When winter arrives, I think the snow is so pretty and making a fire, having a scotch, snuggling under blankets is perfect cozy comfort. When winter just won’t quit after five months, cozy becomes claustrophobic and all that comfort just becomes sad slothfulness. I sink into the depths of despair. When this happens, I look to Anne Shirley’s wholesome optimism to buoy my spirit. And I ignore Marilla Cuthbert’s fire and brimstone quip that “to despair is to turn my back on God.” Sometimes Marilla just doesn’t understand. Anne-girl reminds me how gorgeous spring looks, feels and smells: orchards bedecked with boughs and boughs of wee pink and white flowers, babbling clear and cool brooks, flowers fragrant enough to drink in their scents, undulating grassy fields that roll to the sandy shore, warm breezes, and lush woodlands dotted with ferns. Anne rhapsodies better than I do but you get the picture.
Side note: I love you Gilbert.
This winter seemed to have been worse than anything I remember in the past. I read all of the L. M. Montgomery’s Anne books this winter (except for Anne of Windy Poplars because it’s boring) and watched the whole mini series. It felt like a lifeline that pulled me out of the winter dregs. It helped me feel that spark of the old me – the one that loves to cook. Finally having the urge to cook again for the first time in months, I reached for a book from my favourite cookery writer, Nigel Slater. He’s a friend in the kitchen and I wouldn’t want to celebrate my return with anyone else. I plucked his latest, The Kitchen Diaries II (Fourth Estate, 2012), off the shelf and read through the recipes like a brand new, and starving, woman.
My eyes landed on a chicken and leek pie recipe with gentle and wholesome flavours. It’s a recipe that reads like it’s from a simple and homespun era; it looks like something Anne would make. But not in the first book, Anne of Green Gables, because she had no idea what she was doing in the kitchen – like when she baked a cake and forgot the flour. We have to wait until the second book, Anne of Avonlea, before Anne becomes quite the domestic doyenne under Marilla’s tutelage. The flavours in this recipe are old-fashioned and the cooking methods are simple and straightforward. You just need some patience and steadfastness to see you through the multiple steps. The chicken is poached in whole milk with simple aromatics straight from a kitchen garden – onions, bay, and thyme. The chicken is then diced and folded into a creamy sauce with sautéed bacon and tender leeks and everything is then wrapped up in a flakey buttery pastry. Even using whole milk for the poaching seemed more Anne-like and well…wholesome. 2% or 1% wouldn’t have cut it in this recipe.
As I’m cooking, I wonder if Nigel and Anne would have a good time in the kitchen together. I think they would. They both love the domesticity of the kitchen. Neither of them begrudges the time it takes to prepare a dish; there’s no rushing to get through a task. They both madly love to garden and they find the beautiful in the earthly everyday. Nigel seems kind of quiet, though. And Anne sure does like to talk. I’m not sure if he’s the quiet type, like Matthew Cuthbert, that likes it when someone shares every thought. If he’s not, Anne might drive him bonkers.
I’m just going to believe that they would be fast friends.
Who would have known there was so much scope for the imagination in a pie recipe?
A Hearty Chicken and Leek Pie
From The Kitchen Diaries II (Fourth Estate, 2012)
By Nigel Slater
My only addition to the original recipe is that I added some thyme sprigs to the poaching liquid.
350g chicken thighs on the bone (about 3)
350g chicken breasts on the bone (1 large)
half an onion
a bay leaf
a few thyme sprigs
whole milk, enough to cover
6 rashers smoked streaky bacon
2 medium leeks, only white and light green parts
3 tablespoons plain flour
3 teaspoons Dijon mustard
two sheets of puff pastry (purchased is perfectly fine)
a little beaten egg and milk
grated Parmigiano Reggiano
Put the chicken pieces into a large saucepan, together with the half onion, peppercorns and herbs and pour enough milk just to cover the chicken.
Bring to the boil, then, just when it tarts to bubble, lower the heat and leave to simmer, partially covered by a lid for about twenty minutes. Remove the chicken from the poaching liquid, reserving the milk. The poaching milk will smell savory and rich. Once the chicken isn’t too hot, pull off the skin and cut the meat off the bone into small, plump pieces.
