Everyone loves fried chicken, obviously (except, I guess, for those pesky vegetarians.. but they don't know what they're missing).
And everyone loves donuts. Admittedly, I prefer donut holes to full size donuts.But still- donuts are awesome too.
So a restaurant focused on the wonderful combination of fried chicken and donuts? It would be second only to that other great combination involving poulty- chicken and waffles.
Luckily for those of us in DC, the guys behind Birch and Barley areopening a fried chicken and donuts restaurant
! It's supposed to open in Dupont Circle in late November. Get excited (and maybe get to a gym too.. this will not be a low-calorie meal).
This is how I feel about my attempts to make basil ice cream.
I've tried twice. No, that's not right. Not twice, as in two attempts. No, I've tried two different recipes, with multiple attempts to spin them into wonderful ice cream. Alas, they remain bowls of sugary, basil-y milk.
(As of this writing, I've only tried to freeze my second recipe once. I'm holding out hope- a thin, muted, easily-broken hope, but a hope all the same- that maybe the canister wasn't frozen enough, and that on a second try it'll work).
My first recipe was a little more complicated than I usually like, but I figured you, my wonderful blog audience, was worth it.
I followed David Lebovitz's recipe, whereby the basil leaves are blended with sugar and milk, and then the whole mess is cooked up into a custard. Looking at the pictures (this all took place a few weeks ago), I must have added some lemon zest too.
Then the usual process: let it cool, and then chill overnight before churning in the machine. Except.. it didn't churn. After a good thiry minutes of spinning, it was still milk. Cold milk, sure, but not ice cream.
This has happened to me before
, but usually (as in the case of that link), I re-freeze it and it works out. In this case, I ended up spinning it three times, to no avail. So finally, I read about a technique for making ice cream without an ice cream maker, where you put the mixture in the freezer, and every 10 minutes or so, mix it up.
I have strong feelings on this, so let me be clear: it sucked. Sure, it froze, but it wasn't very good. It was similar to really bad, cheap ice cream.. grainy and full of ice crystals.
So for my second attempt, I went with a recipe I've made several times before- and once just a few days ago, with fresh mint:
| || |
Make Jeni's standard ice cream base (3 1/4 C milk, 2/3 C sugar, 2 TBL corn syrup, 1 1/3 TBL cornstarch). Then, pour it into the bowl to cool, and add the basil (or whatever herb you like). The basil steeps as the milk mixture cools. Then, wheneve you're ready, make it into ice cream.
Like I said, this worked perfectly for the mint- I still have most of a quart in my freezer. But this time, nothing. Nada. Zilch. Zip.* So I put the milk mixture back in the fridge, washed and dried the freezer bowl and put that back in the freezer. I'll try again in a couple of days. But if this doesn't work, I'm throwing in the towel on the basil. I've got a better flavor coming down the pipe.. biscoff!
*I took a picture, but I don't think it really makes clear how not-frozen it is.
It's been two weeks since my last post. That's unacceptable. Naturally, I deflect any blame for this, and instead ask why you, my loyal audience, hasn't deluged me with demands for more posting. Specifically, I blame Mike.
I have two posts in the works, but unfortunately neither is ready yet. To whet your apetite, here are a couple of teasers:
One features a European import that I only recently became aware of, although my friends who fly Delta have long been in the know (and yes, my ego is still recovering from my long ignorance).
The second features Billy Zane- enough said.
In the meantime, I have two things to offer you. First, I baked this mean looking challah last week:
Second, I had the best Ethiopian food I've ever had last week at Zenebech Injera.
It's on the corner of T St NW and Florida, has half a dozen tables, and when I asked the owner for help ordering, he suggested we try a dish with raw beef!
When I told him I couldn't sell raw beef to the other people in my party, he gave us some to try anyway. It wasn't bad, but a couple of the other dishes we tried were incredible.
You should go check it out.
My parents were in town this weekend, so I stocked up on ice cream. I made four flavors: Coffee-Cinnamon, Pina Colada, Strawberry (sorbet), and Ginger (a new flavor!) My parents are huge ginger fans, so this was for them, and featured chopped, candied ginger from Trader Joe's.
But unfortunately, it's now the work week, and like the hangover from a big night out, my freezer now presents a serious danger: How do I avoid eating the remains of four quarts of ice cream over the next couple of days?
