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Showing posts with label Flavor of the Month. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Flavor of the Month. Show all posts

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

TWD & Flavor of the Month: Two for the Price of One

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Since this week's TWD assignment was an ice cream recipe AND happened to fall at the same time as this month's Flavor of the Month installment, I decided to combine them and give you two for the price of one. Oh, who am I kidding! I did it to save myself the time and trouble of writing a separate post for each. It's Summertime, people! Who wants to be chained to the kitchen when the sun is shining brightly in a sky that's bluer than blue? Besides, there just wasn't room or one more quart of ice cream in my freezer. So, today you're getting a SGCC 2-for-1 special. And, it is pretty special. Today, we're all about Dorie's Honey Peach Ice Cream selected by Tommi from Brown Interior.

Living in Florida, it can be hard to tell when Spring rolls into Summer without looking at the calendar. One sure sign for me is the arrival of stone fruits in the markets, especially peaches. Around this time of year, peaches are everywhere, from the farmer's markets to the grocery stores to the roadside stands that dot the sides of our streets. These ripe, juicy orbs of sweetness just beg to be dressed up as cobblers, compotes, crisps and of course, ice cream. I was only too happy to oblige!

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Dorie's recipe calls for fresh peaches to be cooked down in a honey bath. I decided to roast my peaches with a honey shower instead. I really love the extra sweetness and caramelization that roasting the fruit imparts. To roast the peaches, cut them in half and remove the pits. Place them face down on a baking sheet and sprinkle them with sugar or drizzle them with honey. Then, bake them for about 30 minutes in a 400 degree F. oven until soft and gooey. An added bonus is that the skins just peel right off.

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For this ice cream, I used a wild lavender honey that I happened to have on hand. I also decided not to add the peach chunks to my ice cream, because I really don't like icy chunks of anything in my ice cream. Another change I made was to add a couple of tablespoons of peach liqueur to my ice cream base. This not only adds extra flavor, but it also helps to prevent the ice cream from getting too hard in the freezer. Immediate scoopability is very important when it comes to ice cream. When you've got something like this scrumptious Honey Peach Ice Cream waiting in your freezer, who wants to wait for it to get soft? It's called instant gratification, baby!

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I toyed with adding a raspberry swirl to this ice cream, but Mini SGCC nixed that idea! She said it would overpower the delicate honey-peach flavor. She was right. I did, however, use some of the ice cream to make some grown-up Honey Peach Ice Cream Floats. For this, I poured some champagne and peach liqueur into glasses and "floated" a scoop of the ice cream on top of each. They made a refreshing, summery, cocktail treat!

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If you'd like to make this creamy and delicious ice cream for yourself, you can find the recipe on Tommi's site. And, as always, you can check out the Tuesdays with Dorie site to see what the rest of the TWD gang did with this recipe.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Flavor of the Month: Matcha Fro Yo

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I decided to mix it up a little for this installment of Flavor of the Month. Instead of ice cream, I've made you an unbelievably delectable frozen treat: Matcha Frozen Yogurt. I know you're gonna love it!

Yogurt has always been one of my favorite foods. Why wouldn't it be? It's smooth, creamy, delicious and nutritious. Ever since I swirled my spoon into that first container of Dannon Strawberry Fruit on the Bottom yogurt as a kid in the 70's, I was hooked. Then, came Yoplait. You didn't even have to stir that kind! Plus, it sounded so French! I knew it had to be something special.

Of course, now that I'm older with a much more sophisticated palate, I've expanded my horizons on the yogurt front. I love to cruise down the dairy aisle at Whole Foods and try out all of the different brands. My absolute favorite is the Canadian company Liberté's Méditerranée Yogurt. It's a rich sundae-style (fruit on the bottom) yogurt that is quite simply the most delicious fruit yogurt I have ever eaten. It is difficult to find here in the States, and I usually have to special order it. Another yogurt that I really love is Fage Total Greek Yogurt, especially with some luscious orange blossom honey drizzled on top!

