salted roasted figs and cardamom ice cream

roasted salted fig cardamom ice cream

One of the hardest parts about moving this year, was having to leave my fig trees behind. My brown turkey fig tree had just begun fruiting last year and I was so excited (and I treated it like a child). A bunch of questions kept circling through my head, will the new people keep the tree and take care of it? Will the tree fruit plenty? Finally, last weekend, we took a quick trip to the nursery and I picked up a new black mission fig tree, a Meyer lemon tree and a Moro blood orange tree. Except for the fig tree, I haven't had much experience growing the others so I'm hoping they take off and I get some fruit. The lemon tree came with a several lemons so I'm not too worried but I hope the other two don't take too long to produce. I'm not planning on starting my own farmer's stand anytime soon but I'm a little impatient when it comes to my homegrown produce!

california black mission figs

I love fresh figs, they are fat and juicy and sweet like nectar when ripe. Every fig season, I make it a point to eat some on a weekly basis whenever possible. We had a couple of hot days this past week and I found another excuse to make some ice cream. I decided to use cardamom for the base because the spice has a wonderful cooling fragrant taste. Also, cardamom is to Indian cooking what vanilla is to Western cuisine when it comes to desserts, though I should add that Indian cuisine also uses this great spice to season meats and vegetables in dishes.

roasted salted fig and cardamom ice cream

If you never tried oven roasting slices of figs then you should give it a shot. For this recipe, I've lightly roasted the figs just enough to caramelize the sugars and drive out some of the moisture from the figs. The light dash of salt contrasts against the sweetness of the figs and cardamom ice cream which makes every bite wonderful. This ice cream is seriously amazing and if you're looking to make something fancy for a party or event, this is one ice cream that will impress.

Note: If you can't find Maldon sea salt flakes, use a good quality brand of sea salt crystals just make sure the crystals aren't huge as it will be overwhelming to taste. You can break the crystals using a mortar and pestle and then sprinkle them.

black mission figs
salted roasted figs  and cardamom ice cream

roasted salted fig ice cream

yields: 1 generous quart

ingredients 

12 black mission figs, ripe
1/4 teaspoon Maldon sea salt flakes or kosher sea salt crystals
2 cups whole milk + 4 tablespoons
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon green cardamom seeds, freshly ground 
2/3 cup (5 1/2 ounces) raw sugar
2 1/2 tablespoon cornstarch

1. Place a wire rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350F. Wash the figs, wipe the dry with a clean paper towel or kitchen cloth. Trim the tops and bottoms of each fig and then slice them lengthwise into 4 sections. Place the individual figs on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Sprinkle the salt flakes over the figs (it's fine if you don't salt all the fig sections) and bake them for about 10 minutes in the oven or until the figs begin to caramelize and turn slightly golden brown at the edges. Remove from oven and allow to cool on baking sheet. Refrigerate the figs on the baking sheet until completely chilled. If the baking sheet doesn't fit in the refrigerator transfer them to a smaller plate but keep them individually separate.
2. In a medium-sized saucepan, heat the 2 cups of milk, heavy cream, cardamom, and sugar on a medium-high flame. Stir to ensure the sugar is completely dissolved. Bring the mixture to a boil. Whisk the 4 tablespoons of milk and cornstarch in a small bowl and then add it to the boiling mix. Whisk immediately and continue to stir for about 3-4 minutes until the milk begins to thicken. It will acquire a custard like consistency and should coat the back of a spoon. Remove from stove and allow the ice cream to cool for about 5 minutes.
3. Transfer the ice cream base to an airtight gallon ziploc bag and seal. Place the bag in an ice water bath and allow to chill completely for about 30 minutes. Transfer the chilled ice cream to your prepared frozen canister of your ice cream maker. Churn for about 30 minutes until the ice cream has formed. Alternatively, follow the instructions given by your ice cream maker's manufacturers. 
4. Transfer half of the ice cream into a freezer safe container (preferably airtight). Layer with half of the chilled roasted salted fig sections and then layer with the rest of the ice cream. Layer the top of the ice cream with the rest of the fig sections. Cover the surface of the ice cream with parchment paper and press gently. Freeze the ice cream for about 4 hrs or overnight before serving.

roasted purple yam and molasses ice cream

roasted purple yam molasses ice cream

The fun part about exploring the local markets in your new neighborhood is the fun things you might come across. My eyes and heart burst with excitement when I came across these purple/violet yams/ube in my neighborhood. Until now, I had never tried them and everything about these guys blew my senses away. They are sweet to taste but when roasted the yams give off a beautiful floral nectar like fragrance which frankly is kind of amazing! 

