Not Without Salt » Dating My Husband http://notwithoutsalt.com “Where would we be without salt?” - James Beard Sun, 16 Nov 2014 19:26:00 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Date Night In: Pre-Order! http://notwithoutsalt.com/date-night-pre-order/ http://notwithoutsalt.com/date-night-pre-order/#comments Tue, 04 Nov 2014 01:10:49 +0000 http://notwithoutsalt.com/?p=7182 Read more »]]>
Date Night In // Not Without Salt

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photos by Boone Rodriguez

I had a dream the other night, a nightmare really, about seeing my book for the first time. I ripped into its yellow parcel pouch with the same enthusiasm as my four-year-old at Christmas. I flipped over the cover so I could take in the culmination of three years worth of work but inside I found hideous beige and fabric textured paper with a similarly beige font. Instantly any hope I had of people actually reading the book were dashed. They made a last minute change to divide the book by meals which made no sense for a date night book (let’s just say the breakfast chapter was very lacking) and there was one whole section dedicated to the fried chicken and biscuit sandwich (maybe that’s not so bad after all). The narratives were tucked in the back like an afterthought and the images were small and often distorted.

The rest of the night I lay there trying to convince a very nervous and anxious self that “it was just a bad dream. They wouldn’t really print beige-on-beige. Go back to sleep.”

It feels surreal to be at this place. Less than two months from the pub date, I mean. It seems like I’m the only one who feels like this time has flown by. Perhaps that’s because I’ve been deep in the process of actually creating it as I’ve watched the due dates come and go and poured myself into the project every step of the way. So much so that while I’m absolutely thrilled to finally be able to share it with you all, I’m also a bit terrified.

You may have noticed a lull here over the past couple of years. Those of you who have been reading the site for years may have noticed posts that were a bit more light, quick and airy. I’m still proud of those posts and stand by the recipes they served but I tried real hard to save all of myself for the book. I wanted to stand at the point where I am at today and say, “I am damn proud of this book.” And guess what guys, I am really damn proud of this book.

I have tears in my eyes as I write that because I am so happy with how true that statement is and I also know how hard it is for me to say that about anything I create.

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Date Night In // Not Without Salt Date Night In // Not Without Salt Date Night In // Not Without Salt

I’m proud of this book for many reasons; the food is ridiculous (I’m convinced that the Salted Chocolate Pecan Ice Cream Pie with Bourbon Butterscotch and Pretzel Crust is worth the cost of the book alone) the photos make the food look as good as it tasted, and this book was created by a village. But what makes me the most proud is that this book is about so much more than the food. As much as I love food what I really love is what happens around the table and what happened around our table last year gave us the absolute best year of our marriage.

Side note: Writing a book about date nights is the best accountability to actually having a weekly date night. I highly recommend it.

A couple weeks ago I was speaking at a Food Blogger’s conference about being vulnerable on the blog; the importance of that and why I do it. Inevitably the book came up because this book is quite possibly the most vulnerable I have ever been. Tears streamed down my face as I stood up on stage and told the audience about this project. I found myself anticipating the question of “why do it if it makes you so scared?”

This is what I told them; “I’m terrified. I’m afraid of this book being judged or me being judged because of the book. I’m very afraid of bad amazon reviews. But I will take that fear any day if it means that I get to share my heart, my passion and myself with others in the hope that someone may find help, hope and inspiration in it.”

I don’t want to live a safe life, I want a meaningful one.

Last night I got an email from my editor that the book is one its way. The moment I’ve dreamed (nightmared) about is happening in a matter of days and I couldn’t be more excited and yes, terrified. You all will have to wait a bit longer before you get to hold the book in your hands but just as I reward my own children for their patience I plan to do the same for you.

While the book has over 120 recipes I couldn’t stop there so I went ahead and created five additional recipes that make up what we are affectionately calling our “Holi-DATE”.

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The Holi-date is the perfect menu to celebrate surviving the craziness of the season that is right in front of us. Here’s the menu:

Classic Champagne Cocktail

Gruyere Gougeres

Stuffed Pork loin with Prosciutto and Prunes

Cranberry and Cabbage Slaw with Orange Ginger Vinaigrette

Chocolate Peppermint Shortbread

 

*Bonus* The extra Chocolate Peppermint Shortbread that you don’t eat for date night makes a great holiday gift.

