Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Vanilla Ice Cream

Click here for a coloring book version of this!
Vanilla ice cream might sound ... well, plain vanilla. But it's a good test of a new ice cream book. And just because I made unadorned vanilla ice cream doesn't mean I ate it that way. I had plenty of dulce de leche to use up from my recent sous vide experiments.

And to be honest, I like vanilla ice cream a lot. If it's made well, and it's rich and creamy, and it was made with good vanilla extract, it can stand on its own, without strong flavor covering the vanilla-ness.

Speaking of books, this recipe was from The Homemade Ice Cream Recipe Book by Robin Donovan. I got it from the publisher and immediately started to browse. The first thing that struck me was that many of the recipe used the same proportion of cream to milk to eggs - two cups of cream to one cup of milk to six eggs.

At first, I thought, uh oh, there are going to be a bunch of recipes that are all the same except one will have vanilla extract and another will have mint. But after looking more, that's not the case. That ratio happens to be a very good one for making a rich ice cream, so it makes sense that it's used over and over.

The funny thing is that I got another book recently (not an ice cream book) that had an ice cream recipe with the same ratio. Like I said, it makes good ice cream. And it's the right amount to fit into most home ice cream makers, so that's probably the reason it's so common.

The first chapter with recipes is called Classics and Standouts, and it's the more common flavors, from vanilla to mint chip to cookies and cream. The next is chocolatey flavors, followed by nutty, fruity, and party flavors, followed by a chapter of sherbets and frozen yogurts. It finishes with a chapter of cones, toppings, and other non-ice cream recipes.

I already have a couple of ice cream books, but it's always fun to try new recipes. The brown butter pecan is definitely on my list to try. Meanwhile, I was really happy with this vanilla. It uses a little less sugar than my standard for this amount - I usually use 3/4 cup, while this uses 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons. And I was perfectly happy with that level of sweetness, AND the texture of the ice cream.

Vanilla Ice Cream
Adapted The Homemade Ice Cream Recipe Book by Robin Donovan

2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
6 large egg yolks
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup whole milk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

The recipe suggests cooking this mixture in a double boiler. I've done that and I've also cooked it on the stove. And I've cooked it in the Kitchenaid Precise Heat Bowl, which is very precise and won't overcook the mixture. Do it any way you're comfortable - the key is to heat it slowly and never let it get so hot that the eggs begin to scramble, because that's just ugly.

Combine the cream, sugar, egg yolks, and salt in your preferred cooking vessel. Heat slowly, stirring continuously, until it thickens and reaches a temperature of 170-175 degrees.

Strain the mixture though a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl. Add the milk and vanilla to the bowl and stir well. To speed cooling you can set this bowl in a larger bowl filled with ice water and stir until it has cooled down. Cover and refrigerate until well chilled.

Churn in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions. When frozen, transfer to a storage container and freeze until firm.

I received the cookbook from the publisher at no cost to me.


Monday, January 16, 2017

Sous Vide Beef Roast (and some Dulce de Leche for dessert!)

Click here for a line art version of this photo that you can color!
I've become quite enamored with sous vide cooking. It's foolproof (with a good recipe) and much of the cooking is hands-off. Just put the food in the bag (with or without seasonings or other stuff), seal it, and drop it in the pot. Set the and temperature, and you don't have to think about it until it's done.

Much of the time, I cook the food and then refrigerate it until the next day, when I sear or broil it to get some browning on the outside. And of course, this also heats it up to serving temperature.

This time, my sous vide cooking was inspired by a new cookbook, The Complete Sous Vide Cookbook by Chris McDonald. Since the recipes are soooo easy, you're getting both a beef roast and some dulce de leche.

I hadn't heard of the author before, so I was wasn't sure how reliable the recipes would be. Sous vide cooking isn't like any other method when it comes to temperature and timing, so that's why it's a good idea to start with a good recipe, before you wander off on your own.

In this case, I actually did do some wandering. The recipe was designed for a prime rib roast, but I cooked a New York strip roast instead. I figured it wouldn't be too terribly different, since it's a tender roast that could use the same kind of cooking. Turns out, I was right. It was just as tender as when I've done rib roasts.

The one thing that's a little different with this recipe is that you preheat the water to a hotter temperature, then lower the temperature for the cooking time. I've never done that before - I usually just put the food in the water bath and let it heat up to the cooking temperature before I start timing the cooking.

