Sunday, May 26, 2013

Chocolate Hazelnut Ice Cream

A search in the New York Times brought about a recipe that just screamed "yes" to me.  This recipe comes from the Calliope Restaurant in New York City.  Are you ready for this?  Chocolate Hazelnut Ice Cream.

I made a few adjustments to make it easy on myself, and a fantastic ice cream developed in my kitchen.

Chocolate Hazelnut Ice Cream
adapted from Calliope, NYC

3/4 cup hazelnuts  (I toasted the hazelnuts for 10 minutes and then rubbed off the brown skins)
6 ounces gianduja (chocolate hazelnut paste-about 3/4 cup)   I substituted Nutella..6 ounces or about 3/4 cup
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup half and half
3/4 cup granulated sugar
pinch of salt
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
6 egg yolks
2 cups heavy cream

Heat oven to 350 degrees and spread hazelnuts on a rimmed baking sheet.  Toast in the oven for 10 minutes.  Let cool for about 10 minutes and rub the nuts in a dish towel to remove most of the skins.

In a medium bowl, melt the Nutella and butter.  (Either Microwave or over hot water.)  Keep mixture warm.

In a medium saucepan bring the half and half, sugar and vanilla bean to a simmer until the sugar melts, taking care not to boil.  Stir occasionally.

Place the egg yolks in a small bowl.  Slowly whisk in 1/4 cup of the hot half and half mixture, whisking constantly and carefully so as not to scramble the yolks.  Slowly pour the egg mixture back into the remaining half and half, whisking constantly.  Heat the custard through, but do not simmer.  If you see curdled clumps, pass through a fine strainer.  Remove the vanilla bean.

While whisking constantly, slowly pour the warm custard into the warm melted chocolate.  Once the chocolate custard is thoroughly combined and smooth, whisk in heavy cream.  Cover the custard and transfer to refrigerator to chill for at least 2 hours.

Pour chocolate hazelnut custard into an ice cream machine and chill for approximately 25-30 minutes.  Fold hazelnuts into ice cream.  Freeze to harden.

Believe me, there is absolutely nothing wrong with this ice cream.  It is absolutely delicious, creamy, smooth and so perfectly chocolate.  This will become a favorite.   I hope you will try it.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Chicken Satay with Spicy Peanut Sauce

I will be the first to admit that I have quite a few cookbooks.  I love reading them as much as reading a novel.  I use most of them occasionally, some often,  and others are simply to be read for entertainment.

Having said that, we do grill approximately 85% of our dinners in Florida and Montana.  I have to say that the Trout knows his way around the grill.  I usually do the sides.  So, finding one more cookbook seemed a little crazy, but I am so glad we did.  We picked up this cookbook, William Sonoma Grill Master  by Fred Thompson at Lowe's.  We have been using it weekly with happy surprises coming off the grill.  There is a section of sauces, marinades and rubs and a large section of sides that are worth talking about.

One thing we do cook on our stove is stir-fry.  We do this often as we "clean out" the vegetable drawer.  But this is a Thai recipe that I know my Montana friend, Chris, would love.  I have a favorite peanut sauce that we use a lot, but this time I took the one out of the new cookbook and we really, really loved it.

If you are serious about grilling and want some outstanding recipes to move things up a notch, I would really suggest adding this cookbook to your kitchen library.

Chicken Satay with Spicy Peanut Sauce

Adapted from William Sonoma Grill Master

For the Marinade:

1 cup coconut milk
1/4 cup Asian fish sauce
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 teaspoon curry powder
Freshly ground pepper

4 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
wooden or metal skewers

Stir together the marinade and set aside.

Pound chicken breasts between two sheets of plastic wrap until 1/2" thick.  Cut into lengthwise strips and put all chicken pieces into a large zip-loc plastic bag and pour in the marinade.  Refrigerate for at least 4 hours or up to 8 hours.

Thirty minutes before grilling, remove the chicken from the refrigerator.  Discard the marinade and pat the chicken strips dry with paper towels.

Prepare the grill.  Thread chicken strips lengthwise onto skewers.  Place on the grill and cook, turning once until grill marked on both sides, opaque and still moist, about 4-5 minutes on each side.

Pass with the following peanut sauce.

Spicy Peanut Sauce
2 cups coconut milk
1/4 cup chunky peanut butter - my substitute
(Recipe calls for 1/4 chop chopped unsalted dry roasted peanuts and 2 tablespoons peanut butter)
2 tablespoons Asian fish sauce
1 teaspoon fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons firmly packed light brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon green curry paste (I substituted red curry paste as it is milder)
1 teaspoon paprika
1 clove garlic, finely minced

In a saucepan over medium heat, combine the coconut milk, peanut butter, fish sauce, lime juice, sugar, curry paste, paprika and garlic.  Bring to a gentle simmer, stirring occasionally, then cook until thickened and reduced by half, 15-20 minutes.  Set aside.  Serve warm or room temperature.

Cucumber Salad
adapted from Grill Master

3 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 large English cucumber
1/2 small red onion

In a large bowl, whisk together the vinegar and sugar until the sugar dissolves.  Whisk in oil.

Thinly slice the cucumber and onion.  Using a mandoline makes this easy.  Add to the bowl and gently toss together.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes before serving.

This cucumber salad as the perfect touch to the chicken satay.  One thing missing....jasmine rice would have been nice.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

A lucky find and a delightful treat

Since a trip to the Alsace area of France, I have been searching for something.  I look on the Internet, e-bay, just about everywhere, and I have not found want I was looking for.  I know I can find it in France, but right now, I am in the USA and it is more difficult to find.

