September 22, 2011

Homemade Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream

I'm flabbergasted.  After trying all those custard-based ice cream recipes with ingredients that need to be steeped and the required chilling time that goes along with it, I've figured out how to make an ice cream that my husband raves about and it only takes five minutes (plus churn time).

This weekend I tried Ben & Jerry's Sweet Cream Base exactly how they have it written in the book.  (What a novel idea-following an entire recipe!)  I didn't temper the eggs or heat the milk, I just followed the recipe, which means that yes, we did eat raw eggs, and no, I'm not concerned.  

Ben & Jerry's Sweet Cream Base
adapted from Ben & Jerry's Dessert Book.  Makes approximately one quart of ice cream base.

2 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup whole milk
2 cups cream

Whisk eggs by hand or using the whisk attachment in an electric mixer.  Slowly, while whisking, pour in sugar.  Then whisk in milk and cream, followed by any desired flavoring. Churn according to manufacturer's directions, folding in any desired mix-ins at the end.

Following is the list of ice creams I've made using this Sweet Cream Base.  This list is in order of those we liked least to those we liked the most:

Vanilla-Blueberry Swirl (vanilla ice cream with blueberry jam swirl) -This is the first one we made.  We cooked the base, because it sounded like a good idea at the time.  We were so intrigued by the Ben-&-Jerry's-esque  flavor, that we made more sweet cream base and made more ice creams.  We liked this ice cream, but for me, something about the Ben & Jerry's base cried out for chocolate flavors and chunky mix-ins.

Rocky Road (chocolate ice cream with marshmallows and chopped almonds)  -This one did require melting four ounces of semisweet chocolate and then pouring in the milk and (one cup of) cream, heating it some more while stirring to blend in the chocolate, so I did temper the eggs in this batch.  It was good, but next time I think I would try a different chocolate, maybe milk chocolate or a combination of chocolate and cocoa.

S'more (vanilla ice cream with marshmallows and milk chocolate-covered-graham crackers) -Break three or four graham cracker squares into 16 little squares each.  Dip in melted milk chocolate and store in the freezer until ready to mix in.

Black Bottom Pie (vanilla-rum ice cream with fudge brownies, graham crackers and a rum-cream cheese frosting swirl)  -This one I made with the uncooked version.  You have to be careful in adding alcohol to ice cream, because, I've read, there's fine line between perfect flavor and a boozy mess.  I added about a tablespoon of rum to the vanilla ice cream base and about two tablespoons of rum to the cream cheese frosting (approximately 2ounces cream cheese beaten in an electric mixer with 1 cup of powdered sugar and and two tablespoons of rum), but the rum flavor was very faint.  Maybe it needs a little more rum, or maybe I should be using rum extract?  Or maybe it's perfect the way it is.  We all liked it a lot. Yes, we fed our kids rum ice cream; no, I am not concerned.

Coffee Fudge Brownie (instant coffee ice cream with fudge brownies folded in) -I've made this one twice; once with the cooked sweet cream base and once with the uncooked sweet cream base.  We did not notice any difference in flavor.  Jason and I agree, this is our favorite flavor.

September 19, 2011

Tomato-Feta Salad

Roma tomatoes, cucumbers and slab bacon, all cubed; tossed with crumbled feta cheese and chives.

September 15, 2011

Coffee Fudge Brownie Ice Cream

When I made my batch of Coffee Fudge Brownie Ice Cream, I was still figuring out all that stuff about volume.  I churned the whole one quart batch of Coffee ice cream base and then, as it was overflowing after 20 minutes of churning, removed 2/3 of it and folded in the brownie chunks.  I had almost a full quart of Coffee Fudge Brownie Ice Cream.  To the rest of the ice cream, I added a small pinch of cinnamon to make something of a cappuccino ice cream base.  I let it churn another five minutes to mix in the cinnamon.  It increased in volume about 50%.

The Coffee Fudge Brownie Ice Cream was dense and creamy and full of fudgy brownie bites.