I don't know if this method made a difference in the final product, but it worked well, and it made sense. When the cool roast went into the hot water, the temperature dropped to close to the final cooking temperature, so it was ready to start the timing.

Sous Vide New York Strip Roast
Adapted from The Complete Sous Vide Cookbook by Chris McDonald

1 New York strip roast or boneless rib roast
Olive oil, as needed
Salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat the water bath to 190 degrees.

Meanwhile, rub olive oil over the roast and season with salt and pepper. You could also use another spice mix or rub. I actually used a seasoning that's made by my local butcher shop.

Place the roast in the sous vide bag and vacuum seal. Put it in the water bath, reduce the temperature to 134 degrees, and cook for 9 hours.

Remove the pouch from the water and let it stand for 20-30 minutes, then remove it from the pouch, pat dry, and season with salt and pepper. Refrigerate fro 20-30 minutes.

Note: I just chucked mine in the refrigerator and seared it the next day. By the time it was browned, it was warmed to a decent serving temperature.

Preheat a grill to medium-high (I used a cast iron frying pan).

Put the roast on the grill and brown on all sides.

Transfer to a cutting board and slice against the grain.

Dulce de Leche

Click here for a line art version of this photo you can color!
If you've ever looked at recipes where you're supposed to put a whole can of condensed milk in a pot and cook it ... and you've wondered if that's a safe and sane thing to do, this method of making dulce de leche is pretty foolproof.

Just transfer one can of sweetened condensed milk (NOT evaporated milk!) to a sous vide bag and seal (don't vacuum it into your machine - just get most of the air out and then seal it).

I tried this method with plain sweetened condensed milk, and with chocolate sweetened condensed milk. Both worked fine.

Heat the sous vide bath to 200 degrees. Place the bag in the water and cook for 8-10 hours. I tried both 8 hours and 10 hours, and didn't see a difference. So cook it for however long is convenient for you.

Remove the bag from the bath and transfer the dulce de leche to a storage container.

I found the easiest way to get the dulce de leche out of the bag was to snip a corner and squeeze it out as soon as it was reasonable to handle. If you wait until it's room temperature, you can still squeeze it out, but it's pretty thick, so it's not as easy.

I received the book from the publisher at no cost to me.


Saturday, January 7, 2017

Color Your Food - Adult food-themed coloring pages!

Why yes, that is a different-looking book cover!
I took a couple weeks off for the holidays and got a much-needed rest.

Okay, fine, I didn't take the time completely off. I read some books I'm going to review later, and I cooked some food.

Then I spent an evening watching a movie and doing absolutely nothing else.

I also indulged in that new and trendy hobby - coloring. It's relaxing. And fun. And it feels creative and artsy, even though I can't draw at all. Lines are very helpful for me.

And then I started wondering why I hadn't seen any coloring books with a food theme. I've seen animals, plants, butterflies, mythical creatures, mandalas, buildings ... just about anything you can think of.

I mean, if I searched hard enough, I might find a food-themed coloring book - but they're not among the popular themes at all.

But why?

Food can be pretty and colorful and artsy. So I started turning some of my photos into line art that could be colored.

Okay, maybe a plate of brownish muffins might not be as fun to color as something more colorful. Maybe that's the problem.

Maybe roast beef might be too monochromatic. Maybe chocolate ice cream might be boring.

But then I thought ... well ... you don't need to color them as they exist. I took my lovely brown naked muffins and added colored cupcake papers and then got creative with the tops as well. It might not be the most wonderful art ever created, but I had fun with it.

And that was the whole point.

Or was it?

As I started fiddling with the photos, I thought they might be a fun addition to my blog. I mean, why not offer coloring pages for anyone who wants to give it a try? I might not make line art for every single post I put up, because as I was fiddling with the line art, I found that some photos were more willing than others.

This Choloca chocolate ice cream from a recent post worked out pretty well, and it was fun to get creative with the colors.

Want to play?

Download the chocolate ice cream coloring page here.

Download the muffin coloring page here.

Download the Make Ahead Bread book cover coloring page here.

Soon, there will be a new tab at the top of the page where you'll find all the posts that have coloring book pages included as I have more of them to share with you. Have fun!