A Dessert Even Beez Will Eat

May 27 – June3, 2018

Monday:                   Memorial Day Bash at Tim and Hilda’s – great food, great friends

Drumsticks

Tuesday:                   Grilled Chicken Drumsticks with Savory Caramel, Salad

Marinated Squash

Wednesday:            Marinated Summer Squash with Pecans and Ricotta / Pork, Steak and Pepper Hash

Orechietti and peas

Thursday:                 Orechiette (pasta) with Buttermilk, Peas, Mint and Pistachios

Ham and melon

Our Charcuterie – Melon and Bayonne Ham            Better than the Mansions by a shot

Friday:                       The Mansions on Fifth – Charcuterie Plate, Lame

Peas and baked ricotta

Saturday:                  Peas with Baked Ricotta and Breadcrumbs, Salad (Home Alone)

Skillet Chicken

Sunday:                     Lemon-Thyme Skillet Chicken Roasted over Croutons / Caesar Salad with Roasted Cherry Tomatoes and Prosciutto / Blueberry Refrigerator Cake

The one chink in our cooking armor has always been dessert.  Neither Beez nor I possess much of a sweet tooth.  And while it is true that one of my first culinary achievements was baking apple pies, we never think about dessert unless we’re entertaining.   And even then, as the kids, Greg and UFR can tell you, dessert at Casa Stuarti often consists of store-bought cookies and a platter of blue cheeses, figs, and nuts to be picked at while sipping Calvados.

But recently we have tasted two desserts that knocked our socks off.  Katie brought a knock-off of the royal wedding cake to a cook-out at our house two weeks ago, and I had to be restrained from eating the whole thing.  And last Monday at a rollicking Memorial Day evening at Hilda and Tim’s we were served Julie’s apple pie; this is the pie that she makes for her boys, which explains why they have grown up so strong, good looking and, well, nice.

At this point, I am reluctant to throw my hat into the ring.  It would be like telling Jack Nicklaus how to improve his putting.  But I feel that we need to make our contribution to the field of dessert.  Hell – half the programs on food television revolve around cupcakes.  (I consider that inexplicable – please contact me, if you can explic it)

So, what I’m going to suggest is that, when you are in the market for dessert, you contact Julie for her apple pie recipe.  If she’s not available, get a cake from Oakmont Bakery (where Katie got her cake).  And if all else fails, here’s a very light and unusual dessert that should make you some friends while preserving your stash of blue cheese and Calvados.

Blackberry Icebox Cake

BLACKERRY ICEBOX CAKE

(adapted from a recipe in bon appétit, June/July, 2018, p. 38)

This is a righteous dessert – light and not too sweet.  It is the quinoa of desserts, but it is delicious.

Timing:             You must make this one day ahead to get the Cake to firm up.

(You’ll spend less than 20 minutes putting this together)

Ingredients:

2 pints of Blackberries

1 pint of Whipped Cream

Vanilla wafers (maybe ½ of a standard box)

½ Cup of blackberry jam – we used maybe ¼ cup

¼ cup of Confectioners’ Sugar

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice – you’ll get this easily from one lemon

½ teaspoon of salt

Make the Cake:

Macerate the berries:

Slice 2 cups of the blackberries in half lengthwise and toss with the lemon juice and the blackberry jam.  Let sit for 10 minutes.  Note:  You’ll be using the remaining blackberries to decorate the cake.  Further note:  We found that a very little bit of the jam, which is very sweet, goes along way.  We used maybe ¼ cup.

Whip the Cream:

Beat the pint of heavy cream until soft peaks form.  (If you’re using an electric mixer, start on low and increase speed as the cream firms.)  Now beat in powdered sugar and ½ teaspoon of salt.  Scoop about 1 cup of the whipped cream into another bowl, cover and refrigerate – you’ll use this to dress the cake before serving.

Assemble the Cake:

Line a medium bowl (6 cup capacity) with plastic wrap and leave lots of overhang.  We needed two lengths of standard plastic wrap laid across each other at a right angle to cover the bowl.

Line the bottom of the bowl with Vanilla Wafers, then spoon about ¼ cup of the berry mixture over the cookies, and then about ½ cup of the remaining whipped cream.  Repeat this until you use up the ingredients (you’ll be near the top of the bowl).

Note:  We ended up having to use the reserved whipped cream to cover the cake, and didn’t use any more to dress it up before serving, as the recipe in bon appetit suggests you do.

Now bring the overhanging plastic wrap up and smooth it over the cake.

Refrigerate for at least 24 hours.

Serve the Cake:

Unwrap the plastic from the top of the cake.  Place a serving dish or cake stand over the bowl and invert the bowl.  Gently unwrap the cake.

Slice the remaining blackberries in half.  If you have any remaining whipped cream, slather that over the cake, then cover the top with the reserved blackberries.

Slice the cake and serve.

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