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August 4, 2008

Announcing: Sunday Slow Scoopers

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I love, love, love gelato. So when Jerry suggested that our next book be David Lebovitz's "The Perfect Scoop," I was very excited. You see I also love, love, love David's blog. A guy who writes about ice cream, chocolate and all things Parisian is pretty appealing. Naturally, it's the first blog I read when I open up Google Reader.

PerfectScoopSmall.jpgSo from August 10 to November 16, there will be fifteen of us scooping our way through David's book. Just as we did with the Sunday Slow Bakers, each week a person on our list picks a recipe and we all make it, post about it and compare photos and notes. Oh, and we get to eat it, too. That's the fun part. And lest you think that ice cream week after week will get boring, listen to just some of the flavors that have been picked so far: Roquefort-Honey Ice, Green Apple and Sparkling Cider, Pina Colada and Panforte! Oh, and special thanks to Colleen for coming up with the name Sunday Slow Scoopers.

Now, not everyone on the list has a blog, so some participants will be posting on the members only food forum of Slow Travel, but I have listed those with blogs in my sidebar, so you can definitely follow along with them. And if you are curious about our schedule, I've listed the whole thing in the extended entry. But sometimes there are last minute substitutions. And you never know, we may get a few more to join. There are more recipes in the book waiting to be tried...

But for now you can prepare yourself for next week's debut: Jerry's pick of Butterscotch Pecan Ice Cream. Let the scooping begin!

Continue reading "Announcing: Sunday Slow Scoopers" »

August 10, 2008

Sunday Slow Scoopers: Butterscotch Pecan Ice Cream

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I think I can safely say that we started off our Sunday Slow Scoopers with a winner. Jerry picked this delicious Butterscotch Pecan Ice Cream, and I was fortunate enough to get to eat it twice - two different ways. Last night I was at a get together of Slow Travelers and Shannon made us her version with macadamia nuts. And then tonight I made my batch with the pecans. It worked beautifully both ways.

But I was a little apprehensive when I started making my batch. First of all I got a late start. We had a long drive back from San Diego, made even longer by a stop at Ikea. The place was packed, absolutely crawling with people. Is it the back to school college crowd? Or is it just the most entertaining thing people can think of to do on Sunday afternoon? I'm not sure. Somehow we managed to get our "PAX" wardrobe out of there and into our car, and after that the drive was pretty uneventful.

Luckily I had planned ahead and had all the ingredients waiting for me at home. I started getting everything ready and then realized that there was one thing I didn't have—Scotch. I'm not a Scotch drinker, but I thought for sure that there would be a dusty bottle in the back of the cabinet that someone had given us long ago. But there was no sign of it. So I decided to substitute cognac, and I never looked back.

I also had a tiny bit of apprehension about the custard technique. I generally make sorbets and Philadelphia style ice creams where you don't have to make a custard base. It just seems easier to me. But this recipe calls for six egg yolks to be cooked in a milk and cream mixture until thickened. For some reason I always think custards are fussy. I think that I won't cook it long enough or that it will have lumps in it. But this recipe goes exactly as it says it should, it thickens ups quickly and David recommends that you pour it through a strainer before mixing in the last cup of cream. Sure enough, that did the trick and I noticed that there were, in fact, a couple of tiny lumps that the strainer got rid of for me.

I think my favorite tip of David's was his solution for a little problem I had been having with my ice cream maker. It wasn't anything terrible, but I noticed that sometimes I would get a frozen layer stuck to the inside of the cannister that the scraper couldn't seem to get to. His tip was so simple: just turn on the motor before you pour the mixture into the machine. The scraper will be moving and keep the liquid from freezing to the side walls. It worked perfectly!

So, between the helpful tips and the fact that this ice cream just tastes amazing, I'm off to a great start and am looking forward to next week.

