Sunday, June 20, 2010

Summer Sugar Cookie Baking

Pin It
So summertime baking. Crank up the air and get at it. I can't complain about being cooped up in the house on a summer's day, as summer is in full swing and although it is only June, it feels like a Memphis August summer. What will it feel like in August for pete's sake? So the first batch was seashells for my Mom's birthday. I sparkled them and shipped them off to Florida.

I wanted to say "Thank You" to the nice folks at the Post Office. Yes, the United States Post Office. I was going to make stamps, but I got a little overwhelmed. I cut them like stamps and then just decorated them in bright, colorful icing. Cute and delicious.

Sweet little onesies for a little girl on the way...

Sweet baby carriages, unfortunately the pictures I took after dusting them with sparkles did not turn out...

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Nabisco Famous Wafers Part 2

Pin It

Finally, I decided I needed a little something else to make from the wafers, a break from the Ice Box Cake from the previous post.

I found many crust recipes, ice cream sandwich recipes and other ice box cake variations. I decided to launch from a Martha recipe. I would love to make the coconut bonbons in her recipe, sort of a frozen Mounds bar, but my sweet hubby has an allergy (yes honey, we really believe you) to coconut. So I put on my culinary thinking cap and here are my bonbons!
The first are made with Hagen Daaz vanilla yogurt. I let it soften and stirred in some Peppermint Snow. This is a holiday product at Williams Sonoma. Yes, it is crushed candy canes, but they are not gooey in the Memphis humidity. I always buy a few jars when they go on post holiday clearance because I love cool peppermint in the summer! So I mix it in really well, and then take a scoop of my peppermint yogurt and put it on a famous chocolate wafer and freeze until firm. If your ice cream is really runny, freeze it so it scoops well.
I also made some with pistachio gelato. One of my all time favorites. After freezing the scoops on the wafers, melt some bittersweet chocolate in a double boiler and add about a Tablespoon of Crisco to get it super smooth and a little thinner. Put your scoops on a wire rack over some wax paper and ladle the chocolate over them to make a bon bon. I sprinkled a little extra pappermint crunch on the chocolate before it hardened and stuck a shelled pistachio on top of that scoop before the chocolate. Put them back in freezer and then enjoy. My family thinks I am the greatest!

Ice Box Cake

Pin It

The hunt for Nabisco Famous Wafers. They may be famous, but they are darn hard to find. Thankfully my neighborhood Schnuck's had a card I could fill out with my grocery requests. All of my requests!
Card #1- Nabisco Famous Wafers
Card #2-Carnation Vanilla Malt Powder (for my hubby)
Card #3- Brick Cheese, it's a long story, but no, it isn't cheese sold the shape of a brick
Card #4-Heinz White Vinegar, seriously? Why can't I get this this in big jugs to make pickles?
Card #5- Flat Iron Steaks
Card #6-Seasoned Rice Vinegar
Happily I found everything I need now, except the dang Heinz White Vinegar, I guess I'll go elsewhere for that. Any pickle maker will tell you only Heinz will do!

Anyway, I got my hands on the wafers, and it appears other people are happy to have them as well. The Gourmet Sleuth says they have been made since 1924. I know we have been enjoying them since the 50's, although, ahem, I was NOT born yet, but I know my siblings were eating them!

The recipe on the back of the box is pretty basic, wafers, sweetened whipped cream, vanilla. You slather on the whipped cream and stack them and then chill for a few hours and the wafers soften. As a kid I remember seeing the picture on the box and wishing our Ice Box Cake looked like that. In a family of 7 however, quantity was important. My mom would layer the wafers and whipped cream in a 9x13 pan instead of a loaf pan. We didn't get the cool striped appearance because our wafers were horizontal. But our Ice Box Cake was the best because we added bananas. Yep, bananas. It just tastes like summer. Chocolate, whipped cream and bananas. Perfect for breakfast, snack, dessert. The wafers alone are delicious. A dark cocoa, not overly sweet, and a little toothsome quality. What is that? You get a small little bit, I originally thought it was graham, but upon closer inspection of the ingredients, I discovered there is coconut in them! Not a huge amount, you certainly cannot taste coconut, but you will detect the little flakes. It is part of the experience.

So the Petitti family ice box cake is essentially a layer of wafers on the bottom of a 9x13. Slather a layer of whipped cream. Slice banana over the whipped cream and repeat the layers. End with whipped cream on top and cover and chill. When you are ready to serve, crumble some cookie crumbs on top. Cut into squares and enjoy!
Since I don't have 7 people here, I decided to make our version of ice box in a loaf like the original because I really wanted those layers! It wasn't exactly the look I wanted. But it is rather like an abstract painting.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Tomato Sandwich (Southern Italy Style)

Pin It

Summer in the South. I know, many areas of the country are still thinking about 90° days, we are living them. My garden is bursting, I have already picked hot banana peppers, snipped off bunches of basil, cilantro and parsley, and my first plum tomato is reddening as we type with about 5 friends a week or so behind. I generally do not have the patience for tomatoes, but I found these Patio Tomatoes and decided to give them a try. They seem to be okay thus far, although they are a little scorched. We have had such incredible rains followed by intense heat, it makes a sauna out of the plants and tomatoes are especially prone to suffer. I suspect if they were planted in the ground it wouldn't be an issue. But the garden thrives.

I still frequent the farmer's markets for additional produce, and the Ripley Tomatoes are the best summer delight. Ripley is a town in Tennessee famous for their tomatoes, and sadly I don't think anyone else is lucky enough to get them, I am certain they are a West Tennessee phenomenon. The Ripley Tomato Festival is in early July, but if I'm close to getting tomatoes, they must be too. The huge ones I bought at the Farmer's Market came from Hardeman County, just East of Memphis, but it won't be long and all you will see is Ripley (heck, a Ripley sign is a sure fire way to sell tomatoes).

Then comes the question of how to eat them. This question in the South can stir up as many arguments as asking dressing or stuffing, Hellman's or Duke's, wet ribs or dry. Southerner's love their tomato sandwich. The white bread is a non-negotiable, a slice or two of tomato, and mayo. Here you go, Duke's or Hellman's? A little salt and pepper too.
Delicious I'm sure, but not my kind of food. I like the way we eat tomatoes in the South of Italy. A slice of bread, preferable artisan like a ciabatta or baguette, grilled dry on a cast iron grill until toasty, nice dark grill marks. Then top it with chopped tomatoes seasoned with salt and pepper and fresh basil. From the garden please. Believe it or not, a little sea salt and fresh pepper can make grocery store tomatoes from another state or another country perk right up. And before you dare take a bite, drizzle with a fruity extra virgin olive oil. In the summer time, paper plate and lots of napkins, in the winter, china and a nice chianti. Now that's what I'm talking about. Last Sunday we rushed off to church and never had breakfast, so when we got home we were famished. A little tomato bruschetta was perfect and we crumbled a little bacon on top for an Italian BLT. Molto Deliciozo!