Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Guinness-Milk Chocolate Ice Cream

You know how you occasionally, after a particularly difficult day, like to treat yourself to your favorite gourmet ice cream? You know the kind I'm talking about, that pricey stuff in those small containers. That stuff is good, but face it, a couple of healthy spoonfuls, and it and your eight dollars are gone. I have another idea. Make your own! The recipe that I'm about to share with you kicks your favorite brand of gourmet ice cream to the curb. No more will you have to go out in search of creamy, decadent, high-end deliciousness, you can make it at home.

I stumbled upon this recipe after making my
Chocolate Stout Cake. I had about a cup of Guinness left and no idea what to do with it. Sure, if I liked beer (or ale, or Porter, or stout, or IPA, or anything else that smacks of yeast or hops) I could have drunk it. But seeing as I don't like Guinness or any of that other stuff, I needed to cook with it. It was way too much to make Guinness ale mustard, and I was looking for something chocolaty. As luck would have it, I found this in David Lebovitz's AMAZING ice cream book, The Perfect Scoop. I had picked up this book at the library some time ago, and just happened to see this while flipping through. I took the book back to the library, drove immediately to the local bookstore, and bought a copy of my own. It's a rare day that I actually buy a cookbook because I get so many of them from publishers for review, but this was one I knew that I had to have as a permanent addition to my cookbook collection . If the rest of the ice cream in this book is half as good as this one, I am going to be one happy girl.

A word of warning, this ice cream is not for the kids because the Guinness does not get cooked out, simply stirred into the custard after it is cooked . So you might want to keep that in mind. But you and your other adult friends are going to want to savor and enjoy every creamy spoonful. Or, you may just want to hoard it all for yourself.

Guinness-Milk Chocolate Ice Cream

Makes about one quart

7 ounces milk chocolate, finely chopped
1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup sugar
pinch of salt
4 large egg yolks
1 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup Guinness Stout
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Put the chocolate pieces in a large bowl and set a mesh strainer over the top.
Warm the milk, sugar, and salt in a medium saucepan. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks. Slowly pour the warm mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly, then scrape the warmed egg yolks back into the saucepan.
Stir the mixture constantly over medium heat with a heatproof spatula, scraping the bottom as you stir, until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula. Pour the custard through the strainer over the milk chocolate, then stir until the chocolate is melted. Once the mixture is smooth, whisk in the cream, then the Guinness and vanilla. Stir until cool over an ice bath.
Chill the mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator, then freeze it in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions.

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Monday, August 21, 2017

Hatch Chile Black Bean Hummus

Unless you have been living under a rock, or glued to eclipse websites (which I've recently come to realize is pretty much the same thing), then you may not know that it's hatch chile season. ​

Hatch Chiles are named after the growing region from which they originate, Hatch, New Mexico. The intense sunlight and cool nights that this valley provide result in a uniquely flavored chile that's unrivaled by any other. Meaty, and with mild to medium heat, they are ideal for standards such as Chile Con Queso and Chile Rellenos, but if you allow your imagination to take hold, you will find that they are an excellent addition to almost anything from your morning eggs to your evening soup, snack, or salad.
 This is my third recipe using hatch chiles, and I am struggling to decide which one I like the best. I should probably let you decide, so here is my first concoction pairing the chiles with black beans for a unique and delicious hummus. 
Hatch Chile Black Bean Hummus

1 15-ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 small
Melissa’s Hatch Chile, roasted and seeded
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
1 tablespoon tahini
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon cumin
Pinch salt

Blend in a bullet blender, food processor, or regular blender until smooth and creamy. Serve with crackers or crudités.

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Friday, August 18, 2017

Alycia's Peach Daiquiri

Today's recipe is another one from Alycia of Inspirational Sloppy Joe fame. I was going to hold off on this one, not wanting to put two of them from Alycia so close together lest she think I'm stalking her, but peach season is coming to an end, and you need to try this before it's over. It's been a long time since I've made myself a cocktail, but yesterday I decided it was high time. I don't treat myself as often as I should, and, in fact, I have pretty much been eating out of the freezer the past couple of weeks, so felt I deserved a little treat.

