Friday, June 24, 2011

Coffee Gelato Ice Cream - Hide it if you don't want to share.

 I should never have let my daughter try this ice cream.  Now I have to share.  Fortunately it's just us two in the house that like coffee flavor.  Well, the youngest hasn't tried but always chooses vanilla anyway.  We're going to keep it that way too.  Since the recipe only makes a generous pint, I'd rather not have to split it any more ways.  Kids don't need the caffeine anyway.  I used to have a penchant for Häagen-Dazs coffee ice cream.  I liked the little single serve cups because otherwise I could eat a whole pint in one day.  I don't think I will ever have to buy it again now because this is just as good.  It manages to be frosty and ridiculously creamy at the same time.  I am having to bury it deep in the freezer to make it last more than two days.  Maybe the pint batch is good portion control after all.  ☺  This is a very simple recipe that does not require cooking and is therefore ready to freeze right away, hooray!  Now fair warning, this does contain raw egg yolks so I would suggest pasteurized eggs if regular grocery store eggs are all that are available to you.  I have access to fresh pastured eggs which I know are safe to use raw.  For this batch I actually used fresh duck eggs which are amazing for baking and ice cream.  (Just not a chiffon or a sponge unless you have a recipe tested for duck eggs, it can be a tricky thing.)  This batch yields maybe half a cup more than a pint, but with a little, uh... quality control, it will fit nicely in the pint container...  ☺  I love those round ziploc containers with the screw tops, they are perfect for a pint batch of ice cream.

Coffee Gelato Ice Cream
makes a generous pint

1 cup whole milk
2/3 cup heavy cream
2 tsp espresso powder
2/3 cup sugar
3 egg yolks

Dissolve the espresso powder in the cold milk and mix well.  In a medium bowl, whip the egg yolks and sugar until light in color and stiff.  Continue whipping and slowly add the milk and coffee and the cream a few drops at a time.  Pour the mixture into your ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer's directions.  The ice cream will be ready in about 20-25 minutes.

I have made this with a hand mixer and with a stick blender.  I think the hand mixer does a slightly better job of incorporating the sugar since there is more room for the mixture to move.  It's actually a bit stiff for the stick blender.  You can probably use a hand whisk but you will have popeye arms when you are done.  Worth it though.  And now, I'm off to pick up another couple dozen eggs because I'm out and we need more ice cream!

Adapted from DeLonghi

Monday, June 13, 2011

Strawberry Gelato Ice cream, fresh and frosty

It's finally the season to start experimenting with the ice cream maker!  So far we've done a fresh mint chip with a blend of peppermint, spearmint and swiss ricola mint.  That was really good, almost reminiscent of a mojito without the lime of course.  Then the good old fashioned chocolate.  Both of those were french ice creams (custard based) and went over very well with the fam.  Yesterday we took advantage of the sun and made fresh strawberry gelato while a bunch of girls slip n slided and danced in a sprinkler in the back yard.  Wow, talk about a fluffy, refreshing fruit ice cream.  Yum!  This one is just milk, cream, sugar and berries with a dash of vanilla.  Even so, it did not freeze hard as a rock and I was easily able to scoop light, frosty scoops out the next day.  (Granted, that was a refrigerator freezer and not the chest freezer.)  Now, I do love a french ice cream but this is so quick and easy, I just had to share.  This is most similar to Breyers Strawberry Ice cream for a store bought comparison.  The recipe makes only about a pint for my small capacity ice cream freezer.  I'm sure you can double unless you like the portion control of a smaller batch.  ☺

Strawberry Gelato Ice Cream
makes a generous pint

1½ cups cleaned strawberries (get organic if possible - strawberries are a heavily sprayed crop)
½ cup whole milk
½ cup heavy cream
½ cup evaporated cane sugar
dash of vanilla extract

Blend strawberries with half the sugar.  Add the milk, cream and remaining sugar.  Mix well to dissolve all the sugar.  I used my stick blender and its 2+ cup container to make the whole batch.  Flavor with vanilla.  Chill if necessary.  All my ingredients were quite cold so I didn't have to chill.  Pour into ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer's directions.  Mine only took about 15-20 minutes but this small capacity freezer takes less time.  I'd say 25-30 minutes or more for a standard leave in the freezer canister style ice cream maker, especially with a double batch.  (If you like larger pieces of berry in your ice cream, I would suggest chopping up a couple berries to your desired size and adding them to the mix when you put it in the ice cream freezer.)

