Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Update - ice cream - no machine

Thanks to the several of you who were interested enough in this to leave a comment. I just repeated the recipe with a flavor variation, and, more important, a simplification. I was using the mixer (hand-held) pretty much as frequently as I would stir a batch of granita or ice milk. Turns out it was not necessary. This time the ice cream mix got buzzed up just 3 times. Details below. Below is the plan in two sections. First, the basic ingredients and, second, the variations to yield a different flavor.

Ice cream base
16 oz heavy cream
16 oz fat free half-and-half
16 oz fat free sweetened condensed milk
2 Tbs vanilla extract
1 vanilla bean, sliced lengthwise, insides scraped into mixture

use only 1 Tbs vanilla and
2 Tbs orange extract
zest of an orange, very finely chopped
2/3 package Pepperidge Farm Milano cookies, broken or chopped into small pieces
2 heaping Tbs low sugar orange marmalade (mine was Smuckers)

Put cream, half, etc., condensed milk, 1 Tbs vanilla extract, 2 Tbs orange extract and bean scrapings into a round 8 cup Tupperware container. Mix together with a whisk. Place in the freezer.

1 1/2 hrs later, mix together with hand-held electric mixer, paying attention to the side where it will be at its thickest. Place back in the freezer for 2 hours.

Mix again with electric mixer, then stir in marmalade and Milano cookie bits. Allow to freeze completely, about 2 more hours.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Oreo ice cream with no machine

Your friend and mine, Jenn (of jennsfoodjourney), put up a recipe for oreo cookie ice cream a few days ago. It sounded so good I decided to make it for Peter and me. But - I don't have an ice cream machine. Today's post will tell you to get a good quality ice cream under this circumstance. There is no magic to it, just some extra effort along the way. My only modification to Jenn's recipe was that I found fat free condensed milk, fat free half-and-half and low fat oreos. (Indeed the oreos taste just fine. I certainly wouldn't have known they were not the original recipe.)

1 14oz can fat free sweetened condensed milk
2 Tablespoons vanilla extract
2 cups heavy cream
2 cups fat free half-and-half
1 vanilla bean
18-20 roughly chopped chocolate cream sandwich cookies (Oreos)

In a round Tupperware container mix together the condensed milk, vanilla, cream, and half-and-half. Slice the vanilla bean in half lengthwise and scrap out the seeds into the cream mixture. Stir to combine. Cover and place in freezer for 45 minutes.

Here's the clever part. Use a hand-held mixer on the ice cream, paying particular attention to the edges where it will have started to congeal. Repeat this every 30 minutes for a couple of hours. When the mix is quite thick, break up or chop up the cookies and stir them in. Let it freeze all the way, not using the mixer any more.

You will be happy with this.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Wild rice and Israeli couscous salad

This is a concoction that will get you will points with the 'rents, or, if it's too late for that, an invitation to come back to the family reunion next year (in spite of what you said while in your cups this time around).

There will be no recipe, only a list of ingredients. Why, picnic breath, you ask? 'Cause I measured only the rice and couscous and nothing else. When you make your dressing, keep tasting it. When it tastes right to you, it IS right. Add more or less of the ancillary (aka canned) ingredients. It won't matter except to you and those you are feeding. Knock yourself out.

One last word: this batch, which I catered for a dinner for 20, got me re-engaged the same night for a picnic for over 30 two weeks later. So no sneezing at this. I sneezed all the way to the bank.

Wild rice and Israeli couscous salad
3 cups chicken broth
a 4 oz box of wild rice (don't get that wild and long grain rice mix - just don't do it)
1 cup Israeli couscous
scallions, chopped
garlic, chopped
hearts of palm
bamboo shoots
water chestnuts
small jar of marinated artichoke hearts, chopped
some of the liquid from the artichokes
salt and pepper to taste

Bring the broth to a boil. Add wild rice and simmer 50-55 min. Drain, reserving liquid. Cook the couscous in the same liquid for 10 min., drain and rinse with cool water to stop cooking.

Add the other ingredients more or less to your taste.

Here's my approximate dressing:
olive oil
lemon zest
rice wine vinegar
sesame oil
red pepper flakes
fish sauce
salt and pepper

Put these together and taste, taste, taste until you like it. Pour it over the salad when it's time to serve.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Cauliflower gratin with gratin-tude to Jacques Pepin

The whim to make this struck me as I emerged from REM sleep and heard Scooper whimpering, the sound that simply indicates, "Get the heck out of bed so I can pee and have my breakfast." It was 5:30 am, during the final hour of what had been a dark but not dark and stormy night. This gratin was made to accompany seafood burgers made from shrimp and swai, which I learned is a form of farmed catfish from Asia. I've posted shrimp and catfish burgers before and will not impose them on you again (even though they may have been the best I have ever made - maybe tomorrow; maybe next week). Anyhow, here's the gratin.

