Category Archives: Recipes (Sweet)

Next-Level Gin & Tonic

Char some lemon and cucumber to make a gin & tonic extra special.
Char some lemon and cucumber to make a gin & tonic extra special.

Gin & tonic has always been one of my favorite cocktails, even — ahem — before I officially turned 21.

We’ll keep that between you and me, of course.

Evocative of a walk through a spring meadow, it’s a sip that’s light, bright, and so refreshing that it’s nearly impossible to resist — even when you’re 20 3/4. Or, uh, something near that.

Now, South American chef Francis Mallmann has taken the classic up a notch by incorporating a bit of fire.

“Gin and Tonic with Burnt Lemon and Cucumber” is from his newest cookbook, “Green Fire” (Artisan), of which I received a review copy. It was written with co-writer Peter Kaminsky and collaborator Donna Gelb.

If you’ve ever watched any of the late-great Anthony Bourdain’s shows, you’re probably already familiar with Mallmann, who owns Siete Fuegos in Argentina, Patagonia Sur in Buenos Aires, El Garzon in Uruguay, 1884 Restaurante in Argentina, and Los Fuegos in Miami.

Usually, he’s shown cooking over an immense live-fire grill with enough adjustable racks and levers to make it resemble some sort of medieval rack.

While some of his previous books were especially challenging because few — if any — of us are equipped to grill quite like that, this one thankfully is not. In fact, the recipes offer options for cooking the dish indoors, too, such as on a cast-iron pan or griddle on the stovetop.

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A Two-Fer: Pinapple-Banana Upside-Down Cake

Leave it to Martha Stewart to come up with this two-in-one dessert classic.
Leave it to Martha Stewart to come up with this two-in-one dessert classic.

Got a soft spot for banana bread? And a passion for pineapple upside-down cake?

Then, you’re sure to love this cake that is both those classics combined into one.

“Pineapple-Banana Upside-Down Cake” is like your favorite comforting banana bread gone next level with sugary, jammy pineapple slices all over the top.

The recipe is from “Martha Stewart’s Fruit Desserts” (Clarkson Potter, 2021), of which I received a review copy, by the Kitchens of Martha Stewart.

With more than 100 recipes showcasing all manner of fresh and dried fruit in sweet treats, this is sure to be a book you turn to again and again year-round.

It’s thoughtfully arranged by the seasons, too, with summer bringing forth “Blackberry Pie” and “Melon Pops”; autumn showcasing “Pear Skillet Cake” and “Cranberry Port Sorbet”; winter announcing itself with “Orange Marmalade Cake with Roasted Oranges” and “Deep-Dish Dried-Apple and Cranberry Pie”; and spring delighting with “Strawberry Lemonade Icebox Cake” and “Lemon Rhubarb Bundt.”

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Time For Strawberry Sumac Cake — And A Very Special Cookbook

Sumac and strawberries make for a fabulous marriage in this moist, tender cake.
Sumac and strawberries make for a fabulous marriage in this moist, tender cake.

It still boggles my mind that more than two years after President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation on June 19, 1865, the state of Texas finally “learned” that all slaves were now free, becoming the last state in the Confederacy to recognize that action. Even then, some plantation owners refused to acknowledge the edict, and kept their slaves to work one more harvest.

A year later, though, Black Texans were finally able to rejoice in their freedom with food, music, and dance at the first Juneteenth celebrations.

Now comes the first cookbook to showcase Juneteenth. “Watermelon & Red Birds” (Simon & Schuster), of which I received a review copy, is by Nicole A. Taylor, a food writer who splits her time between New York City and Georgia, and produced the short documentary, “If We So Choose,” about the desegregation of an iconic southern fast-food joint.

The cookbook title refers not only to the native-born African fruit, but to the African American and Native American belief that red birds flying through the skies represent ancestors returning to spread luck.

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Gazpacho — Mexican-Style

Gaspacho -- done as a sweet, tangy, subtly spicy fruit salad instead.
Gaspacho — done as a sweet, tangy, subtly spicy fruit salad instead.

Rick Martinez says his mouth starts to water just thinking about this refreshing dish.

It’s easy to understand why, because his “Gaspacho Moreliano” is the antidote to the torrid heat of summer.

It’s quenching and cooling like Spanish gazpacho, but this Mexican version is far more substantial because it’s not a soup, but a sweet-tangy-spicy-savory fruit salad.

The recipe is from Martinez’s first cookbook, “Mi Cocina” (Penguin Random House), of which I received a review copy.

The host of the YouTube series, “Pruebalo,” and a contributor to Bon Appetit magazine and the New York Times, Martinez, he grew up in a small town outside of Austin, TX, where he was the first child of Mexican heritage to attend that then all-white elementary school.

It was his late mother who inspired his passion for cooking. Even though her own mother and aunties had passed away already, his mom decided to start anew the tradition of making tamales for the holidays, figuring out the exact recipe along the way through trial and error on her own. She hoped the practice would be passed down to her sons. For Martinez, it ignited a deep, unwavering love for his heritage, culture, and family.

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Two Scoops, Please, For Plum Crumble Ice Cream

Summer's juicy plums star in this homemade ice cream.
Summer’s juicy plums star in this homemade ice cream.

I am unabashedly a recovering freezer-space hoarder.

It didn’t take exactly a 12-step program to wean me off stuffing my freezer to the gills with meats, breads, veggies, stocks, cookies, and whatever else I could cram in.

All it took was a lessening of the ravages of the pandemic, and well, the ability to go to the grocery store regularly again (albeit masked up) without feeling as if I might run out of food any dire moment.

As a result, this is the first time in nearly three years that I’ve made my own ice cream at home.

What a triumph!

Because few things are as joyous as homemade ice cream, and in truth, sneaking that first spoonful out of the top of the ice cream canister even as it still spins. Yup, I do that. Not gonna lie.

My homemade ice cream fast was broken in grand style by “Plum Crumble Ice Cream,” a recipe from the new “Great Scoops” (Figure 1), of which I received a review copy.

It’s by Marlene Haley and Amelia Ryan of The Merry Dairy, a scoop shop and ice cream truck in Ottawa, Canada. Haley, who grew up on a farm, gave up teaching in 2012 to start the first food truck in that city to specialize in frozen custard.

Because it’s not possible to duplicate the silkiness of frozen custard without a commercial machine, this book concentrates instead on the range of ice creams she also makes.

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