Raspberry Ice Cream

I’m taking advantage of the berries on sale at the grocery store to make raspberry ice cream out of season.  Obviously, local raspberries would make this frozen treat even better, but we do what we can with what’s available.

Take two cups of fresh raspberries (frozen will also do, just use a little bit less), and wash them and do all that good stuff (though perhaps not if they’re frozen).

Take a cup of granulated sugar.  Y’know, like, a cup.

Pour both the raspberries and the sugar into a food processor.

Blend for about 45 seconds until you have a lovely thick pulp.  Pour the pulp into a strainer suspended over a bowl.

Try not to spill too much.

Use a rubber spatula to force the pulp through the strainer until only seeds remain.  Compost them there seeds.

Now you have a lovely red and now seedless pulp.Add to your lovely red and now seedless pulp a teaspoon of lemon juice, 2 cups whipping cream, and between 1 and 3 tablespoons of a fruit-based liqueur, such as kirsch.  You add the alcohol to make the ice cream softer — David Lebovitz says so.  Swirl that stuff around.Here is where I became an idiot.  My parents’ Austrian neighbour came back from a trip abroad and gave us two little bottles, one of nut schnapps and another of what I thought was kirsch.

Because that’s what it says.  You can see it right there.

But I dumped the whole thing in the mixture before I actually read the rest of the label and discovered it was in actual fact CHERRY BALSAMIC VINEGAR.

Ooops.

But you know, once I mixed everything together, it didn’t taste that bad.  Honest.  I added some of the schnapps as a corrective, as well.  It tasted a little more tart than usual, but nothing out of the ordinary.  I was worried it would be a floor pizza situation, but I figured I would roll with it and see what came of it.

Of course, whether that will affect the quality of the frozen product remains to be seen.  Wrap up your bowl of mix and chuck it in the fridge overnight.

This is also a good time to freeze the parts of your ice cream maker that need to be frozen, if they do.  I have one of these Donvier non-electric turning ones, where you freeze the liner.

The next day, just plop your mix into your maker and follow the instructions for your machine.

With mine the process from thick goo …

… to frozen goo …

Takes about twenty minutes.

Pour out into a freezable container and chuck it in the freezer to harden up.

Serve when you’re ready. 

This version tastes a wee bit like balsamic vinegar but it ain’t bad.  Next time, though, I think I would leave out the vinegar part. 

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Vanilla and Nectarine Preserves

I told you I was going to attempt Vicious Sweet Tooth’s Vanilla and Nectarine preserves, and so here we go. 

She has some good tips on canning, and of course my mother and I recently made some grape jam with a canner, so just follow those instructions and you should be fine.

Pit and chop up about 4 1/2 lbs nectarines.  Leave the skins on, because that’s where you get the pectin from.  We used about 4L nectarines, so it probably is slightly more than we needed but what the hey.

Plop them in a pot with 2 cups granulated sugar, 1/3 cup lemon juice, and 2 teaspoons vanilla extract.  We chucked in one of our old vanilla beans (you can re-use vanilla beans, did you know?) for good measure.

Bring the fruit mixture to a boil.  The pectin in the skins will help your preserves to gel. 

The mixture should thicken and darken a bit.

To see if it’s ready to can, put a plate (or in our case, a ramekin, which can handle the temperature change without cracking) in the freezer for a little while, then remove it and drop some of your hot jam mixture onto the plate.  Put it back in the freezer to cool for a few minutes.  If you give the drop a push and it wrinkles up, it’s ready for canning and will gel nicely in the jar.

Pour your mixture carefully into your hot, sterilized jars. 

Seal to finger-tip tightness before returning to the canner for another five minutes.

Tada, you have preserves!

This yielded us 7 half-pint jars (250mL each).

Hash Wednesday

The title for this recipe comes from the Pie, who is a very punny guy.  Yeah. Ha ha.

The recipe itself started to come out of Martha Stewart, but then we changed  it so I think we’ll call it our own.

