Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Roasted Blueberry Ice Cream and Corn Cookie Sandwiches

ice cream sandwiches_13

You'll have to excuse me for keeping it short today, but I am in Seattle visiting my family and there are babies to snuggle and blackberries to pick and let's not forget about the chickens that need to be chased around the yard. So, I am going to leave you this week with a real whiz bang recipe for glorious ice cream sandwiches packed full of summer flavors.

ice cream

They are the sweet and salty marriage of cookies that taste intensely of warm buttered corn and tangy ice cream full of pure blueberry flavor. I know cookies that taste like corn might sound a little strange, but they are crazy delicious and they stay soft enough to bite through even when frozen, making them perfect for ice cream sandwiches.

If you'd like to follow my adventures in Seattle this week I'll be posting away on instagram @apt2bbakingco. I'd love to see you over there!

Roasted Blueberry Ice Cream and Corn Cookie Sandwiches
I won't lie, both of these recipes are a bit labor intensive and they both have a lot of ingredients, but they are equally good on their own as they are together so if you don't feel like going all the way just make the cookies or the ice cream and enjoy them on their own. 

Corn Cookies 
adapted from Momofuku Milk Bar
yield 13-15 large cookies, 24-30 small cookies
I don't like to play favorites in the kitchen, but these cookies are a huge hit every time I make them, so I make them a lot :) Freeze dried corn can be found at most natural markets, look for the brand called "Just Corn". If you live in NYC you can buy the freeze dried corn powder at Momofuku Milk Bar.

225 grams/ 16 tablespoons softened butter
300 grams/ 1 1/2 cups sugar
1 egg
225 grams/ 1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
45 grams/ 1/4 cup corn flour (not cornstarch)
65 grams/ 2/3c freeze dried corn powder
3 grams/ 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1.5 grams or 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
6 grams kosher salt or 1 1/2 teaspoons

1. Combine butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer. Cream on medium-high for 2-3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the egg and beat for 7-8 minutes. The mixture will be very light in color and very light and fluffy.
2. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour, corn flour, corn powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Mix until just combined.
3. For large cookies, use a 2 3/4 ounce scoop (about 1/3 cup) to measure portions of dough and place them on a parchment lined baking sheet. For ice cream sandwich sized cookies (2-3'') like the ones pictured, I use a small scoop of dough (about 2 tablespoons). Pat the tops of the cookies flat and wrap the pan tightly in plastic wrap. Chill at least one hour before baking (I like to let them sit overnight). Do not bake the cookies from room temperature.
4. To bake the cookies: Preheat the oven to 350º.
5. Arrange the chilled dough on baking sheets a minimum of 4 inches apart (for large cookies) or 2 inches (for small cookies). Slide into the oven and bake for 18 minutes (for large cookies) or 13-15 minutes (for small cookies). The cookies should be very light brown around the edges and still bright yellow in the centers when done. Cool completely on the baking sheet and transfer to an airtight container for storage. These cookies can be stored at room temperature for up to 5 days and in the freezer for 1 month.

Roasted Blueberry Buttermilk Ice Cream
adapted from Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams
I've made quite a few of Jeni's ice creams and they have all been killer. The recipe is a bit complicated and you will have to dirty quite a few dishes to put it together, but don't let that hold you back. You will be rewarded with smooth, creamy ice cream packed full of blueberry flavor.

For the Roasted Blueberries

1 pint blueberries
1/3 cup sugar
3 tablespoons lemon juice

Preheat oven to 375º

Combine the blueberries, sugar and lemon juice in an 8'' baking pan. Roast for 8-10 minutes or until the blueberries are just softened and releasing their juices. Let the berries cool for a few minutes, then puree them in a blender or food processor. Measure 1/2 cup of puree that will be used in the ice cream and reserve the rest for another use.

For the Ice Cream Base

1 1/2 cups whole milk
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
2/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1/4 cup buttermilk
2 tablespoons corn starch or tapioca starch
2 ounces softened cream cheese
1/8 teaspoon sea salt

1. Mix about 2 tablespoons of the milk with the cornstarch in a small bowl to make a smooth slurry. In a separate bowl, whisk the cream cheese and salt until smooth.
2. Combine the remaining milk, cream, sugar and corn syrup in a large saucepan (at least 4 quarts). Bring the mixture to a rolling boil over medium high heat and boil for 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and slowly whisk in the cornstarch mixture.
3. Bring the mixture back to a boil and cook, stirring constantly until slightly thickened, about 1 minute.
4. Gradually whisk the hot mixture into the cream cheese and salt and stir until smooth. Stir in the reserved blueberry puree and buttermilk. Chill the mixture over an ice bath (or in the refrigerator for a few hours) until completely cold.
5. Pour the base into the canister and freeze according to the manufacturer's directions. Spoon the mixture into a storage container and dollop a few tablespoons of the reserved roasted blueberry puree on top. Gently swirl it into the base, cover the container with plastic wrap and freeze until firm, at least 4 hours.

