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photo by Tony Lynch

Hanne and I having built up our reputations as cooks sometimes pays off! Or we’ve at least convinced some people that we know enough about food that they humour us by asking us to make stuff for them. And sometimes they pay for the expensive ingredients, which is, in case you were wondering, the payoff.

Buy this book

My brother purchased himself a tin of matcha for 30 bucks. 30 bucks! His request was green tea ice cream. We used David Lebovitz‘s recipe, word for word. It worked perfectly and you can find it HERE. If you are one of the people out there that we’ve convinced to buy an ice cream machine and it’s since been relegated to your never-used single-use appliance cupboard, then buy this book and get your freezer bowl back in the freezer.

photo by Tony Lynch

This turned out to be the best green tea ice cream I’ve ever had. Or made. Or Hanne made. Or whatever. My brother, when my Mom asked him if it was the best green tea ice cream he’s had said, “yeah, it’s good.” Maybe it was the victim of extortion talking (30 bucks!!?!). Let it be known that when he tried making green tea ice cream himself, he used brewed green tea. Brewed tea! So the lesson here is not to damn cooks with blogs with faint praise or their small world of readers will find out that you suck and that when you worked in a kitchen and dropped a knife you tried catching it by the blade. Anyway, thanks for the photos, little brother!

Also, to the chocolate bacon sorbet skeptics: Lebovitz has a candied bacon ice cream, so we’re either not the only ones who know what we’re talking about or who are disgusting.

I have something to tell you. Up to now, this blog has been decidedly positive. We tell you how much we love a food item, give a little run-down on why we like it, maybe give a glowing description and a couple preparation suggestions. Then you get the recipe. This is good. And positive. Everything’s all right here at Supper in Stereo.

But here’s my confession– I’m not generally sunny. I’m a whiner, a complainer, a look-on-the-dark-side kind of person. I complain about my job, curse the cloudy weather, call my cat stupid.

Actually, I only did that last one once. And I felt really bad afterwards.

I’m working on it, I am. But sometimes Carlo’s and my self-imposed exercise of listing three good things that happened every day ends up sounding something like this: Today is over. I survived today. I can go to bed now. This, my friends, is not positive.

Sometimes when you’re busy feeling grey like this, food falls by the wayside. Oh, we still eat, of course. But cookies turn out tough and floury, soup tasteless, meat dry. And we dutifully shovel it in, to get enough energy to slog through another day. January and February are especially bad when you live in a wintry climate. We’re lucky to get one sunny day a week and the rest of the days are plodding and overcast. They’re not even grey, they’re just… nothing.

Have you had enough yet?

Then listen: every once in a while, even I have to poke my head up and say “wait, this is pretty good.” The other night, Carlo and I were contemplating a beautiful pan of chicken parts scattered with chunks of lemon and rosemary that we were about to roast (the recipe was yet another gift from my generous aunt and uncle, and I’ll pass it on to you soon). It was gorgeous, even uncooked, and we could tell just by looking that it was going to be delicious. Carlo said “man, we have it pretty good.” And I agreed.

I had another moment like this the other night, standing in the kitchen, sticking my tongue out while I took a paring knife to the skins of our last Meyer lemons. I was sticking my tongue out because I was concentrating on only getting skin and not pith, so that the mini batch of limoncello that I was preparing wouldn’t come out with any bitterness at all. To be honest, the task of carefully peeling thin-skinned lemons isn’t really all that fun. I was tense and my shoulders were aching. But at the other end of the counter, Carlo was preparing a batch of one of our favorite ice creams. He was talking himself through the steps, pretending to host a cooking show (sample instructions: “…then you take a thing… or a spoon… and you move the stuff in the bowl around with it.” Sample banter: “I’m okay! Do you like me? You’re okay!”). If I wasn’t concentrating so hard, I would have been giggling. Carlo finished preparing his ice cream, and I finished peeling my lemons (it took me 30 minutes for four lemons– that’s dedication). Then Carlo put his ice cream into the ice cream machine and I put my limoncello in the cupboard to steep.

It’s just a little jar, mind you. I only had four lemons left (and incidentally, the more-than-half-empty bottle of vodka on our bar had the exact right amount of alcohol left, which was a nice coincidence). When the limoncello’s finished, it will be enough for a few sips, not much else. But I still like knowing that it’s sitting in the cool darkness of our cupboard, getting more and more delicious, waiting for us. You can steep your limoncello anywhere from two weeks to four months. I’m leaving mine there for all of February. We’ll see how I feel come March.