August 17, 2008

Sunday Slow Scoopers: Tiramisu Ice Cream

Last night we all thought we'd died and gone to heaven when we tasted the Tiramisu Ice Cream for this week's Sunday Slow Scoopers. Yes, it was that good. It's not that I didn't have some warning about how good it was going to be. David writes in the introduction to the recipe that his primary taster pronounced it her favorite of all the ice creams he made. And the reason I picked it is because I adore tiramisu and often pick tiramisu gelato when I have a choice. But even if you were pretty lukewarm about tiramisu, I think you would love this ice cream.

The ingredients are not terribly complicated (mascarpone, half-and-half, sugar and a little liqueur), and the technique is easy. You simply throw it all into a blender and then chill it before freezing it in your ice cream maker. You do need to make up his variation on fudge ripple to layer into the tiramisu base. But even that is very simple. Cook up some cocoa powder and sugar in a half a cup of freshly brewed espresso. I made one substitution. Instead of the corn syrup the recipe called for, I used Lyle's Golden Syrup, which has the same consistency but is made from cane sugar instead of corn. I think Lyle's Golden Syrup has a much better flavor, without being too intrusive. I buy Lyle's at my local Gelson's market. You can also find it online.

I made the ice cream yesterday afternoon and put in the freezer to chill and firm up before serving it for dessert that night. It was still a little on the soft side and probably could have benefited from a few more hours in the freezer—or even left in there overnight (although who could sleep at night knowing that was in their freezer?).

When I served it, I asked my guests if they would like it affogato style, with a shot of espresso poured on top. Almost everyone did, and we all agreed that adding the espresso took this sublime ice cream right over the top. Affogato means "drowned" in Italian, and tirami su means "pick me up", so this dessert will pick you and drown you all in one fell swoop.

I'm afraid the photo does not do it justice. My camera's flash blew out all the detail, and we ate it all up so I couldn't shoot it this morning under natural light. But I have no doubt that I will be making this ice cream again, and there will be plenty of other photo opportunities.

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August 24, 2008

Sunday Slow Scoopers: Pina Colada Sherbet

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This week's Sunday Slow Scoopers selection by Terry was the most refreshing thing this side of a tropical paradise. I made my batch late tonight and so far have only had a very small taste. The rest is in the freezer firming up a bit. Like most homemade ice cream recipes I've tried from David's book and others, these things should go in the freezer after they're made if you want something firm enough to really scoop—a perfect scoop, if you will.

The great thing about this recipe, especially if you are making it on a hot day, is that it requires no cooking. You don't need to heat up a thing. Just get your hands on a decently ripe pineapple, peel, core it and chop it up. Throw it into a blender with a cup of coconut milk (I picked some up at Trader Joe's), a cup of sugar, a little lime juice and rum. After you puree it thoroughly, it needs to chill and then it simply goes into your ice cream maker. How simple is that? And the next thing you know you have a pina colada that can be eaten with a spoon.

You might feel like you're going to get sloshed eating this dessert. But with only a tablespoon of rum in the whole batch, I'm sure you'll be able to eat as much as you like without worrying about a hangover the next morning.

As for me, I'm looking forward to sampling mine again tomorrow morning—just to see how it has firmed up of course.

August 31, 2008

Sunday Slow Scoopers: Lavender Honey Ice Cream

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This week's Sunday Slow Scoopers selection by Nancy was this unusual Lavender Honey Ice Cream. I have made a Lavender Creme Anglaise in the past and found it delicious, so I thought this ice cream would be similar. For a variety of reasons, I think, it ended up being just a little bit different.

To start off I think you have to be careful when selecting lavender that you want to cook with. In my Lavender Creme Anglaise I used, appropriately enough, English Lavender — Lavandula angustifolia Munstead. It has a very light and sweet flavor that is perfect for cooking. Unfortunately in my garden it has stopped blooming by August, and I didn't think to pick any for drying (note to self for next year). So I used the last few blooms of my French lavender, which is still considered edible, but it has a much stronger and more floral scent.