Cauliflower gratin
adapted from a recipe by Jacques Pepin
1 head of c-flower, 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 lbs
paprika to taste
3 Tbs butter
3 Tbs AP flour
1/2 cup mascarpone cheese
3/4 gruyere cheese, grated
1/4 cup Parmesan, grated
1 1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup 1/2 and 1/2
salt and pepper to taste

Jacques mistake was blanching the c-flower for too long. I knocked a minute off his time and still wished I done a shorter stint in the boiling water. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Cut the c-flower into large florets. Drop them into the water and blanch for 3 minutes. Drain and run under cold water to stop cooking. Place the florets, stems down, in a casserole that is just large enough to hold them (mine was about 5" x 9"). Sprinkle them with paprika.

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

In a saute pan, melt the butter and whisk in the flour. Cook 3 minutes whisking constantly. Don't let the heat be so high that the roux (that's what this is, by the way) takes on color. Stir in the milk and 1/2 & 1/2 and mascarpone. Bring to a simmer, add some salt and pepper, and cook until thickened, 5 minutes perhaps, stirring frequently. Pour this over the c-flower, top with the cheeses and bake for 30 minutes or until the cheese has browned and is bubbling.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Zucchini pudding cakes

Well, well, well, I've finally done something totally my own again. It's been a while. I thought about these pudding cupcakes for a long time and even had the zucchini in my veggie drawer in the fridge for several days before getting around to doing my magic. In the end I was thrilled last evening when I put these on the table for Peter and me; they're tasty and have a marvelous pudding-like interior. I might have to go to a chiropractor as a result of patting myself on the back.

Zucchini pudding cakes
1 Tbs butter
1 tsp olive oil
1/4 medium onion, chopped fine
12 oz zucchini, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
2 Tbs mascarpone cheese
1 egg, lightly beaten
3/8 cup all purpose flour
1 Tbs chopped basil leaves
1 tsp chopped thyme leaves
1/2 tsp baking powder
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Melt the butter in the olive oil in a saute pan. Add the onion and zucchini and cook 5-6 minutes, until softened. Remove from heat, place in a medium bowl, and allow to cool.

In the meantime mix the flour, baking powder, basil, thyme, salt and pepper in a small bowl.

Place the zucchini and onion mix in the food processor along with the egg and mascarpone. Puree.

Return this to the bowl you used to cool it. Stir in flour mixture.

Lubricate a six muffin pan with Pam. Divide the zucchini mix into 6 equal portions. Bake for 30 minutes. Allow to cool slightly before turning out onto your cutting board. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Caprese salad and flat iron steak - summer delights

Insalata caprese and a nice hunk of flat iron steak are the fulfillment of the promise of late spring and summer's farm markets. Caprese is merely sliced tomato, sliced mozzarella, and julienned basil. They are dressed with some vinegar and olive oil and a bit of salt and pepper if you wish. The steak has a slightly more complicated apprenticeship (that is, it involves a marinade). The marinade made the meat fork tender. You may want to cook it (stove top grill in my case) a bit longer. Ours was rare, as is our preference.

Flat iron steak
1 flat iron steak (about 1 1/2 lbs, trimmed of extraneous fat and silver skin)
1/4 cup olive oil
3 Tbs soy sauce
2 medium scallions, finely chopped
1 medium garlic clove, chopped
juice of 1/2 lime
red pepper flakes to taste
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 Tbs light brown sugar

Mix together the olive oil with all the ingredients following it. Place the steak in a one gallon freezer bag and pour in the marinade. Squish it around to coat the meat thoroughly and place the bag in the fridge for one hour. Turn it once or twice during that time.

Remove the steak from the marinade and wipe it with paper towels. Cook on a very hot stove top grill for 3 minutes per side (this is for rare; add time as you wish). Allow to rest for 5 minutes and then slice it thinly against the grain.

Bean and potato salad for summertime at your house

In my never-ending quest for dishes to serve in hot weather, this one just shouted out of my imagination the other day. It has one kinky ingredient: canned potatoes. If you've never tried them, it's worth the effort. They are quite inexpensive and have a unique flavor and texture. Of course if the idea of potatoes from a can rubs you the wrong way, buy regular taters (then you need to cook them). As for the beans, I gave up starting with dried beans quite a while ago. The bean snobs of the world (yes, Alton, that's you) will put up their noses at this, but I had other designs on my day than soaking and simmering for ages.

Bean and potato salad
1 15 oz can canneloni beans (or other beans you prefer)
1 15 oz can whole potatoes, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 Tbs butter
1 Tbs vegetable oil
1 large stalk celery, diced
12 black olives, pitted and chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 jalapeno, seeded and minced
salt and pepper to taste
juice of 1/4 lemon
2 Tbs coconut milk
2 Tbs mascarpone cheese

Rinse and drain the beans and the potatoes. Melt the butter in the oil in a saute pan. Saute the potatoes until they brown somewhat. This will take at least 10 minutes over medium high heat.
While the potatoes are cooking: In a large salad bowl, combine the celery, beans, olives, garlic and jalapeno. Sprinkle with a pinch of kosher salt and coarse ground black pepper and squeeze the lemon over the salad.
Drain the potatoes on paper toweling and allow to cool. Then toss in with the rest of the salad.
Whisk together the coconut milk, mascarpone, and another pinch of salt and pepper. Just before serving, pour the dressing over the salad and toss to coat everything.

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