0827 Three Kinds of Ice Cream

So last night I was reminded of one thing I really, really hate about the Midwest: the late summer/early fall allergies.  Last night’s allergy attack was the worst I can recall having since high school, when there were mornings where I woke up and had to stumble blindly to the bathroom for a warm washcloth in order to unstick my stuck-shut eyes.  Last night’s plague took the form of sneezing instead of itchy eyes, and resulted in me waking about every 30 minutes to sneeze and blow my nose and change positions.  It was warmish, but I slept with the heating pad on because it was comforting.

You can imagine, then, that I wasn’t particularly with it today at work.  I packed a lunch, and supplemented it with leftover vanilla ice cream from yesterday’s party.  And then a little bit of chocolate ice cream in my coffee mug later.  I was supposed to go to happy hour with a bunch of library people, but I couldn’t face (har) the pollen and sinus pressure, so I came home, had leftover snacks and some mint chocolate chip ice cream, and tried to breathe deeply.  Thank goodness for antihistamines, you guys.

0826 Cake and Snacks

I’ll be honest with you: it is difficult to remain disciplined in your healthy eating when you encounter something like this:

Wedding Cake #5

That’s a chocolate cake with chocolate ganache, made for us by my boss, and served with chocolate and also vanilla ice cream at a small party in our honor.  I tried to be virtuous.  I really did.  I cut myself a “one-nut piece” and spooned out some vanilla ice cream.  And then a little more of each.  And then maybe I ate one of those curly chocolate bells – just the bell, not the cake underneath it.  And then we went to Dominick’s with a few people.  And then we had a snack dinner.

0804 Regarding My Ice Cream Addiction

Let’s just get something out of the way here: I have an ice cream problem.  I would eat ice cream every day if I were allowed to do so.  And this summer, I’ve been doing just that.

It doesn’t even have to be good ice cream!  I am an equal opportunity ice cream eater.  It just needs to be cold and creamy, and maybe have a crisp and crunchy cone at the end.  I love an amazing scoop of Jeni’s, but I am also super happy with a soft-serve cone from McDonald’s. I love cheap ice cream treats straight from the waxy paper wrapper, and I love splitting a giant scoop from Washtenaw Dairy. I love ice cream enough to forgo beer in order to save my calories for a cone later. Unfortunately or fortunately, depending on who you ask, Shane shares my passion for ice cream. And soft-serve. And, occasionally, frozen yogurt.

Staycation

After a light dinner and some puttering, we rode our peds up to Dairy Queen, where we discovered that they have introduced Mini Blizzards! They’re still a diet busting 300+ calories, but as an occasional treat, they’re pretty damned good. I had cookie dough, and Shane’s involved heath and caramel. So good, you guys.  But maybe I should stick to popsicles for the rest of the week to make up for the splurge.

0630 Summer Potluck

I brought my camera tonight because it seemed like it was going to be an evening worth photographing.  It was, but I was so busy eating brie with raspberry-chipotle sauce and chatting with friends that I just didn’t get around to it.  You’ll just have to imagine a living room set up in Susie’s front yard, bottles of wine and plates of summer grain salads, a small bouquet of flowers in the middle of a plaid wool blanket, and the deep intense red of what I’m calling Foragers’ Sorbet, made from back yard berries and mint that keeps creeping into our garden.

Foragers’ Sorbet
Adapted from The Houndstooth Gourmet

1 cup water
1 cup sugar
1 cup wild raspberries (or regular berries, of course, but wild is what we have on hand)
A handful of wild mint, rinsed and sliced into a chiffonade
Juice of one half lemon

In a medium saucepan, whisk together water and sugar until dissolved.  Add the raspberries, mint, and lemon juice and simmer for about 5 minutes, whisking and crushing the berries as you see fit.  Remove from heat and pour through cheesecloth or a fine mesh strainer, then chill for 30 minutes or until cooled completely.  I like to just set the strainer over a large glass measuring cup, pour the mixture through, and then set the whole thing in the fridge to continue to drip and chill.

Process in your ice cream maker for about 25 minutes, or until you can see it getting thick in the center.  Pour into a freezer-safe container and chill for a few hours before serving.  Recipe should yield 2 cups of incredibly flavorful and velvety sorbet.

0613 Strawberry Invasion

Strawberry's Eye View

I went berry-picking this morning.

Berries Everywhere!

And I may have been overly enthusiastic.

Two Perfect Berries

Because now we have twenty pounds of strawberries, approximately 1/3 of which are pictured below.

Tray 1/2

What the hell am I going to do with twenty pounds of strawberries? Answer: jam. And a lot of it. Also gelato. Also a lot of berry-eating out of hand, as these berries are as sweet as candy.