Cube up 2 large potatoes (we used PEI Russets) and boil the crap out of them for about 15 minutes.

You have two options here when it comes to the chicken.  You can either take a chicken breast with the bone in and the skin on and bake it for 35 minutes at 450°F, or you can take a boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut it in half horizontally, and fry it up in about 15 minutes. Either way, sprinkle some thyme, salt, and pepper on the chicken as it cooks.

However, you do it, cut the resulting cooked chicken into cubes and set aside.

Heat some olive oil in a skillet (use the one you fried your chicken in, if you did that), and sauté half a large onion, diced, until tender.  Use a wooden spoon.

Add a teaspoon of garlic in a jar and heat for 30 seconds.

Add your potatoes and cook, stirring often, until browned (about 7 minutes).  At this point, add in 2 tablespoons water.  Scrape the bottom of the pan with the spoon to bring up all the good stuff that’s starting to stick and keep cooking those potatoes for another 5 minutes or so. 

Add in your cubed chicken, together with about 1/4lb baby spinach (I’d say about 5 loosely packed cups).  Stir it up until it’s all wilted, about 2 minutes.

Season to taste with salt, pepper, and lemon juice.  Serves two.

Best Chicken Sandwich – Ever.

At least that’s what the recipe says.  A recipe for a sammy.  Don’t that just beat all …  Nevertheless this is super easy and super awesome and it serves two, for a romantically messy meal you can eat with your fingers.

It’s from a book called Food Cook Eat by Lulu Grimes that my mother gave to the Pie for Christmas a few years back.  Page 108 for those of you following along at home.

First, slice up a tomato, half an avocado, and wash some leaves of lettuce (get fancy and use arugula or frisé or whatever), and set those aside.

Cut two large pieces of ciabatta or Turkish bread in half horizontally and put that aside as well.

Take a boneless, skinless chicken breast (or a boned, skin-covered one and work some magic with it, which is what I did), trim off the excess sinew and fat, and cut it in half horizontally.

Flatten the pieces out a bit by hitting them with the side of your knife, the flat of a cleaver, your fist, or a mallet.  Work out your frustrations, but don’t go crazy and break the flesh.  You just want to thin it out a little.

Heat one tablespoon olive oil in a large pan and slip in the breast pieces, cooking them on both sides for a few minutes until brown and cooked through.  Sprinkle them with some lemon juice and take them out of the pan.  Put ’em on a plate or something.

Take your bread pieces and put them, cut side down, in the pan. Press them down a bit to soak up the chicken and lemon juices and leave them in there for a minute or two.

When you take the bread out of the pan, rub the cut side with a garlic clove, cut in half, then generously spread all the pieces with mayonnaise

Put a piece of chicken on the bottom pieces of the bread. 

Top with tomato, avocado, and lettuce, seasoning with salt and pepper as you go. 

Plop the top of the bread back on and eat the crap out of that thing.  Tada: your sammich.

Steamed Asparagus with Lemon, Tarragon, and Toasted Almonds

I usually make this recipe with green beans, but I couldn’t find any good ones so I used asparagus instead.

Take about 1/4 cup slivered or sliced almonds and toast them briefly in the oven.  Put a shallow layer of them  on the bottom of a pan or baking sheet and bake in a preheated oven at 425°F for 5-10 minutes, or until the almonds are the desired colour of brown.  Be careful not to burn them (because I totally did the first time).  Remove from oven and set aside to cool.

Strip the leaves from 4-5 stalks of fresh tarragon (or frozen) and set aside.

Cut the tough bottoms of a bunch or two of fresh asparagus off and bash the lower ends of what’s left with a rolling pin.

Chuck the stalks into a wide frying pan or wide shallow sauce pan and cover halfway with water.  Add a splash or two of lemon juice.  Steam gently for a few minutes until the stalks are bright green.  I was doing other things and accidentally overcooked mine a bit, as the photo shows.  You want them nice and firm.

