Celebrate with Babs: The TikTok Grandma’s New Cookbook

              Barbara Costello didn’t do social media when she first helped her daughter by posting a cooking video on TikTok.

              “I thought TikTok was all about dancing,” says Costello, the mother of four and grandmother of eight, who is known as Grandma Babs. Her first post was in April 2020 during the pandemic. Nine months later she had 200,000 followers. Now it’s closing in on two million.

              “By the time we hang up, you’ll probably have 20,000 more followers,” I tell Costello who is in the car with her daughter, Liz Ariola, on their way to a book signing.

              I’m only half joking.

Soaring Numbers

              Besides TikTok followers on her Brunch with Babs site, Costello also has 660,000 followers on Instagram. In comparison, I have 1989. Not that I’m jealous.

              Costello, who is 73, is considered a granfluencer—a growing trend of older people who are kicking it on social media. And now she has a cookbook, “Celebrate with Babs: Holiday Recipes & Family Traditions” featuring one hundred of her tried and true handwritten recipes that she pulled from her wood recipe box.

              “I started collecting recipes before the internet,” she says. “You used to go over to someone’s house for dinner and leave with recipe cards of what was served that night.”

              The book is divided by holidays and celebrations which are a big deal in the Costello family.

              “We’re Italian and we like big noisy get-togethers,” she says. “My mom was one of nine and I have 21 first cousins. Even after Bill and I got married there were so many of us that we still sat at the children’s table when everyone got together.”

              Originally from the Chicago area, Costello taught middle school in Schaumburg before the family moved, ending up in Connecticut where they’ve lived for decades. Costello opened her own pre-school (they called them nursery schools back then) in the basement of her house. She thinks the skills she learned as a teacher and administrator are part of what connects her to her audience. And she is all about connections.

              “I still get invited to the weddings of my preschoolers,” she says. “And many of them have remained friends with their pre-school classmates and they’re at the weddings. I think that’s wonderful after all those years.”

              Costello describes herself as having gone from zero to 60 miles-per-hour.

              “I never expected this,” she says. “People ask me if I have a business plan and I say what’s that? I’m making it up along the way.”

              It was Ariola who got her mom in the business. Social media savvy, Ariola writes the popular mom blog Mrs. Nipple blog (get it—aureole/ariola) and asked her mom for help during her pregnancy. Despite morning sickness, Ariola was trying to launch a TikTok channel and got her mom to agree to film three videos while her two grandchildren were napping.

              The first video showing Costello making her grandmother’s Greek chicken recipe garnered 100,000 views. Somewhere along the line, one of her viewers was a cookbook editor. The rest, as they say, is history.

              Even though the book is divided into holidays, each section with a special memory or anecdote, Costello says they recipes are good for everyday as well.

              “Recipes are recipes,” she says. In other words, you don’t have to wait until Easter to make marinated leg of lamb, apricot glazed ham, or Grandma’s Easter Bread.

Bonding Over Meals

              Even though she was a working mom, Costello always made family meals.

              “People didn’t do fast food like they do now,” she says. “And I think it’s very important for families to eat together.”

              Indeed, one of her hopes for her cookbook and her social media popularity is that it will encourage people to cook more and enjoy dinner together. In the meantime, she’s going to keep cooking.

              “My mom is always over the top when it comes to celebrations,” says Ariola, noting her mother’s tendency to make way too much food.

              “Being raised in an Italian family,” says Costello, “ I learned that the worst thing that could happen is that there wasn’t enough food to feed everyone.”

              That certainly won’t happen on her watch.

Smash Cake

“I always look forward to our grandkids’ first birthdays,” writes Costello. “My daughter loves showering her sons with smash cakes when they have that special birthday. She strips them down and lets them go at the cake. It’s a ton of fun to see how their little personalities shine in this moment. This is not only the favorite of my one-year-old grandson Scooter, but also a hit with my toddler-aged grandkids, too. Even I love it! I’ve made this recipe as just a loaf when not celebrating a special one-year-old in the family. The cream cheese frosting and the cake are the perfect combo.”

prep time

15 minutes, plus 2 hours to cool

cook time

50 minutes

yield

1 smash cake plus 1 loaf (serves about 9)

Ingredients

  • ½ cup unsalted butter, softened
  • ½ cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • ½ cup pure maple syrup
  • 2 (4 oz containers unsweetened applesauce
  • 1¾ cups  all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • Pinch of fine kosher salt

Cream Cheese Frosting:

  • 8 oz  cream cheese, softened
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • Natural food coloring (optional)

Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease and line 2 (4-inch) ramekins or cake pans, and 1 (9 x 5-inch) loaf pan with parchment paper.

2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar together until pale and creamy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the maple syrup and applesauce. Beat until well combined.

3. Using a fine-mesh sieve, sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt into the wet mixture. Stir until combined. Spoon the mixture into the ramekins until three-fourths full. Pour the rest of the batter into the loaf pan.

4. Bake the smash cakes for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Bake the loaf for an additional 15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let stand for 15 minutes before turning onto a wire rack to cool completely.

5. Make the frosting. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese and butter until well combined. Add the powdered sugar and vanilla. Beat until smooth and creamy, scraping the side of the bowl once or twice during mixing. If desired, beat in a few drops of natural food coloring of your choice.

6. To assemble the smash cake, place the bottom half on a serving plate. Spoon frosting over. Add the remaining layer. Spread frosting over the top and side of the cake. Add decorations of your choice. To serve the loaf, spread the top and sides with frosting, and cut into slices to serve.

Broccoli Salad (from the Summer Barbecue chapter)

This easy, crisp, classic vegetable salad is a must at any summer barbecue, picnic, or pool party. This is an old recipe I’ve been making for over forty years. The flavors meld beautifully, and the fresh crispness of the veggies, the creaminess of the dressing, and the ease of making it ahead, make this recipe a winner in all categories.

prep time

15 minutes, plus at least 1 hour to chill

cook time

none

serves

8–10

Ingredients

  • 2 bunches of raw broccoli, cut into bite-sized florets (about 8 cups)
  • 1 small red onion, chopped
  • 1 lb. crisp, crumbled bacon
  • ½ cup chopped, toasted pecans or walnuts
  • 1 cup golden or brown raisins
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  1. In a large bowl, mix the broccoli, onion, bacon, nuts, and raisins.
  2. In a small bowl, stir together the mayonnaise, sugar, and vinegar.
  3. Toss the dressing with the broccoli mixture. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving. Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

The Twisted Soul Cookbook: Modern Soul Food with Global Flavors

Chef/owner Deborah VanTrece takes the flavors and foods of her heritage and her travels to create the dishes served at her award winning restaurant and now shares them in her cookbook, The Twisted Soul Cookbook.

“My cuisine has always been at the intersection of food and culture,” said Chef Deborah VanTrece, owner of the Twisted Soul Cookhouse and Pours in Atlanta, Georgia. “Having traveled the world as a flight attendant, I experienced how different cultures have their own versions of what we would call ‘soul food.’ My approach to cooking revolves around taking a modern, global approach to soul food, combined with the food I grew up eating with my family. THE TWISTED SOUL COOKBOOK will take you on a journey around the world right from your kitchen.”