mashing yams

Purple/violet yams/Ube are popular in Asian cooking and you can also find them in some Indian recipes, so you should be able to find them in Asian/International markets. I made one 

sweet potato ice cream

 last year and I figured it would only be appropriate to cook these yams into an ice cream to trap those delicious scents and flavors possessed by this magic tuber. 

ice cream prep

Roasting is my cheat method for many recipes, especially here because not only does it concentrate flavors and heightens tastes but it also helps to drive out moisture from the yam. I used molasses and brown sugar to sweeten the mixture and the resultant ice cream is very soft because of the yam pulp. I think you're gonna love this one, so make yourself some roasted purple yam ice cream and the purple!

roasted purple yam and molasses ice cream

roasted purple yam and molasses ice cream

yields:

1 generous quart

ingredients

1 large purple yam/ube/violet yam

2 cups whole milk

3/4 cup heavy cream

1 tablespoon cream cheese, plain

3/4 cup brown sugar

2 tablespoons dark molasses

1. Place a wire rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 400F.  Rinse the yam under cold running tap water, wipe it dry with a clean towel. Prick the yam a couple of times with a fork and bake the yam for 45 minutes or until it is tender on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Once the yam is baked, remove and allow it to cool to room temperature.

2. Once the yam is cool enough to handle, peel the skin and place the pulp in a food processor. Pulse until you get a smooth puree.  Reserve 1 cup of the puree to prepare the ice cream. This can be done the day ahead and stored in an airtight container until ready to use. 

3. In a large thick bottomed saucepan, add the milk, heavy cream, cream cheese, sugar and molasses. Stir the mixture on a medium-high flame until the sugar and molasses are completely dissolved. Reduce the flame to medium-low and whisk in one cup of the reserved yam puree. Increase the flame to a medium high and bring the mixture to a rolling boil, whisking the liquid continuously. Continue to whisk and cook until the liquid acquires a thick custard like consistency. Remove the saucepan from the stove.

4. Strain the ice cream base through a sieve and transfer it to an airtight 1 gallon ziploc bag. Seal airtight and place the bag in an ice-water bath. Allow the ice cream base to chill completely for about 30 minutes.

5. Pour the chilled ice cream base into the pre frozen canister of your ice cream maker. Churn until the ice cream starts to form and no longer sticks to the side of the canister. This should take about 30 minutes (alternatively, follow the instructions that came with your ice cream maker).

6. Transfer the ice cream into a freezer-safe container with an airtight lid. Press the ice cream down with a spatula to remove any air bubbles and cover the surface with parchment paper. Cover the container with its lid and freeze the ice cream for at least 4 hours or until firm. 

masala chai ice cream

masala chai ice cream

A chai flavored ice cream post is way overdue here. For one, I love making frozen desserts and two, I'm a huge chai drinker. Actually, I drink some sort of tea every day, even if it isn't chai. Tea is calming and soothing and yes, delicious! There are so many things one can do with tea and with the wide array of flavors that keep coming out, I'm almost overwhelmed at times if I can even keep up. So instead of going too crazy, I'm sharing a simple and trusted way to make a chai ice cream.

chai prep

I infused the chai with the spices (masala), crushed green cardamom seeds and freshly grated ginger root. Of course, you can spice the chai with additional spices like I did in my Masala Chai Apple Cake but I added the masala (spices) to the chai just the way my mom does, her two special ingredients and nothing else. It made me a little nostalgic and brought back memories of drinking cups of hot tea while I dipped cookies into the fragrant hot milky brown liquid and watched my evening cartoon shows on the Cartoon Network. These days things are a little different, I normally just drink the tea and do the cookie thing occasionally, still watch tv, no cartoons though.

chai ice cream

I've adapted the basic ice cream recipe from Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams at Home. Also, just a little note here, I normally don't make chai with that much tea leaves in that small volume of water, I was going for a more concentrated flavor and did a reduction because the flavors and taste would ultimately get balanced and diluted out by the ice cream base. 

masala chai ice cream ginger cardamom

Here are some of my favorite posts that I drooled over this week,
  • Kimberly of The Year in Food made some amazing Cajun-spiced Sweet Potato Burgers that I need to make soon. 
  • Jennifer of Savory Simple made the most picture perfect fan-shaped gyoza stuffed with mushrooms. 
  • Marta of What Should I Eat for Breakfast made these killer green sandwiches that are topped with greens, pine nuts, cheese and poached eggs. How can you say no to that!  
  • Ashlae of Oh Ladycakes has quickly become one of my favorite vegan bakers, her dreamy raw citrus cakes are self-explanatory.
masala chai tea ice cream

masala chai ice cream

yields: 1 generous quart

ingredients

3/4 cup water
1/4 teaspoon green cardamom seeds, freshly ground
1 inch piece ginger root, peeled and grated
2 tablespoons black tea leaves (Darjeeling tea - I specifically used orange pekoe) 
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon cornstarch
2 cups whole milk + 2 tablespoons
1 1/4 cup half and half
2/3 cup (5 1/2 ounces) sugar
3 tablespoons honey
1/8 teaspoon kosher sea salt
3 tablespoons (1 1/2 ounces) cream cheese