Drain the asparagus and put it in a serving dish. Top with a generous dollop of butter, another splash of lemon juice, and sprinkle with the tarragon and almonds.  Toss until the butter is melted and serve.  Two bunches of asparagus makes enough for 7-8 people.

Blueberry Muffins with Yogurt and Lemon

The Pie had some classmates over to collaborate on a project, and I never feel like a good host unless I have something to serve for a snack. This recipe makes about 24 muffins, which leaves you with some to eat now and some to freeze for a time when you aren’t at leisure to bake.

These blueberry muffins are a modification on the classic recipe, and they’re super easy and super moist.  They remind me more of a cupcake than a muffin.  The yogurt keeps the batter dense and soft, while the lemon and nutmeg make for a tangier taste.

I mix these by hand because the batter is supposed to be lumpy, and I find an electric mixer tends to overmix.  I also prefer using a large whisk to do all of this, as it keeps flour and liquids from sloshing all over my kitchen.

Preheat your oven to 400°F and spray two 12-muffin pans with non-stick cooking spray.

In a large bowl, whisk together 4 cups all-purpose flour, 2 tablespoons baking powder, 1 teaspoon baking soda, and 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg.

Use a whisk to prevent flour clouds from attacking you.

In another, smaller bowl, whisk together 4 large eggs, 2 cups plain yogurt, 1 1/3 cup granulated sugar, 1 cup melted butter, the juice and zest of 2 lemons, and 2 teaspoons vanilla.

This gooey mass will be muffins soon.

Add the wet stuff to the dry stuff and mix only until the dry ingredients are moistened (a whisk will help you to prevent overmixing).

Add 1 to 2 cups frozen blueberries (depending on how berry-full you like your muffins) and mix in.

Add in as many frozen blueberries as you can handle.

Spoon generous amounts into the prepared muffin pans and sprinkle the tops with a little bit of cinnamon and sugar.

Bake about 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the centre of the middle muffin comes out clean.  Leave to cool in the pans for a few minutes, then use a fork to gently pry out the muffins and place on a rack to cool completely.  Once cool, the muffins can be stored in plastic freezer bags and frozen for a couple of months.

Eat as soon as possible, or freeze for future snacking.

Tabouleh tabouleh tabouleh

I really like the word tabouleh.  I remember eating it often as a kid.  It’s a good quick salad and it works well in a pita sandwich.

We made this recipe with couscous, but you can substitute it for quinoa or bulgur or other grains.

Stir the couscous and oil into the water and allow to expand for 2 minutes.

To prepare the couscous, bring a cup of salted water to a boil in a small pot.  Remove from the heat and pour in a cup of couscous.  Add in 1 tablespoon of olive oil, stir, and allow the pasta to expand for two minutes.

Return the couscous to a low heat on the stove.  Drop in 2 to 3 teaspoons of butter and stir until well-blended.  Allow to cool.

Add butter to couscous and stir on low heat until melted.

We got this tabouleh recipe from the Joy of Cooking (2006 edition) by Rombauer & Becker, and we replaced the bulgur with couscous, of course, and  we weren’t all that good at measuring, either, so we fiddled with the amounts.

Finely chop 2 to 3 tomatoes, 2 cups of fresh parsley, 1 cup of fresh mint, and 1 bunch of scallions or green onions. See my tips and tricks entry on how to finely chop herbs.

In a small bowl or measuring cup, emulsify 1/3 cup olive oil with 1/3 cup lemon juice.  To do this, I took a very small whisk and rubbed it between my palms until the liquid was creamy and custard coloured.

Use a small whisk to emulsify the ingredients.
Rub the whisk briskly between your palms until the liquid is custardy.

In a large bowl, mix the couscous, tomatoes, onions, and herbs together thoroughly.  Toss with the olive oil/lemon juice emulsion and serve.

Serve as a salad or in a sandwich.

We spooned the tabouleh into open pita pockets lined with baby spinach and home-made hummus and ate them with Garbage Soup.

Pita pockets with hummus, tabouleh, and baby spinach.