Across chapters filled with vibrant photography, her book offers 100 recipes for dishes ranging from fresh salads and sides, generous entrees, exciting seafood, rich desserts, and brilliant as well as practical pantry staples to amplifying everyday cooking, including dressings, relishes, preserves, and sauces. An engaging teacher and storyteller, VanTrece shows home cooks the way to use techniques both simple and sophisticated to ensure a delicious outcome every time.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Chef Deborah VanTrece opened the acclaimed Twisted Soul Cookhouse and Pours in 2014, and since then, the award-winning soul food restaurant has appeared on numerous Best Of lists, including features in the New York Times, Bon Appetit, NPR, Eater, Essence, Thrillist, Buzzfeed, Kitchn, and Food & Wine, winning acclaim for her mastery of imported cooking techniques and delicious globally informed cuisine.

She is included in 2020’s Tasty Pride: Recipes and Stories from the Queer Food Community; this is her first cookbook.

RECIPES

Grandma Lue’s Spinach Rice

  • 3 cups cooked white rice, chilled
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • ½ cup unsalted butter (1 stick)
  • ½ cup chopped celery
  • ½ cup red bell pepper
  • 1 cup chopped red onion
  • 4 lbs fresh baby spinach, washed and trimmed
  • 1 cup chopped marinated artichokes
  • 12 oz cream cheese, room temperature
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

Preheat the oven to 350°. Generously grease a deep casserole or 9 by 13-inch baking pan.

In a large bowl, stir together the cold rice and beaten eggs.

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, melt the butter. Add the celery, peppers, onions and spinach and cook, stirring occasionally for 2 to 3 minutes, until the onions are translucent and the spinach is wilted.

Reduce the heat to medium and stir in the artichokes, cream cheese, sour cream, Parmesan and garlic. Cool for 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the cream cheese has melted and all of the ingredients are well combined.

Add the spinach-cheese mixture to the rice. With a wooden spoon, stir in the black pepper, onion powder, garlic powder and salt.

Spoon into prepared baking dish, and cover with foil. Bake for 20 minutes, then remove the foil and bake for an additional 10 minutes, or until the top is nicely browned. Let rest for 15 minutes before serving.

Bacon-Praline Macaroni and Cheese

  • 6 cups elbow macaroni, cooked al dente and drained
  • 1 tbsp Lawry’s Seasoned Salt
  • 1 tbsp ground white pepper
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp onion powder
  • 3 1/2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese, divided
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 8 cups milk, warmed
  • 6 oz cream cheese, diced
  • 12 oz. American cheese, diced
  • 3 large eggs
  • 8 oz applewood-smoked bacon (8 to 10 slices), cooked and crumbled

Praline topping:

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 cups coarsely chopped pecans or pecan pieces
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup dried breadcrumbs

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Transfer the cooked macaroni to a large bowl.

In a small bowl, stir together the seasoned salt, white pepper, garlic powder and onion powder. Sprinkle half of this seasoning mixture and 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese over the macaroni and toss to combine.

In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, melt the butter. Whisk in the flour and continue to whisk for 3 to 5 minutes, until it makes a light roux. Reduce the heat to medium and whisk in the milk. Once all the milk is incorporated, cook for another 5 to 8 minutes, until the sauce reaches a simmer. Add the diced cream cheese and American cheese in batches, stirring until smooth. Stir in 1 1/2 cups of the remaining shredded cheddar cheese and turn off the heat. Add the remaining seasoning mixture and stir well. Quickly whisk in the eggs until they are incorporated.

Country Captain Chicken Stew

This classic dish shows the influence of the Indian spice trade throughout the ports of the old South,’ says VanTrece about her recipe for a dish that dates back centuries.

  • 1 (2 1/2- to 3-lb chicken, cut into 8 pieces
  • 1 tsp Lawry’s Seasoned Salt
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground white pepper
  • 2 tbsp duck fat or unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup chopped celery
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup chopped yellow bell pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups chopped tomatoes (3 to 4 medium)
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 2 tbsp curry powder
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 (13.5-oz can coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Peanut rice noodles:
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup sliced scallions
  • 1 (8.8-oz package rice noodles, cooked according to package directions, tossed in a little vegetable oil to prevent clumping, and chilled for 30 minutes
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro, plus more for garnish
  • 1/2 cup toasted peanuts, plus more for garnish

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C).

In a large bowl, sprinkle the chicken pieces with the seasoned salt, onion powder, garlic powder and white pepper. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 to 3 hours to marinate.

In a Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat, melt the duck fat. When hot, add the chicken pieces and cook for 10 to 15 minutes, turning to brown on all sides. Transfer to a platter and set aside.

Spring Pea, Bacon, and Radish Salad

“This dressing is so universally loved, it doesn’t need an explanation,” write VanTrece in the recipe’s introduction. “The extra herbs just add a notch to the flavor factor. It’s not only great for salads, you can use it atop salmon, fried green tomatoes, or as a dip for chicken wings.”

  • 3 cups fresh or frozen peas (thawed, if frozen), blanched and drained, then chilled
  • 6 slices applewood smoked bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • 1 cup thinly sliced radishes
  • 1/2 cup chopped red onion
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh mint, plus additional leaves for garnish
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • Salt and ground white pepper

In a large bowl, combine the peas, bacon, radishes, red onion, chopped fresh mint, and lemon zest, toss gently with the mayonnaise and honey. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and garnish with whole mint leaves. Serves 6.

Nutritional information

Per serving: Per serving: 195 calories (percent of calories from fat, 54), 8 grams protein, 15 grams carbohydrates, 4 grams fiber, 12 grams total fat (4 grams saturated), 19 milligrams cholesterol, 324 milligrams sodium.

Buttermilk Dressing

“This dressing is so universally loved, it doesn’t need an explanation,” writes VanTrece. “The extra herbs just add a notch to the flavor factor. It’s not only great for salads, you can use it atop salmon, fried green tomatoes, or as a dip for chicken wings.”

Buttermilk Dressing

  • 1 1/2 cups mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon granulated garlic
  • 1 teaspoon granulated onion
  • 1 teaspoon cracked black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives

In a food processor, combine the mayonnaise, sour cream, buttermilk, salt, granulated garlic, granulated onion, and pepper and process until smooth. Pulse in the fresh parsley, oregano, thyme, and chives until just combined. The dressing should be creamy but with a pleasing texture from the herbs.

Makes about 4 cups.

Nutritional information

Per serving: Per tablespoon: 23 calories (percent of calories from fat, 70), trace protein, 1 gram carbohydrates, trace fiber, 2 grams total fat (trace saturated fat), 3 milligrams cholesterol, 75 milligrams sodium.

Aunt Lucille’s 7UP Pound Cake

About this recipe, VanTrece writes, “This is a pound cake, and the only cake I can ever remember my Aunt Lucille ever making. For me, it will always carry cherished memories of celebrations and good times. This is the kind of recipe that reminds you how good old-fashioned cakes were (and can be). Definitely use 7UP for this recipe because it has a high level of carbonation that helps the cake to rise, and gives it a brighter, fresher lemon-lime flavor than other sodas.”

For the pound cake:

  • 1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3 cups granulated sugar
  • 5 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon lemon extract
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 cups cake flour, sifted, divided
  • 3/4 cup 7UP, divided
  • For the 7UP glaze:
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons 7UP
  • 1 teaspoon grated lime zest 

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Spray a 10-inch Bundt or tube pan with nonstick cooking spray (see note above).