To Assemble the Sandwiches
yield 12 sandwiches

24 Small Corn Cookies
Roasted Blueberry Ice Cream, slightly softened

Arrange 12 corn cookies, flat sides up on a baking sheet. Top each cookie with a scoop of ice cream and top with another corn cookie, flat side down and push down gently. Cover the baking sheet with plastic and freeze until firm, 30-60 minutes.

ice cream sandwiches_12

Thursday, August 23, 2012

White Peach Tart

White Peach Tart

A perfect summer dessert should be easy to put together and it should definitely utilize and enhance the delicious fruit available this time of year. There are quite a few types of desserts that fit these requirements: crumbles, cobblers, and grunts for example, but sometimes I feel fancy and I want to make a tart. Something about lining a pan with fruit arranged in concentric circles just makes me feel elegant. What? Just me?

White Peach Tart

Tarts can be really easy you guys, especially when you can just pat the crust into a pan (no rolling! and for the love of unicorns, no blind baking!) Then, all you have to do is slice up some of summer's sweetest, blushing white peaches (no peeling!), toss them gently with a bit of ginger and lime for a punch of flavor, tuck them into your previously patted crust, and wait patiently.

White Peach Tart

After a few minutes in a hot oven the peaches soften and release their juices, the corny crust crisps and browns, and it's done. A perfect summer pair, all baked up in a fancy dessert that was a cinch to put together.

Not that this even needs to be said, but the leftovers (if there are any) make a delicious breakfast.

White Peach Tart with Ginger and Lime in a Cornmeal Crust
yield, 1 10'' or 11'' tart

For the Crust
This makes a nice, thick crust (about 1/4'') which is my preference. If you prefer your crusts on the thin side, you may want to set aside a bit of the dough for another use before patting it into the pan.

4 ounces corn flour (or very fine cornmeal)
4 ounces all purpose flour
1.75 ounces sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon lime zest
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 ounces butter, melted and cooled
1 egg yolk

1. In a medium bowl, stir the flours, sugar, salt and lime zest. Make a well in the center of the mixture and add in the olive oil, butter and egg yolk. Stir gently to combine.
2. Turn the dough out into a 10'' or 11'' removable bottom tart pan and pat it evenly on the bottom and up the sides. Refrigerate the shell while you prepare the filling.

For the Filling

4 medium white peaches
1'' piece of ginger, peeled and grated
1/2 teaspoon lime zest
juice of 1/2 a lime
1.75 ounces turbinado sugar (or white sugar)
3/4 ounce all purpose flour
1 ounce cold butter (cut into small cubes)

Preheat oven to 425º

1. Cut the peaches into wedges about 1/2'' thick (I cut my peaches into eighths).
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the grated ginger, lime zest and juice, turbinado sugar and flour. Add the sliced peaches and toss gently to coat them in the mixture.
3. Arrange the peaches in tight concentric circles on top of the prepared shell, pour any juices left in the bowl on top, and dot the tart with the cold butter cubes.
4. Slide the tart into the oven and bake until the peaches are soft and have released their juices and the crust is golden, about 30-40 minutes. Serve warm or room temperature with whipped cream, creme fraiche or a scoop of ice cream.

White Peach Tart

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Fresh Currant Oat Scones

currant scones

I used to bake hundereds of scones every day. Hundreds. Every morning, before the city woke up I poured myself the biggest cup of coffee I could find, and fired up two commercial ovens. Then I measured, mixed, cut, measured, mixed, cut, on repeat, for hours. I emptied 25 pound sacks of flour and 50 pound sacks of sugar into bins. I used butter by the case, buttermilk and cream by the gallon. I got strong and fast and efficient and I learned what happened when you over-mixed and under-baked pastries (bad stuff).

I liked the quiet mornings and the methodical work because once I got good at it, my mind had plenty of time to wander. I dreamt up all kinds of flavors (some more well received than others) and I loved the freedom to create, but after a few years of those mornings the thought of actually eating a scone was so incredibly unappealing that it took me nearly 7 months to even think about baking scones at home. Then it took another month for me to actually get around to it, but an extra lovely batch of red currants gave me the courage I needed to get back to sconing.

