Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Cream Cheese-Strawberry Ripple Ice Cream Sandwiches

There is something very decadent, yet surprisingly refreshing, about the combination of cheesecake and strawberries. It makes for a wonderful summertime dessert, particularly when it’s in ice cream form. Only thing better would be an ice cream sandwich, with homemade Graham Cracker Cookies (or “bickies”, as the Brits

 would say). It’s like a portable strawberry-topped cheesecake – a really cold one. So here’s my version of this humidity busting treat. (I say ‘my’ version, but credit for the ice cream goes to the very talented Dana Cree, whose book Hello, My Name is Ice Cream is a MUST BUY. Seriously.) Feel free to use your own favorite cookies in place of the graham cracker ones -- vanilla or almond cookies would be a great choice, too, or even oatmeal cookies. Hope you’re having a wonderful summer! xo

Monday, May 22, 2017

Lemon Crème Fraiche Pound Cake

Pound cake is one of the easiest cakes to make, but to make a truly good pound cake requires just the right recipe. When I came across a recipe for a lemon pound cake in Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito’s cookbook Baked: New Frontiers in Baking (Stewart, Tabori & Chang, 2008), I was intrigued by the fact that had melted butter

in it – and lots of it, as well as sour cream to make it moist. Most pound cake recipes rely on the process of creaming the butter and sugar together for several minutes to create the air bubbles that give the cake its structure (along with a little modern help from leaveners). This recipe relies on eggs and leaveners alone. So I tried Matt and

Renato’s recipe and I thought it was excellent – very moist and very lemony (important for the lemon lovers among us). Then I decided to tinker around with the recipe, changing the ingredient proportions slightly, changing the mixing process, cutting the sugar a bit, and substituting crème fraiche for the sour cream for extra richness. The resulting cake is equally good (not necessarily better): a simple Bundt cake with lots of tangy lemon flour and a moist crumb the color of sunshine. Another pound cake recipe for the ever-growing repertoire.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Buttercrunch Toffee Chunk Ice Cream

After a five month vacation from blogging, I was inspired to post today by a new book by my super-talented colleague, pastry chef Dana Cree. I am convinced that Dana’s new book, Hello, My Name Is Ice Cream: The Art and Science of the Scoop (Clarkson Potter, 2017), is destined to be a classic on the subject of frozen desserts. 

It covers lots of science (but not so much that you begin to nod off), information that is key in creating frozen desserts with the ideal flavor and texture. For example, Dana tells us how to make proteins (eggs, milk) work for your ice cream, how the amount of sugar in your base affects your ice cream’s texture, and how stabilizers 

(bad reputation aside) work to assure textural perfection. And then there are the recipes – ice cream (custard as well as eggless Philadelphia style), sherbet, frozen yogurt and a panoply of add-ins, including Cookie Butter Bits, Pretzel Toffee Chunks, Gooey Butter Cake (!), and Creamy Caramel Ribbon. Makes me want to drop what I’m doing, race to the kitchen, and make every blessed recipe in this incredible new book. Thank you, Dana (I think!). Here’s her recipe for a Philadelphia Style Vanilla Ice Cream with Buttercrunch Toffee Chunks added. I ate half of the batch in two sittings – research, you know.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Lemon Vodka à la Polska

I recently returned from a wonderful trip to Poland. The occasion was a mini-reunion of cooking school compatriots. It was the 30-year anniversary of our graduation from La Varenne in Paris, and three of my fellow alums and I met up in Warsaw to celebrate. Our friend Catherine lives there, so it was a good excuse to visit a country we hadn’t been to before (and take advantage of Catherine's very gracious 

hospitality). I fell in love with the wonderful, generous and extremely resilient Polish people, the vibrant cities of Warsaw and Krakow and the amazing food. And drink. The Poles take their vodka seriously, and the best is seriously good. As we happily discovered, a common after-dinner treat is a shot of Lemon Vodka, served ice-cold. The traditional toast is na zdrowie (pronounced 'naz-dro-v-yeh'), which means 'to 

health'. We toasted, then tasted quite a bit of this libation on our trip, and here's my interpretation based on our -- ahem -- research. I hope to return to beautiful Poland some day, but until then I'll have some wonderful memories and an occasional shot of exceptionally good lemon vodka to comfort me. Na zdrowie!

Lemon Vodka

 Makes about 1 quart

3 organic lemons
2/3 cup granulated sugar
3 cups top-notch Polish vodka (Belvedere or Chopin)

1. Rinse and dry the lemons, then zest and juice them. Combine the zest, juice and sugar in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally just to dissolve the sugar. Remove the pan from the heat and cool completely.
2. Combine the lemon syrup with the vodka in a Mason jar or other lidded glass container and seal (save the vodka bottle if it’s empty to store the finished product). Allow to infuse in a cabinet or other dark spot for 1 to 2 weeks. Give the jar a shake every day, or when you can remember to.
3. Strain the vodka through a funnel or sieve that is lined with cheesecloth into another glass container (I use the original vodka bottle) and seal. Freeze the bottle until ice-cold, or until ready to serve (I just store mine in the freezer). Freeze some shot glasses to serve the vodka in, too.

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