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As much as I adore yogurt, one thing that I've never liked so much is frozen yogurt. Around the same time that Dannon and Yoplait were gaining popularity in the U.S., companies like TCBY started jumping on the bandwagon with their so called "frozen yogurt" products. The rationale behind it was that since yogurt was looked upon as a health food, frozen yogurt was a healthier alternative to other frozen desserts, namely ice cream. Good concept, but crappy tasting product - at least as far as I was concerned.

What I found most offensive is that no frozen yogurt I had ever tried tasted remotely like yogurt at all. Enter Pinkberry, Red Mango, Sunni Bunni and the like, which represent the new wave of gourmet frozen yogurt. These products carry a premium price tag, but the ones I've tried actually taste like yogurt. Really, really, really, good yogurt!

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And guess what? You can make your own incredible frozen yogurt that tastes even better than those uber premium brands mentioned above. And, it is ridiculously simple to do!

The basis for this recipe came from my favorite ice cream guru, David Lebovitz. In his book, The Perfect Scoop, he shares several super easy recipes for homemade frozen yogurt that I have made almost weekly for the past year and a half. David makes his fro yo with nothing but yogurt, sugar and natural flavorings.

For my Matcha Frozen Yogurt, I've done the same, using thick, Greek-style yogurt, sugar and Japanese matcha, which is the finely ground powder of the highest-quality, most revered part of the shade-grown green tea plant. Traditionally used in the Japanese Tea Ceremony, matcha can also be found used as a flavoring in sweets, pastries, cakes, shakes, ice cream, and alcoholic beverages. It has a kind of faintly grassy taste that somehow marries well with sweets. When churned into frozen yogurt, it morphs into clouds of delightfully tangy, subtly earthy frozen perfection. Another bonus of matcha is that it's known for having phenomenal antioxidant properties as well as many other health benefits. It is also the loveliest shade of green you'll ever see!

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Matcha Frozen Yogurt
(Printable Recipe)

4 cups Greek-style yogurt
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons matcha green tea powder

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix until well blended. Refrigerate several hours until thoroughly chilled.

Freeze in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions.

Store in the freezer until it reaches your desired firmness.

Makes about 1 1/2 quarts.

Enjoy!

Previous Flavor of the Month entries:

Toasted Coconut-Sesame Brittle Ice Cream

Pomegranate Chocolate Chunk Ice Cream

Monday, March 16, 2009

Flavor of the Month: POM Wonderful Pomegranate Chocolate Chunk Ice Cream

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Okay, so I know that I missed doing a Flavor of the Month entry last month. Unfortunately, I was still stuck in that damn ankle cast at the time and I couldn't really get around yet, so I had to skip it. Thank goodness the ankle has healed up nicely and I'm back in business. It will still be a few more months before I can get back out on the tennis court, but at least I'm mobile again!

A few weeks ago, I was contacted by POM Wonderful about sampling their 100% Pomegranate Juice. I'd seen the juice at the supermarket many times, but had never tried it before. So, I gratefully accepted the offer and did a little research.

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It turns out that pomegranate juice is not only a tasty drink, but boasts many health benefits as well. Pomegranate juice is loaded with antioxidants - about three times more than are found in green tea or red wine. Antioxidants help to guard the body against the substances that can cause premature aging, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, cancer, and lots of other diseases or health conditions.

POM guarantees that their product is 100% authentic pomegranate juice with no sugars or other additives. They grow, juice and bottle all of their own fruit. There are no middlemen. And, POM's juice is made exclusively from the Wonderful variety of pomegranates, which is considered to be the best of over one hundred different varieties. Another great thing about POM is that theirs is the only pomegranate juice guaranteed to come exclusively from fruit grown in their own sunny Central California orchards.

Within a week, a case of cute little bottles of pomegranate juice arrived. I drank one chilled over ice and I really liked it. That juice was good stuff! Then, I started thinking about some different ways to use it. Since I was also trying to decide on an ice cream recipe for this month's Flavor of the Month, the two ideas converged and this Pomegranate Chip Ice Cream was conceived.