Preheat the oven to 400 F.
Slice the bacon into small pieces and the leeks into thin half moons. Oh and make sure you wash those leeks really well so there’s no grit between layers. Melt the butter in a large saucepan and add the bacon. The bacon should soften without colouring over a moderate to low heat. Add the leeks to the bacon and continue cooking for about fifteen minutes more, until the leeks are totally soft.
Stir the flour into the leek and bacon, continue cooking for a couple of minutes. Gradually strain in enough of the warm milk to make a thick sauce. You don’t want this to be a paste, you want it to be a sauce, albeit a thick sauce. There should be enough ‘give’ in the sauce so that the chicken can be mixed in well and coated properly by the sauce. Season generously with salt and pepper and stir in the Dijon mustard.
Unroll your first sheet of puff pastry onto a lightly floured surface. Roll it out to about 10.5 x 14.5 inches. You might need to put a little flour on your rolling pin to keep it from sticking. Place it on a baking sheet. Spoon the filling onto the pastry, leaving a wide rim all the way around. Brush the rim with the beaten egg and milk. Roll out the second piece of pastry to the same size as the one before and lower it over the filling. Press and crimp the edges together firmly to seal them. You don’t want the filling to leak so make sure the edges are sealed tightly.
Brush the pastry all over with the beaten egg wash and scatter a handful of the grated Parmigiano Reggiano over the surface. Bake for thirty-five minutes or until golden.
Enough for 6.
It is delicious.
My mom would give me $2 a day to buy a hot lunch in high school. This was in the early nineties in suburban Cleveland to give you some context. She wasn’t being stingy – it was just how much (or how little) a full hot lunch cost back then and there. But instead of buying a full lunch, I’d only spend $1 and pocket the rest so I could buy cassettes. My $1 a day, Monday to Friday, savings plan would yield a cassette every two weeks. For my lunch, I subsisted on a slice of pizza or a bowl of fake mashed potatoes with fake gravy (better than it sounds). At this rate, it would take me so long (too long!) to buy the whole Replacements back catalog let alone all the bands I read about in Sassy Magazine. I needed a job.
My best friend Natalie got me a job working with her as a waitress at a Ukrainian church hall on Saturdays doing weddings and other big dos. Every Saturday after Ukrainian school, we’d show up to the hall to begin the set up. Natalie and I were just two of the crew of teenage Ukrainian-American girls that worked these events. We draped the tables in coloured tablecloths, fold the colour coordinated napkins, and set the tables with plates, silverware and glassware. We’d then change into our sensible black skirts (to the knee!) and white blouses (blousey blouses!) and tie on our white dainty aprons (random ones from the kitchen). With no intention of looking good (or cool which is better than looking good), I just cobbled together a uniform, primarily made out of polyester, that was machine washable and didn’t rely on me actually spending money on it.
Ukrainian lady cooks ran the kitchen; they’ve been running things every Saturday since I think people first started having weddings. After suiting up for service, we headed into the kitchens to load up our carts with large platters and bowls of family style food to serve the guests. We’d roll out the carts into the big hall, a parade of sensibly dressed teenage waitresses pushing heavy carts, moving as fast as possible so that the food was hot, hot, hot when it hit the table. As soon as the food was served, all the waitresses and cooks sat down to a long table in the kitchen to eat the same big meal as the guests.
It was pretty much the same menu every wedding – roast beef and gravy, boiled potatoes tossed with butter and dill, cabbage rolls, salad, vegetables ‘California-style’ (broccoli, cauliflower and carrots), rigatoni with meat sauce. Something Ukrainian, mid-western meat and potatoes, something Italian and of course something Californian. And then the fancy bit – there was either Chicken Cordon Bleu or Chicken Kiev. Mind you, neither of the fancy chickens were homemade; they came frozen out of box and were reheated in the oven. But it didn’t matter to me; fancy chicken (even out of a box) was something extra-ordinary. My mom didn’t make anything like this at home. I preferred the Chicken Kiev, just because of the name. Capital of Ukraine! Even though it’s the Russian spelling! Especially compared to that French imposter Chicken Cordon Bleu.
