Friday, January 29, 2016

White Chocolate and Hibiscus Ice Cream

The great thing about having an ice cream maker is that I can make ice cream any time I want to - and any flavor I like.

And then sometimes it starts with a flavor or product that I want to use in an interesting way. Sometimes it's something I found in a store. Sometimes it's something I found hiding in a corner of the pantry. Sometimes it's a new product that I got from a company.

This time around, I had some hibiscus flowers in syrup that I wanted to use. They came to me through 37 Cooks from the Wild Hibiscus Flower Company, and I thought the flavor would be lovely in ice cream.

If you're not familiar with 37 Cooks, go check out the blog and see what we've been up to lately.

When I was brainstorming the ice cream recipe, I decided that I wanted something besides hibiscus flavor. I chose white chocolate for its mild flavor, and I added a bit of vanilla for the deepness of flavor it adds.

And ... I decided to make the ice cream eggless, to let the delicate flavors shine through.

The result is a creamy ice cream with a sweet, fruity, floral flavor. The color is a very pale mauve; barely discernible unless you're looking for the color.

For the white chocolate, I used a bar of Lindt white chocolate, which weighed 4.4 ounces. If you buy a different brand that is a little larger or smaller, it's perfectly fine.

White Chocolate and Hibiscus Ice Cream

4.4 ounces (a little more or less is fine) white chocolate
1 cup milk
2 cups heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup hibiscus syrup (from hibiscus flowers in syrup)
1 teaspoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3/4 cup sugar

Chop the white chocolate into small pieces and place in a microwave safe bowl or measuring cup. Add the milk. Microwave in 30-second increments, stirred after each heating session, until the chocolate melts completely.

Combine all of the ingredients, including the milk and chocolate mixture in a bowl. Stir until the sugar is completely melted. Cover the bowl and refrigerate the mixture until it is completely chilled. I usually mix it up the day before I want to churn it.

When the mixture is fully chilled, churn in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions. Transfer to a container and freeze until firm.

I received product from Wild Hibiscus Flower Company through 37 Cooks in order to create recipes.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Touch of Grace Biscuits

I've made a lot of biscuits. I've added flavors, cut them into rounds or squares or other shapes. I've baked them squished together and I've baked them spaced apart.

But I've never baked biscuits like this before.

This recipe is from Food52 Genius Recipes, and was created by Shirley Corriher. You might know her as the cooking expert who sometimes appeared on Good Eats. She really is a cooking expert, so I felt confident the recipe would work, even though it's pretty strange.

I've made some biscuit recipes where the dough was pretty wet. But this dough is much wetter than any of those. The book describes the dough as looking like cottage cheese, and that's exactly what it's like - lumpy bits with a thinner "sauce."

But it totally works. Totally. And not only does it work, but the biscuits are amazingly good. Not only were they good, but they were good the next day, and the day after that. Most biscuits get stale pretty quickly, but these stayed good for a few days - which was all the time it took them to disappear. They were particularly amazing when I heated them for a few seconds in the microwave.

Yup. Biscuits re-warmed in the microwave.

I've made these biscuits three times so far, and the first two times I didn't have exactly the ingredients I needed, but they held up well to the adaptations.

The first time, I didn't have the required buttermilk, so I substituted milk mixed with Greek yogurt. The biscuits were delicious.

The second time, I didn't have enough heavy cream - and I still didn't have buttermilk. And I was out of yogurt that I used in the first substitution, So I substituted milk for the missing cream, and I substituted milk mixed with sour cream for the buttermilk. The biscuits worked out perfectly.

I highly recommend this recipe. And I urge you to NOT be worried about how wet the dough is.

Touch-of-Grace Biscuits
Adapted from Food52 Genius Recipes
Recipe by Shirley Corriher

2 cups (9 ounces) self-rising flour
2 tablespoons* sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup shortening
2/3 cup heavy cream
1 cup buttermilk (or enough for the dough to resemble cottage cheese - you might need more or less, depending on the flour you use.)
1 cup all purpose flour, for shaping
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, for brushing

Heat the oven to 425 degrees with the right slightly below the center of the oven. Spray an 8- or 9-inch round cake pan with baking spray. You could also use butter, but I always have that spray on hand because it's always so handy to have.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, and salt. Work the shortening in with your fingertips until you don't have any large lumps. Don't get carried away.

Gently stir in the cream, then add the buttermilk until the dough resembles cottage cheese - you might need more or less than 1 cup, depending on the flour you use.

Put the all-purpose flour in a plate, shallow bowl, or pie plate. You don't want to use self-rising flour here, or it will be bitter. Use a medium ice cream scoop (about 2 inches in diameter) start portioning the dough and plopping them into the flour. You can make one at a time, or do 2 or 3, as long as you have space to keep them well separated in the flour.

