Monday, August 16, 2010

Mojito Semifreddo

mojito semifreddo

I am going through a huge purging and organizing spree. I think I'm finally getting tired of the disconnect between our house and our storage methods. Yes, let me explain. Our house is generally pretty clean to the casual observer. We keep clutter to a bare minimum, our bed is always made, the sink is usually free of dirty dishes, and the heavy vacuuming that we have to do weekly has more to do with our dogs shedding than anything else. So in general, we're living in a decently clean house.

And you'll believe all of that, I'm sure, until you open up one of our closets. And then you'll see where we hide all of our - literally - dirty secrets. Ugh. Things stacked up haphazardly, coats stuffed up on shelves, random shoes tucked into nooks, stacks of books and CD's with no rhyme or reason - it's disorganization with a capital D.

I started getting really frustrated with our inefficient ways, and about a month ago decided to do something about it. So in addition to cleaning out closets, buying baskets, bins, and buckets so that everything has a place, I decided to tackle my frighteningly increasing amount of cookbooks and loose random recipes. As is the case with our closets and storage areas, I want the kitchen to more polished and put together. Like anything at this site.

So this meant I had to do some serious purging of the recipe mountain. Which is how I found today's recipe (wow, what a terribly long lead-in, huh?). I am only a little bit ashamed to admit that it's a Rachel Ray recipe, but even more ashamed to admit that I had not one, not two, but three of her magazines that I decided to pitch. The horrors!

But what's even more horrendous is the name of this recipe. "Frozen Mojito Cake-Tails." Get it? Yeah, I had to think awhile about that one. Sometimes, her cuteness really undermines her recipes. Usually she has some pretty nice flavor combinations, but most people can't get past her annoying, gimmecky shortcuts and naming conventions that she insists on using (EVOO, anyone?).

The original recipe called for pretzels cooked in butter as the crust (what. why?), another 2 sticks of butter, 2 packages of cream cheese, almost a cup and a half of sugar, and 2 cups of heavy cream. Whoa, nelly! She says it should serve 12, I say more like 48. Details, schmetails, right? I reduced all of the fats by half, I cut the sugar to just over 1/2 a cup, subbed in a graham cracker crust, and even with all of that reducing, it still made over 12 individual servings, plus some extra that I froze in a ramekin for midnight raids. The end result is a wonderfully light, creamy, and airy treat, with a fantastic minty-lime finish.

As you can see, I tweaked and changed this recipe a lot. Enough, in fact, that I feel justified in changing the name. Let's call these Mojito Semifreddo's, because, let's face it, we're grownups, not 14 year olds. My tweaked recipe is below. If you feel emboldened, super skinny, or just feel like quickly putting on a few extra pounds, then by all means go check out the original recipe here.

Mojito Semifreddo's

Crust:
1 stick butter, cut into 1" cubes
1-1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup sugar

Filling:
1/2 cup to 3/4 cup granulated sugar, depending on your desired sweetness level (I used 1/2 cup)
1 8-oz package cream cheese, at room temperature
Grated peel of 2 limes, plus the juice of those 2 limes (a little over 1/4 cup)
1 tablespoon white rum
2 tablespoon chopped fresh mint, plus more for garnish
1 cup heavy cream

1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Line a muffin tin with 12 silicone muffin cups. In a small saucepan over medium heat, slowly melt butter. Whisk the sugar and the graham cracker crumbs together, then add to the melted butter. Cook for about 2 minutes, letting the mixture heat through and get a nice nutty fragrance. Remove from heat.
2. Carefully pack about 1 tablespoon of the graham cracker mixture into each cup (I probably used 2 tablespoons for each one since I like a lot of crust). Place tin in oven, and bake for 8-12 minutes, or golden around the edges. Remove from oven and let cool completely.
3. Beat the cream cheese on medium speed for about 1 minute. Slowly beat in the sugar, and beat for another 2 minutes. Gradually mix in the lime peel, juice, rum, and mint.
4. In a separate bowl, beat the cream until stiff peaks form. Using a rubber spatula, fold the cream into the cream cheese mixture.
5. Divide the mixture evenly among the cupcake molds and smooth the tops. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze for 8 hours, or overnight.
6. If you used silicone, good for you: just peel the silicone cup off of each one, then invert onto a plate, then flip it crust-side down. If you didn't use silicone, you may have a harder time removing them. I'd try her suggestion of using a wet knife and running it around the edges, then inverting onto a plate.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Cherry Brown Butter Bars

cherry brown butter bars

I made these weeks ago, when I was still in the middle of my crazy cherry-buying mode. I'd see cherries in the grocery store and I would snatch them up frantically, like it was the last bag on earth, while everyone around me stared at me and wondered what's wrong with that girl? My mind would be racing with ideas of what to do with them - cherry pie? cobbler? something savory to pair with pork? - and then once I got home, I'd be so paralyzed with indecision, that I'd just let them sit for a day until I could make up my stubborn mind.

This recipe comes from Smitten Kitchen. I'd had it printed and bookmarked for an entire year, and I found it as I was flipping through all of my recipes, looking for ideas (which, at that point, I was really wishing for an electronic way to store my thousands of recipes...how easy it would have been to just do a digital search for "cherry"...yes, I need an iphone. Or a Kindle. Or something that will do that for me...any suggestions?).

Go ahead, make these. Your husband will think you're a goddess. Trust me. I think at one point, with his mouth full of a bite, he proclaimed that these were the best thing that I had ever made. Now that's saying something.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Seasonal Produce Calendar Search

Calendar_A1

Help me out here, folks. In our household's quest to eat seasonably, I am on a mission to find a graphically awesome and helpful calendar, or poster, or letterpress something that I can hang in our kitchen. I want it to be a guide as to what's fresh when, but I also want it to look great, like the UK example above.

Anyone know where I can find something like that, that applies to the Southern part of the country? I've searched Etsy and found these calendars, but she doesn't have anything for my region (yet). I also want something more colorful, maybe slightly vintage-kitsch-country? I'm tempted to ask this Etsy graphic designer to commission one for me because I absolutely adore her style, but before I do that, I feel like there's got to be something out there that already exists...any ideas?

A Very Random P.S: When I typed the title of this post I was suddenly transported back to my 5th grade spelling bee, where I horrifically spelled the word "calendar" incorrectly, only to lose the competition and come in second place. So traumatizing!