Chocolate Non-Dairy Gelato

Gelato

This is for all my non-dairy eating, vegan, ice cream addict friends. Thanks to this easy recipe, you can all enjoy the same creamy deliciousness you crave. You’re welcome.

Ingredients
2 Cups almond milk
2 Cups French vanilla creamer
1/2 Cup sweetener (honey, sugar)
1 Vanilla Bean (or 2 tsp pure vanilla extract)
2 Tablespoons cornstarch
2-3 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
2 Ounces dark chocolate bar, (such as Ghirardelli 86% cacao) chopped

Directions
1. Put almond milk and French vanilla creamer into a medium-size saucepan and whisk in the sweetener.
2. Slice the vanilla bean in half to extract the seeds from inside. Place the seeds and the pod into the saucepan.
3. Place the mixture on a medium heat and allow it to simmer for five minutes.
4. Remove the pan from the heat, and extract around 1/4 cup from the pan. Mix this with the cornstarch in a small bowl. Then mix that back into the pan, and whisk it to infuse. Cover, and allow the mixture to sit for twenty minutes.
5. Cool the mixture until cold. Remove vanilla bean.
6. Churn mixture in an ice cream maker for 20 minutes.
7. Add 3-4 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa and dark chocolate, chopped. Churn for an additional 5 minutes.
8. Freeze for several hours before serving.

You can delete the chocolate additions and add anything your heart desires. Fresh berries would be good! Enjoy!

Eat a Peach Day

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Apparently there’s a designated national day for just about anything now, and today is National ‘Eat a Peach Day!’

During these late August days of summer, gardens in and around Portland look dry and desert-like with brightly colored fruit falling from yellowed, strained branches. We can’t possibly gorge ourselves on enough fresh fruit to make a dent, and since I don’t have the time to preserve by canning, I simply wash, slice, place on cookie sheets, freeze, and then package into sealed containers for longer term freezing. This way we can still enjoy some of those sweet fruits in smoothies or desserts into the cooler months.

What’s that you say? You’re looking for ways to enjoy peaches today? Glad you asked!

I’ve recently made a couple easy desserts using peaches that I’m excited to share with you.

First up is a super quick and easy peach cobbler…

PeachCobbler

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Then there’s this yummy peach and blueberry galette…

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Of the two, the galette requires a bit more preparation, so if you’re into immediate gratification, or just limited on time, go with the cobbler. Served warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, both are delicious!

FRESH PEACH COBBLER
from Southern Living

Ingredients:
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 cup all-purpose flour
1-2 cups sugar, divided
1 Tablespoon baking powder
Pinch of salt
1 cup milk
4 cups fresh peach slices
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
Ground cinnamon and/or nutmeg

Preparation:
• Melt butter in a 13 x 9-inch baking dish.
• Combine flour, 1 cup of the sugar, baking powder, and salt; add milk, stirring just until dry ingredients are moistened. Pour batter over butter (do not stir).
• Bring remaining 1 cup of sugar, peach slices, and lemon juice to a boil over high heat, stirring constantly; pour over batter (do not stir). Sprinkle with cinnamon and/or nutmeg, if desired.
• Bake at 375°F. for 40-45 minutes or until golden brown.
• Serve cobbler warm or reheat before serving.

 

PEACH AND BLUEBERRY GALETTE

Pate Brisee:
Ingredients:
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/4 to 1/2 cup ice water

Preparation:
• Pulse flour, salt and sugar in a food processor to combine. Add butter; process until mixture resembles coarse meal, about 10 seconds. With the machine running, add ice water in a slow, steady stream through the feed tube until dough just holds together (no longer than 30 seconds).
• Shape dough into a disk. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate at least 1 hour (up to 2 days), or freeze for up to 1 month.

Filling:
Ingredients:
6-8 cups fresh fruit
1/4 to 1/3 cup sugar
1 Tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
1 large egg and 1 Tablespoon of heavy cream (for egg wash)

Preparation:
• Roll dough into a 16″ circle about 1/8″ thick. Transfer onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
• In a small bowl combine 2/3 cup sugar and 1/4 cup flour. Sprinkle the sugar mixture onto the pastry to within 1 inch of the edges. In a large bowl, combine the fruit and 1/4 to 1/3 cup sugar; toss gently.
• Place fruit onto the pastry circle and sprinkle with lemon juice and dot with butter. Fold up pastry edges to form a lip.
• Beat 1 egg and add a tablespoon of cream. Brush the dough with the egg wash and sprinkle with sanding sugar.
• Place prepared galette into the refrigerator for about 15 minutes prior to baking.
• Preheat oven to 375°F.
• Bake until edges are golden brown and fruit is bubbling and cooked through, about 1 hour.
• Let cool on a wire rack for about 15 minutes, then transfer the galette to the rack to cool completely.