After our staff meal, we’d head back out into the hall to see if anyone wanted seconds. We hoped that they didn’t since the sooner everyone was done eating the faster we could clear the tables and get out of there. We’d do a first blitz around the dining room grabbing anything that we could clear off the table. Then we waited for the rest of it all. Leaning up against the wall in the back, watching like hawks for any piece of cutlery or glassware that was left unattended, we’d swoop in and clear. Sometimes this took a while. We watched the crowd, chatted amongst ourselves, judged people on how they danced, and wished to be home already. Occasionally, a drunk guy, around the same age of a granddad, would come out of the bar and ask us to polka. The answer was always no, no matter how much we wanted to. We were professionals. Once everything was off the tables, aside from the tablecloth and decorations, we’d head back into the kitchen to polish and put everything away for the next Saturday.
Oh and what about the cassettes? Each Saturday I earned about $30 cash – under the table, no tax, and all mine. I can’t believe how much money that seemed to me when I was handed that envelope. That money, from just one shift, was enough for three tapes and I didn’t have to endure 6 weeks worth of weekday school lunch malnourishment to get them. And I got to have fancy chicken every Saturday night.
My mom never made Chicken Kiev and for all the Ukrainian women cooking and the Ukrainian girls serving, I don’t think any of them ever had this dish made at home, either. It didn’t really seem Ukrainian. And I found out that it’s not; not organically Ukrainian, a dish made in the family home generation after generation that becomes part of a people’s collective food history. Its history is unconfirmed – either it was created by a chef in the 1960’s for the grand opening of a four star hotel in Kiev named the Hotel Moscow or it was created by a French chef and served at the Russian imperial court when Tsars were still around. Either way, this is not a dish something families (like mine) would be making back on the farm in rural western Ukraine.
I attempted two recipes to see which worked best. The Chicken Kiev recipe from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s The River Cottage Meat Book (Ten Speed Press, 2004) was anxiety inducing, unnecessarily difficult and failed. Hugh actually wants you to buy a whole chicken, break it down, and then debone and skin the breasts. Which is fine, I guess. I know how to breakdown the chicken but then wasn’t sure how to debone and skin the breasts with the first joint of the wing still attached (that wing detail he says “makes it ‘authentic’). I flip to the page in Hugh’s book where he is supposed to detail how to do all of that. His instructions on how to debone and skin the breasts with that little f*@#ing wing joint attached are: “trim out the lean meat.” That’s not exactly helpful, Hugh.
Felicity Cloake’s recipe in the Guardian was the exact opposite of Hugh’s. She actually calls him out on his version. She’s done a bit of research on the dish and offers up a lot of helpful hints. The link is below.
Mostly from Felicity Cloake’s recipe in the Guardian
I don’t usually mention kitchen tools and supplies with recipes, but please make sure you have enough cling film on hand. You’ll need it for three different steps.
4 tablespoons softened butter
2 garlic cloves, minced and then crushed to a paste with a little salt
1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley
1 teaspoon lemon juice
2 chicken breasts, butterflied
2 eggs, beaten
2 tablespoons flour, seasoned with salt and pepper
1 cup breadcrumbs, seasoned with salt and pepper
Oil for deep frying (peanut, sunflower, or vegetable)
Beat together the butter, garlic, parsley and lemon juice with a pinch of salt and plenty of pepper. Divide into two blobs, place each in the middle of a piece of cling film, fold one half of the cling film over the butter blob, shape the butter into a sausage, then roll it up. Twist the ends of the cling film to secure the butter and place the little packages in the fridge to chill. I did lick some of the garlic butter off the spoon. And then off my fingers. It’s delicious.
If you can’t find butterflied breasts, here’s how you do it. Place each butterflied breast of chicken between two pieces of cling film. Using a meat mallet, pound the breasts until they thin out to about 1/4 of an inch. Be really careful that you don’t create any holes in the breast meat or the dish is ruined. If there are any holes, then when the butter melts it will leak out. That butter staying inside is the whole point of the dish. No pressure!
