Thursday, February 28, 2013

Ice Cream #15: Cookie Dough

I find cookie dough ice cream to be so many peoples favorite. Who can resist that sweet and salty dough littered with chocolate chips? There's nothing quite like homemade cookie dough, which can't compare to the store-bought kind. Whenever I make chocolate chip cookies there's always that moment when I realize how much dough I've eaten and worry there won't be enough cookies. Cookie dough ice cream allows you to eat the dough guilt free! Aaron has been begging me to make this for awhile now, so I can finally cross it off my list (9 more ice creams to go)!

This ice cream is actually quite simple to make. It's a basic ice cream base with that classic Nestle Toll House cookie dough recipe we all grew up with. Since the dough gets broken up into bite-size pieces, I find that the mini chocolate chips work well and don't overpower the heavenly goodness of the dough or ice cream. And... I used Ghirardelli chocolate chips, not Nestle. Sacrilege I know. 

This is sort of a two-in-one dessert. Since I only used half the dough in the ice cream, I baked off the remaining dough to make cookies. They make a great garnish for each bowl of ice cream and you get to enjoy the best of both worlds to boot!



For the cookie dough:
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 cup mini chocolate chips 

For the ice cream:
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 tsp. sea salt
4 large egg yolks
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

For the cookie dough:
In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, and salt and whisk to blend. In a large bowl, cream together the butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla extract until light and creamy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in the flour mixture. Stir in the chocolate chips. Tightly wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate until cold, or overnight.

For the ice cream:
Fill a large metal bowl with about 2-inches of ice water. Put a slightly smaller metal bowl inside. Place a fine mesh strainer over the two bowls and set aside. 

In a medium saucepan, combine the cream, milk, sugar, and salt. Bring just to a simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat.

While heating the cream mixture, beat the egg yolks in a medium bowl until smooth. Slowly pour the hot cream mixture into the beaten egg yolks, whisking vigorously. Return the mixture to the saucepan and cook over medium heat until the custard is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, stirring occasionally (or when an instant read thermometer reaches 170 degrees F). 

Pour the custard through the fine mesh strainer into the bowl. Stir over the ice bath until cool. Stir in the vanilla extract. Cover the surface of the custard with a sheet of plastic wrap and place another sheet over the bowl. Refrigerate until cold, preferably overnight. Process the custard in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions. 

While the ice cream is churning, divide the cookie dough in half. Break one half of dough into bite size pieces and set the remaining dough aside to bake into cookies. Transfer the ice cream to quart containers, alternating with the layers of broken up cookie dough. Freeze for several hours more before serving.

To bake the cookies:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Drop the remaining  cookie dough by rounded tablespoon onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown. Transfer to wire racks to cool completely. Garnish each bowl of ice cream with a freshly baked cookie.

Yield: About 1 1/2 quarts ice cream & about 20 cookies

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Butternut Squash Bruschetta

The other day I was trying to think of a seasonal alternative to traditional tomato bruschetta. Tomatoes out of season are bland and downright sad, but butternut squash seemed like the perfect replacement. Diced, sauteed, and placed upon a Chevre smeared crostini, they make bright and colorful seasonal hors d'oeuvres. A drizzle of balsamic and crispy sage leaves tops them off. I made these bruschetta the other night at our Oscar party and they were a big hit. 

This was the first year in a long while that I've seen all of the Oscar nominated pictures. Even with my invested interest, award ceremonies can sometimes be a bit boring. Nevertheless, it was a good excuse to get together with friends to eat, drink, and be merry! Even our dog Lady snuck in a few licks of booze, much to the surprise of one of our guests. Let's face it, there's no denying she's a booze hound. 

These bruschetta make great hors d'oeuvres as they're easy to hold onto and won't fall apart in your lap. They make a beautiful presentation and are downright delicious! You can make everything in advance and assemble them just prior to when your guests arrive. 


1 baguette, cut on the bias into 1/4-inch thick slices
Olive oil
1-  2 1/2 to 3 lb. butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 bunch sage
Vegetable oil
8 oz. chevre
Balsamic vinegar
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. To make the crostini, brush both sides of the baguette slices with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Place on a sheet pan and bake for 20 to 25 minutes (or until golden brown), flipping the slices halfway through cooking time. Set aside to cool.

