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Entries in blackberry (8)

Thursday
Sep052013

Vanilla Ice Cream Cake from Judi & Nicole of Some Kitchen Stories

Vanilla Ice Cream Cake | Judi & Nicole of Some Kitchen Stories on Pastry Affair

Some Kitchen Stories came into my life a year ago. Judi, the writer, and Nicole, the photographer, work together to create this beautiful, passionate space. With each post, Judi shares a fictional story that weaves through the recipe while Nicole manages to capture the essence behind her lens. This duo keeps me on my toes—each time I visit I find myself in the mind of someone new and in the kitchen of someone familiar.

Helen was a nervous sort of creature and had always been so. For the most part, that was okay. Nerves meant good manners and good grades. Usually.

She stopped on the sidewalk and pulled the paper from her bag and stared at the curved C at the top, the bottom of the letter just touching the H in her name. How could the daughter of a renowned biologist come home with a C in science?

Her mother would have to see it, she knew. Her teacher, Mr. Ballingham had made sure of it by affixing a note to the top of the paper. "Please have your mother sign this- Mr. B."

Helen stuffed the paper back in her bag and turned to the big, rambling house at the end of the road, the one they called home. Usually she loved the look of it, tall and ramshackle, so unlike the others on the lane, its windows sticking out like elephant ears. Now it looked forbidding. It offered no comfort.

Vanilla Ice Cream Cake | Judi & Nicole of Some Kitchen Stories on Pastry Affair

Inside the house, it was chaos as usual. Ramses, her brother, had recently started walking and that had translated into climbing. She found him affixed to the bookshelf, the third shelf, and he blinked at her and waved as she dropped her school bag on the floor. She sighed and wrapped her arm around him to pull him free and carried him past the den, where the twins were setting an elaborate maze of dominoes. They looked up at her and blinked in unison before resuming their path in quiet whispers. Helen knew it was useless to speak to her sisters when they were focused on a project so she moved on without a word. In her arms, the baby squirmed. They stepped over a small mountain of plastic toys. The cat scurried past them and Ramses clapped.

The kitchen, if one could call it a kitchen, was covered in flour and milk. It clung to the cabinets and dripped from the counters. In the corner, huddled between the stove and a set of bunsen burners, her mother frowned over a cluster of papers. She too was covered in flour and milk, her salt-and-pepper hair piled high up on her head. She looked up and blinked at Helen, just like the twins, but at least Helen's face registered with her and her face cracked into a tired smile. "It's been a day."

"Yes." Helen swallowed hard. Ramses grabbed her brown hair and yanked hard and when she looked at him, he pointed to the ground with a scowl. Helen turned, walked a few steps and put him in his pen. It was really several pens cobbled together and the fence went up to the ceiling, the floor inside it covered in a foot of old mattress and pillows. In there, he could climb to his heart's content like a monkey but it didn't matter; he always escaped. The bookshelves that covered the walls of the house were far more appealing.

Helen was never one for delay. She reached into her backpack and removed the test and set it on the counter.

Her mother studied the grade and the note, studied her daughter's face, and sighed. "I'm not doing much better myself this week, " her mother said and she grabbed the test, scribbled her name at the top, and then put it on top of her own papers. She did not look at it again. "Put them away please. Out of sight. All of them." Helen reached for them but then her mother grabbed her arm and pulled her close. "Ice cream cake for dinner. How does that sound, my little wonk?"

She smelled faintly like vanilla and sulphur. And comfort, Helen thought. Pure comfort.

Vanilla Ice Cream Cake | Judi & Nicole of Some Kitchen Stories on Pastry Affair

Dear Kristin, I truly hope you're having ice cream cake for dinner one of these nights. I hope you have a slice, offer up no apologies for it and enjoy every bite, amidst all the chaos of life and moving and work and such. Thank you for letting us play in your space this week while you sort through it all.

This past weekend, I surveyed my counters. With the start of September, it's time to start rearranging things (some people hit closets, I hit the kitchen). I have an odd kitchen set-up, a giant room for my stove and a galley kitchen for my sink and counters and I cherish every inch of work space (as I'm sure you do too, you out there, hi). I paused over my line-up of appliances and wondered if it was time, seasonally speaking, to replace the ice cream maker with the food processor (in between the stalwarts- the coffee maker and the stand mixer, not going anywhere, thank you, let's move on).

I hesitated for a moment longer because, well, yes, soups and stews and chopping is coming (hooray) but what about ice cream? Is it really over? Really? Fall brings its own flavors, I reasoned out loud to the dog; what about maple and peanut butter and dark chocolate with sea salt and… I think we know how this debate ended- the ice cream maker's not going anywhere and the processor was squeezed in beside it. After all, why do we have to choose? It's the best part of being an adult; you can have your cake and ice cream too. When you can make it yourself? Even better.