 

I want you to all have these recipes but first I need you to do something for me: Pre-order the book. Please and thank you.

For the first 150 people who pre-order and then fill out this form I will send you a set of five beautifully designed (thanks, babe!) and photographed recipe cards along with a downloadable PDF of all the recipes from this menu. If you aren’t one of the first 150 don’t worry, you’ll still get the PDF.

You can choose to pre-order the books where ever you like (if you do so here it’ll be a signed copy!) the important thing is that you pre-order. I’m new to this whole book making and selling process but apparently the pre-orders are a big deal because bookstores like to see that the book is legit and people are totally into it. So thank you, thank you, thank you.

This is all just so huge for me, my family and my sweet friends who are ready and waiting to pass the tissues, raise a glass of bubbly and give me loads of hugs and eager pats on the back. All that to say, your support means so much to me. I can not wait to share this book with the world and to finally start the conversation that I’ve been writing about and thinking about for such a very long time.

Once you pre-order the book go to our book page (here) and fill in the form.

(The book page will be the home for all book tour events. I’ll be updating it regularly so don’t be afraid to become friendly with that page.)

Looking for where to pre-order? I’ve got you covered.

Amazon 

Indie Bound

Book Larder (pre-order here for a signed copy!)

Powell’s (the cover here is not the most recent edition)

Running Press

UK

Waterstones

Amazon

Canada

Amazon

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Dating My Husband: Foraging http://notwithoutsalt.com/dating-husband-foraging/ http://notwithoutsalt.com/dating-husband-foraging/#comments Thu, 22 May 2014 20:52:33 +0000 http://notwithoutsalt.com/?p=6240 Read more »]]> Chilled Avocado Soup with Mint & Nettle Pesto // Not Without Salt

Mint & Nettle Pesto // Not Without Salt

“I want us to be a family that forages together.” I told Gabe.

“That’d be fun.” He responded not really knowing what that means or looks like but eagerly jumping on board as he often does when I come up with yet another lofty dream.

So we have a few books on our shelves that identify edible plants through scientific illustration, I’ve been out mushroom hunting once, and we’ve talked about taking the kids for hikes but that had been the extent of our foraging experience until one Friday afternoon in April.

Gabe and I were invited to choose a curated date through the site HowAboutWe for Couples. In their own words, “HowAboutWe is a company that helps people fall in love and stay in love.” In my own words, “it’s a company that helps couples such as ourselves plan fun dates because we are too overwhelmed with the idea to do it ourselves.”

We dropped off the kids at school then headed east and into the woods with local foraging expert, Langdon Cook. Along the three-mile path he identified miner’s lettuce, fiddlehead ferns, huckleberries, salmon berries, wild raspberries, Oregon berries, and stinging nettles.

Being in those woods was familiar. I grew up with the pacific northwest forest as my backyard and spent my days snacking on huckleberries and cursing the stings from nettles.

Wispy moss hung low on the trees casting a soft shadow on the green carpet below. Small buds appeared on a wild plum tree just starting to open up as the warmth of spring had just hit.

“Don’t even bother trying to get those plums.” Langdon told us. “The birds will beat you to them.”

Near a trickling stream he brushed aside the grass to show us the tightly curled sprouts of a lady fern.

Mint & Nettle Pesto // Not Without Salt

 

Mint & Nettle Pesto // Not Without Salt

“This is what you are looking for.” He said as we watched him clean off the brown outer layer to reveal a citron colored fiddlehead fern. After the first one he pointed out to us we continued to see them along the path and cried out with excitement with each spotting.

Our time in the woods with Langdon was about learning what to look for and quite frankly just about enjoying the time outside, being with my husband and away from work.

At home I wanted to take a bit of what we found in the woods and make a date night out of it. So I grabbed some gardening gloves, a few bags and took the kids to the park  after school.

“We’re looking for nettles.” I told the kids.

“Why?” They asked in fearful protest.

“Because I want to make something for dad for date night.”

It wasn’t long before the adventure felt like a treasure hunt and when we happened upon our first patch, lush with the bright green frilly leaves of stinging nettles, we all shrieked with delight.

I donned the gloves and for the first time in my life I picked stinging nettles. My childhood was about avoiding them and now I was gathering them for dinner.

Roman was eager to join in the harvesting until the nettles somehow stung him through the gloves. I was very empathetic when I dropped a freshly plucked branch on my sandal clad feet.