1. Add the water, cardamom and grated ginger to a small saucepan and bring to a boil on a medium-high flame. When the water begins to boil, add the tea leaves and reduce the flame to medium-low. Allow the water to boil for another 2 minutes, remove from stove and strain the liquid to remove the solids. Transfer the tea liquid back into the saucepan and reduce the volume to a little less than 1/4 cup by boiling the liquid on a medium-high flame. Remove the liquid from the stove and keep aside until ready to use.
2. Mix the cornstarch with the two tablespoons of milk to form a slurry and keep aside until ready to use. In a large thick bottomed saucepan, add the reduced 1/4 cup of tea from step 1, the 2 cups of milk, half and half, sugar and honey and heat on a medium-high flame. Bring the mixture to a rolling boil and cook for 4 minutes with stirring. Reduce the flame to a gentle simmer and quickly whisk the cornstarch slurry into the hot liquid.  Bring the mixture back to a boil and cook with constant stirring until the mixture thickens, this will take approximately 1 minute.
3. Place the sea salt and cream cheese in a large mixing bowl and whisk lightly until smooth. Add a little bit of the hot milk liquid from the saucepan and whisk lightly until smooth. Add the rest of the hot milk and whisk until the ice cream base is completely smooth. 
4. Transfer the hot liquid into a 1-gallon ziploc freezer bag, seal airtight and place in an ice cold water bath. Allow to chill for 30 minutes or until ice cold. Pour the ice cream base into the frozen canister of your ice cream maker and churn the ice cream for about 30 minutes or until the ice cream has come together and begins to come off from the sides of the canister. (Alternatively, follow the instructions of your particular brand of ice cream maker).  Transfer the frozen ice cream into a freezer safe container and layer the top of the ice cream with a piece of parchment paper, press gently to remove any trapped air bubbles and freeze for at least 4 hours before serving.

banana cinnamon toffee/ "banoffee" ice cream

Banana ice cream with homemade cinnamon toffee chips

There's been a lot of banana activity in our house this week so I can definitely say it's been bananas here! Most banana recipes require you to use overripe bananas and I patiently waited for a little less than a week to get them all mushy and sweet. A few of the bananas are going to go into some banana bread that I need to take to a housewarming this weekend and one went into this banana ice cream that I think you will love.

Bananas

One of my favorite English desserts is the Banoffee pie that is made of bananas, cream and toffee. It's a simple yet decadent combination and definitely a delicious comfort food that is spectacular. This ice cream  is my spin on this wonderful dessert, there's fresh banana fruit mixed with whole milk and cream, a little sweet honey and vanilla to add flavor and then there are tiny bits of homemade cinnamon toffee brittle that give you a crunchy surprise of warm sweet flavor. 

Cinnamon toffee brittle

Yup, homemade toffee brittle flavored with cinnamon! Toffee brittle is very easy to prepare and all you need a couple of simple ingredients and a strong instrument to crack the candy. Having a candy thermometer does help to confirm that you've reached the hard crack stage of the brittle before you can take it off the flame. But if you don't have one, take a clean teaspoon and scoop out a small amount of the hot mass and spread it on a chilled plate or surface. If it solidifies into a hard brittle-like mass easily then you have reached the right temperature.

banoffee ice cream

For the banana puree, I simply mash the fruit with a fork till it is completely smooth but you can also use a food processor if you prefer. I crack most of the toffee brittle into tiny bite sized granules that are less than 1/8th of an inch in size, the rest I crack into larger bits to garnish the ice cream.

Banana ice cream with cinnamon toffee chips

banana ice cream with cinnamon toffee

cinnamon toffee brittle

yields: approximately 1 1/2 cups

ingredients 

3/4 cup unsalted butter
3/4 cup  (5 1/4 ounces) granulated sugar
4 tablespoons water
1/4 teaspoon kosher sea salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon

1. Add the butter, sugar, water, and salt into a thick bottomed stock pot. Place on a medium-high flame and stir constantly till the temperature of the mixture reaches the "hard crack stage" or 300F. This takes about 15 minutes. The mixture will be brownish in color.
2. Immediately fold in the cinnamon and pour the hot liquid onto a clean ungreased baking sheet. Allow the mixture to spread by carefully moving the pan, you can also spread the mixture with an offset spatula. The toffee will begin to harden as it cools and sets. Allow the toffee to cool completely till hard for about one or two hours. 
3. Once the toffee brittle is set, you can crack it gently to form chips with a strong weighted object like a muddler or hammer. Store the candy in an airtight container. I make a few large chips to top the ice cream but the rest of the chips I will crack them to get tiny bits to fold into the ice cream.