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I had never made an ice cream base using just juice as a flavoring ingredient before. I was worried that the ice cream might not set up properly, or that it might be icy. So, I decided to reduce the juice with sugar and turn it into a thick syrup before I added it to my other ingredients. Making a pomegranate syrup is super simple. All you do is mix the juice and sugar with a little lemon juice, bring it to a boil and keep it simmering until it reduces to the thickness you want.

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Once my POM juice had reduced into a lovely, thick, intensely flavorful syrup, I let it cool to room temperature. Then, I prepared the base for the ice cream using the syrup, cream, milk and cornstarch. Once the ice cream was churned, I stirred in the chocolate chunks and a few tablespoons of pomegranate liqueur. I did this not only for extra flavor, but also to keep the ice cream from getting too hard in the freezer. If you don't have access to this liqueur, you can use another flavored liqueur or plain vodka. You can also leave it out entirely.

The end result was an ice cream that was very creamy and smooth, although the pomegranate flavor was not as pronounced as I thought it would be. It certainly didn't have that sharp tang that the juice had. Perhaps, it would have retained more of its bite if I had made a frozen yogurt instead. I liked it. It just wasn't exactly what I was expecting. The bittersweet of the chocolate chunks played well against the mellow, laid back fruitiness of the ice cream. I think I would consider this ice cream one for the grown ups. It didn't have that "in your face" sweetness that many ice cream flavors have. It was subtle and sophisticated. Perfect with a cup of after dinner espresso.

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POM Wonderful Pomegranate Chocolate Chunk Ice Cream (Printable Recipe)

Ingredients:

2 cups bottled POM Wonderful Pomegranate Juice
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons pomegranate liqueur such as PAMA (optional)
3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped into small chunks

Directions:

Combine pomegranate juice, sugar and lemon juice in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir until sugar has completely dissolved. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer over medium heat for 30-40 minutes, or until juice has reduced to about 1 cup. It should be the consistency of syrup.

Remove from heat and allow to cool for at least 30 minutes. Syrup can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

Heat the milk in a saucepan over medium heat to warm it up. In a bowl, whisk the cornstarch and cream together until smooth. Add cream mixture to the saucepan and stir. Heat while stirring until mixture begins to boil.

Remove from heat and continue to stir for a few minutes. Pour the mixture into a bowl and let cool for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently to release the steam. Stir in the pomegranate syrup and salt.

Refrigerate for several hours or overnight, until well chilled.

Once chilled, freeze the mixture in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions.

When ice cream has finished churning, scoop it into an airtight freezer container. Stir in the liqueur, if using and the chocolate bits. Freeze until desired firmness is reached.

Makes approximately 1 quart.

Enjoy!

Past Flavor of the Month entries:

Toasted Coconut-Sesame Brittle Ice Cream

Here are some other great recipes using Pom Wonderful:

Pomegranate Lamb Tagine with Preserved Meyer Lemons from No Recipes

Pomegranate Glazed Pork Chops from the Adventures of Kitchen Girl

Pomegranate Palmiers from Cakespy

Cornish Game Hens with POM Pomegranate Glaze from Fotocuisine

Pomegranate Lemon Panna Cotta from Use Real Butter

Pomegranate and Blood Orange Sorbet from The Recipe Girl

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Flavor of the Month: Toasted Coconut-Sesame Brittle Ice Cream

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Greetings and welcome to the first installment of Flavor of the Month, a new feature here at SGCC! A few weeks ago, in my New Years post, I asked you all for suggestions and ideas on how to improve this blog. I wanted to know what you all wanted to see here. I was touched to read so many comments saying that you loved SGCC just as it is and not to change a thing. I actually got a little verkempt! However, change leads to growth, and I really do want to grow, both in my writing and in my cooking.

Several of you gave me some excellent suggestions for tweaks I could make - some relating to technical issues and some to content. I intend to take each into consideration, so keep your eyes peeled over the next several months.

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There was one comment that really stood out to me, and this is the one I chose as the winner of The Flavor Bible. The comment was submitted by Brilynn from Jumbo Empanadas. I chose Brilynn's comment because she hit on two points that had already been lurking in the back of my mind.

