Every summer involves a ritual of luscious mangoes dazzling in their sweetness and and tropical fruity aroma. After more than 5 years, I got the chance to taste Indian mangoes all the way in London on a vacation and there were so many varieties to choose from; the Kesar, the Alphonso, the Langara, and so many more that I’m now certain that if I can’t visit India in May, I might need to just take a trip back to the land of the Queen.Read More
I'm officially another year older. I ate cake, macaroons and ice cream and took a break from cooking which is kinda nice when it's your birthday weekend. We've been working arduously on our backyard trying to create a relaxing edible garden. I'm hoping to all comes through before May ends so we can have some time to enjoy it while the weather remains warm.Read More
This is my birthday week and it's been off to a wonderful start! But there are lots of recipe updates for you!!!Read More
We took a day trip to Healdsburg this weekend, made our way through Napa and Sonoma valleys exploring a couple of neighborhoods we hadn't visited before. Right now with our warm springlike spell the land is painted with a beautiful bright yellow shade of wild mustard blooms and even the vineyards that still haven't sprung back from winter are looking quite magnificent against this backdrop of gold. Some of the trees are still covered with soot and black char from the recent fires and this was a nice visual respite from that terrible moment.Read More
Last weekend, I finally got enough tomatillos off my plant to make a quart of salsa. It felt rewarding and thankful and also timely, since the plant now looks like it's off to meet its maker. So there at least, I can say I got some salsa out of it. To be honest, unless you have several plants growing at the same time, you probably won't be making tomatillo salsa all summer. So next year, I'm going to grow fewer vegetables but more of the same variety so it's not a one time thing.
Sesame seeds are a big deal in Indian sweets as much as they are in the Middle East and Africa to make tahini and other tasty things. From sesame (til) ladoos, and hard candies like gajak and chiki. Sometimes, they'll be seasoned with a little green cardamom or rose water or saffron. But what if all this became an ice cream, one as nutty in taste, one as sweet with the floral scent of fresh roses and one with a cool grey tone speckled with the tiniest spots of fragmented black sesame seeds. Serve this with a few warm, broiled fresh figs, a little hint of black pepper and a splash of maple syrup.
With a little help from Jeni Britton Bauer, this ice cream was born into existence using her cream cheese - cornstarch method that obviates the needs for eggs to prepare the custard base.
- Because I've used black sesame seeds, knowing when to stop toasting them is a little tricky if you want to use visual cues, instead rely on the seed's aroma. The heat will help volatilize the aromatic compounds inside the seed and as soon as you start to smell the fragrance, take the pan off the stove and immediately, transfer the seeds to the blender.
- If the ice cream is too hard once it comes out of the freezer, leave it out for 5 to 6 minutes on the counter to soften a little.
sesame rose water ice cream (adapted from Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams at Home - Jeni Britton Bauer)
makes about 1 quart
2 cups whole milk
1/4 cup black sesame seeds (I used toasted)
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 1/2 ounces (3 tablespoons) cream cheese, softened
1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon rose water (1 tsp if you want it stronger)
Mix 2 tablespoons of the milk with the cornstarch in a small bowl to form a slurry and keep aside.
Whisk the cream cheese and salt in a medium bowl until smooth.
Place the milk and sesame seeds in a high-speed blender and pulse on high-speed for a few seconds until the seeds are completely pulverized and the milk takes on a light grey color. It will look a little speckled.
Transfer this milk into a medium saucepan along with the heavy cream, and sugar. Stir with a silicone spatula and bring the contents to a rolling boil on medium-high heat. Remove from heat and whisk in the cornstarch slurry. Return the saucepan to the stove and boil over medium-high heat and cook for about 1 minute until slightly thickened. Remove from heat and gradually whisk the hot milk mixture into the cream cheese until smooth.
Add the rose water and transfer the ice cream base into a resealable gallon ziptop bag and submerge it in an ice-water bath too chill completely. Once chilled, pour this into the bowl of your ice cream maker and prepare according to the manufacturer's instructions. Store in a freezer-safe container with a lid and freeze for at least 3 to 4 hours to firm up before serving.