The Cappuccino Ice Cream was lighter and fluffier.  The flavor reminded me of the base for for Ben & Jerry's Volun-Tiaramisu* (without the mascarpone cheese).  If only I had some cocoa-dusted, rum-soaked ladyfingers laying around...

Coffee Fudge Brownie Ice Cream

Sweet Cream Base
2-3 tablespoons good quality freeze-dried or instant coffee
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups brownies** cut into small bite-size pieces and frozen

1.  Prepare Sweet Cream Base.  Let cool slightly.  Add coffee and vanilla.  Stir with a whisk to dissolve coffee.  Chill thoroughly.  Churn in ice cream maker according to manufacturer's directions.

2.  Spoon ice cream into storage container, layering in brownie chunks. Allow ice cream to freeze a few hours to come to a scoop-able consistency.

* Available only at Target.
** I'm still looking for a better brownie recipe, but I haven't found one.  While these brownies aren't my favorite for eating fresh, they really are wonderful frozen.  What's even better are Mrs. Rosenberg's Bourbon Brownies, but alas, I am out of bourbon.

September 14, 2011

Notes about Ice Cream Volume & Vanilla Blueberry Swirl Ice Cream

Grace and I did a lot of cooking this weekend.  As I mentioned in the previous post, we made two batches of Ben & Jerry's Sweet Cream Base, which we churned into three four different kinds of ice cream.  We made brownies for Coffee Fudge Brownie Ice Cream and then we made marshmallows.  We hadn't planned to, but since we had some Sweet Cream Base leftover from a batch of Blueberry Vanilla Ice Cream, we decided to make S'more Ice Cream.  We dipped tiny little squares of graham crackers into melted milk chocolate then folded them and the marshmallows into Vanilla Ice Cream, but I'm getting ahead of myself.  My point is that we ate a lot of ice cream did a lot of experimenting.

First let's talk about volume.  We have a 1-quart ice cream maker.  The Sweet Cream Base recipe makes one quart of base.  And I usually store our finished ice cream in one-quart plastic yogurt containers. Sounds perfect, right?  Well, no.

Churning adds air, so it increases the volume of the ice cream.  If you start out with one quart (four cups) of base, you'll easily end up with five cups of ice cream.  No matter, that last bit is for quality control tasting, right?

If you make a truly Ben & Jerry's style ice cream, and by that I mean, if you mix in some chunks or nuts or a swirl, you're adding at least another cup to the volume of the finished product, so one batch of Sweet Cream Base could easily yield three pints of ice cream.

I was reminded, halfway through the weekend, while reading through the first few pages of Ben & Jerry's Homemade Ice Cream and Dessert Book using the Book Preview feature on Amazon (I love that feature, don't you?), that most ice cream makers recommend filling your churn canister 2/3 full.  This is ironic considering most homemade ice cream recipes I've seen yield approximately one quart before churning.  Ben & Jerry remind us that super-premium ice creams contain about 20% air, while conventional store-bought ice creams (Dreyer's, Edy's, Breyers) may contain up to 50% air.  Of course, the air affects the texture of the ice cream.  With less air, you get a creamier, denser, more Ben & Jerry's-like texture.  If you add more air to the ice cream, you get a somewhat lighter, fluffy texture (and you can have a bigger a bigger scoop without adding any additional calories, right?)  You may prefer your ice cream either way.

How do you control the amount of air in your ice cream?  Ben & Jerry say that it has to do with how full you fill your canister.  To churn in more air, fill the canister only half full.  To add less air fill the canister 3/4 of the way full.  (Be advised, if you fill it more than 3/4 of the way full, as I've been known to do, it won't churn as efficiently and it may over flow a bit.)

The bottom line is that if a lighter texture is acceptable to you, you can make one batch of Sweet Cream Base into two totally different flavors.

