See that? That's my basil. For some reason (More water? Less water? Because it's late summer? Just to mess with me? Really, I have no idea), the basil has decided to flourish in the last several days. Obviously, this means I'm going to make basil ice cream
So the question I put to you, dear readers, is.. what flavors go with basil (besides tomato and mozzarella)?
In particular, how does basil and caramel strike you? I feel like it's a huge mistake, but I have this cool microwave caramel recipe I really want to try. It would be a basil base, with a caramel swirl. Still no? I can see you shaking your head. Okay, fine. Never mind.
Do any sweet flavors go with basil?
I love ice cream. You know this. But sometimes I get stuck on what flavor to make.
Vanilla? Too boring
Chocolate Hazelnut? Always a classic, but I don't want to get in a rut.
Salted Caramel? Loved it, but making the caramel is a pain*, and I'm really lazy.
So this means that I'll often sit down with a stack of ice cream books next to me, and flip through them looking for inspiration. And to be sure, I see some really unusual and cool sounding flavors, but they all have one thing in common: they're based around one (or more) key ingredient I never have in the house. And I'm not gonna go to the store just to pick up some...
- Szechwan peppercorns**
- Fresh figs
- Dulce de leche
- White miso
Hey.. i've got miso paste in the house! Katie bought some white miso paste to make miso-glazed fish, and since the glaze only calls for a couple of tablespoons of miso, we've had it in the fridge for awhile.
is the story of how White Miso-Peach ice cream came to be.
The ice cream itself was really easy.
1. Make the standard ice cream base.
2. Melt some sugar in a small pot.
3. While the sugar is melting, chop the fresh fruit (the recipe calls for peach, pear or apple).
4. When it's ready, toss the fruit in the melted sugar and mix well. This is the only tricky part. When you add the cold fruit, the sugar will immediately harden. Keep stirring, and it will soften as the peaches cook. Soon, you'll get this pot full of soft, goey peaches and sugar mix.
5. Add a little miso paste, and combine.
6. Mix the whole thing into the ice cream base, chill it, and churn. See? Easy.
I liked it a lot. It tastes like a very sweet peach ice cream, with an occassional salty hit from the miso. I think I probably could have blended it up better, to get a more uniform miso flavor, but I still liked it. One tip: when people tried this, I told them it was peach ice cream. I figured some people might have been scared off by the idea of miso in the ice cream, and so I only told them about it if they asked what else was in it.
I took a couple pictures, but they're from my phone. My camera decided to give me some weird error. (Katie's pro tip: Have you tried charging the battery? Yup, that fixed it).
* I found this great recipe for making caramel in the microwave from America's Test Kitchen. If it works, you can expect a slew of caramel-related recipes. Get excited.
** I'm in desperate need of a good asian market in DC, that doesn't involve driving out to suburban Maryland or Virginia. Any suggestions?
*** Really, lavender? Can I just go pick some lavender from someone's garden and eat it? Is the lavender I see on a menu the same stuff people grow in their garden?
I just read a great article from one of my favorite weightlifting authors, Tony Gentilcore*, on how to start a fitness blog
Step #1? Start a blog. Done. This is easy, 1 down, five more.
Step #2? Set a schedule and be consistent. Uh-oh.
Clearly, I'm failing at step #2. And that needs to change. So I'm throwing down the gauntlet here.. I'm going to write AT LEAST once a week, hence forth. I'm making no promised here on quantity, let alone quality, but I'll have something new up here on a weekly basis, and I'll try for more often.
So a couple of things for you guys to do.
First, and most important, hold me accountable. If a week goes by and I don't write anything, get on my case about it.
Second, if you have any ideas for a post, feel free to shoot those my way too (and yes Mike, I know I haven't followed up on any of your ideas yet. I'm a horrible person).
*I'm a big fan of Tony's writing, both style and content (you might say I'm trying to pattern my writing after his, except he puts in a lot more time and effort). Regardless, if you want to learn more about fitness, you could do worse than reading his stuff.
