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So we’ve been busy. Really busy. Busy as in I can’t remember the last three months of my life busy. Busy as in I can’t really remember when I last cooked or what I might have made.
Actually, I’m not sure that I remember how to cook, to be honest. We didn’t eat too poorly during the last few months. Carlo cooked some good stuff, but we relied heavily on our stuffed-to-capacity freezer. I also used the blender a lot. If it wasn’t in the freezer or I couldn’t whiz it together in the blender, we didn’t have it. Wooden spoons, spatulas, pots and pans languished in their drawers while I whirred fruits and nut butters together with milk. I’ve had a LOT of smoothies.
No, this isn’t high-style eating. My mouth is bored, I admit it. But a nice smoothie makes up for a lot of ills. The following is very, very nice.
Blueberry-Vanilla Almond Butter Smoothie
I like this smoothie because I don’t have to add any sugar to sweeten it. The blueberries taste bright and light, and the almond butter is discernable but not overpowering. I suppose you could use milk instead of vanilla soymilk, but then you’d probably need to add some extra sugar.
1 cup frozen blueberries
1-2 tablespoons almond butter
1 cup vanilla soymilk
Blend. Drink. Go to work. Repeat.
For the past two years, good mornings in the SiS household have hinged on two drinks. One is coffee. The other is Hanne’s genius invention: The Peanut Butter Banana Smoothie. Yeah, you’ve seen it around, but Hanne came up with it first. It might be SiS’s most unoriginal original recipe, but the other PBBS recipes you’ve seen online are all gross.
SiS’s PBBS is more milkshake than globby smoothie. Don’t worry, it’s all illusion. Frozen bananas only seem to turn into ice cream when blended with milk. It’s a healthy drink. Protein from the peanuts and milk. Calcium… Bananas… they’re good, right? One morning I put leftover whipped cream on top, which was awesome. But I digress…
So first, you’ve got your frozen bananas. Buy lots. Peel them, split them in half and freeze. Second, you’d better use real peanut butter. Don’t make this with the sugary pretend stuff. You need to use the creamy, chunky, pain-in-the-ass natural peanut butter that takes some stirring before use. Sucks, but it’s worth it.
TIP: get as big of a jar of real peanut butter as you can so that you don’t have to do this too often. Spatula the PB out into the bowl of a stand mixer. Use the dough mixing attachment (the curly spike). Once the machine’s done the work for you, spatula the PB back into its jug. Refrigerate it or it’ll separate and you’ll have to mix it again.
So how to? Combine two banana halves, a cup or so of milk, a generous spoonful of peanut butter, a dash of vanilla and blend. Don’t overcomplicate your morning by measuring. If you must, the recipe’s below. Experiment with proportions until you get the taste and consistency you like. The only way to mess this up is to use bad milk (guilty) or accidentally blend a loose blender seal into the drink (again, guilty). Otherwise, this drink is idiot proof.
SiS’s Peanut Butter Banana Smoothie
1 frozen ripe banana, halved
1 cup milk
3 tablespoons REAL peanut butter
1-2 teaspoons vanilla
1. Put stuff in blender and blend.
AND, if you have a blender that blends in the same cup you drink out of, then there’s hardly any mess. Unfortunately, the only product I know that does this is the Magic Bullet. It’s cheap and also built cheap. We’re on our second machine in two years. I had to plug my ears while running the last one, which is why it didn’t make the cut when we moved from Montreal. I hope another company that makes good blenders copies Magic Bullet’s single cup style and I hope that happens before the Tasmanian devil busts out of our appliance. Man dies from Magic Bullet shrapnel?
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.
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.
There was some talk a few months ago about Vosges’ new bacon-flavoured chocolate bar. When I first heard about it, I immediately started imagining the smoky saltiness of good bacon buried in smooth, rich chocolate. I went on chocolate-search alert. Unfortunately for me, I saw neither rind nor rasher of it. But I kept imagining those flavours. Last month, when I was contemplating–again–how much I love my ice cream maker, it suddenly hit me! If bacon works in a chocolate bar, why can’t it work in ice cream? I wrote the idea down, which is why for weeks, visitors have been puzzled by the note on our fridge that reads “Bacon-Choco Ice Cream.”
