Saturday, July 27, 2013

milk oolong ice cream

heat and humidity: the definition of summers on the east coast. i'd like to say that after 8 years in connecticut i've learned how to successfully stay cool and manage the summer weather, but that would be a big fat lie. more often than not i'm a sweaty, frizzy mess, and my only strategy for staying remotely cool is drinking gallons of water and consuming large amounts of ice cream. but since all that dairy and sugar probably isn't the greatest for my summer weight, i've limited myself to the occasional weekend scoop and spoonfuls of homemade ice cream.

to continue the asian-flavored ice cream theme, the latest flavor i made was milk oolong. i first heard about milk oolong in a post on seriouseats and was immediately intrigued. until now i only used the leaves to brew tea. when i was looking through different ice cream recipes, i came across this recipe for (regular) oolong tea ice cream. i was feeling indulgent and was curious how the creamy flavor of the tea would come across in ice cream, so i subbed the regular oolong for milk oolong. i'm happy to report that the subtle milky floral flavor of the tea really comes out in the ice cream, and unlike some tea-flavored things, it's not too overpowering or bitter. but like most tea-flavored things i wouldn't consume massive amounts of it in one sitting, which i suppose is a good thing... i think this ice cream would pair well with a rich chocolate cake or brownie--something densely chocolate. maybe that'll be my next treat ;)
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:: milk oolong ice cream ::
(adapted from weallscream)

2 cups half-and-half
3 tbsp milk oolong tea leaves
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup sugar

1. heat half-and-half until simmering. do not boil.
2. remove from heat and add oolong tea leaves. steep for at least 15 minutes.
3. strain into saucepan. add heavy cream and sugar and stir.
4. heat until simmering. do not boil.
5. refrigerate overnight or until cold.
6. churn in ice cream maker until thickened.
7. transfer to container. freeze for a few hours or overnight.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

mid-july recap

okay, i've been lagging a bit in posts so here are some highlights from the past couple weeks:

* june 29th - 30th: montreal AGAIN. this was kind of a random trip but nevertheless another nice weekend with yummy food. we tried a few places that we meant to the last time we were there. first was patisserie kouign amann in the plateau area. tiny shop with a very old-french feel and an open view into the kitchen. there were so many other tempting pastries, but we kept it fairly conservative with a café au lait to share, pain aux chocolat for sean, and a slice of kouign amann for me. the kouign amann was deliciously buttery and sugary, almost like honey, and a slice was just enough.

next up was la banquese for poutine and a pogo. POGO! it's just a corn dog, but apparently in canada they're called pogos. who knew! it may also be the brand name cuz i noticed the stick of my pogo was stamped with a pogo logo. (yeah, i totally just rhymed.) i'm not the only one who was entertained by ordering a pogo; the girl at the table next to us sheepishly tacked on a pogo to her initial order then giggled after the waitress left, "pogo!" in the end, it's just a corn dog--freshly fried but nothing special. the poutine (with a side salad) was again good but nothing special. we also over-ordered with a large, so that may have dampened our enthusiasm (and busted our bellies).

the last place we tried was pizzeria magpie. it's not better than the places we've gone to in manhattan and brooklyn, but that's not really a fair comparison. we ordered a tomato salad to start, the magpie margherita, and the artichauts (artichockes, spinach, fontina, and parm with a tomato sauce). the salad was kind of disappointing; the overall salad lacked much flavor, and the tomatoes were particularly sad. i guess tomatoes haven't been doing so great this season~ fortunately the pizza was much better. both were good, and i don't remember which one i preferred. i'd come back again; it's got promise~

* july 4th: lily joined our crew. i found lily on when i was randomly searching for kittens in stamford. she was a rescue that was being fostered by community cats (a volunteer organization whose mission is to "humanely stabilize the free-roaming cat population in our community, primarily through spay and neuter, education, and responsible adoptions"). they found her back in april when she was just a teeny tiny kitten who was probably abandoned by her mother. because of that, she's needed some kitten etiquette lessons; lucky for me her foster mom did a lot of that. she's still very much a playful kitten, a bit sassy, and a little diva. quite the opposite of mr. scared-of-life casey…although he's seemed to have mellowed out with her around (perhaps all his attention and focus has been trying to figure out what the deal is with this infiltrator…). casey is still unsure of the situation, but i'm sure he'll learn to love her ::fingers crossed:: best part is, now sean and i have matching cats :D

