National Ice Cream Month Is Still On!

Strawberries & Cream

Strawberries & Cream

We’re at the tail end of National Ice Cream Month, however all day today was National Ice Cream Day! Jason and I celebrated with some homemade Strawberries & Cream Ice Cream!  What is your favorite flavor?  Or, where’s your favorite ice cream shop and why?  What makes it so unique?  I’d love to hear all about them.

As a child I had several favorite shops.  I grew up in California, so naturally, we had lots to choose from.  Different ice cream shops inspired different cravings too.  There was a small place in Castro Valley, in “The Village,” called Loard’s where I had to have bubble gum ice cream.  Fentons required a hot fudge sundae or banana split, as did Farrell’s Ice Cream Parlor.  Baskin Robins always meant Prailines and Cream; my twin brother and I would hurry down Redwood Road after school to buy two scoops before our mother picked us up.  Clancy’s in the Manor, my go-to flavors till this day are still Mint Orea Cookie AND Pralines & Cream together slathered in hot fudge with whipped cream.  Last, but definitely not least, Val’s Burgers is the best stop for the largest two-serving milkshake in your life.  No diner in New York City can even come close.  You know that silver cup they use to make your shake? Yeah, that thing comes to your table practically full -in addition to the tall fountain glass your shake comes in!

These iconic ice cream parlors have all the charm and nostalgia of better times; generous portions, and homemade goodness at reasonable prices.  None ever skimmed on their portions and $4 dollars got you more than one tiny scoop on a plain cone like we get here in New York City. If ever you have the pleasure of making it out to the east bay of northern California and you’re a fan of ice cream, then check out at least one of these places.

My recipe for Strawberries & Cream:

1 1/2 cups fresh strawberries, hulled
6-8 blueberries (for color)
3/4 cup whole milk
2/3 cup granulated sugar
pinch of salt
1 1/2 cups of heavy cream
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/3 of vanilla bean seeds from the inside of pod

1. Put strawberries and blueberries in a food processor and pulse until roughly chopped. Set aside in a bowl.

2. In a medium bowl whisk or use a hand mixer on low-speed to combine the milk, sugar and salt until dissolved. Stir in the heavy cream and vanilla. Last, add the strawberries and any juices. Cover and refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours or place in the freezer for one hour.

3. Pour mixture into your ice cream maker and make according to manufacturer’s instructions.

Apricot Jam Simply Delish

Apricots

Nothing better than a great slice of crusty bread, toasted with butter melting over the sides and a spoonful of apricot jam on the top. It’s a bit indulgent with the butter but I ask, is it any worse than eating a croissant? I don’t think so.

Yesterday, running errands in our beautiful city, a 3-pound carton of farm-fresh apricots caught my eye. Jason humored me as I retold him the story of having an apricot tree in our back yard and filling up on these in the summer until I got a tummy ache. $4 dollars got me the carton. What a great deal. I handed the man my money, (feeling I was getting the better part of the deal) and said to Jason, “These will make great jam!”

The rich sunset color, the downy skin and the sweet meaty fruit on the inside just make me happy. Memories of my Granny Mary fill my mind; it was her favorite too and we always had this for breakfast at her house. She’d give me a glass of milk and she would drink her coffee, which she liked “blonde” meaning, with a lot of cream.

close up apricot

This morning I washed them and cut them into halves to prepare them for canning. I looked to the experts for advice on a wholesome recipe. The last time I’d made jam was when I was just a little girl, along side my Grandma Lee (my mom’s mom). I came across a very simple recipe with a few simple ingredients and set out to make this beautiful, slightly tart, mouth-watering golden-orange elixir.

 

I adapted this recipe from David Lebovitz.  I substituted Kirsch for Vanilla but you could choose your own flavoring additive. Neither is overpowering, but both will enhance the rich, warm goodness of the apricots and give a smooth aftertaste.  I also added lemon zest to my recipe.

Ingredients:

2 1/2 Pounds of Apricots

1/4 Cup Water

3 Cups Sugar

1/4 Tsp Lemon Zest (minced)

1 Tsp Freshly Squeezed Lemon Juice

1 Tsp Kirsch (I used Vanilla)

Prep:

Wash, cut in half and pit apricots.
washed and halved

 

Cook:

in the french oven with water and lemon zestPut the apricots in your French oven. Add the water and lemon zest.  Cover with the lid. Turn heat to medium high, stirring frequently.  Cook until apricots begin to turn tender and appear cooked through.

 
Place a small plate in your freezer.

