Archive for the ‘Ice cream’ Category

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Buy another kitchen tool? Yes, and make Peach-Brown Sugar Sorbet.

August 24, 2009

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Over the years, my husband has accumulated some kitchen tools. Wait, that’s a major understatement. Over the years, my husband has accumulated mass amounts of kitchen tools. Our kitchen (and dining room and garage) is literally littered with tools. A blender hidden under here. A rice cooker over there. A mandolin tucked in there. A tagine on the floor in the dining room. A hand mixer. A stand mixer. A bigger stand mixer. A waffle maker. A Belgian waffle maker. A vacuum sealer. An immersion circulator. Need I say more? (Note that I did not make up the former list. I am not exaggerating. And it could have been a lot longer, but this post is supposed to be about peach sorbet.)

Anyway, I might roll my eyes when I step over the giant pot used for canning that sits on the dining room floor. And I might swear when I stub my toe on the tandoor. But I will never, ever curse the counter space taken up by my husband’s ice cream machine. That, my friends, is a kitchen tool worth having.

Yes, my husband’s ice cream machine churns out desserts that are absolutely divine. This blog has chronicled some masterpieces. Blueberry. Mint. Pistachio. Ginger. What could be next? I’ll tell you: Delicious, fresh, perfect peach-brown sugar sorbet.

I’m a fan of ice cream. Who doesn’t like its creamy, luscious, cold, sweet goodness? But fruit often gets lost in those creamy depths, playing  second fiddle to the sugar and milk. Not so with sorbet. And definitely not so with my husband’s peach sorbet; it preserves this season’s juicy ripe peaches in a frozen matrix of sweet sorbet-ness that transports you to the sun-drenched groves where these peaches must have grown up. It’s that good.

Nothing is better than eating a warm, fuzzy, fresh, fragrant ripe peach… the kind whose juices spill all over your mouth when you sink your teeth into its sweetly yielding orange flesh. For those times, though, when such a peach just isn’t handy, this sorbet is a suitable — and delicious — alternative. It may not be warm and fuzzy, but it is just as satisfying to wipe off your mouth.

Take it from me: Get yourself an ice cream machine — the one essential kitchen tool — and churn yourself up some peach-brown sugar sorbet.

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And now, the husband’s take…

Summer is really moments from over. I know because I was driving down the street past a local elementary school… and there were kids getting off a bus. And my little Jack is just moments from starting pre-school a couple days a week. I’m not sure I’m looking forward to this summer ending. But alas, I’ll have comfort for at least a few more weeks as I stretch the last of the season’s peaches out with this sorbet.

I don’t know about most of you, but here in Northern Virginia I’ve felt we’ve had a pretty good season for peaches. Lots of truly ripe, beautiful and juicy peaches this year seemed to come my way. The result has been lots of time to experiment with them and think of ways to manipulate and extract every delicious ounce of juice from them.

This is probably one of my favorites and one of the most simple. Really, it comes down to this: Peel, blend, cool, churn, and freeze. You are done. And you have an awesome result. So, not much advice here, except to pick the sweetest and juiciest peaches you can find. When you no longer can eat them fresh, dripping, and about to be lost forever to the natural state of things, turn them into sorbet.

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Peach & Brown Sugar Sorbet
Ingredients:
800g/6 medium peaches (pitted, pealed, chopped)
200g/1 ¼ cup sugar
125g/ ½ cup dark brown sugar
125g/ ½ cup water
½ tsp. salt
juice of 1 lime

Directions:
1. To peel the peaches, you can simply use a vegetable peeler to remove the skin on firmer fleshed fruit. However, if the peach is too soft, you can bring a pot of water to boil and prepare an ice bath. Cut an ‘X’ in the base of each peach and then drop them gently in the water for 10 seconds before moving them to an ice bath. The skins should pull up easily. The same technique can be used to peel tomatoes.

2. Combine all the ingredients in a blender. Blend on high until mixture is homogeneous. Move to small container and refrigerate overnight or move to the freezer for about 2 hours.

3. Churn according to your ice cream maker’s instructions, and then move to the freezer. Let set for two to four hours in the freezer before serving.

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Perfect Fruit + Ice Cream= Perfect Blueberry Ice Cream

July 30, 2009

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I know bananas have a lock on that saying: “Quite possibly the world’s perfect fruit.” But what about the blueberry? Why does it get shoved aside in favor of “perfect” bananas? Was there a competition for “world’s perfect fruit”? Did the blueberry even enter?

