Monday, June 29, 2009

Harry Takes a Load Off

Yes, this is another gratuitous posting on Harry. I couldn't resist though. Sunday was such a hot day and I couldn't drag myself out of the pool. When I finally did get out, I came inside to notice that Harry's lunch was an hour past due. This is how I found him... He must have gotten tired of waiting and decided to make himself more comfortable, near the entrance of the kitchen I might add!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Recipe Review: Rhubarb Ice Cream

This started a few weeks ago when I posted a recipe for Rhubarb and Custard Ice Cream from the Daily Mail on my Facebook page, with a comment of something to the effect of it possibly being the recipe that would make me use the ice cream maker that has been sitting in my freezer for 5+ years. My friend Terri commented that if I made that ice cream, she'd make her famous rosemary and garlic ribs that I've been dying to try. This was all the challenge I needed. As I didn't feel like converting the measurements in the recipe I had posted, I found this recipe on-line. It is apparently adapted from Williams-Sonoma Taste. This ice cream was super easy to make and was fantastic. I highly recommend it and will not wait another 5 years to use my ice cream maker again. My ice cream maker is really an attachment for my Kitchen Aid, which is super easy to use. While I stress that this recipe isn't mine, I'm strictly posting it here so my future reference, along with the instructions for using my Kitchen Aid attachment, as I'm useless at looking things up in the instructional booklet. My notes are highlighted in blue.
  • 1 pound rhubarb, cut into 1/2-inch pieces, about 3 1/2 cups
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 2/3 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
In a saucepan, combine rhubarb and 3/4 cup sugar. Cover and cook over low heat until rhubarb releases its juices, about 5 minutes.
Uncover and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently until most of water evaporates and rhubarb has a soft jam like consistency, about 20 minutes. Transfer to a bowl. This was my favorite step. At the end of 20 minutes, I was left with a sweet/tart ~ perfectly balanced taste. At this point I was wishing that I had bought double the rhubarb so I could jar up half to make Rhubarb Preserves. It really had the most perfect consistency, I will most certainly be making this in the future. We had some in France and I've been craving it ever since.
Whisk egg yolks lightly. In a saucepan, combine milk and remaining 1/4 cup sugar. Bring to a boil. Gradually whisk milk mixture into yolks. Return to saucepan. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until thick enough to coat back of a spoon, about 10 minutes. This was the hardest part for me. Not only did I have to separate an egg, I had to make custard. I'm not sure that the consistency was quite right, but it still worked in the end.Using a fine-meshed sieve, strain into a bowl. While I had planned on skipping this step, I realized that it is important to do so in order to remove and curdled egg from the custard.Add rhubarb mixture and cream. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or as long as overnight. I started this step the night before, so refrigerated overnight.
Per the Kitchen Aid manual, once the base was fitted and top was down and securely locked, I started the motor to the "Stir" setting. The paddle has to be rotating before you add the mixture to stop it from freezing up. It was a bit of a challenge adding the mixture with the top down, but I managed to do so using a small ladle. The directions say to mix for 20-30 minutes, until frozen. It also states that once the paddle starts to slip or make a clicking noise, that the ice cream is ready. Mine was ready after about 15-17 minutes. I think this was partially because I did chill it overnight in the bottom of my refrigerator, the coldest part. The finished product had a nice lovely soft pink color. It was so luscious and creamy. It was best the day of, the longer it is in the freezer, the more icy the texture becomes. Not that it stopped us from eating the rest later, I just let it sit out a couple of minutes to lose some of that iciness.
Serves 8

Tagged in EIGHT by Gina from Purdy Wallcovering

I was happy to discover that my sadly neglected (but not forgotten) blog had been tagged in EIGHT by Gina from Purdy Wallcovering. While I've taken a short sabbatical from posting, I've still be creating in the kitchen and snapping away, but with the lore of the sun, pool, and getting reacquainted with my golf clubs have meant lead to less time at home on my computer.

8 things I am looking forward to:
  1. Seeing Jane in October
  2. Going to Savannah in November
  3. Riding my green bike (once I've fixed the tires)
  4. Going back to France
  5. Traveling more with James
  6. Getting a netbook so I'm more mobile
  7. Finishing my book
  8. Learning how to make macarons

8 things I did yesterday:

  1. Went to the Farmers' Market
  2. Had coffee at C'est la Vie and laughed so hard that people stared at me
  3. Tried on clothes in a fitting room with poor lighting
  4. Celebrated my husband's birthday
  5. Had dinner overlooking the bay
  6. Planted tarragon
  7. Watched Wimbledon
  8. Read

8 things I wish I could do:

  1. Live in France
  2. Sing
  3. Travel photography for a living
  4. Have a bigger garden
  5. Speak French fluently
  6. Travel more often
  7. Bake
  8. Make macarons

