Better Late Than Never

Man, long weekends really do fly by, don’t they? For those of us with so-called regular 8-5’s, a standard Saturday-Sunday weekend never seems like long enough – no matter how much you like your job. For whatever reason, the few and far between holiday ‘long weekends’ never seem much better, once it’s all said and done.

Except for this weekend – we seemed to cram quite a bit o’ fun into those three days; a tradition I think I can stick to easily, quite honestly.

The weekend started off with a trip to the Ferry Plaza Farmers’ Market with Chris and my fellow SF transplant via Chicago friend, Judy. While I do adore Chicago’s Green City Market, I have to vote for SF’s markets, hands down, but given the plethora of fresh produce in these parts it’d be hard not to. For starters, I found a stand indoors that specializes in mushrooms and guess what they also brought on the field trip to the market – ramps! Holy hell it took a lot for me to hold it together, but I did – just barely.

Needless to say, ramps were purchased and grilled this weekend. But also! There are fresh oysters at the end of a mere 60-minute line. You don’t get that at most markets, do ya? Probably overpriced, but totally worth it that day.

Saturday ended with an x-box date with Jennifer & Jon (laugh it up, but it is totally awesome), and Sunday was pretty much grill/beer/friends fest. Also, a lot of youtube videos. There was plenty of solid food that will be discussed in a matter of time, but at the forefront of my mind is ice cream.

Oh, right. Saturday also consisted of a trip to The Haight, and Ben & Jerry’s. But that’s not the ice cream that’s on my mind, you see.

It seems I’m grabbing up all of Spring’s produce at the last minute: ramps, strawberries, rhubarb, even fava beans. I figure: better late than never, right? Things stick around a little bit longer out here, and I had to remind myself that even though the produce is more prevalent, it will eventually run out – even here. I got lucky with the ramps, and the rhubarb doesn’t seem to be quite as abundant as I’d expected, either.

Nonetheless, find some I did, and with it I put the ol’ ice cream maker to work for the first time this year. Eating homemade ice cream always leaves me feeling a little bit sheepish, kicking myself in the ass for not making more frozen treats than I do.

Because when your holiday Monday is spent by taking a 2-hour bike trip through the park and to the beach (the beach!) and back, finished off by lounging in the park with a husband, a magazine, and a beer, there’s only one thing that’s missing from that equation, and that’s a pint of fresh, homemade ice cream.

Strawberry-Basil-Rhubarb Ice Cream
adapted from Cooking Light, May 2010; serves 8

time commitment: less than 1 hour for preparing ice cream + at least 8 hours to freeze afterwards

printable version

ingredients
2 1/2 c reduced fat milk
3/4 c half-and-half
1 handful of fresh basil (~1/2 c)
1 c sugar, divided
3 egg yolks
3 stalks of rhubarb
1/3 c Malbec or other red wine
1 lb fresh chopped strawberries

instructions
Combine milk, half-and-half, and basil in a heavy saucepan over medium-high heat. Heat milk mixture to 180° or until tiny bubbles form around edge (do not boil). Combine 1/2 cup sugar and egg yolks in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk until pale yellow. Remove basil and gradually add half of hot milk mixture to egg yolk mixture, stirring constantly with a whisk. Pour the egg yolk mixture into pan with remaining milk mixture; cook over medium-low heat until a thermometer registers 160° (about 2 minutes), stirring constantly. Place pan in a large ice-filled bowl for 20 minutes or until custard cools completely, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, combine remaining 1/2 cup sugar, rhubarb, and wine in a saucepan over medium-high heat; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 8 minutes or until rhubarb is tender and liquid is syrupy. Remove from heat; let stand 10 minutes. Combine rhubarb mixture and strawberries in a blender; process until smooth. Strain mixture through a sieve over a bowl, pressing with a wooden spoon; discard solids. Stir rhubarb mixture into custard mixture.

Pour custard into the freezer can of an ice-cream freezer; freeze according to manufacturer’s instructions.

Pholicious

Okay. Remember how I’ve always said that I rarely make things more than once? I got bored a little bit ago (c’mon, people, I’m in Cupertino, California for the time being. It passes the time.) and I updated the recipe section (there are sections within sections now – watch out!). In doing so, I also made a list of the dishes I’ve actually made more than once on this site.

As it turns out, there are less than ten out of probably 200+ recipes on this blog that have been given this particular distinction. I was surprised there were that many, but nonetheless, here they are –

Paella. It requires getting your hands on Spanish chorizo, but when you do it is such a satisfying dish. I heart saffron.

Pad Thai. This one doesn’t require any explaining. It’s just a damn good recipe, and you should make it, too. Matter of fact, once I get settled, I’m going to make it again.

Deviled eggs. Okay, this one doesn’t really count. It’s a Thanksgiving dish that we just can’t live without. Plus, Luke eats like 5 of them so I think he’d miss it.

Puppy chow. The easiest party dish ever, so again, a no-brainer. 5 ingredients – 5!

Zucchini fries with romesco sauce. Seriously, what’s not to love? Although, making something twice isn’t that much to write home about, but I’d give these a third go if the timing was right…

Granola bars. Man, I want to make these NOW! I’m going to miss not being able to roll outta bed at 9 and eat cereal every morning (okay, 9 on a good day. there were a couple of 11 am wake-ups too, just a couple).

Vanilla-chai granola. Again – this would be really good in some Greek yogurt right. this. minute.

Baked pasta with squash and sweet potatoes. Creamy, vegetable-y goodness, all in one casserole dish.

B’stilla. Yes, Chris, I know I didn’t make this for you for your birthday this year. Clearly, we had other stuff going on. All in good time, love.

Nine. Nine! But there are at least 50 other dishes that got me drooling all over my Wallaby pineapple yogurt the other day. One day, I’ll revisit some of them. One day. But for now, I already have dish #10. I found a recipe for a quick version of pho (pronounced ‘fuh’) in Food & Wine last month, and since I’ve done nothing but think of pho since living in California (it’s awesome – noodle shops every mile or so, for real), I knew this dish could be a problem.

And it is. But such a good problem, though. I’ve already made it twice, and have so many leftover bunches of basil, bean sprouts, and scallions in the fridge that I decided it’s going back on the list this week. And sure, it’s not quite as delicious as the more time-consuming, traditional versions (including whatever they do at the actual restaurant here called Pholicious), but it’ll do for a quick weeknight meal.

Okay, okay. It’ll also do for lunch, a midnight snack, or a weekend meal with a movie and a bottle of wine. Just call it a multi-purpose dish, and make it.

Quick Vietnamese Pho
Adapted from Food & Wine, March 2011; serves 4

time commitment: less than 30 minutes

printable version

ingredients
5 c chicken stock or low-sodium broth
4 c water
2 T agave syrup
2 T finely grated fresh ginger
3 T low-sodium soy sauce*
1 8oz package thin brown (or white) rice noodles
3 T fresh lime juice, plus lime wedges, for serving
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 lb trimmed beef tenderloin, very thinly sliced across the grain
1 t dark sesame oil
1/2 c chopped basil
1/4 c chopped scallions
1 c mung bean sprouts
1 jalapeno, sliced thinly
Sriracha, for serving

*gluten-free available

instructions
in a large saucepan, combine the chicken stock with the water, agave syrup, grated ginger and soy sauce and bring to a boil. Add the noodles and simmer over low heat for 2 minutes. Add the lime juice and season with salt and pepper.

using tongs, transfer the noodles to bowls. Add the beef to the noodles and ladle the hot broth on top. Drizzle with the sesame oil and top with the basil, scallions and bean sprouts. Serve with lime wedges and chile sauce.