Mint Chocolate Ice Cream

A few weeks ago, I acquired a second-hand ice cream maker. Ever since most of the ice cream in the frozen isle became “frozen dessert” because there are so few real ingredients left in it these days (and it’s definitely not getting any cheaper), I decided to take up valuable cupboard real estate with this contraption. I’m only on my second batch, but I gotta say, it’s so worth it. It’s probably not super cost-effective, considering the ingredients I use, but you could use cheaper – and a good quality, electronic Cuisinart machine is an easy find on Craigslist for $50 or less (considerably less, if you use a manual Donvier machine – about the $10 range).

My first batch was traditional vanilla. I must have used nearly a dozen eggs – whole and yolks combined. So much, I had to make a lemon meringue pie the following day just to use up the whites (hardship, I know). Ultimately, mint chocolate is my favourite ice cream flavour. I found a peppermint herb plant at the farmers market a few weeks ago and I never looked back.

This recipe is a mashup of a few but it turned out awesome. Pictures will come when my WordPress app decides to behave and let me edit again.

1 1/2 cups milk (they usually say whole milk but in the ratio to whipping cream, I can’t imagine an extra 2.25% on my 1% really makes a difference, so I use the 1% I have in the fridge)
1/2 cup sugar
cups whipping cream
pinch of salt
1 tsp peppermint extract
10 grams peppermint leaves, chopped fine (worth sharpening your biggest knife)

Warm sugar, salt, 2 cups whipping cream in a pan until dissolved. Add milk, remaining 1 cup cream, peppermint extract and leaves. Stir and let chill a few hours or overnight. (I didn’t do this and it wouldn’t freeze – had to pour it out, stick it back in the fridge and refreeze the bucket.)

60g (2 oz) dark chocolate, melted on double broiler
1 100g dark chocolate Lindt bar, chopped fine

Start ice cream maker with cream mixture. With 5-10 minutes left, drizzle melted chocolate in the top while machine is still moving. Add chocolate. Maybe some cocoa nibs too…

Pro-tips: When handling or chopping chocolate, run your hands under very cold water (and dry them) before chopping. This will help prevent the small bits from melting. And if you want your chocolate to drizzle a little easier, add a touch of shortening.


Pumpkin Spice Chèvre Cheesecake

I had a sugar pie pumpkin to use up and a giant, Costco-sized round of Saltspring Island chevre… What to do but make cheesecake!? Only basically my favourite thing in the world… Be warned though – I’m not sure if it was the cake itself, or the gingersnap, pecan crust (but probably both), I had the most wicked bout of heartburn in my life and had to give most of the cake away.

1/4lb gingersnaps
1/3 cup pecan halves
1/4 cup brown sugar

3/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1 lb cream cheese (substitute chevre – room temperature)
3 eggs
1 cup pumpkin puree

1/2 cup pecan halves
1 tbsp butter
2 tbsp sugar

Preheat oven 350F. The recipe says grease the pan but really, with that crust, do you need to? I think not.
Add gingersnaps, pecan halves, brown sugar and melted butter in a food processor and pulse to combine. Transfer to 9″ springform pan and using your fingers, pat the mixture into the bottom and evenly up the sides. Refrigerate 20 minutes.

Mix brown sugar and spices. In large mixing bowl, beat cream cheese until smooth and creamy (electric mixer recommended – I’ve never had such a good workout…). Add brown sugar mixture and beat until smooth. Add in eggs one at a time, beating until smooth after each addition. Add pumpkin and beat until smooth. Pour batter onto chilled crust.

Bake until set or until knife inserted in the centre comes out clean – about 35-40 minutes. Let cool completely and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Set aside 10 pecan halves and coarsely chop the remaining. In a skillet, over med-high heat, melt the butter, add all pecans, and sprinkle with sugar, stirring until sugar melts and nuts are toasted and caramel coated. Transfer to a plate and let cool (ensuring your 10 halves are not sticking to other pieces). Just before serving, sprinkle chopped pecans over cheesecake and arrange halves evenly around perimeter.

Source: EAT magazine, Nov/Dec 2009

20130202-101422.jpg pumpkin cheesecake pumpkin cheesecake with sauce

Banana Muffins

Banana muffins! I haven’t made banana muffins in years. I like bananas on the greenish side so I bought a bunch of bananas last week that were green – still deep, hard, kermit the frog, green. I was hoping they would ripen in time for breakfasts during the week but they didn’t get to be edible until Thursday – which meant I was stuck with them over the weekend and I never eat bananas on the weekend. Not sure why, it’s just a weekday breakfast thing. Froze them and voila! Today I had the chance to do something with them. Delicious muffins.

3-4 mushy bananas
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1/3 cup melted butter
Mash and mix.