The neighbor girls loved their ice cream cones, eaten still slightly soft serve style.  This stuff was so deliciously fluffy, I can't decide whether I like it fresh or cured better!

Adapted from DeLonghi

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Salmon chowder - for when the weather still won't make up its mind...

Last weekend was gorgeous.  Beautiful, warm and sunny, pushing the 80's or lounging happily in the 70's depending on the day.  It was perfect birthday party weather for a group of 7 year old girls and I was thankful to be able to send them outside for most of the time.  The next day we had Nana and Papa over for more birthday celebration and a little "Papa's a great handyman so can he fix everything while he's visiting..."  They brought three gorgeous salmon filets fresh caught from friends in Alaska and we barbequed them all up for dinner.  Well, even after pigging out on them, four adults and two kids could only finish two.  The rest of this week has ranged from downright cold (low 50's) and having to turn on the heat, to drizzly and gray but slightly muggy.  Today was mildly chilly with some solar gain through the clouds in the afternoon.  I figured it was a good time to use up the leftover salmon somehow and chowder seemed to fit the bill.  My daughter adores Manhattan style clam chowder and loved the salmon so I figured this would go over pretty well.  I was wrong.  It went over more than well.  It replaced the clam chowder.  I was slightly surprised but very pleased with the constant and effusive praise coming from her during the entire dinner.  I'm sure I will be hearing requests for this one again soon if we have more stints of Mother Nature's mid-season neurosis.

Salmon Chowder
Serves 4-6

5 strips good bacon, diced (I recommend Hempler's if you are in the NW)
1 yellow onion, chopped
4-5 stalks celery, chopped (around ½-¾ cup)
4 small or 2 large russet potatoes, peeled and chopped (I used lovely little organic ones but the huge ones in the bulk section will do as well)
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 cups chicken stock (homemade if you have it)
1½ cups half and half (if you want to cut calories and richness, use 1 cup half and half, and 1 cup water)
½ cup water
1½-2 cups leftover cooked salmon, chunked and picked over for bones
½ red pepper, diced
1½ tbsp freeze dried parsley
¾ tsp dried dill
sea salt to taste
fresh ground pepper to taste
couple dashes tabasco
½-1 tsp maple syrup (optional)
minced fresh chives for garnish

Fry the bacon in a heavy soup pot until crispy.  Take out with a slotted spoon and set aside.  Saute the onion and celery in the bacon fat until the onion is translucent.  Add potatoes and saute and stir a few more minutes.  Add carrots, stock and water and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes until veggies are tender.

Add half and half, bell pepper, parsely, dill, tabasco and maple syrup.  Simmer 5 minutes.  Add salmon and heat through.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Heat until steamy but not boiling.  Serve in bowls and garnish with the reserved crispy bacon and fresh chives.  Enjoy with crackers, crostini or fresh bread.

Check out Monday Mania - real food at the Healthy Home Economist and Real Food Wednesday at Kelly the Kitchen Kop

Adapted from Whole Foods

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Fabulous Homemade Marshmallow Fluff in under an hour

Okay, which one did you grow up with?  We had the Kraft Jet puffed marshmallow creme.

And here is the rather unappetizing ingredient list:  Corn Syrup, Sugar, Water, Egg Whites, Artificial Flavor, Cream of Tartar, Xanthan Gum, Artificial Color (Contains Blue 1).  

I can't believe I ever loved that stuff.  I mean seriously, blue food coloring?  It's WHITE.  (You know they put that in their marshmallows too...)  And if you read this blog on a regular basis, you know how I feel about corn and my poor daughter's allergy.  At least it's not high fructose corn syrup.  But it is a fluffy whipped concoction of sugar and chemicals.

Now the fluff brand, I've never actually tried.

I'll give them credit, the ingredient list is admirably short and sweet:  Corn Syrup, Sugar Syrup, Dried Egg Whites And Vanillin.  

But, corn syrup aside, I can't go for the vanillin.  Usually synthetic as well as often a corn derivative. 