In the bowl of a stand mixer or with a hand mixer, cream together the butter and granulated sugar for 5 to 7 minutes, until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition. Add the lemon zest, lemon extract, and vanilla extract and mix until combined. Add the flour one-third at a time and mix on low speed, alternating with 1/4-cup portions of the 7UP, mixing well after each addition.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool for 30 minutes, then invert onto a wire rack and lift the pan off of the cake. Let the cake cool on the rack.

While the cake cools, make the glaze: In a small bowl, stir together the confectioners’ sugar, lemon juice, 7UP, and lime zest until smooth.

Using a 6-inch wooden skewer or toothpick, poke holes in the top of the cooled cake. Slowly spoon the glaze over the cake, letting it run into the holes and over the surface.

Set the cake aside for 10 minutes before serving to let the glaze absorb into the cake and give it a lightly lacquered finish.

The cake can be made well in advance, wrapped tightly in plastic, and frozen for up to 4 months. It will keep moist and can be pulled out to thaw several hours before serving. It’s great served alone or with ice cream or fresh fruit compote. Serves 12 to 16.

Nutritional information

Per serving: Per serving, based on 12: 598 calories (percent of calories from fat, 38), 6 grams protein, 89 grams carbohydrates, 1 gram fiber, 25 grams total fat (15 grams saturated), 138 milligrams cholesterol, 36 milligrams sodium.

All the above recipes and images are excerpted from The Twisted Soul Cookbook by Deborah VanTrece. Copyright © 2021 Deborah VanTrece. Photography by Noah Fecks. Published by Rizzoli. Reproduced by arrangement with the publisher. All rights reserved

Short on time? Sarah Copeland has a recipe for you

              Want a dinner that tastes like Saturday night when you’ve had all day to putter around in the kitchen on a Wednesday? Don’t despair. Sarah Copeland, author Feast, has a new cookbook out that’s just right for you.

              In Every Day Is Saturday: Recipes + Strategies for Easy Cooking, Every Day of the Week (Chronicle, $29.95), Copeland, a former food director of Real Simple magazine, restaurant chef and mother of two young children as well as a New York Times contributor, zeroes in time management, maintaining a well-stocked pantry, and cooking dishes that do double duty. She also emphasizes healthy.

              Her recipes with prep time and total cooking time help you decide what fits in with your busy day.

              Reprinted from Every Day Is Saturday by Sarah Copeland with permission by Chronicle Books, 2019

MIGHTY YOGURT BOWLS WITH CURRANTS AND PEACHES

PREP TIME: 5 MINUTES

TOTAL TIME: 5 MINUTES or overnight

SERVES 4

·      ¾ cup whole milk, or almond, coconut, or
hazelnut milk

·      2 to 3 tsp pure maple syrup

·      1 tsp pure vanilla extract

·      2 to 3 Tbsp chia seeds

·      Plain yogurt, for serving

·     Currants, peaches, berries, honey, or maple
syrup, for topping

Quick-to-make chia pudding, with the right touch, can turn an everyday yogurt bowl into something beautiful and irresistibly creamy.

The secret is to keep the chia mixture loose, and treat it like a condiment, rather than the main event. (Chia thickens as it sets in liquid, so you’ll need to add fewer seeds if you plan to let it sit overnight.) Serve this creamy, coconut-milk goodness with loads of fresh fruit, as a quick morning breakfast bowl that’s nearly ready to go when you wake up.

Combine the milk, maple syrup, vanilla, and 2 tablespoons chia seeds in a mason jar or any glass container with a tight-fitting lid. Give it a shake or a stir and refrigerate up to overnight, or stir in the remaining chia to thicken if you plan to use right away. Spoon the chia mixture over yogurt, and top with fresh fruit and honey or maple syrup.

Tipsy Scoop: New Book Takes Ice Cream to the Next Level

It’s been beautiful these last few days and I’m already thinking of warm weather and ice cream.  But Melissa Tavss of Tipsy Scoop has taken it one step farther. Instead of just ice cream, she’s adding artisanal spirits and creating boozy sweet treats.

Her ice creams such as Dark Chocolate Whiskey Salted Caramel Ice Cream, Vanilla Bean Bourbon Ice Cream, and Raspberry Limoncello Sorbet have been available at many retail stores for several years now. And last summer, she formed a partnership with Williams Sonoma enabling Tipsy Scoop to be shipped to customers nationwide through the Williams Sonoma website. Tavss has also released her first cookbook, “Tipsy Scoop: Latest and Greatest Recipes.”

You can use the cookbook to make your own Tipsy Scoops. Also available are a variety of Tipsy Scoop kits such as their Spring Fever Cocktail Kit featuring 1 pint Strawberry White Sangria Sorbet. 1 pint Vanilla Bean Bourbon ice cream, 1 bottle cherry hard cider, 1 can spiked strawberry lemonade,  1 mini cherry preserves,  1 bag cherry gummies, 1 bag fruit gummies,  1 fresh lemon, and recipe cards, paper straws, and hashtag flags (for posting your creations on social media sites).

The kits are also available without alcohol as well and include Tequila Lover’s Cocktail Kit and Mother’s Day Cocktail Kit among others.

The following recipes are courtesy of Melissa Tavss and are from “Tipsy Scoop: Latest and Greatest Recipes.”

Note: Though some of these recipes call for specific brands of alcohol, you can substitute your own.

Ice Cream Mix

This recipe freezes well.

  • 1 ½ cups whole milk
  • 1 ½ cups heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 8 egg yolks

Makes 1.5-2 quarts of ice cream mix

In a medium-size heavy duty saucepan, add milk, heavy cream, and vanilla. Over medium-high heat, scaled the mixture, removing from heat once bubbles begin to form.

I a large bowl, add sugar and egg yoks and whisky until the turn a lighter yellow, about 30 seconds to 1 minute.

Slowly pour half the scaled milk and cream mixture into the gg yolks, whisking constantly as you pour. Add the egg and mix mixture back into the saucepan.

Saucepan. Warm over low-to-medium heat, stirring constantly with a heat-resistant spatula or spoon. The custard is thick enough once it can easily coat a spatula or spoon which takes a few minutes. (Note: Overcooking will scramble the eggs so proceed with caution.)

Transfer custard to a heat proof container, cover, and let cool for 1 hour before adding in alcohol and additional ingredients.

Maple Bourbon

6 cups Ice Cream Mix (see recipe above)
1 cup Four Roses Bourbon
¼ cup maple syrup
½ cup bacon, cooked and chopped (about 8 to 10 strips of bacon)

In a large mixing bowl, combine ice cream mix, bourbon, and maple syrup and stir.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours.

While mix chills, cook bacon until it is crispy and set aside on a paper towel to drain and cool for around 30 minutes. Chop into quarter-inch pieces using a sharp knife. Refrigerate in airtight container until ready to add to ice cream.

Freeze the mixture in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions until it has a gelato-like consistency.

Transfer the ice cream to a large mixing bowl and stir n bacon crumbles. Transfer the ice cream into a freezer-safe containers and freeze for a least eight hours before serving.