* july 13th: in honor of abby's first time in connecticut, sean and i put together a homemade pizza lunch:
- two standard margheritas and one flatbread pizza topped with corn, zucchini, red onion, jalapenos, feta, and parm
- shaved brussels sprouts salad with avocados and lentils and a pineapple-poppy seed vinaigrette
- fig and citrus olive oil cake/loaf with haagen dazs vanilla bean ice cream
i have zero pictures of the food because i was too busy making and eating it :P and also staring adoringly at abby <3 

speaking of…

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

that's bananas!

it's been a busy few weeks since abby's arrival, so my recent baking activity has been focused on simple and comforting (and freezeable). given that criteria, what could be more appropriate than banana bread? conveniently, i had a few spotty bananas just asking to be baked into something delicious ;)

i tried out two new recipes: joy the baker's brown butter banana strawberry bread and miette's banana bread with nutty streusel. i decided to omit the strawberries in jtb's recipe since the berry selection has been rather subpar; that might have been a mistake... the recipe only called for half a cup of chopped strawberries but leaving them out made the bread a little on the dry side. i probably should have compensated with extra yogurt or more bananas ::sigh:: dryness aside, the brown butter-banana flavor was nice. i'll have to try this one again but make it properly--even if i have to use subpar strawberries. now, on to miette's banana bread, the true star of this post.

this is the first recipe i've done from the miette cookbook. it's such a beautiful book and perfectly mirrors the aesthetic of the bakery itself. how many other cookbooks have cute scalloped edges? given the excellent results i am definitely inspired to try out more.

the streusel topping adds a nice sweetness, making this more like a banana coffee cake than your standard nutty banana bread. for whatever reason, i'm usually not great at making streusel--it'll either come out too sandy and fall off or too chunky and melt into a sort of crust--but this streusel had the exact crumb-like texture i've been aiming for. the recipe makes a lot of topping, and even with a generous sprinkling i ended up with some leftovers--might consider halving the recipe next time. as for the cake/bread, i made it into one regular-sized loaf and three mini loaves. wrapped up the large loaf for jade & kavin (freezer ready) and shared the minis with sean over the course of the week. deeelicious.
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:: banana bread with nutty streusel :: 

(recipe from miette)
makes 2 loaves.

nutty streusel: 
1/2 cup (2oz) pecan pieces 
1/4 cup (2oz) firmly packed light brown sugar 
1/3 cup (1 1/2oz) all purpose flour 
2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter 
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon 
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract 
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

banana bread: 
2 1/4 cups (11oz) all purpose flour 
1 teaspoon baking soda 
3/4 teaspoon baking powder 
1 teaspoon kosher salt 
1 1/2 cups (10 1/2oz) sugar 
2 large eggs 
1 teaspoon vanilla extract 
1/2 cup vegetable oil 
4 medium soft, but not black, bananas (about a pound), peeled and roughly mashed 
1/2 cup (2oz) pecan pieces

1. liberally butter four 5-by-3-inch or two 8-by-4 inch loaf pans and dust with sifted flour. tap out the excess flour. 
2. preheat the oven to 350F. 
3. to make the streusel: in a food processor, add the pecans, sugar, flour, butter, cinnamon, vanilla, and salt and pulse until coarsely combined. transfer to a small bowl, cover and refrigerate until ready to use, up to 5 days.
4. to make the banana bread: sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into a bowl and set aside. 
5. in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk the sugar, eggs, and vanilla on medium speed until well combined and lightened in color, 4 to 5 minutes. reduce the speed to low and drizzel in the oil, whisking until combined. add the banana mash and whisk just until combined. add the dry ingredients and pecans to the batter in three additions, whisking just to combine after each addition. do not overmix.
6. divide the batter between the prepared pans. sprinkle the tops with the streusel, dividing it evenly. (you may not need all of the streusel if making the smaller loaves.) bake until the breads have risen nicely and a tester inserted in the center comes out clean, 40 to 45 minutes for the small loaves and 45 to 50 minutes for the larger loaves. transfer to wire racks and let cool in the pans for 20 minutes. run an offset spatula around the edges of the pans, then invert the cakes onto the racks and let cool for about 20 minutes longer. serve right away, or wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate until you are ready to serve, up to 3 days. to freeze, wrap tightly in a second layer of plastic and store in the freezer for up to 2 months. serve at room temperature.