In my imaginings I always pictured dark chocolate, so when I started recipe planning, it was with something much darker than the milk chocolate Vosges uses. Our base recipe comes from Kate Zuckerman’s incredible cookbook “The Sweet Life.” (go. buy it. you won’t regret it.) In her recipe for dark chocolate sorbet, Zuckerman explains how the starches in chocolate absorb water at certain levels of heat, becoming incredibly creamy. I figured this was the way to go, as I couldn’t quite imagine the bacon bits nestled into a custard base. Maybe I’m wrong about this. Next go-round, anyone?
So. We had the concept of the base down. The bacon was next. I decided to candy the bacon so that it wouldn’t clash with the chocolate. I dipped the bacon in sugar and baked it until it was crispy. Then I mixed it into the incredibly rich, creamy, delicious chocolate sorbet. Quick note–this sorbet is an absolute must-try, bacon or no bacon. In her intro to the recipe, Zuckerman says that people are always shocked that the sorbet has no dairy. There’s a reason for this. Go look at the picture at the beginning of this piece again. Ignore our sub-professional photo skills and instead look at the sheen. It’s a thousand times silkier in the mouth than it even shows in the photo.
The chocolate sorbet with the bacon mixed in, however, is a whole different experience. Because the bits are mixed in after the sorbet, they don’t change the initial flavour or or silkiness at all. However, once your mouthful of chocolate has melted a bit, you get a little bacony, salty crunch. We liked how the salt cut through the heaviness of the chocolate, and how the smoky bacon flavour melted into the last vestiges of the rich chocolate at the end of every bite.
-Make sure your bacon is diced small. I was a bit lazy and left some larger bits (like 1/4 inch), and those few interfered with rather than complimented the chocolate.
-The candied bacon was beautiful coming out of the oven, but in hindsight we weren’t sure we needed to candy it. Maybe it was a cowardly move? You tell me. Next time, I might try just frying it up nice and crisp and mixing it in without the sugar protection.
– This is obviously not going to work with just any bacon. We got our smoked bacon from Porcmeilleur, at the Jean-Talon Market, but there are a few places around Montreal that might be worth trying. I think maple-smoked bacon would be delicious in this.
-If you don’t own an ice cream maker, I discovered that the base for this sorbet thickens into a beautiful silky puddingy mass in the fridge. So you can still play along. After you’ve prepared the sorbet base, ladle it into individual serving bowls and place them in the fridge. In a few hours, they will be thickened to a pudding consistency. Then, if you want to get in on the bacon, you could sprinkle the candied bacon on top.
-Use the best cocoa powder you can justify, as it is really the flavour base for this sorbet. Carlo went all crazy and insisted on Valhrona cocoa powder. It was <ahem> $13 for 250 grams, but WOW is it amazing.
DARK CHOCOLATE BACON CRUNCH SORBET
for the sorbet, adapted from The Sweet Life by Kate Zuckerman
3/4 cup plus 1 tbsp. sugar
2 1/4 cups water
3 tbsp. corn syrup
6 oz. dark chocolate (we used two Valhrona chocolate bars, one 55% and the other 66%)
1 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
for the bacon
app. 8 slices of bacon (more or less depending on the meatiness of your bacon)
1/2 cup white sugar
Chop the chocolate into small pieces and combine it with the cocoa, which you have sifted into a medium stainless steel bowl.
On the stovetep, combine 2 1/4 cups water, sugar and corn syrup. Bring the mixture to a boil and then remove it from the heat.