So what's the shelf life on those guys and how long do they sit there?  Or in your own pantry for that matter?  I saw a great looking fruit dip the other day that calls for the standard 7 oz. jar of fluff.  Well guess what... I happen to have a great recipe for fluff from Marshmallows: Homemade Gourmet Treats by Eileen Talanian.
Best book ever, buy it, buy it, buy it!  

I didn't have any of the marshmallow syrup made up that her fabulous recipes use instead of corn syrup.  (I usually only make it up when I need it.)  But I do keep Lyle's Golden Syrup on hand.  This past winter holiday season I discovered that it stands in beautifully for confections that are usually made with corn syrup.  And I just love the way it tastes.  It's made from cane sugar and has a unique and wonderful caramely flavor.  Now the consistency of the syrup in the bottles tends to be thinner than that of the tins and some people prefer the thicker viscosity for applications like pancake syrup.  But one 11oz. bottle happens to be almost the exact amount needed for a full batch of fluff and is easier to measure out.  If it matters to you, be my guest and get the tin.

This fluff will not be glaring white but a creamy very light caramel color.  It tastes heavenly.  My daughters go gaga for it, AND it freezes wonderfully!  Well here, take a look for yourself:

It really is gorgeous stuff.  If you want it really white go ahead and make the marshmallow syrup (get the book.)  Or you could use light corn syrup but for goodness sakes seek out an organic brand that isn't high fructose and genetically programmed to be its own pesticide.  Yeah, I want that in my body.  Not.  I have found that almost all the grocery stores are carrying Lyle's now.  It will be in the pancake syrup section usually - look for the green and gold label or tin.  I can whip up a batch in around half an hour, though usually I make a half batch.  The full is the equivalent of about three jars of fluff.  It may freeze well, but I don't need that much around.  ☺

(I did actually use 7 oz. of this homemade fluff in the fruit dip recipe posted by Brown Eyed Baker today and it turned out fabulous - folks were asking what was in it because it was so good.)

I usually make a half batch for our small family needs.  The full batch pretty much fills up my kitchenaid.  I did make a full batch this time because I needed it for a recipe and wanted enough to save in the freezer for super special treats for the girls.  You know they have never had a fluffernutter?  We will have to remedy that situation.

Remember to calibrate your thermometer!

Vanilla Caramel Marshmallow Fluff
adapted from Marshmallows: Homemade Gourmet Treats
(makes about as much as 3 jars of store bought)

For the base:
½ cup water
1¼ cups Lyle's Golden Syrup
1½ cups evaporated cane sugar

For the egg foam:
4 large egg whites at room temperature,
or equivalent reconstituted dried egg whites (I use the dried -  works great)
1/8 tsp salt 

Additional Flavoring:
2 tsp pure vanilla extract

Place the base ingredients into a heavy 2 qt saucepan and bring to boil over medium heat.  Cover and boil for 2 minutes.  Remove cover, insert candy thermometer and boil to 240º F.  Do not stir the mixture once the lid has been removed.  Remove the pan from heat and set it aside to cool for 3 or 4 minutes.

When the temperature of the base reaches 220ºF, (for me, that's right after the 2 minute lidded boil) place the whites and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer and beat on medium speed until thick, fluffy and opaque.  (Soft peak is fine, just don't let it get to stiff and curdled.)  Once the base has reached 240º and cooled for a couple minutes, slowly stream it down the side of the mixer bowl with the beater on medium speed, taking care not to let the base get into the beater so it doesn't splash.  Drizzle in the vanilla.

Turn the speed up to high and beat for 7 minutes.  Transfer the fluff to a plastic container, cover and store in the fridge for up to 2 weeks or freeze for up to 2 months.  (Honestly, I trust the powdered egg whites chilled to two weeks but fresh I would want to use up in one week - another reason I usually do half batches.)

And lest you think vanilla and strawberry are the only options...   Cinnamon, chocolate speckle, lemon, blackberry, espresso, butterscotch, cherry, mint, banana, honey-star anise, wine, frozen pumpkin and green tea-5 spice are only some of the other options.

The only challenge may be keeping little spoons out of the bowl...