I maintain that the blueberry can slide right in there via the “possibly.” Bananas could possibly by the world’s perfect fruit… if it weren’t for the even more exceptional blueberry. Round, plump, juicy and splendidly colored as no food in nature should be. Blueberries are my perfect fruit. I can eat them by the pintful, and often do.

But how can a “perfect” fruit be improved on? Leave it to my husband to crack that nut…  er, smash that blueberry. He manages it via his fiendish ice cream machine, which churned forth this delicious, delectable, delightful blueberry ice cream. To raw blueberries’ simplistic, seductive (sometimes tartly) sweetness, my husband’s ice cream adds layers of creamy smooth complexity. It is rich, it is sweet, it is indulgent (well, not as low calorie as the blueberries themselves), it has that delightful purple-blue hue — and, bonus, it may even have antioxidents in it.

We’ve already established that blueberries are the world’s perfect fruit, now we can venture that they may also make the world’s perfect dessert. How? Ice cream, darling. Churn, baby, churn.

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And now, the husband’s take…

So my wife really sounds like a fanatic for blueberries, and I hate to admit she is—a little disturbing, right? But don’t mess with the woman and her blueberries. This is why I took my life into my own hands when I came up with this recipe. But with that said, I got the job done. And really, it’s away to extend the peak season if you work it right. So she should stop the threatening looks when I talk about more blueberry recipes. If nothing else, just look at my boy Jack in the photos. That is one happy little guy eating blueberry ice cream. I think that it’s a strong testimonial in my favor.

Before leaving, a couple small technical issues. First, I strained the blueberries after blending. This is all about mouth texture.  Blueberries are almost all skins and seeds. This is hardly noticeable when you eat them raw or whole, but to me ice cream has to have that smoothness in the mouth to be good. I suspect someone will tell me I’ve dulled the flavor by taking all those elements out, but I just didn’t feel right leaving them in. I mean I know it works for red wine to leave the skins etc. to develop greater flavor, but we strive for something more than just flavor.

The big negative is that it means your yield may not be all that great. So I find this recipe is likely most cost effective using frozen or berries that are just about to be past their prime.

Second, the recipe is composed of two steps. Step 1 of the recipe is simply making a blueberry purée. You could use this resulting liquid to flavor about a million different items.  Steps 2 to 6 are simply the technique of making crème anglaise without the vanilla. This is a classic French technique of making smooth and thick custard that has multiple applications, but I almost always use for my base for ice cream.

If you want to experiment with your own ice cream flavors, I suggest taking this recipe and subtracting step 1, and then add flavors as you see fit. There are lots of great recipes out there, especially on David Lebowitz’s blog and his book Perfect Scoop, but I’m always looking for my own path and this is where I typically start.

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Blueberry Ice Cream
Ingredients:
2 cup heavy cream
2 cup milk
8 eggs yolks
3 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
300 g sugar (approx. 1 ½ cup)
1 tsp. salt
juice of 1/2 medium lime

Directions:

1. In a blender, blend until smooth the blueberries, the lime juice and 100 grams (1/2 cup) of the sugar until very smooth. Strain the mixture using a fine sieve to remove seeds and skins. You should have about 2 cups of liquid remain. Set aside.

2. Set up a water bath by filling a large bowl with equal part of ice and water about half full. Place a smaller bowl inside.

3. In a heavy pot over medium heat, add 100 grams (1/2) cup of the sugar, the milk, the cream and the salt. Heat slowly. When the milk begins to rapidly boil at the edges, turn down the heat.

4. Whisk together the remaining sugar with the egg yolks. Temper the eggs by slowly adding several ladlefuls (totaling about third) of the hot milk to the sugar and egg mixture while whisking vigorously.

5. Add the new combined mix back to the pot and continue to stir.  Return the heat to medium and continue to stir until it thickly coats the back of a wooden spoon. Pour immediately into the empty bowl in the ice bath.

6. Add the strained blueberry purée from step 1 and continue to stir until the mixture reaches slightly cooler then body temperature. (This means it should feel slightly cool if you touch the mix).

7. Move to a covered container and refrigerate overnight or freeze for approximately two hours. Once the mix is sufficiently cold, churn according to ice cream maker instructions.

Recommendation: I prefer to cool the ice cream base and the finished product and wide and shallow containers. I find it makes it quicker to cool and to harden while in those containers. Also find it makes it easier to scoop.

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It hurts so good: Toothachingly sweet Uneven Pavement ice cream

June 11, 2007

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Ice cream just got a little more dangerous.