I had a couple of friends visiting (including Shannon a fellow Sunday Slow Scooper), and we wanted to make and serve this the same night. The recipe calls for making the base and letting the lavender flowers steep in the mixture overnight before straining and then making the ice cream. By doing it the same night we would lose out on a stronger lavender flavor. We figured that would be fine since the lavender I picked was pretty pungent to begin with.

So we made the custard base and somehow let it get too hot, and it broke. Not good. But David doesn't just give you these ice cream recipes and leave you high and dry. In the front matter of his book are just about the best set of tips I have ever come across in a cookbook. He tells you exactly what to do if your custard breaks—get out an immersion/stick blender and mix it thoroughly until it is smooth and perfect again. It really works. So the rest of the ice cream came together easily and we served it after dinner.

It looked great. The texture was superb. But the flavor was, well, interesting. Shannon said it tasted like beef and then added that it actually tasted more like yorkshire pudding. I took several more bites and agreed. Yes, it tasted like lavender, but it also had a nuance of yorkshire pudding. Where did that come from? Was it because the eggs developed an off flavor when the custard broke? Was it the lavender that I used? Was it because we didn't let it steep overnight?

The next day I tasted the ice cream again. The lavender flavor was much more pronounced, and I didn't pick up the yorkshire pudding flavor. So the stronger lavender flavor overpowered that hint of yorkshire pudding. But I do think that the custard breaking had something to do with that flavor. We may have salvaged the texture, but clearly it is better not to let your custard break. If I was to make this ice cream again, I would use English lavender, and I would be sure to keep the heat a little lower on the custard.

September 7, 2008

Sunday Slow Scoopers: Peach Ice Cream

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Just before peach season comes to an end, Marcia of Happy Trails For Us: My Reluctant Blog wisely chose this Peach Ice Cream for our Sunday Slow Scoopers.

I have just finished making and eating this ice cream. Yes, I followed David's advice to eat it right after it's finished churning and his advice to add some sliced peaches to the top. And, yes, those are two very good pieces of advice. I will add one more piece of advice, you must make this ice cream.

But if you're too late for peach season this year, wait until next year. This recipe is deserving of really good peaches. I went to the farmers market yesterday and bought some yellow peaches that were large and dead ripe. As I was picking out peaches the woman next to me was saying that she was buying peaches for ice cream. I thought for a split second that I had stumbled upon a secret Sunday Slow Scooper, but no, not quite. She had just purchased an ice cream maker and was suddenly into making all sorts of non-dairy ice cream. I told her about The Perfect Scoop and the fact that it has lots of sorbet and dairyless ice creams.

This ice cream, though, is not one of them. It calls for a cup of heavy cream and a half a cup of sour cream. I like the fact that the thickness of the sour cream means that it doesn't call for a custard base. Last week my custard was a bit of a challenge, so I was happy to get a simple Philadelphia style recipe this week.

As David explains in his book, there are two basic types of ice cream. The French-style has a cooked custard base, and the Philadelphia-style is made with milk, cream or a combination of the two. The French-style with the custard base supposedly makes an ice cream that is smoother, silkier and richer tasting. But though I tend to love all things French, I think the Philadelphia-style ice creams are every bit as smooth and creamy, depending on the recipe.

This particular Philadelphia-style ice cream is decadently rich and creamy with a vivid peach flavor and a beautiful blush peach color. And just as soon as you get your hands on some really good peaches, you must make this ice cream.

September 15, 2008

Sunday Slow Scoopers: Panforte Ice Cream

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Last week felt like the height of summer with our peach ice cream, and this week's selection for the Sunday Slow Scoopers by Colleen felt like we were in the midst of the holidays. Panforte is a traditional fruit and nut cake from Siena. I wouldn't go as far as to call it a fruitcake, but for some it is an acquired taste. It has a dense almost chewy texture and the flavor of nuts, dried fruit and spices. To me it tastes like Christmas.

As much as I love almonds and candied orange peel, I'm not sure I would have chosen this ice cream because it looked more complicated than most. You need some not particularly easy to find candied orange peel. Luckily David does give you a recipe. So, I started by carefully peeling 4 oranges and cutting the peels into tiny strips, trying to follow his directions to cut them not much wider than a toothpick. It took a good 15-20 minutes but it wasn't unpleasant work. My hands and kitchen smelled deliciously like oranges for a while.