Hot Buttered Rum

“What could be better than that last bite in your bowl of Cinnamon Toast Crunch?” writes Tavss in her description of what she describes as a cinnamon-y sweet cereal milk bite turned into a spiked ice cream.  “Not only will it give you that taste of nostalgia, but will bring you that festive, comforting, holiday party in your mouth feeling all year long.”

6 cups Ice Cream Mix
1/4 cup Cinnamon
1 tablespoon Melted Butter
1 cup Sailor Jerry Spiced Rum

In a large mixing bowl combine all the ingredients and stir.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours.

Freeze the mixture in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions,until it has a gelato-like consistency.

Transfer the ice cream into freezer-safe containers and freeze for at least 8 hours before serving.

Makes about 2 quarts.

Serving suggestions:

Caramelize sliced bananas and make a bananas foster split. Add extra toppings like hot fudge, caramel sauce, toffee, walnuts and anything else that sounds good.

Non Dairy Ice Cream And Sorbet

“You’ll notice in the chapters following that not only do we have milk-based ice creams, but also have a few options for non-dairy boozy ice creams and boozy sorbets,” writes Tavss in the introduction to her chapter on non-dairy ice creams and sorbets. “Our non-dairy ice creams are made with a coconut milk base and our sorbets are made with different fruits, so they have a water/fruit base.

Puree recipes vary fruit by fruit, but our sorbets all start with fruit purées- raspberry, mango, watermelon, peach etc. Since there is so much variation fruit by fruit, you’ll see instructions for each fruit purée included within the recipes in the following chapters.”

What all sorbet recipes do have in common is the need for simple syrup. Here is a very simple, simple syrup recipe:

How to make simple syrup:

  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup water

In a medium saucepan, combine water and sugar.

Bring to a boil, stirring, until sugar has dissolved. Allow it to cool.

Watermelon Mint Margarita Sorbet

“Watermelon. Mint. Margarita. Is there a more mouthwatering combination of words in the whole English language?” writes Tavss, describing this sorbet to be like sitting on the back porch with a juicy slice of watermelon dripping down your forearm or cutting out of work early for a happy hour margarita on that first really hot day of summer.”

Watermelon Purée:

2 cups simple syrup

3 cups fresh watermelon chunks

Sorbet:

4 cups watermelon purée

1 cup tequila

1/3 cup mint syrup

(we recommend Monin)

1/4 cup lemon juice

Make Purée:

Remove seeds from watermelon and purée in blender or food processor until smooth. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, combine watermelon with simple syrup and stir.

Make Sorbet:

Combine watermelon purée with tequila, mint syrup, and lemon juice.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours.

Freeze the mixture in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Transfer the sorbet into freezer-safe container and freeze for at least 8 hours before serving.

Makes about 2 quarts

Serving Suggestion:

Recreate our Watermelon Mint Margarita Sundae by using an ice cream disher to scoop the sorbet into a pink cone bowl and garnish with fresh mint, Watermelon Jelly Belly seeds and sour watermelon Gummies.

Grown Up Sundae Station

“Now that you know how to make some of our most popular boozy ice cream treats, it’s time to

Oversized Martini Glass

Oversized Margarita Glass

3 Rocks Glasses or Mason Jars

Small Serving Spoons

Maraschino Cherries

Rainbow Sprinkles

Gummy Bears

Cookie Crumble

Sour Fruit Slices

Place beverage tub in the middle of a 4-ft table and fill with ice.

Fill oversized martini glass with sprinkles, oversized margarita glass with cherries, and three rocks glasses with other toppings.

Insert servings spoons in toppings and arrange on the table around the tub.

Fill a quart-sized container with water and two ice cream scoops and place to the left of the beverage tub.

On one end of the table put out small bowls, spoons and napkins.

Spilling the Beans: Abra Berens Dishes on Legumes, Beans, and More in Her Latest Cookbook

         A much maligned vegetable belonging, along with peas and lentils, to the vegetable class called legumes, beans are about as low on the food chain as you can go in terms of respect. Kids snicker at rhymes about beans and the gas they produce and sayings like “not worth a hill of beans” signifies their, well, insignificance.

         Once Abra Berens, the former co-owner of Bare Knuckles Farm in Northport, Michigan and now the executive chef at Granor Farm in Southwest Michigan, was like most of us. She didn’t give a bean about beans. That is until she became intrigued by the bean and grain program at Granor, a certified organic farm in Three Oaks, a charming historic village with its own burgeoning food culture.

         Now she’s all about legumes and grains and for anyone who knows Abra that means a total passionate immersion in the subject which resulted in her latest cookbook, a 464-page door stopper with 140 recipes and over 160 recipe variations titled Grist: A Practical Guide to Cooking Grains, Beans, Seeds, and Legumes. Just published by Chronicle Books on October 26th, the demand for Grist is so high it was hard to get a copy at first.

         Now, that’s worth more than a hill of beans.

         Berens, a James Beard semifinalist for Outstanding Chef: Great Lakes, also authored  Ruffage. That book, which came out in 2019, was named a Best Cookbook for Spring 2019 by the New York Times and Bon Appétit, was a 2019 Michigan Notable Book winner, and was also nominated for a 2019 James Beard Award. She puts the same energy into her Grist.

         “We are told over and over again to eat a diet rich in whole grains and plant-based protein,” writes Berens in the book’s introduction. “The science is there—high in soluble fiber, low glycemic index, healthy fatted protein—but the perception of whole grains seems to still be of leaden health food, endless cooking times, and cud-like chewing at the end of it all.”

         Indeed. Consider this. A cup of cooked black beans has 245 calories and contains approximately the following percentage of the daily values needed in an average diet—74% folate, 39% manganese, 20% iron, 21% both potassium and magnesium, and 20% vitamin B6.

         “But we all know that they’re good for you,” says Berens, who describes herself as a bean-evangelist.  “I want people to understand these ingredients and you can’t understand these ingredients until you know them.”

         And so, she introduces us to 29 different grains, legumes, and seeds. Some like lentils, lima beans, split peas, quinoa, rice, and oats we know something about. Others are more obscure such as cowpeas, millet, teff, fonio, and freekeh are mysteries. That is until you read her book and learn not only how to cook them but also about their history. There’s a cheat sheet of the health benefits of each. Berens also conducted interviews with farmers  including her cousins Matt and John Berens, third-generation farmers in Bentheim, Michigan who have transitioned into growing non-GMO corn and edible beans and Jerry Hebron, the manager of Oakland Avenue Urban Farm, a nonprofit, community-based organization dedicated to cultivating healthy foods, sustainable economies, and active cultural environments. Hebron has been raising crowder beans for almost a decade.  

         We also get to meet Carl Wagner, a farmer and seed cleaner in Niles, Michigan. Berens said she wanted to include “invisible” farming jobs and this certainly is one. She didn’t know what a seed cleaner was until a few years ago and figured that most of us don’t know either. Wagner, with his wife Mary, run C3 Seeds, a company that provides seed cleaning for grains and seed stock.  When Berens asked him what he’d like people to know about his job, his response was that they would know that seed cleaning “is part of buying a bag of flour or a bottle of whiskey.”

         “The biggest thing is that if people are interested in cooking with beans, it’s an easy entry point it’s not like buying $100 tenderloin,” says Berens.