Note: I like to remove the excess grease by blotting the completely cooled toffee brittle surface with clean kitchen paper towels. 

banana ice cream

yields: about 1 generous quart

ingredients

2 cups whole milk + 2 tablespoons 
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
2/3 cup (4 1/2 ounces) granulated sugar
2 tablespoons honey
1 cup pureed banana, overripe 
1 1/2 tablespoons cornflour/cornstarch
1 tablespoon madagascar bourbon vanilla extract
1/2 cup cinnamon toffee chips (tiny sized chips) - you can be a little generous here

1. Bring the 2 cups of milk, heavy cream, sugar, and honey in a heavy thick bottomed saucepan to a boil on a medium flame. Reduce the flame to a gentle simmer. Add the pureed banana and cook for 2 minutes.
2. In a small bowl mix the cornflour with the two tablespoons of milk to form a slurry. Quickly whisk the slurry into the milk and bring the milk to a boil. Stir constantly and cook for 2 minutes until the milk begins to thicken like custard. Remove the saucepan from the stove and mix in the vanilla extract. 
3. Transfer the hot liquid into a clean gallon sized ziploc bag. Seal the bag and allow the mixture to cool completely in an ice water bath for at least 30 minutes. The mixture should be at around 40F before you can add it to the ice cream maker.
4. Pour the liquid into a pre-frozen ice cream maker canister of your ice cream maker. Churn until the ice cream begins to come off from the sides of the canister. This will take about 30 minutes. 
5. Layer half of the ice cream in a freezer-safe airtight storage container sprinkle with half of the toffee chips. Layer the remaining ice cream on top and then sprinkle the rest of the toffee chips. Cover the surface of the ice cream with parchment paper. Place the lid on the container and freeze the ice cream for at least 4 hours before serving. You can serve the ice cream with larger toffee chips atop each scoop.

butternut squash ice cream with caramel sauce

Butternut squash ice cream with caramel sauce

A while ago, I mentioned an exciting new photography related project that I would potentially get involved in, well here it is. Each month, I get to pick and interview one of my favorite food photographers and share it with you on the Huffington Post Taste section. If you haven't had a chance check out the first interview check it out 

here

. I'm having a lot of fun with this new project and I hope to talk to some of the many photographers whose work continues to inspire and amaze me. 

A Scoop of butternut squash ice cream

Now back to the food, this is one of my favorite new flavors for seasonal ice creams. Just because it's cold, it doesn't mean I am not going to make or eat ice cream. I think ice creams and sorbets are desserts that can be adapted and eaten at any time of the year. They also make the cold weather a little more delightful.

All I will say here is that butternut squash with swirls of frozen caramel sauce in an ice cream is simply amazing. This is one flavor combination that really surprised me in a good way! It' also one of my new fun ways to eat squash. To prepare the butternut squash puree, you can either buy raw precut butternut squash from your local grocery store or peel and cut the squash into one inch chunks. Microwave the squash pieces for about 3 minutes and then pulse the entire thing in a food processor to get a smooth puree. I have not tried roasting the butternut squash for this recipe but I think it should work fine but the roasting could potentially change the taste a little. I find the microwaving method faster and easier and any excess squash that I don't end up using gets frozen for later use.

The extra caramel sauce that did not go into layering the ice cream, I refrigerated and then served it on the side before warming it up slightly. I've loosely based my recipe using the basic ice cream base from

Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams at Home - Jenni Britton Bauer

Butternutsquash caramel sauce icecream

butternut squash ice cream with caramel sauce

yields:

6 servings

ingredients

1 cup butternut squash puree, unsweetened

2 cups whole milk + 2 tablespoons of milk

1 1/4 cup heavy cream

2/3 cup (5 1/4 ounces)  raw dark brown sugar

2 tablespoons honey

1 1/2 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature

1 1/2 tablespoons cornflour

1. Add the butternut squash puree, 2 cups of milk, cream, sugar, and honey into a thick bottomed stock pot and bring to a boil on a medium high-flame, whisking occasionally. After 4 minutes of boiling reduce to a gentle simmer.

