Thursday, April 30, 2009

Simply Perfect Lemonade

My precious baby Cole fishing his baseball out of the fountain. It was a hot day so I let him play in the water, but soon regreted that decision when he came over and shook right where I was sitting. Stinky dog quickly became wet stinky dog. Boys will be boys I guess. Speaking of boys, I had no idea how crazy happy Jim would be the day I made lemonade. It was one of those hot Texas days and I needed a sweet and tart beverage to quinch my thirst. Luckily, Elise had a post about perfect lemonade that I found online.

The secret to perfect lemonade is to start by making sugar syrup, also known as "simple syrup". Dissolving the sugar in hot water effectively disperses the sugar in the lemonade, instead of having the sugar sink to the bottom. This is also a great way to sweeten iced tea by the way.

1 1/2 c water
1 c sugar
1 c lemon juice

Make simple syrup by heating the sugar and water in a small saucepan until the sugar is dissolved completely. Add the lemon juice and the simple syrup to a pitcher. Add 3 to 4 cups of cold water, more or less to the desired strength. Refrigerate 30 to 40 minutes. If the lemonade is a little sweet for your taste, add a little more straight lemon juice to it. Serve with ice, sliced lemons. Serves 6.

I boiled 1 1/2 cups water and added one cup of granulated sugar. When sugar disolved, I removed from the burner and added one cup of lemon juice.

Then I poured this concentrated lemonade into a glass container and stored in the fridge.

To make the perfect glass of lemonade I added 1/2 cup of the concentrate, topped with ice and water. Voila, simply perfect lemonade. You would have thought I created cold fusion the way Jim flipped over this lemonade. It's the simple things in life!!

You know what could make this perfect glass of lemonade even better? Titos Vodka! Jenna, have you come up with a name for that concoction yet?

Here is another alternative! Make an Arnold Parmer, a great non-alcoholic cocktail. 50% lemonade and 50% iced tea.

Or better yet, freeze the lemonade in your ice cream maker or on a sheet pan like you were making a granita. Then, make iced tea and serve a scoop of lemonade on top.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Pomegranate Sorbet in Champagne

Here is a picture of Jim and I at Flying Saucer, one of the fun happy hour spots we like to visit on Friday's.

Now for the other Pomegranate dessert I recently made - this one was my favorite of the two! I researched several recipe ideas (check out this one and also check out this one) and loved the idea of serving the pom sorbet with champagne.

Actually this recipe for champagne sorbet sounds awesome:
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
2 lemons
1 bottle Champagne or other sparkling white wine, cold

Combine the sugar and 1 cup water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil and stir until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and place in the refrigerator until cold, about 1 hour. Using the finest grater you have, lightly scrape the skin of 1 lemon, removing only the top surface of the peel. Squeeze out the juice and remove the seeds from both lemons. Open the Champagne or sparkling wine, and pour it into a 9 by 12 by 2-inch pan. Mix in the simple syrup, lemon juice, and grated zest. Place mixture into the freezer. Check after 30 minutes. Using a wooden spoon, break up any ice formed on the sides and stir into the rest of the liquid. Continue to freeze and repeat this procedure every hour for at least 3 hours. Before serving, fluff the granita by "chopping" up any clumps with the spoon or gently whisking the frozen mixture. Spoon into small glasses or cups and serve.

Sounds good, but thats not what I did.
I started by making simple syrup. Boil water, add sugar.

Then I threw in some mint, took the simple syrup off the burner and let it steep for 20 minutes.

Next I added some Pom juice.

Then strain the mixture to remove the mint pieces. Put this in the fridge and let it get cold.

Then simply process in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturers instructions.

30 minutes later we have some awesome tasting pom sorbet. To serve, scoop the pomegranate sorbet into chilled dessert bowls or Champagne saucers. Pour just a little champagne around the sorbet, garnish with a sprig of mint.

Sunday, April 26, 2009


I'm getting creative witih Pom juice today. I used it to make two sweet treats, this one I call Pomegranita. A granita is an icy treat made of fruit juice, water, and sugar. Popular granitas include coffee, orange, and grapefruit. Think of it as an ice cream with an emphasis on the ice. And no cream. Pomegranates are a tree/shrub fruit native to ancient Persia and cultivated across the Mediterranean world. The part of the fruit that is edible are the tiny sacs of juice that surround each seed.

You can use fruit juice of any sort to make this simple dessert ice, either fresh or pre-packaged. Pomegranate juice is perfect. The color is deep and rich and sweetening the tart juice into an ice makes for a perfect palate cleanser.

Of course you can combine pomegrante with other juices, adjust the sweetness level, or add herbs to infuse the granita. But sometimes the simplest recipe is best, so see this as a base to experiment with.

You will need:
1 c water
1/2 c sugar
2 c pom juice
Splash of lemon juice

Start by making simple syrup - disolve sugar in boiling water.

I decided to expiriment with splenda - they say it taste the same.