Generally speaking, my first line of defense against junk food binging* is 'Don't buy it'. This works well for me, since I do the food shopping, and I know that if I have anything like a sleeve of Oreos in the house, it won't last the night. But the 'Dont buy it' defense doesn't really work for homemade ice cream. 'Dont make it'? I guess, but while I do take breaks for short periods, that's not a good long-term strategy.Dan Ariely
has a suggestion. Ariely is a behavioral economist at Duke, and author of a couple of books (check out his Amazon page
). He wrote a guest post on Tim Ferriss' blog on something called 'ego depletion'.
(I'll take a shot here at describing the concept, but you're much better off just reading the article. Really.. go read it
). Ego depletion is the idea that you start each day with a bank account of decision 'points'. As you make decisions, both large and small, that bank accounts is reduced. Deciding between the red shirt and blue shirt to wear to work may cost only 1 point. Deciding not to skip the gym after work might be 20 points. And so forth. After the day's account is empty, your ability to make decisions is significantly impaired. And so when you get home to make dinner, and you see four quarts of ice cream in the freezer, the question of 'Should I make dinner or just eat a lot of ice cream?' is more likely to be answered in favor of the ice cream.
(Seriously, read the article, Ariely does a much better job than I did. Click here for the article
I found this idea fascinating, because it helps us understand how we make decisions (consciously or not), and can provide some insight into how to avoid devouring a quart of chocolate hazelnut ice cream (or whatever your weakness is) while sitting on the couch watching basketball (I would call out Kirby here, but he knows that I've done the same thing). And I would add that there's nothing wrong with the occasional binge, but being aware of why you do this is better than being unaware.
As Ariely says in the article,
The key here is planning the indulgence rather than waiting until you have absolutely nothing left in the tank. It’s in the latter moments of desperation that you throw yourself on the couch with the whole pint of ice cream, not even making a pretense of portion control, and go to town while watching your favorite tv show.
To be clear: eating the whole pint of ice cream, in and of itself, isn't the root problem; rather, it's the eating of it because you've used up your decision points and don't have the willpower left to resist the ice cream and make dinner. This is exactly why a good article on getting in shape suggests planning all your meals in advance, prepping everything on Sunday, and packaging the meals for the week in tupperware.
If you're interested in more on this, Brian Wansink (a professor at Cornell's Food Lab .. how cool a place is that) wrote Mindless Eating
, which goes into much greater depth, with a focus on food (for example, why do we sit at a movie theater, mindlessly shoving handfuls of stale, over-buttered popcorn into our pie holes).
The bottom line here is not that you should stop eating junk food. You're not going to. But for those of us, like me, who have serious control problems around food, it can only be helpful to understand better how and why we behave as we do.
And now, with the public service announcement out of the way, here's an ice cream recipe.Ginger Ice Cream
, adapted from The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz
- 3 ounces peeled fresh ginger
- 1 cup whole milk
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 3/4 cups sugar
- pinch of salt
- 5 large egg yolks
- Cut the ginger into thin slices. Add the sliced ginger to a small pot, cover with water and bring to a boil.
- Let it cook for two minutes, then drain the ginger (this is called 'blanching').
- Add the milk, 1 cup of the cream, the sugar, and the salt, and heat until the mixture is warm. Cover the saucepan, remove it from the heat, and let the ginger steep for an hour.
- Remove the ginger from the milk mixture (you can eat it, it's pretty good), and make a custard with the milk mixture and the egg yolks.
- Put the remaining 1 cup of cream in a medium bowl, and pour the custard into that bowl and mix. From there, follow the usual steps (chill and churn, etc).
- You can add chopped candied ginger, but we had trouble chopped it into really small pieces, and I didn't think it froze that well.
* To me, there's a huge difference between binging on junk food and binging on healthy food. If you decide to eat a quart of cottage cheese, two cups of oatmeal, and a bowl of apples over three hours, you'll be really full, but long-term, you'll be in better shape and in less danger from things like diabetes**.
** This touches on capital N "Nutrition". I'm happy to get into a big discussion on this, but I'm not sure an ice cream blog is the place for it. If you have questions, let me know.
I've mentioned it several times, so here it is. The microwave caramel technique.
I got it from America's Test Kitchen. I found The Feed
*, which has a bunch of one-minute tips, for things like making caramel and stretching pizza dough.