This is easy to put together, and I counted it as a serving of fruit on the daily nutrition pyramid, because it calls for an entire peach. Can you imagine another cocktail that's as good for you as this one? Not only is it good for you, but it is also absolutely delicious. The recipe, without alteration it fabulous, but, in the name of full disclosure, I changed it up a tiny bit using a handful of ice cubes made from pineapple juice. I imagine this would be delicious with any type of fruit juice-based ice cube, but do know that it is fine on its own.  I just happen to have an obsession with making ice cubes out of pretty much anything in liquid form.

Okay, run out and get yourself some fresh peaches and prepare to be treated to a luscious cocktail.
Alycia's Peach Daiquiri
Makes one ample portion…unless you're a lush

2 ounces Malibu rum
3 ounces sweet and sour mix
1 whole peach, pitted
Splash Grenadine
Ice (see above regarding my choice here)

Toss all into a blender, or bullet blender, and blend until the ice is crushed and incorporated; serve immediately. Double, triple, quadruple, go crazy. You're going to love this one.
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Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Cherry Almond Haystacks

I have been obsessed, of late, with the cherry and almond combination. There is evidence of this in my Bing Cherry Amaretto Preserves as well as my Cream Scones with Amaretto Cherries. I decided to take this combination one step further and make a luscious chocolaty treat out of it. You're probably all familiar with haystacks. I remember these way back from when I was a kid. They're easy to make, no bake, everyone loves them; you simply can't go wrong with these. But I thought I would make them a little more sophisticated, so I added amaretto-soaked dried cherries and slivered almonds to the mix. These were so good I could have easily inhaled them. In fact, I had to hide them from myself to keep from doing just that.

These are the perfect summer treat because you don't have to heat up the oven to make them, and a guaranteed crowd-pleaser.  Here is an adult version of your childhood favorite. 
Cherry Almond Haystacks

2 Tablespoons amaretto

1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup butterscotch chips
1/2 cup chow mein noodles
1/2 cup slivered almonds

Soak cherries in amaretto until plump, about 20 minutes. Drain; set aside.

In a medium-sized microwave-safe bowl, melt chocolate and butterscotch chips, at 30-second intervals, stirring after each, until smooth. Stir in chow mein noodles, almonds, and reserved cherries until well coated.

Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls onto a waxed paper or Silpat-lined baking sheet. Refrigerate for 2 hours or until set. Yield: 8 clusters. Feel free to double, triple, quadruple…you get the picture.


Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Inspirational Sloppy Joes

Facebook friend Alycia of the Tablescapes at Table 21 blog recently posted a blurb and photo that had my mouthwatering. She had decided to make homemade Sloppy Joes, adapting her recipe from four or five recipes that she had found on Pinterest, playing with it until it tasted right. She added that they were so delicious that her husband didn't stop at two of them.

I couldn't remember the last time I had made Sloppy Joes, so was intent upon doing just that. She told me that her basic recipe was one from Pioneer Woman, but that she added a number of extra ingredients. I took the same recipe and, like she did, made it my own with numerous additions and deletions. They were so good, undoubtedly the best Sloppy Joes that I had ever eaten. Because I cut the original recipe in half as it would have made way too many for my interest, you can feel free to double this one if you like.

I think one of the reasons why I liked this version so much is because I used one of my favorite Melissa's products, yup, you guessed it, Fire Roast Sweet Red Bell Peppers instead of the called for fresh green pepper. There is a need, I think, to have peppers in a Sloppy Joe, but I have always found that green peppers tend to overwhelm the taste. These complemented rather than overwhelmed, and I will never make another Sloppy Joe without them. You have to try this recipe. With fall coming up it will be a mealtime staple, and is perfect for gatherings for football season.

Inspirational Sloppy Joes

1 Tablespoon butter
1-1/4 pounds ground chuck
1 medium onion, diced
1 teaspoon minced garlic
3/4 cup ketchup (I used equal portions of regular and Sriracha ketchup)
1/4 cup barbecue sauce (I used Stubbs)
1/2 cup beef broth
1 Tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon chili powder (more or less, to taste)
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
Pinch red pepper flakes (more or less, to taste)
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire Sauce (more or less, to taste)
1 Tablespoon tomato paste (optional)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper (more or less, to taste)

Add butter to a large skillet or dutch oven over medium high heat. Add ground beef and cook until brown. Drain fat on a paper towel-lined plate.

