some sweets after the meats

Saturday, July 10, 2010

chemistry and ice cream making.

Funny thing-- after several mildly successful journeys into cheese making, I seemed to have forgotten what vinegar does to milk.

Boutique ice creameries and gourmet markets have introduced enticing flavors such as strawberry balsamic, a seemingly perfect summer flavor, and when some super ripe berries went on sale for 99-cents a pound at our local grocery store, I decided to give it a try.

I thought I was doing so well-- last night, I chopped a pound and a half of berries and tossed them in a pot with a bit of sugar and vinegar and let them cook during a frustrating round of Scrabble. They cooled in the fridge overnight. In the morning, I made a simple custard, carefully tempering the eggs and then straining the mixture. I poured it into a cooled bowl and whisked the chilled berry mixture into it, covered it with some parchment, and shoved it back into the fridge.

A few hours later, I peeked under the parchment to find... a lightly curdled bowl of milky strawberry goo.

Not wanting to discard the yummy mix (it still tasted good despite the unfortunate texture) I called my dad for a chemistry consultation.

"I have a, um, chemistry question," I said, hesitantly, "involving ice cream."

I talked him through my process and he was full of helpful hints.

"Probably should have waited to mix the strawberries and vinegar into the custard until after it has been in the ice cream maker for a while. Then, the custard would have started to freeze, changing its make-up so the acidity of the strawberries and the vinegar won't break down the mixture."

Thanks, dad. That makes a lot of sense.

But what do I do with the goo I already have?

On to mom.

"Probably should have just put some vinegar on top of the strawberry ice cream after it was frozen."

Again, thanks.

"But I think if you put it through your ice cream maker, it will churn together enough to make a smooth ice cream."

So that's what I did.

And it wasn't half bad.

1 1/2 pounds fresh strawberries, chopped
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon molasses
1 quart milk*
2 egg yolks

Cook chopped strawberries, vinegar, sugar, and molasses until soft. Refrigerate at least three hours or overnight. Separate eggs while milk is simmering. Save egg whites and to make a veggie omelet for your husband (or toss on top of a salad, etc.). Whisk yolks and temper with 1/2 cup of milk. Slowly add mixture to heated milk, whisking constantly. Keep on whisking. Transfer into a chilled bowl and whisk in strawberry mixture. Watch the mixture curdle. Fun, eh? Refrigerate for three hours and then pour into ice cream maker, following ice cream maker's instructions from here on.
Don't mix the fruit and vinegar into the custard, but just pour chilled custard into ice cream maker until mixture is half-frozen or so. Then, add the fruit. And let me know if it curdles.
*I used two-percent. Probably would be much tastier and creamier with 2 cups of milk and 2 cups of cream. Use what you wish, but if you choose 2 percent, you'll feel less slightly guilty if you find yourself finishing the batch by yourself at midnight. Like I just did.

Friday, June 4, 2010


What to do when the husband is running late for dinner?
First, eat all of the bacon that was supposed to be for the salad. He won't miss it too much.
Now that the bacon isn't taunting, eye that sweet potato that has been on the counter for almost-too-long. Grab the new cutting board mom sent for our anniversary and an old knife, fresh from the dishwasher. Slice potato into circles as thin as possible, sparing fingers. Don't want him to come home to a bleeding wife who smells suspiciously of bacon.
(Add mandolin to the Christmas list.)
Rummage through the cupboard for that old bottle of vegetable oil and dump it into a small pot.
Hope the meat thermometer goes as high as 375.
Toss in a handful at a time, turning until just brown and curly around the edges.
Remove with metal tongs and drain on paper towel.
Sprinkle with multi-purpose BBQ meat rub, courtesy of a generous co-worker.
Proudly place in cute red bowl. Chips will greet him from the table while you resume watching reruns of Family Guy.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

ciabatta, hacked.

I may never knead bread again.
Okay, that's probably not true, as I find the process quite soothing and reminiscent of my childhood; but I was finally compelled to try a "no-knead" recipe today. After finally succumbing to the futility of making lovely loaves of bread that I cannot consume, I happened upon a 60-second recipe for ciabatta that I could no longer ignore.

