When Chef Diep Tran sang the praises of Arkansas Black apples on L.A. Weekly’s Squid Ink blog, there was no lack of enthusiasm: “The Arkansas Black’s siren song starts out bright and tart, then blooms with notes of nutmeg, coriander, vanilla and anise the longer it sits in cellar.” She points out that the apple is called the “Snow White” apple because of its “white flesh and ebony skin.” By the time I finished reading her post, I knew that if I ever saw Arkansas Black apples I would have to buy them. And sure enough, a week or two later, at the Atwater Village Farmer’s Market, I found them in a bin. I felt like I won the lottery.
Most people who buy malt powder do so to make malteds, not homemade everything bagels. But days after making those bagels, I found myself with a perfectly good carton of malt powder and, having made a chickpea stew for dinner, I figured: “Hey, we deserve some chocolate malteds.” Here’s the thing about chocolate malteds: you don’t make them with chocolate ice cream. You make them with vanilla ice cream and chocolate syrup.
1. Because it’s the weekend and you can eat whatever you want and not get fat.
2. Because crumb cake works equally well as breakfast, as an afternoon snack, a post-dinner dessert or a late night treat.
3. You have four sticks of butter in your refrigerator and you don’t know what to do with them.
What does it profit a man to make profiteroles? Turns out: it profits a man a great deal. A woman too.
Profiteroles are happy little puffs that you slice in half, fill with ice cream and then drizzle with chocolate sauce. Sort of like little ice cream sandwiches, except they’re not sandwiches; they’re more like buns filled with ice cream. And making those buns (or puffs, really) is such a cinch, I could probably make a batch in the time it takes to write this post. And once you have them, all you need is ice cream and chocolate sauce and you’re ready to serve up an elegant dessert.
Somewhere along the way, I lost interest in making ice cream. I didn’t lose interest in ice cream, just making it. So if I were to have a dinner party, I might make brownies and hot fudge sauce for brownie sundaes (as I did for an upcoming episode of The Clean Plate Club), but I’d buy the ice cream at the store and that was that. I was happy. I’d been there and done that with ice cream. But then a cookbook showed up from one of my favorite restaurants in all of New York (maybe in all the land), Franny’s, and there at the back was a recipe for one of the best ice cream/gelato concoctions I’ve ever tasted: their toasted almond gelato.
This is a week of recipes where the finished dish doesn’t look good, but tastes really good, so I lead with a picture of something else. Yesterday it was Kachin Chicken Curry with a picture of a mortar and pestle, today it’s No-Bake Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies from Baked Explorations with an image of peanut butter in a measuring cup. You’ll understand why when we get to the end.
If California falls into the ocean some day, and I find myself living back in New York, you might think that Pizzeria Mozza would be the last place I’d miss with Franny’s and Roberta’s and all the other individual pie places (Motorino, Co., etc.) that would fill that gap. You’d be wrong, though, because Mozza is a lot more than a pizza restaurant. As Amateur Gourmet reader (and Raoul in “Phantom of the Opera”) Kyle Barisich said to me recently on Twitter, “I really think Mozza is LA’s finest restaurant.” Can’t say I disagree.
When I went to Paris in 2005, the warm croissants certainly set my heart aflutter, as did the cracklingly fresh baguettes and the dainty, delicate macarons. But the moment my heart almost stopped beating from the shock of deliciousness was the moment I tasted my first Pierre Hermé dessert, a dessert called H. Mogador that contained, “Biscuit au citron, gelee de fruit de la passion, ganache chocolat au lait et fruit de la passion.” It was basically a chocolate popsicle filled with passionfruit, one of my favorite flavors; I didn’t eat it, I inhaled it (watch me on video here). That dessert was the first thing I thought of when years later–this year, in fact–I found Pierre Hermé’s dessert cookbook (which he wrote along with Dorie Greenspan) at the used book store on my street. I immediately snatched it up.