I only wish I’d thought of this one first!
When I was served this impressive dark chocolate and vanilla mousse cake at a recent reception at The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, Missouri, my thought was simply, “Oh yeah, I can do this at home!” (The design, that is.)
Here’s how you can too:
- Plain plate–the bigger the better!
- Place a fork and/or spoon in the middle of the plate.
- Find a sieve with the finest mesh possible.
- Add powdered cocoa to the middle of the sieve. Gently tap the side of the sieve to create a pattern on the plate.
- Take off the fork and/or spoon.
- Place your brownie on the plate.
This is a perfect kid assignment–prepping the plates for the brownies.
Tomato based, stirred with sugar, and finished off with a generous dose of paprika, Kansas City barbecue sauce stands apart from its Texas and North Carolina cousins.
A few weeks ago I had a chance to sample some of Kansas City’s most legendary barbecue hotspots, Gates Bar B.Q. and Arthur Bryant’s BBQ along with a couple off-the-beaten gems LC’s Bar-B-Q and Woodyard BBQ.
But what sets Kansas City barbecue apart?
First, it’s gotta be pit smoked. The smoke tends to be mild woods like hickory and pecan instead of the bolder mesquite. The gently smoked meats stay moist in the pit and are basted with sauce.
Every barbecue establishment in Kansas City has their own special sauce. When I asked around at Arthur Bryant about offering a few hints on the spices the answer I got–”Even the cooks don’t know what’s in the sauce.” The spices are mixed offsite and unmarked to keep the mixture of decidedly strong paprika and pepper a secret. Yeah, they’re top secret. But what’s similar in all Kansas City sauces is that they’re sweet without even a hint of spice.
Kansas City makes dang good brisket and pulled pork but their sweet spot is the ribs and burnt ends. (Burnt ends is a conversation for another post.)
There’s also the undefinable something in Kansas City barbecue. I suspect it’s from a long, strong tradition of making amazing smoked meats. I found that the folks making the barbecue–the so-called “pit masters”–weren’t big talkers. They were all business when it came to barbecue.
Ohio inspires ice cream makers. The proof? Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams started serving scoops in 2002 in Columbus and blossomed into an ice cream dynasty. Jeni Britton Bauer’s book Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home has become New York Times Best-Selling cookbook teaching regular cooks to craft Jeni’s signature flavors like Brambleberry Crisp, Salty Caramel, and Wildberry Lavender (a personal fav). You can find 11 scoop shops here in Ohio along with several in Tennesse–plus a new local just opened in Chicago. Jeni’s ice creams have garnered national acclaim and awards (James Beard, check).
But Jeni’s isn’t the only ice cream shop in town. Mitchell’s started in 1999 when brothers Pete and Mike decided to shelve their degrees in psychology (that’d be Pete) and philosophy (Mike’s also the ice cream chef) for a pursuit of sweets. They have either stores dotting Ohio, with another coming soon in the burgeoning Ohio City area.
Here’s what both shops are known for:
- Taste all you want. Seriously. You can ask for little taster spoons of all the flavors available.
- Locally sourced ingredients. Fresh-picked berries. Local ales. Mitchell’s even marks ice creams with a 100, meaning the ingredients came mostly from within 100 miles of where the ice cream is made.
- Lines. Well, when you can get taster spoons of just about everything and the ice cream is fabulous, are you surprised?
- Awesome customer service–shiny happy people all around
Now the differences:
In Mr. Squid’s words, “Jeni’s is more of an experience than an ice cream.” Where else can you get Goat Cheese and Red Cherry Ice Cream or Bangkok Peanut (sadly this ice cream that heats up in your mouth hasn’t been available lately)?
- Artisan spins on familiar flavors–Ndali estate vanilla bean not “Vanilla”
- Hipster zibe abounds at the shop
- $9.99 a pint
This is the place the team goes to after basketball tournaments, the place where you see you neighbors and people linger while savoring sweets. That’s not to say their ice creams are lacking in creativity–or quality–the newly introduced vegan line (I had salted caramel pecan last week) entices visitors to try something new.
- Familiar favorites made better–hello, super-sized Belgian chocolate chunks in the Rocky Road and organic mint in the Chocolate Mint ice cream
- Laid back feel and coloring paper for the kids
- $5.99 a pint
The verdict around our house–when you want something a little different head to Jeni’s. But for the creamiest, richest dark chocolate Mitchell’s is our regular spot.
Your turn: Have you tried Jeni’s and Mitchell’s ice creams? Which one was your favorite?
Apples and coconut? Oh yeah! The sweet, tart flavor of grated apples meld perfectly with chewy coconut. Plus, this recipe is a fun one to make with kiddos.
*Tweaked from King Arthur Morning Glory Muffins
Servings: 16 regular-sized muffins
Prep time: 15 minutes
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup brown sugar
2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg (opt.)
1/4 tsp. ginger (opt.)
1/2 tsp. salt
2 cups grated apple (about 2-3 large apples)
1/2 cup shredded coconut, sweetened or unsweetened
1/3 cup sunflower seeds or wheat germ (opt.)