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Strawberry Almond Bakewell Tart

This was my first time making and tasting a bakewell tart.  It won't be the last.  I have been SO deprived.  It's like eating almond horn filling with fresh jam in pie/tart form.  Actually, I could just eat the almond filling straight!  It's almost exactly like the filling I used to use for almond horns in high school.  Yeah, one of those "way back machine" moments.  At any rate, this rivals lemon chiffon pie as one of my favorite desserts now.  Some recipes call for a can of almond filling.  I used to love those.  Now I find them artificial, gummy and overly sweet.  And bloody expensive.  Since I always have blanched almond flour on hand for specialty, low carb, and gluten free baking stints, I have found that I love the homemade almond paste option.  Just a few ingredients and you have a great alternative with truer, more delicate flavor and yielding a lighter result in my baked goods.

On the left, canned almond paste.  On the right, homemade.  They have similar consistencies and both are quite firm when chilled.  But the homemade is lighter and more naturally almond flavored.  The canned stuff has that waft of artificial almond that knocks you on your tuckus when you open the lid.  I really prefer the homemade now.  I think I already said that.  It bears repeating.  With food sensitivities in the house, the less processed ingredients I use, the better.  If you've never had a Bakewell, try it out!  You can use your favorite preserves, I used my homemade strawberry peach jam that I made last month.  Of course I could just make a batch of the filling and bake it up as muffin with a dollop of jam in the middle and be happy as a clam.  ☺

Strawberry Almond Bakewell Tart
One 9½" tart 

Tart Dough (Dorie's):
1½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
½ cup powdered sugar
9 tbsp (4½ oz) unsalted butter, cold and cut into small cubes
¼ teaspoon sea salt
1 extra large egg

Almond Paste:
4 oz blanched almond flour (you could substitute an equal weight of blanched almonds and simply process into fine meal)
4 oz powdered sugar
1 egg white (or powdered egg white, reconstituted)
1 tsp almond extract
pinch sea salt

8 tbsp (4 oz) unsalted butter at room temperature
(Almond Paste) 
¼ cup granulated sugar
2 extra large eggs, room temperature
1 rounded tsp finely grated lemon zest
pinch sea salt
1/3 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/3 cup strawberry preserves (be generous)
1/3 cup sliced almonds

Tart dough:
In a food processor, add the flour, sugar, and salt; pulse until combined.  Scatter the butter pieces over the flour.   Pulse until the butter is the size of peas.  Add the egg and process in long pulses, about 5-7 seconds until the dough has just started to clump.  It's okay if it is still slightly crumbly.  Don't overwork or it will shrink when you bake it.  Dump out the dough onto plastic wrap.  Using the plastic wrap and your hands, gently press the dough into a disk.  Wrap tightly and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, preferably overnight.

Preheat oven to 375ºF.  Remove the dough from the refrigerator.  If chilled overnight, let it rest at room temperature for about 10 minutes.  Lightly flour your work surface and roll the dough out into a 12" circle.  Flour as necessary to keep the dough from sticking.  Roll up the dough on the rolling pin and gently unroll it over a 9½" tart pan with removable bottom.  Gently fit the dough into the edge of the pan.  Roll the rolling pin over the top of the pan to remove the excess dough.  Save the scraps for tartlets or let the kids have fun.  Dock the dough with a fork and place shell in the freezer for 15 minutes. 

Line the tart pan with parchment paper or aluminum foil and fill with dried beans or pie weights. Bake for 20 minutes.  Remove the weights and paper/foil and bake for another 3-5 minutes.  Place on a rack to cool.  Reduce the oven temperature to 350º F.  (You can also bake the shell a day ahead.)
Almond Paste:

Place almond flour and powdered sugar in a food processor; cover and process until well blended. Add the egg white, extract and salt; cover and process until smooth.  (Can be refrigerated for a few weeks or frozen for 3 months.) 


In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter with paddle attachment until smooth.  Add almond paste, one piece at a time, beating well after each addition.  Gradually add the sugar.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Mix in the lemon zest and salt.  Stir in the flour until completely combined.
Spread the preserves evenly over the bottom of the tart shell.  Place spoonfuls of the filling over the preserves and gently spread to completely cover the preserves and seal the edges.  Sprinkle top of the tart with the sliced almonds.

Bake until filling is golden brown and firm to the touch, about 35-45 minutes.  Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.  Remove the side of the tart pan and slide the tart onto a serving platter.


Oh yes, this tart freezes well.  I had a craving after writing this up and had to go break into the leftovers.  So yes, this picture is straight out of the freezer and it still tastes fabulous!