While the crostini are baking, coat the bottom of a 10 to 12-inch saute pan with olive oil, add the butternut squash, a sprinkle of salt, and saute over medium heat for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring often. In the last minute of cooking, add the garlic (you may need to saute the squash in two batches). Remove from heat and transfer to a medium size bowl to cool. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.

Wash the sage and separate the leaves from the stems. Use paper towels to thoroughly pat the leaves dry. In a small saute pan, heat equal parts olive oil and vegetable oil over medium-high heat, enough to fill the pan by 1/4-inch. Add a few sage leaves and cook until the sizzling stops and the leaves are crisp (adjust heat to avoid smoking). Use tongs to gently transfer them to a paper towel-lined plate to cool. Continue in the same manner until all the leaves are cooked. 

To assemble, spread a thin layer of chevre on each crostini. Spoon on the butternut squash and drizzle with balsamic. Gently place a sage leaf on each crostini. Sprinkle with sea salt and serve warm or at room temperature. 

Yield: About 40 bruschetta 

  • If you have any leftover squash, stir it into wild rice or bulgur wheat for a delicious side dish.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Rabbit with Creamy Mustard Sauce

I've been wanting to cook rabbit for some time now and finally took advantage of a dreary winter's day to make it with a creamy mustard sauce. This is actually a classic French country dish called Lapin a la Moutarde, which has endless variations. It's a shame that rabbit has fallen out of favor on American dinner tables, as it's wonderfully moist, flavorful, and as simple to cook as chicken. Maybe its popularity has waned because we can't help but see a fluffy bunny hopping through the forest. Or maybe it conjures up a certain scene from the movie Fatal Attraction... 

With meat shortages in full swing during World War II, British and American governments began ad campaigns to encourage the consumption of rabbit as an alternative protein to chicken or beef. Many of our grandparents still remember eating rabbit during the war, as it was off the ration list. If you live in the New York area and were lucky enough to check out MoMa's past exhibition, Counter Space: Design & The Modern Kitchen, it featured a collection of WW II era ration posters, like the one shown below (I was quickly left behind in this exhibit, as my fellow museum goers were bored out of their minds. For the life of me, I can't figure out why).

Poster designed by Frederick H. K. Henrion (British, 1914–1990), c. 1941 (Source) 

If you have difficulties finding rabbit at your local butcher, ask them to order it for you. Farmed and wild rabbit are available year round, the latter being more appropriate for stews and slow cooking as the meat tends to be a little tougher. I think the most difficult part about preparing rabbit is breaking it down into edible pieces, but it can be an enjoyable process and it helps acquaint yourself with the rabbit's anatomy (I found this tutorial particularly helpful). If you're feeling less adventurous than I was, tell your butcher how you plan to prepare it and have them cut it into eight serving pieces. I think this is a great recipe to use for those new to rabbit as it's straightforward and utterly delicious. You might think 1/2 cup of mustard sounds like a lot, but it mellows after cooking and becomes wonderfully mild. Served along side roasted carrots, mashed potatoes, and some crusty bread, I don't think I could have been any more cozy! 

Adapted from Saveur, Issue #5

1- 3 lb. rabbit, cut into 8 serving pieces (have your butcher do this or see here)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 sprig fresh flat leaf parsley (plus 2 tbsp. chopped parsley for garnish)
3 sprigs fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
4 to 5 tbsp. unsalted butter
1 large shallot or medium size yellow onion, finely diced
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup Dijon mustard (grainy or smooth or a combination of both)
1/3 cup heavy cream or creme fraiche

Thoroughly dry the rabbit pieces with paper towels and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Allow to come to room temperature, about 30 to 40 minutes. 

Using butcher's twine, tie the parsley, thyme, and bay leaf together to create a bouquet garni (herb bundle) and set aside.

Heat 2 tbsp. of butter over medium heat in a large Dutch oven or saute pan with a lid. Add the rabbit pieces (do not overcrowd- do in batches if necessary, adding more butter as needed) and brown for a couple of minutes on each side. Transfer the browned pieces to a large plate. Once all of the rabbit is browned, add the remaining butter and saute the shallots or onions. Add a pinch of salt and continue cooking until nicely browned, stirring often, about 3 minutes. 

Pour in the wine and allow to cook out for a minute. Use a wooden spoon to scrape up any browned bits off the bottom of the pan. Add the water, mustard, and bouquet garni, and bring to a boil. Taste the sauce to adjust seasonings, adding more salt if necessary. 