Season both sides of the chicken with salt and pepper. Place the chicken breasts horizontally in front of you. Place a piece of butter close to the edge of the breast (breast and butter both placed the long way), fold the bottom flap of chicken over the butter, fold in the sides, and roll up. Same method as if you’re rolling up a burrito. If the edges aren’t staying put or the end flap won’t stick, then use a little bit of beaten egg and flour like glue to seal the deal.
When I rolled up one of the breasts, the sides wouldn’t stay put even with the flour and egg so I used toothpicks to seal the seam. There is no shame in this.
Place the rolled up chicken breasts on a piece of cling film, and wrap them tightly, rolling them up (again) like a burrito. Place in the freezer for about 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Lay out your flour, beaten eggs and breadcrumbs in shallow dishes. Take the Chicken Kievs out of the freezer and dredge them: flour first, then eggs, and then breadcrumbs. Repeat the eggs and breadcrumbs. Set them on a plate in the fridge and let them thaw out for an hour. Your Chicken Kievs should have a nice oblong shape and they should be sealed like Fort Knox.
When ready to fry, heat the oil in a large frying pan (or even better – a dutch oven) to 325 F. The oil should come up and cover or almost cover the entire chicken bundle.
Preheat the oven to 350.
Fry the chicken in the oil for about 10 minutes. Turn them periodically so they colour evenly on all sides. They should be golden brown. If you’re making multiple batches, you can keep the fried Chicken Kievs warm in the oven while you wait for all of them to fry up. I also like to have a preheated oven on the ready if my chicken starts to brown to quickly and I feel I have to pull them out before I think they’re cooked all the way through. I can then finish off the little Kievs in the oven. This ended up happening to me on the latest attempt. I pulled them out when I didn’t want them to get any more ‘golden brown.’ They then went into the oven for five additional minutes to make sure they were cooked all the way through.
When you cut open the Chicken Kiev, the herb and garlic butter should ooze out onto the plate. When I was making these, I thought this dish was way too fussy and troublesome. I knew why those Ukrainian church hall ladies bought these premade. But when I cut the Chicken Kiev open and that herby, garlicky butter oozed out, all that trouble was worth it.
I’ve been giggling all week since reading this post from McSweeney’s. There are a lot of swears in it but the f-bombs aren’t gratuitous; each one is needed to express the author’s love for fall and decorative gourds. His profane enthusiasm worked on me – for someone who isn’t into fall or decorative gourds, this made me want to aggressively decorate my home with gourds and shout at everyone I came across while kicking through the first fallen leaves: “It’s fall, $&*%ers!”
This past weekend, my boyfriend and I were a couple of hours north of Toronto at a friend’s cottage on Georgian Bay. Instead of taking the highway back to the city, we took a scenic side road. It’s fall, we’re in Ontario driving through rolling, picturesque farmlands, and we come across a farm stand where fall’s harvest is for sale. The bounty of pumpkins and squash set out in large bins and flatbed trailers and a table groaning under the weight of potatoes, onions, corn, cabbages, peppers, cauliflower and straggler tomatoes convinced us to pull over. Yes, of course I was interested in getting some (edible) farm produce but what I could barely admit to myself and not admit at all to my boyfriend was that I was hoping that they’d have some decorative gourds, too.
I looked at the pumpkins, there were ones for pie and ones for jack-o-lanterns. There was a time not too long ago when I didn’t know the difference. I thought jack-o-lanterns were perfectly fine for pies. I learned the hard way that this isn’t true. There were bins of spaghetti squash, acorn squash, all sorts of other squash varieties I had never seen before including carnival squash. These were too pretty to pass up and I bought two.
And then jack pot, there was the gourd bin. As I was oohing and aahing, my boyfriend comes up to me and says, “I’m surprised you want these.” He doesn’t know that a profane, overly enthusiastic piece of writing on decorative gourd season had done its job: “I think we can put them out around the house.” We both peer into the large bin and start rifling through all the gourds, trying to find the ugliest ones.
