Monday, July 21, 2014

hitting the road

Some things I will miss.

Some things I will not miss.

We hit the road at 5 am.  No traffic, no heat.

Seven looks out the window of our motel in Columbus, OH. 
 Mostly she's staying under the bed...not a happy camper.

Saturday, July 19, 2014


it's what's for dinner.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

elderflower panna cotta

This has been the best year for elderflowers I can remember.  I've posted here before about elderflower champagne, but this year I wanted to try something different.  A recipe for elderflower panna cotta caught my eye and seemed the perfect, cool, soothing dessert for this hot, muggy time of year.

Unfortunately, the recipe was not good.  My first attempt separated and was chalky.  Feh.

Fortunately, the internet is a very accomodating place, and I soon realized that the first recipe had not only left out several essential steps, but the proportions of cream and milk weren't to my liking.

Also fortunately, this has been a banner year for elderflowers, so picking a whole bunch more wasn't too difficult.

Elderflower Panna Cotta
2 cups elderflowers, removed from the stems (mostly)
2.5 cups heavy cream
1.5 cups whole milk
1 Tbs. unflavored gelatin powder
5 Tbs. sugar
2 Tbs. water

Stir together the elderflowers and cream, then refrigerate and let steep for 3-5 days.  (Yes.  You have to plan ahead.)

When steepage is complete and you're actually ready to begin cooking, sprinkle the gelatin on top of the water to let it bloom.  It will be ready by the time you need it.  Strain the cream, pressing the flowers to get out as much liquid as possible.

Combine the strained cream, milk, and sugar in a saucepan and bring it just to a simmer, then remove from the heat.  Whisk in the bloomed gelatin until completely dissolved, and rub a little of the liquid between your fingers to make sure it's silky, not grainy.

Place the saucepan in an ice bath (shallow pot or pan with a combo of ice cubes and water) and whisk until the liquid is lukewarm (essential step!).

Pour the liquid into mini-canning jars or ramekins and refrigerate until jiggly (4 hours or overnight).  I used 4 oz. canning jars because I have a ton, they're cute, and I appreciate that each can be covered individually without using that infernal plastic wrap.

I'm sorry I forgot to take a photo of the final product.  Perhaps that was because they disappeared so fast.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

pickle # 3

Last weekend was the official opening of daylily season in Shohola, PA.  A quick trip to my favorite country road and I had enough buds for a batch of pickles.  These are headed to San Francisco,

along with pickled milkweed florets

and pickled field garlic,

for the next foraged mixology adventure.  Each pickle gets a different brine because each plant deserves a pickling liquid that highlights its unique deliciousness.  I use my mental palate to imagine what the final pickle will taste like.  (The mental palate is sort of like the mind's eye...but for your taste buds.)  For the daylily buds I combined

1 cup white wine vinegar
2 cups water
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 Tbs. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. dried, wild ginger stolons (Asarum canadense)
1/2 tsp. spice bush berries (Lindera benzoin)
1/2 tsp. dried pequin chiles
1 large Pennsylvania bay leaf (Myrica pennsylvanica)

I whisked together the ingredients over high heat, brought the brine to a boil, then simmered for a few minutes.  While the brine came to a boil, I filled the canning jars with buds, then poured the hot brine over the buds and sealed them in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.

The result is tangy but not so intensely vinegar-y that it obscures the flavor of the flower bud.  The brine is a little smoky, a little hot, and a lot delicious.  Can't you just picture it in a foraged Gibson?