June 30, 2014

Stovetop kettle corn

Summer is here and that means it is carnival and fair season. One of my favorites foods to get at a fair has always been kettle corn. I love that it's still warm and has a sweet and salty crunch. I've always thought it was some magical thing that surely must be difficult to make (and, of course, require some sort of huge kettle hanging outside), but after some investigation, I discovered that it's quite simple to make at home. It's perfect for a summer movie night snack!

This addictive treat will definitely become one of our favorite ways to enjoy popcorn at home now. This recipe makes enough for two people, so feel free to increase it for more people (but make sure you have a large kettle, or do it in a couple of batches). I used a large stainless steel soup pot. I read that you probably don't want to use cast iron because the sugar will get too hot and stick/burn. 

June 23, 2014

Strawberry shortcake biscuit cookies

I love strawberry season - to me, strawberries are one of the most quintessential summer flavors (at least early summer). Their season is pretty fleeting and they just aren't the same when they are shipped from California. I like my strawberries small and warm from the sun, not big and watery. I needed to bring a dessert to a Father's Day picnic recently and had these strawberry shortcake cookies from Martha Stewart on my "to-try" list for a long time. They have really mixed reviews, so I was hesitant to make them to other people, but I went for it anyway. I made a few modifications as written below and I think they turned out great. However, they are not a "cookie" in the traditional sense - they are more like a strawberry shortcake biscuit with all the other goodies already baked inside of it. Also, they most certainly must be eaten the same day as baking. They are not nearly as good leftover and because they are so moist, they'll start to mold pretty quickly. So make them for a crowd as you will get about three dozen cookies from this recipe.

June 16, 2014

Rhubarb custard pie

Rhubarb is such an odd thing to eat... I wonder who the first person was to discover that the stalk of a plant with poisonous leaves was edible... but really tart and not great raw. Some sources I found say that it was originally used as a Chinese medicine, but I'm not sure who discovered the stalks make amazing desserts. I, for one, am glad that they did because I'm not a huge fan of overly sweet things so rhubarb makes a perfect sour contrast in desserts that I really enjoy. If you'd like to see some of my other favorite ways to eat rhubarb, check out these recipes.

This pie recipe is another recipe that comes from the old Pennsylvania Dutch cookbook that I have. I've been making a lot of recipes from that old book and having fun doing so. They've all been delicious so far. I changed the recipe only very slightly (a little less sugar and a pinch of salt). I think this pie was fantastic, though the next time I make it, I make try adding one more egg yolk to the filling (along with a touch more cornstarch) and using another egg white for the topping - just to bulk up the filling a little more. However, it is perfectly fine as is (and you can see how yellow the filling is from the fresh pastured eggs)!

June 10, 2014

Rhubarb lemonade

Pink lemonade makes me think of summer as a kid. Days that were long and hot and spent playing outside, exploring the field or creek, catching bugs, watching fireflies, eating wild strawberries, and reading. Sometimes I really miss those long summers and having a nice vacation... But I can make some refreshing, tangy, and slightly sweet lemonade to enjoy on a summery weekend to enjoy while relaxing. 

This recipe uses seasonal rhubarb to give the lemonade its pink color and also add a bit of complexity to the drink's flavor. Since we aren't big sugar eaters, I made this drink a little less sweet than what you'll probably find in most recipes. If you want it to be sweeter, up the amount of sugar to 1 cup when making the syrup. Grab a pitcher and a few glasses and make up a batch of this lemonade before the rhubarb is gone!

June 5, 2014

Stir-fried paneer and peppers

The warm weather has arrived here and when it starts to get hot, I like to eat all sorts of Asian foods with Indian food being toward the top of that list. This amazing dish was inspired by this recipe, although mine is quite different. Ever since I learned to make paneer and used it to make Saag paneer, I've been thinking about other ways to use this cheese. This idea of using it with peppers sounded really good to me (plus I had a few different colors already in the fridge). The whole dish was bursting with flavor and freshness - perfect for a warm day. You may be able to find paneer at your grocery store, but if not it is quite simple to make your own at home.

My husband and I enjoyed this a lot. I mean, a lot - we ate the whole plate ourselves with no lunch leftovers. I served this with a side of steamy Basmati rice and some sliced cucumber, but Naan bread would also be a good accompaniment. This dish has a bit of heat to it, but it is mellowed by the cheese and sweet peppers - the rice and cucumbers also help with that.