Monday, April 30, 2007

A Can of Beans

April 30

For those of you who like beans, but not sweetened with molasses and the like, here's something delicious, easy, quick and as cheap as a can of beans can be.

You do have to buy a few things for it. Fresh sage and/or thyme, while not absolutely essential, is a great help. Olive oil surely you have. Garlic likewise. A can of tomatoes or tomato sauce. And a can of beans. I personally prefer navy beans, but for some reason they are considered inferior to their Italian cousin, cannellini. Either will do very well.

Drain your can of beans in a colander and rinse with water. In the meantime, warm a clove of garlic, smashed, and a few sage leaves in two tablespoons or so of olive oil. Keep the heat low and poach until the leaves begin to curl a bit, and the garlic gets little bubbles round the edges. Throw in a stem or two of thyme if you have it. Next add all the bean and simmer for a few minutes. It's tasty just like this, but to make it really wonderful, add half a can of stewed tomatoes or a portion of canned tomato sauce to taste. (I used half an 8-oz can of Hunt's "With Basil, Garlic and Oregano" and it was excellent.)

It's best to extract the garlic before serving, because it can be mistaken for a bean which could be disastrous.

This is a one-dish meal that will be better the next day. A salad will only make it more memorable.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

What Makes a Salad

April 26

Since you should be eating at least one salad a day, you have to stock up on the makings, and keep refreshing your greens as they don't keep all that long. Living alone, I still manage to have two heads of lettuce and a bag of those pre-washed greens in the fridge at all times.

To make a salad, I usually make enough dressing to last a couple of days, but it's better to avoid the temptation to make a big jar. It's easy enough to make it as needed, and the results will be much better with a fresh dressing.

I take a little bowl and dump about a teaspoon of Dijon mustard into it and add about 1/4 teaspoon -- no, maybe less than that -- of salt on top. Using a fork or whisk, I begin stirring the two as I add about 1/8 of a cup of vinegar. When that is well mixed, and still whisking, I dribble enough good extra virgin olive oil to suit the dressing of the day. Measurements depend on my needs of the moment, but it's roughly three parts oil to one of vinegar, always with a little mustard to emulsify the mixture. Everything else is up to you. Sometime a drop of honey is warranted, and I add more mustard if I want a decidedly honey-mustard flavor. I got that trick from watching Bobby Flay. Sometimes I add herbs, fresh or dried, and I almost always smack a clove of garlic and throw that in -- unless it's honey-mustard.

Different oils and different acids can add interesting taste. If I want a dressing for a salad of mixed greens, walnuts, and fresh orange sections, I might use canola oil combined with walnut oil, and lemon juice in place of the vinegar. Usually I want my salad to taste of Italy, but this one has a decidedly French tone.

I once made a dressing I got from O Magazine which was very low in oil and substituted orange juice concentrate. It was delicious.

Some people contend that what makes a salad is the little touches: One of my husbands thought every salad should have some fresh onion in it (I use red or Vidalia for this); my daughter adds toasted sunflower seeds; and capers, feta cheese, or crumbled bacon are special favorites of mine. You don't need to add all in every salad; in fact, your choice of any one from the above list, or one of your own, will make your salad memorable.

My diet book exposed me to a very delicious salad, which I'll share with you another day. Wouldn't you like to tell me what you think makes a salad?

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

The Greening of the Green

April 24

I for one am always buying limes and forgetting I have them until too late. If I'm not planning to bake a pie or make some killer guac, the lime is underutilized in my kitchen. I just found one which has been in the kitchen for some time and remembered a valid job for it.

I was starving, and, as I've noted, I'm eating very carefully at the moment. I actually passed up a plate of cookies and went to the health food store where I passed up "energy bars" and Newman's Own chocolate for some carrots, broccoli and blueberries. Enough of that; later today I'll probably slip into a bowl of Haagen Das Crème Brulée ice cream, but now I'm feeling virtuous and I haven't even told you what I did with the lime that was drying up in my fridge.

I bought two kiwi fruits the other uninspiring choice at best, but I've found that peeling it, slicing, and squeezing a wedge of lime over it does wonders to brighten up the greenness of its flavor. It's a very nutritious little fruit, and -- need I say -- low in calories. With the addition of lime it becomes quite refreshing.