The first flavor we made was one that Grace recommended:

Vanilla Ice Cream with Blueberry Swirl

To one batch of Sweet Cream Base we added 1 teaspoon vanilla extract.  We started pouring the ice cream base into the ice cream machine, that's when all our thoughts about volume started.  I had a quart of vanilla ice cream base and was planning to pour it into a machine with a one quart capacity and then I was going to add almost a full cup of blueberry jam at the end of the churning.  That wouldn't work, so I "reserved 1 cup of the Sweet Cream Base for a later use."  After churning about 20 minutes, I dolloped in about one cup of blueberry jam (made the same way I made the blackberry jam in this post).  It churned less than a minute more.  I didn't want a totally homogenous blueberry ice cream, but rather Vanilla with a Blueberry swirl.   We transferred it to a one-quart storage container and put it in the freezer to harden up.

The end result had pockets of stark white ice cream and ribbons of sweet blueberry swirl laced into a bluish-purple background where the two had homogenized. A pretty ice cream.  Jason "kind of" liked it. We both found the flavor of the vanilla ice cream, with the egginess in the background, strikingly similar to Ben & Jerry's.  Gracie & Abby gobbled it up.  Both Grace and Jason thought I should add more blueberry jam next time. 

I found myself preferring the Vanilla with Blueberry Swirl over the Lemongrass Blackberry-Cookie Ice Cream already in the freezer *gasp*.  I still haven't determined whether it was the novelty of the new flavor that I was attracted to, or if I really do prefer it to the Lemongrass.  And now I'm too busy looking forward to my next bowl of Coffee Fudge Brownie Ice Cream to care.

September 13, 2011

Ben & Jerry's Sweet Cream Base

In my quest to find a homemade ice cream that my husband likes, I decided I needed to make some major changes.  He wants something that tastes more "store bought."   We're both big fans of Ben & Jerry's so this weekend I decided to use their ice cream base.

It uses the same basic ingredients as the David Lebovitz recipe that I have used for vanilla, mint and lemongrass ice creams, but the texture and flavor is surprisingly different.  It's difficult to pinpoint exactly what's different.  Ben & Jerry's recipe turns out very much like their name brand stuff.  It tastes more eggy than David Lebovitz's, but not in a bad way, maybe a rich way.

I find it interesting that basically any Ben and Jerry's recipe can be made starting with their Sweet Cream Base.  I'm used to steeping a natural flavor agent (a vanilla bean or a bunch of fresh mint for instance) in milk; the Ben & Jerry's recipe just adds a teaspoon of extract or flavoring (vanilla, peppermint, instant coffee, cinnamon).  I was surprised that my farmer's market palate wasn't offended by the store-bought ingredients.  I had liked the freshness of the natural lemongrass and mint so much.  But this stuff is Ben & Jerry's and I do like Ben & Jerry's ice creams.  If you like Ben & Jerry's ice cream, it's definitely worth a try.  Not that I'm ready to toss The Perfect Scoop, I just see myself being on a loooong homemade Ben & Jerry's kick.  

Yes, I realize that these Ben & Jerry's recipes deviate from our theme of "Celebrating Local Produce," but if you hadn't realized that Upstate Cali Kitchen Adventure's unofficial theme for Summer 2011 was "Ice Cream," you haven't been paying attention.

Does it help that I make all my ice creams with farmer's market eggs and that, lately, I've been buying milk and cream at the co-op?  (Oh, how I wish the powers that be would let us buy fresh milk at the farmers market of directly from a farmer.)


Sweet Cream Base
Adapted from Ben & Jerry's via Ice Cream Geek

2 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup whole milk

In their book, Ben and Jerry don't give instructions to cook their ice cream base.  They just say to whisk the eggs, then whisk in the sugar, then whisk in the milk and the cream.  Then add your flavoring of choice and start churning.  Lots of people take issue with this lacking of cooking due to salmonella.  Personally, I am not very concerned about salmonella because I buy our eggs from Farmer Chris.  Statistically, eggs from a small family farm are much less likely to be unsafe.  Even so, partly out of habit, and partly because I've heard that  the texture of 'cooked' ice cream is better than non-cooked, I decided to follow the instructions in Ice Cream Geek's blog to cook the ice cream base before churning.  Well, I didn't follow them exactly, because he recommends using an electric mixer to beat the eggs, but I kind of figure that if I am about to eat some super premium ice cream, I could use a little exercise.  Also, he gets super-technical about temperatures and stuff.