Mint & Nettle Pesto // Not Without Salt

 

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Mint & Nettle Pesto // Not Without Salt

We carried on, quickly filling a bag and happily recounting our plans for pesto to the curious passers by.

Sure there had been a few stings but we did it. Well on our way to becoming a foraging family.

With the gloves still on I plunged our foraged treasure into a large pot of boiling water. I remember Langdon assuring us that after 20 seconds in a hot bath the nettles will lose their sting.

In our garden I foraged some mint and blended that along with the nettles, pine nuts, Parmesan, lemon juice and olive oil to make a grassy pesto to stir into our avocado soup.

I love that Gabe doesn’t think I’ve lost my mind when I take our three kids into the woods to gather stinging nettles for dinner. Or that he doesn’t laugh at the idea of learning how to distinguish deadly mushrooms from the delicious ones. In fact he not only encourages this sort of behavior in me, he comes home from a date in the woods then immediately signs us up for a membership to the mycological society and gets downright giddy at the idea of putting the membership sticker on our car.

When I say I want to write a cookbook he goes and gets my half-written proposal printed and turned into a book in order to push me closer to my dream. And when I talk about wanting to move our entire family to Italy for a season he fills out the paperwork for the kids’ passports so we’ll be ready to go on a moments notice. When I mention I want to start painting more there’s suddenly a little watercolor kit on my desk. He not only supports my dreams, he takes the first step before I do. He’s the one, quietly in the background pushing me, encouraging me and inspiring me to keep on coming up with ideas like taking our family out into the woods to gather the ingredients for our dinner together. Without him I’m not sure I’d be so brave.

We make a good team, he and I.

Chilled Avocado Soup with Mint & Nettle Pesto // Not Without Salt

*This post was sponsored by HowAboutWe but the words, as always, are mine. I was eager to jump at the chance to tell you about this company because it’s a service that Gabe and I desperately need. We’ve got the dating at home thing down. But when it comes time to go out and enjoy our incredible city we are overwhelmed with the possibilities. HowAboutWe for Couples (they have a singles site too)  is all about wonderful experiences, tailored for two. Members browse the curated collection of local dates, pick the ones they like, and go.

There are dozens of dates to choose from. I was tempted by the tastings at local distilleries and beekeeping workshop and honey tasting but in the end the foraging trip won out.

Right now, HowAboutWe is located in NYC, San Francisco, Chicago, Seattle and LA. But if you sign up even if you aren’t in one of those cities, they will email you as soon as they are in your area.

If you sign up to become a member you automatically get great deals on some really creative date ideas in your area.
Go ahead and give it a try. See HowAboutWe’s collection of free dates here. Any company that gets couples to spend more time together doing fun things is good by me.

Chilled Avocado Soup with Mint & Nettle Pesto

Serves 2

1 avocado

1/2 small shallot roughly chopped

1 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable broth

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

freshly ground pepper

Combine the avocado, shallot, broth, lemon juice, salt, and pepper in a blender. Blend until smooth adding more broth if you’d like a thinner soup. Serve right away or cover and refrigerate for one day.

Mint & Nettle Pesto

Langdon uses nettles wherever you would spinach - in pestos or nestled in between sheets of pasta along with ricotta. He says it is one of the most protein-rich plants and freezes beautifully so you can enjoy this taste of spring all year long.

I realize that many of you don’t have access to stinging nettles like we do. Feel free to substitute arugula, basil or Italian parsley for the nettles.

1 cup blanched, drained and chopped stinging nettles

1/4 cup fresh mint leaves

1 clove garlic, minced

1/3 cup pine nuts, toasted

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1/4 cup firmly packed grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 cup olive oil

Combine the nettles, mint leaves, garlic, pine nuts, lemon juice, Parmesan and salt in a blender, food processor or mortar and pestle. Mix until pureed then pour in the olive oil. Blend until it just comes together.

Use right away or cover and refrigerate for up to one week.

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Dating My Husband: Bourbon Float with Nectarine Sorbet http://notwithoutsalt.com/dating-my-husband-bourbon-float-with-nectarine-sorbet/ http://notwithoutsalt.com/dating-my-husband-bourbon-float-with-nectarine-sorbet/#comments Thu, 04 Jul 2013 05:08:01 +0000 http://notwithoutsalt.com/?p=4847 Read more »]]> Bourbon Float with Nectarine Sorbet // Not Without Salt

“What do you think it is?” I asked Gabe as we talked about the lack of connection we had both been feeling lately.

