Friday, September 30, 2011

Salted caramel ice cream

I was wandering through the "blue ribbon" top-ranked recipes on the other day, looking for an interesting dessert to cap off a dinner party, and there it was. Salted. Caramel. Ice cream. Yes!

This recipe is awesome. I realize that's an inelegant description but it feels the most accurate. The texture is exceptionally smooth and creamy. And while you can taste the salt humming in the background, it's predominantly sweet and very decadent; a one-scoop portion was just right. I whipped up a little homemade hokey pokey to crumble on top, which I highly recommend. (But I eated it all before I took a picture. Sorry. Well, not really.)

How cute is my ice cream scoop? It used to belong to my grandfolks.

Like many of the reviewers I increased the amount of salt, so I've modified the recipe to reflect that below.

1 1/4 cups sugar, divided
2 1/4 cups heavy cream, divided
1 tsp flaky sea salt, I used cute pink Murray River salt
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup whole milk
3 whole large eggs

Pour 1 cup of the sugar into a small dry pot and cook over medium heat, swirling often, until it's completely melted. Stirring causes the sugar to form crystals, so mix by swirling only. If you see or smell any smoke and burn the sugar, start over. Once it's all melted and amber, pour in 1 1/4 cups of the cream and cook, stirring now, until all of the caramel dissolves into the cream. Gourmet warns that the caramel will splatter when you add the cream, which had me all freaked out and chicken about it, but mine didn't splatter whatsoever. Have no fear. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the salt and vanilla. Allow to cool.

Pop the pot back onto the stove and combine the milk with the remaining cup of cream and 1/4 cup of sugar over medium heat, stirring often, until just to a boil. Whisk together the 3 eggs in a large bowl and temper by whisking in a couple of spoonfuls of the hot milk mixture, then pour all the eggs into the pot and allow to cook until the custard coats the back of a spoon (about 170 degrees). Don't let it boil. Strain custard into the pot with the caramel cream and mix until homogenous and delicious. At this point, I actually strained it again because it wasn't completely smooth, and then it was perfect. Your mileage may vary.

Refrigerate overnight or until completely cold, then freeze according to your ice cream maker's directions. This took longer than usual to me, and as the recipe warns, it will still be pretty soft when it's done. Transfer to an air-tight container and freeze overnight before serving.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Saumon aux lentilles with mustard-herb butter and roasted butternut squash

 As it is so marvelously healthy, I'm always looking for new things to do with salmon. This quick little French dish has been on my list for quite a while. Such a while, in fact, that the chives I originally bought to make it had turned to slime while neglected in the back of the fridge (merde!) and I had to use scallions.

Lentils are an ingredient I'm trying to use more frequently. Legumes in general, really. These cute little green French lentils have great texture and cook in just half an hour.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Provencal tomato soup with rice

I've previously stated that there is no finer way to eat a tomato than salted on toast with a little smear of mayonnaise, and I stand by that. However, this soup is pretty damn tasty too.

When I think of tomatoes, I think of Italy. Mario Batali never cooks with fresh tomatoes, he only prepares them raw or very nearly raw. In all of his soups and sauces, he uses canned San Marzanos. There's a Mark Bittman recipe I plan to try this winter that actually has you roast canned whole tomatoes in the oven for a bit before making the soup, which sounds really good, but Central Market still has mounds and mounds of gorgeous fabulous fragrant local tomatoes... I just couldn't pass up trying to make a soup with them. Guidance from the Italians seeming out, I turned my attention to the French.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Arroz con pollo

Please forgive the bastardization of this classic Spanish recipe. Most of the time I strive for authenticity in my kitchen, but in this recipe, I was going for quick and easy. I use very few pre-packaged "convenience" food products. I prefer to soak my own beans, never ever use canned processed vegetables, and it has been many a moon since I've enjoyed a box of neon orange Mac and Cheese. This stuff is one of the rare exceptions.

It's so perfectly spiced, I just don't think I could improve on it in this application. And besides, we all need a break once in a while. Put those 17 bottles of spices back in the cabinet and grab a packet of Mahatma Saffron Yellow Rice.