Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Cherry cheesecake ice cream

July is cherry season and, of course, ice cream season! I've been a little behind this year on making my first summer ice cream, but here it is -- a soft, smooth, creamy ice cream made with milk, cream cheese, and sour cream. I tried to make this ice cream taste like the filling from a delicious cheesecake and then added some sweet cherries to complete it. It turned out great! It's definitely a rich ice cream and it turns out really airy and fluffy from the cream cheese (which makes it really difficult to make "perfectly" round scoops, especially when it's hot). To make this even more like a cheesecake, you can sprinkle your dish with some graham cracker crumbs or even add some graham cracker pieces when you add the cherries. 

Summer is really flying by this year -- actually, I feel like 2014 in general is flying by! So don't forget to make some homemade ice cream to enjoy on a hot and lazy summer day. 

Cherry cheesecake ice cream
2 cups whole milk
5 oz. cream cheese, cut into cubes
pinch of sea salt
1/3 to 1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup sour cream
1 cup pitted and chopped sweet cherries

In a large saucepan, heat the milk over medium-low heat, whisking often, until it is heated through. Whisk in the cream cheese, salt, and sugar (I used just over 1/3 a cup - you can taste the base and add more keeping in mind that it will taste less sweet once frozen). Continue to heat and whisk until the cream cheese and sugar are melted and thoroughly combined. Turn off the heat and whisk in the sour cream.

Pour the mixture into a bowl or large glass measuring cup. Cover and refrigerate until very cold, at least three hours. Keep the cherries in the refrigerator as well.

When cold, churn the ice cream base in your ice cream maker according to manufacturer directions. After about 10 minutes (once the mixture begins to resemble soft-serve), add the cherries. Continue to churn until the ice cream reaches your desired consistency.

Serve immediately or pack into a freezer container and transfer to the freezer for a harder ice cream.

What was I cooking one year ago?: pepper jack & zucchini cornbread
Two years ago?: Larb (Laos beef salad)
Three?: currant & ginger scones
4?: peach lassi

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Lemon and chive kohlrabi fritters

Kohlrabi is one of those vegetables that I had never had in my childhood. In fact, I don't think I had ever even heard of it or seen it, let alone eaten it, until a few years ago when we started doing more shopping at the farmers' market. To me, kohlrabi tastes sort of like a big radish - it's a bit spicy, crisp, and juicy. You can eat them raw or cooked, but I prefer them cooked. Plus, I love making all sorts of vegetables into fritters, patties, latkes, and pancakes. I think it's a fun way to eat them and I like to try out different flavors with them. These little kohlrabi fritters with a touch of lemon zest and chives are a great starter or side dish for a summer dinner. This recipe will make about eight 2-3 inch fritters.

Lemon and chive kohlrabi fritters
about 3 cups grated kohlrabi (I used purple)
2 teaspoons freshly minced chives
zest of one lemon
1/4 teaspoon sea salt, plus more for sprinkling
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 large egg
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/3 to 1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
olive oil for cooking
4 tablespoons sour cream, for serving
juice of half a lemon, for serving

Place the grated kohlrabi in a clean kitchen towel and squeeze over the sink to remove as much liquid as possible. Transfer to a mixing bowl. Stir in the chives, lemon zest, salt, pepper, egg, and baking powder. Then stir in just under 1//3 cup of flour. Add more flour, about a tablespoon or two at a time, until the mixture stays together.

Heat a cast iron or other non-stick skillet. When hot, add about two tablespoons of your cooking oil. Form the patties about 2-3 inches across. Cook in the skillet in batches, until both sides are golden and crisp. Sprinkle with salt when you remove from the pan.

Stir together the sour cream and lemon juice for serving.

What was I cooking one year ago?: broccoli salad with cheddar, cranberries, & sunflower seeds
Two years ago?: pistachio cardamom ice cream
Three?: guacamole 
4?: cauliflower & broccoli stuffed manicotti

Monday, June 30, 2014

Stovetop kettle corn

Summer is here and that means it is carnival and fair season. One of my favorites foods to get at a fair has always been kettle corn. I love that it's still warm and has a sweet and salty crunch. I've always thought it was some magical thing that surely must be difficult to make (and, of course, require some sort of huge kettle hanging outside), but after some investigation, I discovered that it's quite simple to make at home. It's perfect for a summer movie night snack!

This addictive treat will definitely become one of our favorite ways to enjoy popcorn at home now. This recipe makes enough for two people, so feel free to increase it for more people (but make sure you have a large kettle, or do it in a couple of batches). I used a large stainless steel soup pot. I read that you probably don't want to use cast iron because the sugar will get too hot and stick/burn. 

Stovetop kettle corn
3 tablespoons oil (I used refined coconut oil)
3 tablespoons granulated sugar (I used unbleached organic cane sugar)
1/3 cup popcorn kernels
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt, or more to taste

In a large soup pot, warm the oil along with three or four popcorn kernels over medium heat with the lid on. Keep a potholder on your hand and give the pot a shake every once in a while. Once those kernels pop, stir in the sugar and 1/3 cup of popcorn. 