Combine milk and cream.  And honestly, I made two batches of Sweet Cream Base this weekend, one with whole milk and one with 1% milk; after freezing for a day the 1% had an icier texture, but don't let a lack of whole milk in your fridge stop you from making this.  Heat milk and cream over medium-low heat until just steaming.

In a mixing bowl whisk eggs a minute or two until light yellow.  While whisking, very slowly pour in sugar.  Next, while continuing to whisk, slowly pour in half the warmed milk-cream mixture to temper the eggs. Then pour the egg-sugar-milk-cream mixture back into the pot on the stove.  Heat the ice cream base over medium heat, stirring with a rubber scraper.  If you'd like, you can use a candy thermometer to monitor the temperature.  I prefer to just use the back of a spoon.  Dip a metal spoon into the ice cream base, then run your finger across it.  When it makes a clean line (without the liquid immediately weeping back into the line) it's ready to be taken off the heat.

Pour the mixture through a sieve (just in case there are any bits of "scrambled" egg) into a storage container such as a 4-cup liquid measuring cup.  Allow the mixture to cool a couple minutes before adding your desired flavoring (ie: a teaspoon of vanilla extract).  Then chill thoroughly before churning.

Stay tuned for more ice cream-making tips and Ben & Jerry's Style Coffee Fudge Brownie Ice Cream in my next couple of posts.

September 12, 2011

A Quick Summer Meal

Focaccia bread sliced in half horizontally, cut into 3 inch squares, toasted.  Each square drizzled with olive oil, rubbed with garlic, sprinkled with salt and topped with half a slice crisp-cooked bacon, a slice of tomato and a thin slice of cucumber, drizzled again with olive oil, sprinkled with more salt and freshly ground black pepper. Garnished with chopped garlic chives.

Served with a variety of refrigerator pickles.

September Garden Inventory

As it turns out, you can't just put a spare piece of plastic over a seedbed and call it a row cover.  I peeked under that thing a couple times a week to add water and saw little sprouts poking through the soil. Except then one day I saw nothing.  I think the sprouts suffocated.  So I took off the plastic and replanted.

At the Thursday Night Farmers Market there was a vendor selling plants.  For $14.50 a got a six pack of lettuce, a six pack of cauliflower, a mixed six pack (lettuce, dino kale, broccoli, collard greens, purple cauliflower), a single dill plant and a single marshmallow plant.  (No, it doesn't grow marshmallow candies.  It's a medicinal herb, the roots of which can be made into a tea that soothes a sore throat.)

So I planted all those things in Bed Number #1 along with seeds: Nantes coreless carrots, Tom Thumb lettuce, collard greens, baby red beets, cilanto and parsley.

From Bed #2 we're harvesting on average four or five big cucumbers each week.  There's also garlic chives and regular chives.  Our Anaheim pepper plant has produced two peppers so far.  The second pepper plant and the tomato plant we planted in July have blossoms, but no fruit yet.  Same thing for the watermelon. The morning glories are weighing down the trellis and the parsley has bolted.  The single celery plant hasn't done much.  I think the girls and I may have killed the fennel by pinching off its licorice flavored blossoms to eat them for an in-the-garden-treat.    

The squash vines in Bed #3 have grown almost twenty feet, but I still only have one pumpkin to show for it.

Now I am waiting for onion starts to be available at the farmers market.  This should happen toward the end of October.  At that time, I'll pull out everything in Beds 2 and 3 and plant one in onions and one in garlic.  Last year we planted one bed with 2/3 onions and 1/3 garlic, and we're just getting to the end of our supply.  If we get a good harvest next spring we may not need to buy onions and garlic for the whole year.  Wouldn't that be cool?

