Tag Archives: experimenting

Things to do with rhubarb: take one.

13 Sep

Remember the surprise rhubarb? Here’s what I did with the first bunch I picked.

Soon after discovering my tart friend I twisted off some of the outer stalks for experimentation.

stalks of freshly picked rhubarb

I guess I need a bigger container.

Our kitchen wasn’t even completely unpacked at this point, so I kept my first foray very simple: rhubarb syrup.

Step one: Chop ‘em up and put them on to boil with water and sugar for about 15 minutes. If I recall correctly I used equal parts water and sugar, but I don’t remember how much in total, and I didn’t measure how much rhubarb I had. I guess it turned out to be a very unscientific experiment, my high school chemistry teacher would not be impressed by my (lack of) quantitative rigor.

Rhubarb boiling in equal parts sugar and water.

Rhubarb boiling in (approximately) equal parts sugar and water.

Step two: Cool slightly and strain. I used a strainer basket lined with cheesecloth and then squeezed out every last bit of liquid. The squeezing part is why you need to let your syrup cool. If you’re not planning on manhandling a heated sack of vegetable pulp, you can strain right away.

Stewed rhubarb strained and squeezed through cheesecloth.

Freshly squeezed.

Step three: Pour into clean containers.

bottles of rhubarb syrup cooling on a window sill

Cooling off on the window sill.

This should be kept refrigerated. I’m not sure how long it will keep; I finished using it quickly. I used rhubarb syrup to top off ginger ale and plain seltzer for refreshers. I mixed it into various vodka, gin and rum concoctions. I even added some to prosecco for a rosy toast. There may be food applications for rhubarb syrup, but I never got that far… drinkin’ use only.

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Last-minute experiments.

19 Jul

Six friends and I coordinated our wacky schedules to watch the final Harry Potter movie together. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a sucker for themed foods. I decided to see what I could whip up to celebrate the occasion.

I’d seen golden snitch cake pops earlier in the week and thought they were pretty cute. But I really, really dislike the texture of cake pops. I thought doughnut holes would make a great substitute, and I started daydreaming about making perfect little globes with edible gold coatings and fondant wings. Then reality hit: there was maybe an hour before I had to leave, and no time to go to the store. And right now I’m lucky if there’s milk in the fridge, forget about doughnut holes and fondant. Rummaging through my fairly bare kitchen I found the following:

  • EXACTLY 1 1/2 white chocolate squares
  • EXACTLY 7 strawberries
  • Random tubes of food coloring

A short while later the Golden Snitch experiment was complete:

edible golden snitches

Sweaty, messy and melting, but still edible. Yes, that's a sweet potato.

Here’s how it went down: melted the white chocolate and added a blorp of what I thought was oil-based food coloring to make it ‘golden’. Turned out it was gel and the moisture made the melted chocolate seize. Had no dairy so added a splash of oil to smooth it out again, knowing it wouldn’t harden properly anymore. Grumbled for a second, then decided to proceed anyway. Used a toothpick to dip the first strawberry in chocolate. Realized I had no place to put it to dry. Whacked up a sweet potato with one hand while yellow chocolate ran down the other. Propped snitch body on newly-made base. Coated the remaining strawberries and popped the whole thing in the freezer to set. Painted wings on parchment, let cool in fridge, drew veins on wing with toothpick, popped in freezer to set. Assembled with more chocolate and popped in freezer to set.

So much went wrong. Between the thinned-out chocolate and the heat and humidity the only thing keeping those babies together was being frozen, which also made them crack a bit. I took a photo at home since I was fairly sure they wouldn’t make it intact to the theater. But who cares? I mean, snitches! For my friends! For Harry Potter! Sometimes the spirit of a thing is so much more important than a perfect end product.

Macarons.

13 Jun

I am (along with the rest of the free world) googly for macarons. I’ve been noticing these adorable french sandwich cookies pop up more and more over the past few years, and really: it’s about time. Something needs to supplant the cupcake as the dessert darling du jour. Yeah, I said it. Up until very recently, though, I had a bit of a problem: I liked them in theory but had never tasted one before and had NO IDEA where to find some locally. And when I decide I want to try something new, it jumps to the top of the obsession list. A plea on twitter netted me a few leads, but ultimately my attempts remained thwarted. What was an obsessed girl to do?

Well, duh, just cut out the middleman and make my own dang macarons.

The awesome and always-game Nicole emailed:

“i have a food processor and a scale.
i also have a large bag of powdered sugar and a brand new cake frosting bag with tips.
wanna ‘speriment?”

Well, yes. Yes, I do. We went by a recipe posted on Bakerella and other blogs, more or less. We may have played a bit fast and loose with some of the details. Still… voila: macarons! With feet and everything! Don’t let the pink color fool you, they’re the standard almond-y flavor with a bittersweet ganache filling. We just added some extra flair.

macaron attempt

Cruddy cell phone photo, delicious macaron attempt.

Were they perfect? No. The shells weren’t quite right. But they were dang tasty. And the making/baking was not as scary as I thought. I’m definitely trying again, and am giddy with potential flavor combos.

My dream is to convince enough people to try it out themselves, and then have a big Macaronfest, where we all get high on sweet sweet frosting-filled goodness. So, get going! Give it a shot!