Ice Cream Week: “Butter Beer Ice Cream” (Day 5)

Butter Beer Ice Cream

“Butter Beer Ice Cream” from DailyWaffle

The original title for this from the blog I got it from is “Humphry Slocombe’s Ice Cream Book and Butter Beer (at Home!)” and can be found on  the DailyWaffle. I really like that name. Waffle…

The thought that beer and ice cream and all that other yumminess could possible be in my mouth? Driving me a little insane right now. But there’s more! The Daily Waffle (I really do like saying that…) claimes that there are more recipes like this one in a book and so I have checked out the situation and there is, indeed, a book… And now I must own it. Because I’ve now seen some of the recipes in a sample up on Google Books and yes. They are ownership worthy in my current opinion. And my current opinion is that there should always be more awesome in the world. And awesome ice cream would just about solve any ailment I can think of in my life right now. So go ahead and check it all out for yourselves. And if you’re too lazy to make the extra click to the Daily Waffle you can see the sample of the book by clicking here: Humphry Slocombe Ice Cream Book

Ice Cream Week: “Saturn Peach and Pistachio Nougat Ice Cream” (Day 2)

Saturn Peach and Pistachio Nougat Ice Cream

“Saturn Peach and Pistachio Nougat Ice Cream” from Cannell et Vanille

The blog this photo comes from says that this recipe is for the last days of summer and some other nonsense that puts constraints on ice cream which I don’t approve of. What I do approve of is the photography and the recipe itself. Funny enough I recently was chatting with a friend who also owns an ice cream maker and she said that the book this recipe comes from (“The Perfect Scoop: Ice Creams, Sorbets, Granitas, and Sweet Accompaniments” by David Lebovitz and photography by Lara Hata) is one that I should definitely be in ownership of now that I have my fancy machine to help me out. And yes, I have just checked and it is, indeed, the same David Lebovitz who’s book “The Sweet Life in Paris” I read last summer from which I have yet to make a certain chocolate cake recipe… So now I must absolutely own this book and it will probably go on this summer’s Gastrogasms Reading List.

To Pie!

Sweet Tea Pie

“Sweet Tea Pie” from Tasting Table

If you’ve been paying attention this month, you’ll know that I’m attempting to not spend any money this month. Living at home and not having to pay for food or rent and working at the same place as your dad really allows for me to to this properly. And so far this month I’ve only spent $20.18. And there is an explanation for that which I won’t go into here.

Aside from going out to eat, which was like my only type of expense last month and for which I was eternally shamed after seeing the final bill for the month, one of the other things I tend to spend a lot on is books. I actually had a month budget for books which I could rarely stick to because once I start buying books it is over. O-V-E-R. I will buy e-books. I will buy paperbacks. I will buy graphic novels (seriously I have a half-bookshelf in my office full of them). And of course I will buy cookbooks and occasionally I will go to the thrift store and just fill up a cart of any kind of book I can get my hands on.

But I gave up buying books for Lent and then I went on my current spending fast for the month of April. This means that I haven’t bought a single book (not even the free ones because that’s like a gateway drug) since mid-February. My mom keeps pointing out that I/We aren’t Catholic but I’ve been sticking to it and so far so good. I did just get an iTunes gift card yesterday and I’m starting to slip a little but so far so good. I’m only PLANNING to buy books. I haven’t done anything I’ll regret yet.

The no-book-buying policy has forced me to turn back to my previous purchases and look at them more carefully. Some I bought on good recommendations and some I thought just looked cool. But I do have a lot of books that I haven’t actually read. This is what happens when I start downloading books (especially the free ones from iBooks or Kindle). I have amassed so many e-books (most of them free) that it’s kind of ridiculous. But now I am going back and checking everything out properly and reading them or whatever it is one does with free e-books that are mostly pictures.

And it turns out there are a few gems in my digital “pile”. For instance, I had forgotten about the two free or cheap (I can’t even remember) Tasting Table cook books I’d gotten on iBooks sometime ago and never even looked at. I was browsing the online store and it says I’d already downloaded that book. I was like “Whoa! Really? I mean that makes sense it looks like something I would get but when did I do that?”

And that’s how I found the recipe for this post. “Sweet Tea Pie”. And what do you know? My mom just replenished our never diminishing tea supply and after the party this past weekend I still have everything I need to make this recipe.

To Pie!

Vegetarian?