Whisk 1/3 of the sugar syrup into the waiting bowl of chocolate. The chocolate will make you nervous at first, as it seizes a little. Add another 1/3 of the syrup, whisking all the time. By the time you add your last 1/3 of sugar syrup, the mixture should be smooth and silky. Continue whisking this mixture for about five minutes, until you think it’s smooth and silky. If you notice any chunks of cocoa in your sorbet base, you can pass it through a fine-mesh strainer. Cool the mixture over an ice bath (fill a bowl larger than the one your base is in with ice cubes and water. Place your bowl inside the icy bowl, and continue to whisk it until it is cool). Place your base in the refrigerator to cool completely and thicken. Zuckerman recommends at least four hours.
While your sorbet base is cooling, prepare your bacon. First, preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Next, coat your bacon slices with sugar. I did this by pouring a small amount of sugar onto a plate and then pressing the bacon into it. Next time, I might try just sprinkling it over the bacon, like this method. Place the bacon on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and bake it for 8 minutes. After 8 minutes, remove it from the oven, and turn it over, baking it for another 8 minutes. Keep a close eye on it, because it burns fast. When the bacon is done, remove it from the oven and allow it to cool before dicing it into small pieces. You should have about 1/2 cup of bacon bits to add to your sorbet. If you have any extra, reserve it for garnish.
After the sorbet base has cooled for a few hours, freeze it in your ice cream maching according to manufacturer’s instructions. It is done when it has gained volume and it holds the marks of the stirring mechanism, like stiffly-whipped cream. Now you have to work quickly. Remove the sorbet from your machine to a storage container, quickly stirring in your bacon bits in batches as you fill the container. Store your sorbet in the freezer for a couple hours to harden it. Or, if you’re like us, just ignore the last instructions and eat super-soft sorbet.
|From http://www.supperinstereo.com’s Album|
Welcome to the new! motivated! supper in stereo. We’re taking a kick in the posterior from NaBloPoMo, which in actuality will probably just mean a bunch of uninspired posts as I grope for topics to fill a-post-a-day-for-a-whole-month. Think about this. We signed up for a blog in June, and since then we’ve put up nine posts. I am now proposing to our (by now disgusted, alienated and non-existent, which is a feat considering that they’re our friends and family) audience that we will delight and entertain them with thirty posts in the next thirty days. Math’s not my thing, but that’s got to be about a 460 percent increase in posting frequency. And no, please don’t go check my calculations. I told you math’s not my thing.
And! To make the kickoff to our marathon even a little more unlikely, I’m offering you an inappropriate recipe. This is November, right? Time to settle into your armchair with a bowl full of something rich and spicy, time to savour the last days of fall before we all put on our snowpants. Well, I know that exactly what you all don’t want after your delicious beef and butternut squash stew is some refreshing, tangy, summery dessert. But that’s what I’m offering.
But you know, I think I’m going to stop apologizing for unseasonal choices. This lemon frozen yogurt is delicious; while it is refreshing (if refreshing could ever possibly be a bad thing anyway), there’s a bit of creamy richness to it that made me feel okay about curling up with a bowl of it in front of the television this evening. The full flavour of the yogurt (please use the good full-fat kind) is a good contrast to the in-your-face tang of the lemon, and the whole thing is tempered by milk and rounded out by a bunch of sugar. The best part? It only took me a few minutes to get the whole thing thrown together, and everything came straight out of our fridge and cupboards, no preplanning or errand-running necessary.
LEMON FROZEN YOGURT
1 1/2 cups milk
1 1/2 cups yogurt
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup lemon juice
When Grey’s Anatomy goes to commercial break, toss the milk, yogurt and sugar into a food processor or blender. Whirl it all together until the sugar’s dissolved. After you’ve measured everything out, your show’s probably back on. Go watch it. When the next break starts, add the lemon juice, and pulse it through once more. If you can get this all done in the space of one commercial break, great! Your ingredients are probably all still nice and chilled. Pour your mixture into an ice cream machine, and operate it according to manufacturer’s instructions. It will be ready before your show is over.
P.S. Dear probably-non-existent blog audience. I’m sorry if the next month contains pictures of our cats. Thirty days is a lot of recipes. And our cats are cute.