September 8, 2011

A Candid Moment... and More Ice Cream

When I buy blackberries I usually 3 baskets at once. Most vendors will sell one basket for $3 or $3.50 and three baskets for $7 or $8. Blackberries don't last long though, so usually the next day I find myself making a single jar of jam or something like that.  That's what happened this weekend.

I went into the kitchen, put the smaller of my two dutch ovens on the stove, rinsed two baskets of blackberries and poured them in.  I pulled the sugar canister out of the cupboard and Grace, who was coloring at the kitchen table, started lecturing me, "Mom, what are you doing?!  You only ever make things that you like.  You're taking all the blackberries!  That's not fair.  I hardly got any."

I plucked a small handful out of the pot and put them in a bowl for her.

Now some people are probably offended that this was my response to her lecture.  And that's what it was, a lecture, not whining, but a statement that I was being unfair.  Here's what I've found out about parenting my kid: if, in your discipline strategy, you're doing something to your kid that you would not want them to do to you, you might be headed for trouble.  Don't take that personally.  I know lots of parents who spank, and it apparently works for them, but Grace and I have spent nearly eight years getting to know each other and for us that doesn't work.  Time outs work sometimes, and they go both ways.  Certainly she's been sent to her room for a time out many times, but I've had meltdowns of my own that have required--and been remedied by--a time out of my own.

We've also tried Love & Logic, but we've had the same problem.  I like the premise that consequences should be logical, but in practice, it was a struggle, because the curriculum suggests that when your kid argues with you, you go "brain dead" and just keep repeating a simple phrase such as, "I know.... I know... I know."  Their video clips are pretty funny, but in our household things never turn out that way.  And guess what, when you say to your kid, "I asked you five minutes ago to set the table," and she responds by not looking up from what she's doing and saying with a pleasant smile on her face, "I know."  it's backfired on you.  Somebody's got Love & Logic down pat and it's not me.

I must insert that I did really appreciate the "Loving Your Kids on Purpose" series in which Danny Silk puts Love & Logic in biblical context.  I'd appreciate the opportunity to watch those videos again.

Grace is the kind of kid who likes to be in charge, and appreciates having a handle on what's going on, so I have to plan ahead.  "Your friends are coming over in half an hour. Would you like for them to play in your room or not?... No, ok, then please bring out five toys you'd like to play with together."  I guess that's kind of a Love & Logic technique, so I'm not throwing the baby out with the bathwater.  But problems arise when we don't dialogue through things, which brings us to last Monday when I had the audacity to start a quick batch of jam without her permission.

"...That's not fair. I hardly got any."

"Well, berries don't last long.  We need to use them or preserve them."  I handed her the small bowl of berries and went back to add some sugar to the pot.

"This isn't enough.  This is like nothing!  Why do you only think of yourself?"

Now I realize that she had a poor attitude, and many of you think I should have kicked into "discipline mode" right then, but I'd rather teach her how to communicate more respectfully by talking about why she felt that way.  Because the kid had a point.  When I have leftover produce I just make what seems logical to me, and often it's not necessarily something the rest of the family will be interested in eating.

"Grace, those are all the berries I can spare right now.  I'm sorry.  What would you suggest I make next time?"

"Just keep the berries plain, Mom.  That's how I like them." she whined.

"We can't, sweetie, they'll go bad."  I said, stirring the melting sugar into the berries.  "We have to preserve them somehow."

She was busy coloring for a few minutes, huffing and puffing a little, while I poured and pressed the hot, softened berries through a sieve and back into the cooking pot.  I put the pot back on the heat and dug around in the pantry to find a little pink box of Sure Jell Pectin.  Since I was only working with a few cups of berries, I didn't need the whole packet.  I mixed about a tablespoon of pectin into about two tablespoons of sugar while the berries and sugar came to a boil on the stove.