Return the lid to the pan and continue to give it a shake every 15 seconds or so to keep the sugar from burning. Once the popping stops, remove from the heat and add the salt. Give the popcorn a good stir and serve immediately.

What was I cooking one year ago?: seared scallops over pearl couscous w/ peas & garlic scape sauce
Two years ago?: farfelle with summer squash & garlic scape pesto 
Three?: sesame chicken & Mandarin orange salad 
4?: lemon ricotta pancakes with berry sauce

Monday, June 23, 2014

Strawberry shortcake biscuit cookies

I love strawberry season - to me, strawberries are one of the most quintessential summer flavors (at least early summer). Their season is pretty fleeting and they just aren't the same when they are shipped from California. I like my strawberries small and warm from the sun, not big and watery. I needed to bring a dessert to a Father's Day picnic recently and had these strawberry shortcake cookies from Martha Stewart on my "to-try" list for a long time. They have really mixed reviews, so I was hesitant to make them to other people, but I went for it anyway. I made a few modifications as written below and I think they turned out great. However, they are not a "cookie" in the traditional sense - they are more like a strawberry shortcake biscuit with all the other goodies already baked inside of it. Also, they most certainly must be eaten the same day as baking. They are not nearly as good leftover and because they are so moist, they'll start to mold pretty quickly. So make them for a crowd as you will get about three dozen cookies from this recipe.

Strawberry shortcake biscuit cookies
2 cups hulled and roughly chopped strawberries (about 1/4" dice)
1-1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup + 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, preferably unbleached cane sugar
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes 
2/3 cup heavy whipping cream
coarse turbinado or other dusting sugar, for topping

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees with the racks at the upper third of the oven. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. 

Gently toss the strawberries, lemon juice, and 2 tablespoons of sugar in a medium bowl. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the 1/3 cup sugar, flour, baking powder, and sea salt. Cut in the butter using your fingers (or a pastry cutter) until it resembles coarse meal. Stir in the cream until the dough starts to come together, and then gently stir in the strawberry mixture until the dough comes together.

Place the dough on the baking sheets using a tablespoon or small scooper so they are about 1-inch apart. Gently press the dough slightly and sprinkle with a little coarse sugar. 

Bake for about 15-18 minutes, rotating the trays halfway through. Watch the bottoms to make sure they don't burn (from the sweet strawberry juice). Repeat until all the dough is used.

Cool on a wire rack and eat warm or room temperature.

What was I cooking one year ago?: strawberry-basil ice cream
Two years ago?: spiced lamb and pistachio kofta wraps
Three?: five bean salad
4?: ricotta cheese

Monday, June 16, 2014

Rhubarb custard pie

Rhubarb is such an odd thing to eat... I wonder who the first person was to discover that the stalk of a plant with poisonous leaves was edible... but really tart and not great raw. Some sources I found say that it was originally used as a Chinese medicine, but I'm not sure who discovered the stalks make amazing desserts. I, for one, am glad that they did because I'm not a huge fan of overly sweet things so rhubarb makes a perfect sour contrast in desserts that I really enjoy. If you'd like to see some of my other favorite ways to eat rhubarb, check out these recipes.

This pie recipe is another recipe that comes from the old Pennsylvania Dutch cookbook that I have. I've been making a lot of recipes from that old book and having fun doing so. They've all been delicious so far. I changed the recipe only very slightly (a little less sugar and a pinch of salt). I think this pie was fantastic, though the next time I make it, I make try adding one more egg yolk to the filling (along with a touch more cornstarch) and using another egg white for the topping - just to bulk up the filling a little more. However, it is perfectly fine as is (and you can see how yellow the filling is from the fresh pastured eggs)!

Rhubarb custard pie
1 recipe for your favorite pie crust
2 large eggs, divided
scant 1 cup sugar, preferably unbleached organic cane sugar, plus 2 teaspoons, divided
1 heaped tablespoon cornstarch
pinch of sea salt
2 cups chopped (1/2 inch pieces) rhubarb stalks

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Roll out your dough to about 11 inches round. Gently place in a 9-inch pie pan and fold over and crimp the edges. Place in the refrigerator until the filling is ready.

Separate one egg placing the yolk in a large bowl and the white in a small bowl. Put the egg white in the refrigerator.

Add the remaining egg, scant 1 cup of sugar, cornstarch, and sea salt in the large bowl and whisk until well-combined and lightened in color. Stir in the rhubarb. Pour the filling into a pie plate and spread evenly.

Place in the oven and bake for about 35 minutes, until the filling is almost set and the top and crust are lightly golden.

Remove from the oven set aside to cool slightly. Reduce the oven heat to 325 degrees. 

Whisk the egg white with 2 teaspoons of sugar until it forms stiff peaks. Then spread it evenly over the top of the pie filling. 

Return to the oven and bake until the topping is just golden, about 10 minutes. Let the pie cool completely before serving. 

What was I cooking one year ago?: chicken florentine pasta
Two years ago?: roasted strawberry balsamic vinaigrette 
Three?: banana and pineapple sage smoothies
4?: rhubarb bellinis