Peppered broiled figs
makes 6 to 8 figs
6 to 8 figs
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon toasted black sesame seeds, for garnish (optional)
maple syrup, as needed (optional)
Cut the figs in half and toss them with the olive oil in a small bowl. Place the figs skin side down in a small cast-iron dish that's been lightly brushed with a little extra olive oil. Set the oven to broil and place the dish in the oven for about 10 to 12 minutes until the figs start to caramelize and the juices start to bubble on the surface. Remove from oven, garnish with black pepper and keep warm.
To assemble: Place one or two scoops of the sesame ice cream on a serving dish, garnish with a few toasted black sesame seeds (if desired) and two to three halves of the broiled figs. Drizzle with a little maple syrup if desired.
Note: to toast black sesame seeds - heat a small dry skillet on medium-high heat. When the skillet is hot add the sesame seeds and toast until you just start to smell the seeds. Be careful as this will happen quickly in about 20 to 30 seconds as the seeds are black and it will be difficult to see them darken.
Happy Summer! It's only a few months which means I need to keep cranking my ice cream maker at full to satisfy every ice cream flavor fantasy that I've been wanting to make.
Jaggery comes in a lot of different grades of color, I used the lighter golden variety here. It's sweet with hints of molasses wrapped in the floral fragrance of Madagascar vanilla bean and some good bourbon. Happy Summer and stay cool!
vanilla bean, jaggery and bourbon ice cream
makes 1 quart [960 ml]
1 whole vanilla bean
½ cup [120 ml] whole milk
2 ½ cups [600 ml] heavy cream
2/3 cup [130 g] packed jaggery
6 egg yolks
1/4 cup [60 ml] bourbon
Scrape the vanilla bean and add the stalk and seeds along with the milk, heavy cream and jaggery, in medium saucepan on medium-low heat, until the jaggery is completely dissolved.
In a small bowl, whisk the yolks and then whisk in ½ cup [120 ml] of the warm milk and cream mixture. Pour the warm egg yolk mixture in to the saucepan and whisk quickly until combined. Cook over low heat and stir constantly, until the mixture thickens to a custard-like consistency and coats the back of a spoon (your finger should leave a clean trail when you draw a line with your finger across the custard coating on the spoon). Remove from heat and strain the mixture through a fine mesh sieve to remove any lumps. Transfer to a resealable gallon ziptop bag and seal. Plunge the bag into an ice bath and leave there for about 30 minutes, or until the custard is fully chilled.
Add the bourbon to the chilled ice cream base. Transfer to an ice cream maker and churn according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Scrape the ice cream into a freezer-proof, airtight container and freeze for at least 2 to 4 hours before serving.
I've been very accident prone for the past few weeks. First, I had a bad cold and then I fell into a bush and managed to sprain the tendons on one leg and smash the other on to a rock. Except for the sprain and my ego, nothing was fractured or damaged. And I am so thankful for that as I'm in the last few weeks of working on my book manuscript before I submit it. Gah, all these things are happening now when I really don't need it.
Meyer lemons are not exactly in season right now but the blooms are and every where you walk in Oakland, you can pick up the sweet scent of these gorgeous flowers so I tried to do something different. I've been reading Diana Henry's Salt, Sugar and Smoke and she's got me curious about smoking everything. [This is also one of my favorite books by Diana and it also made me fall in love with everything she writes.] Then I came across this Meyer lemon ice cream basic recipe from other favorite chef, Lindsey Shere's Chez Panisse Desserts and this smoked lemon ice cream was born.
To get the most out of the burning and smoking, I charred the lemons first while smoking them and then stuck them directly into the hot wood chips. The rest of the flavors involve steeping and infusion into the hot milk and cream. Ahh, yes, the Tellicherry peppercorns. I didn't forget about them. They not really there to make things spicy but rather to give a mild hint of the essentials oils inside the peppercorns. Just crack them once gently, don't try to pound them again and again and if all of them don't crack it's okay. You're looking for a very mild flavor.
