Sunday, June 24, 2012

Strawberry Milkshakes (and a giveaway!!!)

Earlier this month, I was invited to participate in the "Great Shakes 2012 Virtual Blog Party" to celebrate the paperback release of Adam Ried's book "Thoroughly Modern Milkshakes: 100 Classic and Contemporary Recipes."

I happen to love milkshakes (and really, who doesn't?) so I quickly agreed to join in, and anxiously awaited my copy of the book in the mail. I may have mentioned before that I love cookbooks, and tend to read them straight through like novels whenever I get a new one. I basically did the same for this book, and after drooling over creations like a Maple-Bacon Shake, and the Peach Shake with Brandy and Nutmeg, I settled on making an old classic - the Strawberry Shake.

Whenever I get a milkshake at a restaurant, I always opt for the strawberry version, and am usually disappointed by their lack of actual strawberry flavor. In the book, Adam Ried uses strawberry sorbet as a component of his strawberry shake recipe, and makes a point that oftentimes sorbet tastes more like actual strawberries than the fruit itself. Even when strawberries are in season, half the time they're shipped from 800 miles away, and just don't live up to their full potential. That is, unless you wake up at the bumcrack of dawn to go to a farmer's market and buy berries, which I do not.

I am please to report that this strawberry shake is the best shake I have ever had. It is super thick, and almost reminds me of a Wendy's Frosty in consistency (only like, 1,000 times more delicious.) There may be a straw in the photo, but I actually couldn't drink this through the straw until it got melty towards the end. Best of all, it is full of strawberry flavor, thanks to the author's brilliant idea to use sorbet. (Also, it's totally healthy because it is fruity and has tons of calcium. That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.)
Now, for the giveaway! (Update: Congrats to the winner, Lianna!) The nice people at W.W. Norton & Company were awesome enough to agree to give away a copy of "Thoroughly Modern Milkshakes" to one of you!

To enter, just leave any comment below, with a valid email address so that I can contact you if you win, by 11:59 p.m. on Monday, July 2, 2012. I love you all, but only U.S. readers are eligible for this giveaway! One entry per person, please.

Lastly, if you're interested in learning more about this book & chatting with the author, join me & the rest of the participants in a Twitter party tomorrow (Monday) night - just follow the hashtag #GreatShakes at 8 p.m. EST to join in!

Disclosure: This giveaway is provided to you by W.W. Norton & Company. I received a copy of this book free of charge, but was not monetarily compensated for this review or giveaway. All opinions, as always, are my own!

Here's what you'll need to make 2 strawberry shakes:

1/2 cup cold whole or low-fat milk
2 tablespoons strawberry jam or preserves
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 14-ounce container strawberry ice cream, softened 'til just melty at edges
1 14-ounce container strawberry sorbet, softened 'til just melty at edges

Add the milk, jam, and lemon juice to a blender, and blend about 15 seconds, until mixed thoroughly. Add the ice cream and sorbet, and pulse several times to start breaking them up. With the blender turned off, use a flexible spatula to mash the mixture down onto the blades. Continue pulsing, stopping, and mashing until the mixture is well blended, thick, and moves freely in the blender jar - about 30-90 seconds. Add another splash of milk if necessary to adjust the consistency. Pour into glasses, top with whipped cream if desired, and serve immediately.

Source: Thoroughly Modern Milkshakes: 100 Thick and Creamy Shakes You Can Make at Home

Monday, June 18, 2012

Blackberry Cornbread

I had a moment today where I realized that my taste is....well, questionable. Allow me to explain.

Exhibit A:

I have listened to this song about 400 times over the past month. Roughly 10-15 of those times occurred this morning during the two hours that I spent getting ready for work. I'm sure you've all heard it at this point, but just in case you haven't, have yourself a listen:

It's one of those songs that is just so awful and contrived, yet somehow manages to be completely addictive. I just have one issue with it...given our text-happy, phone-fearing culture, I feel like the song would kind of make more sense if it was "Text Me Maybe." Seriously. Side note: how can I get pigtails like Carly Rae's at 1:05? I have enough hair for about 4 people, and I look more like The Bad Seed when I attempt that hair-do.

