Espresso Ice Cream

I recently had the awesome opportunity to work as an intern in the prep kitchen for a James Beard Award winning restaurant group.  I know, pinch me, I’m a lucky woman.  I will definitely write more about that experience, and share some of the many pastry items I made, but first since it’s summer, let’s start with ice cream.  I made several ice creams during my 4 week residency.  Two of my absolute favorites were Popcorn Ice Cream. Yes, you read that correctly.  And Espresso Ice Cream.  Both were made using a traditional cream base then whisking in egg yolks, cooking them to temperature, then using an ice cream machine.  Velvety smooth result.

Since I don’t have one of those big hunky things in my home, I searched for easier ways to bring home the flavor, and make my hubby happy. He loves ice cream, and devoured both those flavors when I brought home samples.
In researching homemade methods, it seems that without using an ice cream machine, most recipes eliminate the yolks. Just as well.  No yolks. No stress. Without the eggs, the whole process is much easier, since tempering the eggs, then cooking them slowly is a lengthy and delicate process. In a split second you can end up with scrambled eggs. (Although, then you would have a complete breakfast - espresso right inside your scrambled eggs.) 
A no egg ice cream is just as yummy and 10 times easier.  I think we can all agree that making our lives simpler is a good thing. Believe me when I say, I am always looking for more efficient ways to do anything. (As a matter of fact, during my time in the kitchen there, I came up with a different ways to punch donuts. And they were gracious enough to let me reorganized the menu books.  Reorganized the utensil and gadget areas.  And were open to a suggestion on assembling the coconut cakes. I am an efficiency junky.)  So, let's get right to making this eye opening Espresso Ice Cream, shall we?  Just in time for the 4th of July weekend.

Ingredients

2.5 c whole milk
4 c heavy cream
1 c sugar
1 t vanilla
4 T instant espresso , diluted
pinch salt

 But a few ingredients, and all mixed together.  You can't get easier than that, my friends.

But a few ingredients, and all mixed together.  You can't get easier than that, my friends.

Instructions

Mix all the ingredients in a mixer.  Whisk until combined. I diluted the espresso powder with a couple tablespoons of warm water. 

 Pour in the cream and milk

Pour in the cream and milk

 Sugar

Sugar

 Espresso and vanilla.

Espresso and vanilla.

 Whisk it all together.  Seems silly to show you but I have a thing for telling a story with images.

Whisk it all together.  Seems silly to show you but I have a thing for telling a story with images.

For the next step, there are a few different methods to get it to soft ice cream state. Some people eat the ice cream at that stage. It seemed a bit too soupy for me. Mine went into freezer so the mixture to get to a harder consistency. I split my batch into two so I could use two methods for comparison. (Experimentation is hard work but I'm willing to do it for you to bring the best results. Who I am kidding? The end result was ice cream!!)

Shake Until Your Arms Scream Method:
The first method I used was the plastic bag method. I poured the liquid in a quart plastic bag, and doubled the bag to prevent leakage. Then placed that bag into a gallon plastic bag with 4 T coarse salt and 4 cups of ice cubes.  Sealed and vigorously shook it for 10 minutes. This was a work out for sure. I never knew how long 10 minutes lasted until my arms screamed out, "Is it ice cream, YET?" Once thickened, I poured the semi soft ice cream into a container and placed in the freezer to allow it to harden more. 

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That version seemed tiring, so I was thrilled that the other method was much less strenuous. 

The Lazy, Just Freeze It Method:
I continued to whisk the mixture until it thickened.  Then I place it in a glass loaf pan with plastic wrap covering the surface to prevent freezer burn. Then surrounded by ice and placed in the freezer. My arms thanked me.  However, I forgot to continue to mix it every 1/2 hour or so as was suggested, but it seemed to freeze up just fine.  So this is truly the lazy way, all benefits version.

Here are a few videos for you to watch.