The proprietress comes round, sees us looking at the gourds and says, “Those are five for $2.” My excitement spikes at the sound of such a deal on these non-edible produce cum autumnal decorations. She then points to the pretty squashes cradled in my arms and adds, “you can eat those, y’know.” Yes, I know. Thank you.
Our attention goes back to the bin. We want the weirdest ones. We notice one looks like a crooked penis and decide we have to have that one. Another one looks like a mod space ship. We’ll take that one, too. After some deliberation, we finally have our motley assortment of five gourds. I head to the check out and notice the rest of the (edible) bounty: corn, onions, potatoes, peppers. I want corn chowder. The idea hits me like a sucker punch. Corn chowder is a perfect dish to transition from summer to fall. The last of the summer corn and fall’s hardy potatoes, together in a warm and comforting bowl.
Once home, I realized that I was missing a few things that most typical corn chowder recipes call for. But sometimes following a recipe to the letter is nonsense. Do you think the woman on the frontier who wanted to make chowder decided not to feed her family that night because she didn’t have a rib of celery? I didn’t have any celery and my carrots were covered in weird white stringy things and I didn’t have any bacon either. No matter. I just used peppers as my aromatics along with my onion and garlic. Smoky kovbasa is a flavourful substitute for the bacon. It’s leaner than bacon so I had to use extra butter and oil when frying but having bites of that delicious sausage in the chowder worked perfectly for me.
Fresh Corn Chowder
adapted from Elizabeth Germain’s recipe in Cooks Illustrated American Classics 2008
5 ears of corn
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon grapeseed oil (I used grapeseed but you could use any type – it’s just to keep the butter from burning)
1 cup diced smoky kovbasa
1 cup diced sweet onion
1 cup diced red bell pepper
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 jalapeno pepper, minced
1 tablespoon flour
2 cups chicken broth
4 small to medium red potatoes, peeled and diced
1 cup milk (I used 2% even though the original recipe called for whole)
1 bay leaf
¼ teaspoon dried thyme
½ cup heavy cream
I didn’t have any aromatic vegetables around to use. If you want to add to or substitute the red bell pepper with a rib of celery and a carrot (both diced) then please do. I just used the whole red bell pepper because I didn’t have anything else to add to the onion. That’s not the only reason, it’s also a great pop of colour in the chowder.
First thing to do is tend to the corn. Take two of the ears and grate all of the kernels and pulp into a bowl. Then take the back of a knife and scrape it down the ears, taking off any remnants of pulp. You’ll have a milky and pulpy corn mess. Set aside. With the remaining 3 ears of corn, take the knife – this time using the sharp side – and cut off all of the kernels and set aside. This, too, is best done in a bowl so you don’t get any errant kernels flying here or there.
Over medium heat, in a medium sized heavy pot, heat the butter and oil until the butter is foaming. Add the diced kovbasa and let it brown well before stirring it and letting it brown some more. To get the most flavour, let the meat develop a nice crusty, caramelized exterior. Once the kovbasa has that nice seared brown exterior, remove it from the pan using a slotted spoon (to leave the fat behind) and set aside.
Add the diced onion to the pan and cook for about 5 to 6 minutes until the onion has softened. Add the diced jalapeno and red bell pepper. Cook for a few minutes more. Add the minced garlic and cook for about one minute more.
Sprinkle the flour into the pan and for the next two minutes stir constantly while you cook the flour with the vegetables. Next add the broth and then the milk, grated corn pulp, potatoes, bay leaf and thyme to the pot and bring to boil. Season with salt and pepper. Turn down the heat and simmer for about 10 to 15 minutes until the potatoes are tender.
Add the corn kernels, kovbasa and the heavy cream and continue simmering over low for no more than 10 minutes. You still want the corn to be a bit crunchy and fresh. The texture of the corn kernels is lovely in the chowder against the tender potatoes and creamy broth. Check for seasoning again and add any salt and pepper if needed.
When serving, and this isn’t necessary, you can garnish with chopped chives or parsley to give it a fresh pop of herby green flavour.