 

Add sugar and continue stirring with the lid off.  Skim any excess foam that forms on the top.  Once the jam begins to thicken and reduce stir more frequently to keep the jam from burning on the bottom of the pan.

stirring frequently

When the mixture begins to jelly, remove from the heat and place a tablespoon of jam onto the plate in your freezer. Let sit for about 3 minutes.

 

 

 

You want the jam to wrinkle and mound when you press it. If it doesn’t do this, return to the heat and cook for a while longer. If this isn’t clear then just make sure your jam reaches approximately 220ºF, 104ºC.

220

Add lemon juice and kirsch (or vanilla); stirring in to fold in those rich flavors evenly. Remove from heat; using a ladle, spoon jam into your jars. I reused old jelly jars.

jarring

Since I will be gifting two of the jars and eating one myself, there is no need to use a formal canning method. Cover jars tightly while jam is still hot. Clean any excess jam off the sides. Allow them to cool down to room temperature.

repurposed jars

 

butter and jam

Spicy Sweet Potato

Sweet Potato

If I have to eat one more baked sweet potato with my salad, I may just cave in and only eat cake!

Jason and I are trying to cut down on the amount of pasta dishes we eat. The hot and humid summer heat makes this task a lot easier.   We’ve taken to eating sweet potatoes a few times a week along with a healthy salad, but this presents a two-fold problem.  The first, the oven temperature and the second, BORING.  I’m getting bored with the taste of my sweet potato.  I am just about ready to dive my face into a sheet of cake with butter cream frosting.

After doing a little research, I came up with a new twist on sweet potatoes. Rather than cook my potatoes in a 450 degree oven for 45 minutes, I turned to modern technology and nooked them a bit (7 minutes) and then pan-fried them with a touch of oil.

The spices went great and woke up the savory side of the potato, which I thought balanced out all that sweetness.

Here is the recipe:
Ingredients:
2 large sweet potatoes
2 tablespoons oil
1 tablespoons hot oriental mustard powder
1 inch ginger, peeled and shredded
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon
 salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne or chili pepper

Directions:

Pierce the sweet potato with a knife or fork several times and microwave on high for 7 minutes. Leave the skin on or peel all or part of it.  Whichever you prefer will work, but leaving it on will give it a really great crispy texture.

Cut or smash the sweet potatoes and set aside.

Bring the oil up medium-high heat in a medium-sized pan and add the oriental mustard, mix it throughout the oil, then add the sweet potatoes, ginger, garlic, salt and cayenne pepper.

Allow it to cook thoroughly and mix it every 2 minutes.

Enjoy!

Sweet Potato

 

I have to give thanks and credit for this recipe to the beautiful HARINI PRASAD, http://thisemptyplatedotcom.wordpress.com/2014/05/22/spicy-ginger-sweet-potato-mash/

Posted on May 22, 2014

I substituted her 2 tbsp. whole black mustard seeds with the hot oriental mustard powder.

We love this dish!

Grilled Eggplant Preserve

SUMMER SEASON’S BEST!

Eggplant is beautiful and at it’s peak in the summer time.  I love to grill them with  extra virgin olive oil, a squeeze of fresh lemon juice,  sea salt and black pepper.  But, since I’m the only one,  other than my 16-year-old,  crazy about this summer starlet,  I usually have left overs.

Grilled Eggplant

Grilled Eggplant

This weekend I did a little research on the best way to preserve them in the fridge.  Mostly I found pickling recipes. This was not what I had in mind.    So I did a little improvisation and this is what I came up with.

I took an old jar,  perfect for such a dish, and gathered a few ingredients.   More extra virgin olive oil,  (from Jason’s brother-in-law’s family farm in Greece) three cloves of garlic and five or six fresh basil leaves from my Window Herb Garden.  Here are the images.  I think we’ll item it up this week when Gigi is home.  We’ll most likely enjoy them with her nana’s roasted peppers and mozzarella on a nice Italian bread for a summer picnic.

I’d live to know how you prepare yours so please share your ideas with  me!

A little this and a little that

Layer Fresh Basil, Lemon Juice, Olive Oil, Garlic and Crushed Red Peper

Layer basil, olive oil, garlic, crushed red pepper, lemon juice and salt and black pepper

Layering the Eggplant

Top it off with two or three more leaves of basil. Fill the jar, getting into all the nooks and crannies, with olive oil and a generous squeeze of lemon juice or balsamic vinegar.

IMG_7408

This also makes a great gift.

Delish Dish by Dena

I decided, last minute, to add two thin slices of lemon to give a little more acidity to the preserve.

Eggplant with Lemon