Brilynn said "...as far as ideas for SGCC, I like your Dinner and a Movie Theme, you could perhaps turn it into a blogging event? Or maybe you should just make more ice cream... that drunken cherry ice cream is fabulous. You should have an ice cream at least once a month."

Bingo!

I'd been thinking about the best way to implement my Dinner and a Movie idea for months, and had considered trying to make a blogging event out of it. I'm still working on the details, and as soon as I'm ready to unveil it, you'll be the first to know.

I had also been thinking about incorporating more ice cream recipes into SGCC. Since I live in Florida, my family and I are lucky enough to be able to enjoy ice cream year round. And trust me, we do! Doing a monthly ice cream feature was a perfect idea! So, on the 15th of every month I'll reveal my Flavor of the Month.

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This month's Flavor of the Month is Toasted Coconut Sesame Brittle Ice Cream. It's a riff on one of my favorite Haagen Dazs flavors of the same name. Freshly toasted coconut and buttery sesame brittle are mixed into a smooth and rich coconut ice cream base. It's crunchy and creamy and chewy all at the same time. It's also utterly sublime!

My inspiration for the coconut ice cream base came from the cookbook, Delicious Days by popular blogger, Nicky Stich, by way of the supreme ice cream master himself, David Lebovitz. It is a Philadelphia-style ice base, made without eggs. Instead, heavy cream is simmered with coconut milk and palm sugar. After chilling, the base is churned into luscious mounds of silky coconut bliss.

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The recipe for my sesame brittle came from Gale Gand. I have to admit, I was a little apprehensive about making it. We all know my track record with caramelizing sugar! But, I reeeeeeallllllly wanted to use sesame brittle and couldn't think of anywhere close by to buy some. So, I sucked it up and made it myself. And, it turned out great! The first time!!!

Now, I have to stop and take a moment here to wax poetic about this brittle. It. Was. Amazing. Seriously! I couldn't stop eating it! I'm not even a huge fan of sesame anything, but this brittle just blew me away. I'm telling you, people, even if you decide to never try this ice cream, do yourself a favor and make the brittle. It is THAT good!

By the way, I just realized that this is also my 200th post! Woo hoo! I didn't realize that I was such a chatterbox!

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Toasted Coconut-Sesame Brittle Ice Cream (printable recipe)
Makes approximately 1 quart

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups heavy cream
2 cups coconut milk
4 ounces palm sugar or 1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons coconut rum
1 cup sesame brittle, broken into small shards or pieces (recipe follows)
1/2 cup toasted coconut*

Method:

In a medium-sized saucepan, bring the cream, coconut milk and sugar to a boil.

Reduce the heat and simmer for about ten minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat, add the rum and chill the mixture thoroughly.

Once chilled, freeze in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's directions. Once churned, stir in the sesame brittle and toasted coconut and freeze until firm.

*To toast coconut, place in a small skillet over medium-high heat, and shake or stir until golden brown. But, be careful. A few seconds too long, and the coconut will start to burn!

Sesame Brittle

Ingredients:

Vegetable oil
1/2 cup water
2 cups sugar
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 cup light corn syrup
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 cup toasted sesame seeds
1 teaspoon baking soda

Method:

Generously oil an 11x17 sheet pan with vegetable oil.

In a medium-sized heavy saucepan, combine the water, sugar, cream of tartar and corn syrup and bring to a boil over medium heat. Using a candy thermometer, boil the mixture until it reaches 340 to 350 degrees. The color should be deep golden brown.

Remove from the heat and whisk in the butter, then mix in the sesame seeds and baking soda. Pour the mixture onto the oiled pan and spread it out a bit with the back of a wooden spoon, to about a 1/4-inch thickness. For thinner brittle, place a silpat on top and roll to desired thickness while it's still warm. Let brittle harden, uncovered, in a cool place for at least 30 minutes.

When completely cooled, break the brittle into pieces and put in a zip loc bag. Crush into tiny pieces with a rolling pin. Store in an airtight container.

Enjoy!