Vanilla ice cream ready for scooping

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I have finally made scoopable ice cream. Those of you who read my blog regularly know this is something I’ve been struggling with for a couple months now, so I was thrilled when the latest edition of Bon Appétit showed up with ice cream on the cover.

One of my best friends from college randomly decided to visit this weekend. I hadn’t seen her in about five years, so I was really looking forward to the visit. Which also meant I was thinking about what I could have for her when she arrived. I decided to give a new ice cream recipe a chance.

When tackling a new kind of dessert, I like to find a great base recipe before I really start experimenting with flavors. It turns out that can be a tricky task when it comes to ice cream. But, after trying about five different recipes, Bon Appétit’s True Vanilla Ice Cream was the winner.

I have to admit that when I finished the custard mixture, I was a little nervous about how it would turn out. The custard was thinner than the custard other recipes produced. But I think that’s why this recipes works. Instead of getting a dense frozen custard after putting it through the ice cream maker, you get a nice, flavorful — and, most importantly, scoopable — ice cream.

I’m really happy with the way this ice cream turned out. Now I feel confident that I can start trying more flavors.

2Vanillaicecream072813Ingredients
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup sugar
Pinch of kosher salt
1 vanilla bean or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
5 egg yolks

Combine heavy cream, whole milk, 1/4 cup sugar and salt in a medium saucepan. Split vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape in seeds; add pod (or use 1 teaspoon vanilla extract). Bring mixture just to a simmer, stirring to dissolve sugar. Remove from heat. If using vanilla bean, cover; let sit 30 minutes.

Whisk 5 large egg yolks and 1/4 cup sugar in a medium bowl until pale, about 2 minutes. Gradually whisk in 1/2 cup warm cream mixture. Whisk yolk mixture into remaining cream mixture. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until thick enough to coat a wooden spoon, 2 to 3 minutes.

Strain custard into a medium bowl set over a bowl of ice water; let cool, stirring occasionally. At this point, you can transfer the mixture to a bowl and cover it by putting plastic wrap directly on the top of the custard. It can cool overnight in the fridge and be processed in the morning.

Process custard in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions. Transfer to an airtight container; cover. Freeze until firm, at least 4 hours and up to 1 week.

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Summer stone fruit serves as a sweet topping

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Apricots are in season, and I love to use them in baked goods. I purchased a few ambercots at the farmers market a few weeks ago. Though they were delicious raw, I couldn’t eat them quickly enough, so I needed to find a recipe to use for the three I had left. Lucky for me, a recent edition of Bon Appétit contained a recipe for little apricot cakes.

As with most cakes, these proved to be a challenge at high altitude. Adding a couple tablespoons of flour usually helps keep cakes from sinking but, in this case, it made them more dense and muffin-like instead of being light like cakes. Next time I make these, I’ll stick to the original flour measurement and beat it for a shorter amount of time so the batter isn’t as stiff. Apricotmuffins2

I enjoyed the sweetness and slight tart flavor of the apricots on top. They provided a nice contrast to the lemony cake beneath them. The raw sugar sprinkled on top created a nice, sugary crust once they had cooled. They’re a nice summertime treat.

Ingredients
Nonstick vegetable oil spray
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder (use 1 teaspoon if at high altitude)
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/3 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup whole milk
2 apricots, halved, pitted, cut into 1/4-inch wedges
2 tablespoons raw sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Coat muffin cups with nonstick spray. Whisk flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl.

Using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar in another medium bowl, occasionally scraping down sides of bowl, until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add egg, lemon zest and vanilla and beat until combined.

With mixer on low speed, add dry ingredients in 3 additions alternately with milk in 2 additions, beginning and ending with dry ingredients. Divide batter among muffin cups (cups will be only 1/3 full) and smooth tops. Top with apricot slices and sprinkle with raw sugar.

Bake until cakes are golden and a tester inserted into the centers comes out clean, 20–25 minutes. Transfer pan to a wire rack; let pan cool 5 minutes. Transfer cakes to rack and let cool completely.

Chicken cutlets ready for any night of the week

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Growing up, my family ate a lot of chicken. Mom would make Jamaican jerk chicken, lemon chicken and everything in between. My brother and I went through a phase where we complained any time it was put in front of us. “Again?” we’d ask. But mom likes chicken, and still does. Like most moms, she wanted to put something good in front of us and tried to mix it up once in a while.

I was searching for good make-ahead dinners when I saw this recipe in the March edition of Bon Appétit. I had once made Parmesan chicken and wasn’t terribly impressed by the recipe I used. This one, however, looked easy enough to put together and sounded like it would have a nice crust.

parmesanchicken2The panko and Parmigiano-Reggiano combination lends itself to a well-made crust that is packed with flavor. If you don’t have panko, regular breadcrumbs will do, though the finished cutlets won’t have as much of a crunch to them.