Ice Cream in a Bag

Ice Cream without Machine

Freeze and Whisk Method

In the end, everyone seemed to love both versions. So you pick. 

  • Work out with benefits. 
  • Or straight up benefits.

Either way, this ice cream will get you raring to go. Other huge benefit ...bringing joy to your loved ones.  I know it did mine.

 JuanCarlos trying to eat with moderation.

JuanCarlos trying to eat with moderation.

 Espresso ice cream scoops

Espresso ice cream scoops

 My handsome husband enjoying a bowl of espresso ice cream with his other latest favorite, red wine from Châteauneuf-du-Pape.

My handsome husband enjoying a bowl of espresso ice cream with his other latest favorite, red wine from Châteauneuf-du-Pape.

Happy 4th, and summertime fun!

 

Asparagus - Loved 3 Ways

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Asparagus. The tall green trees of the vegetable forest. They are cousins to broccoli; the shorter, fuller shrub like relative. But trees, all the same. I love these tall beauties all on their own, just as much as when mixed in with other vegetables. I love asparagus grilled, or sautéd, roasted or steamed.  It's safe to declare that I simply love them.  

I guess all that love started a want.  How can I include these more often but with flair.  That's when I began flirting with ways to enhance these long, earthy stalks. A simple addition of one or two extra items is all that was needed. Once I did, they went from average vegetable side dish, to a 'stand out, move over' dish. It doesn't take much to make them shine brighter.  Here are three ways, but I don't need to tell you that there are countless others. 
On tap today:

  1. Quail Eggs, Shallots

  2. Goat Cheese, Lemon Zest

  3. Chorizo & Caramelized Onions

 Long, tall, green. Like cypress trees swaying in the wind.

Long, tall, green. Like cypress trees swaying in the wind.

 Asparagus, chorizo, caramelized onions, goat cheese, lemon, shallot, quail eggs.

Asparagus, chorizo, caramelized onions, goat cheese, lemon, shallot, quail eggs.

The first time asparagus arrived at my enhancement clinic, I made hard boiled eggs, quartered them, steamed the asparagus, scattered some thinly sliced shallot then drizzled the entire dish with balsamic vinaigrette and served them as an appetizer.  My latest upgrade;  swap the big ole chicken egg for their diminutive cohorts, the quail egg, I must admit I loved it even more.  The quail eggs are petite and deliver a more delicate touch.

Asparagus with Hard Boiled Eggs & Balsamic Vinaigrette

 When cooking the quail eggs, drop them in boiling water for only 2 minutes, then into a bowl of cold water, and peel. This amount of cook time and cold water shocking provides soft yolk perfection.

When cooking the quail eggs, drop them in boiling water for only 2 minutes, then into a bowl of cold water, and peel. This amount of cook time and cold water shocking provides soft yolk perfection.

The next time asparagus showed up for some freshening up, I grilled them, let them cool slightly then crumbled goat cheese along their bristled tops, let it rain lemon zest and drizzled a red wine, lemon shallot vinaigrette.

Asparagus with Goat Cheese & red wine, Lemon shallot Vinaigrette

 It's truly as simple as adding goat cheese, lemon zest and drizzling with a red wine shallot vinaigrette. This ain't brain surgery, I know but it does taste good to the brain, the taste buds and the belly.

It's truly as simple as adding goat cheese, lemon zest and drizzling with a red wine shallot vinaigrette. This ain't brain surgery, I know but it does taste good to the brain, the taste buds and the belly.

The third time the asparagus knocked at the refresh clinic, they were seeking a bit more intensity. So a good helping of sautéd chorizo and caramelized onions with just a drizzle of oil, coarse salt and pepper fit their request.

Asparagus with chorizo & caramelized onions

 Sauté chorizo and chop into small pieces, add caramelized onions and drizzle of oil.

Sauté chorizo and chop into small pieces, add caramelized onions and drizzle of oil.

 3 approaches. 3 ingredients.

3 approaches. 3 ingredients.