Off I got to avoid future mishaps and back to writing. Have a lovely week.
smoked meyer lemon ice cream with tellicherry black pepper
[ice cream base adapted from the Chez Panisse Desserts cookbook by Lindsey Shere]
Makes about 1 2/3 quarts
1 cup wood chips /saw dust for smoking [I used cherry wood]
3 Meyer lemons [about 3/4 lb]
zest of 2 Meyer lemons
1 cup [120g] sugar
3/4 cup whole milk
3 1/4 cups heavy cream
1 Tbsp Tellicherry black peppercorns
6 egg yolks
Fill a small aluminum pan with the wood chips or saw dust. Place it on a hot grill, cover and set the heat to high. Slice the lemons in half and place them cut side on the hot grates and cover for about 8 to 12 minutes until the surface starts to char. Remove and flip them and place them cut side up in the pan containing the wood chips. Cover and allow to smoke for another 6 minutes. Remove the lemons from the grill and extract the juice. Strain the juice and zest two of the lemons. Keep aside.
Add the smoked and fresh lemon zest to a medium-size non-reactive saucepan. Add the milk and 1/4 cup heavy cream along with the sugar. Gently crack the peppercorns once and add them to the milk in a tea ball infuser. Heat the mixture on medium-high till it just starts to boil. Remove from the heat and then let it steep covered for about 10 to 15 minutes. In a separate bowl, whisk the yolks and add then whisk in 1/4 cup of the warm steeped milk to temper. Transfer the yolk mixture to the saucepan and cook on medium-low heat, stirring constantly until the mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon. Remove the tea ball infuser with the peppercorns and discard the peppercorns. Let this mixture stand for another 10 minutes. Then whisk the remaining cream and 9 to 10 Tbsp of the extracted lemon juice. Taste and adjust with more lemon juice if needed. Chill completely before adding to your ice cream maker and proceed as per the manufacturer's instructions. Store the prepared ice cream in the freezer.
[Note: Avoid adding too much lemon juice or you might end up with an ice cream that's too hard, if that happens let it sit out for 5 to 6 minutes before serving]
For the past month or so, I've been going back and pouring over older books to understand what "California" cuisine really means. Not just recipes, though they do provide one part of a practical component of understanding the culture behind a regional cuisine but at the same time, also try to learn the history and influences that drive the thinking behind the process. Some influences are obvious, the weather and geography that make this state such an agricultural diamond mine which in turn also led to the migration of people from different parts of the nation and the world to come in search of brighter futures. Subsequently, these factors shaped and transformed the way in which food is expressed in a rather unique way in this region.
And so, part of my research has involved, immersing myself completely, daily cooking my way through some of these books and adding my own touch as I go along. Here is one of the recipes for a blood orange ice cream that I came across in the Chez Panisse Desserts cookbook by Lindsey Remolif Shere, who worked as the pastry chef at the iconic restaurant. It's a simple recipe and the only special tools you'll need is an ice cream maker and a freezer. I've infused the egg custard with rosemary and star anise at different stages of preparation, the flavors are subtle and don't overwhelm the citrus notes of the orange.
rosemary and star anise infused blood orange ice cream (adapted from the Chez Panisse Desserts book by Lindsey Remolif Shere)
makes : approximately 1 1/3 quarts
1 lb (453.59g) blood oranges (around 3 to 4 oranges)
2 star anise pods
3/4 cup half-and-half
1 cup sugar
6 egg yolks (obtained from large eggs)
2 1/2 cups whipping cream
two 3 inch rosemary sprigs (it should be relatively young and not woody)
1. Wash the oranges and gently wipe them dry with a kitchen towel. Cut very thin strips of orange peel from 2 out of the fruit (avoid the bitter white pith under the peel). Put the peel in a non-corroding saucepan with star anise, half-and-half and the sugar and heat on medium-low heat until it just starts to boil. Remove from heat, cover with a lid and let steep 15 minutes, then reheat. Remove the peel and discard but leave the star anise pods behind.
2. Whisk the egg yolks and pour the hot mixture into them slowly, beating constantly so the eggs don't scramble. Pour back into the pan, bruise the rosemary with a knife and add it to the mixture, set over low heat to cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens and coats the spoon. Strain the mixture into a bowl. Using a zester, grate the zest of the remaining oranges and add to the custard. Fold with a silicone spatula and allow to stand for 5 to 10 minutes. Fold in the cream. Juice the oranges and strain the liquid. Add 3/4 cup of the juice to the custard. Fold with a silicone spatular to combine and then freeze according to the manufacturer's instructions of your ice cream maker. Freeze the ice cream in an airtight container for at least 4 hours before serving.