The second trick, which is the same as the first trick only with a different fruit, is to squeeze a wedge of lime on honeydew melon the next time you have it.

Then, some day in the distant future when the pounds are behind us, I'll have you over for a meal that includes killer guac and ends with Key Lime Pie. In the meantime I have the rest of one lime to use in salad dressings and wherever I might have used lemon juice.

Friday, April 20, 2007

The Inscrutable Tofu

April 20

The mysterious edible substance of the East, tofu, is usually about the last thing I think about when at the supermarket, but when I buy it I realize I should do this more often. If you never think about buying tofu, you should change your ways and get to know how to work with it. It's very high in protein and soy isoflavones -- and you just know you need more of that. So get a chunk of tofu and work with me here.

First of all, if you have little kids, you should be making a lot of smoothies. A little tofu added to a smoothie is undetectable, tastewise, and makes the drink richer and smoother, as if it had ice cream in it. Smoothies are easy, just made in the blender with fresh fruit, a little juice, a few crushed ice cubes...and then sneak in about 1/4 cup of tofu per person. Don't overdo it or you'll defeat your purpose.

What to do with the rest of the tofu in the package? Here's a step you might not have heard about: Slice the slab into two-inch pieces, wrap them in towels and put a heavy weight on the bundles for about half an hour. The water will be pressed out, and you will then have tofu cutlets. Wrap them in saran and plan to use within 24 hours.

I've been told that tofu's main characteristic is its versatility. It will take on any taste you want. This encouraged me to make it Italian by rubbing the cutlets with crushed garlic and salt, bread them by dipping in flour, egg, and seasoned bread crumbs. These can be sauteed in a mixture of olive oil and tasteless vegetable oil and topped with tomato sauce. Guess what -- served with pasta, it's tofu parmagiana, but I wouldn't call it that. Let's just say it's a new Italian dish.

Similar cutlets can be made by rubbing the cutlets with salt, dipping them in flour, egg, and seasoned corn meal. I call this dish tofish and serve it with catsup or fish sauce of choice.

A more traditional dish is made by cutting the slices into cubes, marinating in soy sauce, chicken stock, garlic, ginger, and any Asian spices you like for several hours, and then baking at 350° for about 45 minutes. Serve with rice, broccoli, and whatever condiments you would have with Chinese or Japanese food.

If you're still daunted by these recipes, just make a lot of smoothies and don't forget to throw in the tofu.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Asparagus Tips

April 18

There are lots of myths in the tips about asparagus, one of the delicious spring vegetables. Right off, although the methods of prep are somewhat daunting to the freezer-to-microwave generation, it's comparatively easy to work with and always uniquely delicious.

First off, it is nonsense that the way to determine where to cut off the stems is to take a stalk and break it -- that it will naturally find its own best breaking point. There is no mystery about where the hard part ends, and no magic to finding a certain spot. Just lay your stalks together on the cutting board and cut at the place where the white part turns green. It's usually three to four inches from the bottom. Slice it with a knife! There is no right or wrong spot. Got it?

Another myth is that the European white asparagus is more elegant and tastier than the green American counterpart. I lived in Switzerland for six years, where asparagus is celebrated, and every restaurant bears a sign in the window "Asperges" announcing the first days of spring when fresh asparagus was on the menu. The asparagus they treasure is the white kind. It is fatter, has to be cooked longer, and invariably has little taste, no matter what is done with it. I used to yearn for our crunchy green stalks.

What to do with asparagus when you've got it and sliced the ends off? Lots of answers to that one. My sister used to slice every stalk on the diagonal into about 3" chunks and sauté these in butter or olive oil until tender; then sprinkle with fresh lemon juice, salt, and parmesan cheese. My daughter roasts asparagus in a pan with a little olive oil at 400° for about 15 minutes, turning once.

What I do goes back to my old Julia Child training (which I got from lengthy hours at the tv in the early 70's). I actually peel the asparagus -- a very old-fashioned French technique that is of course unnecessary and labor intensive, but always produces a superior result, in my mind. You almost have to watch someone do this to get it, but it's not difficult. Take those stem ends, chopped off, and, with your paring knife, not your vegetable peeler, gently pull off about three inches of the outer peel all around. This is time consuming and tedious. You don't have to do it. But if you do, I promise you you'll eat every bite of every stalk.

