Saturday, July 30, 2011

Chihuly at the Museum of Fine Arts Boston

What can I say about this Chihuly exhibition? Pictures may say more than a thousand words. In this case, pictures can say more than a thousand blog posts. If you haven't seen it yet, head over to the MFA Boston next week. This exhibit runs through August 8.

An orgy of color, texture, shape. It was sometimes too overwhelming to absorb.

And then there were the quiet, amazing details.

This exhibit featured Chihuly's Persian Ceiling, an almost indescribeable piece. It sounds simple enough: a room with colorful glass pieces thickly scattered over a clear glass ceiling. Entering this room feels almost like entering a fantastical, watery sphere. Colors shimmer and cascade down the walls. People just sat in corners and benches, mesmerized.

This exhibit also featured a number of Chihuly's glass chandeliers, so intricate and oddly organic in shape.

Go see it. It's one summer blockbuster that you won't be able to catch on DVD or Netflix.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Sgroppino, an Italian cocktail

Sgroppino is my new favorite summertime cocktail.

...And yes, now that I re-read my blog, I notice that I've been writing a lot about cocktails lately. It must be my muse of the season. Or, more prosaically, it has been too hot and too full of summer activities to cook.

After these past five days of barely surviving nerve-shredding Beacon Hill traffic, I'm savoring a moment of peace and a flute of light, refreshing Sgroppino.

What's not to like about it? Its Italian cadences practically roll off your tongue. Sgroppino. Just saying it, with its easy flow of liquid syllables, evokes warmth, romance, possibility. Its ingredients? So simple. Prosecco, vodka, lemon sorbet, and mint. In this case, apple mint from our garden.

Sgroppino, an Italian cocktail
Adapted from the original by Giada De Laurentiis, published on The Food Network

1 cup chilled Prosecco (Italian sparkling white wine)
2 tablespoons chilled vodka
1/3 cup frozen lemon sorbet
1/4 teaspoon fresh mint leaves

Gently bruise or muddle mint leaves in 2 Champagne flutes. Spoon a scoop of sorbet into each flute. Pour the Prosecco and vodka into the flutes, dividing equally. Serve immediately.

Alla salute!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

A mad, mad, mad men cocktail

In honor of the 19 Emmy nominations bestowed upon Mad Men, here's an authentic 1960s-era cocktail. Perfect for a Mad Men marathon or Emmy Awards viewing.

Applejack Rabbit
Originally published in Gourmet in December 1965

Cracked ice
2 ounces apple brandy (we used Calvados)
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 tablespoon maple syrup

Half fill a cocktail shaker with cracked ice and pour over it the apple brandy, the lemon juice, and maple syrup. Shake the mixture vigorously and strain it into a chilled cocktail glass.

I had planned a different Calvados cocktail for Bastille Day today, but ran out of time to concoct and photograph it. I'll bring it out later in the summer. Happy Mad Men viewing! And joyeux Quatorze Juillet or in other words, happy Bastille Day!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Gobble, gobble

Hello, mama, papa, and ten'm assuming that they're mama and papa, anyway. Might just be one big extended family. Or maybe a turkey playgroup.

Sometimes it doesn't feel like we live close to the city...

Friday, July 8, 2011

Lemon sherbet and Prosecco sorbet with strawberries

A refreshing, easy, elegant dessert that's perfect for when it's too hot to cook. For an even simpler version, scroll down to the bottom of this article.

Lemon sherbet and Prosecco sorbet with strawberries
Adapted from Flour: Spectacular Recipes from Boston's Flour Bakery + Cafe by Joanne Chang

Store-purchased lemon sherbet (The original recipe features a delectable-looking homemade lemon sherbet. We chose the easier route.)

2/3 cup sugar
1 cup water
1 cup Prosecco
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
pinch of kosher salt

1 pint strawberries, stemmed and chopped into small pieces
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

Remainder of Prosecco bottle from the sorbet recipe

To make the Prosecco sorbet: In a small saucepan, combine the sugar and water and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Remove from the heat, let cool, transfer to an airtight container, cover, and refrigerate for at least 3 hours, or until cold, or up to 3 weeks.