I haven't been posting lately, because Katie's a week into a four-week rotation in Baltimore. That means if I make any bread or ice cream, there's a strong likelihood I'll end up eating the whole thing while standing up over the sink.
However, since I know you're probably bored and casting around for something to do at work, I offer this instead:
Chilled Cauliflower and Carrot Soup with Ginger.
Hey, it's off-white and served cold.. just pretend your eating savory and mostly-melted ice cream. It's pretty simple. How simple? I just made some, in about 30 minutes.. so fast I didn't think to take any pictures. Ingredients
- 2-4 C stock // I know that's a wide range, I get into it below.
- 2 tbl olive oil
- 2 tbl butter
- Some ginger, grated or minced
- 1/2 C sweet onion, diced
- 1 head of cauliflower, cut up into pieces (separate the stalk from the florets)
- 3 large carrots, cut up into pieces
- salt and pepper
If you have any of this in the house:
- 1/2 C white wine
- 1/2 C whole milk
0. The day before you want to make soup, take a quart of stock out of the freezer and let it defrost. What do you mean you don't have a quart of stock in the freezer? C'mon, haven't I taught you anything.. go get a gallon ziplock bag. Now, whenever you roast a chicken or cut up some vegetables, instead of throwing stuff away, put it in the bag in the freezer. Onion peels, the bits of the carrot you would otherwise throw away, the base of a head of celery.. all of that sort of thing. When you roast a chicken, after you pick it over for meat, stuff the carcass in the bag. Next time you come over, I'll show you how to butterfly a whole (raw) chicken, and you can put the backbone in the bag too. When you have a couple of bags full and some time on a Saturday afternoon, make stock. Then, let it cool and freeze it in quart containers. Easy. Incidentally, this is why, when you go rooting around in my freezer for ice cream, you never know if those cottage cheese containers have ice cream or stock in them. It's also why I suggest freezing the stock in quart containers. Obviously, any size that works for you is fine.
1. In a large pot, heat the butter and oil
2. Once the butter has melted, add the onion and ginger. Saute until the onion is soft.
3. Add the carrot and the cauliflower stalk, ~1/2 C stock, and some salt and pepper (I never measure that, sorry).
4. Bring the stock to a simmer, cover the pot, and let it cook for 5 minutes.
5. Add the rest of the cauliflower and the rest of the stock. If you're using it, add the wine and/or milkNote: Because I end up with quart containers of stock, I just added the rest of the quart (and probably used closer to 1C of stock in step #3). But if you want it a little thicker, you could use less here.
6. Bring to a simmer, and cook until the carrots and cauliflower is soft (you should be able to easily spear them with a fork).
7. Puree with a stick blender, and let cool.
It should come out pretty thick. You'll need to play around with the quantity of cauliflower and carrot to liquids, depending on what consistency you like. Since this recipe is so basic, you'll want to use pretty good stock. So if you are too lazy/busy to make your own, don't cheap out with the canned crap.
That reminds me, a quick trick to improve the quality of store-bought stock (I think I got it from Cooks Illustrated) is to simmer the stock with a couple ribs of celery, some carrot, and half an onion for twenty minutes. At the end, toss the vegetables (they'll be soggy and flavorless anyway).
*If you want the original recipe, with real ingredient measurements, here it is, from Chilled Cauliflower and Carrot Soup with Ginger
Check these out:
Katie visited her grandparents in Fresno last week, and she brought back (with some eggplants and avocados), these incredibly long green beans from her grandmother's garden. I tried to give some sense of perspective to the picture- that's my usual knife, next to The Sword, on the larger of my plastic cutting boards. And the beans dwarf all of them. Awesome.
Growing up, we had an ice cream maker in the house. I think we used it only a half a dozen times, and I'm sure it eventually made it to the attic, next to the bread maker and the espresso maker (which recently came out of retirement for a 2nd career in my apartment!). But as avid readers of this blog, my parents recently bought a new ice cream maker so they could start following along at home, and as I've talked with other people who have machines but haven't ever used them, I thought it might be useful to post a couple of 'beginner' recipes for people who aren't really sure what they're doing.
