I’ve been making sage ice cream for a few years now, always to rave reviews. I like to put in just enough sage to taste some ethereal flavor dance across the tongue, but the exact nature eludes description. It’s definitely not the hit you over the head kind of flavor most people associate with sage, and I think that’s a big part of why I love it.
As soon as I publicly admitted that I’m not very good at making pie crusts and don’t have a recipe I really like, I knew I had to change that. (Truth be told, and bacon apple pie aside, I’ve avoided pies for years because of my crust-phobia.) Then I heard these cherries calling to me from across the farmer’s market. There were just two boxes of bright red Michigan sour cherries sitting among the bings, and I heard them calling just in time to watch one leave with someone else. My fate was sealed. I quickly swooped in to grab the last box. Afterall, what better way to end a pie drought than with cherry pie? Now I just needed a crust.
There’s a white mulberry tree a few blocks from my house. It’s in the yard in front of an apartment building and every year it drops tons of berries on the ground, but no one seems to pick any of them. I’ve been walking past it on my way to and from work every day for more than three years now. It took me while to think “Hey, those berries look edible. If no one else is using them, I should.” Then it took me a while longer to indentify the tree. (I may be foolish, but not so foolish to eat unknown berries from an unknown tree.) I finally got a positive ID on the tree last fall, just in time for the tree to stop growing berries for the year. So this spring when it started growing berries, I was determined to pick some.
I saw gooseberries at the farmer’s market. (Actually my wife pointed them out.) Neither of us had ever eaten gooseberry anything, so of course it was a challenge not to be passed up. They’re quite tart; almost as tart as rhubarb. They’re quite similar to rhubarb in flavor as well. Because of the acidity, I knew these would need to be cooked into something. I love curds, and these had enough acidity to make a curd without adding lemon juice. (The acidity in a curd helps it set up correctly.) A gooseberry curd tart sounds like a winner to me.
I saw these in Gourmet a few years back. I was looking for something chocolate for my Christmas party that year. They looked a bit fussy, but also very rich: perfect for the holidays. That first time I made them mostly as shown in the magazine: chocolate and mint. A few hours into the party, people started commenting on the brownies. “What’s in these?” “They’re so good.” “I can’t stop eating them.” and eventually “I know if I eat one more of these brownies, I’m going to die, but yet I can’t stop myself from eating it. They’re like crack.” Ever since, they’ve been known as Eli’s Crack Brownies.
It took me a shamefully long time to use the bottoms of the butternut squash from the squash lasagna, but it was well worth the wait. This frozen yogurt is wonderfully creamy and smooth. The spices add just the right bit of oomph, but definitely stay in the background. The stars here are the squash itself and the tangy yogurt.
Sit down kids, it’s time for a story. A year ago two of my co-workers went to an apple orchard. On the way home, they stopped at a butcher and bought, among other things, cinnamon bacon. Now, they didn’t plan this, but once cinnamon bacon and apples were in the same car, it was only a matter of time before someone said “Bacon Apple Pie!” And so it came to pass.