Return the rabbit pieces and any juices that may have accumulated to the pot. Use a wooden spoon to coat them in the sauce. Reduce the heat to low, cover the pot, and lightly simmer for 45 to 50 minutes, until the rabbit is very tender when pierced with a fork. 

When the meat is properly cooked, remove it to a platter. Increase the heat to high and bring the sauce to a boil for a minute or two until thickened, stirring often. Turn off the heat and stir in the cream or creme fraiche. Plate the rabbit and spoon on the sauce. Garnish with chopped parsley and serve immediately. 

Yield: 4 servings 

  • This recipe is wonderful with chicken too!
  • Be sure to save the rabbit liver and fry it in butter and olive oil with herbs and garlic and maybe a little cognac. It's great in a warm salad or spread on toast. You can also add the liver to stews.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Ice Cream #14: Chai

There's nothing quite like delicious chai tea and it can be enjoyed hot, cold, or in this case, frozen! Sweet and creamy and intensely flavored with aromatic spices, this ice cream is wonderfully comforting.

In India, masala chai is traditionally made through decoction; the spices and loose tea leaves are allowed to steep directly in the milk and sugar mixture before being strained out just prior to serving. The result is much more rich and flavorful than using prepared chai tea bags. 

Ever since I made green tea ice cream, I've been wanting to try other teas in ice cream as well. Chai is a natural choice since it's traditionally prepared sweet and creamy. I find teas make a nice light ice cream with sophisticated flavors. A refreshing cold and spicy treat to enjoy anytime of the year.

Adapted from Bon Appetit, December 2002 & Elise Bauer, Simply Recipes 

2 cups heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1/4 tsp. sea salt
1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and cut into rounds
2 cinnamon sticks
10 allspice berries
12 whole cloves
6 green cardamom pods
2 tsp. whole black peppercorns 
1 star anise pod
1/4 cup loose black tea (preferably Darjeeling)
5 large egg yolks

Fill a large metal bowl with about 2-inches of ice water. Put a slightly smaller metal bowl inside. Place a fine mesh strainer or sieve over the two bowls and set aside. 

In a medium size saucepan, combine the cream, milk, sugars, salt, ginger, and spices. Stir the mixture well and bring just to a simmer over medium heat. Cover the pan and remove from heat. Allow the spices to steep in the cream mixture for 1 hour. 

Uncover and bring the mixture just to a simmer over medium heat. Add the tea leaves, cover, and remove from heat. Let the tea steep for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, whisk the egg yolks together in a medium bowl and set aside. Place a fine mesh strainer over another medium bowl and pour in the cream mixture to strain out the tea and spices. Wipe the saucepan clean and set aside. 

Slowly pour the warm cream mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly. Return the egg and cream mixture to the saucepan and cook over medium heat until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon or rubber spatula (or when the temperature reaches 170 degrees F on an instant read thermometer).  

Pour the custard through the fine mesh strainer or sieve into the prepared bowls. Stir over the ice bath until the custard is cool. Place a sheet of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the custard and another sheet over the bowl. Refrigerate until until cold, preferably overnight. Process in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions. Freeze until ready to serve.

Yield: About 1 quart 

Monday, February 11, 2013

Raw Brussels Sprout Salad with Mustard Vinaigrette

I was lying in bed the other night trying to fall asleep, when I came up with an idea for a shaved Brussels sprout salad. This is a great no cook way to use Brussels sprouts throughout the winter months. Just as when roasted, raw Brussels sprouts scream for bacon and Dijon.

Shaving raw Brussels sprouts on a mandoline sheds new light on these little green buggers. After all, it's boring preparing vegetables in the same way all season long. Shredding makes them surprisingly tender, too. I was surprised to find that they didn't taste at all bitter when eaten raw. I think a nice sharp vinaigrette goes well with this salad; it's bright and refreshing. 

It goes without saying that you need to watch your fingers while shredding the Brussels sprouts. Usually I prefer the tender mini sprouts I get at the farmer's market, but in the interest of your fingers, it's much easier and safer to seek out larger ones. Feel free to shred them a day in advance and store in a plastic zip-top bag in the fridge. Toss with the dressing just prior to serving, sprinkle with bacon, cheese and voila! 



