Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Cantaloupe Soup

It's late August. I live in the deep South. It's hot. I have no desire to cook much of anything. This is somewhat of a late summer annual event for me. Somewhere in the late part of August, I lose my desire to cook or even eat much of anything. Except for maybe ice cream...yeah I could bathe it a large bowl of cold creamy goodness right now...Oh sorry my mind is wandering! I kind of lose my appetite for much of anything else and I really don't feel much like getting in the kitchen and baking. When I was growing up my mom used to make cantaloupe soup in the late summer when she had dinner guests. She would cut the melons in half and scoop out the flesh and use the half rinds as bowls for the soup. Sometimes she used it as a first course and sometimes it was dessert. Either way it was always a hit with the company. Over the years I'd forgotten about that soup. I haven't had it since I was a teenager but was reminded of it as I flipped through an old cookbook looking at cold soup recipes recently.
There was a bumper crop of cantaloupes in our area this year. They have been really sweet and delicious. Really ripe sweet cantaloupe is nothing like the sad hard stuff you find on sliced up and served with continental breakfasts or on salad bars. As with all produce it's really only good in season, picked ripe. Anyway Hubs and I have eaten our fair share of cantaloupe this season. Just sliced and cold from the fridge...yum...

Although I have no desire to turn on the oven right now, I did muster up enough energy to whip up some cantaloupe soup. Whether you chose to eat it as a first course or dessert,this soup is perfect for these hot end of the summer days.

Cantaloupe Soup
1 large, ripe, cantaloupe
1 c. fresh orange juice
1/4 cup  plain yogurt
1 tsp. lime zest
2 Tbs. lime juice.
1 Tbs. mint, thinly sliced, plus more for garnish
1 Tbs. honey (optional if you'd like your soup a little sweeter)
Cut the cantaloupe in half , remove seeds, scoop out the flesh and place in a blender along with the orange juice, yogurt, lime zest, lime, and honey if using. Blend until smooth. Chill well. Stir in sliced mint leaves and serve. Garnish with additional mint leaves if desired.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Devil's food cupcakes

I recently had a birthday. At some point birthday's have gone from a highly anticipated to slightly dreaded events. I don't dread them so much because of getting older aspect but more for the fact that they mark how quickly time flies by. Every birthday I can't believe another year has slipped away and I'm another year older. Yikes when did that happen??!! The upside of course is, it's your birthday so cake and ice cream are required eating, and of course gifts are nice too. I usually get at least one cookbook for my birthday. This year I was given a copy of Martha Stewart's Cupcake cookbook. I've had a love/hate relationship with Ms. Stewart in the past. I love her ideas and she makes everything looks so easy. Remember the marshmallow peep bunnies anyone??? I was definitely not feeling the love for Martha when I was making those peeps.
This cookbook is just cupcakes. It's a beautiful cookbook filled with great recipes and drool worthy photos. It was hard to decided which cupcakes to make first. I went with the devil's food because they were frosted with a ganache frosting and looked completely decadent. The cupcakes are very tasty but the topped with the ganache they're a chocolate lovers dream. I'm loving Martha again right now!

Devil's Food Cupcakes
Source; Cupcakes by Martha Stewart


3/4 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
3/4 cup hot water
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/4 teaspoons coarse salt
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter
2 1/4 cups sugar
4 large eggs, room temperature
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup sour cream, room temperature

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners. Whisk together cocoa and hot water until smooth. In another bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
2. Melt butter with sugar in a saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring to combine. Remove from heat, and pour into a mixing bowl. With an electric mixer on medium-low speed, beat until mixture is cooled, 4 to 5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Add vanilla, then cocoa mixture, and beat until combined. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture in two batches, alternating with the sour cream, and beating until just combined after each.
3. Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each three- quarters full. Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until a cake tester inserted in centers comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Transfer tins to wire racks to cool 15 minutes; turn out cupcakes onto racks and let cool completely. Cupcakes can be stored overnight at room temperature, or frozen up to 2 months, in airtight containers.
4. To finish, use a small offset spatula to spread cupcakes with frosting. Refrigerate up to 3 days in airtight containers; bring to room temperature and garnish with chocolate curls just before serving.

Chocolate Ganache Frosting

1 pound good-quality bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
2 1/3 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup corn syrup


1. Place chocolate in a large heatproof bowl. Bring cream and corn syrup just to a simmer over medium-high heat; pour mixture over chocolate. Let stand, without stirring, until chocolate begins to melt.
2. Beginning near the center and working outward, stir melted chocolate into cream until mixture is combined and smooth (do not overstir).
3. Refrigerate, stirring every 5 minutes, until frosting just barely begins to hold its shape and is slightly lighter in color. Use immediately (ganache will continue to thicken after you stop stirring).

Monday, August 10, 2009

Banana Macadamia Nut Muffins

I came across this recipe when I was searching for a recipe to use up my sad old bananas. I always buy bananas with the thought that we need more fresh fruit in our diet. Despite these good intentions, we rarely eat them after I bring them home. For whatever reason we'll eat one or two and the rest just sit there. I hate to waste food so I usually try to use them in baking. So these bananas became banana macadamia nut muffins, which pretty much defeats the purpose of buying bananas so that we eat more fresh fruit. It's the thought that counts right??!!

Banana Macadamia Nut Muffins
Bon Appetit, June 1991

1 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 1/4 cups mashed ripe bananas (about 3 large)
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup milk
1 large egg
1 cup unsalted macadamia nuts, toasted, chopped

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease twelve muffin cups or line with muffin papers. Sift first 4 ingredients into large bowl. Combine bananas, both sugars, butter, milk and egg in medium bowl. Mix into dry ingredients. Fold in half of nuts. Divide batter among prepared muffin cups. Sprinkle tops of muffins with remaining macadamia nuts. Bake until muffins are golden brown and tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Transfer muffins to rack and cool.
These muffins are very tasty. I love the crunch of the nuts on top. Next time I make these I think I'll throw in a little coconut as well.
(Print Recipe)

What could make these muffins even better? Nutella!!! Now we're talking... I think I'll buying more bananas soon!