So, last week we were in North Carolina visiting our daughter and her family.  Angie and I decided to go to some antique shops.  As I was glancing at a wall, I said, "I don't believe it!"  There it hung.  I quickly walked forward and looked at the tag and it said it was a "jello mold."  No way. This was not a jello mold, but an absolutely perfect, copper Kugelhopf mold.  I explained to my daughter and the shopkeeper, my long time search for this Alsatian pan.  My daughter grabs it out of my hands and says "Happy Mother's Day."  Perfect, just a perfect find, and thank you, Angie.

So then, the next search was for the recipe that was most similar to the one I ate for breakfast each day while we stayed at the B&B in Alsace.  That was a little easier since it ended up that the cookbook in my kitchen had the perfect recipe.  Susan Herrmann Loomis and  French Farmhouse Cookbook had just what I wanted.

Kugelhopf is a sweet, raisin studded bread that is the signature pastry of Alsace and every pastry shop in the region proudly displays this in their windows.  Serve it as a late afternoon snack with coffee or for breakfast.  

Alsatian Coffee Bread

Kugelhopf from Susan Herrmann Loomis

3/4 cup (125 g) golden raisins
2 tablespoons kirsch (I used apricot brandy)
1 cup milk heated to lukewarm
1 scant tablespoon active dry yeast
3/4 cup (150 g) sugar  (vanilla sugar is preferred)
2 eggs
3 3/4 cups (500g) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut in small pieces, room temperature
whole almonds

About 1 hour before you plan to bake, combine the raisins and kirsch in a small bowl.  Stir and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl (I used my Kitchen Aid bowl), combine the lukewarm milk and the yeast.  Stir, then add the vanilla sugar and stir well.  (NOTE:)  I had half the amount of sugar needed in vanilla sugar that I brought back from France last year.  It comes in packets.  I then added regular sugar to get the full 150 grams.

Let this sit for 5 minutes, until the yeast begins to foam.  Whisk in the eggs, one at a time, until thoroughly combined.  Then gradually add the flour and salt, mixing well with a wooden spoon.  The dough will be quite sticky.  Continue mixing the dough using the wooden spoon or your hands until it is quite elastic, about 10 minutes.   This takes about 5 minutes in an electric mixer.

Gradually add the butter piece by piece, kneading until it is well incorporated and the dough is smooth and elastic and comes cleanly off the sides of the bowl, about 5 minutes or 2-3 with an electric mixer. 

Mix in the raisins until they are evenly distributed.  Leave the dough in the bowl, cover with a tea towel and let rise in a warm spot until it has nearly doubled in bulk, about 1 1/2 hours.

Punch down the down and knead it briefly to remove all the air.  Then let rise again until nearly doubled in bulk, about 1 1/2 hours.

Heavily butter a 6 cup kugelhopf mold and place the almonds in the indentations in the bottom of the mold.  Punch down the dough and place it in the mold as evenly as possible.  Let rise until it reaches the top, about 1 hour.  (If you don't have a kugelhopf mold, use a 6 cup souffle dish.  Place the dough in the souffle dish and arrange the almonds on top of the dough.)  Susan Loomis says that 17 almonds are needed in the bottom of the typical kugelhopf mold.  I only had room for 16, but believe me, I am not typical either. 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Bake the kugelhopf in the center of the oven until it is golden and sounds hollow when the mold is tapped, 1 hour.

Remove the mold from the oven and let it sit for 5 minutes.  Unmold the kugelhopf and let it cool on a wire rack.  Dust it with confectioners  sugar before serving.  If you used a souffle dish, cool the kugelhopf almond side up on a wire rack and serve so that the almonds are showing.

You will see that there is a lot of time spent rising; 4 hours and 1 hour baking.  I am not fond of raisins in anything, but this is one way that is easy to tolerate them. 

I have started baking using a food scale and I am so loving it.  Using it today, set to grams, I was reminded of my grandmother's old green scale that she used with her baking.  I truly think it makes a difference. 

Ready for the oven

What pleased me the most was how this kugelhopf simply fell out of the pan after baking.  That would tell me that the pan had been used many times and was well seasoned.  Now my imagination will go wild as I think about who, when and where.  I love mysteries.

The next time, I will reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees and watch it carefully to see if it is baking correctly.  Ovens vary a lot and I have found that most baking recipe are simply a guide and you need to check frequently to see what is working for you.

Okay, I am totally pleased.  This kugelhopf turned out perfect!!  It is soft, fluffy and cake-like and I know our B&B hostess had these frozen for her breakfasts, so I am quite sure they will freeze easily.  The Trout said he thought a touch of orange zest would be nice and I did read some recipes that had this added ingredient.  I will definitely make this again even though, from start to finish, it was a 6 hour production.  To all my Alsatian friends and family, this treat is for you.  I wish I could share with everyone. 

Friday, May 3, 2013

Strawberry Buttermilk Sherbet

I had some strawberries and buttermilk in the refrigerator that I wanted to get rid of before some travel time.  What should I find, but a perfect recipe that got rid of both in a very pleasant and easy way.

I found this recipe in a May 2008 issue of Southern Living.  Very simple, and very, very good.  Since you are not using heavy cream, you can really enjoy this treat.  Only 4 ingredients.  That's good.  I can imagine do this with a lot of different fruit. 

Strawberry Buttermilk Sherbet
from Southern Living, May 2008 issue

2 cups fresh strawberries or one 16 oz. package of frozen berries, thawed
2 cups buttermilk
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Process strawberries in a food processor or blender until smooth.  Pour strawberry puree through a fine wish mesh strainer into a large bowl, pressing with the back of a spoon.  Discard solids.  Add buttermilk, sugar and vanilla to the puree.  Stir until well blended.  Cover and chill 1 hour.

Pour strawberry mixture into an electric ice cream make and freeze according to directions.  Mine took about 25 minutes.  Remove from ice cream freezer and put in a container in the freezer for several hours until ready to scoop.