We already know that it’s hazardous for your waist line, and that it can result in some wicked brain freeze headaches. Now, it’s after your teeth.

No, I don’t mean that ice cream causes cavities. (I’m sure that it does that, too.) I mean that the ice cream that my husband has just concocted is so sweet that it will literally make your teeth ache.

“What is this treacherous ice cream,” you ask, “and, um, where can I get some?” Right here, friends. Its name is “Uneven Pavement,” and it is a sweeter and, dare I say, more sophisticated cousin to Rocky Road.

First, it calls upon that underutilized nut of nuts — the cashew — in its sweet and creamy base. Second, it harnesses chunks of carmelized toffee goodness to assault your taste buds. Finally, in its coup de grace, it seduces you with homemade marshamallow fluff laced throughout.

Resistance is futile. Your teeth may not thank you. Your waist line may not thank you. Your frozen sinuses may not thank you. But you’ll be grateful nonetheless.

And the ice cream replies, “Your welcome. Sucker.”

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Backgrounder…
Sometimes you just want to be a kid again. I think that is really the lesson of Vermont’s hippie-capitalists and ice cream moguls Ben & Jerry. And when it comes to ice cream flavors, pretty much the sky is the limit — fans of the original Iron Chef will remember Iron Chef Japanese Masaharu Morimoto’s squid ink ice cream as proof of this rule.

I’ve become even more daring in my ice cream-making, trying to find new ways to bring complexity. I’ve done chips. I’ve done nuts. I’ve done fruit. But after hearing my wife wax poetic about her craving for a childhood favorite, Rocky Road, I decided I would try marshmallows.

No, I wasn’t willing to settle for store-bought little marshmallows. I wanted veins of precious white marshmallow fluff running through the heart of my ice cream. I wanted the taster to discover strands of marshmallow sticking to the roof of her mouth. And I wouldn’t settle for the jarred fluff. No, sir. I looked up the recipe for making my own.

The result was a riff on my wife’s memories. By replacing the traditional walnuts with delicious cashews and chocolate with toffee, we developed a tooth-achingly sweet flavor called, “Uneven Pavement.” It’s rich, nutty, sweet and delicious. Place it on a cone and you’ll get the urge to be bike riding through the neighborhood again.

Before I go, there are a few tricks when it comes to the marshmallow fluff. I used a pasteurized egg white. Since it doesn’t get heated, I would recommend doing that. You can find them in the dairy section or just buy pasteurized eggs and separate.

Next, even if you don’t make your own fluff, the key is to add the marshmallow after you’ve churned the ice cream and have given it a chance to set up. I tried adding it early in my initial batches, and the marshmallow just integrated into the ice cream. It was tasty, but not the effect I was going for. So, wait as long as possible before you add the marshmallow.

Finally, I didn’t know how to make fluff before I started this recipe. I like to make sure I credit other recipes when I use them. I simply paired down a recipe I saw elsewhere. You can find the original version here.

Click here to download the recipe for Uneven Pavement.

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Uneven Pavement Ice Cream
Cashew Ice Cream
Ingredients:
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
1 cup salted, roasted cashews (crushed/chopped)
1/2 cup salted, roasted cashews (whole or halves)
2 egg yolks
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. salt

Toffee chips
Ingredients:

1/3 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 tbsp. corn syrup
1 tbsp. water
1/2 tsp. vanilla

Marshmallow fluff
Ingredients:
1 egg white (or equivalent egg substitute)
2/3 cup corn syrup
2/3 cup confectioner sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. salt

Directions:
Making the base of the ice cream
1. In a small bowl, whisk together the sugar and the egg yolks. Set this aside. Preferably over a double boiler, combine cream, milk, chopped cashews and salt. Whisk regularly until the temperature reaches 140F.

2. Once the liquid reaches temperature, it is time to temper the egg/sugar mixture. Slowly add about half of your hot cream mixture to the eggs and sugar, while whisking vigorously. Next, add the tempered egg mixture back to the original milk and cream and continue to whisk. Heat until the liquid coats the back of a spoon evenly or reaches 165F. Remove from heat, add the vanilla and immediately transfer to a container to cool down. Either cover and refrigerate overnight (preferred) or place in the freezer for 2 to 3 hours until very cool.

