Sunday, September 29, 2013

HomeGrownBeets: Fresh Mint Chip Ice Cream

Yes, I know it's almost October.  And I'm just now making ice cream.  But here in Texas, it's still warm.  And I'm eating dinner outside.  And I have a bunch of mint in my fridge that's on its last delicate and expensive leg.  So, voila, mint chip ice cream.

This is probably my favorite flavor of ice cream.  But after I found out that most of the stuff you buy has about a ton of green food coloring in it, I swore off.  Yes, I was a little unsure about pureeing up a bunch of mint, but it actually gave the ice cream that pretty green color without the artificial additives.  And do yourself a favor and use Ghirardelli chocolate chips or something similar.  Trust me.

Fresh Mint Chip Ice Cream
Adapted from HomeGrownBeets blog

⅔ cup fresh mint leaves (about one big bunch)
¾ cup granulated sugar
2½ cups whole milk
1½ cups heavy cream
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped or ¾ teaspoon vanilla extract
4 large egg yolks
¼ cup corn syrup
¼ teaspoon sea salt
1 cup chopped dark chocolate

Put the mint leaves and sugar into a food processor bowl.  Process until the mint is finely ground.

In a medium saucepan, warm the milk, heavy cream, and vanilla bean (not the vanilla extract) over medium heat.  Stir occasionally.

In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks until smooth, then add the sugar and mint mixture and whisk until combined.

When the milk mixture steams and is hot but not simmering, whisk ¼ cup of the hot milk into the egg mixture, then whisk in another ¼ cup of the hot milk.  This helps temper the eggs so they don’t scramble when you add them to the hot milk.

Take the saucepan off the heat and stir in the tempered egg mixture.  Return the saucepan to the cooktop over medium heat.  Add the corn syrup and salt.  Cook, stirring, until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 5 minutes.  Do not allow the mixture to boil.  When you draw your finger across the spoon, it should leave a clear mark through the custard.

If you choose to use vanilla extract instead of the vanilla bean, add the extract now.

Quickly set the saucepan into a large bowl filled with ice water to cool the custard.  You can also pour the custard into another heat proof pan if you prefer.  Stir the custard for a few minutes.  Cover and refrigerate until completely cool, at least 1 hour and up to 24 hours.

Pour the custard through a fine mesh strainer to separate out the mint leaves and the vanilla bean. 

Churn the custard in your ice cream freezer according to the manufacturer’s directions.  Add the chocolate when the ice cream begins to harden.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Martha Stewart: Peach Cornmeal Upside Down Cake

You know it's the end of summer when the peaches start disappearing.  And it seemed like such a travesty that I had only made one peach dish that I decided to make another one with the very last of the California crop.  After this, only rock hard tasteless paste will be found in the grocery store masquerading as peaches.

So, this is pretty different.  Almost sweet and salty.  I really like the sweet almost-cornbread with the caramelized brown sugar peaches.  It really kinda does it for me.  And the herbes de Provence add this interesting background note that really makes you wonder.  I doubt I could have nailed it if I hadn't have put it in myself.  You could certainly substitute lavender for the herbes if you like, but I'm kinda partial to the almost savory flavor it gives the cake.

Peach Cornmeal Upside Down Cake
Loosely adapted from Martha Stewart

3 tablespoons unsalted butter
¼ cup packed dark brown sugar
2-3 ripe peaches, unpeeled
1 cup all-purpose flour
¾ cup cornmeal
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon herbes de Provence
½ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup packed light brown sugar
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup canola oil
½ cup half and half or whole milk

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Melt the butter in a small pan and cook over medium-low heat until the butter stops foaming and browns.  Pour the browned butter into a 9-inch round cake pan.  Tip the pan so that the butter coats the sides of the pan.  Sprinkle the dark brown sugar evenly over the butter.

Slice the peaches into wedges about a ½-inch thick.  Lay the peach slices around the bottom of the pan in a ring, with a couple of slices laid in the center.  Set aside.

Combine the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, sea salt, herbes de Provence, granulated sugar, and light brown sugar.  Add the eggs, vanilla extract, canola oil, and half and half.  Mix just until well combined.  Pour over the peaches in the prepared pan and spread the batter evenly over the top.