Exhibit B:

I'm typing this post while watching The Bachelorette. With the exception of maybe Jerry Springer, Maury, and Cheaters, this show is the epitome of bad taste, yet I can't look away. Anyone else on team Sean?!! Arie is a close second.

Exhibit C:

I'm currently drinking this:

(Pardon my naked nails...)

It's a margarita malt beverage. I don't think I need to say anything else.

I would like to reassure all of you all that despite my seemingly questionable tastes, this cornbread is straight-up good taste. I ate some as a snack yesterday, and a piece for breakfast this morning. I'm tempted to have a piece for dessert right now. It's an anytime of day kind of treat, and is a stupendous way to use one of my favorite summer fruits.

Here's what you'll need:

1 cup yellow cornmeal
1 cup flour
1/3 cup sugar, plus more for sprinkling
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 cup buttermilk
2 eggs
7 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 1/2 cups blackberries

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease an 8-inch square glass baking dish, and set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.

In a medium bowl, whisk together buttermilk, eggs, and butter.

Pour liquid mixture into the dry mixture, and stir until thoroughly combined. Evenly spread batter into the prepared pan.

Scatter 1 cup of the blackberries over the top of the batter, and press gently until mostly submerged. Scatter the remaining berries on top, and lightly sprinkle with sugar.

Bake for 25-30 minutes, until golden brown around edges and springy to the touch. Cool for 10 minutes before cutting.

Source: Everyday with Rachael Ray Magazine via Shutterbean

Monday, June 11, 2012

Panzanella (Italian Bread Salad) with Garlic and Capers

Something seriously exciting happened yesterday morning.

My phone started ringing at 9 AM, and the caller ID showed a random number from New Hampshire. Since I was still half asleep, I angrily cursed at my phone while grumbling that I don't know anyone in New Hampshire, and immediately went back to bed.

An hour later I when I was actually awake, I listened to the voicemail that the mystery New Hampshire caller left.

Mr. New Hampshire reminded me that last weekend at the Vintage Virginia Wine Festival, I entered a contest to win a door prize. It turns out that I won the GRAND prize, which is four round-trip, all-expenses paid airline tickets.

He informed me that I could use the tickets to go anywhere, but when I picked up the paperwork yesterday afternoon it turns out that I'm somewhat limited in terms of cities. I can go pretty much anywhere in the United States or the Caribbean, but my European choices are limited to London, Paris, Rome, and Venice.  I am certainly not complaining - trust me. The only two countries I've been to in Europe are Switzerland and Liechtenstein, so I'm pretty open to going anywhere.

Now, here's where I need guidance from those of you who are a) from Europe, or b) have traveled to the above cities. I'm pretty much set on Paris. It has been my dream vacation for as long as I can remember, so it's definitely on the agenda.

Do any of you have thoughts on London versus Rome versus Venice? I probably won't be taking advantage of these tickets for about a year (gotta save spending money after all) but I'm really excited and interested to hear opinions from people who have been to these places.

I should probably stop rambling on about my trip and tell you a bit about this salad. If you have never had Panzanella, puh-lease consider it a must try this summer. You're going to want to make this during summer months only, unless you live somewhere that has good tomatoes and basil all year long, in which case, I would like to move in with you ASAP. I keep the air-conditioner on 67, waste a lot of paper towels, have been known to wake up in the middle of the night uttering nonsense like "bacon hair" (true story...) and sleep at incredibly odd hours, but otherwise I'm a good roommate.

Here's what you'll need:

1 large french baguette, cut or torn into 1-inch pieces
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
Salt and pepper
1 teaspoon minced garlic
2 anchovy fillets, minced
2 tablespoons capers, rinsed
1 1/2 pounds tomatoes, cored, seeded, and cut into 1-inch pieces
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 cucumber, peeled, halved lengthwise, seeded, and sliced thin
1 shallot, sliced thin
1 large handful chopped fresh basil

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees, and adjust oven rack to the middle. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and set aside.