I rolled out of bed at 6:07am and dumped
two cups of warm water
1/4 teaspoon of yeast
4 cups of all purpose flour
1 teaspoon of salt
into my pretty Pyrex mixing bowl and slapped a piece of plastic wrap on it.
When I came home from work, it has risen to become this impressive blob of yeasty, gluten-filled goodness.

Thirty minutes before the arrival of our Wednesday night crew, I poured the dough into a pan, topped it with some dried basil and oregano and a generous handful of freshly grated Parmesan and tossed it in a 400-degree oven.

Twenty-five minutes later, this emerged:

Half-assed? Absolutely. But not half bad. My "I don't eat bread" husband chowed down on several slices, slathered with horseradish mustard and layers of corned beef and Dubliner cheddar.
Thanks, Kitchen Hack, for encouraging my desire to become lazy, happy, and fat.
Maybe eventually I'll buy one of those cookbooks. But maybe not, because it may exceed my 60-second time limit.

Friday, February 19, 2010

lady-friendly cakes

I found a lovely recipe last week for Chocolate Souffle Cupcakes with Mint Cream.
Usually, I steer clear of gluten-free recipes. I would rather bake a batch of cookies the way they're "supposed to be" and share them with others and perhaps have some fruit (okay, chocolate or ice cream) myself.
But this recipe was exciting. Flourless chocolate cakes! Why hadn't I thought of this sooner? Because they were prepared like a souffle, seperating and beating the eggs before baking, they were not as dense as other flourless treats, and a touch of peppermint extract balanced out the cream topping perfectly. And the best part, of course, was that I was able to partake.

Find the recipe (and a much, much prettier version of the cupcakes) here.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

christmas bake-off part five:

I know.
It is January. And half way through January at that.
But I made my friend's dog some cookies for Christmas, but didn't see him until this week. The cookies had started to mold (Mold!?! What's that? Oh yeah, it's what happens to food that isn't filled with chemicals!), so a second batch was required.

Here's the recipe:

1/2 cup pureed pumpkin
4 tablespoons molasses
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons water
2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix together wet ingredients and sift in dry. Drop on cookie sheet in teaspoon-sized balls and prick the tops with a fork. Bake for 15-20 minutes until they come off of the sheet easily.

Let cool. Feed to your husband pooch. (What? They're made of people food!) And make them work for it, just because you can.

Here's Stella, the cookie recipient. She seemed to enjoy the cookies, but she'll eat anything.

I saved some for Lucy, my doodle, as well. She prefers to eat wallets, cardboard boxes, and sports bras, but refused to eat her usual treats when I started baking these. Here's a gratuitous picture of her.

Monday, January 11, 2010

no baking required.

Or any prep whatsoever, besides keeping a keen eye for the freshest fruit and tossing them into your basket.
But what more could you want?

Super sweet mandarins
Crunchy, bitter chocolate
Smooth vanilla bean ice cream
And a waxy green leaf if proof of un-canned citrus is necessary.

I could eat this for breakfast, lunch, dinner...
And all of the meals between.

Friday, December 25, 2009

christmas bake-off part four:

So about those cupcakes.

There were far too many of them. They were given to co-workers, security guards, secretaries, home groupers, and homeless men, but contrary to the "Who has leftover cake?!" notion, well, I had leftover cake.

So our Christmas treat will be peppermint cake pops. I thought they were quite easy to make until I remembered that the cake and frosting had been finished several days prior and mixed into ball-able dough yesterday.

The resulting treat is satisfyingly cute and super rich, with a fun minty crunch of the candy cane at the end.

Find instructions here. I saw no need for the edible wax, used buttercream frosting, and homemade chocolate cake. If you're going through the trouble to make these, why not bake your own cake?

And there was enough chocolate left over to make a little Christmas eve treat for after our special meal--

Frozen chocolate covered bananas.

Merry Christmas to all!