting with frozen concentrate.)

Next up with Peachy Banana Flip, which was definitely a walk on the milder side. It’s light blush color hinted at its mellow flavor. Not peachy enough for me.  It did, however, froth up as promised.

Tropical Breeze
Raspberry Delight, not to be confused with the other Raspberry Delight I’ve already attempted, was my favorite so far, perhaps because it contained two ultra-‘80s ingredients – raw eggs and wheat germ. I really could have been at Orange Julius as I took a sip. This had the best flavor, and a shot of protein and vitamin E to boot! The wheat germ fits well here – it is nutty and mild, but feels kind of like you’re enjoying an oatmeal cookie with your smoothie.

And so I came to the Tropical Breeze, not knowing that I had unintentionally saved the best for last. Despite paying $5 for a single papaya, this one truly took me away to the isles. It may have been the super-delicious local strawberries, or the half-cup of honey. Heck, I’m even wiling to allow it may have been the icy cold milk that made this one such a winner. But it did what the Dairy Products Commission had been promising all along: It refreshed and tasted, well, super.

Purple Cow
1 can (6 oz.) frozen grape juice
1-1/2 cups milk
Whir all ingredients in blender. Makes about 2 cups.

Peachy Banana Flip
1 banana
2 ripe peaches or 3 drained canned peach halves
1 tbs. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
2 cups milk
1 carton (8 oz.) plain yogurt
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
3 or 4 ice cubes, cracked
 Peel and slice banana. Peel, seed, and cut peaches in chunks. Combine all ingredients in electric blender. Whir until smooth and fluffy. Makes about 5 cups.

Raspberry Delight
1 carton (10 oz.) sweetened frozen raspberries (DO NOT THAW)
1-1/2 cups milk
2 eggs
1 tbs. wheat germ
Whir all ingredients in a blender. Makes 2 generous servings.

Tropical Breeze
1 papaya, peeled and seeded
1 cup sliced fresh or frozen strawberries
1/2 cup honey
2 tbs. lemon juice
1-1/2 cups milk
4 ice cubes, cracked
Scoop papaya pulp into blender. Add remaining ingredients and whir until smooth. Makes about 3 cups.

Why Don’t You …
·      Serve these as appetizers in shot-glasses. You could have a real rainbow of flavor that would look so pretty on your sideboard. With apologies to the good folks at the Dairy Commission, no one will guess the star ingredient.

Notes:
Feeling nervous about using raw eggs? Try the pasteurized egg whites sold in the refrigerated section instead. The carton will have equivalents to equal the amount of egg you need.