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In all these versions, I opted to oven roasted the asparagus. I preferred this method over steaming for this round.. You can prepare them to your liking. These are just three simple stories to tall tales of a stalky green vegetable. Of course, there are more tales to tell...

Asparagus in quiche.  Or salads. 
Use creamy sour cream mustard dressing or a blue cheese dressing
Asparagus tart
Grilled asparagus tossed with pasta

3 ways? Oh dear asparagus, stop by the enhancement clinic any day of the week, there are an eternity ways...

 
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Butter Lettuce with Orange, Blueberries & Crunch

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It's funny how some ingredients gravitate towards one another. Or maybe it's me that gravitates towards them. Either way, it's nice to meet up with refreshing ingredients. 

Such as Butter lettuce. I enjoy its soft, delicate taste.  And even though it is mild, it's not too precious that it can't handle some zing and crunch.

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Which is why I paired it with orange segments for the zing and seeds for the crunch, and blueberries just because.  Well, not just because. Everything should have a purpose, and these certainly do.  They provide yet another flavor level, adding the tart/sweet level to be exact.  I've made this salad a bunch of time (using nuts)  but the blueberries are a recent addition, as this salad hit the big time, this go around.

 Straight up sunflower seeds

Straight up sunflower seeds

 Bursting with a tart bite blueberries

Bursting with a tart bite blueberries

This is not a complicated salad, yet it is complex in flavors and textures that all mingle beautifully with a variety of proteins for the main meal. Such as steaks, grilled or roasted fish, pork or chicken.  Its flavors are mild enough so as not to compete, but bold enough to say 'I'm crisp and refreshing, so don't pass me up."  What more can you want from a simple salad? I, dare say, not much. 

So, when during my recent internship at a prep kitchen in Miami I was tasked with making a salad for family meal (that's when the entire staff eats lunch together), I thought this salad might fit the bill. I've always enjoyed it, and was hoping that my new found friends would like it, too.  What I didn't expect was that head Chef MJ liked it so much she decided to offer it at the café for a lunch special the following week.  If you could see my face you would see joy and pride, and a sense of ultimate validation. I guess this little salad of bold flavors and subtle notes from a delicate lettuce got its star on the big screen stage of eateries. 

 The line up.

The line up.

Ingredients
 

(Serves 6 as main or 8-10 as a side salad)

2 heads Butter, Bibb or Boston lettuce
3 oranges, segmented
1 pint blueberries
1/4 cup pecans, roasted, chopped or sunflower or pumpkin seeds
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
3 scallions, sliced
 

 

Dressing

5 t orange juice
4 t lemon juice
4 t lime juice
2/3 c olive oil
2 T cilantro, minced
1 T ginger, grated
2-3 crushed garlic clove
salt, pepper to taste

Instructions

Wash and completely dry the lettuce. Gently tear it into bite size pieces.  If you are using pecans, place them in a 300 degree oven for 5-8 minutes to lightly toast.  Or you can toast them in a pan on the stove.  If you are using seeds such as sunflower or pumpkin, you can toast them or not.  Segment the oranges over a bowl so you can catch all the juices and use for the dressing. Toss together the lettuce, scallions, onions, ⅔ of the orange segments, ⅔ of the pecans or seeds reserving the remainder to decorate the top of the salad.  Whisk together all the ingredients and lovingly pour over the salad and mix well.  Do not over dress the salad.  You just want it all lightly coated.  Then using the rest of the oranges and nuts decorate the top.

 You may notice some radicchio in this closeup shot. At the last minute, I added some to bulk up the salad because we had another person joining for lunch.

You may notice some radicchio in this closeup shot. At the last minute, I added some to bulk up the salad because we had another person joining for lunch.

This is a wonderfully, refreshing summer salad.  Or anytime salad.  I think it will brighten any BBQ.  Pair it with spicy ribs.  Pair it with grilled meats or sausages.  Pair it with whole roasted fish.  Go ahead, pair it with anything.