Vanilla Ice Cream Cake | Judi & Nicole of Some Kitchen Stories on Pastry Affair

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Sunday
May122013

Whole Wheat Almond Waffles with Blackberry Vanilla Syrup

Whole Wheat Almond Waffles with Blackberry Vanilla Syrup

Spring is here. It feels so wonderful to finally utter those words. After a winter that surpassed even Laura Ingalls Wilder's The Long Winter, I felt certain it would never arrive. Now that is has, it feels fantastic. The sun is rising higher in the sky, flooding me with warmth when it touches my skin. The trees may not yet have leaves, but the grass is starting to turn green and I feel like I can finally release a sigh of relief. Even though the nights have a sharp chill, the days are warm and for now that is all I need.

After a Midwest winter lasting six months, this weather feels like a gift.

Whole Wheat Almond Waffles with Blackberry Vanilla Syrup

When spring arrives, I am drawn to fresh fruits and berries. Even though the season for most of these fruits has not arrived, I cannot help but fill my red basket at the supermarket with them. After a long winter of apples and clementines, a burst of fresh flavor from a berry, however tart, is welcome to take up space on my counter top. After my last trip to the market, I found myself with a few cartons of blackberries. After playing around with a few desserts (and reminiscing over an old favorite), I settled on making a syrup.

Though I did not yet know what it would smother, the scent of blackberries bubbling and boiling on the stove was too much to resist.

Whole Wheat Almond Waffles with Blackberry Vanilla Syrup

I eventually settled on a plate of waffles. Waffles, just as pancakes, have the unique quality to fill a person up until dinner time rolls around. The heartiness of a good waffle, accompanied with a warm spring afternoon, make for a perfect combination. With these waffles, I added a few crushed almonds. While I found that they added a pleasant flavor and texture, you could certainly eliminate them if allergies are a concern.

Drenched in blackberry vanilla syrup, these waffles were taken to new heights and made for a lovely Sunday brunch shared with the ones I love.

Whole Wheat Almond Waffles with Blackberry Vanilla Syrup

These Whole Wheat Almond Waffles with Blackberry Vanilla Syrup are sweet and grounded. Crushed almonds are folded into a whole wheat waffle batter. The resulting waffles are fluffy and chewy. Drenched with a blackberry vanilla syrup, the waffles become fruity and bright. These are lovely for a weekend morning when you find a little time for yourself. Bonus: while cooking, the house fills with the scent of toasted almonds.

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Thursday
Apr252013

Blackberry Fool

Blackberry Fool

The spring sun has struck me with an incurable fever. Even though snowflakes were falling from the sky just this morning, I long to shed my winter coat and find myself no longer craving the hearty soups and dishes of winter. My mind has begun spinning towards lighter fare and short sleeves. I have begun craving the sweetness of a ripe strawberry and the bold tartness of a stalk of rhubarb in vivid detail. If I shut my eyes tightly, with the sun streaking through the window late into the evening, I can almost pretend the world outside is green and ready to be planted with seeds of rebirth.

I shall never take for granted the arrival of spring again.

Blackberry Fool

Craving a feeling, person, or place brings out a yearning in our heads all the way down to our toes. When our heart's desire is out of reach, we find a way to bring it closer through hope and longing and daydreams. These wishes, both small and large, sustain us as we wait for our cravings to be sated. They sustain us until our cravings come to pass.

I am craving spring. I am craving green grass, the smell of new growth, the touch of a warm sidewalk, the sweetness of a beautiful, red ripe strawberry. The hunger grows daily. As the sun sets later each evening, my appetite becomes insufferable. Knowing warmer weather will be around the corner keeps my spirit up as I dream of the long walks I will take once this winter is done.

Soon, soon, soon.

Blackberry Fool

A "fool" is a traditional English fruit dish originating in the sixteenth century. The dessert was most commonly made with gooseberries, but a variety of fruits from raspberries to apples can be used its place. The three main ingredients to a fool are pureed fruit, whipped cream, and a sprinkling of sugar. For this Blackberry Fool, I used fresh blackberries with whipped cream and a seedless blackberry jam.

This may be a more modern take on a traditional dessert, but the result is the same—delight. Feel free to try out other berries with matching flavors of jam, such as blueberries or strawberries, to play around with flavors and preferences.

Blackberry Fool Blackberry Fool

Blackberry Fool is a light, sweet ending to a spring or summer meal. Seedless blackberry jam is folded into whipped cream and layered into a glass with fresh blackberries. The contrast between the sweet bite of the berries and the smooth quality of the whipped cream makes the dessert simple, yet elegant. This traditional English dessert can be served for a small dinner party or an evening that calls for something special.

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