1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes.


Vanilla syrup and extract

Since I had an excuse to buy vanilla beans to make vanilla creme anglais, I have developed a bit of an infatuation with vanilla. I’m more of a savoury person than sweet, so I’ll hold off changing my blog to ‘vanilla fields’ for now, but it’s close… And believe it or not, the cheapest place I’ve found to get whole vanilla beans is at our homebrew shop. So the experimenting begins…

I started last night with vanilla syrup – you know that stuff you buy at Starbucks for $10! Yeah, it’s sugar and water with a bit of flavour. Most recipes called for vanilla extract rather than whole beans but I thought I’d try using beans for the visual effect. Unfortunately, it doesn’t stay emulsified but you do get pretty black specks in your latte. My french cooking teacher would probably be appalled and you could opt to strain them out, if you really so desired, but I like them.

1 cup water
1 cup sugar
2 vanilla beans, split lengthwise and the seeds scraped

Place all three ingredients into a small saucepan and simmer until the sugar dissolves. Let cool. You can bottle it right away or let it sit overnight. If you do strain out the seeds though, give it at least a day or longer to let them infuse. It wasn’t very vanilla-y last night but today it’s much better already.

Now, what to do with those leftover, beautiful, flavourful beans!? Well, I’m glad you asked.
Another trick from my french cooking instructor is 40 used vanilla beans to 1 litre of vodka makes the purest vanilla extract. I don’t know how many of you would actually go through 40 beans or need a whole litre of extract but it’s something you just add pods to each time you use them. I am starting with only 375ml and will aim for about 15 pods.

A tea latte, for anyone who still hasn’t had one – half steeped tea (usually earl grey), half steamed milk, 1 oz. vanilla syrup.

20130105-115431.jpg  20130105-121251.jpg

Apple Croustades with Vanilla Creme Anglais

This dessert looks fancy but is actually super simple to put together. You just have to be really careful with your phyllo. It was the first time I had handled phyllo and it is so thin and delicate, it is also so quick to dry out and become brittle. If it breaks or tears, don’t panic. This dessert is also very forgiving.

1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter
1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
3 lb apples, peeled, cubed
1 1/2 tsp brandy
1 tbsp lemon juice
Stir sugar and 2 tbsp water on med-high heat until dissolved. Here, the recipe says to swirl pan frequently until it turns golden brown (about 4 minutes), remove from heat and immediately whisk in butter. [I didn’t do this and couldn’t make it work when I tried so if you’re like me, just add all of your ingredients to the pan until apples soften.] Scrape in seeds from vanilla bean and stir well. Add apples and stir to coat. Cook apples until soft – resist stirring often so they don’t get mushy. Remove from heat and add brandy and lemon juice. Let cool or make ahead.

1/3 cup butter
9 sheets phyllo
1/4 cup sugar
Preheat oven 375F. Butter muffin cups and dust with flour, tapping out excess.
Unroll phyllo, cover with plastic wrap and damp cloth. [I didn’t do this so had trouble with it crumbling a bit.] Starting with one sheet, brush thin layer of butter and sprinkle generous 1 tsp sugar. Repeat until you have three layers. Cut into four and set aside. Repeat twice more until you have 12 rectangles.
Working with one rectangle at a time, arrange phyllo in muffin cup, gently pressing on bottom and sides. Fill each with apple filling. Gather edges of phyllo together at the top. Bake about 20-25 minutes until golden brown. Allow to cool a bit before unmoulding.

I might actually cover them with a bit of tinfoil to start, so they don’t get too brown. They were still quite soft underneath and most of them fell apart except this one! Top with Vanilla Creme Anglais.

Source: Bon Appetit, October 2012


Vanilla Creme Anglais

This recipe is great for a few things – it can be a simple dessert sauce used as is, or put it in your ice cream maker for vanilla ice cream. Never find yourself without vanilla for your fruit cobbler again!

3 egg yolks
2 tbsp sugar
1 cup whole milk
1/3 vanilla bean
Split vanilla bean and scrape seeds into milk. Bring to a boil on high heat.
In large bowl, whisk together yolks and sugar until pale and fluffy. Pour boiling cream very, very, very slowly on top of yolks, whisking until blended. Be careful not to cook your eggs!
Pour into a clean saucepan and cook stirring continuously over low-medium heat until thickened. Do not boil!
If making ice cream, place in an ice bath to cool.

The eggs cook in a millisecond either when whisking or in the saucepan, so be very careful and go slowly. Stirring motion should be “vanner” or figure-eights to ensure a consistent motion and all parts are incorporated.

Source: Chef Eric Arrouze

Fallen Chocolate Cinnamon Cake with Lime Zabaglione

Happy Birthday to ME!

