I recently joined a great MeetUp, Entrepreneurs Professionals Glendale, and wanted to bring something nice for everyone to share. One of the members, Aron Ganz of Ganz Media gave the berries their name, Strawberry Torpedoes, a much shorter name, and I am grateful for that!
This is a group of entrepreneurs and professionals, who own small to medium businesses. We are not drones of the corporate world, and realize that even though being self-employed has its difficulties, it has huge rewards. Our group, led by Lynn Sarkany of MarketFinders, meets to exchange ideas to help our businesses, share stories, and network with each other. If you are a like-minded individual, you might consider joining us. Please visit Entrepreneurs and Professionals to find out more.
I had recently found a whole bunch of baking chocolate on sale, had some strawberries and a package of cream cheese. But, instead of making the Cheesecake Stuffed Chocolate Dipped Strawberries that I made last time, I thought I would add a little more adult flavor to the dish.
I added cocoa, coffee, vanilla, almond and cinnamon to the cream cheese filling, and I injected the berries with balsamic vinegar. When you bite into these berries, they explode flavor into your mouth.
Why would anyone want to write about Thousand Island Dressing? It’s yucky! It’s that reddish stuff that sits on the salad bar and congeals because no one wants it, and rightly so. It’s the “secret” sauce on the Big Mac, and has become so common that you probably don’t even notice it on your sandwich anymore. That’s a pity, because this is a grand dame of salad dressings with an interesting and honorable history.
Thousand Island Dressing is named for the archipelago of 1,864 islands that straddles the Canada-U.S. border in the Saint Lawrence River. Some of the islands are very small indeed. The one pictured above supports a single tree and two bushes. The dressing was popularized by May Irwin, a Canadian vaudeville star in the 1890′s. She had a home in Grindstone Island, one of the Thousand Islands. She said that the dressing reminded her of the Thousand Islands, and enjoyed the dressing so much that she requested the recipe from Sophia LaLonde, a fishing guide’s wife who frequently made the dressing for her husband. Miss Irwin then gave the recipe to George Boldt, the proprietor of the famous Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, who instructed his the hotel’s maître d’hôtel, Oscar Tschirky, to put the dressing on the menu. In 1950 the dressing became a standard, and started its decline into the gloppy mess we have today.
One of the things we do at The Good Plate is to reconstruct packaged foods, so they taste better, and don’t have the preservatives common in packaged foods. I knew that venerable Thousand Island Dressing deserved a better place, and making it from scratch would make it one of my favorites, especially for sea food salads.
I made a crab salad for the dressing, and some Balsamic Toasts to go with them. This was in the midst of Spane and his friend making Play Dough on the stove. There are little bits of homemade Play Dough all over the place. Time to clean!
Figs are amazing fruits. Figs are among the richest plant sources of calcium and fiber. They have been cultivated for thousands of years, even before wheat. Figs dated 9,200 years ago were discovered in the Jordan Valley in a house in the early Neolithic village of Gilgal I by a team of researchers from Bar-Ilan University in Israel and Harvard University.
Figs are mentioned in the Bible many times, beginning in Genesis, Chapter 3, verse 7 where Adam covers himself with a fig leaf. Jesus even curses a fig tree in Mark Chapter 11, verse 12 and Mathew Chapter 21, verse 19. I guess there was only one unfortunate fig tree, it has a bevy of other cultural and historical references. A whole chapter is devoted to it in the Qur’an. Sura 95 of the Qur’an is named al-Tīn (Arabic for “The Fig”), as it opens with the oath “By the fig and the olive.” Buddha achieved enlightenment under the bodhi tree, a large and old sacred fig tree. In Greek mythology, a crow angers Apollo having been tempted by a fig. In modern times, we have wonderful Fig Newtons.
The journey to this tart was one of discovery. I had not cooked with figs before, let alone made a fig tart. My only exposure to figs was the ubiquitous Fig Newton cookie. With that in mind, I wanted something that was sweet, but not too sweet, and with a cookie type crust. I also found a French Tart Dough recipe to which I made major changes, and my Stove Top Cooked French Sweet Tart Dough turned out to be perfect for my Blue Cheese Stuffed Fig Tart with Balsamic Honey Glaze.
Every year, Glendale, California closes off its main street, the Brand Boulevard of Cars. Beautifully kept antique cars park up and down the street, some with their hoods up, so everyone can enjoy them. Spane and I have been going to Cruise Night since before he was born – I say that because I even went when I was pregnant with him. As usual I like to cook something special for Cruise Night dinner, mainly because even though there are hamburgers and hot dogs available, I would rather have my own fresh food, and save money for a treat for Spane.
I love beets, I mean I really, really love beets. So does Spane. We like them plain, pickled, cold, hot, red beets, orange beets, any beets! Beets are very good for you, and studies have shown it can prevent liver, heart and muscle diseases. This is not the same thing as a Sugar Beet, which although is in the same family, almost all sugar beets are genetically modified, and used to make sugar.
We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States;
This morning, when I was out looking for what to make for dinner, I was at the local Armenian store and came across Wafel torte, my favorite start to making a no-bake cake. Not only was it no-bake, it was rectangular and there were boxes of strawberries and blueberries on the counter. I was excited to be making a cake for the 4th after all.
I put condensed milk and Nutella in the layers of the cake, made a sour cream buttercream to top it, and Spane helped me decorate it. He also helped take the pictures, and contributed his necklace that hums the Star Spangled Banner – it’s very annoying.
Yes, I know that Red Velvet Cake is all over the place, and mostly nasty, truly horrific. When Red Velvet cake became popular all over the country, short cuts were made, and what resulted was a dense, flavorless cake, with a greasy shortening “cream cheese” frosting, that I am sure was made with cream cheese flavoring, and nary a bit of real cream cheese. I make a real Red Velvet Cake, that uses real cream cheese, cake flour, and vinegar/baking soda leavener.
Anyone who reads this blog knows that I just can’t make an ordinary anything, I always have to umph it up a bit, and this cake was no exception. Instead of using white vinegar, I used Balsamic vinegar. I also used a Mocha frosting instead of the traditional cream cheese frosting. It was a real hit.