Wednesday, May 28, 2008

A Seedy Business, with Heavenly Results

My husband has high cholesterol. He hasn't done anything to deserve it, like shovel cheeseburgers and supersized fries down his gullet and plop down in front of the television for hours on end. In fact, he stopped eating red meat in high school, works out a minimum of 4 days a week and checks labels conscientiously to avoid transfats. And you know what's just chock full of tranfats? Store bought baked goods. No dessert for him. It's really very sad. So I try to help out by baking for him from time to time. This is the ultimate low-cholesterol recipe. Angel food cake with blackberry coulis. And if you make the angel food cake instead of buy it, you'll not only avoid transfats, but have something that you might want actually want to eat.

Make the cake first, and then while it's baking you can take care of the coulis. Also, you can reuse some of the equipment if you do the cake first. Everyone likes fewer dishes, right?

from Barefoot Contessa Family Style

2 cups sifted superfine sugar (1 1/2 C in one place, 1/2 C in another) - also, I don't have superfine sugar. So I make it by sticking regular sugar in my food processor. I think I got that tip from Alton Brown, who knows, I watch a lot of Food TV.
1 1/3 cups sifted cake flour (not self-rising) - I have no cake flour. I use all-purpose. The world has yet to end.
1 1/2 cups egg whites (about 10-12 eggs) - Use the eggbeaters AllWhites product. So much easier. And less wasteful.
3/4 t kosher salt
1 1/2 t cream of tartar
3/4 t vanilla extract
1 1/2 t lemon zest (from about 2 lemons)


Preheat oven to 350F.

Pay attention, separate the sugar. Combine 1/2 C of sugar with the flour and sift together 4 times. No idea why four. I use a metal mesh strainer. Set aside.

In your mixing bowl, combine the eggs, salt and cream of tarter and whip on high until the whites form medium-firm peaks. Reduce speed to medium and add the 1 1/2 C of sugar (NOT the flour/sugar combo) by sprinkling it around. Try not to get it all over the counter. Whisk until thick and shiny. Then add the vanilla and lemon zest. Whip for about a minute more. Then sift a quarter of the flour mixture over the top and fold in. I am utter crap at folding. Maybe this explanation from Apartment Therapy will help you if you are similarly handicapped. I promise however that my inability to fold well has not had bad results. Okay, so after the first quarter of the flour mixture is folded in, do the next quarter and so on, until it's all in. Then pour the batter into a ungreased angel food cake pan and cook for 35-40 minutes or until it springs back to the touch. Invert pan on cooling rack until cool. Use a knife and run it around the edges to help remove from the pan.

See that wasn't so
bad. Now the blackberry coulis? That's a different story. Wear something you are okay with ruining completely. Not your go-to basic pink shirt. That would probably end badly.

The great thing about coulis is that once you can make blackberry coulis, you can probably make any kind of berry coulis your little heart desires. Blackberries are wicked cheap around here right now, so I went with them. Coulis is also terribly forgiving (because of the added sugar) so if your berries aren't at their ripest, you can give them a boost.

adapted from Sara Moulton

1 C blackberries
1/8 C sugar

1 t lemon juice

Put the blackberries, sugar and lemon juice together in your food processor (see, if you've just made the superfine sugar, you don't even need to rinse!) Blend. Then things get interesting. Grow several extra arms if possible. You'll need the mesh strainer, a bowl for the coulis to drip into and then you'll need to pour the coulis from the food processor into the strainer. Then you press the mixture down into the strainer to try to get all of the juice to drip down and the seeds to stay. You will need to smush and smash many times. You'll get to a point where it looks like very seedy jam.
This is not done. You should have almost exclusively seeds left to be done. Check out the bottom of the strainer, there will be lots of coulis waiting to drip into the bowl. Resist the urge to use the same spatula as you were using to push the seedy part through. You'll just get seeds in the bowl. Get another spoon or spatula. When you are sick and tired of smooshing, quit. If possible, con someone else into cleaning the mesh strainer.

Serve the coulis over the angel food cake and top with a few blackberries.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Spring Fever

For most, spring fever is a restless feeling, the anticipation of good weather and later evenings and spring blooms. Others of us have a more literal interpretation that involves a sore throat, sinus pain and a crazy tickling cough. Here is a fresh soup that will help quell either type. The sweet corn flavor holds the promise of summer, but it's warm and soothing in case your merry month of May includes 40 degree weather and a fistful of tissues.

adapted from Barefoot Contessa Family Style

1 T olive oil
1 large onion (approximately 2 C)
1.5 T butter
2 T flour (use brown rice powder to make gf)
3 C potatoes diced
4 C chicken or vegetable broth
1 package frozen corn
1 C milk
1 C grated cheddar cheese (shred your own or carefully check labeling to make gluten-free, not all shredded cheeses are).

Pour the olive oil in a large pot. Add the onions and cook for 5-7 minutes. Add the butter and the flour stir together. Cook for 2-3 minutes so that the flour is cooked. Add the broth and the potatoes and cook for 15 minutes or until the potatoes are tender. Add the frozen corn and the milk and cook for 5 more minutes. Stir in the cheese as a topping. If you want to get creative, you can add bacon as a topper or even crab.


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