I would tell you about the gelato, but I don’t want to make you jealous.  You should probably just make some yourself, though I’d recommend reducing the quantities by a third or you’ll run the risk of overflowing your food processor and/or your ice cream maker.  Don’t have either of those?  This recipe uses them, but doesn’t require them, so now you have no excuse.  NO EXCUSE, hear me?

Recipe:
Strawberry Gelato from Italy Travel Guide

0306 Beer Ice Cream, Two Ways

When the annual publication from the Michigan Brewers Guild hit our mailbox, Shane immediately was interested in making the Milkshake Stout gelato recipe in the recipes section…except with the Tres Blueberry Stout from Dark Horse. I was skeptical – and wanted an excuse to try the Oatmeal Stout and Heath Bar Ice Cream recipe that I’ve had bookmarked for the better part of a year.  With an Oscar party coming up, we saw no reason not to just make both.

Now, I’ll warn you.  Read these recipes carefully and then FOLLOW THEM.  Trust me when I tell you that it is very easy to end up with a stovetop covered in sticky syrup, or with scrambled egg ice cream.  The former happened after 1-3 boil overs.  The latter didn’t happen, but only because of CONSTANT VIGILANCE.  After all of that and some emergency ice cream maker repairs, we ended up with two amazing desserts, neither of which tasted particularly like beer, but both of which were incredibly creamy and full of rich caramel flavors.  If you’re willing to watch a saucepan for an hour and change, these are both totally worth your time.

Blueberry Stout Gelato
From The Michigan Brewers Guild

16 oz Dark Horse Tres Blueberry Stout (or other creamy stout)
2 cups sugar
1 quart heavy cream

In a heavy saucepan, combine stout and 1 1/2 cups sugar over medium-low heat, whisking occasionally, until reduced to a syrup consistency, about 1 1/2 hours.  DO NOT BE LULLED INTO A FALSE SENSE OF SECURITY BY THE LONG REDUCTION TIME.  THIS IS STICKY SHIT, AND IT WILL MAKE A HUGE MESS OF YOUR STOVE IF IT BOILS OVER.

When the mixture is fully reduced, stir in heavy cream slowly, then add the remaining sugar.  Bring to a boil, then remove from heat.  Pour into a shallow pan and freeze overnight.

Mocha Porter Ice Cream
adapted from A Good Appetite

16 oz Rogue Mocha Porter
3 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup cream
1 cup half & half
1/2 cup chocolate chips, chopped up

In a heavy saucepan, bring the porter to a boil over medium heat and reduce by half.  In a large bowl, whisk the yolks and sugar together until combined, then set aside.  Reduce the heat to low and add the cream and milk. Bring to a simmer, then remove from heat and SLOWLY stir into the egg mixture. THIS IS IMPORTANT unless you’d like scrambled eggs in your ice cream.

Return to the saucepan and cook until slightly thickened, stirring steadily.  Refrigerate until completely cold, then freeze 25 minutes in your ice cream maker. Add the chopped chocolate chips during the last 5 minutes of mixing.

0228 A Stellar Day in the Kitchen

Today started with an outstanding breakfast and carried on full-bore to homemade Twinkies.  Pretty damned amazing.

Breakfast: ruby-red grapefruit broiled with a bit of sugar.  Fresh squeezed orange juice for Shane from 2nds produce we found at Meijer.  Soft scrambled eggs with wheat toast and slices of avocado.  A pot of  Ethiopian Sidamo from Zingerman’s.  If I could breakfast like this every day, I’d be a happy girl.

But before that, and actually before the coffee had started brewing, I had Thin Mint ice cream freezing away.  I haven’t made it to custard-based ice creams, but when the basics taste this good, I’m not going to sweat it.

After breakfast, I infused some olive oil with garlic, then added it to the dough for a savory flatbread for tonight’s baking extravaganza.  While the bread rose, I made paneer – the second cheese making adventure!  Paneer is much more forgiving and simple than mozzarella – basically just heating up milk with an acid to separate the whey from the solids, then draining, rinsing, and pressing.  We’ll use it up in matar paneer tomorrow night.  The warmth from the paneer process made the bread rise beautifully – much better than the last time ’round.

To go with the flatbread, a spinach pesto with sun-dried tomatoes, all whirred together in the Cuisinart with olive oil, salt and pepper, a couple of cloves of garlic, and a handful of toasted pine nuts.  It tasted so green and fresh that it was hard not to dig in right away.  The flatbread, just fancied up pizza dough, was rolled out thin, rubbed with the infused oil, and topped with lavender salt and oregano.  Savory, crispy, and delicious.

And then the pièce de résistance – homemade Twinkies.  But that may be a story for another day.

Twinkies awaiting their buttercream

Recipes:
Simple Vanilla Ice Cream from Cuisinart – sub 1 tbsp vanilla extract and 1 tbsp mint extract for the vanilla, and add 1 cup crushed Thin Mints in the last 5 minutes of the freezing process.  I didn’t have enough heavy cream, so I subbed in 1 cup half and half and increased the freezing by a couple of minutes.