To be clear, making ice cream is really easy. You should feel absolutely no trepidation before your first attempt. In fact, one of my earliest flavors was butterscotch- a complicated recipe only because it requires, you know, making butterscotch. That said, just like anything else, you'll get better with practice. So pick one of these recipes and get started. If it doesn't work out? Try again. It's still going to be ice cream and it'll taste good. Not like the time I tried using splenda (note: Don't do that. It doesn't melt into syrup, even the 'for baking' variety).
A final note before we get to the good stuff: I promised my brother-in-law Eric that I'll write about the differences between ice cream and gelato, the role of egg yolks, ice baths, and and those sorts of technical issues. I'll get to it eventually.. I've been putting it off because it'll involve doing some research, and not just my usual stream of consciousness.
The very simplest recipe is frozen yogurt. Why is it so easy? Because you go to the store and buy a quart of yogurt.. and freeze it. Seriously, check out this recipe for Peach frozen yogurt. Easy Peach Frozen Yogurt
- 1 Q peach yogurt. (Make sure it's full fat -'whole'- yogurt.)
- 1 tbl vodka or rum (optional)
A quick note on the use of alcohol: Most fruit recipes call for adding a little alcohol. That's because fruit is mostly sugar, and so if you're making frozen yogurt or sorbet (ie, no eggs), there's not enough fat to make it soft. The alcohol will lower the freezing point, resulting in a slightly softer end product. If you don't want to use it, or even if you do and it still freezes into a brick, just let it sit out a few minutes before you eat. Lastly, you'll often see vodka called for, because it's flavorless. I prefer using rum, specifically because it is flavored. I once made an incredible mango sorbet with a couple tablespoons of dark rum- it reminded me of the beach.
- Make sure sure canister insert is fully frozen.*
- Combine the yogurt and the alcohol, if using. Add the mix to the canister, and follow manufacturer's instructions to freeze.**
You're right, that's probably too easy. Here's another frozen yogurt recipe. It's still very easy, but it illustrates how the general approach you can adapt to make any other fruit flavor yogurt. Strawberry Frozen Yogurt
Slightly adapted from link: David Lebovitz's recipe
(he's in Paris, thus the grams).
- 1 pound strawberries, rinsed and hulled
- 2/3 cup (130g) sugar
- optional: 2 teaspoons vodka or kirsch
- 1 cup (240g) plain whole milk yogurt
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- Slice the strawberries into small pieces. Toss in a bowl with the sugar and vodka or kirsch (if using) until the sugar begins to dissolve. Cover with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature for 2 hours, stirring every so often.
- Transfer the strawberries and their juice to a blender or food processor (An immersion blender works well here, just watch out for little pieces flying out).
- Add the yogurt and lemon juice. Pulse the machine until the mixture is smooth. (Most recipes call for straining the mixture to remove any seeds, but I've never found this necessary.. plus, you'll end up with less of the end product, never a good thing).
- Put the mixture in the fridge for about an hour (you want to get it down to around 40 degrees). Then freeze in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.***
Okay, now it's time for the main event: ice cream. Specifically, Chocolate Hazelnut. This was one of my first flavors, and it's the one I usually make when I bring ice cream to someone's house, since it's a consistent winner. Also, it uses egg yolks, so I can talk through making a custard. If you look online, you'll see lots of people's misadventures making the custard. I really don't think it's a big deal. I suggest ignoring those discussions until you've made it yourself a few times. Then, if you want to fine-tune your process, take a look online. Chocolate Hazelnut Ice Cream
This is adapted from Giada de Laurentiis' recipe on Food Network
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 cup sugar, plus 1/4 cup
- 4 egg yolks
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup Nutella spread
- In a saucepan combine the milk, cream, and 1/2 cup sugar over medium heat. Cook until the sugar dissolves, about 5 minutes.