When you are ready to churn the sorbet, stir the Prosecco, lemon juice, and salt into the sugar syrup. Churn in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's directions. You should have about 2 cups. Transfer to an airtight container until serving.

In a medium bowl, combine the strawberries, sugar, and lemon zest, and stir gently to coat the berries evenly. Let macerate for 15 to 20 minutes.

To serve, using half the lemon sherbet, scoop small scoops and divide evenly among 8 tall flutes. Spoon the macerating strawberries on top of the sherbet, dividing them evenly. Layer scoops of the Prosecco sorbet on top of the strawberries, then scoop the remaining lemon sherbet on top of the Prosecco layer. Pour the Prosecco over the tops, filling each flute to the rim. Serve immediately with long spoons.

No time to prepare syrup ahead? Try this version of the lemon sherbet and prosecco sorbet.

Prosecco + Lemon Frappé with Crushed Strawberries
By Joanne Chang, from Food & Wine

For a shortcut version of one of Chang's favorite restaurant desserts, fill Champagne flutes with tiny scoops of lemon sherbet and spoonfuls of crushed, defrosted frozen sweetened strawberries, alternating layers. Top with Prosecco and serve immediately with a long spoon.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Garlic scape pesto

This week's CSA box featured:

Garlic scapes.

I'd always wanted to play with these so I was pretty psyched to find them in my box. The girls who were helping offload the veggies into my shopping bag saw some gorgeous beets and started chanting, "Beets! Beets! Beets!"

Because they love beets.

And I thought, "What funny kids I have." I don't think that many other children would summon that kind of enthusiasm for beets. (And just in case you're about to launch into a fugue of mommy guilt, don't. Mine are plenty picky, and turn up their noses at a wide and ever-changing variety of things.)

So pesto. Another quick evening-after-the-pool meal.

Garlic Scape Pesto

From "A Mighty Appetite" by Kim O'Donnell, The Washington Post

1 cup garlic scapes (about 8 or 9 scapes), top flowery part removed, cut into ¼-inch slices
1/3 cup walnuts
¾ cup olive oil
¼-1/2 cup grated parmigiano
½ teaspoon salt
black pepper to taste

Place scapes and walnuts in the bowl of a food processor and whiz until well combined and somewhat smooth. Slowly drizzle in oil and process until integrated. With a rubber spatula, scoop pesto out of bowl and into a mixing bowl. Add parmigiano to taste; add salt and pepper. Makes about 6 ounces of pesto. Keeps for up to one week in an air-tight container in the refrigerator.

For ½ pound short pasta such as penne, add about 2 tablespoons of pesto to cooked pasta and stir until pasta is well coated.

Unlike the dark green of the traditional basic-based pesto, the garlic scape pesto was a fresh and lively spring green. It tasted both garlicky and green. It was delicious, but perhaps a little overwhelming with just noodles. The original article's author suggested scattering some cherry tomatoes on top of the noodles. It made me wish for some tomatoes. Mine are still green on the vine. I wondered about crisping some pancetta and adding some peas to this dish.

This pesto would make a fabulous and conversation-starting hors d'oeuvres, mounded atop some crostini and with fresh mozzarella or perhaps a sliver of prosciutto or half a cherry tomato...or...You could really have some fun with this.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Welcome to summer

Back to reality. It's a jarring transition after an idyllic few days in Provincetown with my parents. There's something utterly charming about Provincetown. It reminds me a bit of Miyazaki's quaint seaside towns (if they were populated by the LGBT community).

Here's my youngest, channeling the P-Town mojo.

Of course, any day is a good day when it starts out with fried, sugared dough. The famed malassadas at the Provincetown Portuguese Bakery lived up to their rep. Their texture is amazingly airy, especially when they're hot and fresh out of the fryer. Warning: this is not a ladylike treat. The combination of grease and superfine sugar clings to your fingers like a second skin. You'll be sticky and sublimely happy.

Thanks, Mom and Dad, for hosting this great start to our summer. Sun, seafood, sand...and family. Welcome to summer.