Sprinkle flour on top of the blobs, then flour your hands and grab a blob and gently shape it into a ball, shaking off extra flour as you go. as you finish each biscuit, place it in the prepared pan, scrunched up next to its neighbors. Continue shaping and placing the biscuits until they're all in the pan.

Bake at 425 degrees until they are lightly browned, about 20-25 minutes. Brush with the melted butter.

Turn the biscuits out onto a plate, then flip again so they're right-side up on another plate. Cut along the seams to separate the biscuits before serving - they don't really pull apart.

*The original recipe calls for 1/4 cup of sugar, but I didn't want them that sweet, so cut back a bit.

About the book: I've cooked a number of recipes from this book, including Fried Eggs with Wine Vinegar, Potato Scallion Cakes, Spiced Red Wine, Caesar Salad Dressing, Chickpea Stew with Saffron, Yogurt, and Garlic, Pasta with Yogurt and Caramelized Onions, Broccoli Cooked Forever, and Gratin of Zucchini, Rice & Onions with Cheese.

Out of all of those, the only one I might not make again is the Chickpea Stew. Or, more accurately, I might make it again, but unlike other recipes that I might tweak a little, I might tweak that one a lot.

Although I like chickpeas, I didn't like them in the soup. But I might make the broth again with something like carrots. Someone else might love it as-is. It wasn't bad in any sense, it just wasn't my taste.

The Fried Eggs with Wine Vinegar tasted really good, and I might add a splash of vinegar to eggs next time I fry them. As the recipe said, the vinegar cuts the richness of the yolks. My only small quibble with the recipe was that the red of the wine vinegar wasn't hugely appealing. Next time, I might use a white wine vinegar, or perhaps just ass a splash of balsamic. But that's not really a critique of the recipe itself. Just a personal quirk.

But hey, don't we all tweak recipes when we make them. The difference about the recipes in this book is that they really are different from other recipes of their sort. I don't think I've ever seen a recipe that suggested putting vinegar on eggs, and for sure I've never seen a biscuit dough as wet as this. The Broccoli Cooked Forever was also way different from usual.

And then there are recipes we're probably familiar with, like Marcella Hazan's tomato sauce and Jim Lahey's no-knead bread. We know them now, but they were certainly unique with the first showed up.

What I'm trying to say is that pretty much every recipe was a winner, and I've got more recipes that I want to make in the book. The book is a real winner.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Sparkling Hibiscus Lemonade

Did you miss me?

I planned on taking some time off for the holidays and coming back right after the first of the year. But ... that didn't happen. Honestly, I don't know if I'm completely back yet. I have some recipes that I made that are blog-worthy, though, so there will be at least a few more posts this month.

While I was slacking off, I has one old post that suddenly got popular. It was my recipe for Pressure-Fried Chicken. I'm not sure if pressure cooking in general has gotten popular, or if people have a sudden urge to do dangerous things in the kitchen. But that post was my most-viewed since I took my little break. Heck, it probably would have been my most popular, even if I didn't take a break.

Meanwhile, I got some samples of hibiscus products from a company called Wild Hibiscus Flower Company through the group 37 Cooks. If you're not familiar with 37 Cooks, it's a group that's pretty much just for fun. And, trust me, it's a lot of fun. There are bloggers and non-bloggers in the group, so you'll see recipes there from people you won't see anywhere else.

So ... one of the items I got was hibiscus flowers in syrup.

I've been a huge fan of hibiscus flowers long before I actually knew what they were. They show up in a lot of herbal teas, adding red color and a fruity sort of flavor. You can find them dried in Mexican stores, where they're called jamaica (ha-my-ka). And now, there are flowers in syrup.

The syrup was my favorite part, but I thought the flowers made a really pretty garnish.

I made my own sparkling water using a soda maker, but you can use bottle water or any fizzy drink you like. If you use a sweetened beverage, omit the agave - it will probably be sweet enough.

Sparkling Hibiscus Lemonade

1 tablespoon hibiscus syrup (from jar of hibiscus flowers in syrup)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoons agave syrup
Sparkling water (or soda) to fill glass
1 hibiscus flower for garnish

Combine the hibiscus syrup, lemon juice, and agave in a glass. Fill with sparkling water and stir. Add the hibiscus flower. Serve.

You can, of course, add ice, if you like. But if the sparkling water is cold, you might not need it, depending on how chilled you like your beverages.

The larger your glass, the more diluted your flavors will be, so adjust as you like. And adjust the sweetness, tartness, too.

I received samples via 37 Cooks for my use in this challenge.