Sunday, September 30, 2007

Gianduja Gelato with Stracciatella

I remember every so often when I was younger, my parents would buy a jar of Nutella. What a special treat! I would spread it on bread and enjoy a Nutella sandwich. So delicious. This ice cream, another one from The Perfect Scoop, is kind of Nutella-esque. I used pre-chopped hazelnuts because that's all I could find. I discovered that my local Walmart carries Green & Black chocolate bars, so I used their milk chocolate which is 34% cocoa. This was delicious - just the right mix of hazelnut and chocolate. I made stracciatella out of Baker's bittersweet chocolate because that's all I had. I usually use Baker's for cakes and brownies and it has been fine, but for melted chocolate it wasn't that good. I think I'll use Ghirardelli bittersweet from now on. I just layered the stracciatella into the ice cream as I put it into it's container, but I think next time I'll try to mix it into the ice cream maker towards the end of churning. This one is more labor intensive that the other ice creams I've made, but it is a nice treat for every now and then.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Pad Thai

There are no good, cheap Thai restaurants in the Tri-Cities, so I decided to take matters into my own hands and learn how to make pad thai. I've tried making it before but it just turned out bad. Then I found this recipe on how to make authentic, beginner level pad thai. I used white sugar instead of palm sugar, green onions instead of chives, and skipped the optional stuff because I knew my husband would not eat pickled turnips and dried shrimps. I used the fish sauce with the three crabs on it, which is a lot better than the other fish sauce I have tried. I bought a cheap wok from Walmart (it'll do) and cooked this up after seasoning the wok.

I was very happy with how this turned out. Since this was the first time I had cooked with a wok I didn't quite fry the tofu long enough - they started to look brown but they did not get crispy. But overall the flavor was very good, it was quick, and a lot less oily than I have had it at some Thai restaurants. Great pad thai and I will look no further for a recipe.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Rhubarb-Strawberry Crisp

We got rhubarb in our CSA basket last week - I've never cooked with it, so this was an adventure. I've only had rhubarb once and I didn't like it - it was a strawberry rhubarb pie and it was way too tart. But I needed to use it, so I found this recipe and made this crisp tonight. I used orange juice instead of orange liqueur but otherwise stuck to the recipe. It was delicious - just the right balance of sweet and tart. Call me a rhubarb convert! My culinary world has just expanded.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Homemade Pizza and Roasted Banana Ice Cream

We had friends over last night to watch football. My team played miserably (Oh, Bears... when will we ever get a good QB?) but at least we had good food.

My husband's mom used to make homemade pizza when he was growing up, and his sister gave us the recipe. It's pretty easy since you just used frozen bread dough for the crust. I have heard about this famed pizza for many years, so I was a little nervous about measuring up... but my hubby thought it was great. Here's the recipe:

Linda's Homemade Pizza

2 frozen bread dough balls (I just used the Kroger brand)
Canned pizza sauce (I used the Walmart brand)
Toppings of your choice (I used red onions, red and green peppers, fresh sliced mushrooms, mozzarella, and oregano)

Place the frozen dough into a waterproof plastic bag and immerse in hot water until thawed. Lightly coat a 9x13 baking pan with cooking spray. Shape the dough to fit the pan, then let rise until the crust is about 1.5 inches high or so. Preheat the oven to whatever temperature the bread directions recommend. Bake the crust for about 15 minutes until the dough looks reasonably cooked. Remove the pan from the oven and increase the temperature to 400 degrees. Top the crust with pizza sauce and your chosen toppings and place back in the oven until it looks cooked, about 15-20 minutes. Voila! Homemade pizza.

I was just in a homemade mood yesterday. I also made fresh tomato salsa, and I had made roasted banana ice cream (again from The Perfect Scoop). I think if you like banana pudding, you would like this ice cream. We topped it with homemade fudge sauce - also a recipe handed down from his side of the family. In celebration of his gastronomic heritage, I will share that one too:

Auntie Frannie's Hot Fudge Sauce
2 squares unsweetened chocolate
1 stick butter
2 cups powdered sugar
5 oz evaporated milk
1 tsp vanilla

Melt chocolate in a double boiler. Mix all but vanilla together and heat until well blended. Add vanilla.

Oh so good. All good things start with a stick of butter.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Goat Cheese Ice Cream

I know that to most people, goat cheese ice cream just doesn't sound that appealing. Well, it didn't sound that appealing to me either when I first saw the recipe in The Perfect Scoop - but when we got a little baggy of goat cheese in our CSA basket, into the ice cream maker it went! David Lebovitz describes it as tasting like cheesecake. I disagree. The taste was... interesting. Now, if you like the taste of goat cheese, you will probably like this ice cream. But I am not a big fan of goat cheese; I was just hoping that adding milk, sugar, and eggs to it would make it taste good. Alas, it still tasted goat-y to me. A little honey and toasted pecans did dress it up a little, but I don't think I'll be making this one again. Maybe I would try a different recipe that uses less goat cheese, like this one, instead.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Strawberry Frozen Yogurt and Mocha Sherbet

I love having an ice cream maker. It's so fun to make this stuff at home. This week I made two recipes from David Lebovitz's The Perfect Scoop, which I now have renewed twice at my library - I should probably just buy the book already. I made the strawberry frozen yogurt today - I used Dannon plain yogurt. I liked it as much as I liked his strawberry sorbet which I made before; my hubby likes the creaminess of the frozen yogurt better. Maybe next time I will try straining the yogurt to make it a little richer.