         Of course, you can buy beans in the grocery store. Berens recommends dried beans not canned. But Granor Farm also sells black, red, and pinto beans at their farm store which is open Friday and Saturday. For information on the times, visit granorfarm.com

         Berens is already working on her next book, tentatively titled Fruit, due out in 2023. When I ask her how she does it all, she laughs and replies, “I don’t have any hobbies.”

         And she takes things very seriously.

         “Every author has to think about why they’re putting something in the world,” she says, “and what is the value of it and makes these books worthwhile.”

         With Grist, we’re learning the value of tasty and healthy foods that taste good.

The following recipes are reprinted from Grist: A Practical Guide to Cooking Grains, Beans, Seeds, and Legumes by Abra Berens with permission from Chronicle Books, 2021. Photographs © EE Berger.

Seared Chicken Thighs W/Buckwheat, Smashed Cucumbers + Tajín Oil

The angular mouthfeel of the buckwheat plays well with the crunch of the cucumber and against the crisp of the chicken thigh. Serve the buckwheat warm or chilled, depending on your preference. If you aren’t eating meat, the salad is a great lunch on its own or pairs well with an egg or fried tofu.

  • 1 cup buckwheat groats, toasted or not
  • Olive oil
  • 2 medium cucumbers (about 1 lb. total), washed
  • 1/4 cup Tajín Oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • ¾ cup plain yogurt, Greek or traditional
  • 1 lemon (about 1½ oz) zest and juice
  • 10 sprigs parsley, roughly chopped
  • Any additional herbs you want, roughly chopped (mint, tarragon, thyme, cilantro)
  • Pinch of chili flakes (optional)
  • 4 to 6 chicken thighs

Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil over high heat. Toss in the buckwheat groats and give the pot a stir. Return to a boil, lower to a simmer, and cook the grains until tender, 8 to 15 minutes.

Drain the groats, toss with a glug of Tajín oil, and set aside.

Trim the ends of the cucumbers and place on a cutting board. Using the widest knife (or frying pan) you have, press down on the cucumbers until their skin cracks and they break into irregular pieces. Dress the cucumbers with the Tajín oil and a pinch of salt.

Combine the yogurt with the lemon zest and juice, chopped herbs, chili flakes (if using), a pinch of salt, and two big glugs of olive oil. Set aside.

Blot the chicken skin dry and season with salt and pepper.

Heat a large frying pan over high heat until the pan is starting to smoke. Add a glug or two of oil, lower the heat to medium, and fry the thighs, skin-side down, until golden brown, 5 to 7 minutes. Flip the

chicken and sauté until cooked through, 5 to 7 minutes more.

To serve, dish the buckwheat onto serving plates. Top with the chicken thighs and then the dressed cucumbers. Garnish with a thick spoonful of the herbed yogurt.

Tajín Oil

  • 1 cup neutral oil
  • 2 Tbsp Tajín

In a medium sauce or frying pan, heat the oil over medium heat until it begins to shimmer, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat, add the Tajín, and let steep for 5 minutes.

Whole Roasted Leeks w/Chickpeas, Lemon Vinaigrette, Ricotta + Chard

  • 4 large leeks (about 2 pounds), trimmed and cleaned of dirt
  • 4 sprigs thyme (optional)
  • ¼ teaspoon chili flakes (optional)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 orange (about 3 ounces), peel stripped, juiced, or ¼ cup white wine or hard cider
  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 cups cooked or canned chickpeas, rinsed
  • 1 bunch chard (8 ounces), cut into ribbons (or spinach, kale, or arugula)
  • 2 lemons (about 3 ounces), zest and juice
  • 4 ounces ricotta

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Place the whole, cleaned leeks, side by side, in a roasting pan.

Scatter the thyme (if using), chili flakes (if using), and 2 large pinches of salt evenly over the leeks.

Scatter the orange peel strips over the leeks and drizzle them with the orange juice and ¼ cup of the olive oil to coat.

Cover with foil and bake until the leeks are tender, 35 to 45 minutes.

Combine the chickpeas, chard ribbons, lemon zest and juice, and remaining ½ cup of olive oil with a big pinch of salt and a couple of grinds of black pepper.

When the leeks are tender, transfer from the roasting pan to plates or a serving platter. Top with the chickpea and chard salad. Dot ricotta over the top and serve.

Spoon Pudding with Pork Chops and Cabbage Salad

For the spoon pudding:

  • ¾ cup cornmeal
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder

For the salad:

  • About 1 pound red cabbage, shaved into thin strips
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 10 sprigs parsley, roughly chopped
  • 1 lemon zest and juice
  • ½ teaspoon chili flakes
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • Salt

4 pork chops, seasoned with salt and pepper and grilled

To make the spoon pudding:

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease an ovenproof baking dish or frying pan that can hold 2 quarts total volume.

Combine the cornmeal, salt, 1 cup of boiling water, and the melted butter and whisk out any lumps. Combine the eggs, milk, and baking powder and add to the cornmeal batter. Pour into the prepared baking dish and bake until the edges of the spoon bread are just set and lightly browned, 30 to 40 minutes.

To make the salad: Combine the cabbage with the olive oil, chopped parsley, lemon zest and juice, chili flakes, paprika, and a couple pinches of salt. Toss to combine and adjust the seasoning as desired.

Serve the spoon bread alongside the grilled pork chops and cabbage salad.

The “I Love My Instant Pot Cooking for One” Recipe Book

      

          No matter if I’m eating by myself or cooking for friends and family, I want to enjoy a good meal. And when time is short or I don’t want to fuss, The “I Love My Instant Pot Cooking for One” Recipe Book authorized by Instant Pot is a great book to turn to. Written by Lisa Childs, author of the blog TriedTestedandTrue.com, there are 175 recipes and lots of great color photos. Childs, who has been developing recipes for Instant Pot since 2016, provides accurate details so that even if you’re not familiar with using an Instant Pot, she makes how to do so easily understandable.

         Childs’ Instant Pot recipes, designed for one person, are perfect when cooking just for yourself but can easily be shared by two with the addition of a side dish—say corn on the cob or freshly sliced tomatoes.

The following recipes are from The “I Love My Instant Pot Cooking for One.”

Easy Teriyaki Chicken Thighs and Rice

Tender chicken thighs and white rice cook together in the Instant Pot® with premade teriyaki sauce for the simplest, easiest one-pot meal. With only a few ingredients, anyone can make a delicious and quick meal at home.

• Hands-On Time: 5 minutes

• Cook Time: 20 minutes

Serves 1

  • 2 (8-ounce) boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 1⁄2 cup teriyaki sauce
  • 1⁄2 cup uncooked long-grain white rice
  • 1⁄2 cup water
  • 1⁄2 tablespoon sesame seeds
  • 1⁄2 tablespoon chopped green onion

To the Instant Pot®, add chicken and pour teriyaki sauce over the top. Place the trivet on top of chicken.

In a 6″ cake pan, combine rice and water. Place uncovered pan on trivet.

Close the lid; turn the knob to Sealing.

Press Manual or Pressure Cook button and adjust time to 10 minutes.

When the timer beeps, allow 5 minutes to naturally release the pressure, then remove the lid. Press Sauté button and adjust to High.

Carefully remove pan from the Instant Pot® and fluff rice with a fork. Place chicken (leave teriyaki sauce in Instant Pot) on top of rice and set aside. Cover to keep warm.

