Sunday, March 27, 2011

Drawing Down Inventory IV: Frozen Strawberries and Raspberries


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA         For several reasons, I am under pressure to get the freezer fully cleaned out a little earlier than usual. More about that later. Spring is the time of anticipation, so that can wait.

Taking stock, so to speak, of the freezer, reveals an awful lot of frozen berries (it should be spelled aweful, not awful, because what could be bad about a lot of berries?). I often make muffins with frozen berries, an item to which they are well suited; muffins are quick, and when you are cleaning out the freezer, that is perhaps the most desirable feature in a suitable application. Another is recipes that use a large quantity—with muffins, that is usually not the case.

So I made some muffins—lemon-strawberry (lemons are cheap again right now). But also some coulis, which has the virtue of letting you easily use as much as you have and will keep nicely in the refrigerator for a few weeks to garnish other items made from other freezer inventory. Hmm. There’s something wrong with this picture, but I don’t have time to puzzle it through. I’m sure, however, that it has to do with some sort of major philosophical question about the weird cycle of hoarding and disgorging, or about pareto optimality—are we making things we would not otherwise make? Thankfully, I am not an economist, so don’t feel compelled to answer that one. And can take comfort in the knowledge that any answer the economists come up with will be wrong.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Frozen Fruit Coulis

I like to use a coulis for its fruity berry flavor, not for sweetness. This does not contain much sugar. The touch of pepper gives it a subtle edge. Makes about 2 ½ cups.

4 cups whole frozen berries (I used about half raspberries and half strawberries; the raspberries dominate) 
1 ½ cups cane sugar
Juice of half a lemon (about 2 T)Frozen fruit strained
Pinch salt and white pepper

Combine all ingredients in a nonreactive, preferably slope-sided, pan. Bring to a boil and cook, skimming and stirring, for about 5 minutes, breaking up the larger berries with the edge of a wooden spoon. Strain over a bowl, pressing the solids against the side of the strainer. Strain again to catch any escaped seeds (if you have a small strainer, you can do this directly into jars). Pour into jars or other containers; store in the refrigerator and use to garnish cakes, desserts,  and cold meats/composed salads.



Saturday, March 19, 2011

Pineapple: Sinful Pancakes

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA         Every March 1 the International House of Pancakes hosts National Pancake Day when they give away free pancakes. I’ve never been, but it’s a nice idea. National Pancake Day coincides, roughly, with Shrove Tuesday, a day of indulgence prior to atoning for one’s sins, by fasting, during Lent. Or so I’ve heard, being pretty much of a heathen myself. Fasting is not part of my moral outlook.

Nevertheless, I do like the idea of indulging in pancakes, so on March 1 I joined the party by making pancakes at home. Yes, it’s taken me that long to get around to writing this. It’s not that I’m not thinking about it, or not cooking and taking photos; it’s the sitting down to put it together that takes so much time. Thankfully, photos will wait.

I love pancakes, as other pancake posts on this site attest. I just counted them, and there are four: here, here, here, and here. (And that doesn’t even include the posts on thick and thin johnnycakes.) Since I try not to repeat myself too much (this gets harder as we get older, as we all know), that tally of posts is an indication of just how much I do love the fried little disks. I’d eat them every day, occasionally interspersed with French Toast (I really should do an entry on that) if I could. Or rather, if I didn’t think it would be better for me if I didn’t. Because of course, one could, and has. When I make pancakes, I eat them for days in a row, in part because the batter improves as it ages in the refrigerator. I confess I have gone through some periods where I ate pancakes every day for months. But yes, I did gain weight. Time to stop.

The run-up to National Pancake Day/Shrove Tuesday also happened to coincide with a discussion I was following on the wonderful food forum, e-gullet, in which was described something I had never heard of before: a casserole made of pineapple and cheddar cheese. This sounded disgusting to me at first, and chemically suspect, from a food science standpoint. But I became persuaded from various comments that this was a combination worth trying. I also happen to be in the South at the moment, and since this casserole seemed clearly to be one of those Southern aberrations and I am very much a when-in-Rome sort of person, the deal was sealed. I bought the ingredients.

But then National Pancake Day came along to distract me, and the casserole idea went out the window, at least until the next time I make a ham (the dish to which the pineapple-cheddar casserole is purported to be a traditional accompaniment). Why not pineapple-cheddar pancakes instead? Indeed.

Pineapple-Cheddar PancakesOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

These are a bit like my favorites made with farmer’s cheese. Like them, they contain very little flour, need to be cooked slowly and thoroughly, and are very moist inside. This  particular batter will not keep; it would ferment. Serves 3-4.

1 cup fresh cored pineapple, cubed
½ cup 2% cottage cheese
1 large egg
1 T firmly packed light brown sugar
½ cup packed shredded very sharp cheddar, such as store cheese
½ c a-p flour, approx.
1 tea baking powderPinapple pancakes cooking
¼ tea baking soda
¼ tea salt

Pulse the pineapple in the food processor with the cottage cheese until smooth (there will be some pineapple shreds remaining). Stir in the remaining ingredients in the order given, adding enough flour to make a soupy, thickish, but not stiff, batter.

Heat a griddle to medium (about 350F if you are using electric); you may need to lower it a little as you cook. Butter the griddle and drop or pour the batter into small rounds,  about 3-4” in diameter. Cook for 1-2 minutes, checking by sliding your spatula underneath; if too dark, lower the heat. Do not try to turn until the spatula slides easily across the bottom. Turn, and cook until the second side is brown and completely cooked. Serve with maple syrup.

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