Earlier this week I made his mocha sherbet. This is the first one of his recipes that I wasn't that crazy about. Part of it was my fault since I used stale coffee. We aren't coffee drinkers, so the ground coffee I bought last fall for my in-laws when they visited us has been sitting in our cupboard since then. So I kind of knew that the taste might not be so good... but I was kind of hoping that my coffee naive palate wouldn't notice. Anyway, I didn't really like the texture, regardless of the flavor. It was a little too icy - which I should have expecting since it is just coffee, sugar, milk and cocoa powder. Well, four out of five winners from one cookbook ain't bad!

Friday, September 14, 2007

Vegetarian Black Bean Chili

It's just starting to feel like fall down here in Tennessee, so I thought that chili would be a nice dinner for a cool, rainy night. This is one of our favorite recipes - nothing fancy, just a good, healthy chili. I'm made this one before, but I made a few alterations to the recipe this time. I used dried beans because they were cheaper and I don't like filling landfills with tin cans (our city doesn't recycle them - what gives?). I simmered two cups of dried beans in water for about an hour. One cup of dried beans equals about two cups of cooked, and a 15-16 ounce can of beans yields about 1 1/2 cups of beans when drained. While those were simmering I sauteed a few yellow and red onions, one red banana pepper, one green bell pepper, and the garlic. The only change I made to the spices was using one tablespoon of chili powder instead of two. Once the beans were soft enough I combined them all together in a large pot, and added one can of whole tomatoes (cut up with a pair of kitchen scissors in the can) and most of a 16 ounce can of tomato sauce. We topped it with shredded cheddar cheese. Delish! And so healthy.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Spaghetti with Tomato and Roasted Pepper Sauce

Made this one up as I went along tonight. We got a boatload of tomatoes and bell peppers in our CSA basket this week, so I used a bunch of those. I sauteed a diced yellow onion and some minced garlic in olive oil, then threw in some fresh diced tomatoes (they looked like big red and yellow striped Romas... no idea what kind they were). I added some red wine vinegar, dried oregano, basil, marjoram, salt, and pepper and then let that simmer for about 10 or 15 minutes. In the meantime I cut up a few green and red peppers, tossed them in some olive oil, and then broiled them in the oven for a few minutes and then threw them in the sauce. I added a little bit of sugar just to see if it made any difference (I couldn't tell). This was pretty good, not outstanding but a quick weeknight meal - and it definitely beats using Walmart brand spaghetti sauce any day.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Black Bean and Tomato Quinoa

Made this for dinner tonight. I really like quinoa. It has a great texture and flavor; some people substitute couscous for it in recipes but I think quinoa's flavor is way more interesting. I used yellow tomatoes and skipped the cilantro because we didn't have any. I also used olive oil instead of vegetable oil. I used dried black beans instead of canned but, surprisingly, I actually like canned better. This was a great, healthy meal. It makes enough for two for dinner plus enough leftovers for a lunch.

Malted Milk Ice Cream

After reading about David Lebovitz's Malted Milk Ice Cream on the Amateur Gourmet's blog, I was intrigued. I had to make it. I had never bought malt powder so I had to do a little searching for that - finally found it at Walmart in the coffee aisle. This was very, very tasty. Also very, very rich. I think maybe I would try it with whole milk instead of half-and-half to make it a little less rich. This definitely benefited from a day in the freezer - the malted milk balls were a little less crunchy and the flavors melded a little more.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Mango Sorbet

Ooh. Mango sorbet. I have always had a weakness for mango sorbet. I used to buy pints of Haagen Daz mango sorbet during college and I would eat about a quarter of a cup at a time so that I could enjoy it as long as possible. Once, I came home from a long day of classes and went to the freezer to enjoy a little bit of frozen mango goodness. I took the pint out of the freezer and the realization came upon me that it felt much lighter than it should have. My roommate, who apparently subscribed to the "if it's in our apartment, it must be meant for sharing" philosophy of roommating, had eaten some of my precious sorbet. Needless to say I was not that happy with her. Now that I look back at it, it was rather ridiculous of me to be mad at her for eating a dollar's worth of sorbet, but it seemed totally rational at the time.

I made yet another David Lebovitz recipe this week, this time his mango sorbet. His recipe calls for rum, but I skipped that because we don't have any. It was still out of this world delicious. Such an intense mango flavor, and much more texture than store-bought sorbet. And it makes enough that if someone ate a serving without my permission, I would still be friends with them.

Mango Sorbet
2 large, ripe mangoes
2/3 cup sugar
2/3 cup water
4 tsp freshly squeezed lime juice, plus more to taste
Pinch of salt

Peel the mangoes and cut into chunks. Put mango chunks, sugar, water, lime juice, and salt in a blender and puree until smooth. Taste, then add more lime juice if desired. Chill the mizture thoroughly, then freeze in your ice cream maker.