It's really light, and they say you measure it equal to sugar.
Once sugar is dissolved, add pom juice or other fruit juice.

I added a splash (about two tablespoons) of lemon juice.

Now pour into the sheet pan and let it cool. In the future I would actually let it cool in the sauce pan and then pour the cooled liquid into the sheet pan after it was in the freezer.

Walking this to the freezer was not easy.

Every 20 minutes I went back to the freezer and scraped the pan with a fork.

Now it is starting to look like a granita.

After an hour, this is what the fruity ice mixture looks like.

It melts really fast, so quickly move the granita to an airtight container and store in the freezer.

Serve quickly and eat fast!

The pom is tart, the splenda is sweet but I would have preferred real sugar. The ice will want to melt quickly, but once you taste it, you won't want give it that chance.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Cream of Green Chile Soup

What a week... I had a really big meeting in downtown Austin this week and boy am I glad it is behind me. Lots of work, but it was worth it - turned out to be a successful three day conference. I was exhausted afterwards and thoroughly enjoyed taking today off. Jim had today off also so we went down to one of my favorite lunch spots, Flip Happy Crepes. (That is their trailer above) Ya'll, you have no idea... their food is crazy good. I always get the Pork Special, a handmade crepe filled with pulled pork, caramelized onions and cheddar cheese. Believe it or not, they serve from this  metal airstream trailer parked on a corner in south Austin. Always a line, always worth the wait. I heard Bobby Flay paid them a visit for an episode of Throwdown, although I haven't seen it yet.

Thanks everyone for all the really sweet comments you left on my last post. Jim and I are super excited about our engagement and I can't wait to start planning this wedding. We are researching having our ceremony in California's wine country, anyone have leads on wineries in northern California?

Now lets get on to the recipe all ready! A while back I posted about my attempt to replicate the creamy and spicy chile soup I had while visiting El Paso. I was so happy to actually find the correct recipe for Cream of Green Chile Soup online. Without further ado, here is a fabulous (not fat free) soup from West Texas.

2 medium yellow onions, chopped
6 to 8 minced garlic cloves
2 tablespoons olive oil plus 1 tablespoon butter
1 pound roasted and peeled green Anaheim chiles, chopped (about 2 pounds fresh)
1 jalapeƱo chile, minced (I would suggest two)
1/3 cup white wine
4 cups heavy cream
4 cups half-and-half
3 chicken bouillon cubes
1 1/2 cups sour cream
white pepper
salt to taste

2 pounds of fresh anaheim chiles, 1 jalapeno pepper (should have used two) and two yellow onions.
I used this Better Than Bouillon jar instead of the the dry powder - Love it! The wine I used is a white from La Yunta. The wine buyer for a local shop here in Austin helped me pick it out.

Don't panic, but this recipe calls for 32 ounces of whipping cream and 32 ounces of half and half. It makes about six cups of delicious soup. I forced myself to divide the soup into four servings and share with friends - this soup was really good and I probably would have slurped up all six servings myself had it been left at my house.

To prepare the chiles, I first rinsed them and placed on a sheet pan to roast in the oven at 400 until charred and blistered.

Meanwhile add the olive oil and butter to a deep heavy bottom stock pot.

When butter has melted and oil is hot, add onions and garlic and saute over medium heat until soft.

When chiles are blistered pull them out of the oven and then we need to steam them so the skin comes off easier.

The best way I came up with is to put them in a bowl with a tight fitted lid.

The bowl fills up with steam from the chiles and I let it sit like this for 10-15 minutes.

Once steamed, lets chop off the stems and peel the skins off.

I'm paranoid about burning my hands and eyes so I usually wear gloves when dealing with peppers or chiles. Seriously, have you ever burned yourself? You will do it only once.

Dice the chiles and jalapeno and add to the onions and garlic. Continue to saute until the veggies are soft and starting to brown.
Now pour in the wine and deglaze the pot, scraping up brown bits on the bottom. Continue to cook until wine has nearly disappeared.

Now we add the chicken bouillon, I love how creamy and concentrated this Better than Bouillon is.

Yes, add all the whipping cream.

Pick yourself up off the floor - now add all the half and half.

Let the mixture come to a boil, then reduce heat to low to allow a small simmer for 45 minutes.

Next, I took my immersion blender and went to town on the pot of soup.

I gave the soup a taste test and it was not spicy enough so I added about two tablespoons of pickled jalapenos from the fridge. I didn't want the soup HOT, but I wanted a soft burn for sure.

We are getting close here. Taste and add white pepper and salt as you like.

Stir in the sour cream and then I pour the mixture cup by cup through a fine mesh strainer.

Straining results in a super creamy and luxurious soup. Oh my, this is a GREAT first course for guests - I'm only making this again for a dinner party since it is just incredibly rich and I don't trust myself alone around this indulgence.
This Cream of Green Chile Soup must be shared with friends and family. Yum!