These freeze surprisingly well. I portioned them and kept some in the freezer for about two months. I was worried the breadcrumb mixture would turn soggy once they were defrosted, but they didn’t. They are ideal for weeknight meals. If you take them out of the freezer and let them defrost in the fridge, they will be ready to go by the time you return home. It was nice to come home during a busy work week and have something ready to toss in a pan.

This post is dedicated to moms such as mine, who work to put dinner on the table night after night, with or without thanks. Happy Mother’s Day.

parmesanchicken3Ingredients
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
1/4 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano
1 tablespoon mustard powder
Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
4 small skinless, boneless chicken cutlets (about 1 1/2 pounds total), pounded to 1/4-inch thickness
8 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 lemon, halved

Place flour in a shallow bowl. Beat eggs in a second shallow bowl. Combine panko, Parmesan, and mustard powder in a third shallow bowl and season mixture with salt and pepper.

Season chicken with salt and pepper, then dredge in flour, shaking off any excess. Transfer to bowl with beaten egg and turn to coat. Lift from bowl, allowing excess to drip back into bowl. Coat with panko mixture, pressing to adhere.

Chicken can be breaded 3 months in advance. Place between pieces of freezer paper or waxed paper and freeze in resealable freezer bags. Thaw before continuing.

Heat 6 tablespoons oil in a large heavy skillet or a cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Working in two batches, cook cutlets, adding remaining 2 tablespoons oil to pan between batches, until golden brown and cooked through, about 4 minutes per side. Transfer cutlets to a paper towel-lined plate and season with salt. Serve with lemon.

Giving cauliflower a second chance

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Cauliflower has never been at the top of my list of preferred vegetables. I’ve always seen it as a bland version of broccoli, probably because I never knew what to do with it.

This recipe in Bon Appetít made me want to give it another chance. Cheese makes a lot of things taste better, and this recipe is no exception. While the original recipe didn’t specify what kind of Parmesan to use, choose a harder Parmesan, such as Parmigiano Reggiano, for the best result. Soft Parmesans will just turn gummy, but harder versions will become slightly crispy during the baking process.

There’s a lot to like about this side dish. Roasting the cauliflower brings out the vegetable’s flavor, while the Parmesan adds a little salty, crispy kick to each bite. The roasted garlic is mellow enough to eat with the cauliflower without overpowering the other flavors.

Next time I head to the grocery store, I’ll think twice about passing up the cauliflower.

Ingredientscauliflower2
1 head cauliflower
1 sliced medium onion
4 thyme sprigs
4 unpeeled garlic cloves
3 tablespoons olive oil
Salt
White or black pepper
1/2 cup grated Parmesan

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Cut cauliflower into florets; toss on a large rimmed baking sheet with onion, thyme, garlic and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Roast, tossing occasionally, until almost tender, 35-40 minutes. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup grated Parmesan. Toss to combine. Roast until cauliflower is tender, 10-12 minutes longer.

Sweet-and-salty pistachio brittle hits the spot

pistachiobrittle1

If you’re looking for something sweet to add to your Super Bowl spread, consider this. Salted Pistachio Brittle was the first recipe I tried from the January edition of Bon Appétit. At the time, I had a bag of unsalted, shelled pistachios that I was looking to incorporate into a recipe.

When I think of making candy, I think of the mishaps I’ve had while attempting different recipes — most of which involved some sort of sugar syrup. I’ve learned from the mistakes, but also mentally prepare for frustration whenever I plan to tackle a new candy recipe.

I had never made brittle before, so I didn’t know what I was getting myself into, but that mental preparation wasn’t needed for this straightforward recipe. Watch the temperature of the mixture closely and you’ll be OK. If you don’t like pistachios, this recipe would also work well with peanuts or cashews. The best part is that it cools quickly, so it can be made for a same-day treat.

Ingredients
Nonstick vegetable oil spray
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1 cup unsalted, shelled raw natural pistachios, very coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
Coarse gray sea salt (such as fleur de sel or sel gris)

Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper; spray with nonstick spray and set aside. Whisk sugar, corn syrup, and 3 tablespoons water in a medium saucepan. Stir over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Fit saucepan with candy thermometer, bring mixture to a boil, and cook until thermometer registers 290 degrees, about 3-4 minutes.

Using a heatproof spatula, stir in pistachios, butter, and kosher salt (syrup will seize initially, but will melt as it heats back up). Continue to cook syrup, stirring often, until thermometer registers 300 degrees and pistachios are golden brown, 3-4 minutes. Caramel should be pale brown (it will darken slightly as it cools). Sprinkle baking soda over and stir quickly to blend caramel thoroughly (mixture will bubble vigorously).

Immediately pour caramel onto prepared baking sheet and, using a heat-proof spatula, quickly spread out as thin as possible. Sprinkle sea salt over and let caramel cool completely. Break brittle into pieces.

Note: Brittle can be made 1 week ahead. Store airtight between sheets of parchment paper (to prevent sticking) at room temperature.