Plantain Bread & The Wonder of Quick Loaves
Plantain Bread & The Wonder of Quick Loaves

For some reason, I especially love recipes that turn old or ugly fruit and vegetables from trash to treasure. It’s almost like getting something for free. Rubbery zucchini? Zucchini Bread! Black, squishy bananas? Banana Bread! Dented Eggplant? Make Baba Ganoush! Bruised apples or strawberries? Perfect for a quick fruit sauce. When we had two soft, black plantains that were surplus to requirements for our Cuban dinner, I assumed they’d be a good addition to a quick bread, and I was more than thrilled with the result.

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Pückler and the Neapolitans: A History of Three-Flavor Ice Cream
Pückler and the Neapolitans: A History of Three-Flavor Ice Cream

I don’t know about you, but I’ve always thought of Neapolitan, the classic, three-layered Chocolate-Strawberry-Vanilla ice cream, as the refuge of the indecisive person. After all, why make a choice? Choosing is painful. By choosing the triple-combination of Neapolitan, or its somewhat fancier cousin, Spumoni, you get multiple options and no regret. Win! Having moved to Germany, I’ve noticed a different approach. The locals here seem to eliminate the pain of choosing by getting a standard two scoops with two different flavors on every cone and cup.

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Spiced Pumpkin Flan and Alternatives to the Thanksgiving Classics

Tolstoy begins Anna Karenina with this famous line: “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” Similarly, of Thanksgiving dinners, I might say, “Average Thanksgiving dinners are all alike; every interesting Thanksgiving dinner is unique in its own way.” Thanksgiving meals I grew up with were always the most basic Midwestern fare (probably because grandma didn’t really enjoy cooking). The menu: turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing, green beans and pie.

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Mission: The Ice Cream Smorewich
Recipes Mission: The Ice Cream Smorewich

As the last big weekend for summer grilling approaches, what’s America’s ultimate summer dessert? The ice cream sandwich? The s’more? I had a thought this week… why not combine the two? Behold: The Ice Cream S’morewich! I’ve done a bit of (very tasty, very chocolaty) experimentation, and I’m here to tell you, there is a fast and easy way, and then there’s also the hero’s path: the longer (but rewarding) way.

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Travel Recipes The Delights of Duluth & Quadberry Crumble Pie

The Big View Ah, Duluth… So much easier to say than, say Keegewaquampe (though in truth, the Chippewa kind of had first dibs on naming rights). Mum and I met up in Minneapolis and pushed north to take in the promised delights of the Lake Superior region. And delight there was. We were only there overnight, so I won’t be revealing any state secrets here, but I will say that if only famed Kentucky Representative J.

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Vive la Clafoutis!
Recipes Vive la Clafoutis!

Ah, the 14th of July! The season of fresh, local cherries. The celebration of Bastille Day. The time to bake a fruity dessert for this week’s Dessert Corps project. Oh, hey… look at that. It’s like a cosmic alignment of forces telling me it’s time to make a cherry clafoutis, the traditional custard pudding of Limousin in the heart of la belle France . As it happens, the fantastic Dessert Corps volunteer crew provided me with a half-dozen eggs and more than a pound of gorgeous, blushing Rainier Cherries — sweet, fragrant and fresh from the Greenpoint farmers’ market.

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Recipes Strawberry-Rhubarb Upside-Down Cake

Of all the fruits, rhubarb retains the most magical nostalgic quality for me. Back when I was very small, it grew gargantuan each spring around the farmhouse. My mom always made terrific rhubarb desserts. Sweet-tart. Spicy. Distinctly rhubarb-y. What’s funny is that rhubarb isn’t actually a fruit. It’s a stem, making it technically a vegetable… but who eats rhubarb as a vegetable? No, rhubarb is the vegetable that found its true calling in the fruit world.

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Cinco de Mayo Whoopie Pies

When I started writing this particular post last October (yes, it’s been bounding around the lobes of my brain for a while) I wondered whether Whoopie Pies were poised to be the new Cupcakes . Back then, I wrote, “I feel like I’m seeing whoopie pies everywhere I turn. And aren’t cupcakes far too 2002 these days?” But now that I’ve made a couple of batches of whoopie pies, I realize they’re no match for the mighty cupcake.

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The Missing Tooth & The Red Velvet Pig

My boss, let’s call him Dr. Bacon, completely missed out on his birthday cake this week. If you’re a longtime reader, you may recall that the one we did last year was the chocolate bacon cake. Well, this one wasn’t half so crazy, but it was still sort of cute and appropriate to the recipient. I blame the dentist. After a vicious morning root canal, Dr. Bacon wasn’t up for work, or cake, or even consciousness, I’d wager.

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The Chocolate Ice Cream Bombe: On Bombe-Building for Beginners
Recipes The Chocolate Ice Cream Bombe: On Bombe-Building for Beginners

At culinary school, we spent one whole class period making bombes, and though it was a wonderful experience, I’ve noticed it’s not polite to talk about that sort of thing in public. People can’t hear the silent “e” at the end of bombe, so one risks being labeled a terrorist. Thus, it becomes necessary to modify the word on each utterance… “pastry bombe” or “ice cream bombe” or “bombe cake” or something of the sort.

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About Me

Miss Ginsu is a nom-nom-nom de plume of Leitha Matz, who worked at Tabla and FreshDirect in NYC, wrote about the food scene from 2004 to 2009 in Brooklyn and presently lives in Berlin. Occasionally seen on TV cooking segments, Leitha has also written for FreshDirect, contributed to Cee Cee Berlin, The Food52 Cookbook and has been interviewed/quoted in The Food Keeper as well as The Washington Times and Salon.

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