Some of the other shows have me puzzled. I mean who would really use a recipe Guy Fieri makes? I watched him once and that was it for me. Whatever he was making was colorless and the ingredients were spicy hot. Nothing wrong with spicy, but a grey blob on the plate? I think food should look good as well as taste good. I like color on a plate. Maybe it's an age thing but I would hate to think so- Giada is young too and I love her ideas. Perhaps Mr. Fieri has the personality the cooking public wants to watch. I think I read someplace he was a Food Network Star winner; I have never watched that show but I wonder what the judges' criteria for the winner is?
I want recipes that fit my life. That I can serve my friends and family with confidence. I have cookbooks I depend upon too, plus recipes from friends and family.
Maida Heatter is, as far as I am concerned, the all-time greatest dessert chef. All her recipes are easy to follow- some are complicated, some are quick and easy. All are thoroughly researched, tested and explained in minute detail. You cannot mess up even the most involved Maida Heatter recipe if you follow her exact directions. I have every one of her books and use them constantly. She and her husband actually had a restaurant in Miami Beach many years ago and her father was Gabriel Heatter, the famous broadcast newsman. What a fascinating life she has led; wouldn't you love to have her as a dinner partner?
Various Junior League cookbooks are chock full of good ideas too; some are better than others but I have listed a few of my favorites opposite this column.
My mother had a fabulous cookbook collection which I went slowly through book by book. I don't think my children have the time nor the inclination to go through any huge collection of mine so I have really pared down my cookbook collection by entering all of my favorite recipes from old cookbooks (and all of my mother's favorite recipes) on my computer. In fact, I have a pile of recipes I have cut out, printed out or heard about sitting right on top of my printer, waiting to be tested. There are some super food programs out there and most are simple to use. Now I try a new recipe and if we like it, I enter it immediately into my food program. I just don't have the space for all those cookbooks anyway- and if you can't find an old recipe, type it into Google. It's amazing what you will turn up.
Back to Ina: I was watching one of her shows before Christmas and she made a fruit salad with Limoncello and served it with a luscious sauce. I perked up because we love fruit salads but there are just so many things you can do with fresh fruit. My answer, up until now, has been this: years ago I came across a recipe in the newspaper for something called Coconut Curd. I tried it the next day and began serving it with my fruit salads. It perks up the mundane fruit salad and nobody can figure out what it is which is fun. It might also be fun to combine the two followiing recipes in various ways and make it your own.
2 tablespoons gelatin
1/4 cup cold water
2 cups milk
1 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup sugar
3 1/2 ounces grated coconut
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Sprinkle gelatin over cold water for 15 minutes. Stir over hot water until dissolved. Heat milk, cream and sugar and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and add coconut, gelatin and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla. Stir until gelatin is dissolved.
Pour into square cake pan that has been rinsed with cold water, but not dried. Refrigerate. When set, run knife around the edge of the pan, dip the pan in hot water for 30 seconds, and invert a plate over it. Either cut into small squares and serve in fruit salad or cut into diamond shape and serve with tinned litchis or mandarin oranges, both drained.
I keep wandering off the subject of this post: Ina Garten. She made a heavenly salad with Limoncello on her Food Network program. Just the normal fruits one would use to which the Limoncello adds some zest; but the topper is the sauce she makes to go over the fruit. It's ambrosia. I served it Christmas morning with our brunch. I promise you, it will be on my menu every brunch I serve.
Fruit Salad with Limoncello
Adapted from Ina Garten, Barefoot Contessa
7 ounces Greek yogurt (recommended: Fage Total)
1/3 cup good quality bottled lemon curd
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups sliced strawberries ( 1 pint)
1 cup blueberries ( 1/2 pint)
1 cup raspberries (1/2 pint)
2 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoon Limencello liqueur
1 banana, sliced
Fresh mint sprigs
For the lemon yogurt topping: stir together the yogurt, lemon curd, honey and vanilla until smooth. Set aside. You can leave it at room temperature, or make it ahead and refrigerate; but bring it to room temperature before serving.
Carefully toss the strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, sugar and Limencello. Allow to stand at room temperature for at least 5 minutes. Fold in the banana just before serving.
I serve it in pretty glass bowls with some lemon yogurt on top; put the sauce on the table as well as everyone always wants more. Garnish with fresh mint sprig.