- While that's going, in a medium bowl, whip the egg yolks with the remaining (1/4 C) sugar until the eggs have become thick and pale yellow (an electric mixer helps here, but I've used a whisk).
- Using a ladle or large spoon, add about 1/2 cup of the warm milk / cream mixture into the egg mixture and stir. Add this mixture back into the saucepan. This is called tempering, and it's to slowly raise the temperature of the egg yolks, so they don't become scrambled eggs.
- Cook over very low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture becomes thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon, about 7 to 10 minutes.
That's the instructions per the original recipe. My suggestion is.. relax. It's really not that hard. It's done when it reaches 170-175 degrees (if you're anal), or just dip a spoon into it, and then run your finger along the back. If you see a clear, distinct channel, it's done. This is the step that really improves with practice.. you'll quickly learn what combination of heat and time works best for your stove.
- In a medium bowl, add the vanilla and nutella. Place a strainer over the medium bowl and pour the warm custard mixture through the strainer. Mix well, to melt the nutella and combine the custard with the nutella and vanilla. I don't bother with the strainer, but if you've got a lot of cooked eggs pieces, the strainer would help with that.
- Cover the mixture with plastic wrap (pressing it tightly against the surface). Chill mixture completely before pouring into an ice cream maker and follow manufacturer's instructions to freeze.
Still pretty easy, right? The biggest hang up here is, what to do with the left over egg whites. And you can see pretty clearly how to extend this recipe for any other flavored spreads, like peanut butter, or any other flavoring that gets added after the custard is cooked.
Okay, one more. This will be a slightly different approach, where you'll flavor the milk before you make the custard. Cinnamon Ice CreamAdapted from The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz
(One of my favorite ice cream books.)
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 1 cup whole milk
- 3/4 cup sugar
- pinch of salt
- 10 cinnamon sticks, broken up (to fit in the pot, and increase surface area; keep these big enough so they can be strained out later)
- 5 large egg yolks
- In a saucepan, combine the milk, sugar, salt, cinnamon sticks, and 1 cup of the heavy cream. Warm through, and then cover and let steep off the heat for one hour.
- In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks. In this version, all the sugar went into the milk. Frankly, I don't know why some recipes use one approach and some the other.
- Re-warm the cinnamon milk mixture, and remove the cinnamon sticks with a slotted spoon. Slowly add the milk mixture to the egg yolks, whisking constantly. This is the tempering step, as above. It calls for adding all the milk to the eggs.. I usually just slowly pour the contents of the milk saucepan into the egg bowl, stir it, and then pour it back into the pot.
- Place the entire mixture back into the saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly with a spatula (and being sure to scrape the bottom). Heat until the custard thickens and coats the back of a spoon. Don't let it get to a boil.
- Place the remaining 1 cup of heavy cream in a bowl with a mesh strainer on top, and put that all in an ice bath. Pour the custard through the sieve, and then mix together with the cream until cool. Refrigerate until completely cold, and then run through your ice cream maker. As above, I don't bother with straining it. Nor do I know why he holds the 1 C cream until the ends. If anyone knows (or has a guess), leave it in the comments.
This is one of my favorite flavors, but finding whole cinnamon sticks can be a pain. Whole Foods has them, but they're really expensive. You can get them much cheaper at a latino market (mine even had a couple different brands and varieties to choose from). This recipe also works really well with coffee ice cream: replace the cinnamon sticks with whole coffee beans (I suggest decaf, since you'll probably be eating this before bed).
And just for fun, here's a episode of Good Eats. Alton will talk you through all the subtleties that I've intentionally glossed over / don't know.
*This will always be the pre-req for any ice cream recipe, since an insufficiently frozen canister can ruin your day <link>). I suggest giving it a good 24 hours. Oh, and make sure it's completely dry before putting it in the freezer, and maybe wrap it in a plastic bag (it helps minimize the frost.
** Every ice cream recipe I've seen has this step. I suspect that for the vast majority of machines, those instructions consist of flipping a switch to 'On'.