I then drop the stalks into simmering water for about six minutes, drain in a colander, smear them with butter, sprinkle with salt, and squeeze the juice of a wedge of lemon over them. Like the Europeans, I eat asparagus by hand (and it's much easier with a crisp American stalk).

You may recognize my all-purpose green vegetable dressing from my post on spinach. I'm not one of those people who rhapsodizes about vegetables; I suspect I like vegetables less than most people do. However, with a little lemon juice, butter, and salt, I could eat almost anything.

Monday, April 16, 2007

The Dreaded "D" Word

April 16

It's happened again. Someone took a quick picture of me and when I saw it I realized she is back.

She is a woman of my approximate age and size, who wears my clothes. From time to time, in fact practically every time there is a camera handy, she jumps in front of me to get her picture taken. Nobody ever sees her, not even me, but she's always right there in the shot, blocking me out and looking exactly like me but older and much fatter. It ruins almost every picture ever taken of me.

I can outsmart her if I watch what I eat, but the pictures I saw on Friday convinced me it's time for a full-out diet. No cheating, no kidding myself, no snacks, no desserts. I've been loosely following Dr. Atkins for a couple of years, and over that time my weight has varied about four pounds down and then back up again. I think it's that "loosely" that did me in. I weigh once a month, and the scales were back up where I started two years ago.

The time has come for a new plan. This time I'll use "The Snowbird Diet," one I found in a bin of reduced-price books about 15 years ago. It promises 12 Days to a Slender Future -- and a Lifetime of Gourmet Dining! -- so from time to time I trot it out. It's a very low-calorie, low fat diet created by bariatric experts and Paula Wolfert, well-known cook, teacher and cookbook author. Its recipes are good and its plan, although developed for people with a more serious weight-loss need than mine, is not impossible to manage.

Today is Day One, and I just had a soft-boiled egg on a piece of my own homemade whole wheat bread (the diet specifies 2 pieces of Kavli) and a sliced kiwi fruit.

Okay, so you're not on this diet with me. I think you'll still be interested in what I'm having for dinner so I'll share the recipe. It's for the ubiquitous diet food, chicken breast, but prepared in such a light and delicious way you'll be happy to serve it to guests, your kids, or anyone. I wouldn't tell you about it if it wasn't good.

Here's the Snowbird recipe, serving 2:

Ginger Chicken

2 7-ounce chicken breasts, skinned and boned
1 ounce fresh ginger root, peeled and minced
4 water chestnuts, sliced
4 scallions
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 cup cooked rice (I use brown rice)
2 teaspoons parsley, chopped

Place each piece of chicken in its own piece of heavy-duty aluminum foil (of course you can use parchment for this). Sprinkle each with pepper, ginger, and sliced water chestnuts. Top each with 2 whole scallions. Divide soy sauce between each packet, sprinkling evenly over all. Seal tightly and steam 25 minutes in over at 350° or in steamer. To serve, open packet and pour juices over cooked rice. Arrange chicken on the side and garnish with chopped parsley.

I am to have this with steamed fresh Chinese pea pods, which I don't care for so I'll substitute spinach (not butter today; I'll just a fraction of a tablespoon of olive oil and lots of fresh lemon juice). Also I get Swiss Chard Salad, but there wasn't any chard in the market yesterday so I'll use romaine, with a low-fat dressing; and yoghurt with fruit for dessert.

I've got 12 days ahead of me with such food, and then I'll step on the scale again. Maybe I'll show you a before and after picture, as long as that old fat woman isn't around to get in my way.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

The Fate of the Devil's Food

April 14

I used Nick Malgieri's 1942 recipe to make the cake of which I wrote last. The recipe was perfectly serviceable but made two rather skimpy 8-inch layers rather than the 9-inch the recipe promised (I was going to make it in my 8-inch pans anyway, since I made myself a cupcake to try it out). I was less than overwhelmed at the moist devil's foodness of the texture, but I still say it was better than a mix.