Cook down remaining teriyaki sauce about 5 minutes until reduced and thickened. Pour over chicken and rice, then top with sesame seeds and green onion. Serve.

Per serving

CALORIES: 704; FAT: 12g; PROTEIN: 43g; SODIUM: 5,605mg; | FIBER: 2g; CARBOHYDRATES: 98g; SUGAR: 21g

Bruschetta Chicken

Hands-On Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Serves 1

Chicken

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 (8-ounce) boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • 1⁄8 teaspoon salt
  • 1⁄8 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 2 (1-ounce) slices fresh mozzarella cheese

Bruschetta

  • 1⁄3 cup diced tomatoes
  • 1⁄2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon balsamic glaze
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh basil
  • 1⁄16 teaspoon crushed
  • Red pepper flakes
  • 1⁄16 teaspoon ground
  • Black pepper
  • 1⁄16 teaspoon salt

Pour water into Instant Pot® and add the trivet.

Place chicken on the trivet, then season with salt, black pepper, and Italian seasoning.

Close the lid; turn the knob to Sealing.

Press Manual or Pressure Cook button and adjust time to 15 minutes.

While the chicken is cooking, prepare Bruschetta. In a small bowl, mix together all Bruschetta ingredients. Let chill in refrigerator until ready to serve.

When the timer beeps, allow 5 minutes to naturally release the pressure, then remove the lid. Place mozzarella slices on top of chicken and replace the lid. Let sit 5 minutes with lid on to allow the cheese to melt slightly.

Remove to a serving plate and top with Bruschetta. Serve immediately.

 Per Serving

CALORIES: 472; FAT: 22g; PROTEIN: 60g; SODIUM: 1,020mg; FIBER: 1g; CARBOHYDRATES: 8g; SUGAR: 4g

George Diamond’s: A Northwest Indiana Classic

            In 1924, Peter Levant’s opened what was one of Whiting’s famous “perch palaces,” a place that served freshly caught perch right from Lake Michigan. They also advertised such menu items as steak, chicken, and, of course, this being The Region, frog legs—mostly likely from nearby Lake George.

            Indeed, frog legs were so in demand that Vogel’s—which was just down the street and totally classy—raised their own frogs for legs in the lake. But that’s a different story.

            Located at 1247 Calumet Avenue, Levent’s became the home of Juster’s Charcoal Broiled Steaks and then later George Diamond’s. Though my mom liked to cook, my parents were totally into eating out as well and though its been years and years, I remember going with them to George Diamond’s. It was the kind of place where everything was overlarge—the steaks, the salads, the charcoal flames, and even the menus.

            That Diamond (yes, there was a George Diamond) even opened a place in Whiting shows the town’s status as a food destination. Indeed, around that time, there were a lot of great restaurants–and I’m sure I’m leaving a lot of places out–Vogel’s, Phil Smidt’s, Margaret’s Geneva House, Al Knapp’s Restaurant and Lounge, and the Roby Café. But Diamond was international. Besides his flagship restaurant at 630 S. Wabash Avenue in Chicago that was said to have cost over $1 million to renovate in a style I call 1950s swank, all red velvet and red upholstery, he had places in Las Vegas, Palm Springs, Antioch, Illinois on a golf course, and Acapulco, Mexico.

            What I remember most was the house salad dressing which they bottled and sold on the premises. It was so unique that even now it has a cult-like online following with people  searching for the recipe.  It wasn’t Russian and it certainly wasn’t French or at least not the orangish French dressing we buy in bottles now. Diamond’s dressing was an almost translucent reddish pink. And if the recipe I found online is close to the original, it’s main ingredient was tomato soup.

  There’s nothing left of Diamond’s empire today. Diamond died in 1982 at age 80 and the building housing the Wabash Avenue restaurant went up in flames in 2006.  But people still remember that dressing.

George Diamond’s salad dressing

  • 1 (10-ounce) can condensed tomato soup
  • 2/3 cup oil
  • 1/2 cup each: white vinegar, sugar
  • 1 small onion, peeled and grated
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and halved
  • 1 tablespoon dry mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon each: salt, ground black pepper

Place undiluted soup, oil, vinegar, sugar, mustard, salt, pepper, onion and garlic in a blender or food processor fitted with a metal blade. Cover and blend or process on high speed until pureed, about 2 minutes. Serve chilled. Store covered leftovers in refrigerator.

            I’ll be signing copies of my book Classic Restaurants of The Region at Miles Books. 2819 Jewett Avenue in Highland on Saturday, August 21st from 11:30-3pm. For more information, 219-838-8700.

               Hope to see you there.

Tipsy Scoop: Up Your Ice Cream With A Boozy Twist

I love ice cream but Melissa Tavss of Tipsy Scoop has taken it one step farther. Instead of just ice cream, she’s adding artisanal spirits and creating boozy sweet treats. Her ice creams such as Dark Chocolate Whiskey Salted Caramel Ice Cream, Vanilla Bean Bourbon Ice Cream, and Raspberry Limoncello Sorbet have been available at many retail stores for several years now. And last summer, she formed a partnership with Williams Sonoma enabling Tipsy Scoop to be shipped to customers nationwide through the Williams Sonoma website. Tavss has also released her first cookbook, “Tipsy Scoop: Latest and Greatest Recipes.”

You can use the cookbook to make your own Tipsy Scoops. Also available are a variety of Tipsy Scoop kits such as their Skrewball Peanut Butter Whiskey Chocolate Swirl and Spring Fever Cocktail Kit featuring 1 pint Strawberry White Sangria Sorbet. 1 pint Vanilla Bean Bourbon ice cream, 1 bottle cherry hard cider, 1 can spiked strawberry lemonade,  1 mini cherry preserves,  1 bag cherry gummies, 1 bag fruit gummies,  1 fresh lemon, and recipe cards, paper straws, and hashtag flags (for posting your creations on social media sites).

The following recipes are courtesy of Melissa Tavss and are from “Tipsy Scoop: Latest and Greatest Recipes.”

Note: Though some of these recipes call for specific brands of alcohol, you can substitute your own–though the taste may differ somewhat.

Ice Cream Mix

This recipe freezes well.

  • 1 ½ cups whole milk
  • 1 ½ cups heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 8 egg yolks

Makes 1.5-2 quarts of ice cream mix

In a medium-size heavy duty saucepan, add milk, heavy cream, and vanilla. Over medium-high heat, scaled the mixture, removing from heat once bubbles begin to form.

I a large bowl, add sugar and egg yoks and whisky until the turn a lighter yellow, about 30 seconds to 1 minute.

Slowly pour half the scaled milk and cream mixture into the gg yolks, whisking constantly as you pour. Add the egg and mix mixture back into the saucepan.

Saucepan. Warm over low-to-medium heat, stirring constantly with a heat-resistant spatula or spoon. The custard is thick enough once it can easily coat a spatula or spoon which takes a few minutes. (Note: Overcooking will scramble the eggs so proceed with caution.)

Transfer custard to a heat proof container, cover, and let cool for 1 hour before adding in alcohol and additional ingredients.

Maple Bourbon

  • 6 cups Ice Cream Mix (see recipe above)
  • 1 cup Four Roses Bourbon
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • ½ cup bacon, cooked and chopped (about 8 to 10 strips of bacon)

In a large mixing bowl, combine ice cream mix, bourbon, and maple syrup and stir.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours.