Be warned, the fresh currants make these scones quite tart, but they are excellent with a bit of butter and jam if you find them sour. I imagine they would also be delicious with a bit of lemon or orange glaze too. You can make citrus glaze by whisking about a cup of confectioner's sugar with a few tablespoons of lemon or orange juice until smooth. A bit of finely grated zest would also be a nice addition to the glaze.

Currant Oat Scones
yield, 8 scones
This recipe calls for buttermilk and heavy cream, but if you'd like to only use one type of liquid you can also 100% heavy cream. The scones may be a bit more dense and rich, but that is definitely not a bad thing.

10 ounces all purpose flour
1.5 ounces rolled oats (plus a little extra to sprinkle on top)
1.5 ounces sugar (plus a little extra to sprinkle on top)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon orange zest
3 ounces cold butter, cut into cubes
4 ounces buttermilk
4 ounces, plus 2 Tablespoons heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 ounces red currants or other berries

Preheat oven to 425º and line a baking sheet with parchment paper

1. In a large bowl, stir together the flour, oats, sugar, salt, baking powder and orange zest. Use a pastry cutter or 2 knives to cut the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles coarse meal. Alternately, you can mix the dough for this step in a food processor.
2. Add the currants to the mixture and toss gently to combine. Make a well in the center of mixture and pour in the buttermilk, vanilla and the 4 ounces of heavy cream. Stir gently until just combined. The mixture should be soft and a little sticky, if it seems dry, add a few more tablespoons of buttermilk or heavy cream.
3. Working quickly, turn the dough out onto a floured surface and pat it into a circle about 1.5 inches high. Cut the circle into 8 wedges and transfer to the prepared baking sheet about 2 inches apart. Brush the tops of the scones with the remaining 2 tablespoons of cream, then sprinkle the scones with the extra oats and sugar. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until the tops are deep golden. Serve warm. The baked and cooled scones can also be stored in the freezer (wrapped tightly) for a few weeks. Warm in the oven before serving.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Classic Dill Pickle Spears

pickles

I've been so distracted by pies and tarts recently, that after my wild success with pickled beets I nearly forgot about my goal to make more pickles this summer, for shame! Luckily, I ran into a giant crate of Kirby cucumbers the other day to remind me to get back to brining. I chose a classic dilly recipe full of ingredients I always have on hand (except the dill seeds, which were easy to find) for my cukes which was perfect for a novice pickler like me. From start to finish, this recipe took less than 30 minutes (plus the curing time) and they are perfectly garlicy and spicy with a nice vinegary bite, the only problem is that I drastically underestimated how many pickles my household was capable of eating in a week. I guess it's back to the stove for me...

pickles-3

I'm pretty excited to pick up some more cucumbers to make another batch of these guys and now that I am well on my way to becoming a pickle pro, I think I'll whip up batch of bread and butter pickles to tuck into my sandwiches. I might even have to find a crinkle cutter for those classic pickle-chip ridges.

Classic Dill Pickles
adapted from the Food in Jars Cookbook
yield, 4 pints of pickles

2 cups apple cider vinegar
3 teaspoons pickling salt
8 garlic cloves, peeled
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes, divided
4 teaspoons dill seed, divided
2 teaspoons black peppercorns, divided
1 overflowing pint pickling cucumbers (I think I fit about 4 small cukes per jar)

1. Prepare and sterilize four pint jars, preferably regular mouth. Place the lids in a small saucepan, cover with water and simmer over very low heat.
2. Combine the vinegar, 2 cups water and the pickling salt in a medium pot and bring to a boil.
3. While the brine is boiling, add 2 garlic cloves, 1/4t red pepper flakes, 1 teaspoon dill seed, and 1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns to each sterilized jar. Trim the blossom ends from the cucumbers, cut them lengthwise into spears and pack them tightly into the jars. Alternately, you can pickle the cucumbers whole.
4. Carefully pour the hot brine over the cucumbers in each jar, leaving 1/2 inch of headspace. Gently tap the jars on a kitchen towel to release any air bubbles, then use a wooden chopstick to dislodge any remaining air bubbles in each jar. Check the headspace again and add more brine if necessary.
5. Wipe the rims, and apply the lids and rings to the jars. Process in a boiling water bath for 5 minutes, then let the pickles cure for at least 1 week before eating.

This book was sent to me by the publisher. All opinions expressed are my own.

pickles-1

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Methley Plum Jam

plum jam-1-3
plum jam-1-8

I bought these plums on a rainy day whim when there was a whole table full them marked $1 per quart,  which was a steal of a deal that I just couldn't pass up. So with very little hesitation, I walked up to the table and handed over a few dollars for three rain-soaked quarts of tiny, ripe plums and asked asked the fellas working the stand why they were so inexpensive. One guy claimed that they just had a lot of that particular variety and needed to sell them. Then the other piped in and said, "Let's be real, it's about to pour down rain and we want to get out of here." I laughed and told them I didn't mind either way because I was going to make jam from the whole lot.