Paneer from fxcuisine – made a half batch, as we really didn’t need a gallon’s worth

Pesto from Jamie’s Dinners – except with spinach instead of basil, and with a handful of sun-dried tomatoes tossed in for good measure

Pizza Dough from a variety of sources
1 tbsp sugar
1 cup warm water
2 1/4 tsp (1 envelope) active dry yeast
3 1/4 c flour, any type or combo
1 tsp salt
1/4 c olive oil (garlic-infused!)

In a small bowl or a measuring cup, dissolve sugar in warm water.  Sprinkle yeast over water and stir a minute or so to dissolve.  Set aside for 5 min or so–a layer of foam should form on top.  In a big bowl, mix together flour and salt.  Make a well in the center and pour in the yeasty water and the olive oil.  Stir with a wooden spoon (and possibly your hands) until everything holds together as a dough.  Turn dough out onto a floured surface and knead for 5-10 minutes, until the dough is smooth and flexible and not sticky.  When you’re done kneading, form the dough into a ball and put it in an oiled bowl to rest, flipping it around in the bowl so it gets coated with oil.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a towel and let it sit for about an hour.  When the dough has doubled in size, punch it down and make it into a ball, then roll it out and top it.  This recipe makes enough dough for one great big pizza or two small-medium ones.  Preheat your oven to 500, then bake the rolled-out dough 10-12 minutes before adding toppings.

0110 Ice Cream Cake

We had dinner at Amy and Adam’s tonight to celebrate their sixth wedding anniversary. Dinner was a salad with homemade Caesar dressing, a Moosewood cauliflower casserole vastly improved by the addition of cheese, garlic, more veg, and sausage, and homemade bread.  Everything was excellent – hearty and delicious food for a cold winter’s night.

And an ice cream cake. A thing of beauty, that ice cream cake. Amy brought it out from the freezer and set it at the center of the table to thaw a bit, a wait that was tantamount to a violation of the Geneva Conventions for her three year old daughter, who had earlier been jumping up and down in the kitchen cheering for the cake.  I understood exactly how she was feeling.  Once sliced, the cake proved to have a perfect cake to ice cream ratio, all wrapped in silky chocolate ganache.  Removing the cake from the table resulted in unending tears – and again, I could totally understand.

Eating and Growing Locally: Week 13

Eating:

  • In an attempt to like cauliflower, I roasted a head of the purple stuff.  It was pretty tasty, but I’m still not convinced.
  • A LOT of blueberry pancakes last weekend when Erin Fae was here.
  • Peach ice cream and peach turnovers to use up the last of the peaches and the last of the puff pastry.
  • Spaghetti and meatballs with both the sauce and the meatballs from scratch.
  • Two all-local frittatas with garlic scapes (local for Erin Fae, who brought them as a gift), zucchini, onion, and tomato.  OMG so good.  I think we’ve mastered the frittata – now we just have to master getting it out of the pan:

Frittata attack!

Growing:

The first of the Amish Paste tomatoes committed tomato suicide, but I’ve been steadily picking little Beam’s Pear tomatoes throughout the week, as well as beans and the basil, which has now stayed alive for THREE months.  We also got our first red chili this week = hooray!

Eating and growing locally: week four

Week 4: growing

  • I harvested and froze the cilantro – if it doesn’t grow back, we’ll dig it up and put something else in its spot.
  • The lettuce is nearing the point of microgreens, so we plan to thin it this weekend.
  • Three budding strawberries!
  • The onions are sending up shoots of green – I planted them on a whim without being responsible and starting them indoors 60 days ahead of time.  I figure if by the end of the summer we have onions, awesome.  If not, I’m out about $1 in seeds.

Week 4: eating

  • Scrambled eggs with chard for breakfast – Mina liked the chard!
  • A couple of delicious but non-local meals complemented by asparagus (grilled, alongside grilled chicken and halloumi, and blanched, alongside chicken poached in vodka tomato sauce with penne)
  • Farmers’ market strawberries used in homemade ice cream – our first batch with the new Cuisinart was amazing.

I’m taking two summer classes, so from now until the end of June our culinary experiments will be primarily in Shane’s hands.  I told Shane last night that all this reading about local food (Plenty, Food Politics, The Farm to Table Cookbook) has me really excited about the change of seasons, the wonderful diversity of food options that will be available in a few weeks, and reaping the benefits of this diversity and surplus to provide for meals many months in the future via canning, freezing, making jam, etc.  I’m especially excited and hopeful that there will be more aha! moments with food, where we both will discover that things we thought we didn’t like we didn’t like just because we’d only known the pale supermarket version.

And with that, off to the market!