Sunday, July 25, 2010

Summer Life: A Bowl of Cherries

What do fresh, sweet cherries remind me of? Summer, yes, well that’s the obvious answer here, but it’s not the one foremost in my mind. Delicious, sweet cherries inevitably remind me of a press trip I went on, probably about 15 years ago, to Portland and Yakima, Washington, prime cherry country. It was put on by the National Cherry Growers Association (or something along those lines), and 

it was mostly a lovely trip, with about 20 or so food editors from various publications. We had a picnic in a cherry orchard one day. Fried chicken, as I recall. Something cherry for dessert. Lobster dinner at the Heathman Hotel. So far, so good – ah, the glamourous adventures of a food writer! That is, until about 2:30 a.m., when I was catapulted out of bed with a severe case of food poisoning. So bad, in fact, that not only couldn’t I make it to the tour of the maraschino cherry plant the next morning, I also 

refused the services of an ambulance to take me to the hospital because I felt that if I left my bed, I would surely die. Turned out that 15 fellow editors were afflicted with the same illness. A public relations nightmare, if ever there was one. I was never quite sure what caused it, but if I had to guess, I’d say it was the fried chicken at the picnic. But I don’t hold grudges – fresh cherries remain one 

of my favorite summer fruits. Cherry crisp is an easy way to enjoy them, and only requires a cherry pitter to remove the cherry pits. My friend Rose Levy Beranbaum swears that a hairpin works better, but I haven’t tried that method. Give it a twirl if you don’t have a pitter, and let me know how it works out.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Chocolate Caramel Brownie Chunk Ice Cream

I’m a sucker for chocolate ice cream, but frequently when I order it at an ice cream shop, I find it’s just not chocolaty enough for me. I like it really dark, preferably made with an excellent bittersweet

chocolate (I used Guittard 62% in mine). Sometimes you just have to make your own to get what you want. I’m not a purist, so I also 

like a lot of add-ins in my ice cream. Since I had some brownies on hand, I decided they would be an exciting addition. Then I drizzled 

in some extra-buttery caramel, and I had one of the best chocolate ice creams I’ve ever eaten. I bet even Ben, Jerry and Mr. Haagen-Dazs would approve of this one.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Bubble Tea!

A trip to Chinatown is not complete without enjoying a flavorful, fruity bubble tea. Also known as ‘pearl milk tea’, bubble tea is a Taiwanese sweet drink made with green or black tea, fruit, milk and sometimes ice. The treasure at the bottom of the glass is the ‘boba’, or pearl tapioca, which is made from a starch extracted

from the cassava root. You can buy white (raw), multi-colored or black pearl tapioca. The black is the most dramatic color, and stands out beautifully with light-colored bubble teas. But I like the 

multi-colored pearls, which come in pretty pastels. Whatever type you choose, make sure you buy some extra-wide bubble tea straws, which allow you to slurp up the pearls from the bottom of the 

drink. I made a mango flavored bubble tea, but you can substitute papaya or any melon (watermelon, cantaloupe or honeydew, for example) for the mango. Whichever fruit you choose, it’s bound to be bubbleicous.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Homemade Frozen Fruit Pops For a Long, Hot Summer

It’s official: we’re having a heatwave. Not a tropical one, but a heatwave, nonetheless. It hit 103°F in Central Park the other day, and anything that involved being outside for any substantial period of time was downright dangerous. Having gone out a few times to do some simple errands, I felt like a pie that was baking in a big

oven. Today is better, but the humidity has skyrocketed to a state of near-rain. With weather like this, even ice cream is too much to eat. This is popsicle weather—nothing is quite as refreshing as a frozen, homemade ice pop made with fresh fruit. Frozen pop shops are opening up all over, with innovative takes on classic flavors. 

One shop offers a Wasabi Fudgesicle, while another features a Mango Chili Pop. The nice thing about making frozen pops at home is that they’re super-easy to make and require just a few hours of freezing time before they’re ready. I made three flavors: 

Strawberry Basil, Orange Yogurt Creamsicles and Coconut Lime (my favorite), but I’ve got lots of other flavors in mind. Which is good, because it’s going to be a long, hot summer.