Making the toffee:
3. Line a sheet pan with a piece of parchment paper or a silpat. Next, in a small pot or saucier, melt the butter over medium high heat. Once the butter has stopped frothing, add sugar, corn syrup and water. Gently stir using a wooden spoon or heat resistant silicon spatula until the mixture reaches 300F. This is the “hard crack” stage and is typified by very small bubbles and a lava-like consistency. At this point, it is very dangerous if it spills on you, so be careful. Once it has reached this temperature, which should not take long given the small amount of liquids, quickly add the vanilla, stir in, and then pour out onto your lined sheet pan. Gently smooth the surface and then set aside to cool for 15 min. Once cool, break into pieces you feel is suitable for ice cream.

Churning the ice cream:
4. Following your ice cream maker’s instructions, churn the ice cream while adding the whole cashews and toffee pieces as soon as possible. Once completed, place in a covered container to set up in the freezer.

Making marshmallow veins:
5. In a large bowl or in a stand mixer, whisk together all the ingredients. The mix should come together quickly and resemble something similar to marshmallow fluff. After the ice cream has set in the freezer for approximately an hour — it should be firmer but not stiff — gently fold in as much of the marshmallow mix is you desire. Return to freezer and let harden for at least another 3 hours. Once the ice cream is finally set, enjoy!

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All good berries go to heaven — others go into blackberry ice cream

May 28, 2007

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As a lover of berries, I wholeheartedly endorse eating them as God and nature intended: straight off the bush… or out of your grocer’s green quart container. And I’m a true believer: I regularly gorge myself on whole cartons of berries — and cherries, now in season! — minutes after they enter my house.

Blueberry-purple tongue? No problem. Strawberry seeds in my teeth? Who cares? Cherry juice stains on my blouse? My drycleaner loves ’em.

But, sadly, sometimes a berry-buying frenzy can result in berry casualties. That’s right: You see all those gorgeous gems stacked into sparkling pyramids in the produce department, and you can’t help yourself… you overbuy. Some berries get shoved to the back of the fridge, forgotten. Perhaps some go uneaten when you leave town for a few days. Or perhaps some were just slightly too ripe when purchased. In any case, sometimes berries go past their prime — and, shockingly, sadly, are no longer fit to consume unadulterated.

That’s where my husband’s ice cream machine comes in.

Ice cream is the perfect resting place for berries otherwise destined for the boneyard. Softened by time and ready to relinquish their luscious juices, overripe berries partner perfectly with a little cream, sugar and cold freezer air. Sure, they’re no longer as sweet or sunkissed as they once were. Yes, they have undesireable blemishes and their skin gives a little too easily. But none of these things matter when they come into contact with blissfully sweet cream.

Yes, friends, you can ressurect those past-their-prime berries. Don’t toss them into the garbage… toss them into ice cream, man.

Click here to download the recipe for Blackberry Ice Cream.

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Backgrounder…
With Memorial Day now here, we can officially (in a non-official capacity since June 21 still has that whole cosmological argument) say that summer is here. From a kitchen standpoint, this is awesome. Let’s be honest — as cooks, there are two great benefits:

First, the kitchen can be closed. Things are fresh. You can create a lot of delicious dishes with just a knife and a bowl. Furthermore, you can cook outdoors — bringing in those incalculable benefits of charring and burning things over flames.

Second, everything is in season. Most fruits tend to be fresh and local for a brief period. The number and colors of ingredients explode. Pretty much everything tastes better for the next 20 or so weeks until the last of the apples start to make their way off the trees.

This recipe is an homage to one of those ingredients that is starting its brief but vibrant trip into freshness — the blackberry. While I’d recommend you eat as many of these while you can, this is a great use for those that you start to see go wrong before you can get them out fresh. Also, feel free to substitute the frozen variety.

Finally, I feel the best part of this recipe is that it is a combination of flavors I really enjoy. It is sweet, tart, tangy and smooth. It has a refreshing character that makes it great for an evening summer meal — and there are a number of those ahead.

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Blackberry Ice Cream
Ingredients:
1 quart blackberries
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
Juice of 1 lime

3 egg yolks
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp. salt

Directions:
1. Add the yolks and sugar to a medium-size bowl. Whisk together and then set aside.

2. Using a double boiler — or, less ideally, a medium-size pot — over medium-low heat, add the milk, cream, blackberries and salt. Regularly whisk the mixture, heating until the temperature reaches approximately 145F. The mixture should begin to turn purple.

3. Once the cream mixture has reached the desired temperature, slowly add about half of the mixture to the eggs and sugar while whisking vigorously. This will prevent the eggs from curdling. Once the eggs and cream have been thoroughly integrated, pour back the egg mix into the remaining cream.