“I’m not sure.” He replied solemnly and with an exhausted sigh.

Our marriage had been moving smoothly just a couple weeks before this conversation. In fact we were better than smooth. On a recent trip away I had a moment standing next to my husband where I felt that there was no one else I would rather be with. I squeezed his hand a little tighter, looked up at his face and said, “You’re my favorite person.” “You’re mine too.” He said.

Then we came home and life settled back into a hectic routine. Even though we were only gone two days it seemed like it took us two weeks to get back into a rhythm.

“I’d like to think it’s because we haven’t had a date night in two weeks.” I said sort of jokingly. For one reason or another we pushed our at home date night’s aside. Well, I know the reasons. One of the weeks we went out on an actual go-out-of-the-house-date – to a fundraising dinner with a bit of schmoozing that I’m so terrible at. It was a wonderful evening of great food and wine for a cause that we both feel passionate about. And the other reason I hesitate to even mention because it’s ridiculous and almost a little too honest, even for me. But the truth is that I felt ahead on the book, you know, the one I’m writing about the importance of dating my husband. So I spent that week retesting a few recipes but never had an actual date night. The truth is, the book is keeping me incredibly accountable to actually dating my husband, which is an incredible gift but when I felt ahead on the book as a project, I failed to make our date night the priority it needs to be.

We had been going through our days feeling like the other would rather not have the other around. Little biting comments filled our conversation and pulled us further apart. But that night I was planning a date. A little reluctantly as I didn’t want to continue to face our awkward and at times painful conversations. When we let too much time slip in between the dates it is sometimes hard to establish that routine again but we did it.

Sitting down to dinner our conversation was like starting up an old car. It chugged, sputtered and smoked before the engine revved and purred. We cleared the table of our dishes then settled back onto the couch where we continued to talk until 1 am. It was a great conversation but that’s not really the point. We just talked, connected and felt like best friends again. I chose him over sleep the way I used to when we were dating and staying up way too late just to be near one another.

Bourbon Float with Nectarine Sorbet // Not Without Salt

Bourbon Float with Nectarine Sorbet // Not Without Salt

Bourbon Float with Nectarine Sorbet // Not Without Salt

I fell asleep in his arms feeling hopeful and incredibly connected to him.

“It really does work.” I said to him the next morning.

“What works?”

“Our date nights.”

Of course I know they are good for us and I know that I enjoy indulging in the food that accompanies our date nights at home but to see us go from weeks of frustrating disconnection and feeling distant and against one another then after one night feeling completely connected  – well, it gave me even more passion for the book we’re creating.

So this week, even though our date night falls on the night America will be blowing things up and we’ll be driving 4 hours in a day to celebrate the blowing up of things with my family, and photo shoots, hanging out with friends and all the other stuff that fills up a week, I knew we needed a date. I kept it simple, which I’m not always known to do. We put the kids to bed in our too hot house and made ourselves a drink – well, more like a dessert/drink hybrid.

He plopped a still soft scoop of nectarine sorbet into my glass and splashed the bourbon and lemon juice that pooled in the bottom of the cup onto the table. Immediately the rose colored sorbet began to melt into the drink infusing the bourbon with its fragrant sweetness. Little specks of vanilla bean floated to the top while Gabe twisted a ragged piece of lemon peel over the glass misting it with a citrusy and floral perfume. I quickly snapped a few pictures of our cocktail before I whisked it off the table to enjoy it and my husband while the evening sun, still warm, set behind our neighbor’s house.

When we build the date nights into our weekly routine I find us eager to seize other opportunities to connect. A drink in the evening with my husband becomes a moment to build on intimacy. Even quick conversations throughout the day become easier and help build on our friendship. We send one another texts throughout the day – pictures of the kids, funny things we see, or just checking in on the other. Little things that add up to big things in the course of a lifetime together.

At the root of it all we both desire to be one another’s person. He wants to see me as his best friend and I long for him to be the one that I want to hang out with if given a choice of anyone. And when we both feel that then we are happy in the marriage. If something feels off it’s so often because our friendship is off.