Well, that, and I’ll usually find the biggest, most intensive recipes to use some ingredient. In this case, it was lime. Besides the fact that I thought it might be an amazing recipe, I was also trying to use up a rather large bag of wee limes I bought at the Granville Island market about two weeks ago. Nevermind that I only need about two…


10 whole eggs
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tsp cinnamon, more for dusting
1/4 tsp cayenne
1/2 cup water
12 oz (375 g) bittersweet chocolate, chopped
cocoa for dusting

Line 10″ springform pan with parchment, leaving 1″ collar over the side. With mixer, beat eggs with 1/2 cup sugar, cinnamon and cayenne. Whip for approximately 10 minutes. The eggs should fill your mixing bowl. Combine remaining sugar with water in a pot over med-high heat and bring to rolling boil. Pour over chocolate, stirring to melt. With mixer on low, drizzle chocolate into egg mixture. Pour into prepared pan, bake at 350F for 40-45 minutes. Cake should still be a little jiggly. Remove from heat and let cool. Refrigerate for a few hours to set. It should have high sides, a crusty top and a fallen, fudgy middle. Don’t worry – it’s supposed to look this way.

Once it has fully cooled and set, flip cake onto serving plate. Sprinkle top with cinnamon and cocoa. If you’re feeling fancy, do alternating lines or cut out fun stencils.

Lime Zabaglione

For anyone familiar with French cooking, it took me a second to realize this is otherwise known as “sabayon”. Cooked egg yolks with some kind of acid, otherwise, the base of sauces we love like bernaise and hollandaise.

3 egg yolks
1/3 cup sugar
zest and juice of one lime

Combine all ingredients in a metal mixing bowl. Place bowl over a pot of simmering water. Whisk eggs until they are pale yellow and frothy. If eggs are getting too hot (cooking at the edges), remove from heat for a minute. Continue whisking until eggs form a ribbon when drizzled.

Source: Flavours, Spring 2008

Maraschino Cherries Three Ways

Boozy cherries? Yes, please!

When I was in Washington State earlier this year, I was lucky enough to find a bottle of real Maraschino Liqueur. For whatever reason, we don’t stock it in BC. It was also in August, so I was extra lucky to be able to take advantage of our local cherry bounty this year. Lo and behold, homemade maraschino cherries! These are definitely more of the cocktail or cake ingredient variety – not so much the sundae topping or Dresden stollen-making type – they are a little hot with the alcohol (while it is a liqueur, not a spirit, it ranks at 36%), and a little soft with the marinating but soooo yummy.

I used Skeena cherries, which worked well because they’re quite firm and crunchy so they hold their shape after soaking for so long. I also tried Rainiers – the white, peachy, pink cherries, which have a milder flavour but they didn’t hold up well – turned a bit brown due to their lighter colour, as well as just getting mushy.

I tried a few different recipes. These two, plus one jar of just pure liqueur. They’re all good but I think I like the one with the smashed pits the best. Gave it a bit more bitterness and complexity.

Unfortunately, the recipe I think I used, the link isn’t working anymore but here is an alternative with smashed pits.

And here’s my second try:

1 lb cherries, pitted
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
2 tsp lemon juice
pinch nutmeg
1 tsp vanilla extract

Combine ingredients in sauce pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium, add cherries and simmer for 5-7 minutes longer. Remove from heat, add 1 cup maraschino liqueur and cool. Refrigerate, uncovered until cold.
Supposedly they keep for two weeks but I’ve had mine in the fridge since August and they’re still good. Alcohol is a pretty good preservative, after all.

Source: Cupcake Project



Cranberry orange loaf

‘Tis the season for cheap cranberries this week! I put a whole package in these two loaves, plus I’ve got about a kilo getting a hot air bath in the dehydrator. Lovelies.

Makes one loaf.

2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 cup orange juice
1/2 cup milk
Zest of one orange
2 tbsp butter
1 egg, beaten
Mix until blended.
Add 1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries. Stir.

Set oven at 350F. Line bottom of greased loaf pan with parchment paper. Bake about 40 min or until firm.

Source: modified from Hamilton Farms, Black Creek


Epic carrot cake

A few weeks back, I ended up with a bounty of carrots from the UBC Farm. I think these were yellow carrots, although they may have been white… I know they have about half a dozen or more varieties so it could have been a few different things. So, as recipe-making goes, to make use of about $2 worth of ingredients, one spends $20 to make something to put it into. In this case, it was mainly walnuts and cream cheese icing, but so worth it! This recipe makes a full 9″x13″ pan, plus a dozen muffins (you can see I had to split it into my two largest mixing bowls). You’ve been warned!