Archive for July, 2009

Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

July 22, 2009


I grew up on an island.  It sounds exotic, but it was anything but.  My island was a floating bridge away from Seattle and it was suburbia to the hilt.  It was safe and scenic, but it was also boring.  If you wanted to grocery shop, pick up your dry cleaning, eat bad Thai food, or check on your bank account, then you would never have had to leave the Island.  If you wanted any other kind of services – restaurants, shopping of any kind, movie theatres, you know…culture – then you had to head over the bridge to Seattle.

We did, however, have a Baskin and Robbins.  My mother, who is incredibly careful about her weight, actually has a serious thing for ice cream.  Most Sundays, we would head down to the shop and get my mom her Jamocha Almond Fudge while my brothers and I would get a scoop of our choice.  I always pretended to not be able to decide between two flavors so that she would say,”OK, you can get two scoops.”  Chocolate chip or mint chocolate chip were always in my bowl.  (I never did then, and I still don’t now, like eating my ice cream on a cone.  I’m a bowl girl.)


I’ve been on a bit of an ice cream making kick lately.  Since discovering the wonder that is homemade, I have been making up for lost time with my ice cream maker.  When I brought dinner to my friend with a newborn last week, the gnocchi and the broccoli, I decided to bring ice cream.  I know I have said before that you must bring a nursing mother brownies.  But that was before my ice cream making days and besides, it was too hot to turn on my oven that day.

In all my years of subscribing to food magazines and dutifully cutting out recipes and carefully taping those recipes into my notebooks, I know I have thrown away many a recipe for ice cream.  Before I got over my fear of using my maker, I just passed all those delicious recipes by.  I don’t fret though because I have The Perfect Scoop which is, in my and many others much more esteemed than myself’s opinion, the last word when it comes to ice cream.  I’m pretty simple with my ice cream tastes.  Something with chocolate in it, please.  However, as I go through this book, things that have never appealed to me suddenly sound good.  Rum raisin?  Sure, why not?  Fresh Apricot?  Let’s make it!

So far, I’ve kept it pretty simple.  This chocolate chip ice cream is tears-in-your-eyes sublime.  It’s just super incredible vanilla ice cream with shards of bittersweet chocolate running through it.  It’s a million times better than Baskin and Robbins.


Chocolate Chip Ice Cream
Adapted from The Perfect Scoop
Makes about 1 quart

This recipe is fairly simple, but read it carefully as you go.  The first time I made it, I followed it to the letter.  The second time, I had too many things going on in my kitchen and I forgot to add the milk to the custard.  Somehow, it still ended up being delicious.  Believe it or not, Costco is a great place to buy vanilla beans – they are incredibly affordable and very high quality.

1 cup whole milk
3/4 cup sugar
2 cups heavy cream
Pinch of salt
1 vanilla bean, split in half lengthwise
6 large egg yolks
3/4 tsp. vanilla extract
5 ounces bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate (not chocolate chips), chopped

Warm the milk, sugar, 1 cup of the cream, and salt in a medium saucepan.  Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean into the warm milk and add the bean as well.  Cover, remove from the heat and let steep at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Pour the remaining 1 cup cream into a large bowl and set a mesh strainer on top.  In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks.  Slowly pour the warm mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly, then scrape the warmed egg yolks back into the saucepan.

Stir the mixture constantly over medium heat with a heatproof spatula, scraping the bottom as you stir, until the mixture thickens an coast the spatula.  Pour the custard through the strainer and stir it into the cream.  Put the vanilla bean into the custard, add the vanilla extract, and stir until cool over an ice bath.

Chill the mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator.  When ready to churn, remove the vanilla bean, rinsing and reserving it for another use, and then freeze the mixture in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Meanwhile, melt the chocolate in a measuring cup in the microwave in 30-second intervals.  Remove from the microwave while there are still small chunks, the residual heat will melt those.  Right before you are ready to turn off the ice cream maker, carefully pour the warm chocolate in through the spout, avoiding the beater blade as best you can.  Turn off the machine and scrape any chocolate that has collected on the blade back into the bowl.  Either serve or scrape into a container and place in the freezer.