The point is, these nights work. Dating your husband, your wife, whoever you doing life with, really works. I’ve seen it again and again in our marriage and the more I date my husband the more excited and passionate I become to spread this message. I feel like that 90 year-old juice fanatic, “If it works for me it can work for you.” And I guess I’m okay with that because we’re talking about marriages and relationships here – it’s a big deal. Just as we strive to feed our bodies foods that nourish and help our bodies thrive we need to feed the friendship in our marriages.

A relationship is built on friendship and friendship takes time. If you want to have a good friend you have to make the time.. If you want to be a good friend, that takes time too. And if there happens to be a bit a bourbon alongside that friendship building, well, I’m okay with that.

Bourbon Float with Nectarine Sorbet // Not Without Salt

 

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Bourbon Float with Nectarine Sorbet

It turns out Gabe and I have a thing for cocktails. The original plan for the book was to include a few but we just can’t stop ourselves. We are just having too much fun coming up with new ideas and all the “research” that goes along with that. This is one of our current favorites. Seattle is experiencing a bit of a heat wave currently and this grown-up float/slushie-type drink does good work of chasing away the heat. If you prefer peaches you can easily swap those in. I was also thinking plum might be nice.

If bourbon isn’t for you, go ahead and make the sorbet anyway. It’s good one to have around. The presence of alcohol in the sorbet is needed to prevent the sorbet from freezing too firm but you can use something other than bourbon if you prefer.

2 pounds (4-5) nectarines, pitted

1/2 cup dark brown sugar

1/2 cup water

1 vanilla bean, split

2 tablespoons bourbon (or other alcohol)

1/3 cup fresh lemon juice

1 teaspoon lemon zest

pinch salt

In a small saucepan combine the brown sugar, water and vanilla bean and bring to a boil, stirring until all the sugar is dissolved. Carefully stir in the bourbon and cook for 30 seconds more before removing from the heat. Set aside to cool for 30 minutes. Remove the vanilla bean (wash it off and set it in your sugar container to flavor your sugar with vanilla).

Puree the nectarines in a food processor. Carefully add the warm sugar syrup, lemon juice, zest and salt.

Strain this mixture and chill.

Process in your ice cream machine according to the instructions.

If this is destined for a cocktail you could just use the puree to flavor it or stick it in a freezer-safe container in the freezer and drag a fork all over the surface every 20 minutes or so. After a few hours you will have a fluffy granita which would make for a great bourbon slushie.

For the cocktail:

Place 1 1/2 ounces of bourbon in your cup along with 1-2 teaspoons of fresh lemon juice. Add 1 scoop of sorbet to the cup and finish with a splash of club soda. Twist a piece of lemon peel over the cup before gingerly tossing it in. Enjoy. Preferably outside with someone who you are quite fond of.Bourbon Float with Nectarine Sorbet // Not Without Salt

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Dating My Husband: Celebrating Our Book http://notwithoutsalt.com/dating-my-husband-celebrating-our-book/ http://notwithoutsalt.com/dating-my-husband-celebrating-our-book/#comments Wed, 03 Apr 2013 18:24:31 +0000 http://notwithoutsalt.com/?p=4688 Read more »]]>

We sunk into the couch letting the cushions hug us as we sorted through the day and set out to recover from it. It was pretty typical aside from the Sharpie all over the carpet and the ipad getting peed on, but even typical days need a bit of recovery and a moment to breathe it in and then let it go.

Gabe and I laughed away the day and wondered how one goes about getting pee off of an ipad. We talked about getting new carpet or rearranging the room to cover up our 2 year old’s Sharpie rampage. “Or we could just put a frame over it and call it art.” I said as Gabe went into the kitchen and pulled out two bottles from the fridge.

“Champagne or beer?” He asked.

“Let’s go with beer.” I said, already anticipating the skunky farmhouse ale and knowing that I’d just drink the bottle of champagne with a friend the next night.

Regardless of what had happened earlier in the day, tonight we were celebrating.

And this is where I don’t know how to write this. Which is weird because I’ve been writing this post in my head for over three years and now that it is finally time I’m getting all sweaty, nervous and way too excited to put words to a page. But I’ll try; with a big green bottle of my favorite Saison, a bag of Juanita’s tortilla chips and an ice cream cake waiting for us in the freezer we toasted to our book. The one I’m writing. An actual tangible book that will be held in people’s hands (hopefully all of your hands!), in their kitchen, curled up with them on the couch and in bed. People will be reading my words, cooking from my recipes and drooling over my photos printed on paper. I can’t get over this. It will be published by Running Press and edited by Kristen Green Wiewora who also recently edited, Homemade with Love: Simple Scratch Cooking from In Jennie’s Kitchen. Which is stunning, by the way.