I’ll let you know how the limoncello turned out in a couple months. And Carlo’s ice cream? It was perfect, perfect. Life is good and we are lucky. I just don’t feeling like talking about it.

BROWN SUGAR SOUR CREAM ICE CREAM

We follow the recipe for brown sugar sour cream ice cream from Mercedes at Desert Candy faithfully. The last few times, we’ve used panela instead of brown sugar, just because I found panela in the store and felt that it needed to come home with me. I highly recommend this variation, as the panela has a great intense smoky, molassesy flavour. However, you MUST try the original recipe as well. It’s great! I love the addition of bourbon to the mix, but you could easily leave it out and still have a great ice cream. Plus there’s no custard to fiddle with (Farhan, I’m thinking of you…).

LIMONCELLO

If you want to make limoncello, here’s the recipe I used. I used vodka, as it’s what we had around, but if you can find a grain alcohol, that would probably be better. The linked recipe makes a huge amount, but I scaled it to the following proportions:

4 lemons, preferably unsprayed and unwaxed
350 mL vodka or grain alcohol
1 1/4 c. water
1 1/3 c. sugar

Wash and dry the lemons, then peel them. Place them in a mason jar with the alcohol. Make sure the lemon is fully covered. Put the mason jar in a cool, dark place, shaking it once a day. Leave this for at least two weeks, but I’ve read you can go up to four months.

When your lemon concoction has steeped to your satisfaction, it’s time to sweeten it. Bring the water to a boil and add the sugar. Stir until the sugar has dissolved, then remove from the heat and allow to cool. When the mixture is room temperature, put a strainer over the saucepan that’s holding the sugar syrup and strain your steeped lemon mixture into the sugar syrup. Combine the liquids well, then place the mixture back into a mason jar. Put the mason jar back into your cupboard and repeat the first process, shaking twice every day for about three weeks.

Finally, after all that time, it’s ready to taste! The Washington Post recommends storing your limoncello in the freezer, where it will turn a milky yellow.

WASTE NOT!

By the way, I juiced the lemons after I peeled them and boiled the juice with sugar in a 1:1 ratio to make lemon syrup. You could use this syrup to make lemonade, or you could pop in a vanilla bean and do a bit more fiddling to make something like this (which looks super-lovely).

One of the things about food blogging is that if you don’t eat well, you don’t have anything to say. So far, this has proven to be an advantage for us– I don’t want strangers to write me off as a food-loser, so I step up and perform. Usually. However, there’s a flip side. If you aren’t eating well, your blog ends up covered in pictures of robots (I’m sorry I keeping linking back to us. Is it weird to link to yourself?).

And frozen pizza? You’re not supposed to know we eat those kinds of things. And if we do tell you, we’re not supposed to tell you it’s not good. We should be eating gourmet frozen pizzas, maybe made by hand by an Italian nonna and shipped directly to us from Naples. Certainly we shouldn’t be eating robot pizzas. At least Carlo’s drawing turned out well. I like the robot. Check out his ice cream cone hat and his pizza-slice hands. He’s an Italian for sure.

Yesterday’s dinner may have been an eating low point for us, but the dessert didn’t let us down. I got the idea for a Guinness ice cream in the comments thread at another blog (sorry, I don’t remember which one–this is how you know you read too many blogs). Our favourite Montreal brewery occasionally has a special stout that Carlo is particularly fond of– a Chocolate Vanilla Stout. Thus, in thinking about Guinness ice cream, I came to Chocolate Stout. Now, the triumphal part is the thing I didn’t really consider before we tasted our first bite. Stout is a malty drink. So the end result here is a creamy, malty, sweet concoction that tastes like chocolate malt all dressed up for grownups. Don’t you love it when you hit on genius by accident?

I can’t wait to try this recipe again. Next time I make it, I might tweak the proportions to see if I can make it more ice cream-y. As is, it has almost the exact same consistency as the chocolate malts I remember from fast food restaurants (Wendy’s!). Mine turned out quite light, and not very custardy, as I used 1% milk and few egg yolks. I think you could use half and half, for example, or another egg yolk could be added to make a thicker custard base. The chocolate bar we used was Lindt “Noirissime,” with 99% cocoa. We used very little, just enough to add a chocolate flavour, and it added no sweetness. Next time, I might try a sweet chocolate and maybe dial back the sugar just a little. This is delicious as-is, but I can’t wait to see what else I can do with it! Let me know if you have any ideas.