I almost filed this away as a post for next summer since I was really late in getting this up and now it’s September (sobs). Should I even post something that is for keeping cool in the dead of summer? I didn’t need cooling off from today’s autumn-like, blustery winds and rain but I do want to willfully ignore that summer is over so I will pretend that the cicadas are still singing in the hazy heat.
Sue Riedl from the awesome blog cheese and toast perfectly expressed her grief at summer’s passing by “clutching onto its leg and crying.” She’s clutching onto one leg and I’m clutching onto the other. If you want to join us in not letting go, then this absolute peach of a semifreddo is for you. You can still find the last of the summer peaches at the markets and green grocers but you’ll need to hurry.
This semifreddo is totally peachy and I’m not speaking figuratively. It literally screams Peach! Peach! Peach! as it melts on your tongue. Its flavour is clearly focused on this fuzzy late summer bounty. Compared to the divinely creamy peach semifreddo I wrote about before, the dairy in this version is kept to a minimum so peaches can be front and center and the texture a bit more icy.
I found this recipe on my semifreddo research trip to the Toronto Reference Library. Out of all the books I flipped through looking for semifreddo recipes, I found what I was looking for in Silver Spoon, a tome of Italian cookery that not only breaks up the recipes by courses but then also gives you the geographic provenance of each dish because Italian cooking is never just Italian – each dish comes from a very specific nook of Italy.
Peach and Amaretti Semifreddo from the Piemonte region
Silver Spoon (Phaidon Press, 2005)
2 lbs ripe peaches (about 7-9 peaches depending on size)
2/3 cup coarsely crushed amaretti cookies
2/3 cup sugar
1 cup heavy cream or whipping cream*
1 large egg, separated (you’ll only need the white for this recipe)
*your cream should be at least 30% butterfat so it can be whipped into proper peaks
Line a loaf pan with plastic wrap.
Whip the cream until it stands up in stiff peaks. Set aside. Whip the egg white until it’s glossy and stands up in stiff peaks. Set aside.
Peel and pit the peaches. If you need a refresher on how to do this, check out this post. After prepping the fruit, chop them up roughly and toss them into a food processor or blender with the amaretti cookies and sugar. Puree until smooth. You don’t want any chunks of peach. When you open the lid of the processor/blender, the peach slurry will smell divine. You might want to slurp this stuff with a spoon. You’ve been warned.
Pour the peach mix into a large bowl and then fold in the whipped cream and stiffly whipped egg white. Be gentle so you don’t deflate either of the whipped items. That air in the egg white and whipped cream will give your semifreddo lift.
Pour the mixture into the prepped loaf pan and freeze for four hours to set.
The cookbook advises that the semifeddo should be turned out onto a serving platter. I took it out of the freezer, let it thaw out a little bit while sitting out at room temperature for 15 minutes and then flipped it over onto a plate. I took a good, hard look at its homely self. Regardless of my apprehension of its looks, I was going to photograph it as it lay whole on the plate. My boyfriend walks by and grimaces, “you’re not going to shoot it like that, are you?” I tried taking a beauty shot of it, but no matter what angle, it still just looked like a pale peach homogenous loaf. Regardless of appearance, the taste is AMAZING. Don’t bother with showing anyone what it looks like whole. This semifreddo should be scooped and served in dishes just like ice cream.
Hold onto that summer feeling.
This summer’s been hot. (Don’t worry Toronto, we’ll be back in the 30’s again by this weekend.) That’s my reason for consuming an untold amount of ice cream sandwiches. The box in the freezer keeps spontaneously regenerating them – a bottomless pit of cheap and cheerful frozen delight. But can a girl live on ice cream sandwiches alone? Surely there must be something tastier (and more special) out there that would keep me cool and still keep my waistline inching outward? Since the start of our gloriously blistering summer, the only recipes that my brain has been acknowledging are the ones that are frozen, sweet, and have an above average butterfat content. I’m not going to fight it; I decide to make some cool treats of my own. I pick two recipes to try. I’m excited. And then I’m not. They both fail miserably. One was so much work and the other one less so but both outcomes were really annoying. I consoled myself by eating an ice cream sandwich.