The icing was every bit as difficult as I anticipated. It's cooked in a pan like fudge, but withdrawn when the candy thermometer reaches 220 rather than the 250 required for real fudge. Otherwise the recipe is very similar. Trying to be modern I beat it with my portable mixer rather than by hand, stopping before it really became firm. This is where it gets difficult. You have to pour the mixture, slightly cooled of course, onto one layer of cake and then add the the top layer. You're putting a layer of cake onto warm soft frosting, so it begins to slide. The trouble was that the the frosting was slow to harden -- that's better than it being fast to harden, because that way you get fudge and cannot spread it on the cake. I walked around the house looking for a way to hold the cake at the right tilt so that the top layer wouldn't slip off. For a couple of hours, off and on. I told myself, "This should not be part of the process."

I asked myself what Martha Stewart would do, but clearly this kind of thing has never happened to Martha Stewart. When asked how to handle kitchen disasters, the only one she can think of is when, as a bride, she cooked the bag of giblets in the Thanksgiving turkey -- and every woman in the country has done that. I asked myself what Paula Deen would do, and I realized that she would have dumped a box of confectioners' sugar into the icing as soon as she saw it wasn't hardening. Too late for that, besides I don't like confectioners' sugar icing (confectioners' sugar has cornstarch in it, and you can taste it). So I was stuck with juggling the cake -- until I thought of what I used to do to harden fudge, and put the whole thing in the refrigerator. This firmed it.

When I took my cake to the bake sale it looked like a despondent little lump amid the fancy decorated cakes, but I put a label on it that said "Home Made Devil's Food, Made from Scratch." By the end of the day I saw a child carrying it around proudly, having selected it from the table full of sparkling cakes covered with M and M's and sugar butterflies.

I hope it was good.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Me and the Devil's Food

April 12

The school's Spring Festival is tomorrow, and I've committed to bring a cake to be used as a prize in the cake walk. As I looked around the room and saw the mothers signing up and saying blythely, "I'll bring two more cakes," I realized I was the only one to whom bringing a cake meant first making the cake. Sign of the times; call me a diehard.

I remember bringing a huge three-layer Devil's Food Cake to the Fall Festival a few years ago. There were lots of homemade cakes there, lavishly decorated, but I don't think one of them was created without using a mix. I don't want to be a snob about this. It's happened in my lifetime, this universal acceptance of a cakemix cake being a homemade cake, but I am stuck in the time warp in which homemade is synonymous with made from scratch. And it's so easy, and so much more rewarding, I can't see why any stay at home mom could resist the siren call of baking. (I will say this, most of those mothers are not stay at home moms and have every excuse for taking any shortcuts they choose in any and every endeavor.)

But I went to my recipe books to find a guide for baking a Devil's Food Cake. What has happened to "devil's food"? Politically incorrect? And the old recipes always used buttermilk or sour cream; some used brown sugar. All the newer books have myriad recipes for chocolate cakes, but the name Devil's Food is not among them. You have your Fudgey Chocolate Layer, your Very Moist Chocolate Layer, and so forth. Luckily I have a couple of vintage editions of The Joy of Cooking -- they're sure to have a classic recipe. Nick Malgieri has one: "1942 Devil's Food Cake Layers." I think that's the one I'll go with. However, he suggests frosting it with fluffy white icing or whipped ganache -- both of which might be fine, but not the thing for an authentic Devil's Food.

The real thing must be iced with a cooked chocolate frosting, like a fudge, one of the trickiest things to pull off in any kitchen. You see, the effect you want is a cake and candy combination, that texture of the very moist cake layer topped with a firm fudgey chocolate. It's difficult because the icing has to be cooked until it will firm up, then beaten slightly, then spread onto this moist cake before it hardens. And then it has to harden but not be quite as hard as fudge. Wish me luck.

Why I would produce this masterpiece and give it away for the cake walk is a mystery even to me. I have cooked for years as an excuse to lick bowls and spoons and then to sample the product. I've tried to change my ways as my aging metabolism makes it ever more difficult to ward off then ensuing obesity such indulgence portends. No doubt I will take a swipe of tongue against spoon as I put it into the sink, but for now I am enjoying the mere anticipation of the fragrance of chocolate melting in my kitchen and permeating the air throughout the house.

Sometimes we have to be grateful for very small blessings. And wish the cake walkers well!

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Today I Got Famous

April 11

My friend Justin Kahn made me famous today by allowing me to post a "guest" spot on his blog yesterday. If you want to find it click on the blue letters -- his name -- and read his post with the pic of Thomas Aquinas or somebody and my post below it on how to make I really nice scrambled egg sandwich.