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After boiling the peel, it's time to make the custard base. And this is when I realized that this was going to be a rich ice cream. It's made up of half and half and cream. Mostly cream and four egg yolks make it even more silky and smooth. It's infused with freshly grated nutmeg, cloves and cinnamon sticks. The candied orange peel and the toasted almonds are added when the ice cream is almost solidified. You only need about a fourth of the recipe for candied orange peel in the ice cream. David says that the candied orange peel will keep for a while in the refrigerator. I think I have about half of the recipe left after my frequent sampling, but I'm sure I can think of something to do with it.

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As for the finished product. I was fortunate that a friend brought a luscious chocolate mousse cake over. So we served the ice cream with that and it was delicious.

The photo at the top of this entry shows the ice cream in a couple of hand decorated cups that I brought back from Siena years ago. They are supposed to be used for wine but panforte is supposed to be a cake, so panforte ice cream in a Sienese wine cup looks strangely appropriate. And I can also testify that the ice cream is equally good the next day sampled right out of the freezer before breakfast.

September 22, 2008

Sunday Slow Scoopers: Cinnamon Ice Cream

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Kim, from one of my favorite blogs "What I Really Think," picked this week's selection for the Sunday Slow Scoopers. Thank you, Kim! I loved this ice cream.

The flavor of cinnamon is just right—not too over powering and not too subtle. You infuse the milk and cream mixture with a bunch of broken up cinnamon sticks. It has the usual custard base, which I am getting surprisingly comfortable with now. And it churns up to a really creamy and silky consistency.

I served it with some dense, very chocolately brownies. I used a variation on a brownie recipe from Alice Medrich's book Bittersweet. This book is a must for any serious aficionado of chocolate. Her notes on brownies alone are worth the $23.10 that it currently costs on Amazon. She gives you several variations on her brownie recipe based on what percentage of chocolate you are using. So, if you happen to have some 72% chocolate bars on hand—no problem, she'll give you the correct amounts of butter, sugar and baking temperature to make the perfect brownies.

And when she says they are fudgy as opposed to cakey, she is quite accurate. These brownies will not win awards based on beauty, but they will win people over. They are dense and fairly sticky. And they are downright decadent tasting. Perfect, in fact, with cinnamon ice cream.

I'm also looking forward to trying out this ice cream with pumpkin pie and apple pie this Thanksgiving. Kim, I think you have really started something by turning us on to this recipe.

October 12, 2008

Sunday Slow Scoopers: Green Apple and Sparkling Cider Sorbet

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After a little lull, I am back to my Sunday Slow Scooping for a quick entry about Shannon's pick of this interesting apple cider sorbet. I was looking forward to trying this because it sounded so unusual. I also thought it could be an interesting thing to make to accompany desserts at Thanksgiving.

The sorbet turned out to be flavorful and refreshing, but you couldn't help thinking of frozen applesauce as you were eating it. I like applesauce, so this wasn't an unpleasant thought. But it wasn't a really impressive thing to serve for dessert like, say, the Cinnamon Ice Cream or the Panforte Ice Cream. This apple sorbet seems to be more of a palate cleanser between courses. It's tasty, but not in a satisfying way.

I tried serving it with some gingerbread and found that it didn't really enhance the gingerbread the way a vanilla ice cream would. It seems to me that this is best served by itself in an elegant etched glass (preferably one handed down to you by your great grandmother) on a silver tray lined with a little square of white linen. It should be eaten between the courses of a formal dinner party with an autumnal theme—perhaps in between a very rich seafood course like Coquilles Saint-Jacques and something hearty like a roast pork with prunes in armagnac. Then, I think, this sorbet would shine.

This page contains an archive of all entries posted to In and Out of the Garden: A Blog in the Sunday Slow Scoopers category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

Sunday Slow Bakers is the previous category.

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Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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