2. Mix the two tablespoons of milk and cornflour in a small bowl to make a slurry. Pour and whisk by hand the slurry into the hot butternut squash mixture. Cook the liquid for another 2 minutes on medium-high heat until the mixture begins to thicken.  Remove from heat.

3. Place the cream cheese in a large mixing bowl. Whisk it a little and then add about one cup of the hot ice cream base. Whisk by hand until smooth, add the rest of the ice cream base and whisk till combined.

4 Transfer the liquid into a gallon ziploc bag and seal. Place in an ice-water bath and allow to cool for at least 30 minutes.

5. Pour the ice cream mixture into the frozen canister of your ice cream maker and churn as per directions of your manufacturer. 

6. Layer half of the ice cream into a freezer-safe air-tight container. Drizzle 1/4 cup of the prepared caramel sauce (instructions below) and then layer again with the rest of the ice cream followed by another 1/4 cup of the caramel sauce. Cover the top layer with parchment paper, place the lid on top of the container and freeze for at least 4 hours before serving. 

caramel sauce

yields:

approximately 1 cup

ingredients

2/3 cup raw dark brown sugar

1 1/4 cup heavy cream

1/4 teaspoon salt

1. Add the brown sugar to a thick bottomed stockpot and heat on a medium high flame with constant stirring. As soon as the sugar begins to melt it will start to caramelize, cook for 1 minute (if you like the sauce darker then cook it for another 1 minute, but be careful to not burn the sugar completely). 2. Remove the stockpot from the flame and carefully pour in the heavy cream. Add the salt. Bring the mixture back to the stove and stir on a medium-high flame to dissolve any hardened caramel completely. 

3. Transfer the sauce to sandwich size ziploc bag, seal and cool for 20 minutes in an ice water bath.

sweet potato ice cream

Sweet potato ice cream

My grandmother used nutmeg quite a bit, whenever she made desserts with sweet potatoes. I've picked up this habit and it's a wonderful habit to have acquired. Come to think of it, I have a feeling she might have even laced some of her potato dishes with nutmeg. So here I am, following in her footsteps in a cooler direction.

Roasted sweet potato

I'm hosting a dinner this weekend and needed a dessert, instead of opting for a cake, I've decided to go with a fall-themed ice cream and the idea of nutmeg and sweet potatoes was hard to resist. This is one easy ice cream without the need for adding thickeners since the sweet potato has enough starch to do the job. The best part is you get to inhale the scents of caramelization while that sweet potato cooks in the oven. 

Oven roasted sweet potato

Just remember to cool that sweet potato before you go to handle it, it also makes peeling the skin of much easier, the skin separates from the pulp naturally. You will probably get a lot more puree than you need to use for this ice cream. I usually save the rest in an air tight container, refrigerate for later use. 

Nutmeg

You don't have to do this, it is completely optional but I like to drizzle a little honey over the ice cream just before serving, since honey as you know, is one of my many true loves!

Sweet potato ice cream with nutmeg

sweet potato ice cream

yields: 6-8 servings

ingredients

1 large sweet potato
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, freshly ground
2 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon honey
extra honey for serving

1. Preheat the oven to 400F. Wash and scrub the skin of the sweet potato and prick it a couple of times with the prongs of a fork. Place the sweet potato on baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 45 minutes or until the center of the sweet potato is tender. Remove from oven and keep aside to cool. 
2. Once the sweet potato is cool enough to handle, peel and discard the outer skin. Transfer the pulp to a food processor and puree until smooth. 
3. In a large thick bottom saucepan, add the sugar, nutmeg, milk, heavy cream, and honey and bring it to a boil on a medium flame. Remove the saucepan from the stove and gently whisk in 1 cup of the pureed sweet potato and whisk to mix. Place the saucepan back on the stove on a medium low flame and cook with constant stirring. Bring the mixture to a boil once again, reduce the flame to low and cook with constant stirring for 2 minutes. The mixture will thicken like a custard. Remove the saucepan from the stove and transfer the contents to a clean 1 gallon ziploc bag, seal and place in an ice-water bath for 30 minutes. 
4. After chilling, pour the ice cream base into the frozen canister of your ice cream make. Churn until the ice cream no longer sticks to the sides of the canister and it does not freeze anymore, this should take about 30 minutes (Alternatively, follow the instructions on your ice cream maker).
5. Layer the frozen ice cream into a freezer-safe storage container with an airtight lid Cover the surface with a sheet of parchment paper and press firmly against the surface to remove any trapped air bubbles.  Place the lid on the container and freeze until firm or at least 4 hours before serving. You can drizzle some extra honey over each scoop before serving.

bourbon peach ice cream

Bourbon and peach ice cream

It's the end of summer and the start of fall and I am absolutely, in no way mentally prepared for its arrival. This is also that part of the year when we squeeze in some quick last minute trips to enjoy what's left of the sunshine and warm weather. Last weekend we took a quick trip to the farm where we spent a wonderful weekend relaxing and simply enjoying some quiet time. Here are some photographs from my trips to Virginia. As always, I have so much fun on these trips to the Mouth of Wilson, the scenery is beautiful and the farms every bit idyllic. If you follow me on Facebook and/or Instagram, you will have seen some of the photographs that I posted of the farms that we passed and visited.

