Tuesday, April 24, 2012

I Scream, You Scream

In case you were wondering, I have a sweet tooth.  Maybe a few of them.  And one of my favorite sweet treats has got to be ice cream.

Several years ago we bought a Cuisinart ice cream maker as an anniversary gift to ourselves.  At that time, I did all kinds of research, finding recipes for flavors I thought we would enjoy.  Most of the recipes included egg yolks, but because I've never been comfortable (or good at) tempering eggs, we generally used pasteurized egg whites.  This yielded results that were okay, but the ice cream was never as creamy as one can get from Edy's (known as Dreyer's out west) Slow Churned (my personal grocery store favorite).

But then I discovered Jeni Britton Bauer's Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams at Home, which details recipes from ice creams made at her artisan-style creameries based in Columbus, Ohio.  The great thing about Bauer's recipes is that she doesn't use eggs.  She relies on cornstarch and corn syrup to thicken her concoctions instead.  Needless to say, I had to try this method.

My first outing with this new method was a Madagascar Vanilla version of Bauer's Ugandan Vanilla Bean.  I'm generally not a huge fan of vanilla ice cream, but I figured it was a good place to start, especially since I already had some vanilla beans left from my homemade vanilla project (a post on that is upcoming).  The result?  The BEST vanilla ice cream I have EVER tasted.  Thick, creamy, rich, fabulous.  So I moved on to The Milkiest Chocolate in the World, before trying The Buckeye State (peanut butter and honey ice cream) and Gooey Butter Cake.  Each one of them was phenomenal.  Jeni Britton Bauer is my new hero!

One thing I really liked about Bauer's book was the ice cream base recipe she included.  It was very basic, and allows the ice cream creator to add flavors to his or her taste.  As she did not have a recipe for the Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough flavor, I decided that I would try that as my next attempt at an "original" flavor creation (the first was Birthday Cake -- yellow cake flavored ice cream with chocolate frosting mixed in -- a huge hit with my favorite 8-year old).  I tracked down a recipe for egg-free cookie dough (because what good is egg-free ice cream if there are eggs in the dough?) and I was good to go.  The result, of course, was amazing.  And now you can make some, too.  

Warning:  While this ice cream is lux, it is definitely not light!

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ice Cream
Adapted from Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams at Home and Allrecipes.com
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Cookie Dough
2 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 tablespoons light butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 tablespoons milk
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup mini chocolate chips

Ice Cream
2 cups whole milk
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cornstarch
3 tablespoons (1 1/2 oz.) cream cheese, softened
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 tablespoon vanilla

In a medium bowl, mix together the brown sugar, granulated sugar, and butter until smooth.  Add vanilla, milk, salt, and baking soda, combining well, and then mix in the flour.  Add the mini chocolate chips and mix thoroughly.

Place the dough into a Ziploc bag or other freezable container and freeze overnight.  Follow the manufacturer's instructions and place the freezer bowl for the ice cream maker into the freezer to ensure it is completely frozen for mixing later.

Mix 2 tablespoons of the milk for the ice cream with the cornstarch in a small bowl, creating a slurry.  Set aside.

Whisk together the cream cheese and salt in a medium size spouted bowl or measuring cup (a 4-cup Pyrex measuring cup works well).  Set aside.

Combine the remaining milk, cream, sugar, corn syrup, and vanilla in a 4-quart saucepan.  Bring to a rolling boil over medium high heat, stirring as necessary to keep from scorching, and boil for 4 minutes.

Reduce heat slightly and stir if necessary to keep the mixture from boiling over.  Remove from the heat and gradually whisk in the cornstarch slurry.

Return the mixture to a boil over medium high heat and cook about 1 minute, stirring until slightly thickened.  Remove from the heat and gradually whisk the milk mixture into the cream cheese mixture, stirring until smooth.  Then pour the liquid into a 1-gallon Ziploc freezer bag.

Submerge the sealed bag in a large bowl filled with ice and water and allow to cool, about 30 minutes.  Add more ice as necessary.

After the mixture has cooled completed, clip one of the corners of the bag and drain the creamy blend into the frozen canister of an ice cream maker.  Allow to process until thickened, about 25 minutes.

While the ice cream spins, remove the cookie dough from the freezer and break into bite size chunks.

The ice cream and the cookie dough will alternate layers in a 1 1/2 quart freezable storage container, so place the first layer of cookie dough in the container at this time.  Pour the finished ice cream into the canister in layers with the dough, ensuring the layers are evenly spaced throughout.  Do not fill the container too full, as the ice cream will expand as it hardens.  Press a sheet of parchment paper directly against the ice cream and seal with an airtight lid.  Freeze until firm, at least 4 hours.

Makes about 1 quart
Calories: 229 calories per 2 oz. serving
Serves about 13

I also found Scoop by Ellen Brown, which includes many egg-free ice creams, along with traditional recipes that include egg yolks.  I'm definitely going to try making the Amaretto Peach ice cream and the Mango Mimosa Sorbet.

On another note, the cookie dough in this recipe is super yummy.  Some reviewers on Allrecipes said they mixed some up and kept it in the freezer just for snacking.  Not something I would recommend personally, but it's a thought!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Recipe Addiction?

I think I have a problem.  I'm pretty sure I might be possibly addicted to collecting recipes.