I scream, you scream…

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…for bizarre flavored ice cream!

I’m not sure exactly when so many wacky ice cream flavors emerged as a trendy business model, but I first became aware of these when a friend gave me a copy of Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home. Some of Jeni’s flavors sound intriguing… Salty Caramel, Sweet Corn and Black Raspberry, Butter with Honey Hickory Pralines.

Others just sound wrong… Celery with Candied Ginger and Rum-Plumped Golden Raisins! Beet with Mascarpone Orange Zest and Poppy Seeds!

When the ice cream shop, Salt and Straw, turned up on Northwest 23rd Avenue in Portland, I joined many others in a long line for the taste experience. What sets them apart from your typical ice cream shop are their quirky, outside the box flavors that are made with local and organic ingredients. Flavors such as: Goat Cheese Marionberry Habanero, Raspberry Lemon Basil Sorbet, Pear with Bleu Cheese, and one they claimed is Oprah’s favorite, Arbequina Olive Oil. Once inside the small, retro-chic shop, customers wind through displays of vintage ice cream makers and supplies before arriving near the counter, where you are encouraged to sample before plunging into a full order. There really is no problem finding something incredible to suit your taste. Most of the flavors meld together much better than you’d expect.

Which brings me to this creamy, dreamy Strawberry/Basil delight I made a few weeks ago, but then I really couldn’t go wrong with these fabulous ingredients from my own garden… Oregon Hood strawberries, basil, and fresh eggs. You can regulate the basil flavor by soaking the leaves in the heated mixture more or less time. Personally, I loved the combination, but it won’t be everyone’s cup of tea.

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Custom flavor creations are endless! Stick with a basic recipe, and add ingredients you like to create your own new favorites.

Strawberry Basil Ice Cream
This recipe is adapted from David Lebovitz’s formula for creating your own ice cream flavors.
Ingredients:
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
3/4 cup granulated sugar
Table salt
1 cup tightly packed, coarsely torn basil leaves
5 large egg yolks
1 lb. fresh or frozen strawberries, trimmed
1/2 cup sugar
1-2 Tablespoons vodka (this was a suggestion from my friend Cathy at Wives with Knives) it keeps the fruit from becoming ice crystals in your otherwise creamy dessert.
Directions:
• In the bowl of a food processor, add washed, trimmed strawberries, 1/2 cup sugar and 1-2 Tablespoons vodka and puree and set aside.

• In a medium saucepan, mix 1 cup of the cream with the milk, sugar, and a pinch of salt. Warm the cream mixture over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar dissolves and tiny bubbles begin to form around the edge of the pan, 3 to 4 minutes.

• Stir in the basil leaves. Cover, remove from the heat, and let sit for 1 hour. Taste and let sit longer if you want a stronger basil flavor.

• Prepare an ice bath by filling a large bowl with several inches of ice water. Set a smaller metal bowl (one that holds at least 1-1/2 quarts) in the ice water. Pour the remaining cup of cream into the inner bowl (this helps the custard cool quicker when you pour it in later). Set a fine strainer on top. Whisk the egg yolks in a medium bowl.

• Rewarm the cream mixture over medium-high heat until tiny bubbles begin to form around the edge of the pan, 1 to 2 minutes. In a steady stream, pour half of the warm cream mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly to prevent the eggs from curdling.

• Pour the egg mixture back into the saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring constantly and scraping the bottom with a heatproof rubber spatula until the custard thickens slightly (it should be thick enough to coat the spatula and hold a line drawn through it with a finger), 4 to 8 minutes. An instant-read thermometer should read 175° to 180°F at this point. Don’t let the sauce overheat or boil, or it will curdle.  Immediately strain the custard into the cold cream in the ice bath. Press firmly on the basil leaves in the strainer with the spatula to extract as much flavor as possible.

• Cool the custard to below 70°F by stirring it over the ice bath. Stir the strawberry puree into the cooled custard.

NOTE: Refrigerate the custard until completely chilled, at least 4 hours. Then freeze the custard in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Transfer the just-churned ice cream to an air-tight container, and freeze for at least 4 hours or up to 2 weeks.

A few other flavors from my collection…

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Tell me… what’s your favorite ice cream flavor?

Berry season, sweet berry season

Oregon Strawberries

fresh strawberry jam

If you’re planning a trip to Oregon, a great time to visit is early June when the strawberries are in season. The sweetest berries ever are grown in Oregon. Thanks to the long mild spring and early summer climate, strawberries are sweet, red,  juicy and delicious. Lots of rain, cool nights and warm sunny days seem to make for perfect strawberries. The berries stay on the vine and ripen slowly, allowing the sugars to increase before harvest. Keeping up with the short, fast paced strawberry season is challenging, but I did manage to turn a flat of Oregon Hood strawberries into a few dozen jars of jam before they disappear. It’s a good thing berries can be preserved in so many forms to prolong their edible lives.