Bake the cake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let rest for 10 minutes.  Run a knife around the edge of the pan and invert the cake onto a serving dish.  Reposition peach slices if necessary.  Let cool slightly before serving.

Makes 8 servings

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Jimmy Dean: Slow Cooker Sausage Breakfast Casserole

I love breakfast casseroles.  You slap the whole thing together the evening before and throw it in the oven in the morning.  But what if you have to be at work with said breakfast casserole at 7am?  This calls for either 1) getting up at the crack of dawn, or 2) finding a slow cooker recipe.  You can obviously see which option I chose.

For something pretty simple, this dish is actually pretty good.  I think the sun-dried tomatoes really help, so don't substitute those.  You could probably add some seasonings, like chili powder or something, and it would be even better.  My slow cooker cooked the bejesus out of this casserole though, so start checking it about an hour or two before it says.  Unless I just happen to have the world's first nuclear powered slow cooker and don't realize I'm part of the secret testing mission.  My coworkers did say it looked like a spaceship.

Slow Cooker Sausage Breakfast Casserole
From Jimmy Dean

1 (26- to 32-ounce) package frozen shredded hash brown potatoes
1 (16-ounce) package sausage, such as Jimmy Dean, cooked and crumbled
2 cups (8 ounces) shredded mozzarella cheese
½ cup (2 ounces) shredded Parmesan cheese
½ cup julienne-cut sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, drained
6 green onions, sliced
12 eggs
½ cup milk
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

Spray a 6-quart slow cooker with cooking spray. Layer ½ of the potatoes on the bottom of slow cooker.
Top with half of the sausage, mozzarella and Parmesan cheese, sun dried tomatoes and green onion. Repeat layering.

Beat eggs, milk salt and pepper in large bowl with a wire whisk until well blended.  Pour evenly over potato-sausage mixture.  Cook on LOW setting for 8 hours or on HIGH setting for 4 hours or until eggs are set.

Makes 12 servings

Sunday, September 08, 2013

Spicy Bacon Macaroni and Cheese

What do you do when you're sitting at home, and you're hungry, and you have part of a bag of pepper jack cheese sitting in your fridge staring at you?  And you've just been disappointed by the supposedly "spicy" penne pasta from pinterest?  You make something that's actually full of cheesy spicy goodness.

This recipe is heavily based on the Thomas Keller macaroni and cheese gratin I made a while ago, with the appropriate spicy changes.  The bacon makes a reappearance since it's basically an essential ingredient now, and I have fallen in love with the shape of the cavatappi pasta, so that's here to stay, too.  I'm also too lazy to turn on the oven, so this comes straight out of the saucepan.

Spicy Bacon Macaroni and Cheese
Loosely adapted from Thomas Keller

4 ounces applewood smoked bacon, cut into batons
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 shallots, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup chicken broth
½ cup heavy cream
½ teaspoon salt
Pinch of white pepper
1 teaspoon Tony Chachere's Creole seasoning
4 ounces pepper jack cheese, shredded
4 ounces Cheddar cheese, shredded
8 ounces cavatappi, cooked to al dente in salted water
Green onions, sliced, for serving

Cook bacon in a large skillet over medium-high heat until brown. Using a slotted spoon, remove to a plate lined with paper towels. Set aside.

Add butter to the bacon fat left in the skillet. Lower the heat to medium. When the butter is melted, add the shallot. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, or until the shallot is translucent. Add the garlic and cook for about 30 seconds.  Sprinkle with the flour. Allow the roux to cook for a minute or two, but do not let it burn or brown. Slowly whisk in the chicken broth and heavy cream. Bring the mixture to a simmer and add the salt, pepper, and Tony Chachere's. Lower the heat to medium low and continue to stir until the mixture thickens.

Add the pepper jack and Cheddar cheese and stir until the cheese is completely melted. Fold in the cooked cavatappi.

Makes 2 to 3 servings

Thursday, September 05, 2013

Kevin and Amanda: Spicy Sausage Pasta

Okay, lately pinterest seems to be blowing up with this pasta dish.  Everyone raves about it.  It's the best thing since sliced bread.  Someone's husband wants it every night for dinner for the next three years.  Nothing could be more spectacular.  Okay, I'm kidding about the last one, but I think I saw the other stuff.

