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Archive for January 15, 2015

FOOD HOLIDAY: An Ice Cream Cake For National Strawberry Ice Cream Day

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Celebrate National Strawberry Ice Cream Day! Photo courtesy Waitrose.

 

January 15th is National Strawberry Ice Cream Day. We love this easy strawberry ice cream cake adapted from British upscale grocery giant Waitrose. The company has a royal warrant to supply groceries, wine and spirits to Queen Elizabeth II and to Prince Charles.

In this recipe, shortbread cookies substitute for the cake; but if you prefer, you can substitute finely cubed pound cake. You also can use strawberry ice cream instead of the vanilla.

This dessert is also spot-on for Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day and summer celebrations. Prep time is 15 minutes plus several hours or overnight for freezing.

RECIPE: STRAWBERRY SHORTCAKE ICE CREAM “CAKE”

Ingredients For 10 Servings

  • 1 pint strawberries, washed, patted dry and hulled
  • 1 quart vanilla ice cream
  • 7 ounces all butter shortbread cookies, broken into small pieces
  • 4 tablespoons caramel sauce (or fudge sauce if you prefer)
  • Optional garnish: caramel sauce or strawberry purée
  •  
    Preparation

    1. THINLY SLICE 4 of the strawberries and roughly chop the remainder. Line a loaf pan with a double layer of plastic wrap, allowing for some overhang. Arrange the sliced strawberries on the bottom (it will become the top when unmolded).

    2. ROUGHLY CHOP the ice cream using a large knife, then mix it with the chopped strawberries and the shortbread pieces. Spoon half of the mixture into the loaf pan, patting down firmly so there are no air bubbles.

    3. DOT the caramel sauce on top of the ice cream, then cover with the remainder of the mixture, firmly smoothing over the surface. Fold over the overhanging plastic wrap and place the pan in the freezer for several hours or overnight, until the ice cream very firm.

    4. TO SERVE: Gently lift out the ice cream using the plastic wrap as handles, and remove the plastic wrap. Allow to soften for 10–15 minutes as needed; then cut slices with a large knife.

    5. PLATE the slices with an optional drizzle or dotting (use a squeeze bottle to create dots around the rim of the plate) of caramel sauce or strawberry purée.

     
    More than 5,000 recipes can be found at Waitrose.com/recipes.

     
      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Romanesco, Neither Broccoli Nor Cauliflower

    Isn’t it beautiful?

    Romanesco looks like it’s been sculpted by an artist. It’s a member of the cruciferous vegetables family (Brassicaceae) that includes broccoli and cauliflower, among others. If it seems exotic, that’s because we rarely find it in U.S. markets. But romanesco grown in California is in season now.

    In the U.S., it’s also called broccoflower, Roman broccoli, romanesco broccoli, romanesque cabbage and romanesque cauliflower. So is it broccoli or cauliflower? Actually, it’s neither.

    Remember high school botany taxonomy: kingdom, order, family, genus, species and sometimes, subspecies? The Brassica genus is unusual in that instead of individual species, it bundles its members into one species. Thus, the species Brassica oleracea includes broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, collard greens, kale, kohlrabi, mustard, rapeseed/canola, rapini (broccoli rabe) and turnips. What might be called a subspecies elsewhere are known here as cultivars, and don’t have a separate botanical name.*

    So the answer is: romanesco is neither broccoli nor cauliflower; it is its own cultivar. While you’ll see it called broccoli or cauliflower, you now know better.

       

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    If you can’t find it locally, order romanesco online as a special treat. Photo courtesy Melissas.com.

     

    Botanists believe that Italian farmers in the 16th century developed romanesco through cross-breeding (it was initially called broccolo romanesco). As with cauliflower or broccoli, the pointy “florets” (often called fractals after fractal art) that comprise the head are of varying sizes. They are actually individual buds of the plant’s flower.

    Romanesco tastes more like cauliflower, with a nutty, earthy flavor nuance and a crunchier texture. It is about the same size of a regular head of cauliflower. There is also a smaller variety, which is about half the size. The pale green shade keeps its color through cooking.

    Look in your farmers markets or specialty produce stores; the crops from California are in. You can treat yourself or send a gift from Melissas.com.

     

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    It’s almost to pretty to cut! Enjoy it as a centerpiece for a day or two. Photo courtesy SimplyMcGhie.Blogspot.com.

     

    HOW TO SERVE ROMANESCO

    Romanesco can be served raw, lightly cooked, or cooked through, and can be substituted in any recipe calling for cauliflower or broccoli. It’s a shame to destroy the architecture by dicing or puréeing: We wouldn’t want to turn it into soup, for example, when we could use regular cauliflower. Instead, consider:

  • Crudités
  • Lightly steamed (recipe)
  • Marinated
  • Mixed vegetable salads (with mixed greens or other vegetables)
  • Roasted
  • Sautéed (here’s an easy recipe with garlic, olive oil and Parmesan cheese)
  •  
    RECIPE: ROMANESCO SALAD

    This recipe is from Mariquita Farm in Watsonville, California, which grows romanesco.

     
    Ingredients

  • 1 head romanesco
  • 1/4 cup Kalamata or other favorite olive, pitted and sliced
  • Capers, 1 tablespoon per 4 cups of florets
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion or to taste: green onion, red onion, shallot
  • Fresh herbs, chopped (basil, cilantro and/or parsley are our favorites here)
  • Lemon juice vinaigrette (recipe below)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Optional: shaved Parmesan or crumbled Gorgonzola
  • Optional garnish: toasted sunflower seeds
  •  
    Preparation

    1. LIGHTLY STEAM the florets to desired consistency. While you can use them raw, a blanching or light steaming makes the texture more uniform with the other ingredients.

    2. TOSS with the other ingredients and the vinaigrette, taking care not to damage the pointy “fractals.” Serve chilled or at room temperature.

     

    RECIPE: LEMON VINAIGRETTE

    Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons freshly-squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/8 teaspoon sugar
  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  •  
    Preparation

    1. WHISK together the lemon juice, zest, mustard, sugar and salt in a small bowl. Add the olive oil in a slow stream, whisking constantly until the dressing is well blended.

    2. TASTE and season with additional salt and pepper as desired. Drizzle over the salad and toss to coat thoroughly.
     
    WHY ARE CRUCIFEROUS VEGETABLES SO GOOD FOR YOU?

    The Brassicaceae family of vegetables contains powerful antioxidants that prevent the build-up of free radicals, atoms with unpaired electrons in the body that are destructive, engendering disease.

    Along with their nutritional elements, cruciferous vegetables aid with alkalinization (making the body less acidic), bone health, cancer prevention, cholesterol reduction and detoxification (neutralization and elimination of unwanted contaminants). The high fiber content aids in digestion, heart health, lowering blood sugar, reducing allergy reactions and inflammation, and more.

     
    *Other members of Brassicaceae belong to a different genus. These include arugula, bok choy, Chinese cabbage, cress, daikon, horseradish, mizuna, radish, rutabaga, tatsoi and wasabi.

      

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