Wednesday, March 27, 2013

ice cream: black sesame and thai tea

when i got my kitchen aid mixer (seven years ago!), it came with two accessory options: pasta maker or ice cream maker. obvious choice: ICE CREAM. since then i've tested out lots of different recipes (traditional custard base, philadelphia style, eggless, non-dairy) and made quite a few flavors (mint, mint chip, vanilla, milk chocolate, dark chocolate, lemon, basil, roasted hazelnut, banana, beer, black sesame, pumpkin, chocolate mint, honey lavender, avocado, kona coffee, malted chocolate...).

my favorite sources for flavors and recipes are: 
* jeni's splendid ice creams at home 
* sweet creams and sugar cones
* we all scream

custard-based ice creams always make me a little nervous--i worry that i'll overcook the eggs and still have trouble using up all those leftover egg whites--so i was most excited about jeni's eggless ice cream recipes (we all scream also uses recipes adapted from jeni's). the base is simple: milk, heavy cream, sugar, cornstarch, corn syrup (i usually substitute with agave syrup), and cream cheese. it freezes well (no ice crystals) and produces a slighty "chewy" consistency more like a thick gelato. it's super adaptable too, which i guess is true for most ice cream bases :P

i don't really buy regular milk unless i need it for baking/ice cream making, so whenever i make ice cream i often end up making more than one flavor because i want to use up as much milk as possible. my most recent ice cream batches were asian-inspired: black sesame with orange blossom water and thai tea.

this is the second time i've made black sesame ice cream but the first time using orange blossom water. it is a VERY strong flavor. it kind of reminds me of incense...not sure if that's a good or bad thing. at first it seemed to slightly overpower the black sesame flavor, but after a few more tastes i think it's a nice complement. that being said, i might use half the amount next time because i would prefer the toasted black sesame flavor to stand out.

whenever i order thai iced tea i drink it way too fast, and i feel like there's always a bit too much ice. no problem with this ice cream. it's super smooth and creamy and fragrant, and a small amount goes a long way. i realized in making it that i really like steeping tea leaves in milk; it smells so nice! (and the bright orange color doesn't even scare me.)

mmm, ice cream. i think the next asian-y flavors i want to try are (milk) oolong and kaya toast. yes?
... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ...

:: black sesame with orange blossom water ice cream ::
(recipe from we all scream)

1/3 cup black roasted sesame seeds, toasted and pulverize
1 1/2 tbsp cornstarch
2 tbsp milk
1 cup milk
1 cup coconut milk*
1 1/4 cup heavy cream
2/3 cup sugar
2 tbsp light corn syrup*
3 tbsp cream cheese
2 tbsp toasted sesame oil
pinch of salt
2 tbsp orange blossom water

* i subbed out the coconut milk for heavy cream because i forgot to get coconut milk; i don't think it affected the texture. i also prefer to use agave syrup instead of corn (it's also what i have around the kitchen).

1. toast sesame seeds in a skillet, stirring frequently, until fragrant. set aside to cool.
2. pulverize the toasted seeds and add to milk, cream, sugar, and corn syrup.
3. bring milk and cream mixture to a boil for 4-5 minutes.
4. remove from heat and whisk in slurry of cornstarch and 2 tbsp of milk.
5. return to simmer for 1 minute until thickened.
6. strain into cream cheese, sesame oil, and salt.
7. stick in freezer until chilled, then refrigerate overnight.
8. churn in ice cream maker for about 20 minutes or until thickened.
9. freeze for a few hours.
10. ENJOY!

:: thai tea ice cream ::
(recipe from we all scream)

2 cups half-and-half
1/2 cup thai tea leaves
1 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup sugar
1 tbsp light corn syrup

1. heat half-and-half until simmering. do not boil.
2. remove from heat and add thai tea leaves. steep for 15 minutes.
3. strain back into a saucepan, adding heavy cream, sugar, and corn syrup.
4. let simmer for about 1 minute.
5. pour into a ziplock bag; immerse in ice bath.
6. refrigerate until cold.
7. churn in ice cream maker for about 20 minutes until creamy.
8. transfer to container with parchment paper pressed on top.
9. freeze for a few hours to set.
10. ENJOY!

Monday, March 18, 2013

"i'd pay for that"

in honor of st. patrick's day i wanted to bake something irish-inspired. i saw a lot of recipes for irish soda bread, green-colored/minty treats, and boozy desserts. i opted for the booze--and chocolate, of course--so i chose a chocolate stout bundt cake. i was also hoping to make irish soda bread, but after a failed quest for caraway seeds (evidently everyone was baking soda bread this weekend and bought up all the caraway) i had to put that idea on hold. the bundt cake, however, was ready to go.

i used a recipe from serious eats and subbed the buttermilk with plain yogurt. for the stout i went with guinness to be truly irish. the results were a rich, moist, chocolatey cake with a hint of booze and garnered the comment: "i'd pay for that."

::chocolate stout bundt cake::
(recipe from seriouseats)
makes one bundt cake.