Toss the bread pieces with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Arrange in a single layer on the baking sheet, and bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown, stirring halfway through. Set aside, and cool until room temperature.

In a large bowl, gently toss the tomatoes and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Transfer the tomatoes to a colander, and set over the bowl. Set aside to drain for 15 minutes, tossing occasionally.

Whisk the remaining 6 tablespoons of olive oil, vinegar, garlic, minced anchovies, capers, and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper into the drained tomato juices. Add the bread chunks, toss to coat, and let sit for 10 minutes, tossing occasionally.

Add the tomatoes, cucumbers, shallots, and basil to the bread mixture. Toss to coat, season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve immediately.

Source: Adapted from Cooks Illustrated

Monday, June 4, 2012

Cinnamon-Sugar Rice Pudding with Bourbon-Soaked Raisins

In my experience, there are certain foods that most people strongly like or dislike, with very little middle ground. Avocados, anchovies, mayonnaise, mushrooms, and olives all seem to fall into this category. I happen to love all of those foods, and I'm willing to bet that all of you reading have a strong opinion one way or the other about each of them as well. You never hear someone say that they could take or leave anchovies. Either you love 'em, or you don't.

This post is not about anchovies - it's about another food that is oftentimes polarizing. Most people either love rice pudding, or are completely put off by it. I've always been a fan, and when I was trying to think of a dessert to make that hadn't yet appeared on A Bitchin' Kitchen, rice pudding was one of the first things that came to mind.

I adapted a recipe from the Joy the Baker Cookbook, and threw in some raisins that I soaked overnight in bourbon and vanilla. If you make this, try and avoid eating too many of the booze-saturated raisins before adding them to your dessert. They are super-duper delicious, and I kind of wanted to just eat them as a snack...

Here's what you'll need:

For the pudding: 

1/2 cup raisins
Vanilla extract
2 cups water
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup long-grain white jasmine rice
3 cups whole milk
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons unsalted butter

For the topping:

1 teaspoon cinnamon
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
Extra grated orange zest (optional)

The day before you want to make this, add your raisins to a small bowl. Pour bourbon over the raisins until they're just covered, and add a splash of vanilla. Stir to combine, cover with plastic wrap, and set aside somewhere away from curious pets and children. Warning: your home will kind of smell like a distillery until you're ready to use these.

When you're ready to make the pudding, drain raisins and set aside. Rinse the rice thoroughly (I swish it around in a big bowl of water, pour it through a fine mesh sieve, and repeat a couple times until it's no longer foamy.) In a large saucepan over medium heat, boil 2 cups of water. Add the orange zest, salt, and jasmine rice, and stir. Return to a boil, and cover with a tight-fitting lid. Turn heat to simmer, and let the rice cook for 15 minutes (until water is absorbed) without opening the lid or stirring.

Remove the cooked rice from the saucepan and set aside. In a new saucepan, combine the milk, sugar, and cinnamon. Heat over low until the milk is warm, and the sugar dissolves, whisking occasionally.

Add the cooked rice to the pot, and stir often until the milk reduces, and the texture becomes creamy and pudding-like, 20-25 minutes. It will look like there is a lot of liquid in the pot for the first 15 minutes or so, but trust me - it will thicken! If the mixture starts to bubble too much at any point, turn the heat down to simmer. Right before you're ready to remove the pudding from the heat, stir in the butter until it melts, and add in the drained raisins.

Allow the pudding to cool and thicken for 10-15 minutes before serving. This can also be served cold, but you may need to add a little milk after removing it from the fridge to loosen the consistency.

To make the topping, mix together the cinnamon and sugar, and sprinkle on top before serving.

Source: Adapted from Cinnamon-Sugar Rice Pudding, via the Joy the Baker Cookbook
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