Young Billy Goats

These young billy goats were pretty curious about my camera, they would come up close with their inquisitive eyes and then run back the minute I moved. On the other hand the guineas ran away from me as soon as I approached. Differing levels of animal curiosity! 

Squash flower

Sugarcane Fields

Guinea fowl

My friend Tyler really likes the ice cream, I had him taste test it a couple of weeks ago along with the champagne peach sorbet when he brought me that huge bag of peaches from South Carolina. Tyler prefers ice creams to sorbets and this time when he brought me a second bag of delicious ripe peaches, he insisted that I share the recipe for this ice cream.

Melting Bourbon and peach ice cream

This bourbon peach ice cream is the perfect way to symbolize the end of summer and the start of fall and is probably going to mark the end of my summery fruit recipes for this year. Summery peaches and warm bourbon flavors are all rolled into a scoop of frozen ice cream making it ideal at this juncture of the seasons. 

Since peaches have a high water content, I cooked them down a little to get rid of some of the moisture content. As the peaches cook, their flavor intensifies and you will end up with a rich sauce with a delicious fruit butter-like consistency.  

The base of the ice cream recipe is adapted from Jeni's Splendid Ice creams. 

Last summer peach

By the way, I love ice creams and photographing ice creams is even better because the clean up is always tasty! 

Bourbon peach ice cream

bourbon peach ice cream

yields: 6-8 servings

ingredients

4 cups peaches, fresh ripe, peeled and diced
3/4 cup sugar
4 tablespoons bourbon whiskey
2 cups whole milk
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 1/2 ounces whole fat cream cheese, softened to room temperature
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
2/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 teaspoon madagascar vanilla extract

1. In a thick bottomed saucepan, heat the peaches and sugar on a medium-high flame. Bring the contents to a boil and then immediately reduce to a medium-low flame and cook for 5 minutes. Remove the saucepan and blend the hot sauce carefully in a blender or food processor until completely smooth. Transfer the peach sauce back to the same saucepan and bring it to a boil on a medium-high flame, reduce the flame and stir continuously to prevent burning. Cook for another 7-8 minutes. The sauce should be thick, stir in two tablespoons of the bourbon. Chill the sauce completely in the refrigerator before folding it into the ice cream (the sauce should be at least 40F before use, I prefer to cool the sauce in a sealed ziploc bag placed in an ice-water bath)
2. Take two tablespoons of the milk and mix it with the cornstarch in a small bowl to form a slurry. Keep aside.
3. Whisk the cream cheese and salt in a large glass mixing bowl and keep aside.
4. Bring the rest of the milk, heavy cream, sugar and corn syrup to a boil on a medium-high flame in a thick bottom saucepan. Reduce the flame to a gentle simmer stir constantly with a silicone spatula and cook for 4 minutes. Whisk the cornstarch slurry into the hot milk and bring the milk back to a boil over medium-heat. Cook the milk until it begins to thicken slightly and covers the end of the spatula, about 1-1 1/2 minutes. Remove the milk from heat. Stir in the remaining 2 tablespoons of bourbon and vanilla.
5. Carefully whisk the hot milk into the glass mixing bowl containing the cream cheese until smooth. Pass the hot milk through a sieve to remove any lumps. Transfer the milk into a gallon ziplock freezer bag and chill the sealed bag in an ice-water bath for 30 minutes, adding more ice if necessary. 
6. After chilling, pour the ice cream base into the frozen canister of your ice cream maker. Churn until the ice cream no longer sticks to the sides of the canister and it does not freeze anymore, this should take about 30 minutes (Alternatively, follow the instructions on your ice cream maker).
7. Layer the frozen ice cream into a freezer-safe storage container with an airtight lid and alternate with layers of the peach sauce. Do not mix the ice cream and sauce. Cover the surface with a sheet of parchment paper and press firmly against the surface to remove any trapped air bubbles.  Place the lid on the container and freeze until firm or at least 4 hours before serving.