2 cups (14oz) packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup (1 3/4oz) granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs
14 tablespoons (7oz) unsalted butter, melted
3/4 cup sour cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
12 ounces chocolate stout (or regular stout)
2 cups (10oz) all-purpose flour
1 cup (3oz) cocoa
1 3/4 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1. adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 350°F. butter bundt pan and dust with cocoa.
2. in large bowl, whisk brown sugar, granulated sugar, salt, and eggs until combined. whisk in butter, sour cream, vanilla, and stout until combined.
3. in medium bowl, whisk flour with cocoa, baking soda, and baking powder. whisk into wet mixture until combined.
4. pour into prepared pan and bake until just firm to touch and toothpick inserted into center comes out with moist crumbs, 45 to 50 minutes.
5. transfer to wire rack to cool completely. loosen edges with knife and invert onto serving plate.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

part five: bonus days

(BONUS) DAY EIGHT: saturday 09 february

what's better than bonus vacation days? especially when that means extra hang time with best buds. [major thank you to mike and sarah for letting us stay over for the weekend.]

mike, sean, and i started our saturday at gordo taqueria. the guys each had SUPER burritos, while i opted for two soft tacos (one chicken and one carnitas). i only managed half of each before i had to leave to meet debby in larskpur. we had an afternoon planned for pottery painting in san anselmo. based on our past painting experience, we needed some sustenance before we got started; we've been known to spend hours and hours painting. did a quick walk through of the larkspur farmers' market which was just winding down; sampled some cheese curds and assorted citrus. then had an actual lunch from comforts cafe where we shared a jumbo chinese chicken salad and a sonoma jack and avocado sandwich. so fresh and california-y. 

now we were ready to spend the next few hours painting at doodlebug. we both chose a small round plate, anything bigger would probably be too ambitious. i decided to paint a cluster of peace leaf-hearts in varying shades of green; this was inspired by a tshirt i saw at tahoe dave's rental shop :P debby painted a primary bike graphic. the most time-consuming part for both of us was putting on enough layers of paint for each color; it was quite meditative as the hours passed by. we came to a stopping point and left our pieces for firing. there's always this anticipation of the final product. i love it. here's the before and after:

it was getting dark by the time we finished, and we parted ways--deb was off to a comedy show, and i went back to berkeley. no plans for the evening since originally sean and i were supposed to be back home celebrating chinese new year with my family. (cny plans got postponed for everyone due to the blizzard, so at least i didn't feel left out being stuck in california.) the four of us (mike, sarah, sean, and me) decided on japanese for dinner, so sarah suggested ippuku, an izakaya-style restaurant. sorry, no pics allowed--oh well. dinner was a blur of deliciousness. we had a bunch of skewers, beef tataki, crispy brussels sprouts, bacon-wrapped enoki mushrooms, grilled fish, sake... of course an evening wouldn't be complete without some ice cream, so after all that japanese yumminess we went to cream. there was a fairly large crowd when we got there (lots of drunk/hungry college students), but the line moved surprisingly fast. choose your cookie and your ice cream >> $2 ice cream sandwich. so great! sean and i were initially going to share one, but at the last minute sean ordered two so he'd have his own. sheesh! we got mint chip ice cream sandwiched between chocolate chip cookies. they melted fast so eating them in the car was a little tricky, but we managed ;)

(BONUS) DAY NINE: sunday 10 february

this was not a fun day for me. i woke up in the middle of the night super sick--threw up at least three times. it had to be food-related, but i couldn't figure out what it was from. no one else was sick, and we had shared everything. must have just been the culmination of the whole week's food binges. boo.

i basically stayed in bed the whole day. mike and sean made a quick run to blue bottle coffee in oakland and picked up some lunch: meatball subs and orange wine for them, saltines and ginger ale for me ::sad trombone:: we spent the rest of the day hanging out and watching arrested development until sean and i needed to leave for the airport. [major thank you to deb for picking us up at sfo and driving us to sjc.] red-eye flight back to the unwelcoming cold. bye-bye, california! we'll miss you~

... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ...
so that's the end of the california recaps. it only took me about a month or so to finish :P hope you enjoyed reading it!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

part four: marin and berkeley

DAY SEVEN: friday 08 february

this was supposed to be our last day of vacation, but with a little interference from mother nature we were fortunate enough to enjoy a couple more days in california.

we took our time leaving napa and stopped at oxbow public market, which is an indoor market with both restaurants and gourmet food merchants. we wandered a bit around the market and decided on hog island oyster co for lunch:
  * oysters: 3 hog island sweetwater, 3 hog island atwater, 6 kumamoto
  * grilled cheese: cowgirl creamery's fromage blanc, vella mezzo secco, and cave-aged gruyere with 
    house pickles
dessert was three twins ice cream: chocolate for sean and strawberry-balsamic for me.

now that we were nice and full from lunch, it was time to meet debby for a good ol' marin hike to cataract falls. everything was so so mossy; i wanted to touch it ALL ::hand reaching:: so soft~

it was starting to get dark by the time we finished our hike; just in time for dinner. off we went to berkeley for some zachary's deep dish pizza with mike and then ice cream at ici for dessert. among the four of us we got cinnamon bourbon (mike), rosemary pine nut praline (me and deb), and chocolate (sean, of course)--all on handmade cones. mm mm. seriously, can every night end with ice cream??