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
3 large eggs
2/3 cup vegetable oil (I used melted coconut oil)
2 tsp. vanilla
1/4 cup apple or orange juice
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line 12-cup muffin tin. I usually have enough batter to make 16 muffins. You can either work in batches or if you have a second muffin pan you’re good to go.
- Whisk together flour, sugar, baking soda, spices, and salt.
- Stir in apple, coconut, nuts, and wheat germ (if using). A note on grating apples: My youngest daughter took care of this task. She had fun but you need to watch closely so there’s no inadvertent finger grating. She gripped the apple with a clean wash cloth to keep some distance between her fingers and the grater. When the apple got close to the grater we just ate the extras. Also, it’s up to you but you don’t have to skin the apple first–just shred away!
- In another bowl, beat together the eggs, oil, vanilla, and juice.
- Add the wet ingredients into the dry and stir until combined.
- Place batter into muffin papers. Top with extra coconut.
- Bake for 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
Our temps reached into the 90s this week proving there’s still some summer left before the leaves start turning. Celebrate sunshine with this recipe for Italian lemon ice from Dr. Jessie Voigts, the force behind Wandering Educators.
My husband remembers heading to New York City when he was young, to visit relatives. Every block, he said, he’d see an Italian lemon ice cart and beg his mother for one. And, in his memory, he did NOT receive a delicious lemon ice every block. Now we know that memories can be faulty, but I have a feeling she bought him plenty of lemon ices.
Recently, I found a recipe for Philadelphia Lemon Water Ice on Gourmet. I miss that magazine, and am so grateful that there is still Gourmet goodness pouring through online. I’ve tweaked it a bit, and we make it often – my husband savoring every spoonful, remembering hot afternoons in New York City, and now enjoying an abundance of Lemon Ice. We’ve also tried Lime Ice – delicious! Just switch out half the lemons for limes.
- 2 1/2 cups water
- 1 cup sugar
- Zest from 4 lemons
- fresh lemon juice from 4 lemons
Heat the water, sugar, and lemon zest until sugar is dissolved. Pour into a glass container with the lemon juice (I use a 4 cup measuring cup), and refrigerate for at least 4 hours – 6+ is better (but who thinks of things that early?). Put into your ice cream maker and freeze. The cool thing is that it starts out as liquid, and then forms little balls, and THEN turns into lemon ice. If you don’t have an ice cream maker, then you can make lemon shaved ice – pour it in a loaf pan, and then when it is frozen, shave off what you’d like to eat.
A kick of sweetness–courtesy of fruit–is just the thing to brighten the flavor of many savory dishes.
My kids were intrigued when we added thinly sliced strawberries to burgers. The verdict? The tangy berries mixed in with the other fixins’ perfectly. We don’t add strawberries all the time–but I like to use what I have on hand to reinvent dishes we have all the time. Which brings me to salad…
I usually throw some sort of fruit into our salads–diced apples, peach wedges, sliced mangoes. Again, it’s a matter of using what’s in season (and on your counter) to bring new life to your old-standbys. Plus, cutting up fruit is a great way to get your kids involved in the kitchen prep.
It’s that time of year again. Break out the baskets and start picking! We brought home 4 baskets of berries from a nearby farm, Monroe’s Orchard.
Some of our berries didn’t even survive the car ride home, but I’ve already frozen plenty so we can have fresh berries in the winter. Have you been raspberry picking yet?
We have brinner a lot around my house. Breakfast for dinner works for my busy crew since it’s quick to put together.
Ingredients for breakfast sliders:
Breakfast sausage patties and/or bacon slices–I’m hooked on Costco’s precooked bacon
Eggs–Whisk them and then cook as you would an omelet, removing them from the pan so that you can slice into squares to place on the patties
Cheese–optional, I like mine sans cheese but the kids prefer a thin slice of American cheese to meld the ingredients together
Put ‘em together:
Cut the buns in half and let your kids layer what they want in their mini-sandwiches.
Heat the sliders in the microwave for a few seconds before serving. Option: We like to grill the sausage patties and then put them on the buns so they have more of a smoky flavor.
Make it a meal by serving the sliders with fruit salad and tater tots or homemade hashbrowns.
Waffle brownies, of course!
My kids couldn’t wait to try these chocolate chalkboards in this month’s Family Fun magazine.
These edible chalkboards are easy to put together and make for a cool back-to-school craft.
Regular-sized chocolate bars (like Hershey’s)
- Use the toothpick to carve a message in the smooth side of a chocolate bar.
- Sprinkle enough powdered sugar on the message to fill the scratches.
- Carefully(!) blow the extra powdered sugar from off the chocolate (or rub it off with a napkin).
- Mold the caramels into a strip in your fingers. Note: You may need to microwave them at half power for a few seconds in the microwave to soften them.
- Press the caramel strips onto the chocolate bar to frame around it.
- Add the white sprinkles to look like chalk.
- That’s it! Eat once you’ve taken a picture–or during.