rose petal and saffron ice cream

rose petal and saffron ice cream

Perhaps the hardest challenge of adulthood is attempting something you should have done during your childhood. This is how I feel about camping, I should have tried it as a kid so I could have been acclimated by now. Last weekend, a friend of mine was to cross his thirtieth year and being an avid camper, he asked a bunch of us to spend the weekend camping up in the mountains of West Virginia. I love the outdoors and nature so I was excited about that portion but not so enthusiastic about the parts related to personal hygiene (which I partially blame on getting my undergraduate degree in microbiology, it's made me a germ-o-phobe!). Consequently, I had my fears and I packed my bags with all sorts of antibacterial agents and bug sprays in my battle kit. When we reached our destination, the campgrounds were beautiful and we were right next to the river, I avoided the bugs and they avoided me, though some of my friends were not so lucky. Our tent was huge, with a little pseudo patio area  in the front and we had enough room to arrange our clothes neatly on one side (OCD craziness). The bathrooms were clean and the only thing I envied and highly missed was my treasured and now highly appreciated and valued daily showers. After "roughing it out" and doing all the crazy insane things that come with camping, I have to admit that my initial fears have been allayed and I can safely say that I would try it again (I'll still prefer a campsite with heated water amenities and clean bathrooms). But for now, I am going to go and check that important life experience off my list!

trickling

Now moving from the mountains of West Virginia and back to the streets of DC! I like to support our growing local  DC food scene which not only has several new eateries and restaurants but also a number of market spots that focus on and promote the use of local seasonal produce and dairy from the neighboring farms. One such place in the D.C. food scene is Union Market. Often on weekends, we drive down  to grab a quick bite at the many different fun food stations/restaurants and will also pick up our groceries. Over time our favorite booth has become the amazing dairy store run by the folks from the Trickling Springs Creamery that's based in the heart of Amish country around the DC region where they source their milk from local family farms. The first time we walked into their booth, we each got a scoop of their grape nut ice cream that was deliciously soft and creamy! Ever since then I migrated to using their dairy products at home. Their milk is fresh with that mild natural sweetness that made us both avid fans at home, so much so that if I don't have time to go down to Union Market, I'll run by our local Whole Foods (who also carry their dairy products) to pick up their milk. Plus they also offer an opportunity to recycle glass bottles which is such a rarity these days! Trickling Springs Creamery uses a special low-temperature small-batch pasteurization process to retain not only the high quality of their milk but also the benefits of the natural proteins and enzymes present in milk. Seriously, if there is anytime the freshness and high quality of milk is necessitated, it is in frozen dessert recipes such as ice creams and kulfis.

rose syrup

I know another frozen dessert recipe back-to-back but I felt compelled to share this recipe with you sooner than later. It's hot and humid and this ice cream fits in perfectly with the weather. It's rich and creamy yet soft and delicious with the scent of cardamom and yellow tint of saffron. But it's the fragrance of the rose petals and the lemon-rose syrup that make it so special and fitting for summer. I've used Gulkhand or Indian candied rose-petal preserves several times before to make cookies and cakes. You can find gulkhand and rose syrups at Amazon and in almost any Indian or Middle Eastern store (for the different varieties of rose syrups, I have previously listed the brands  that I've used here and they are available from Amazon).

icecreamprep

rose petal and saffron ice cream 

yields: 16 medium sized-scoops

ingredients

1 quart or 4 cups whole milk 
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon saffron
1/4 teaspoon green cardamom seeds, freshly ground
1 tablespoon cornflour
1/4 cup gulkhand (candied rose petals)
4 tablespoons rose water
1 pint heavy cream
2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice, strained to remove pulp 
1/4 cup rose syrup

1. In a thick bottomed saucepan, bring 3 cups of the milk and sugar to a boil on medium-high flame. Immediately reduce to a gentle simmer, add the saffron and ground cardamom and continue to cook with constant stirring until the milk reduces to 2 cups. This should take approximately 25-30 minutes. Just be careful to avoid scalding the milk.
2. Whisk the cornflour into the reserved one cup of milk (make sure there are no lumps) and pour it into the hot milk in the saucepan and bring the milk to a boil again. Reduce to a gentle simmer and cook with constant stirring for another 10 minutes. At this point the milk should be thick with a custard consistency. 
3. Remove the milk from the burner. Fold in the gulkhand, rose water and heavy cream. Transfer to a glass bowl and chill in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours. 
4. Pour the ice cream liquid into your ice cream maker and proceed as per your manufacturer's instructions (I used the Cusinart ICE-30BC ice cream maker for 25 minutes). Transfer the ice cream into a clean freezer proof dish and allow it to firm for at least 4-6 hours before serving.
4. Whisk the lemon juice and rose syrup together in a small bowl. Before serving, top each scoop of the ice-cream with the lemon-rose syrup as needed. 

