Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Chocolate sorbet

To be honest, chocolate sorbet didn't sound so appealing to me at first glance. Isn't the creaminess of chocolate ice cream a major part of its appeal?

But it was 8:30, we were about to settle into episodes four and five of our Mad Men season one marathon, and I just didn't feel like running out for whole milk and heavy cream. Dairy-free chocolate sorbet was starting to look pretty good.

And oh my, it didn't disappoint. In fact, even without the cream and milk, it manages to be smooth and comforting, like the summer equivalant of decadent hot chocolate.

Recipe adapted from The Perfect Scoop.

You will need:

2 1/4 cups water
3/4 cup of cocoa
Pinch of salt
1 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon vanilla
4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, 2 ounces dark chocolate, finely chopped

Combine 1 1/2 cups water, sugar, cocoa, and salt. Heat over a medium burner, whisk the mixture frequently until it comes to a boil. Add chocolate, vanilla, and 3/4 cup water and stir until melted. Put the mixture in the fridge to cool, and then add it to your wonderful ice cream maker. Let the magic churning begin!

I topped ours with some fresh raspberries because I had them in the fridge (and you know how quickly those guys turn), but this this would be delightful with white and dark chocolate chips, sprinkles, or any other fresh fruit sprinkled on top.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

These are a few of my favorite things

I have been a long-time reader and fan of Sarah's beautiful blog, the Pink of Perfection. I love her writing and, while I'm not a very crafty girl, I love reading about her ideas and creations there. Her recipes always feel friendly and warm, like she's a good girlfriend just passing along her most helpful weeknight dinner ideas. This one in particular has happily entered into my regular, "I don't really feel like making dinner, but I want to eat something delicious and fun," category.

All that being said, it seemed like a great idea to play along with her July project and write up my very own happiness list. Here are a few of my favorite (food-ish) things:

  • The recipe and wine listings at the beginning of every issue of Food & Wine magazine -- the categories, the color coding, the possibilities!
  • The very tip of a slice of pie, cake, or even quiche. My mother has always insisted that this was the very best bite, and now, even though I don't necessarily agree, I always try to savor it.
  • My new ice-cream maker. So far, I've only ventured as far as Philadelphia-style chocolate chip, but much more happy news on the ice-cream maker front to come in future postings.
  • Watching Peter take the first bite of something delicious. There is some variation, depending on the dish's level of amazing-ness, but it typically involves closed eyes, a nodding head, and a slow smile, followed by an extended thoughtful gaze off in the distance.
  • Packing up a fast weeknight picnic for dinner in the park. There's something that feels very special about eating outside on a blanket with a glass of wine on a Wednesday, isn't there? I've been taking inspiration from this lovely list lately, courtesy of Mark Bittman.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Island food

We just got back from an absolutely delightful week on Martha's Vineyard. We ate a lot. And we beached a lot. Here's a sampling of some of my favorite meals (and some of the Vineyard -- it's just so pretty).

View from the lighthouse in Edgartown:

An incredible salad we made at home one night. We stole the idea from a salad special that Gennaro serves. It's shrimp, avocado, roasted red peppers, fresh grilled corn, and a simple balsamic vinaigrette. Isn't it gorgeous?

Sidewalk in Vineyard Haven:

Tuna, green pepper, tomato, and fennel kabobs:

Net Result lobster dinner:

Pretty soup bowls on the front porch at Chilmark Pottery:

Happy summer vacation!

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Mercy, Gramercy

Peter and I have hit a lot of milestones lately.  I finished my first New York job and am about to start my second, and in the very same week, Peter finished graduate school and was offered a wonderful job.  Some celebrating was in order.

We went to Gramercy Tavern for dinner the night before the Fourth of July and hopped right up to a table thanks to the holiday weekend.  It was tough to decide between a sparkling rose and a fun cocktail to start, but ultimately we went with cocktails.  Peter's was a gin icey concoction that tasted gross to me, but he adored it.  But, oh my -- the Tea Time was just perfect.  Vodka, iced tea, lemon, amaretto, with a giant spring of mint.  

We started off our meal sharing the merguez sausage, which came with chickpeas, beet greens, and almonds.  Our delightful server suggested a spicy red wine to go with the sausage.  I liked this dish, especially with the crunch of the nuts mixed in, and they very nicely spilt the order onto two plates for us.  Our second appetizer was a baby trout special that came on a thick soup/stew made of squash and zuccinni and squash blossoms.  It was bright green and had big leaves of herbs floating around inside.  The trout were lightly battered and fried, and it tasted like the very best parts of summer.  

We shared the scallops for our main dish (also split onto two plates for us, a very nice touch), which came with baby beets in a pretty, thick pink sauce and bacon bits.  The scallops were tender and soft and delightful.  I'm embarrassed to admit that I've only just recently tried scallops, and now I can't seem to get enough of them.  

I'm a sucker for any restaurant with a nice cheese plate, but Gramercy was above and beyond.  There are about two dozen cheeses on their menu, and our heads were spinning.  By this point we trusted our server completely, so we told her that we were pretty adventurous and asked her to put together a plate with five cheeses for us.  The first was a lot like cheesy butter -- amazing.  Neither Peter or I can remember the second cheese (usually a bad sign...), but I remember enjoying it at the time. The next one was nutty and a bit grainy.  Peter, budding cheese maker that he is, wistfully said, "I wish I had an endless wheel of this..."  Next was our Cheez-It cheese -- flakey and full of that delicious cheddar taste.  The last was a strong and tangy blue.  

It was a bit decadent, but we got the German chocolate with chocolate coconut ice cream.  Good, but it too was difficult to top the incredible cheeses.  Still, an absolutely incredible celebration meal.  

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