Justin's blog aims at a specific fan base and seems to be quite popular with nubile beauties who live in the Cleveland area. This is not my usual readership, so I hope it brings some traffic here. I assumed I was writing to a college audience. I gave them an easy-to-make food which they could assemble in little time and eat with equal alacrity. It also happens to be nutritious and taste good. I wanted to call the post "The Better-Than-Sex Sandwich," but Justin had other ideas.

If you happen to be one of those who strayed over here from Justin's blog, scroll on down and read some more fun stuff to eat and cook. You may also click on the link to my other blog where I discuss the weightier issues of the day such as whether Daniel Craig is worthy of the name James Bond or whether Don Imus should be the subject of the nation's attention any longer. Or you can go to my website where I shamelessly promote myself and my book. You are welcome to do this even if you didn't get here from Justin's blog. Just don't miss my guest shot on Concept of Irony dated April 10.

Monday, April 9, 2007

My Dogpatch Ham

April 9

There used to be a comic strip that grownups liked even better than kids did, called "Li'l Abner." Written and drawn by the curmudgeon Al Capp, the strip was peopled by a unique group of characters who lived in the hill country of the Southern U.S. in a community called Dogpatch. The leading character was an oversized, gorgeous simpleton who meant no harm to anyone and whose main objective seemed to be to avoid marriage to the beauteous and well-endowed Daisy Mae.

The strip was so popular that when Daisy Mae finally landed Li'l Abner it made the cover of Life Magazine. Li'l Abner's ubiquitous mother Mammy Yokum presented the couple with a ham that was to last the life of their marriage, a tradition in them thar hills known as The Dogpatch Ham.

Whenever I commit to a ham, particularly now that I'm living alone, I think of it as a Dogpatch ham, because it will last until I wish it would go away. I bought myself a full, bone-in ham for Easter and baked it with a glaze of mustard, maple syrup and brandy, which was fine for one meal. But now what? What would Daisy Mae do?

There'll be sliced ham for sandwiches, ham and eggs for breakfast, chopped ham for salad, ham added to soup, ham mixed with breadcrumbs for croquettes, ham a la king, ham in casseroles, ham sliced and frozen in single-serving bags, and at last a hambone for cooking Red Beans and Rice or blackeyed peas, greens or other vegetable dish of my choosing. Right now I can only think of the ham I have sitting in my refrigerator, waiting to be dealt with. If you have any ideas, let me know.

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Hard Boiled

April 7

Thursday I hard boiled eight eggs. Yesterday I dyed them.

Don't ask me why; I suppose the only answer is that old habits die hard. Hard boiled eggs certainly do. The weather has been beautiful; Easter is upon us; I was in the mood to create some Easter eggs. Now, without any grandchildren in the immediate neighborhood, what am I to do with them?

When I lived in Geneva, I was the head honcho of an American theatre company that was frequently seeking out bars to quench the thirst worked up by our frenzied rehearsals. During Easter season, these bars had little bowls of dyed eggs where in the States we would have found peanuts. Aside from this inventive use, what do I do with eight boiled eggs after Easter has come and gone?

Everybody knows egg salad. This I make in a very traditional way, with a bit of mayonnaise, mustard, and dill pickle relish. Luckily I love it, and the remains of my Easter bounty will find themselves there. Also, I have a ham which I will prepare today and eat all weekend. And I have the breast meat of one of those roast chickens now ubiquitous in every supermarket. Ham salad and chicken salad are greatly enhanced with chopped hard boiled egg. The basic recipe is always the same, some chopped celery, perhaps bell pepper, pimento-stuffed olives, chopped parsley, mayonnaise, mustard, and the meat of choice. When there is one on hand, as there is now, in goes the hard boiled egg. I could even simply add the egg salad.

The other recipe that belongs in this bunch is potato salad, essentially identical to the above, with the addition of more salt. In Geneva I used to blow the Americans away by producing this potato salad, while the locals made a lovely French pommes a l'huile which is simply potatoes to which a little chicken stock, a dash of vinegar, a few chopped scallions and parsley, and a generous splash of good olive oil is added while still warm. Americans went wild over my mayonnaise-y salad when I was in Geneva. In this country I serve the French style which has the advantage of being the only such on the table.