A date night seemed the perfect way for us to celebrate because the book is our date nights. It is our story of nourishing our relationship and the food that connects us. I could not to be happier that this is the book I’m writing. It is of course a subject that I’m incredibly passionate about – well, two subjects – my husband and food. This book is an extension of the series I started on this site called, Dating My Husband. These posts are often my favorite to write and always the best to read your comments and emails in response to. How you all have reacted to these posts is a huge reason why I’m writing this book. So many of you have opened yourself up to me telling me about your own struggles in your relationships and have encouraged me by saying how much these date nights have changed your relationships.

Gabe and I have been dating at home for several years now and although at times it’s tough to fight through the exhaustion when all I really want is someone else to cook for me (sometimes there’s takeout date nights and that’s great too) we are so encouraged by what these evenings have meant for our marriage. Over time they’ve gotten easier, we’ve learned to love the comfort of our own home and enjoy the quiet hours in the late evening. I’ve stretched myself in the kitchen, trying new things in order to make these meals feel a bit different from our everyday. Now I find myself longing for our date nights at home, looking forward to them all week and eagerly working on the menu days in advance.

Our book is 25 dates set up seasonally with each having its own menu and a helpful plan to make creating this menu simple, even if you have a full-time job and children underfoot. Each date begins with the story from our date where I open up to you about our marriage – the joys, the trials and the work it takes to make it thrive. It’s an honest look into our marriage of nearly 10 years and how we fumble through life together, with three kids and everything else that’s thrown at us. It’s honest, funny, encouraging, tough and incredibly delicious.

In the moments when I’m telling myself, “I can’t do this! What was I thinking?! ME?! Writing a book? Who’s going to read it? Buy it?” I turn to the table of contents and the food scattered throughout those pages. Just reading the names of the recipes I’m working on makes me incredibly hungry, eager for the recipes myself and assured that this book is going to be so freaking good! Ah! The food is special. It’s a bit grubby delicious in the way that’s not afraid to use cream and butter and yet it’s loaded with vegetables and uses all real ingredients. There’s plenty of salads along with cocktails and desserts.

 

Writing a book has been compared to the process of childbirth and while I can begin to see and understand the truth in that, right now I feel as if I’ve just had the baby. I’m alone at home sitting on the couch with a soft skinned baby relying on me for food, comfort, love and guidance. Even though I’ve read through stacks of parenting books and tried my best to observe and question seasoned parents suddenly I feel at a complete loss of what to do with this little life. And so now I’m sitting here, on the couch again, with a blank computer screen seeking to put words to paper trying to make this book the one of my dreams, the one I want to add to my own cookbook collection and the one you all will eagerly cook from. It feels awkward, thrilling and unbelievable.

I’ve been that awkward new mom with three babies and we’ve figured it out. We’re still figuring it out but the point is we’re doing it. And that’s just how this book will be. Bird by Bird, recipe by recipe, date by date. And around Valentine’s Day 2015 I’ll get to share this baby with the rest of the world. I can not wait for you to meet my book. In the meantime I’ll be here sharing recipes here as I always have. There will be more dates – different than the ones going in the book and there will be glimpses into this new world of writing a book as I’m fumbling through this process, figuring it out and fighting the doubt and celebrating the triumph. After all, this book will exist in great part because of you all, it seems appropriate then that you’d journey with me through it all.

Let’s do this.

A very hearty thank you to my agent Stacey Glick. Thank you for holding my hand, acting as counselor and already pushing this book to be bigger, greater and everything I want it to be.

 

 

 

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Ice Cream Cake with Candied Cocoa Nibs

It’s okay to admit that Dairy Queen is the inspiration for this dessert right? Their ice cream cakes remain to be one of my favorite desserts. I love it for its absence of cake, for the chewy hot fudge and crispy chocolate wafers in-between layers of creamy ice cream and as a kid I loved the magical printed images on the top (okay, I might still love that)  There’s nothing better - that is until I decided to make my own. I stopped shy of making my own ice cream, for that I used D’Ambrosia Gelato in Seattle (the best!). You can use 2 quarts of your favorite ice cream. 

It is definitely a cake worthy of a celebration. 

