Eat this Word: Semifreddo

semifreddoWHAT? A half-frozen idea. Italian for "half-cold," semifreddo is an Italian dessert made by freezing mousseline-like custards, which are often layered with ingredients like ground amaretti, nuts, or chocolate. Unlike ice cream, semifreddo is not churned. To make it edible while frozen, air is incorporated into the custard base, usually in the form of meringue or whipped cream. The air also has the effect of making the semifreddo seem less cold than it actually is, which accounts for its name. WHERE? Oliver Wolf, Shaun Crymble, and Pastry Chef Marcos Gonzalez's Beard House dinner WHEN? September 21, 2010 HOW? Warm Spiced Chocolate Cake with Local Beer Sabayon and Almond Semifreddo

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Recipe: Lime Flan Parfait with Blueberries and Watermelon Granita

Heather Rodriguez-Carlucci's Lime Flan Parfait with Blueberries and Watermelon GranitaPrint’s Heather Rodriguez-Carlucci whipped up this triple-decker dessert at Chefs & Champagne, but the preparation is also doable at home. The flan gets some zing from lime curd, which is made by combining beaten eggs with sugar and the highly acidic fruit juice. The granita, a frozen Italian treat with coarse ice crystals, can (and should) bypass the ice cream churner: just place a shallow container of fruit syrup in the freezer and use a fork to periodically rake up ice as it forms. (The pros call this still freezing.)

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Eye Candy: Seasonally Sweet

Black Pepper Shortcake with Summer Fruits and Honey Lavender Ice Cream Peter Hoffman, who launched locavorism at New York's Savoy 20 years ago, served this black pepper shortcake with summer fruits and honey lavender ice cream at his midsummer Beard House dinner. The dessert was made with ingredients that Hoffman and Savoy alums handpicked from the Union Square Greenmarket that day. See more photos here.

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Recipe: Nectarine and Blackberry Cobbler

Jennifer Giblin Cobbler Nectarines and blackberries are a harmonious, tart-and-sweet pair, and this delicious cobbler from Blue Smoke's Jennifer Giblin puts the combination to good use. The recipe is fairly easy to throw together in an afternoon, making it a perfect dessert for Sunday dinner.

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Eye Candy: Berry Sweet

Chèvre Cheesecake with Blueberry Compote; Buttermilk Panna Cotta with Huckleberries; and Strawberry Parfait Allen Routt of the Painted Lady in Newberg, Oregon, served this berry dessert trio at a recent Beard House dinner; it included chèvre cheesecake with blueberry compote; buttermilk panna cotta with huckleberries; and strawberry parfait. See more photos here.

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Eye Candy: Bluegrass State Dessert

strawberry, Kentucky brie, and black walnut cobbler with blackberry–buttermilk ice cream and bourbon-smoked sea salt

For a preview of our partnership with the World Equestrian Games, JBF rounded up a group of Kentucky chefs for an evening of sophisticated, traditional Southern fare. The team served this strawberry, Kentucky brie, and black walnut cobbler with blackberry–buttermilk ice cream and bourbon-smoked sea salt for dessert. See more photos of the dinner here.

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Tastebud: Panna Cotta

panna cotta
Hailing from the Northern Italian regions of Val d’Aosta and Piedmont, classic panna cotta is a combination of sugar and cream or milk (or both!). True to its name (which is Italian for “cooked cream”), the dessert is made by heating the ivory base, adding gelatin (we prefer sheets over powder for the satiny texture they produce), pouring the mixture into round containers to set, and releasing the jelled result. Panna cotta pulls off a miraculous texture that’s both effortlessly light and mouth-caressingly rich.

In Gastronomy of Italy, Anna del Conte writes that while the dessert is occasionally flavored with peach eau-de-vie or paired with fresh fruit, the traditional, unadulterated version prevails throughout the boot. But Beard House chefs have broken the panna cotta mold: Dean James Max

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Recipe: Chamomile Panna Cotta

chamomile panna cotta This innocent dessert from Tiffany MacIsaac (who oversees sweets at Washington D.C.'s Birch & Barley) was one of our favorite bites at last year's Chefs & Champagne. The panna cotta is inflused with the stems and daisy-like blooms of chamomile, which has recently started showing up in bunches at farmers' markets. MacIsaac's souped-up version (pictured above) enlisted pecan granola, apricot foam, and blueberry compote—a tasty lesson in textural contrast. But the creamy and floral foundation is wonderful alone, and adds a romantic touch to an unfussy summer meal.

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Eye Candy: Doughnuts

Diners were served an unexpected treat at JBF Award winner Marcus Samuelsson's Beard House dinner last month: a surprise platter of housemade glazed doughnuts, sprinkled with powdered sugar. Click here to see more photos of Marcus Samuelsson and his team.

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