She finished the picture she was working on and said with an air of exasperation, "How about smoothies?  Could you just freeze the berries whole and then we could make smoothies for Abby and me?"

What a great idea!  I individually-froze many pints of strawberries last summer, why not blackberries?  I stirred the pectin-sugar mixture into the bubbling blackberry juice and said, "That's a great idea.  Next time we can do that."

A minute later the jam was ready to be poured into a clean one-pint mason jar.  And Grace was ready to show me the pictures she'd been drawing.  The tantrum was over, a battle not chosen, an opinion heard and an argument avoided.  I'm happy with that.

Plus, I had a fresh jar of jam in the fridge.  (It looks runny after a minute of boiling, but it jells in the fridge overnight.)

Tuesday evening when I decided to make Lemongrass Ice Cream again, I decided on a new variation:  Blackberry jam.  Sandwiched between Cats Tongues cookies.  Crumbled into Lemongrass ice cream.  With a caramel swirl.   (I know that's some weird punctuation placement, but I want you to get the full effect of each element.)

Jason doesn't like Lemongrass ice cream, but Grace and Abby and I do, so guess what, Grace, that blackberry jam wasn't just for me after all, was it? ...I'll pick my battles and leave that unsaid.

Grace, by the way, stated that she would prefer the ice cream without the caramel sauce.  Which got us thinking, maybe next time we'll figure out how to do some kind of cream cheese swirl instead of caramel.  Oh wouldn't that be good?

September 7, 2011

Okra Pickles and Jalapeno Carrots

The thing about making pickles is that you won't know how they turn out until you let them pickle, which may take a few days or weeks. We were impatient with our Dill Pickles and tried them the next day.  All four of us liked them.  And in this picky household, that might be a first.  They weren't too vinegary yet, crisp, with a strong dill flavor.

The other thing about making pickles (refrigerator pickles at least) is that it's a very quick way to preserve produce. 

Grace's favorite vegetable is okra.  She doesn't like it fried, but she thinks it's a real treat boiled or cooked with tomatoes and corn.  Go figure! This Saturday we tried pickling it for the first time.

I've been craving those jalapeno carrots that taco trucks serve, so I also pickled a jar of carrots with two jalapenos.  Lastly, I picked a cucumber from the garden, cut it in spears and added it to the original jar of dill pickles to replace those we'd eaten the night before.

Refrigerator Pickling Tips
Clean your jars and lids well in hot soapy water or in the dishwasher.
Use the freshest produce possible and clean it well.
Store refrigerator pickles in the refrigerator and eat within one month.
Pickling doesn't soften food, so it may be necessary to cook your vegetable slightly before pickling.
Some recipes advise that a brine should be boiled before pouring over the food (hot pack), and some don't (cold pack).
If you want pickles that will keep for winter, find a trusted canning recipe... or don't.

Pickled Okra
Flavored with dill, but you could add whole mustard seed, peppercorns, onions, etc. 

Clean okra well and cook in boiling water one minute to soften. Rinse in cool water to stop the cooking.  In a clean mason jar pack one sprig of dill, one peeled garlic clove and as much okra as will fit.  Top with almost a tablespoon of salt and fill the jar half full with apple cider vinegar.  Then fill with filtered water leaving a 1/2" of headspace.  Replace lid and refrigerate at least a day or two before eating.

Jalapeno Carrots
Be warned:  These can get spicy.  Serve as an edible garnish with Mexican food.  Use the onions as a pizza topping.

Scrub and peel carrots.  Cook in boiling water one to three minutes, then rinse in cold water.  Cut to desired size, large coins or thin spears.  Pack in a clean dry mason jar with 1 or 2 halved jalapenos, a couple sprigs of cilantro and/or Mexican oregano, a couple of onion wedges, a peeled clove of garlic and the juice of one lime.  Top with almost a tablespoon of salt, then fill with half apple cider vinegar and half water, leaving 1/2" headspace.  Replace lid and refrigerate.