For the cake you’ll need the following recipes plus:

2 quarts ice cream (two flavors is ideal)

1 cup heavy cream, whipped to soft peaks

Chocolate Wafers

adapted from Alice Medrich

Of course one doesn’t need to bake their own chocolate wafers but there is something so satisfying as creaming butter and mixing in a few ingredients in your own kitchen only to come up with a flavor so reminiscent of childhood you’ll be reaching for a glass of milk and fighting the desire to lick the hydrogenated creamy center that’s not there. 

The ice cream cake only requires the use of half of the cookies I usually bake them all but if you’d rather you can freeze half of the dough for a later use. 

1 cup flour

1/2 cup cocoa powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

6 tablespoons butter, soft

1/2 cup dark brown sugar

1/2 cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 tablespoons milk

Whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt in a bowl. Set that aside while you cream the butter and sugars together until light, about 4 minutes on medium speed or a couple more minutes more if you are mixing the dough by hand. Add the vanilla extract and milk to the creamed butter and sugars.

Slowly mix in the dry ingredients until just combined. Gather the wet dough and place on a piece of parchment paper. Roll the parchment paper up and work the dough into a rough 2” log. If you are using these cookies for the ice cream cake the shape really doesn’t matter as they are destined for crumbs but if you’d like to create a uniform log for perfectly formed round cookies refrigerate the dough for 10 minutes then reform the log and squeeze the ends to compress the dough into a perfect round. Continue this process until the log is uniform. If the shape isn’t a concern just chill until firm. About 45 minutes in the fridge or 20 minutes in the freezer.

Slice the roll of cookie dough into 1/4” discs and bake at 350*F for 12-15 minutes. You want them to be quite dry so they’ll hold their crunch when surrounded by ice cream. I fit the entire batch on two baking sheets, bake for 12 minutes then turn off the oven and leave the trays in for an additional 5 minutes. Just watch and smell them closely as you don’t want them to burn.

Let the cookies cool on the tray for 5 minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.

Gather half of the cookies into a large ziplock bag and break up into small pieces.

Hot Fudge

adapted from Smitten Kitchen

If you have it use Lyle’s golden syrup here. It’s deeper in color and adds a lovely subtle caramel flavor to the hot fudge. That combined with a bit of salt, bittersweet chocolate and coffee this rich hot fudge attempts to play the starring role in this cake. 

1 cup heavy cream

1/3 cup golden syrup (or corn syrup)

1/3 cup dark brown sugar

1/4 cup cocoa powder

1 cup (6 ounces) bittersweet chocolate, chopped or use chips

2 tablespoons butter

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon instant espresso powder

In a sauce pan combine the cream, syrup sugar and cocoa powder. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and then let simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the remaining ingredients. Once the chocolate and the butter have melted strain the entire mixture to ensure no pesky cocoa powder clumps remain.

Let cool to room temperature before assembling the cake. If you are making this in advance, refrigerate until ready to use then gently reheat on the stove or in a microwave until the hot fudge is pourable.

Will keep in the fridge for 2 weeks.

Candied Cocoa Nibs

“I wonder if you can candy cocoa nibs?” I recently asked a friend and then the rest was history. It turns out you can and you really should. With sugar and heat these bittersweet little crunchy chocolate bites turn into caramel-y, lightly sweetened, bittersweet chocolate bites. If you want more of a brittle texture add more sugar. I prefer to have the nibs just barely coated in caramel as I love the bitter, almost savory flavor they bring to the cake.

2-3 tablespoons sugar

1/4 cup cocoa nibs

course salt (like Maldon)

In a small, clean pan pour the sugar in an even layer across the bottom. Over medium-high heat melt the sugar, rotating the pan and gently stirring if the sugar is caramelizing unevenly. Once all is melted and the sugar is amber in color turn off the heat and immediately stir in the nibs.

Coat the cocoa nibs in the sugar then place on a parchment lined sheet tray, sprinkle a bit of salt on top.

Let the nibs cool completely then break into pieces.

Assembling the cake:

Line the bottom of a 8 or 9” springform pan with parchment paper (you only need the parchment paper if you are planning on removing the bottom of the springform pan, otherwise you can skip this step and serve it right on the base of the pan).

Add the first quart of softened ice cream to the bottom. Spread evenly with an off-set spatula.

Top that layer with half of the hot fudge and cookie crumbs.

