I've been having one of those days. Except that it's not the usual one of those days. It started with me getting up at 5 because I was scheduled to work all day today. That schedule usually means that I have to drop the girls at school and daycare before I go to work at 8:15 or so. But things didn't go as planned. Brianna was still complaining of a really sore throat when I went to wake her up. She'd been telling me the same thing for most of the weekend. I checked, and it was red. But it didn't look that bad, and since she hadn't been running a fever I figured that she was suffering from a virus and not strep. I could tell she wasn't quite herself, though, since she napped for about 3 hours on Sunday afternoon.
So I had the always fun parenting dilemma... B didn't seem that sick, but sending her to school probably wasn't a good idea. At the same time, I was worried about leaving my coworkers shorthanded. Jamie had already left for work, and it was doubtful that he'd be able to come home early to stay with B. I just love it when the parenting guilt wars with the work guilt--nothing like having an unexpected day off that you can't really enjoy because you feel like you're supposed to be somewhere else. I did get to take a nap, but it wasn't a very good one. I ended up feeling sort of restless and out-of-sorts all day. I did get some reading time in, but couldn't really settle on anything. And writing was right out. I've been trying to get this post done for my Cooking the Books event for two days, and just haven't been able to figure out what to write, which is why you're getting my sad story. =)
Maybe some dessert would make me feel better. We had Brianna's favorite soup for dinner, this chicken chowder from Cook's Country. Naturally, since B loves it, Gillian hates it. (I decided not to fight that battle tonight, and just made G a sandwich for dinner.) I like it just fine, and soup is nice because it generally leaves room for dessert. This particular one was inspired by the new book J got me for Mother's Day--Alice Medrich's new Sinfully Easy Delicious Desserts. The idea is that you can make lots of great desserts from simple, tasty components. What I came up with first was sort of a mini ice cream tart/sundae.
The base was a simple butter cookie. Central Market has an event going on called Passport France, and they've had a lot of great French products and ingredients available. I bought some Breton salted butter, and turned to Dorie's Around My French Table to figure out what to do with it. Naturally, she didn't let me down, and I found a recipe for Sablé Breton. I didn't want to do a full-size tart, but there was a Bonne Idée for making slice and bake cookies with a variation on the dough, so I went with those. I didn't add any salt, since my butter was nicely salty, with noticeable crunchy crystals in it. I did roll the log of dough in a combination of sparkling sugar and a bit of fleur de sel before slicing it up for baking.
Besides the great butter, I also picked up a package of dark muscovado sugar on my shopping trip. My new Medrich book has several caramel-type sauces in it. One is a simple mixture of muscovado sugar, cream, a bit of salt, and a splash of rum. It was really easy to make. For the final component of my dessert, I wanted something that would provide a contrast to the richness of the cookie and sauce. I found what I was looking for in one of my earlier Medrich books, Pure Dessert--sour cream ice cream. It's a non-custard ice cream, which really allows the sour cream flavor to shine through. The technique for making it is similar to the one in my Jeni's ice cream book, and I tweaked the procedure just slightly to make it even closer (I added a bit of corn syrup to the milk/sugar mixture, and boiled it for several minutes before adding the cornstarch in a slurry).
For the final dessert, I started with a cookie, topped it with a scoop of ice cream, and drizzled warm tropical sugar sauce over the top. The verdict? Yum! All of the components are really tasty, and work well together. There's a great contrast of sweet and salty, cold and warm, soft and chewy/crisp. The cookies are also great with a cup of tea. My favorite part was the ice cream. We also ate some of it topped with fresh strawberries--the cold tartness of the ice cream is a great foil for fruit. I can't wait to try it with peaches, too.
I definitely encourage you to check out all of the books that I mentioned. Your local library might even have them! To get you started, you can find the ice cream recipe here. This is my contribution to our spring Cooking the Books blog event; you can find links to the other contributors in this main post. If you'd like to join in, submissions are welcome anytime this week. If you'd like to be notified of future events, send me an email at diskitchennotebook at gmail dot com and I'll add you to the list!