I don't worry that my hard boiled eggs may go to waste. In the meantime, there they sit on on the kitchen counter in their pastel, springlike glory, looking for all the world as if they were laid by a rabbit.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Wilt Your Salad

April 5

All ye who avoid bacon can jump ship right here; I've got a neat trick for two very different salads.

Let's start with the classic wilted spinach salad, one you seldom see these days but your taste buds will thank you for. While I love spinach, I'm not crazy about it in the raw state because of a texture that bothers me. This wilting takes care of that and the recipe smothers the stuff in tangy flavors. It smothers it in bacon fat too, but being a Dr. Atkins devotee, I believe in fats of all kinds in moderation. That means I eat this salad about once every six months.

Get your bunch of spinach ready while you fry up about four slices of bacon. (If you don't use it all this time, believe me it won't go to waste.) You should have about three tablespoons of fat left in the pan. While this is still warm, add about a tablespoon of dark brown sugar and melt it softly in the fat, being careful not to scorch. Now add two tablespoons of vinegar to the pan and immediately pour the sizzling vinagrette over the spinach and add the crumbled bacon to the top. Wanting desperately to wilt the leaves I sometimes toss the whole thing into the pan to heat it through and thoroughly coat the spinach. Salt to taste and serve immediately.

The variation is a dish I saw Sara Moulton make on a Food Network re-run a few months ago and have gotten hooked on. It is made with cabbage instead of spinach so it requires a bit more cooking. You'll also need some bleu cheese for this.

Shred your cabbage. Fry your bacon and remove from the pan. Next add cabbage and steam it in the fat -- keeping the heat low -- for about six minutes, stirring frequently. Add a dash of vinegar to taste, salt and pepper, and top with crumbled bleu cheese and bacon. This is a surprising dish and very delicious. It can be served warm or cold, or at room temperature.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Ginger Lemonade Part 2

April 4

I inadvertantly omitted that the ginger lemonade of my previous post is a great addition to mixed drinks. With a little rum it is a natural drink for island-themed parties or just any old drinking fest. For brunch, try it in champagne -- I call this one the Mobile Bay Breeze. I haven't tried it with vodka or bourbon, but it should work well with either.

I did mention having it as an alternative to alcohol, but left out that while it's there next to the booze on the counter, it might enhance just about any bartender's repertoire.

Monday, April 2, 2007

Fun with Ginger and I Don't Mean Gilligan's Island

April 2

A few years ago a friend of mine offered ginger lemonade as an option for a lunch drink. Of course just the sound of it made us all choose it! She said Hilary had served it at book club -- everybody around here seems to be in a book club -- and since we all knew Hilary to be a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America and sometime restaurant chef, it had the ring of success.

We all tried it at home, and it's become a staple at my parties for those who choose not to drink wine or mixed drinks. Something about that little kick of ginger at the end is reminiscent of an alcoholic slug.

It's easy to do and very useful to make for lots of occasions. I slice a knob of fresh ginger until I've got about a quarter of a cup and toss them into a pot of water, say, about four cups. Bring to a simmer, turn off the heat and steep for as long as you like. All day is not too long. But if it's steeped for ten minutes or so, it's ginger tea and you can pour yourself a cup for a quick pick-me-up. (Add sugar and lemon to taste, or you could add a teabag.)

Make a simple syrup of half water, half sugar, by bringing the two together to a boil and removing from the heat.

Now juice about ten lemons. I have a juicer, which is a nice little appliance that makes this easier. This is not the big infomercial model. Any kind of reamer will do, but if you make a lot of lemonade or fresh orange juice -- and I recommend both -- it's a good small item to have.

When the ginger tea is cool and the simple syrup is cool, simply mix all the ingredients together to your taste. It will be roughly four parts ginger tea to one part lemon juice and 1/2 part sugar syrup. Taste all along the way, because some like it sweeter than others, some more lemony, etc. You get the idea. Don't make it weak because you are going to serve this over ice.

The mixture can also be made into a delicious granita by freezing to a soft slush, scraping with a fork into granules and returning briefly to the freezer. You may have to fork it again before serving. I've always thought this would be a dynamite-gourmet palate cleanser to serve mid-meal after a garlicky course and before the real dessert, but I don't know when I've ever had a dinner party like that.