Add onions, red peppers, and garlic. Cook for a few minutes, or until onion begins to soften.

Stir in ketchup, barbecue sauce, brown sugar, chili pepper, dry mustard, and broth. Stir to combine and simmer for 15 minutes. Add tomato paste, Worcestershire, and salt and pepper, to taste. Adjust seasonings as needed.

Serve on toasted buns.

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Sunday, August 13, 2017

Sweet Corn and Cucumber Salad

I love salad in the summer, and I like it to be made with the freshest produce available. I happened to pick up some local cucumbers, and a dozen or so ears of the fresh corn that we have had in abundance this season. So, while spending an entire day prepping vegetables for various dishes I was going to make during the week, I decided to combine some ingredients that aren’t always paired in order to make a delicious, crunchy summer salad. This was the end result, and boy, was it fresh and delicious! Even the onion and basil were homegrown as I grew both in pots on the patio. I made the pesto as well (there is just nothing like homemade!), but if you prefer not to, I highly recommend Melissa's pesto. They have both basil and sun-dried tomato, both equally good.
Sweet Corn and Cucumber Salad

4 cups fresh corn kernels
2 cups diced cucumber
1/2 cup diced
Melissa’s Fire Roasted Sweet Red Bell Peppers
1/4 cup diced red onion
5 strips bacon, cooked and crumbled
3 large basil leaves, minced (more for garnish)
Salt and cracked pepper, to taste

3 tablespoons pesto, homemade or purchased
1 tablespoon Dukes mayonnaise
Pinch garlic salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Toss vegetables and basil leaves together in a large mixing bowl, pour the dressing on top, and toss once more. Serve immediately garnish with basil leaves.

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Friday, August 11, 2017

Heirloom Tomato Gazpacho

I LOVE gazpacho, and making it with heirloom tomatoes is an experience all its own. Using different colors of tomatoes for different batches of gazpacho (It is so easy!) yields the most beautiful cold soup you can imagine. It's quite simple to vary a standard recipe to create as many varieties as you have colors of tomatoes. Today, in a matter of minutes, I made three different types of gazpacho, with three different colors of tomatoes. Look how beautiful it is, and the taste is phenomenal, so fresh and so summery. This is what it's all about.

Go crazy with your toppings; you're only limited by your imagination here. When you're considering a variety of garnishes, go not just for varying tastes, but colors and textures as well. I'm hard-pressed to decide my favorite among this bunch; I love them all!

Here are three recipes. I made all three of them in the food processor, and I didn't even rinse between batches. There's no need to because it is basically all the same thing. So whip up as many as you like, and consider serving each one of your guests a different color. How much fun would that be?!
Yellow Heirloom Gazpacho

1 large yellow heirloom tomato
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon sherry vinegar
1/2 teaspoons
Melissa’s chopped garlic
1/2 teaspoon capers
1/4 teaspoons salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Put all ingredients into the work bowl of a food processor.
Pulse until blended. Chill for at least an hour before serving. Top with your favorite garnishes.
Green Heirloom Gazpacho

2 large green heirloom tomatoes
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
1/2 teaspoon
Melissa’s chopped garlic
1/2 teaspoon capers
1/4 of a medium yellow onion
1/4 teaspoons salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

See above for directions.
Red Heirloom Gazpacho

2 large red heirloom tomatoes
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
1/2 teaspoon
Melissa’s chopped garlic
1/2 teaspoon capers
1/4 of a medium yellow onion
6 fresh basil leaves
1/4 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

See above for directions.  In the photo above I topped this with chopped fresh spinach and crumbled bacon and served it as "BLT Gazpacho."

Suggested garnishes
Chopped spinach
Crumbled bacon
Sliced hearts of palm
Green or black olives, sliced
Kernels of fresh corn

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