Things I've learned about myself with each birthday cycle that passes, a lot of these involve age issues and insecurities, so please bear with me;
- I now prefer ice cream to cakes on my birthday. I love cakes but for some odd reason, I've morphed into ice creams. Ice cream cakes are a good compromise.
- I prefer smaller intimate birthday celebrations to larger ones.
- I found my first white hair, it's a single strand on my weak excuse of a beard. It was frightening at first and made me realize I'm aging. I got over it pretty quickly. But balding is a whole different story.
- I wake up as early as my grandparents used to. As a kid, I'd wonder why and how they managed to wake up at 5 or 6am every day as I struggled to get to school by 9am. I also can't stay up beyond 9pm. Am I becoming my grandparents?
- I worry about having kids, when to have them etc. I hate sports, what if they like sports, what the heck will I do?
- There are too many "Life Alert" commercials on television. Does this mean my TV show choices are age related based on the commercials being targeted at me?
- I now love staycations and direct flights.
- On some days I find myself sounding like my mother and on some days like my dad.
Two weeks ago, another birthday came by and of course, there was ice cream. A milky chocolate ice cream made with cocoa rouge (Guittard's dutch cocoa version) and melted chocolate. Then came the drizzle, a warm bourbon infused chocolate fudge sauce, not too sweet and not too boozy. Get the recipe below!
As some of you know, we bought a home several months ago and I've been pretty heavily tied up with home renovations. You can get a sneak peek at my kitchen and see what else I've been up to in our house over at West Elm.
Here are a couple of kitchen tips that you might find useful when preparing this ice cream;
- Use the best quality chocolate and cocoa powder you can find and whose taste you love! It makes a huge difference in the flavor of the ice cream.
- I used a bain marie to melt the chocolate and prevent it from burning. It does this by evenly regulating heat that passes from a simmering water bath through a ceramic vessel in which the chocolate is kept. Use a silicon whisk/spatula to stir the chocolate when using ceramic or it will scratch the surface. To use a bain marie to melt chocolate, all you need to do is fill the lower stainless steel vessel with water and then place the ceramic vessel over it. The water should be filled up to the level marked in the staineless steel. As the water in the base vessel heats it melts the chocolate in the ceramic bowl.
- I have a new favorite ice cream container for the freezer, it has an layer of air between the double compartments that keeps the ice cream frozen for longer periods of time when kept out at room temperature. I've even mananaged to take ice cream in the sealed container to work and it happily surprised me. Nothing melted!
- I've adapted the basic ice cream recipe from Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams at Home
double chocolate ice cream with chocolate bourbon fudge sauce
yields : 1 generous pint
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1/4 cup sugar
2 ounces milk chocolate (Guittard 31% cocoa)
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup dutch cocoa powder (Guittard cocoa rouge)
1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch powder
2 teaspoons water
3 tablespoons cream cheese, softened to room temperature
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1. Place the milk and sugar in a thick bottomed medium sized saucepan and heat on medium-high heat. Heat until the sugar dissolves, reduce heat to gentle simmer and keep warm.
2. While the milk is heating up, place the chocolate and heavy cream in the ceramic vessel of the bain marie. Stir the chocolate as it melts into the heavy cream using a silicone spatular or whisk. (see notes above on how to use a bain marie). Once the chocolate has melted and has mixed completely with the cream, fold in the cocoa powder. Whisk to combine.
3. Pour the melted chocolate mixture from step 2 into the warm milk. Stir to combine. Then increase the heat to medium-high and bring to a rolling boil. Whisk the cornstarch with the water in a small bowl to make a slurry. Quickly whisk the cornstarch slurry into the hot chocolate milk and continue to boil the milk until it begins to thicken. The mixture should resemble a thick custard and coat the back of a spoon. Remove the saucepan from the stove.
