Suzi's Blog

Blackberry Sauce from Jeni

 

In yesterday’s blog for corn ice cream, I mentioned that its creator, Jeni Bauer, suggested freezing the ice cream in alternating layers: ice cream and blackberry sauce. Instead, we made the sauce on the side and served it on top of the ice cream. Either way, you will consume it all.

This is about as simple a recipe as you can have: berries and sugar. The trick here is to cook it to the required temperature of 220°F. After about 216°, the temperature rise on medium-high heat is slow. Have patience.

When cooled, this sauce will literally bind up. It does not flow, and if you use it as we did, you’ll need to warm it up. Cooking to this temperature with large blackberries releases an enormous amount of pectin. This “sauce” is really a jam. So, if you don’t have ice cream for breakfast, you can have toast with “Blackberry Sauce.”

Jeni suggests this technique for raspberries or black raspberries, too. We’ll be trying that out as the summer goes.

Blackberry Sauce

Yield: 1 ¼ cups

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups berries
  • 1 cup sugar

Preparation:

Combine the berries and sugar in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.

Continue boiling, stirring occasionally, until it reaches 220°F [about 5 to 8 minutes]. Let cool slightly, the force through a sieve to remove the seeds. Or leave a few seeds in there just to prove you made it.

Refrigerate until cold before using.

Notes: when boiling, we used a spoon to mash the berries and make sure they gave up all of their liquid. Large blackberries are strong and will not break down in boiling liquid unless you render assistance.

Source: Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home.

Peeling A Tomato: A Better Way

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skinned tomatoes

“Does it really matter?” Brian asked me. I would say my husband was being sincere, and not lazy, but I know him. Definitely lazy.

“Get the tongs and get going.” I said. He obeyed. And, in the end, he agreed that it was better to follow the recipe. Imagine that: Joel Robuchon gives you a recipe and you discover that it’s wise to follow it! I am making slow progress with the man.

Tomorrow’s  recipe, which is for Basque chicken, calls for skinned and seeded tomatoes.

Robuchon provides a wonderful tip on how to skin and to seed: you treat the tomato like a pepper and roast it.

Now, to begin with, does it really matter? Do you have to skin? Do you have to seed? No, you don’t have to. You don’t have to brush your teeth or ever take a shower or buy car insurance. But if you want to be civilized, if you want an exceptional recipe, then “skinned and seeded” means just that. The proof? Do a taste test.

Reluctance to skin a tomato is understandable. It’s awkward to get the skin off. Using a peeler is often a disaster where the poor tomato ends up both skinned and abused. That skin is very thin, yet remarkable strong. Oh, that strength? That’s what you would have to bite through and that’s why this exercise is necessary.

Now the standard technique for skinning or peeling a tomato  is to place the raw tomato in a pot of boiling water for 10 seconds, then remove it and dunk it into a ice bath. It’s effective but just awkward with pots and pans and ice … There is negative incentive there to just say it’s too complex and skip the step. That’s a mistake.

If you compare tasting skinned and unskinned tomatoes, the difference is rather amazing. That thin skin is resistant to the bite. Not extreme, but enough to make a difference. A skinned slice is just simply sliced through, with no need to add that final touch of extra pressure to sever through the skin.

The same thing holds for seeds. Eat a slice of skinned and seeded tomato. Then try a skinned sliced with the seeds still there. There can be a perceptible difference there as your teeth engage the seeds and you automatically apply more pressure. I know, it’s slight. It’s a tomato. But it’s also real. Skinned and seeded, slices of tomatoes are sweet, meaty, and totally soft.

So, how do you do this? It’s better with a gas stove, but it’s still possible with electric. Turn a burner to high. If the burner is electric hold tomato in tongs over it and every 10 seconds rotate it. [Yes, with electric, that means putting the tomato down somewhere -- not on the burner -- and picking it up again with a different orientation.]

If the burner is gas, life is much simpler. The burner grate is 6 or 8 forks of metal that form a surface for pot or pan to sit on. Those forks all point to the center, but they typically they don’t meet there. They form a “hole.” Park the tomato in that hole, then every 10 seconds rotate it.

How do you know when you are done? The skin will begin to pucker or blister, turn yellow, and then blacken. When that effect is on most of the surface of the tomato, remove it from the burner and move on to the next tomato [or you can do multiple tomatoes on multiple burners]. Let the tomatoes rest for a few minutes, then simply remove the skin by hand.

Seeding is equally easy. Quarter the skinned tomato. With a small, sharp knife remove the “whitish” core with attached seeds. Using the edge of the knife, or your finger tips, brush the surface of the tomato to remove any remaining seeds.

This method is effective and avoids the clutter of boiling water and ice batch.

Source: The Complete Robuchon by Joel Robuchon