For those unfamiliar, America's Test Kitchen
a real 2,500 square foot test kitchen located just outside of Boston that is home to more than three dozen full-time cooks and product testers. Our mission is simple: to develop the absolute best recipes for all of your favorite foods. To do this, we test each recipe 30, 40, sometimes as many as 70 times, until we arrive at the combination of ingredients, technique, temperature, cooking time, and equipment that yields the best, most-foolproof recipe.
Back to the caramel. You'll need:
Can we stop for a second and wonder why anyone writes a recipe that uses 1/8th of a tsp? I don't think anyone has a 1/8 tsp measuring spoon. Once I get the hang of this, I'll just double the recipe. Although I guess I could weigh 1/4 tsp of lemon juice on my scale, and then used the scale to determine half? That seems like too much work.
- 1 C sugar
- 2 TBL water
- 2 TBL corn syrup
- 1/8 tsp lemon juice
Combine everything in a bowl, and microwave 5 to 8 minutes, until it's a tan color.The video says the range is because different microwaves have different strengths. I let mine go for five minutes, and then decided it wasn't tan enough, and let it go another minute. That, as you'll see, was a mistake.
Let it cool.
Obviously, be careful removing the bowl from the microwave. It'll be REALLY hot, and melted sugar burns, and doesn't come off your skin easily. Here are some safety tips
from the master, David Lebovitz:
- * Caramel is very, very hot. And very sticky. Keep a deep bowl of water with lots of ice in it nearby if you’re a newbie: if some caramel lands on your hand, plunge it right into the ice water immediately. And wear an oven mitt just to be sure when handling hot pots.
- * Wear oven mitts and a long sleeve shirt. Caramel is hot and can splatter, especially when adding other ingredients to is
- * Use a sturdy large pot or pan that won’t overflow
- * Keep a deep bowl of icy water nearby to plunge your hand in if caramelized sugar lands on it
- * If you have glasses, wear them
I took pictures at a couple different points:
Ready for the microwave
After five minutes
Uh oh.. that doesn't look like their's. Letting it cool didn't fix the problem.
And.. it's burnt. To the trash. Do you see the sacrifices I make for you people? Luckily, this is so easy, I can make it again.
Before I do, a couple of lessons learned:
- Make this in a non-stick bowl, if possible. It's caramel, and so really sticky.
- Have a plan for the caramel. Make it into a sauce, or toffee, or eat it with a spoon. But my original plan to pour the results into a bottle to keep in the fridge wouldn't have worked (it would get really thick, and stick to the bottle). Instead, I'll make a sauce (like this one, fromTracey's Culinary Adventures
), and then pour that
in a bottle. Unfortunately, I didn't find that link until after I burnt my first batch.
So the revised steps:
To the above ingredients, add 1/2 C heavy cream and 1 TBL butter, and maybe a pinch kosher salt. And the new instructions:
1. Mix everything except the cream, butter and salt.
2. Microwave 5-8 minutes // Cook until it's all liquid, and it's a tan color (it'll darken as it cools)
3. While that's cooking, heat the cream (it won't foam as much this way)
4. Let caramel cool on the counter for 5 minutes
5. Let the caramel cool/darken, until it's the right color. Then slowly add the warm cream, and then the butter. Mix well.
I may have blanked out and set the microwave for only 4:30, but after several minutes, it clearly wasn't dark enough, so I nuked it for 3 30-second bursts. And after that? It was pretty dark (and yeah, I was worried I'd ruined another batch), but I stuck to the plan.
I added the warm milk (SLOWLY!), and it foamed up. I wanted to get a picture, but figured it was more important to stir it and not let it overflow onto the counter.
Keep adding a little at a time and stirring. Eventually the milk and caramel will be the same temp and it won't foam. Then add the butter and stir until it's absorbed. let it cool (hey! I said let it cool.. you'll burn your tongue).
Second batch, coming out of the microwave
And then I started the clock, to see it darken over time..
.. except it didn't really get much darker. So back to the microwave. That definitely helped. And to avoid letting it darken too much while it cooled, I added the warm milk and then the butter.
Apparently, I didn't think to take a last picture. I would say it came out...pretty good.
It definitely wasn't as smooth as I might like, but now I've got the technique down, so I'll give it another shot.
*Check out this homemade beer ice cream
recipe from the feed.. definitely coming soon to a freezer near you.
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.