STOUT CHOCOLATE MALT ICE CREAM
Makes approximately 1.5 quarts

1 bottle of stout (341 mL, 12 oz)–I used an Oatmeal stout from McAuslan, a local brew, but feel free to play around with your options here
1 tbsp. cocoa powder
1/2 vanilla bean
2 cups heavy cream
2 cups milk
3/4 cup sugar
5 egg yolks

Bring the stout to a boil in a small saucepan, and boil it until it thickens (maybe to 1/2 its original volume), 15 mins. or so. It might froth up. If it does, take it off the heat for a few seconds before replacing it on the burner. When the beer has reduced, allow it to cool for a few minutes and then whisk in the cocoa powder. Split the vanilla bean and scrape the seeds into the chocolate/beer. Drop the scraped pod in too, and set it all aside to steep.

Prepare an ice bath by placing ice cubes and water into a large steel bowl. Set the bowl aside.

Prepare the creme anglaise. Whisk the egg yolks in a bowl. Combine the cream, milk, and sugar over medium heat in a small saucepan. Bring the cream just to a boil, then whisk it in a slow stream into the egg yolks. When the yolks are combined with the cream, pour the mixture back into the saucepan and put it back over medium heat. Cook it, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens and coats the back of your wooden spoon.

Strain the creme anglaise into a medium steel bowl through a fine mesh strainer. Strain the beer mixture into the bowl as well, discarding the vanilla pod. Whisk the beer and cream mixtures together, then cool your ice cream base by placing the medium steel bowl into the larger prepared ice bath. Cool the mixture by stirring it for about five minutes over the ice bath. At this point, you can freeze the mixture immediately (at this point, it will be slightly less smooth. It also tastes great–I know, because we almost always are too impatient to wait), or chill the mixture further in the fridge until you are ready to freeze it.

Canadian Thanksgiving was a few weeks ago, so we’ve already gone through the eating. We were lucky not to have to prepare our dinner ourselves. Instead, we ate dinner with our favourite food friends and their family. They cooked for 18 people (sorry guys, if I got the number wrong. If it was more, the idea remains the same– impressive), and all that we had to do was the pie. So on Thanksgiving Sunday I was in my kitchen rolling out pie crust for six pies– and pleading with and cajoling and cursing at the pastry. In the end, it turned out okay, but as I was making the pumpkin pie filling, my mother’s classic recipe, Carlo mentioned that it would taste good frozen. That’s how our ice cream was born.

Growing up in Canada, I always celebrated Thanksgiving twice. My parents, Americans, collected an assortment of American friends who came over every year to celebrate the US holiday. Now that I’m across the country and planning my own feasts, I think I’m going to hold on to this idea. It’s like having a test run. Or two Christmases.

If you’re looking for an alternative Thanksgiving idea, I offer you these pastry bites. The ice cream on its own is divine. I modified my mother’s pumpkin pie filling recipe (if you’re interested in the original filling, let me know. The proportions and ingredients are nearly identical to this one, but the technique for preparation is a little simpler) to create a rich custard base in which the typical, warm pumpkin spices steeped. After the spices were steeped in, I added some pumpkin puree and bits of candied ginger. The result is a smooth, cool base warmed up by cinnamon, ginger, and cloves, with a bit of extra texture from the pumpkin. The candied ginger is optional, but I like the chewy zing that it offers.

However, this ice cream popped into a cream puff (profiterole) take the whole thing over the top. The buttery, eggy puff is a nod to pie pastry without the necessary fiddling and rolling. Julia Child says in Mastering the art of French Cooking that once you have the profiterole technique down, it’ll take you no more than 30 minutes to get the puffs assembled and into the oven. This is an excellent recipe to have in your arsenal, because you can use it in a million different ways. When I was a little girl, my mother used to make these and fill them with whipped cream. My brother and friends have also filled them with Bailey’s whipped cream. As Julia Child notes, you can also make a savoury version (for example, my friend makes them with cheese). Finally, ANY kind of ice cream goes inside profiteroles beautifully, and their nubbly, puffy tops are perfect receptacles for caramel or chocolate syrup. Next time I make these, I’m considering a ginger caramel syrup to go on top of the puffs. Ooh… I’m hungry again.