4. Whisk constantly and slowly as the mix rises in temperature. Once the temperature has reached 165-170F — or when the mix evenly coats the back of a spoon — remove from heat and add the lime juice and vanilla. Whisk them in completely and move to a new container to cool. The mix can be placed in the freezer for 2 to 3 hours or, preferably, into the refrigerator overnight.

5. Churn according to your ice cream maker’s instructions. After churning, place in freezer to firm up. I recommend placing a seal of plastic wrap tight against the ice cream after making it to prevent a skin from forming on the ice cream’s surface. Serve once firm enough. Enjoy!

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A thank you from us in the form of a little sunshine: Fresh pineapple sorbet.

March 26, 2007

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First, let us begin by thanking you all for the wonderful comments last week. They were warm little rays of sunshine in the middle of the night as we began to adjust to the hours young Jack is keeping.

Second, the wife is doing great. She’s up and likely too mobile and too active for her own good. It was only after a dirty look I gave her and a remark about stitches that she slowed down. However, because she is a human vending machine, on demand at all hours, she is a bit fatigued and I wanted to keep up with demand for both baby photos and delicious food.

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Finally, since I’m a solo act again, I bring you a simple dessert that has turned out to be one of my favorites, Fresh Pineapple Sorbet. I’ve been on a tropical flavors kick over the past month, and this is perhaps one of the finest results. In addition to being refreshing, there is something pure in its flavor, texture and sweetness. It’s great as a palette cleanser, paired with other desserts such as coconut cheesecake, or as a stand alone.

In closing, the recipe includes rum. Unless you have an issue with serving alcohol, I would recommend its inclusion. Besides adding flavor, the alcohol reduces the sorbet’s freezing point. This allows the sorbet to maintain its smoothness after being frozen to harden. It will keep it easy to scoop, even after a few weeks in the freezer.

Once again, thanks for your congratulations. I’m glad to be back in the kitchen. Watching what my wife was served in the hospital was rather appalling, and made me itch to be home!

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The way to avoid those pesky shells: Pistachio crunch ice cream.

January 3, 2007

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There’s hardly a happier sound than the sweet song of an ice cream maker churning.

That song was playing in my house last night. Its delectable finish? Sweet, creamy pistachio ice cream.

Yes, folks, my husband has done it again. There must be something about homemade ice cream that makes it that much more addictive than ordinary store-bought ice cream. How do I know this? Because I am tempted by flavors whose siren song I rarely hear in the heady bright lights of an ice cream parlor. When I amble up to that counter, I almost always ask for mint chocolate chip. At home, though, I’ve learned to love ginger ice cream and now pistachio ice cream with almost equal fervor.

I think I have a problem… and it doesn’t bode well for my waist line.

It’s OK. I’m cool with elastic-waisted pants as long as they’re accompanied by steady scoops of this pistachio ice cream. The creamy custard itself is delicious — almost achingly sweet and buttery — but it’s the ice cream’s texture that seals the deal. The nutty aroma of pistachio is laced throughout, and better still, so are nibbles of the nut itself. So amid your sweet creamy experience comes a wonderful and unexpected crunch. Trust me — and my clown pants — it’s good. Oh yes, it’s good.

Click here to download the recipe for Pistachio Crunch Ice Cream

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Top Chef Week Three: Ice cream, TGI Fridays, and salt does Emily in

November 2, 2006

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The show opened with a QuickFire challenge up any ice-cream lover’s alley: Design a flavor and serve it up. Of course, when the hostess in the hot pants says that you’re going to be serving your ice cream to Average Joes on the boardwalk — most of whom are 12 and under — you might want to rethink the Avocado/Bacon ice cream you had in mind. Marcel did not. Cliff won, with a crowd pleasing cookies and crumble ice cream. Ah, duh.

The Elimination Challenge was fairly wide open: In between repeated commercials for TGI Fridays, come up with an entree that reminds you of your childhood, serve it to firemen, and just maybe it might end up on — you guessed it — a TGI Fridays menu. This segment was largely eaten up by schoolyard-style name-calling between Betty and Marcel, with Marcel growing increasingly irritating to other contestants and viewers alike. After showing this exchange for about 20 minutes, the producers rammed through about 10 dishes displayed in 30 seconds. In the end, Betty won the challenge with her roasted red pepper soup and grilled portabello cheese sandwich. Marcel looked like a chump, but he didn’t get kicked off. Emily exited for her over-salted “Slammin’ Surf and Turf,” which was, apparently, inedible.

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