Place the pan into the freezer for at least 30 minutes to set up.

Remove the pan from the freezer and add the second quart of softened ice cream over the cookie crumbs.

Top the ice cream with the remaining hot fudge.

Put the cake back into the freezer until you are ready to serve.

Un-mold the cake, taking off the base of the springform pan and parchment if you used it.

Top the cake with the whipped cream and candied cocoa nibs.

Serve immediately.

Keeps in the freezer for 1 week, although the cream on top turns icy but really no one complains about it.

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Dating My Husband: Dessert Picnic http://notwithoutsalt.com/dating-my-husband-dessert-picnic/ http://notwithoutsalt.com/dating-my-husband-dessert-picnic/#comments Tue, 12 Feb 2013 17:59:20 +0000 http://notwithoutsalt.com/?p=4611 Read more »]]>

“If I had a flower for every time I thought of you… I could walk through my garden forever.”

- Alfred Tennyson

And in this garden of mine we would picnic everyday, as we did the other night. There would always be stiff Manhattans in the flask, sweet strawberry cupcakes in hand and rich chocolate pudding capped with bourbon whipped cream.

You’d pick me a flower just as two more would pop up next to us.

I could live in this ever-growing garden always, as long as you were there with me.

 

Strawberry Cupcakes // Chocolate Pudding

Strawberry Cupcakes
adapted from Look, I made that
makes 16-18 cupcakes

Strawberries are definitely not in season here and yet I needed these cupcakes. I imagine the flavor to be much more strawberry-like if the berries are used were ruby red throughout. I’ll try again in June. But regardless we ate them happily. These we topped with brown sugar buttercream and while delicious we decided that lightly sweetened whipped cream and sliced berry on top would have been wonderful too.

2 1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tea vanilla extract
1/2 vanilla bean (optional)
4 ounces unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature, beaten
1 cup pureed strawberries
1/2 teaspoon orange zest
1/4 tea rose water (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line two cupcake pans with cupcake papers.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cornstarch, baking soda, and salt. Set aside. In another medium bowl, combine the buttermilk, oil, and vanilla extract. Set aside.
Combine the vanilla seeds (if using), sugar and butter and beat until well combined. Add the eggs in a slow stream, beating well after each addition. Beat for 1 minute at medium speed. Gradually add the buttermilk mixture and beat for 1 minute at medium speed.
Reduce the speed to low and add the flour mixture. Mix until just combined. Stir in the pureed strawberries and the orange zest.
Spoon into the prepared cake pans and bake until the cupcakes spring back when touched lightly in the center, about 20-25 minutes. Cool slightly before removing from the pan.
Cool completely before frosting.

Brown Sugar Buttercream

4 large egg whites
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a heatproof bowl set over (not in) a pan of simmering water, whisk together egg whites, sugar, and salt.

Cook, whisking constantly, until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is warm to the touch.

Transfer to the clean bowl of an electric mixer. Beat on medium speed until fluffy and cooled, about 15 minutes.

Raise speed to high; beat until stiff peaks form. Reduce speed to medium-low; add butter, 2 to 3 tablespoons at a time, until fully incorporated. Add vanilla and whisk to combine.

Chocolate Pudding
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
Serves 6
This really is the perfect classic pudding. The creamy texture is reminiscent of the boxed variety I remember and crave. And really, it's no more difficult to make. Unless you use the instant pack - that's way too easy and a little odd how it firms up so quickly. 
I used dark brown sugar instead of the white which added more richness and depth to the pudding but I imagine white is the more classic choice. I’ll leave it up to your pudding discretion.

1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup sugar (see note)
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3 cups whole milk
7 ounces chocolate, coarsely chopped (I used 60% chips)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Combine the cornstarch, sugar and salt. Whisk well to remove any lumps.
In a large saucepan bring the milk to a boil to a simmer. Add the sugar and cornstarch mixture and whisk together for one minute, or until thick. Turn off the heat and add the chocolate. Whisk until the chocolate is melted and everything is well combined.
Transfer the pudding to a bowl, or individual bowls, and place wax paper or plastic wrap directly on the surface to prevent a skin from forming.
Refrigerated until cold and set.

Bourbon Whipped Cream

There's no recipe except to add as much bourbon as you think necessary to a bit of whipped cream. I added nearly 2 tablespoons to about 1 1/2 cups of already whipped cream.

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