Heavy on the Veg

July 21, 2009


Here is something I must tell you…I love vegetables.  I know, big confession from a vegetarian, right?  But there is no rule that says you must love vegetables if you are a vegetarian.  After all, cheese is vegetarian – as is bread, pasta, chocolate, french fries…you get the picture.  But I am a card carrying member of the vegetarians-who-love-vegetables club.  The only one I don’t like is okra.

Once in a while, I want to make something really heavy on the veg.  Summer time is when it usually hits me.  I’m in the mood for something flavorful, but don’t want anything too heavy.  It just doesn’t feel right to eat a big dish of something rich when the sun is shining, the temperatures are soaring, and it’s light until 10.  On of those days, vegetables are where it’s at.


This recipe comes from one of my all-time favorite cookbooks, Vegetarian Suppers from Deborah Madison’s Kitchen.  It is a slim and modest volume, but there are incredible treasure inside.  I’ve used this book so much that some of the pages have torn away from the spine.  I made this dish a few years ago, made some notes in my book about changes I made, and was glad to have those notes last night.  At first glance, this may seem like an overly fussy recipe.  Lots of chopping and cooking things separately.  I actually streamlined a few things from the original and the recipe below reflects that.  Please trust Ms. Madison and trust me – any fuss is worth it.  What you will get is a perfectly cooked and perfectly seasoned bowl of seasonal and healthy goodness.


Oh…and that gorgeous Olive Bread off to the side in the photo?  You can find the recipe here.
One Year Ago:  Those amazing New York Times chocolate chip cookies

Asparagus Ragout
Adapted (with many changes) from Vegetarian Suppers from Deborah Madison’s Kitchen
Serves 4

The Beurre Blanc
1/4 cup white wine vinegar or Champagne vinegar
1/4 cup dry white wine or Champagne
2 tbsp. finely diced shallot
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 tbsp. cold butter, cut into small pieces

The Ragout
1 bunch rainbow chard, with stems
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Olive oil
1 small onion, finely diced
4 medium carrots, peeled and thinly sliced on a diagonal
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 1/2 pound asparagus, tough ends snapped off, cut into 2 inch lengths
1/2 pound snap or snow peas, trimmed
3/4 cup freshly shelled English peas
1 pound cremini mushrooms, wiped clean, and cut into quarters
8 ounces cheese tortellini, cooked according to package directions, and drained
2 tbsp. minced chervil, or a mixture of parsley and tarragon
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for serving

1.  To make the beurre blanc, put the vinegar, wine, shallot, and a pinch of salt in a small saucepan and simmer until only 2 tablespoons remain.  Turn off the heat and whisk in the butter piece by piece until it is all incorporated.  The sauce should be thick.  Season with a little pepper and set aside.  (This can be made several hours ahead and covered, at room temperature.)

2.  To make the ragout, slice the leaves off the chard stems, wash well, then cut into ribbons about an inch wide.  Trim the ends of the stems, then thinly slice.  Heat a large skillet over medium heat.  Add about 2 tbsp. olive oil, then the stems with a pinch of salt.  Sauté, stirring occasionally, for 4 minutes.  Lay the leaves on top (it may seem crowded at first) and continue stirring until the leaves wilt, about 4 more minutes.  Scrape out the pan into a large bowl and set aside.

3.  Return the same pan to the heat.  Add another few tablespoons of olive oil, then add the mushrooms.  Sauté until the mushrooms have browned nicely, then released and partially reabsorbed their juices, about 8 minutes.  Season to taste with salt and pepper and add to the bowl with the chard.

4.  Return the same pan to the heat.  Add another few tablespoons of olive oil.  Add the onion and carrots.  Cook over medium-high heat for a few minutes just to brown things a bit, then reduce the heat to medium.  Add the wine, let most of it sizzle away, then add 1 cup water and the asparagus.  Season with a pinch of salt, then lower the heat even more, cover, and cook until the asparagus and carrots are nearly tender, about 6 minutes.  Add the snap and English peas, cover, cook for another 3 minutes.  Add the tortellini, mushrooms, and chard.  Stir to heat through.