Cheesy Skillet Polenta and Eggplant Bake

Cheesy Skillet Polenta and Eggplant Bake

So the other day the above photograph showed up as a post from America’s Test Kitchen. The post read something like polenta is a vegetarian option blah blah blah being a vegetarian is no fun because then you have to eat polenta blah blah…

In case it isn’t apparent, I don’t like polenta. It makes this sort of dry hard lumpy mass of grits meets cream of wheat and I don’t like any of those above descriptors. Now, maybe you like polenta. That’s up to you and your taste buds. But I do not and I also do not like people bashing on vegetarianism. Yes, I do love goat curry and satay and yes, I do occasionally enjoy a good burger. But I was a vegetarian until I was 17 and my mom let my dad take me on a trip to Africa instead of attending my high school graduation and my dad was NOT raised a vegetarian and I was told I was old enough to try for myself and make a decision. So I tried lots of things and I decided I was no longer strictly a vegetarian. Still don’t like chicken much, however.

There seems to still be some sort of stigma attached to vegetarian cooking these days that just seems silly. While I eat meat occasionally I almost never (and I mean NEVER) cook meat at home. I’m sure I could if I had to in order to save my family from murderers but that’s about it.

My brain tends to run a mile (or two) a minute so between seeing that post yesterday and now I’ve been thinking a lot about goo resources for vegetarian cooking that makes it both appealing and non-disgusting looking. I’ve seen a lot of craptastic vegetarian food and I would never wish that on any of you.

In some of my musings and milling aboutness on the internet I saw a few cookbooks that I have previewed and which, I feel, seem somewhat promising. The first one is “Meatless: More Than 200 of the Very Best Vegetarian Recipes” by Martha Stewart. Say what you will about the woman but she’s got a decent set of gastroporn in her back pocket and I often approve of it.

Meatless: More Than 200 of the Very Best Vegetarian Recipes

Meatless: More Than 200 of the Very Best Vegetarian Recipes

The biggest problem of eating vegetarian is that too many people try to REPLACE meat with something that isn’t meat and try to pass it off as meat. Stop. Don’t do that. Once you start trying to replace your meat with a “meat-like” mass, you’re doomed.

Check out this burger:

Spicy Black Bean Burgers

“Spicy Black Bean Burgers” from Skinnytaste.com

No meat, no problem.

Being vegetarian or vegan can sometimes come with religious or spiritual backgrounds but for a lot of people it’s a fad or a phase. Like “I’m so cool because I’m a… Vegetarian…” (insert some over the top facial expressions and maybe even a hair flip  in there somewhere). The problem with that is that you take it seriously for a while then you get these cravings and it’s all over. So better not to do that.

Of course their are health benefits to cutting out meat in the average diet. If you want any of these benefits it’s like using that exercise machine. Doing it all in a week then sitting on the sofa the rest of the month isn’t going to help your fat ass get any sexier. Although some people have a sexy fat ass… I think you all are much smarter than the majority of students I have to deal with and can figure out for yourself what you need to do.

Pin Me Down, Tie Me Up, and Eat Me

For the longest time I was fairly out of the loop on the whole social media scene. Not to say I was illiterate in it, simply that I chose to browse the library databases rather than the ramblings of the people with which I would be forced to acknowledge once I got a Facebook page. Yes, I’m aware you can be selective. But, no, I’m not one to blatantly say “I think you’re stupid, THAT’S why.”

Now that the universe has seen fit to give me more time to spend on such things (probably more than should be allotted to any one person) I’ve been working on my virtual presence. Like one grows their credit rating in order to eventually, one day, buy a house.

With the start of this blog I’ve also started a Pinterest account within which I have been keeping a lot of my online findings. This weekend I have reached over 400 pins and am now sharing it with you, my readership. While I eventually plan to further categorize everything I have tried to categorize the images, recipes, and ideas into manageable sections for anyone looking to find specific recipes or ideas.

I think it would be interesting to do a virtually organized set of themed cookbooks using something like Pinterest. I think it should go in courses starting with Welcome Drinks & Appetizers. Here (using my now burgeoning Pinterest collection) are some ideas for that:

Sparkling Strawberry Lemonade

Sophie Dahl’s Iced Tea

Strawberry Basil Sangria

Asparagus Phyllo Appetizers

Cheese Stuffed Zucchini Rolls

Millefeuille d’Aubergines And Chèvre Frais

You can find me and my boards on Pinterest by following the link below.

http://pinterest.com/ocitl/

The Great Disappointment (of 2012)

Like the Millerites on the morning of October 23rd I realized that something was very very wrong with either my interpretation of my book or with the book itself. And, like the Millerites, I went back and tried again. And, after the second time around of “What the *$^@*#& is going on here!?!” it didn’t take a prophet to tell me that something had to go.

If you’ve been following the posts to far you’ll know that my summer project was supposed to be Chocolate (see “For The Love of Chocolate!“). I’d chosen “Chocolat”, by Stéphan Lagorce, as the book I was going to use as my guide through this vast field of options but I’ve officially changed my mind after this past weekend.

