A tub of crème fraîche in my refrigerator inspired this dish. I had actually never owned a tub of crème fraîche until then. It’s one of those things that I could never find when I wanted it, and whenever I did see it, I would forget why I had ever wanted it. I bought this container when I had nothing in mind to make, but knew I would want to do something with it later.
I have since learned that making it at home is really easy, but I’ll post about that another time . . .
Now, on to the recipe.
Alright. This is amazing. Have you all been seeing the one ingredient ice cream recipe out there? I first saw it on The Kitchn. It’s vegan. It’s healthy, and a dieter’s dream.
All you do is take ripe bananas, cut them up, freeze them, and then mix them up in the food processor. It’s unbelievably simple.
But only if you have a food processor.
If you have one, then go out and buy some bananas and get started.
If you don’t have one, then you might be in luck.
Whenever I write a recipe that uses a food processor, I always feel a little bad. I didn’t get mine until a few years ago, so I know what it’s like to pass over a recipe that needs one, or attempt a recipe in a blender and have it make a huge mess.
To remedy that, I will be giving away one Cuisinart 11-Cup Food Processor.* It’s the exact model I have, and I love it.
What is your favorite cooking show? A couple at the top of my list are The Barefoot Contessa and Giada at Home. I love the way they’re taped. The food is always gorgeous, and the girls seem so relaxed. They talk as if you’re their friend, standing there across the island keeping them company in the kitchen.
I prefer them to other cooking shows where it feels like the star is in a studio, talking loudly to the viewers, trying to convince them of how easy something is to cook, like a commercial.
A couple of weeks back, I was in the grocery store, looking at these gorgeous fruits from all over the world. The kids were asking if I could buy them, but I had already taken quite a few photographs of other recipes, and was behind on my posts for the blog, so I figured I would buy an assortment of the fruits another time. I turned to find someone working in the produce department, and just to my right, was a man I could ask.
I asked him if they usually had such a good assortment on hand, because I planned on coming back another time. He then turned, grabbed a bag, and filled it with one of each of the fruits, and told me I could have them. I love stores like that!
Like I said, I had a lot of things in my queue, so I really only had the time to photograph them. And I’m sad to say, between the time I took the pictures, and today, I have lost the stickers that said which fruits were which. I know what some of them are, of course, but I don’t know all of them. Can you name them?
Pavlova is the dessert of my dreams. And rhubarb is the fruit of my childhood. It used to grow in our backyard in Massachusetts, green with little hints of red. Sometimes I’d find a thick stalk, but most were thin and unimpressive. But that didn’t stop me from concocting a dessert out of it every summer. Rhubarb crisp was my favorite. But we never added strawberries. They got devoured by birds the moment they had a hint of red, and buying them from the store was expensive and usually disappointing.
Now that I’ve grown, the sharp rhubarb alone isn’t as delicious as I once remembered it, and now that I can find decent strawberries in the store, I like to put the two together for the classic combination.
Now, mind you, this rhubarb was red when I got it, but cooking it straight does not produce the glorious color you see here. I actually learned the secret to getting poached rhubarb to look red from Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook. That book is so gorgeous. Some of those pictures almost make me cry . . .
The secret to getting a natural red color is . . . can you guess? It’s not unlike how I got my red velvet cake to be red. That’s right. It’s beets. You basically cut up a beet, cook it in a sugar syrup, shut off the heat, and then add the rhubarb. Then you don’t actually cook it. You just cover it and let it steep for twenty minutes. So easy.
Those cherry blossoms give it all away. I didn’t take that picture in the summer, but rather late spring. But it was hot. And now it’s feeling like summer all the time. The day I shot these, I wanted something cool and light, and regular lemonade just wouldn’t do. I wanted something a little more sophisticated than that.
I kept remembering back to when I was living in Montreal (when I was a missionary for my church). At this little convenience store, I found these amazing juices. They were combinations like cranberry orange blossom, or strawberry rose—and all sorts of dreamy flavors like that. After leaving that part of the city, though, I never found them again, and have always wanted to recreate them.
So I got to work in the kitchen. I found a little bottle of rose water I had purchased from our local Indian market ages ago, and added that to a simple syrup. Then I threw in a strawberry or two to give it a pinkish color. I think both just make the drink pretty, don’t you?
Apparently, my daughter and her friend thought so too. When they caught me photographing the pictures, they each took a glass and guzzled them down.
I really wish Milky Ways had white chocolate on them. So I made up this recipe.
This cake ended up being a science experiment.
I wanted to make a red velvet cake without any red food coloring. Though I can handle a little food coloring here and there, the idea of putting in such large amounts into a homemade cake . . . well, I just couldn’t do it. I mean, why would I want to eat a cake that is red for no reason, other than the fact that someone calls it red?
In my research, and the research of my sister (who actually inspired my making this cake after she had made an attempt at something similar), we discovered a number of people in the blogosphere that get quite uppity about what a red velvet cake is and isn’t. I won’t get into that. But I will say that many of these red velvet soap boxers were suggesting the color should come from beets.
So I started there.
My first attempt was brownish purplish. My daughter called it the Purple Satin Cake. It tasted good, so good in fact, that when I stood there, holding the last piece, thinking that I should snap a picture for the blog to show what it looked like, my will power buckled, and into my mouth it went. But it was still brownish purplish.
I have seen dozens of recipes for niçoise salad over the years. But to tell you the truth, they’ve never looked that appetizing to me. Maybe it’s my childhood aversion to green beans coming out, or maybe it’s that I expect the potatoes to be too bland and starchy. Even the niçoise salads with fresh ahi tuna never sparked much of my interest.
But I recently bought a copy of Gwyneth Paltrow’s cookbook, and she features two niçoise salads: one cool, and one warm. The photographs of both make the salad look so rustic and inviting, that I began to reconsider my prejudice against the salad from Nice.
As for the potatoes, my mom and I have been replacing regular starchy potatoes with sweet potatoes lately—they’re higher in nutrients and flavor, so I thought I’d add those to the salad instead.
Not to mention, I have been getting these gorgeous eggs from my neighbor lately, so I knew the bright yolks would make the salad stunning to look at.
I figured it was time to finally try my own version.
And this is really made with key limes. Or at least, I thought they were key limes. That’s what the store said they were. It turns out, they were just mini regular—or Persian—limes with seeds in them. Apparently, key limes are yellow and round—not tiny and green. But I don’t want to talk about that right now. It’s embarrassing.
This is what happened when I thought I was being the ultimate foodie. I found the “key limes” on sale a few weeks ago: ten for a dollar. I had never seen such a good price before, so I grabbed a bag and filled it with thirty lovely limes. I was so proud of myself for owning them, that first I had to photograph them.
And then they sat around for awhile.
They sat around until I had nothing better to do than to juice thirty teeny tiny seeded citrus fruits. While I waited for the royal wedding to start, I buckled down and did it. I would juice about ten at a time, and then the acid would begin to burn so badly I would have to run to the kitchen, wash my hands, lotion them, and watch about a half an hour more of the wedding coverage. When my skin would calm down, I’d go back and juice a few more. I was being a true foodie martyr.
I guess I was expecting some magical Floridian taste to come through as payoff for my self torture, but in the end, I discovered my “key limes” tasted exactly like regular limes. And now I know that’s because they weren’t.
Anyway, you’ll know better. If something claims to be key limes, make sure they’re round and yellow. If you can’t find those, then by all means, buy yourself some regular, large, green limes, and make this. You’ll love it no matter what.