These two failures sat in my freezer for weeks. I didn’t want to deal with them. But every time I opened my freezer door to reach in for an ice cream sandwich, I was confronted by their hulking glacial masses. This couldn’t be the beginning and end of my attempt, so I threw them out, picked myself up and decided to try again. But this time I would do as an Italian would. This is a good rule of thumb and one I use when I hit a cooking obstacle. An Italian wouldn’t overthink it, which is why I think the other recipes failed. If an Italian wanted to make a frozen confection, they’d make a semifreddo. The flavours aren’t mucked about with and the ingredient list is simple. You don’t need much skill, just a mixer with a whisk really. But be warned, you will sully a few bowls while making this.
Ontario peaches are in season and with the thought of making a semifreddo obsessing me, I serendipitously came across a peaches and cream semifreddo recipe on The Kitchn. My only amendment was to add crushed amaretti cookies, an Italian almond cookie that is a perfect match for a peach.
This dessert tastes as good as it looks. That creamy expanse is flecked with vanilla and bejeweled with bright summer peaches. The amaretti give the semifreddo a bit of crunch here and there with that sweet, almost burnt sugar almond taste. This is a bit of an upgrade from your standard ice cream sandwich.
Peaches and Cream Semifreddo
Adapted by the Kitchen from Suzanne Goin’s Sunday Suppers at Luques (Knopf, 2005)
5 ripe peaches, peeled and diced into small pieces*
1 ½ cups whipping cream**
4 large eggs, separated
1 vanilla bean
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2/3 cup sugar, divided
16 amaretti cookies, crushed
*check out my post on Peachy Keen Mess to find out how to skin peaches.
**in Canada, a cream with at least 30% butterfat is whipping cream. I believe this cream goes by other names in other places. So, just check the butterfat content. You need your cream to have at least 30% butterfat in order to whip it into stiff peaks or else you’ll exhaust yourself and only get a flaccid frothy cream.
Line a loaf pan with plastic wrap, letting excess drape over the sides. Try andsmooth out the bottom and the sides as much as possible so your semifreddo won’t come out wrinkly. But don’t worry about it too much – you can always smooth out your semifreddo with a warm offset spatula or knife.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the cream on medium speed until stiff peaks have formed. Transfer to another bowl and pop in the fridge to chill.
Slice open the vanilla bean and scrape out the seeds within.
Clean the bowl and whisk attachment. Add the egg yolks, vanilla bean seeds, vanilla extract, and 1/3 cup sugar. Beat on high speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a large mixing bowl and set aside. You’re going to use this bowl with the egg yolks to mix everything together.
Clean the bowl and whisk attachment again. Add the egg whites and mix on medium speed until frothy, about 1 minute. Increase speed to high. Slowly add sugar. Continue beating until stiff peaks have formed, about 4 minutes.
Fold the chilled whipped cream into the egg yolk mixture. Gently fold in the egg whites, a third at a time. Before adding and folding in the last third of the egg whites, add the diced peaches and the crushed amaretti cookies. Once all your ingredients are in the bowl, gingerly fold it all together until everything is well incorporated but be careful not to deflate the mixture. When doing all this folding, don’t rush and beat the mixture. It might not look like it’s coming together but it will.
Spoon the mixture into the prepared loaf pan. Spread evenly with a spatula, and cover with another piece of plastic wrap, smoothing out any wrinkles with your hands. Tuck excess plastic wrap over the top. Freeze until firm, at least 8 hours but preferably overnight (and up to a week).
To serve, invert semifreddo onto a serving platter and remove pan and plastic wrap. Let stand 10 – 15 minutes at room temperature to soften. Depending on the warmth of your kitchen, I’d say 15 minutes is better. No matter how hard you try for the plastic wrap to be smooth, you probably will still have a few wrinkles in the surface of the semifreddo. No worries. Run a knife under some warm water and then smooth the top and sides.
Or you can bypass all of this and just defrost the semifreddo in the pan and then scoop it like ice cream.