PUMPKIN PIE ICE CREAM
makes about 1 litre (1Qt.)

2 cups heavy cream
3/4 cup sugar (I used brown sugar, but white sugar would work fine too. Depends on the flavours you’re interested in)
5 large egg yolks
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ginger
1/4 tsp. cloves
pinch of nutmeg (optional–I never add it)
1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree (homemade or canned; just make sure not to buy premade pumpkin pie filling)
1/2 cup candied ginger, diced small (optional)

To prepare the custard:

-Whisk together the egg yolks, salt, cinnamon, ginger and cloves in a small bowl until they’re well-blended. Set them aside.
– Warm the cream and sugar in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring frequently. Bring it almost to a boil (the surface will begin to ripple), but do not allow it to boil, or else it will cook your egg yolks. When the surface ripples, remove the cream from the heat.
-Temper the egg yolks by pouring 1/2 cup of the hot cream mixture into the yolks, whisking them constantly. Pour the tempered yolk-cream mixture back into the sauce pan, again whisking constantly.
-Put the saucepan back over medium heat and stir it (yeah… still constantly) with a wooden spoon until the mixture has thickened into a custard. DO NOT ALLOW IT TO BOIL. You’ll know it’s done when the custard coats the back of the spoon without running. (Here’s an image)

To prepare and freeze the ice cream:

-Strain the custard through a fine-mesh strainer into a medium stainless-steel bowl. Stir in the pumpkin puree and mix well.
-To cool the mixture, fill a large bowl with ice cubes and a bit of cold water. Place the bowl with the ice cream base into the larger bowl and stir the custard for about five minutes to chill it. At this point, you can be quick and not-so-gourmet and freeze the base immediately (which we often do with our ice creams). The base, as long as it has been chilled over the ice until it’s really cold, freezes well and has a good texture. Your second alternative, to chill the ice cream base in the fridge for 4-24 hours is a better choice, as it yields a slightly creamier texture. The choice is yours, but honestly, if you haven’t got much time, don’t worry. Freezing immediately works just fine.
-Last step: freeze the ice cream in your ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions. When the mixture is done, turn it quickly into a steel bowl that has about half the candied ginger in it. Working quickly, sprinkle the rest of the ginger on top and stir it all in before transferring the ice cream to a storage container.
-It’s best to freeze your ice cream for at least a few hours to firm it up before eating it.

FOR PROFITEROLES
recipe adapted from Mastering the Art of French Cooking, for 10-12 puffs about 3 inches in diameter.

1 cup water
6 tbsp. butter
1 tsp. sugar
pinch of salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
4 large eggs, plus one extra for glazing the tops of the puffs

-Preheat your oven to 425
-In a small saucepan, boil the water, salt, sugar and butter until the butter is melted.
-Remove the saucepan from the heat and immediately pour in all the flour. Stir vigorously until the flour is incorporated and the mixture pulls away from the sides of the pan.
-Put the saucepan back over medium heat and continue stirring the flour mixture until it begins to form a film on the bottom of the pan.
-Remove the saucepan from the heat and make a well in the centre of the flour mixture. Break an egg into this well and beat it in until it’s well-incorporated. Do the same with the next egg, continuing until you’ve used up all the eggs. Beat the pastry for a little bit after all the eggs have been incorporated, to ensure everything is holding together well.
-Drop the pastry onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. The puffs should each be about 2 inches across and 1 inch high. Space them about 2 inches apart.
-Beat an egg in a small bowl with a fork. Brush a light coating of beaten egg over the tops of the puffs to help them get super-golden.
-Bake the puffs for 20 minutes, turning them halfway to ensure they brown evenly.
-After 20 minutes, turn down the oven to 375, and continue to bake the puffs for another 10-15 minutes, until they’re golden and crusty.
-Take the puffs out of the oven and make a little inch-long horizontal slit in the side of each puff. Then put them back in the turned-off oven, with the door a little ajar. This will help them to dry out inside, so they’re not soggy.

MINI FROZEN PUMPKIN PIES (or as Carlo calls them, PUMPKIN PIESCREAMS)

Cut the puffs in half after they’ve cooled. Empty out the moist insides with your fingers, then fill the puffs with a scoop or two of pumpkin ice cream. If you’ve got whipped cream, please use it. Add a little dollop on top of the ice cream before replacing the cap of the profiterole. If you’re feeling really decadent, consider a glug of caramel syrup on top of it all.

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