Of course I had to try it, with that many people practically wetting their pants over it.  I think it originally comes from Cook's Illustrated, which I normally shy away from.  I know lots of people think that magazine is like God's gift to the world, but I've never found their recipes to be particularly enticing.  Eh, it's worth a try.

Well, first of all, this pasta is not spicy.  Unless you live in Massachusetts.  If you live in Texas, you're going to have to do some work.  Like use a can of hot Ro-Tel and dump some Tony Chachere's in the darn thing.  Second, the sauce does not come together until it sits on the stove for a bit.  So leave it alone for about ten minutes before serving.  Other than that, it's just a basic dinner entree.  What's all the fuss about?

Spicy Sausage Pasta
From Kevin and Amanda blog

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound smoked sausage
1½ cups diced onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups chicken broth
1 (10-ounce) can Ro-Tel tomatoes and green chiles
½ cup heavy cream
8 ounces penne pasta
½ teaspoon salt and pepper, each
1 cup Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
 cup thinly sliced scallions

Add olive oil to an oven-safe skillet over medium high heat until just smoking. Add sausage and onions and cook until lightly browned, about 4 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Add broth, tomatoes, cream, pasta, salt and pepper and stir. Bring to a boil, cover skillet, and reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer until pasta is tender, about 15 minutes.

Remove skillet from heat and stir in ½ cup cheese. Top with remaining cheese and sprinkle with scallions. Broil until cheese is melted, spotty brown, and bubbly.

Makes 4 servings

Monday, September 02, 2013

The Bojon Gourmet: Maple, Bourbon, and Brown Butter Peach Crisp

I looked up today and realized that it's September.  And I have yet to do anything with peaches.  They have such a short season, and I wasted most of it making chocolate cakes.  Shame!  Well, luckily here in Texas our growing season is a bit extended, and I can still find beautiful ripe peaches.  From California.

I wasn't into the whole peach pie thing, and I think macerating peaches into a jam just seems like a shame, so I figured this crisp that walks the border between summer and fall seemed like the perfect choice.  And of course I couldn't pick anything easy.  Who wants easy when you can have browned butter, bourbon, and maple syrup?

Maple, Bourbon, and Brown Butter Peach Crisp
Adapted from The Bojon Gourmet blog

Maple Sugar and Brown Butter Crumble Topping:
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
½ of a vanilla bean, split lengthwise and scraped
¾ cup all-purpose flour
¾ cup quick oats
½ cup brown sugar
½ teaspoon fine sea or kosher salt
 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Flaky salt and coarse sugar for sprinkling

Bourbon Peach Filling:
2 pounds ripe but firm peaches (6 to 8 peaches, 6 cups sliced)
¼ cup bourbon whiskey
¼ cup maple syrup
1 tablespoon cornstarch
½ of a vanilla bean, split lengthwise and scraped

Brown the butter:

Combine the butter and vanilla pod half and seeds in a small saucepan. Melt the butter over medium heat, and continue to cook until the butter turns golden with dark brown flecks, about 5 minutes, swirling frequently. Toward the end, the butter will foam up dramatically; watch it closely at this point. Let the browned butter cool at room temperature while you prepare the filling.  Remove the pod and discard.

Prepare the filling:

Position a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat to 375ºF. Have a 10-inch oven-proof skillet at the ready.

Cut the peaches in half, then cut each half into six to eight slices. Place in a large bowl (or right into the baking vessel) and sprinkle with the bourbon.

In a small bowl, combine the maple syrup and vanilla pod and scrapings, rubbing the seeds into the sugar to distribute them evenly. Remove and discard the pod. Stir the cornstarch into the syrup, then add to the bourbon-laced peaches, tossing gently to coat. Distribute the peaches evenly in the baking vessel.

Make the topping:

In a large bowl, combine the flour, oats, brown sugar, nutmeg and salt. Stir in the melted, cooled brown butter, stirring with a spoon or your hands until the mixture forms large clumps.

Scatter the crumble topping over the peaches, taking the time to form some of it into small, hazelnut-sized balls. Scatter a bit of flaky salt over the top, as well as some coarse sugar.

Bake the crisp until the topping is golden and the fruit is bubbling, 45-60 minutes. Let cool at least 20 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature, preferably with vanilla ice cream.