Now, I’m not above admitting that I’ve made mistakes before and that there is a slight possibility that I just messed up on the recipes I tried this weekend. But there are several key features to my failures that alert me to the failure of the recipe and not myself:

(1) Just because it looks bad doesn’t mean it should taste bad.

(2) Just because you mess up on one step doesn’t mean the whole recipe is shot.

(3) If something goes wrong with a recipe I can almost always pinpoint why and how to solve the problem the second time around.

(4) I may not be the  greatest cook but I know I’m not THIS bad.

So here’s what happened this weekend. My brother had a competition (he’s a champion Irish dancer) up in New Jersey this weekend and the whole family was going. Knowing this was going to be one of the last chances I was going to have with an empty house and the kitchen to myself I decided to stay behind and take full advantage of the situation. I love my family but they really do get in the way of gastronomical progress with all their regularly scheduled meal times and a blatant disregard for marked sanitized areas of food preparation.

I intended to make:

  • 2-3 different kinds of truffles
  • a new chocolate cupcake recipe
  • 2 different kinds of mousse
  • an asparagus tart
  • perogies
  • green beans (for me)
  • corn dogs (for a friend that stopped over to lend a hand)
  • baklava (the recipe found in June’s Gastroporn Menu)
  • Blueberry muffins
  • a new blueberry preserve cake
  • cold pressed coffee

I actually made:

  • 2 kinds of truffles and one too-liquid ganache
  • my new favorite chocolate cupcake recipe with icing
  • 1 kind of mousse (also known as Failure # 2)
  • an asparagus tart and an onion tart
  • TLC perogies (as in perogies that NEED a little more TLC)
  • the green beans (with a missing ingredient but still good)
  • corn dogs that turned out nothing like the last time I made them
  • baklava (which turned out fantastic except somehow I missed that the nuts were way past their expiration date)
  • BLUEBERRY muffins (I like them with about 3x the amount of blueberries called for)
  • no cake
  • my new favorite way of making iced coffee

Obviously, not all of these recipes come from “Chocolat”. I also used one of my old journal recipes, a recipe from my mom’s little blue box filled with index cards, the 2000 edition of Food & Wine, and some recipes I’d found online.

These are the two recipes that I tried from “Chocolat” before I decided I was done wasting good chocolate:

Chocolate Truffles – Not using this recipe again.

Whtie Chocolate Mousse – Not worth the work or money spent on ingredients or the space it will take up in your fridge

I managed to salvage the truffles in the end but it was not pretty. It calls for too much butter and the chocolate separated and all the butter came to the top. I had to soak up all the butter off the top of the “ganache” with several paper towels before chilling in the fridge.

The mousse was just a big fat “Never Again”. A similar thing happened with the butter separating during the melting process and when you mix in the heavy cream the whole thing just goes to  *&%@^#. The final product not only has the worst texture ever (even for not mousse) but it tastes oily.

I’m just so disappointed in this book I’m not sure what to do. I used a different truffle recipe which turned out so much better, if a little softer than I would have liked. This recipe makes delicious truffles. I love earl grey tea in dark chocolate. It’s one of the best combinations.

Chocolate Earl Grey Truffles

I tried to use this basic recipe to make a Mango-Ceylon White Chocolate truffle but I forgot how white chocolate reacts with the cream (you need to use a lot less or something) when you try to make a ganache so it’s too soft to be a ganache but it would make a decent sauce or spread.

As for the mousse I also have a better recipe for that from a friend which I will share here:

Chocolate Mascarpone Mousse

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • zest of one lemon
  • 9 oz. of 70% chocolate chopped (60% is easier to find in the grocery stores near me and works just as good)
  • 1 1/3 cups of Mascarpone cheese
  • pinch of nutmeg 2 tablespoons of Grand Marnier or orange juice
Steps:
  1. Put 1/2 a cup of the heavy cream and the lemon zest in a saucepan over medium high heat.
  2. When the cream is warm, add the chocolate and whisk until melted and smooth. Transfer to a bowl and set aside to cool.
  3. Put the Mascarpone, the remaining cream, and the nutmeg into a bowl and whip until the Mascarpone is loose.
  4. Add in the Grand Marnier (or orange juice) and whip of medium until it reaches soft peaks. {Note: Do not over whip!}
  5. Mix about 1/4 of the Mascarpone mixture into the chocolate to lighten it. Then fold in the remaining Mascarpone.
  6. Can be served immediately or chilled to be a little firmer.