5.  Carefully stir in the beurre blanc and the herbs.  Serve the ragout in shallow bowls, garnished with a dusting of Parmesan cheese.

Gnocchi with Mushroom Sauce

July 19, 2009


Once upon a time, Randy and I were dating.  Once upon a time, I tried to dazzle him with my cooking, my yoga practice, my singing, and my smarts.  These days, my yoga practice has fallen by the wayside (not for long!), my singing consists of endless renditions of “The Wheels on the Bus” and “C is for Cookie”, and my smarts…well, have you heard of mommy brain?

I do still try to wow him with my cooking though.  Fortunately, I am a good cook and he is easily impressed.  Every time I make this gnocchi dish, I think of the first time I made it for my then boyfriend and now husband.  In a foreshadowing of how I would eventually conduct my personal chef business, I made most of the dish at home and brought it over to his house to finish it off.  I hauled in a baking sheet covered in flour and my first attempt at gnocchi (a favorite of his).  Separately, I brought over a sauce containing shiitake mushrooms (another of his favorites), and lots of sage.  I cooked up the gnocchi and placed them directly in the sauce, followed by arugula and a healthy handful of Parmesan cheese.  Delicious.

That was the first of many times that I made this dish, but the last time I made my own gnocchi.  In my mind, food is separated into three categories.  There is the “you can certainly buy, but you really should make yourself” category.  Things like salad dressing, marinara sauce, cookies and ice cream reside here.  There is the “you can certainly make yourself, but it’s OK to buy” category.  Things like artisanal bread and salsa live here.  Then there is the “oh, just buy it” category.  I put jam, puff pastry, and yes, gnocchi in that one.  Store-bought gnocchi has the right texture for me and it stores almost indefinitely in the pantry.  If you are the type who puts gnocchi in the “make it yourself” category, please be my guest and use your favorite recipe with this delicious sauce.


Gnocchi with Mushroom Sauce

Adapted from Bon Appetit
Serves 3-4

2 tbsp. butter
2 tbsp. olive oil
12 ounces fresh shiitake mushrooms, stemmed, sliced
1/2 cup sliced shallots
1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
2 tbsp. chopped fresh sage
3 cups arugula, chopped if leaves are large
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
1 pound potato gnocchi

Cook butter and olive oil in heavy large skillet over medium heat until butter begins to brown, about 2 minutes.  Add mushrooms and shallots and saute until golden brown, about 10 minutes.  Add stock and sage; simmer until liquid is slightly reduced, about 8 minutes.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to boil.  Add gnocchi and cook until most of them float to the surface, about 3 minutes.  Using a slotted spoon, carefully transfer the cooked gnocchi directly to the pan with the sauce.  Add arugula and stir until wilted.  Sprinkle with cheese and stir to combine.  Serve in shallow bowls with additional Parmesan.

“Blasted” Broccoli

July 17, 2009


Broccoli is my favorite vegetable.  I know, I sound so earnest.  I didn’t say it was my favorite food, just my favorite vegetable.  But I do love it so.

To be even more annoying, allow me to tell you that my favorite way to eat it is simply steamed, with a squeeze of lemon and a good shower of salt.  Cheesy sauces and gratins are all well and good, but not for broccoli.  Not for my broccoli.

A few months ago I was at a trendy bar in the Belltown neighborhood of Seattle called Black Bottle.  I was with some friends and we were trying to decide on some nibbles from what was a very appealing menu.  Our server told us we had to try the “blasted” broccoli which I scoffed at.  I know how I like my broccoli, thank you very much.  Over the course of the few hours we were there, I saw that very dish on almost every table in the place.

Recently, I came across the recipe for this same “blasted” broccoli in one of my food magazines.  I made dinner for a friend with a new baby a couple of nights ago, and wanted to bring a simple side dish.  I figured it was time to try this one.  I am totally smitten with roasted cauliflower, why not broccoli?