While mix chills, cook bacon until it is crispy and set aside on a paper towel to drain and cool for around 30 minutes. Chop into quarter-inch pieces using a sharp knife. Refrigerate in airtight container until ready to add to ice cream.

Freeze the mixture in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions until it has a gelato-like consistency.

Transfer the ice cream to a large mixing bowl and stir n bacon crumbles. Transfer the ice cream into a freezer-safe containers and freeze for a least eight hours before serving.

Hot Buttered Rum

“What could be better than that last bite in your bowl of Cinnamon Toast Crunch?” writes Tavss in her description of what she describes as a cinnamon-y sweet cereal milk bite turned into a spiked ice cream.  “Not only will it give you that taste of nostalgia, but will bring you that festive, comforting, holiday party in your mouth feeling all year long.”

  • 6 cups Ice Cream Mix
  • 1/4 cup Cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon Melted Butter
  • 1 cup Sailor Jerry Spiced Rum

In a large mixing bowl combine all the ingredients and stir.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours.

Freeze the mixture in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions, until it has a gelato-like consistency.

Transfer the ice cream into freezer-safe containers and freeze for at least 8 hours before serving.

Makes about 2 quarts.

Serving suggestions:

Caramelize sliced bananas and make a bananas foster split. Add extra toppings like hot fudge, caramel sauce, toffee, walnuts and anything else that sounds good.

Non Dairy Ice Cream And Sorbet

“You’ll notice in the chapters following that not only do we have milk-based ice creams, but also have a few options for non-dairy boozy ice creams and boozy sorbets,” writes Tavss in the introduction to her chapter on non-dairy ice creams and sorbets. “Our non-dairy ice creams are made with a coconut milk base and our sorbets are made with different fruits, so they have a water/fruit base.

Puree recipes vary fruit by fruit, but our sorbets all start with fruit purées- raspberry, mango, watermelon, peach etc. Since there is so much variation fruit by fruit, you’ll see instructions for each fruit purée included within the recipes in the following chapters.”

Simple Syrup Recipe

What all sorbet recipes do have in common is the need for simple syrup. Here is a very simple, simple syrup recipe:

How to make simple syrup:

  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup water

In a medium saucepan, combine water and sugar.

Bring to a boil, stirring, until sugar has dissolved. Allow it to cool.

Watermelon Mint Margarita Sorbet

“Watermelon. Mint. Margarita. Is there a more mouthwatering combination of words in the whole English language?” writes Tavss, describing this sorbet to be like sitting on the back porch with a juicy slice of watermelon dripping down your forearm or cutting out of work early for a happy hour margarita on that first really hot day of summer.”

Watermelon Purée:

  • 2 cups simple syrup
  • 3 cups fresh watermelon chunks

Sorbet:

  • 4 cups watermelon purée
  • 1 cup tequila
  • 1/3 cup mint syrup
  • (we recommend Monin)
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice

Make Purée:

Remove seeds from watermelon and purée in blender or food processor until smooth. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, combine watermelon with simple syrup and stir.

Make Sorbet:

Combine watermelon purée with tequila, mint syrup, and lemon juice.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours.

Freeze the mixture in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Transfer the sorbet into freezer-safe container and freeze for at least 8 hours before serving.

Makes about 2 quarts

Serving Suggestion:

Recreate our Watermelon Mint Margarita Sundae by using an ice cream disher to scoop the sorbet into a pink cone bowl and garnish with fresh mint, Watermelon Jelly Belly seeds and sour watermelon Gummies.

Grown Up Sundae Station

“Now that you know how to make some of our most popular boozy ice cream treats, it’s time to

showcase your talents with an ice cream party,” says Tavss about this section of her book which helps you organize a grown up sundae station that’s the perfect dessert for special occasions like 21st birthdays and engagement parties.

“For the holidays go all out with pretty seasonal toppings or add Prosecco to your bar so guests can make their own floats,” she says. “Boozy ice cream makes every occasion a little more fun—cheers.”

Assorted Boozy Ice Creams and Sorbets

What you’ll need:

  • Insulated Beverage Tub
  • Oversized Martini Glass
  • Oversized Margarita Glass
  • 3 Rocks Glasses or Mason Jars
  • Small Serving Spoons
  • Maraschino Cherries
  • Rainbow Sprinkles
  • Gummy Bears
  • Cookie Crumble
  • Sour Fruit Slices

Place beverage tub in the middle of a 4-ft table and fill with ice.

Fill oversized martini glass with sprinkles, oversized margarita glass with cherries, and three rocks glasses with other toppings.

Insert servings spoons in toppings and arrange on the table around the tub.

Fill a quart-sized container with water and two ice cream scoops and place to the left of the beverage tub.

On one end of the table put out small bowls, spoons and napkins.

As guests arrive remove ice cream pints from the freezer and place in the tub of ice. Invite guests to make their own boozy ice cream sundaes! Our toppings are just suggestions, so swap for your favorites or add even more garnishes to your sundae bar.

Ina Garten: Modern Comfort Food

         “When I was a kid my mother would cut up hot dogs to add to canned split pea soup for me to eat,” Ina Garten tells me from the barn in West Hampton, New York where she creates and tests the recipes published in her cookbooks, including the latest Modern Comfort Food and on the her Food Network show Barefoot Contessa.

French Chicken Pot Pie for Barefood Contessa’s Frozen Food Packaging 2013

         I tell her that I ate so much split pea soup when I was a kid that my mother told me I was going to turn green. Garten laughs though it really isn’t very funny. It’s just the way she is. Polite and friendly, as if she and I are good friends rather me interviewing her in a spot where her phone gets very poor reception. That’s for sure. During the course of a 45-minute call, we get disconnected at least five times.

         But back to the split pea soup. When Garten was thinking up recipes for “Modern Comfort Food,” the 12th in her Barefoot Contessa series, it was one of the dishes she wanted to include. But not just any old split pea soup.

“My soup is from scratch and instead of hot dogs, I sauteed kielbasa,” she says. I love the way crispy sausage and the creamy soup contrast with each other.”

         Using her culinary magic, among the 85 recipes in her book she transforms the grilled cheese of childhood into Cheddar & Chutney Grilled Cheese and the frozen pot pies your mom kept in the freezer in case she was late getting home morph into Chicken Pot Pie Soup with Puff Pastry Croutons. Burnt hamburgers made by your dad the one time he tried to grill are now Smashed Hamburgers with Caramelized Onions.

         When I mention that I love her recipes because they always work and that often with celebrity cookbooks it’s just the opposite, she responds with a laugh, saying “ya’think?”

         Her recipes, on the other hand, are strenuously tested. It took her six years to perfect her recipe for Boston Cream Pie. She just couldn’t get it right until she finally found the exact flavor matches for the cake, chocolate glaze and pastry cream layers.

         Some, no make that most, of us would have given up or just said “good enough.” But not Garten which is why the Boston Cream Pie she hoped to put in two cookbooks ago didn’t make it until this one.

         “Sometimes it takes me a day to create a recipe that works just right, sometimes weeks or even months,” she says, noting that she loves getting up in the morning knowing she has a long list of recipes to test.

         She also has advice on how to use her recipes.