This recipe for plum jam is very simple (like most of the jams I prefer), but for a more spiced up version check out this post to see how I made my plum jam last year: Spiced Plum Jam with Vanilla Bean. I made that jam with Italian prune plums which are a freestone variety available later in the season.

Methley Plum Jam
yield, 4-5 half pints

I had never eaten a Methley plum before this impulse buy and while they taste great, they have one huge drawback. They are clingstone plums, which means that they are a pain in the butt to pit and when they are small, ripe and soft like the batch I had, they are nearly impossible to use without making a mess. So, I just got down to it with my hands. I tore the fruit in half over a large bowl and used my fingers to squeeze as much fruit from the pits as possible. It wasn't glamorous, but it worked just fine. If you are working with larger, less ripe plums you can cut them in quarters and pull the wedges of plum from the pits.

Update 8/8: Sean of Punk Domestics fame just informed me that you can cut clingstone plums (and probably other clingstone fruit) down to the pits, macerate them overnight (pits and all) in sugar (and spices if using) and the pits will loosen up on their own. Handy!

3 pounds Methley Plums or other small sugar plums
28 ounces sugar
1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped (optional)
1 lemon, juice squeezed and rinds reserved.

1. Wash, pit, and chop the plums if necessary. Add them to a large bowl with the sugar, vanilla bean seeds and pod (if using), and lemon juice and squeezed rind. Stir to combine, cover and refrigerate over night or up to 2 days.
2. When you are ready to cook the jam, prepare 4 or 5 half pint jars by washing and sterilizing them.
Pour the jam mixture in to non-reactive pot and remove the lemon rind.
2. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium high heat, stirring occasionally. As the jam comes to a boil, skim the foam that rises to the top of the pot and discard.
3. Raise the heat to high and boil for 15-25 minutes or until set, being careful not to let the bottom scorch. Begin checking the jam for doneness at about 15 minutes. I generally use the wrinkle test to check for doneness with this type of jam, but if you like numbers you can cook it to 220ºF. If you would prefer jam without skin, quickly transfer the cooked mixture to a mesh strainer and force as much as the jam through as possible, discard the skins and proceed with canning.
4.  Remove the vanilla bean pod and save for another use, then pour the jam into sterilized jars, then process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.

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Friday, August 3, 2012

Whole Wheat Buttermilk Biscuits

Whole Wheat Biscuits

I have a problem. You see, every time I make a batch of jam (something that happens frequently this time of year) I feel compeled to make a special delivery vehicle to get that jam into my face, for testing purposes of course. It's a cycle that I can't seem to break, make some jam, make something to put jam on, eat and repeat. These biscuits are the latest candidate in my search for the best treat to slather in the sweet stuff and they sure give these scones a run for their money. They are hearty and wholesome and surprisingly light for a mostly whole grain pastry and their neutral flavor makes them a great match with both sweet and savory fillings. For maximum enjoyment eat them fresh and warm from the oven on the day they are baked.

Have a great weekend! Who else is going to spend it watching the Olympics?

Whole Wheat Buttermilk Biscuits
yield, about 12 biscuits

6 ounces whole wheat flour
4 1/4 ounces  all purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 ounces unsalted butter (very cold)
8-10 ounces buttermilk (very cold)
1/2 ounce milk or cream (to brush the tops)
a few tablespoons of oats to sprinkle on top (optional)

Preheat oven to 425º

1. In a large bowl, stir together the flours, baking powder, and salt.
2. Cut the butter into the flour mixture with a pastry cutter or two knives until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Make a well in the center of the mixture and pour in 8 ounces of the buttermilk. Mix gently with a wooden spoon until combined, the dough will be very sticky. Add more buttermilk if the dough seems dry.
3. Turn the dough out onto a floured board and pat it into a rectangle about 1'' thick. Fold the dough in half over itself and gently pat down again. Work quickly and repeat this process 5 more times. After the final fold, cut the dough into 2 1/2'' rounds or squares, making sure to press straight down when you are cutting. If you squish the dough down while you cut it the biscuits will not rise to their full biscuity glory.
4. Place the cut biscuits on a parchment lined baking sheet, barely touching, brush lightly with milk or cream and sprinkle with oats (optional, but it gives them a little flair). Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm.

Whole Wheat Biscuits