Back in the day I took one of those “fun” courses in college on journaling. Never regretted it. After doing my journal for the class I decided to do one for the DC are which also ended up being partly a recipe journal. I’d just cut and paste (literally) recipes from various places into the journal. This is the age with the recipes for perogies I tried years ago and decided to give another try. Unfortunately I don’t think my hands are talented enough to get this right because mine come out looking rather unappealing, which is too bad because I really like perogies. The best ones I had, however, were in Poland, and that’s a little hard to beat.

Mustardy Perogies (Bonus Recipe: Flaky Pear Pie)

For breakfast on Sunday morning I made these for a friend and I:

Low-fat Blueberry Muffins

I’ve been using the recipe for these for some time now and I love them. They aren’t too sweet and I always put in way too many blueberries so it’s like a big pile of blueberries being held together by fluffy muffin. It comes from this book:

Muffins:
40 Tantalizing Recipes for Tasty Muffins

Here is the recipe:

Low-fat Blueberry Muffins – Recipe

We drank the cold pressed coffee with these while watching “Merlin” on Netflix and it was good. To make the coffee just use a french press with the grounds and cold water and leave it overnight. “Press” it in the morning and viola! I made ice cubes with half of it and we drank the rest with a little cream and sugar.

Making the Baklava was actually one of the easiest recipes on my List. The only thing that I need to change the next time I make it is to use fresh walnuts instead of what I found in the pantry. The recipe and “How To” video can be found on the June Gastroporn menu. I served it with a Moroccan mint tea.

I also made 2 savory tarts and I have to say that in this case it was an interesting result. I had intended to make this recipe:

Asparagus Tart

It took forever to make this between all the chilling of the dough (even though I almost never fully chill doughs according to the recipe and they turn out fine for the most part) and the hour and forty-five minutes of baking time. It turned out absolutely beautiful (just like in the photo) and it’s also pretty when you cut through it and can see the asparagus.

After making the asparagus tart there was some of the egg/milk filling left over so I added a couple more eggs and a bit more milk and used a store-bought pie crust I needed to use that was in the fridge and made an onion tart. All it takes is 4 onions halved and sliced sauteed with some oil, salt, pepper (I put in a good half teaspoon or more to give it a good kick), and a couple teaspoons of sugar to give it some caramelization. Put the onions in the crust, grate some good hard cheese (I have parmigiano reggiano) on top, pour in the egg mixture, and bake at 375 F for about 40 minutes.

I took both tarts over to someone’s house after making them and it was a tie between the asparagus tart that took almost 3 hours to make and the onion tart which took one hour (including baking time).

I served these with green beans which I sauteed with a couple cloves of garlic in oil, add some salt and a little pepper, the juice of a lemon and soy sauce for a couple minutes before adding in some chopped tomatoes and covering. Cook until the beans are just getting tender then stop. If you keep cooking them they’ll be mushy.

Even with all the issues in the kitchen this weekend there was one truly bright spot and it’s the cupcake recipe I tried. The link to this cupcake recipe takes you to a master page with several other cupcake recipes which I am now more interested in trying after the success of these. This recipe is both easier and more chocolaty (thanks to the Guinness) than the recipe I’ve been using.

Guinness Chocolate Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Icing

Ever since Georgetown Cupcakes won the DC Cupcake Wars a few years back I’ve been using a recipe adapted from the winning chocolate cupcake which was printed in the Washington Post. I changed the chocolate ganache icing for a cream cheese icing which I usually flavored with Bailey’s Irish Cream.

Chocolate Cupcakes with Bailey’s Icing

Ingredients:

Cupcake:

  • 1 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 8 tablespoons butter
  • 1 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder

Icing:

  • 12 oz. cream cheese
  • 5 tablespoons butter
  • 5 tablespoons Bailey’s
  • 5 1/2 powdered sugar

Steps:

  1. Sift together flour, baking soda, and salt in a small mixing bowl.
  2. Cream the butter and sugar with a mixer in a large mixing bowl.
  3. Add in the eggs and continue to beat.
  4. Mix the milk and vanilla in a measuring cup.
  5. Alternate adding the milk mixture and flour mixture into the butter and sugar.
  6. Sift the cocoa powder and add. beat until combined.
  7. Fill cupcake tins and bake at 350 F for 18-20 minutes or until cooked through.
  8. To make the icing, combine the cream cheese and butter and beat until creamy.
  9. Add in half the Bailey’s and continue to beat.
  10. Add in the powdered sugar about a cup at a time and dribble in a little of the remaining Bailey’s into the mix between batches of the sugar. Be sure to end the process with the sugar.
  11. Continue to beat the whole mixture until fluffy.

While this weekend wasn’t as successful as I was hoping for I did end up with quite a few good things. The truffles were a good learning experience but I will stick to dark chocolate from now on I think. Seeing as