         “Do it once the way it’s written using the same ingredients, then you’ll know the way it is supposed to be,” she says, noting that someone once complained about one of her recipes not working and when she drilled down as to why, discovered that out of the seven ingredients called for, they didn’t use three. “It’s like someone saying the chocolate cake didn’t turn out and then they tell you they didn’t use any chocolate in it.”

Recipes courtesy of Modern Comfort Food: A Barefoot Contessa Cookbook.

Copyright © 2020 by Ina Garten. Photography by Quentin Bacon.

Published by Clarkson Potter, an imprint of Penguin Random House.

Chicken Pot Pie Soup

Serves 6

3 chicken breasts, skin-on, bone-in (2½ to 3 pounds total)

Good olive oil

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

6 tablespoons (¾ stick) unsalted butter

5 cups chopped leeks, white and light green parts (3 leeks) (see note)

4 cups chopped fennel, tops and cores removed (2 bulbs)

3 cups (½-inch) diced scrubbed carrots (5 medium)

1 tablespoon minced garlic (3 cloves)

1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon leaves

¼ cup Wondra flour

¾ cup cream sherry, divided

7 cups good chicken stock, preferably homemade

1 (2 × 3-inch) piece of Italian

Parmesan cheese rind

1 (10-ounce) box frozen peas

1 cup frozen whole pearl onions

¼ cup minced fresh parsley

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Place the chicken on a sheet pan skin side up, rub the skin with olive oil, and season generously with salt and pepper. Roast for 35 minutes, until a thermometer registers 130 to 140 degrees. Set aside until cool enough to handle. Remove and discard the skin and bones and cut the chicken in 1-inch dice. Set aside.

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a medium (11 to 12-inch) heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven, such as Le Creuset, over medium heat. Add the leeks, fennel, and carrots, and sauté over medium-high heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the leeks are tender but not browned.

Stir in the garlic and tarragon and cook for one minute. Sprinkle on the flour and cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes. Add ½ cup of the sherry, the chicken stock, 4 teaspoons salt, 1½ teaspoons pepper, and the Parmesan rind. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer, partially covered, for 20 minutes.

Add the chicken, peas, and onions and simmer uncovered for 5 minutes. Off the heat, remove the Parmesan rind and add the remaining ¼ cup of sherry and the parsley. Serve hot in large shallow bowls with two Puff Pastry Croutons on top

Note: To prep the leeks, cut off the dark green leaves at a 45-degree angle and discard. Chop the white and light green parts, wash well in a bowl of water, and spin dry in a salad spinner. Wet leeks will steam rather than sauté.

Puff Pastry Croutons -Makes 12 croutons

All-purpose flour

1 sheet of frozen puff pastry, such as Pepperidge Farm, defrosted (see note)

1 extra-large egg beaten with 1 tablespoon heavy cream, for egg wash

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.

Lightly dust a board and rolling pin with flour. Unfold the sheet of puff pastry on the board, dust it lightly with flour, and lightly roll the pastry just to smooth out the folds.

With a star-shaped or fluted round cookie cutters, cut 12 stars, or rounds of pastry and place them on the prepared sheet pan. Brush the tops with the egg wash, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and bake for 8 to 10 minutes, until puffed and golden brown.

Defrost puff pastry overnight in the refrigerator. You want the pastry to be very cold when you bake it. make ahead: Prepare the pastry cutouts and refrigerate. Bake just before serving.

Boston Cream Pie

Makes one 9 – inch cake / serves 8

For the cake:

¾ cup whole milk

6 tablespoons (¾ stick) unsalted butter

1½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract

½ teaspoon grated orange zest

1½ cups all-purpose flour

1½ teaspoons baking powder

1½ teaspoons kosher salt

3 extra-large eggs, at room temperature

1½ cups sugar

for the soak:

¹⁄₃ cup freshly squeezed orange juice

¹⁄₃ cup sugar

1 tablespoon Grand Marnier

For the chocolate glaze:

¾ cup heavy cream

1¼ cups semisweet chocolate chips, such as Nestlé’s (7½ ounces)

2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, such as Lindt, broken in pieces

2 tablespoons light corn syrup

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

½ teaspoon instant coffee granules, such as Nescafé

Grand Marnier Pastry Cream (recipe follows)

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Butter two 9-inch round baking pans, line them with parchment paper, butter and flour the pans, and tap out the excess flour. Set aside.

For the cake, scald the milk and butter in a small saucepan over medium heat (see note). Off the heat, add the vanilla and orange zest, cover the pan, and set aside. In a small bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt and set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the eggs and sugar on medium-high speed for 4 minutes, until thick and light yellow and the mixture falls back on itself in a ribbon. By hand, first whisk in the warm milk mixture and then slowly whisk in the flour mixture. Don’t overmix! Pour the batter evenly into the prepared pans. Bake for 22 to 25 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow the cakes to cool in the pans for 15 minutes, then turn them out onto a baking rack, flipping them so the top sides are up. Cool to room temperature.

For the soak, combine the orange juice and sugar in a small (8-inch) sauté pan and heat until the sugar dissolves. Off the heat, add the Grand Marnier and set aside

For the chocolate glaze, combine the heavy cream, semisweet chocolate chips, bittersweet chocolate, corn syrup, vanilla, and coffee in a heatproof bowl set over a pot of simmering water. Stir occasionally with a wooden spoon, just until the chocolates melt. Remove from the heat and set aside for 25 to 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the chocolate is thick enough to fall back onto itself in a ribbon.

To assemble, cut both cakes in half horizontally. Place the bottom of one cake on a flat plate, cut side up. Brush it with a third of the soak. Spread a third of the Grand Marnier Pastry Cream on the cake. Place the top of the first cake on top, cut side down, and repeat with the soak and pastry cream. Place the bottom of the second cake on top, cut side up. Repeat with the soak and pastry cream. Place the top of the second cake on top, cut side down. Pour the ganache on the cake, allowing it to drip down the sides. Set aside for one hour, until the chocolate sets. Cut in wedges and serve.

Grand Marnier Pastry Cream

Makes enough for one 9-inch cake

5 extra-large egg yolks, at room temperature

¾ cup sugar

¼ cup cornstarch

1½ cups whole milk

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1 tablespoon heavy cream

1 tablespoon Grand Marnier

1 teaspoon Cognac or brandy

½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Beat the egg yolks and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on medium-high speed for 4 minutes, until very thick. Reduce the speed to low and add the cornstarch.

Meanwhile, scald the milk in a medium saucepan. With the mixer on low, slowly pour the hot milk into the egg mixture. Pour the mixture back into the saucepan and cook over medium-low heat for 5 to 7 minutes, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until the mixture starts to thicken. When the custard starts to clump on the bottom of the pan, stir constantly with a whisk (don’t beat it!) to keep the custard smooth.

Cook over low heat until the custard is very thick like pudding. If you lift some custard with the whisk, it should fall back onto itself in a ribbon. Off the heat, stir in the butter, heavy cream, Grand Marnier, Cognac, and vanilla. Whisk until smooth and transfer to a bowl. Cool for 15 minutes. Place plastic wrap directly on the custard (not the bowl) and refrigerate until very cold.

Ina Garten is doing a virtual Modern Comfort Food tour.

To find out more visit, https://barefootcontessa.com/events and https://www.williams-sonoma.com (click on events on the upper right hand corner).

Jane Ammeson can be contacted via email at janeammeson@gmail.com

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