For the dressing:
1/2 a shallot, minced
1 tsp. freshly squeezed  lemon juice
2 1/2 to 3 tbsp. Champagne or white wine vinegar
1/4 tsp. sea salt
2 tsp. Dijon or whole grain mustard
1/2 cup olive oil

For the salad:
1 lb. Brussels sprouts (the larger the better for ease in shredding)
3 to 4 strips thick cut bacon 
Ribbons of Parmigiano-Reggiano or Pecorino Romano cheese

In a small mixing bowl, combine the shallot, lemon juice, vinegar, and sea salt. Let sit for 20 to 30 minutes to allow the shallots to absorb the vinegar.

Meanwhile, cook the bacon in a large skillet. Let cool and break into large pieces. Set aside. Carefully shred the Brussels sprouts on a mandoline, discarding the root end. Set aside.

Whisk the Dijon or whole grain mustard into the shallots and vinegar until smooth and creamy. Pour in the olive oil and whisk until the dressing is emulsified and slightly thick. Season with freshly ground black pepper and more salt to taste. In a large bowl, toss the Brussels sprouts with the vinaigrette. Sprinkle each serving with bacon and using a paring knife or vegetable peeler, garnish each plate with ribbons of Parmigiano-Reggiano or Pecorino Romano cheese. 

Yield: 2 to 4 servings 

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Ice Cream #13: Mexican Chocolate

I love this take on traditional chocolate ice cream. In my opinion, Mexican chocolate gives this ice cream magical qualities. The chile adds a great kick, creating a hot, cold, and sweet sensation all in one bite. In years past, I've served this ice cream for dessert on our annual Dia de los Muertos dinner and it was a big hit. It's a great dessert to make for your sweetheart this Valentine's Day to add a little spice to your love life...

Mexican chocolate differers from conventional American chocolate in that it is traditionally stone ground and contains undissolved sugar granules and cinnamon. The most common brand of Mexican chocolate is Ibarra, made in Guadalajara, Mexico. I also love the Taza brand Mexican chocolate, from Somerville, Massachusetts, which I've used below.

This ice cream is intensely chocolaty with the comforting heat provided by the chipotle chili. Every time I make it, I can't help but think of the movie Chocolat. It always makes me feel like I'm in a tiny chocolate shop somewhere in France. Or more approriately, Mexico. In any case, it's daydreamy good!

Adapted from Elise Bauer, Simply Recipes 

2 cups heavy cream, divided
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (natural or Dutch process)
4 oz. Taza Mexican chipotle chili chocolate, chopped (see notes below) 
1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. sea salt
Pinch cayenne, chile powder, or piment d'espelette 
1/2 tsp. instant coffee or espresso powder
6 large egg yolks
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Fill a large metal bowl with about 2-inches of ice water. Put a slightly smaller metal bowl inside and pour in 1 cup of cream. Place a fine mesh strainer or sieve over the two bowls and set aside. 

In a small saucepan, bring the remaining cup of cream just to a simmer. Whisk in the cocoa powder and remove the pot from heat. Stir in the the chopped Mexican chocolate until completely incorporated. Set aside.

In a medium size saucepan, add the milk, sugar, cinnamon, salt, cayenne or piment d'espelette, and coffee and bring just to a simmer, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Meanwhile, lightly beat the egg yolks in a medium size mixing bowl. Slowly pour the hot milk mixture into the eggs, whisking constantly. Return the milk and egg mixture to the saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon or reaches 170 degrees F on an instant read thermometer. Immediately remove from heat and stir in the cream and chocolate mixture.

Pour the custard base through the fine mesh strainer or sieve into the prepared bowls, working it through with a rubber spatula. Whisk the base with the cream and stir in the vanilla extract. Continue stirring over the ice until cool. Cover the surface of the custard with a sheet of plastic wrap and place another sheet over the bowl. Refrigerate until cold, preferably overnight.

Process in an ice cream machine according to the manufacturer's instructions. Transfer the ice cream to quart containers and freeze until ready to use. Let sit at room temperature for a couple of minutes just prior to serving. 

Yield: about 1 quart

  • If you are using Ibarra brand Mexican chocolate, increase the cayenne, chile powder, or piment d'espelette to taste. If you can't find Mexican chocolate at your local market, substitute the chocolate with bittersweet or semisweet chocolate and increase the cayenne, chile powder, or piment d'espelette to taste.