Archive | June, 2011

Berry Fool

17 Jun

Fool is an English dessert that dates back to the 16th century. No one is quite sure where the name “fool” came from but given its ease of preparation, I’d put my money that is has something to do with that it’s so easy to make, even a “fool” could do it.

The dish is generally made by mixing pureed fruit, whipped cream and sugar. Old school fool recipes call for gooseberries but since these can be hard to find in the “New Country,” berries are a common substitution.

I made fool for the first time using a recipe that I had watched on “America’s Test Kitchen.” The dish looked so light and delicious, my mouth was watering and I knew I had to make it right away. The timing couldn’t be better since the strawberries at the corner market were only 99 cents a quart! Unfortunately, the raspberries were much pricier ($3.99 for half a pint) so I opted to use mostly strawberries with a hint of frozen raspberries. Not surprisingly – it worked perfectly.

This is a great go-to recipe and I can’t wait to try it with other fruits like mango or blueberries.

Berry Fool

2 pounds of strawberries, washed, dried and stemmed
1 cup frozen raspberries, thawed and drained
1/2 cup plus 4 tablespoons of sugar, divided
2 teaspoons unflavored powered gelatin
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup sour cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 Walker’s Shortbread Cookies, finely crushed (about 1/4 cup) (graham crackers or gingersnaps will also work)

Berry Puree
1) Process 1 pound of strawberries, 1 cup of raspberries and 1/2 cup sugar in food processor until mixture is completely smooth, about 1 minute. Strain berry puree through fine mesh strainer into separate bowl.

2) Transfer 1/2 cup of berry puree into a medium bowl and sprinkle gelatin over the top, stirring until incorporated. Let stand at least 5 minutes.

3) Heat remaining puree in a small saucepan over medium heat until it begins to bubble, about 4-6 minutes. Remove from heat and pour into bowl with gelatin mixture. Stir until gelatin is dissolved.

4) Cover surface with plastic wrap and chill mixture for at least two hours.

Macerated Berries
1) Dice remaining berries into 1/4 inch pieces, removing stems. Place in bowl and sprinkle with 2 tablespoons sugar. Chill for one hour.

Creamy Topping
1) Place cream, sour cream, vanilla and remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar in mixing bowl. Beat on low speed, until bubbles form, about 30 seconds. Increase speed to medium and continue beating for another 30 seconds. Increase speed to high and beat until mixture has doubled in volume and holds stiff peaks, about 1-2 minutes. Transfer about 1/3 cup of cream mixture to a small bowl and set aside.

2) Removed thickened puree from refrigerator and whisk until smooth. With mixer at medium speed, slowly add about two thirds of the berry puree to the whipped-cream mixture. Mix until well incorporated, about 15-30 seconds.

3) Using a spatula, fold in remaining puree into cream mixture, leaving streaks of puree.

Assembly
1) Transfer uncooked berries to a fine-mesh strainer, shaking to remove excess juice.

2) Divide whipped cream-berry mixture evenly among six glasses (rocks glasses or wine glasses work great here). Top with remaining uncooked berries then top each glass with reserved plain whipped-cream.

3) Sprinkle glasses with crushed cookies. Serve immediately.

Serves 6

Bacon and Rosemary Caramel Corn

7 Jun

Hands down there is nothing better than bacon. Obviously lots of people agree because what used to be everyone’s favorite breakfast buddy is now making more and more appearances in sweet dishes like doughnuts, chocolate and, even, ice cream.

It never occurred to me to include bacon in caramel corn. But when you think about it – it makes total sense since caramel and salt became a duo more harmonious than Fred and Ginger. My first taste of Bacon and Rosemary Caramel Corn was as a Happy Hour nibble at Prospect, a contemporary American restaurant in downtown San Francisco. It was love at first bite and I couldn’t wait to make it at home.

I trolled around my go-to site, epicurious.com, searching “caramel corn.” I found a Bacon and Cashew Caramel Corn recipe that was a good place to start. I also often make Kraft’s Caramel Popcorn recipe without the nuts. While it goes against my grain to use prepared foods, this one is a little more “homemade” than some of their others and it tastes great. I took information from both recipes, paired it together with some of my cooking know-how and came up with this addictive recipe for Bacon and Rosemary Caramel Corn.

The popcorn is coated in a buttery and rich caramel and studded with salty and smoky bacon goodness. The rosemary adds adds a bit of earthiness. It is very easy to eat the whole batch yourself so make sure you have plenty of people around to share it!

A few things to note:
* Use popcorn popped on the stove top or in a popcorn maker. Most microwave popcorns are heavily seasoned and won’t work in this recipe. 1/2 cup of popcorn kernels yields 12 cups.
* Things can get very sticky with homemade caramel so be sure to spray work bowls and utensils with lots of cooking spray
* Cook the bacon until just done. It will cook more when the popcorn goes in the oven so make sure it isn’t too crispy or well-done when making this recipe.

Bacon and Rosemary Caramel Corn

12 cups popped popcorn
3/4 pound (12 ounces) bacon, cooked and crumbled
3 tablespoons fresh chopped rosemary leaves
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 sprigs of fresh rosemary
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 tablespoon butter

1) Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Line a rimmed cooking sheet with parchment paper. Coat paper with cooking spray.

2) Spray large bowl with cooking spray. Add in popcorn, popcorn, bacon, rosemary and kosher salt. Toss until combined.

3) Bring cream and rosemary sprigs to a boil in small saucepan over medium-low heat. Remove from heat and let steep for 20 minutes. Discard rosemary sprigs.

4) Stir together sugar, water and corn syrup in large, non-stick saucepan over medium-low heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat to high and boil without stirring, occasionally swirling the pan and brushing down sides with a wet pastry brush. Boil until syrup turns deep amber, about 13 minutes.

5) Remove from heat and immediately add steeped cream and butter (mixture will bubble vigorously). Set pan over low heat and whisk caramel until smooth, about 1 minute.

7) Drizzle caramel over popcorn mixture and toss with heat-resistant spatulas until evenly coated. Transfer to prepared baking sheet. Place in oven and bake 20 minutes, stirring occassionally during cooking.

9) Cool completely on rack, tossing occasionally to break up large clumps.

Popcorn can be made two days ahead and stored in an airtight container or plastic bag in the refrigerator.