8 Shows I watch (I'm not a regular television watcher, so here are some of the shows I do like, and Podcasts/radio shows that I listen to regularly) oops, I went 9!:

  1. The Last Restaurant Standing (the Restaurant in the UK)
  2. Hell's Kitchen
  3. The Tudors
  4. So You Think You Can Dance
  5. Doc Martin
  6. This American Life
  7. The Splendid Table
  8. Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me
  9. Car Talk

8 Favorite Fruits:

  1. Passion Fruit
  2. Strawberries
  3. Blueberries
  4. Raspberries
  5. Apricots
  6. Peaches
  7. Lemons
  8. Pink Lady Apples

8 Places I'd Like to Travel:

  1. Menton, France
  2. Catalina Island, CA
  3. Jersey (the Island, not the State)
  4. India
  5. Africa
  6. Argentina
  7. Scotland
  8. Ireland

8 Places I've Lived:

  1. Sarasota, FL
  2. Lakewood Ranch, FL
  3. Thorpe Marriott, UK
  4. Wymondham, UK
  5. Hingham, UK
  6. Stratford-Upon-Avon, UK
  7. Thorpe St. Andrew, UK

8 People I've Tagged:

  1. Cake Book
  2. Marmite Forever!
  3. All About Us
  4. Chocolate and Marmalade Tea
  5. Heart & Thistle
  6. A Day in the Life at Longboat Key
  7. The Raven Foundation
  8. The Galloping Gardener

Friday, June 5, 2009

Ybor Cigars Plus ~ Handmade Cigars, Mojitos, and Live Music

After dinner and the Flamenco show at the Original Columbia Restaurant, we decided to have a walk to show James's parents a little more of Ybor City. Famous for cigar factories, I love the fact that Ybor still has shops and bars that roll cigars. As we were walking down 7th Avenue, we caught sight of the sign for Ybor Cigars Plus. I fell in love with the looks of the place and we were drawn in by the guy rolling cigars in the window. Ybor city is full of bars, something for everybody. This really appealed to me because it had the atmosphere of what I imagine a cafe in Cuba would really have. There was a good age mix all socializing together in this darkened, relaxed cafe drinking wine, espresso, beer, while a couple of people smoked cigars. The smoke wasn't too strong but added a nice warm scent. It was fascinating to watch how quickly the guy in the window could complete a cigar. All while he had a phone perched on his shoulder. He made it look so easy. I really would like to try someday, though I think it will probably take a few tries before I can do it half as well as this pro.
I ordered an espresso since I was driving and James had a glass of wine. You can't go to Ybor and not have a vice, and as I was vice-less that night, decided to have a cigar. Now here is my confession: I enjoy cigars. Not that I have them very often, really once ever 5+ years (probably more), but I really do enjoy the taste of a good quality cigar. The staff were very friendly and recommended the Robusto Maduro to compliment the coffee and wine. We were not disappointed. It had such a lovely flavor and was such a nice relaxing way to wind down. After about half of it we were finished, I had reached my limit. They were nice enough to cut the tip and packaged it up so we could take the rest with us for another day. Ybor Cigars Plus is such a friendly, welcoming cafe and was the perfect place to end our evening. I can't wait to go back.
Ybor Cigars Plus
1725 E. 7th Ave
Ybor City, FL 33605

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Places I Eat: Flamenco at The Columbia Restaurant ~ Ybor City

While James's parents were here, we decided that it would be fun to do something that they hadn't done before. James's father has taken a keen interest in Flamenco dancing recently, they love the Columbia on St. Armands, so we decided that taking them to the original in Ybor City was a must! Established in 1905, the Hernandez Gonzmart family are now in the 4th and 5th generation to be serving fantastic Spanish/Cuban food in the original location in Ybor City.
Originally a community for Spanish, Cuban, and Italian immigrants in the 1800's, Ybor City was the area capital for cigar factories, a tradition that still lives on today. Today it has a mix of cafes, bars, nightclubs, and funky shops - but still retains a strong architectural flavor of it's ethnical past.
We started with a pitcher of Sangria de Cava, 1905 Salad, and some black bean cakes. After our first course, we were treated to a 45 minute flamenco show. The dancers were fantastic and I would highly recommend going if you are in the area. There is a charge of $6 per person for the show, but this is truly a good value for the quality of dancing.
Our main course followed the dancing. I couldn't resist having the Ropa Vieja. My lovely friend Emily, who is from Cuba, will be teaching me how to make this in the upcoming months. I can hardly wait!!!
In addition, since our visit to the flamenco show, I have started reading a book called The Return by Victoria Hislop. Set in the Spanish Civil War, it is the love story of a young Flamenco dancer and her (almost 5 years older) guitarrista. While I am only half way through this book, I would recommend it as highly as I recommend an evening at the Columbia Restaurant in Ybor City.