I’m adapting to a new summer schedule, or actually, absence of a schedule. Even our doggies are sleeping in a bit later. They run around outside all day and are completely worn out by night time. I didn’t think this was possible for Bleu, our overactive border/aussie mix puppy. There’s finally hope for my ability to catch up on much needed sleep. I’m not a morning person, so it was a little disconcerting when I first realized we had adopted a morning puppy. If Bleu had the ability to whistle, that’s what he’d be doing each and every 6 am. Since whistling is not an option, he pounces on us wagging his entire body, as if to tell us it’s the most amazing day ever, and we need to get up so we don’t miss a second of it.

Meet Bailey (left) and Bleu. Sister and brother from another Mother. Bailey has never met a person she doesn’t love, but doesn’t love dogs (she tolerates her brother). Bleu is suspicious of everyone, with the exception of his pack and a few other people he’s accepted as friends, but he loves dogs.

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I made these berry tarts a few months ago long before berry season started. You can make the shells days in advance of the custard filling. I like desserts that allow me to do things in steps so they seem much less time consuming. The custard can also sit covered in the fridge for a day or so. Just add the freshly washed fruit, and whatever other toppings float your boat, just before serving. In my opinion, raspberries are even better on these than. Because of their delicate, soft texture and hollowness, they’re easier to eat than strawberries.

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Start by making the tart shells. If you find this is enough baking for one day, you can freeze the shells for later use. If you’re feeling energetic, continue on…

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Unlike a pie shell, a tart’s shell texture is more like a shortbread cookie. It has to be sturdy enough to cradle its contents without crumbling.

Create the custard filling.

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You can freeze the tarts at this stage for several months. But don’t wait that long, cause you’ll miss out on the fresh berry season.

The original recipe for these tarts was taken from the Miette cookbook written by the owner of Miette Pastry Shop based in San Francisco. I’ll be visiting them next month to do a little sample tasting.

Fresh Fruit Tarts with Pastry Cream
Makes ten 3 1/2 inch or two 7-inch tarts

(a slightly modified recipe from Miette pastry shop in San Francisco)

Pastry Shells:
3 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup cold unsalted butter, cubed
2 large egg yolks
6-8 Tablespoons heavy cream
1. Combine the flour, sugar and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer. Mix on low speed for 30 seconds using your paddle attachment. Add the cubed butter and beat until the mixture is as fine as cornmeal (about 5 minutes).

2. In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and 2 tablespoons of the cream. Add this to the flour mixture in the mixer bowl and mix it all until just combined. Add more cream 1 tablespoon at a time until the dough comes together into large chunks. Gather the dough into a ball, pat it into a disk and wrap it tightly in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

3. Divide the dough to make the portions you need and pat gently into disks. Roll out each dough disk on a lightly floured surface to about 1/4 inch thick and 1 inch larger in diameter than the pans you’re using. Drape the rolled-out dough into the tart pans, gently pushing it into the bottom edges and against the pan sides to make a strong, straight shell. Trim the edges flush with the top rim of the pans. Prick all over the bottom with a fork and place them in the freezer for 30 minutes.

4. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Bake the shells for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Cool in the pan, remove and cool completely on a wire rack before filling.

Pastry Cream:
2 cups whole milk
1/2 vanilla bean
7 large egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
2 Tablespoons cornstarch
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature

1. Pour the milk into a medium saucepan. Use a sharp knife to slit the vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape the seeds into the milk. Throw in the pod. Heat until almost boiling (bubbles will begin to form at the edges). Remove from heat, cover and let steep for 1 hour.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, sugar and cornstarch until smooth. Set the bowl on a kitchen towel or nonskid surface and whisk the egg mixture while pouring about 1/2 cup of the hot milk into the mixture to temper. Gradually pour in the rest of the milk, whisking constantly. Pour the contents of the bowl into the pan and turn the heat to medium-low.

3. Cook, whisking constantly until the mixture thickens and comes to a slow boil, about 2 minutes. Immediately strain the cream through a fine-mesh sieve into a clean container. Discard the vanilla bean. Let the pastry cream cool to room temperature, for about 10 minutes, then whisk in the butter until it’s completely incorporated.

4. Cover the pastry cream with plastic wrap, pressing the plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the cream to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate until well chilled, at least 1 hour and up to 3 days.

Final assembly: Divide the chilled custard among the shells evenly. Top with blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, or your favorite fruit. Make sure to wash the fruit just before placing it onto the cream filling so that it stays firm and fresh.

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Next up: blueberries. Ready. Set. Start your tarts.