Case in point:  I have 443 recipes pinned on my Pinterest boards.  Four hundred and forty-three.  Yeah, that's a lot.  It would take me almost a year and three months to get through them all if I tried a new recipe e.v.e.r.y.  d.a.y.  And I'm sure I would have collected a few MORE new recipes by then.  Just a few.

And then there's my torn-out-of-magazines-printed-off-the-Internet-copied-from-books stack.  Er, stacks.  Wanna see?

And keep in mind, these are just recipes I want to TRY.  These are not recipes I have tried and kept or tried and discarded.  These are just "want" to try.  Hmm.  

Who's fault is this exactly?  Not mine.  Never mine.  I think this problem I have falls squarely on the shoulders of Pioneer Woman, Guy Fieri, Tastespotting and their blogging contributors, not to mention Cooking Light, Jeni Britton Bauer, King Arthur Flour, and probably all the executives at Food Network.  I'm fairly certain Emeril Lagasse started it all.  Shame on them.

So I'm attempting to deal with my issues.  Not by going cold turkey.  That's what I had been doing, and then I came home with three cookbooks from the library by America's Test Kitchen and Joy the Baker.  I've just discovered them.  Uh oh. Anyway, I'm going to try to at least organize my "to try" recipes.  Try being the operative word.  I have binders and tabs for all the recipes not currently found on my Pinterest boards, and I'm culling through them, weeding out anything that's too high in calories or uses hard-to-find ingredients or is similar to something I already have and like.  It's an arduous process.  Sort of like a hoarder parting with all their junk.  We shall see.  Wish me luck.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Lotsa Pasta

There is nothing quite like the taste of fresh homemade pasta.  Mike remembers his mother making pasta of all kinds when he was growing up, from fettuccine to ravioli.  Several years ago I gave him a pasta machine for Christmas and every so often we take a few hours and make up a small batch.  The pasta from this particular recipe is so tasty, you don't even need a sauce, although a fresh pesto sauce over the top would really be to die for!

Note:  In addition to the pasta machine mentioned above, you will also need a pasta drying rack.

Fresh Pasta
Adapted from Everyday Pasta by Giada De Laurentiis
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3 cups all-purpose flour
4 large eggs
1 tablespoon Kosher salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons hot water

Place the flour in the bowl of a stand mixer.  In a separate bowl, lightly beat the eggs.  Add the salt and olive oil to the eggs and stir.  Turn the mixer on low and slowly add the egg mixture to the flour.  Then add the water and mix until the liquid is evenly distributed.  The dough should begin to stick together, but it will not form a ball.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface.  Gather it into a ball and knead it gently until it is smooth. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and let rest at room temperature for about 30 minutes.

Cut the dough into eight even portions.  Using a pasta maker, set the thickness setting to level 1.  Feed the first portion of dough through the machine, cranking the handle clockwise to turn the rollers.  The dough will press into a sheet.  Catch it with your free hand and do not allow it to fold up on itself.  Once the dough has fed all the way through the machine, set the thickness dial to 2 and feed the dough through the rollers again.  Repeat until the desired thickness has been reached (about level 5 or 6).  Place the sheet of dough on a well-floured surface to rest and repeat the process with the other seven portions.  The cut the eight flattened pieces in half to make the dough sheets easier to manage as you form the noodles.

After all the dough portions have been rolled flat, fit the pasta maker's noodle attachment onto the machine.  Feed each flattened dough portion into the noodle cutting attachment, cranking the handle of the machine clockwise.  Catch the noodles with a free hand and carefully separate the pieces, hanging them to dry on a pasta drying rack.  Repeat this process with each of the dough sheets.  Allow the noodles to dry on the rack for about 2 hours.  Store dried pasta in a sealed container and freeze, if desired, or cook to al dente in boiling water for 5-7 minutes.

Makes 1 1/2 pounds of pasta
Serves: 6
Calories per serving:  290

This was SO yummy AND we have leftovers for another meal that I stashed in the freezer.  We really need to make pasta more often.  Note to self...next time, make a DOUBLE batch!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Bring on spring and bring on salad!

So as I mentioned in my last post, we've already begun grilling here in northeast Iowa.  Tonight we grilled burgers, which I often serve with veggies, sweet potato fries, or mashed potatoes.  I was in the mood for something fresh and "spring-y" though, so I flipped through my salad "favorites" binder and came to this recipe, which I made last year when I started my garbanzo bean kick (full of protein...gotta love 'em!).  It makes a great big bowl and we'll be able to eat leftovers with chicken or fish all week long!

Couscous-Garbanzo Salad
Adapted from Cooking Light


1 chicken bouillon cube
1 cup water
1 cup uncooked couscous
1 cup grape tomatos, quartered
1 cup diced cucumber
1 cup celery, thinly sliced
1/2 cup diced carrot
1/2 cup diced red bell pepper
1 (15 1/2 oz.) can garbanzo beans, drained

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons Penzey's Pasta Sprinkle
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon Penzey's Shallots (or use dried minced onion)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper

In a medium saucepan, bring water and bouillon cube to a boil, then gradually stir in couscous.  Cover and remove from heat.  Let stand 5 minutes.  Place couscous in a large bowl and let cool completely.  Fluff with a fork.  Add tomatoes, cucumber, celery, carrot, bell pepper, and garbanzo beans and toss well.  In a small bowl, combine olive oil, red wine vinegar, lemon juice and spices and stir with a whisk.  Pour dressing mixture over the couscous mixture and toss gently.

Calories: 130  
Serves 10-12 (1/2 cup serving)