August 30, 2009

I Scream, You Scream

There is something very rewarding about making homemade ice cream. But there is a bit of a risk involved after all the time and energy involved. I found solace on the back of the Ben & Jerry's Homemade Ice Cream Book where it says the following, which I took to heart:

"All you have to do is remember Ben & Jerry's two rules for ice cream making:

Rule #1: You don't have to be a pro to make incredibly delicious ice cream.
Rule #2: There's no such thing as an unredeemingly bad batch of homemade ice cream."

Easy Vanilla Ice Cream with Reese's Peanut Butter Cups
adapted from Everyday Food magazine, June 2009

8 large egg yolks
1 c sugar
1/4 t course salt
2 c skim milk
2 t pure vanilla
2 c heavy cream
1 c chopped Reese's Peanut Butter Cups (or other candy of your choosing)
(You likely will need ice and rock salt for the ice cream maker)

Place Reese's or candy in the refrigerator to cool. Put appropriate parts of the ice cream machine in the freezer (paddle, canister).

Any chocolate candy choice works well!

It's vintage!

Churning away.

Set a medium bowl over a larger bowl with ice. In a medium saucepan off heat, whisk egg yolks, sugar and salt together. Gradually whisk in milk. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. Custard will thicken slightly. It should be done in 10 to 12 minutes when it evenly coats the back of the spoon and holds a line drawn by your finger. Stir in vanilla. Pour through a fine mesh sieve into the bowl over ice. Stir in the cream and stir occasionally until mixture is cooled.

Assemble ice cream maker with cooled parts and add the custard mixture. Churn according to the manufacturer's instructions. Once the ice cream is nearly finished (2 or 3 minutes left), add the candy.

Finished churning.

Sampling the paddle.

With the Reese's added.

Homemade ice cream is best the day you make it; storing it in the freezer for too long will result in some small ice crystals forming.


August 09, 2009

Sweet Cornbread with Blueberries

I love cornbread. I don't know much about the southern vs. New England cornbread debate, but I know that I've never met a cornbread I didn't like.

I've always been a fan of cornbread with a hint of sweet. Especially with that extra drizzle of honey on top. But I also like a hearty texture and the grittiness of the cornmeal.

To be honest, this recipe doesn't have that umph of cornmeal that I love. It's more subtle. I wonder what would happen if I decreased the flour a smidgen and increased the cornmeal? (I'll have to try.) But, this recipe is pretty delicious just as it is! Whoever thought to pair cornbread with blueberries was... well... smart.

Sweet Cornbread with Blueberries
adapted from Land O' Lakes
1 1/4 c all purpose flour
3/4 c cornmeal
2 T sugar
2 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
3/4 c milk
1/4 c butter, melted (and slightly cooled)
1/4 c maple syrup (go with the real thing!)
1 egg, beaten
1 c fresh blueberries coated with a bit of flour (to prevent them from sinking to the bottom of the pan and exuding blue color in the bread)

Heat oven to 375. Mix the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. Then add the milk, butter, maple syrup and egg and mix until just incorporated. Gently stir in the blueberries.

Grease and 8 or 9 inch square baking pan (or do a bread pan like I did, but expect to add 10 to 20 minutes of baking time). Pour in the batter and bake 25 to 35 minutes until slightly golden and a toothpick comes out clean.

Try it! Perhaps you will love the hint of maple flavor with the blueberries as much as we did.

August 01, 2009

I Crave Pickles at Night

I don't know why. I get cravings for salty things, like pickles or olives, at night. So I knew it was about time to try making my own pickles.

I recently got a book at the library about canning/preserving/pickling. The whole prospect was a little scary to me before. Let me just say right now that learning more about it only added to my fears. Sterilization? High acid vs. low acid foods? Hot packing? Testing the seal? Not to mention the dreaded botulism, which my husband thought I was making up!

So refrigerator pickles it is! And when my CSA came through with a big batch of pickling cucumbers and dill, I was more than ready.

I used a crinkle cutter for extra surface area. I had my doubts about the tool, but it was surprisingly easy to use!

Ready for the 'fridge, where they need to sit for five+ days.

Ready to eat! They're very flavorful--a bit spicy and garlicky. Yum!

Refrigerator Dill Pickles
adapted from Driftless Organics newsletter
4 3-to-4 inch pickling cucumbers
3/4 c water
1/2 c white vinegar
1/2 c chopped fresh dill
2 T and 2 t white sugar
1 1/2 t coarse salt
3 cloves garlic, chopped (or more)
1 t pickling spice
1/2 t celery seed
1/4 t red pepper flakes

Make sure your jar is very clean; wash in the dishwasher.

Mix together all the ingredients except the cucumbers in a large bowl or pitcher (to make pouring in the jar easier).

Slice the cucumbers however you'd like them. I think they're nice as coins. Layer a few in your jar, add some brine. Layer more in the jar, add some brine. When it's full, let sit out at room temperature (covered) for a few hours. Then put in the refrigerator. Taste one after 5 days to see if they're ready. They will last about a month refrigerated.

One note on the pickling spice: Instead of buying a pickling spice, I just used what I already had around: a bay leaf (broken), peppercorns, all spice berries, a few whole cloves and a bit of cracked cinnamon stick.

By the way--I am trying a sweet pickle recipe too. Stay tuned!


Speaking of CSA, here's an overview of what we got last week:

All Blue Potatoes
Fresh Red Onion
Green Beans
Hon Tsai Tai (an Asian cooking green, which I incidentally did not like very much)
Iceberg Lettuce (really good--not watery and slightly sweet)
Red Kale
Sunflower Oil
Pickling Cucumbers

It was a heap of food!

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