I’m here to tell you that roasted – it’s really great.  This is a good recipe, something to make when you want to make broccoli but want to dress it up a little bit.  The broccoli itself caramelized, much as cauliflower does, and the garlic gets nice and toasty too.  The whole dish gets a little kick from the red pepper flakes.  Want more kick?  Add more red pepper.  Just like roasted cauliflower, you will want to season this dish well and allow it time enough in oven to get nice and toasty brown.  UPDATE 1-18-12 – I’ve made this a million times since I posted about it and have also eaten it at Black Bottle.  I changed things around in the recipe and the one I posted below reflects those changes.


One Year Ago:  Green Goddess Salad with Romaine, Cucumbers, and Avocado

Blasted Broccoli

Adapted from Black Bottle
4 servings

1 1/4 pounds broccoli crowns, cut into florets (about 8 cups)
3 tbsp. olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
Large pinch of dried crushed red pepper

Preheat oven to 450°F.  Place broccoli in a large baking sheet.  Drizzle with the olive oil and then sprinkle with a large pinch of salt and a few grinds of pepper.  Roast 15 minutes.  Remove sheet from oven and sprinkle with the garlic and red pepper flakes.   Roast until broccoli is beginning to brown, about 5-8 minutes longer.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Serve immediately.

A Summer Tart

July 15, 2009


If you are a regular reader here, you probably know very well my love of chocolate.  The Dana Treat formula is simple:  dessert = chocolate.  But I know that not everyone feels this way.  My own husband professes not to like chocolate – at least that is what he says before he scarfs down whatever chocolate thing I have put in front of him.  Truly, his dessert taste does run to things like apple pie or lemon tart.  And in the summer, mine does too.

Don’t get me wrong, I love chocolate anytime, but something really rich on a hot night just doesn’t sound right.  I needed to make something for an impromptu gathering last Friday and I struggled because I know a few of the guests are true chocoholics.  I also knew some of them are not.  So, I decided to branch out and make something really different.  I turned to my dessert notebook and almost right away found this recipe.


I have to say, on a July night, this tart is a lovely thing.  It is served cold and, while there is a bit of sugar in crust and in the filling, it seems like the sweetness only comes from the honey drizzled on top.  The rest of the tart is refreshingly, well, tart.  It would be lovely served at a fancier dinner as a sort of cheese course, followed by chocolate truffles.  But, like I said, it was pretty hard to beat on a warm summer evening.


One Year Ago:  Orzo with Brocoli, Feta, and Olives

Honeyed Goat Cheese Tart with Pistachio Crust
From Food and Wine
Makes one 9-inch tart

If you are familiar with Fage Greek yogurt, the large container is just the right size for this tart.  You will definitely want to serve some fruit on the plate along with a tart slice.  I used blueberries, but raspberries or strawberries – or even peach slices – would be great.

1/2 cup unsalted shelled pistachios
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp. pure almond extract
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/4 cups flour
11 ounces soft goat cheese
2 cups full-fat Greek-style yogurt
2 tbsp. lime juice
2 tsp. finely grated lime zest
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/3 cup clover honey (DT: I used Tupelo honey)

1.  In a food processor, pulse the pistachios until finely ground.  In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle, beat the butter with the granulated sugar at medium speed until pale, about 1 minute.  Add the ground pistachios, almond extract, and salt and beat until combined.  Add the flour and beat at low speed until incorporated and the dough is crumbly.

2.  Scrape the dough into a 9-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom.  Using the bottom of a glass, press the dough over the bottom and up the side of the tart pan.  Refrigerate until chilled, 30 minutes.

3.  Preheat the oven to 300°F.  Prick the dough all over with a fork.  Bake the crust for about 45 minutes, until lightly golden.  Transfer to a rack and let cool completely.

4.  In the bowl of the mixer, beat the goat cheese, yogurt, lime juice and lime zest until combined.  Add the confectioners’ sugar and beat until smooth.  Scrape the filling into the crust and refrigerate for 2 hours.

5.  Just before serving, in a small saucepan, cook the honey over moderately high heat until it reaches 236°F on a candy thermometer, about 2 minutes.  Remove from the heat and stir until slightly cooled, about 2 minutes.  Drizzle the honey over the tart and let stand until the honey firms up, about 5 minutes.  Cut the tart into wedges and serve.

(The tart can be prepared through step 4 and refrigerated overnight.)

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