4. In a large mixing bowl, whisk the cream cheese and salt. Add 1/2 cup of the hot thickened chocolate milk base from the saucepan and whisk until smooth and combined. Whisk in the remaining milk and whisk until combined. Transfer the ice cream base to a clean gallon ziplock bag and place in an ice cold water bath until chilled (or refrigerate until chilled). Follow the instructions in the manual of your ice cream maker to prepare the ice cream using the chilled base. Transfer the ice cream to an airtight freezer-proof container and freeze for at least 4 to 6 hours (preferably overnight) to firm up before serving.
chocolate bourbon fudge
yields: about 1 cup
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 cup (6 ounces) bittersweet chocolate chips (around 60-70% cacao)
1 tablespoon dutch cocoa powder (Guittard cocoa rouge)
3 tablespoons bourbon
1. Place the heavy cream in a thick bottomed saucepan and bring to a boil. Remove from stove and fold in the chocolate chips and cocoa powder. Stir with a silicone spatula until combined. Fold in the bourbon. Transfer and store in an airtight container and refrigerate. Before serving, warm the fudge in the microwave for a few seconds.
I traveled to LA last weekend to attend the IACP (International Association of Culinary Professionals) awards. I made it a point to visit as many important restaurants as I could, we even visited Lisa Vanderpump's Pump restaurant in West Hollywood and saw her and Ken. We were too afraid to speak to her and chickened out, so nope we didn't speak with her or get photos with her. The IACP conference was a blast, I got to spend some time and meet some of favorite people in the world of food who have always inspired me. Now for the awards, I won the Best Photo Based Culinary Blog for this year and I couldn't be more thankful to you (click the link to see all the winners). You guys have given me so much support and love over the years and I wish you were all there with me to celebrate!
But since you couldn't be there physically, we can all celebrate with ice cream. As a kid whenever I got a cold, my dad would recommend drinking a glass of hot milk with turmeric sweetened with honey or sugar. But I've been toying with this idea for a while, why not put all of this into an ice cream and add some ginger? Sure, this ice cream is a culmination of a lot of home cold remedies in a way..... Okay, I have no scientific evidence that this will actually fight colds but it's really good! The bright yellow color of turmeric, the fresh ginger juice and the honey makes this one delicious ice cream. You can add a few bits of crystallized ginger and I did consider doing that but 1 1/2 tablespoons of juice squeezed out of a fresh piece of ginger root is intense, so I'd personally recommend cutting back on the amount of juice if you want to incorporate ginger bits. Also, don't add fresh ginger juice to milk and boil it, it will curdle!
My recipe is loosely based on Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream's cream cheese technique which makes this an egg-free version.
Here are some of my kitchen tips that you might find useful when preparing this ice cream;
- Use a young and fresh ginger root, the flavor is better. I add the ginger juice to the ice cream base once it is chilled or the milk can curdle when hot. You can cut back on the amount of ginger used if you like it less intense
- You could garnish this with bits of crystallized ginger root but I felt that it would be too gingery because the fresh ginger flavor is pretty strong.
turmeric and ginger honeycomb ice cream
yields: about 1 pint
2 cups whole milk
2 cups half and half
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
1/2 cup fine grain sugar
1/4 cup diced honeycomb
2 tablespoons honey
1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch powder
2 tablespoons water
3 ounces creamcheese
1 1/2 tablespoons peeled and freshly grated ginger root
1. Place the milk, half and half, turmeric powder, salt, sugar, honeycomb and honey in a thick-bottomed medium sized saucepan. Stir on medium-high heat with constant stirring until all the milk starts to boil. When the milk starts to boil vigorously, whisk the cornstarch and water in a small bowl and whisk into the saucepan. Allow the ice cream base to thicken by boiling for about 4 minutes with constant stirring. The mixture should resemble a custard and coat the back of a spoon. Pass the hot mixture through a sieve, then whisk the mixture into a large bowl containing the creamcheese. Store the ice cream in a gallon ziploc bag, place the bag in an ice water bath until it is completely chilled.
2. Squeeze and collect the juice from the freshly grated ginger root. Stir this juice into the chilled ice cream base. Pour the liquid into your ice cream maker and churn as per the manufacturer's instructions. Store in a freezer safe container and allow to freeze for at least 4 hours until firm.