Posts Tagged Dessert

Zuppa de Pesce & Peanut-butter Cupcakes

It’s DH’s birthday today, so dinner had to be a little special.  He requested this fish stew, from Marcella Hazan’s Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking.  It’s a classic in our household too, but made less often now that we have kids.  It’s not only time-consuming to make, but also time-consuming to shop for, because it includes fish heads as one of Marcella’s CRITICAL ingredients.  If you’ve ever read a Marcella Hazan recipe, you already know that they are chock full of instructions like “And in order to make this recipe correctly, you’ll need to have been born a Silician fisherman and wake up at the crack of dawn to harvest your own scallops…” which, depending on the kind of cook you are, is either a deal-breaker or something you roll your eyes at and then go buy whatever scallops happen to be available at Whole Foods.

In most cases, I am the second kind of cook.  I nod appreciatively at what Marcella is trying to accomplish and then I make the closest approximation I can using American supermarket ingredients because I live in New York City and do not own a farm or a private jet.  But before we had kids, we lived in a much trendier neighborhood, and in this neighborhood there was a Really Awesome Fish Place.  And one day, after having made this recipe numerous times with no fish heads at all and thinking it was already pretty great, I thought to myself, Hey, Self, I bet the Awesome Fish Place would save some heads for you if you asked them a day or two in advance.  And they did.  And that week I made the recipe with the heads included and OH MY GOD MARCELLA I AM SO SORRY I EVER DOUBTED YOU.  The flavor was SO MUCH RICHER.  So, in short, fish heads matter, but require extra shopping, and that’s why we don’t have this very often anymore.

(PS, if you live in NYC, do NOT order the “fish heads and bones for stock” package from FreshDirect thinking you will get fish heads just because they’re in the name of the product.  I’ve tried this twice now and each time have received a very disappointing package of fish spines with NO HEADS.  I have written to complain and suggest you do the same.)

(PPS, in spite of my devotion to following Marcella’s orders because she is always right, I’ve still altered the recipe because hers assumes you will be serving 8 people, that you have the kind of money that buys five or six different kinds of shellfish, and also that you have the time to fillet whole fish yourself.  And that you are willing to use “1 cup of Italian plum tomatoes from a can” instead of just dumping the whole damn can in because REALLY, THERE IS ONLY SO FAR ONE CAN BEND.  I’m not giving exact measurements here because the amounts can be adjusted as needed depending on how many people you’re feeding.)

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Strawberry Cheesecake Ice Cream

I wanted ice cream and I wanted it fast.  This is as quick and dirty as recipes get.

  • 1.5 cups heavy cream (NOT “whipping” cream or anything with preservatives or stabilizers.  Ingredients on label should read “milk”)
  • 2 giant spoonfuls strawberry preserves (about 1/2 cup total) preferably something made out of strawberries, sugar, and not much else.  You could also use a pint of really fresh strawberries if you have access to a farmer’s market and they are in season.
  • 4 oz block cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • Whole milk (opt) to correct consistency if needed

Put everything in the food processor.  Spin until cream cheese and jelly are evenly distributed.  If the mixture seems too thick, add whole milk and process until you like the way it looks.  Freeze according to your machine’s directions, then transfer to freezer for a couple of hours to harden.

No pics yet as this is still in the freezer, but the early Dylan Report based on a spoon-licking sample was “more.”  I think we have a winner here.


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Double-Chocolate Banana Bread

This comes from Cooking Pleasures magazine, and is my current favorite way to use up overripe bananas.  The recipe is for 1 loaf, I usually double it. Read the rest of this entry »

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