September 2, 2011

Cantaloupe Frozen Yogurt

Have you noticed that cantaloupe has a really overpowering smell?  Or is it just overpowering to pregnant woman (which I am not) and people silly enough to store one under their desk at work after a lunch hour trip to the Wednesday farmers market?  It's very pungent and musky, and frankly, not very pleasant after being stuck with it for a few hours.


Late summer: Its peak season for melons of all types right now, as well as tomatoes, peppers, eggplants and cucumbers.  This week at the market I picked up four pounds of sweet peppers, a couple cucumbers, some green beans and some purple beans, a bunch of cilantro, a bunch of super thin green onions, some nectarines, grapes and a couple of cantaloupes.

...And then I put them by the air conditioning vent under my desk, because I didn't want them to wilt in a hot car.  And every person who walked into the office got a funny look on their face and asked, "What's that smell?"

You'd think I'd be so sick of the smell of those melons that I'd stick them in the fridge and hope Jason and the girls ate them; but no, that overpowering smell somehow mingled in my consciousness with my recent ice cream obsession.

I had never heard of cantaloupe ice cream, so I googled it and I read a few recipes.  And then I decided to forego the ice cream custard-making and do frozen yogurt instead.  The tartness of yogurt pairs well with fruit and a batch can be completed in less than an hour.

I feel a bit silly sharing a recipe though, when what I did take some odds and ends from the fridge, and combine them in a blender with cantaloupe and yogurt to make a quick dessert.  The thing about an ice cream maker is that it not only makes ice cream, but frozen drinks and frozen yogurt and sorbet, too.  I imagine you could take any smoothie recipe, add a little extra sweetener and churn it into a rather wholesome dessert.  Nowhere near as decadent as homemade ice cream, but as time-consuming either.

Cantaloupe Frozen Yogurt
Amounts are approximate. With the coconut, lime and ginger this has a tropical-floral flavor.  If you're missing an ingredient or two, improvise and let me know what you come up with.
Makes 1 quart.

Blend together:
1/2 a ripe cantaloupe, peeled, seeded and cubed (yielding approximately 2 cups cubes)
1/4 cup coconut milk (Use the rest of the can to make this or this.)
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
the juice of one lime
1/4 cup sugar, plus a glug of honey
1-2 tablespoons tequila (optional)*
Add and blend once more:
1 1/2 cups plain whole milk yogurt
Churn in ice cream maker according to manufacturer's directions.  Transfer to a storage container and freeze.

*I added the tequila because alcohol is supposed to make homemade ice cream or frozen yogurt freeze not-so-hard.  Out of the ice cream maker the yogurt was soft.  An hour or two later it was perfect and the next day it was hard as a rock.  (Let it sit 10 to 20 minutes before scooping and the texture is fine.)  So maybe the tequila didn't do anything for the texture, but I think it may have brightened the flavor a bit.  Take it or leave it.

September 1, 2011

Refrigerator Dill Pickles

One year I pickled green beans.  I did the whole water bath canning thing, and then I didn't like them.  Too vinegary.  I ended up dumping out at least six pints of Dilly Green Beans. All that effort wasted, not to mention all those beans!  So I haven't been very interested in pickling with a water bath since then.  But sometimes I like a good homemade pickle.  For smaller amounts of produce, making pickles and refrigerating them, without the water bath, with the intention of eating them within one month, is quick and simple.

Last night I used what was left of a bunch of dill with four cucumbers (two homegrown, two from the farmers market).  I cut the cucumbers in thin spears, stuffed then in a one-quart jar with the dill, and then poured over a mixture of cup water and one cup apple cider vinegar with 1 tablespoon kosher salt.  The jar was pretty full of cucumbers, so I had most of the liquid left over. 

I used the leftover pickling liquid to make a jar of something like chimicurri:  pickled sweet peppers, cilantro, parsley, garlic, onion, lime juice, black pepper and olive oil.  I love this as a crunchy, vinegary topping to grilled meats.