Disclaimer: I did not receive any financial compensation for this product and all opinions stated here are my own.

mango kulfi

Easy Mango Kulfi

My grandparents had a house in Goa on the West Coast of India that was located in an historic part of the capital city, Panjim (now known as Panaji). Practically every summer, the entire family including my grandparents, would take a trip down where we'd spend a couple of weeks by the ocean and relax in the warm sunny weather. The house was old, large and at times dark, which scared me a little but there were so many fun moments. I remember every morning, waking up to the sound of the horns and then running out out on to the tall balcony to see if I could stretch up to see the incoming ships that stopped at the dock. I remember my mom showing and explaining to me some of the antique china and  pieces of furniture (a big round white marble table with huge wooden legs, that I would love to own today) that had been collected over the years, of course at that time I displayed very little interest in these things (now it's a whole different level of fascination when it comes to antiques). There was a stack of paper, so old (I vaguely remember seeing a watermark imprint of the British Royal Family on it) and delicate that every time you tried to handle a sheet, it would crack and break (breaking rather than ripping paper was a strange and fascinating concept back thn to a kid back then). 

mangoes

The things that were much more fun to a ten year old back then, were the steep staircase at the back, the deep well (that was off-limits) and the garden that were enclosed at the back of the house. I remember the coconut, jackfruit and mango trees that adorned the garden and every summer we would eagerly await our bounty. My grandfather would hire someone to come and pick the fruit out and we would sit and watch with eager anticipation. For me, it was mostly the mangoes, they were sweet and juicy and delicious. 

mangoes and kulfi

I have not been back in more than a decade. The house has long since been sold, demolished and the ground now stands home to a large condominium/shopping mall but some of the memories are still stored up here in my head. This summer, the new boat has brought back some of those early childhood memories by the ocean and along with it a strong craving for mangoes. Last weekend, I decided to whip up some of the memories and freeze them in this kulfi recipe. I hesitate on calling kulfi an Indian ice-cream (thought it is described sometimes as such) because it is very different, it traditionally uses less fat and lacks eggs or corn starch as thickening agent when compared to a typical ice-cream. It also has a unique texture of its own, it is creamy yet not soft but firm with a very mild grainy texture that comes from the ground almond meal. Yet it is so simple to prepare but still so complex in flavors and textures that it remains a very popular frozen dessert in Indian cuisine during the hot summer months. I used freezer-safe cappuccino cups to set the kulfi but you can use the traditional kulfi molds (which you can find online or at your local Indian food store) or small conical tea cups or even popsicles molds. 

mango kulfi

India has several different varieties of mangoes and they are sweeter and much more flavorful than any other mango that I have tasted from elsewhere. The Alphonso variety are one of the sweetest, there are others that are simply not eaten by scooping out the flesh but rather sucked out because their meat is sweet but their texture too stringy to chew on. If you every get the opportunity to visit the Indian west coast during summer, I highly recommend trying one of the many mango varieties of the local region. When buying mangoes, press them gently they should be soft but not mushy. They should also give off a sweet fruity smell and the skin should be as yellow as possible with absolutely (preferably) no traces of green color. 

mangoes and kulfi1

mango kulfi

yields: 6 servings

ingredients

1 quart or 4 cups whole milk
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons honey
1/4 teaspoon saffron strands, ground
1/4 teaspoon green cardamom seeds, ground
1/4 cup almond meal
1/2 pint heavy cream, chilled
1 cup fresh ripe mango puree (I used Champagne mangoes but if you can try to use a much more sweeter and flavorful Indian variety like the Alphonso) 
a little fresh mango pulp, diced for garnishing

1. Bring the milk and sugar to a boil in a thick-bottomed saucepan, stir constantly with a silicone spatula to prevent the milk from scalding. Reduce the flame to a gentle simmer and add the honey. Continue to stir the milk and simmer for another 20-25 minutes until it reduces to approximately 3 cups. 
2. Stir in the saffron and cardamom and once again bring the milk to a boil.  Continue to stir and fold in the almond meal. Boil for 2-3 minutes and remove from the stove. 
3. Fold in the cream and mango puree.  Cool the mixture to room temperature. Pour into freezer-safe cappuccino cups (or kulfi molds). Cover the open end with cling film and freeze for at least 10-12 hours to firm. 4. Before serving, place the frozen mold into a warm water bath or running hot water from a faucet to release the kulfi from the mold. Stick a knife into the center of the kulfi (not all the way through, just deep enough to help you maneuver the kulfi) and rotate the kulfi to get it out of the mold. Garnish with freshly diced mango fruit pieces.