Sunday, January 25, 2015

Ice Cream and . . .

Some time ago I went through a homemade ice cream phase. I became quite good at it (even if I do say so myself). I bought a few ice cream cookbooks. Cookbook buying is always a prerequisite to my going gung-ho on a culinary idea. I won't bore you with the book list. I'll just say my absolute favorite and go-to book is Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream & Dessert Book. Yes, that Ben and Jerry.

Warning: CONTAINS RAW EGGS. This is an older book, Copyright 1987. Without going into all the controversy about eating raw eggs that developed and died down since then, just know that one of the three ice cream base recipes (the best one of all IMHO) calls for raw eggs. If you have an aversion or dietary objections to raw eggs, you should consider making one of the other two ice cream bases in the book. They are Philadelphia-style ice cream which requires no eggs.  Or use a recipe in another favorite book of mine, The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz, in which all the recipes call for cooking the eggs.

I experimented with a lighter ("lite") recipe for strawberry ice cream based on Sweet Ice Cream Base #1 from the Ben and Jerry's book. I said I would share the recipe if the ice cream was any good. It's more than good.  I think it's delicious. So here is the recipe.

Lite Strawberry Ice Cream
Makes 1 quart

1 pint fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced

1/3 cup sugar

2 tbs fresh lemon juice

Combine strawberries, sugar and lemon juice in a bowl.
Cover and refrigerate for at least one hour.
You will be using just half of it in the ice cream.

Mash half the sliced strawberries and juice into a puree. Save the other sliced half and juice for a topping.

Mash half the sliced strawberries into a puree. Save the
other half in slices for a topping.


3 tbs Egg Beaters (or you can use one large egg)

1/3 cup sugar

1 cup half and half

1/2 cup milk

In medium bowl whisk Egg Beaters until light and fluffy.

In medium bowl whisk Egg Beaters until light and fluffy.
Whisk in the sugar, a little at a time and continue whisking until completely blended.
Pour in the half and half and the milk and whisk to blend completely.
Add the strawberry puree and stir.
Transfer the mixture to an ice cream maker and freeze following the manufacturer's instructions.

Transfer mixture to ice cream maker.

When the ice cream reaches soft serve consistency, I transfer it to a freezer container,  cover and freeze for about an hour or until it reaches desired firmness. I like mine "scoopable" without having to use much muscle power.

I like mine "scoopable" without having to use much muscle power.

A scoop of ice cream on a slice of cake with a drizzle
of leftover strawberries. Yummy!

Eat up! And do it soon after you make it. Since this contains much less butterfat, it will be less creamy (more icy) over time. That's why I make only a quart at a time. After a day or two in the freezer you might want to let it soften, stir until creamy again and refreeze. However, it shouldn't last that long.


Kitchener to Kitchen

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Back to Blue Apron

I completed the remaining two meals from my first Blue Apron shipment. They were completed and eaten some days ago and I'm just getting around to telling you about them. So much cooking, eating, blogging/so little time.

The second dish I made was Thai Coconut Shrimp Sour with Lemongrass & Red Curry. It was so tasty and wonderful on a chilly winter day!

The ingredients and recipe card

After being my own sous chef and
cutting the peppers less thin than suggested.

They all get sautéed in a pot.

Coconut milk, lemongrass and red curry paste get added.
I had never used lemongrass before. The outer fiberous layers had to be removed to get to the inner pliable cores. One core was minced and added to the soup. The other was cut lengthwise and each piece smashed with the back of the knife. Those are the two smashed halves being steeped in the soup.  I ended up cutting them to make them shorter to fit in the broth better.

Shrimp are added.

The completed dish.
The completed dish with rice, a sprinkle of cilantro and a wedge of lime made a beautiful and delicious meal. I could hardly wait to have it again for another meal . . . and another . . . four times altogether.

A few days later I made the last dish: Pulled Chicken Tacos with Jicama, Avocado & Cilantro Salad. Another winner!

The ingredients

The ingredients after sous chef action

I had never worked with or tasted jicama before. I had to cut it into matchsticks. The first ones that I did on a mandoline were better than the last ones that I had to cut by hand. Jicama is crunchy and has a refreshing, clean, almost citrusy flavor. It made a great salad with the avocado and slices of red onion. I will be using it again if I can find it in my nearby markets. So far I haven't found any. I will have to go farther afield.

A quick sauté of the aromatics

The tomato sauce was added and here the chicken goes in.

Pulling apart the chicken breasts

The finished plate
Yummy, yummy, yummy! It made three meals for me and could have been four. The spice blend gave the chicken just the kick it needed and a squirt of lime on everything, including the salad, was the finishing touch that put it over the top.  I'm especially looking forward to making the salad again. Jicama! Who knew!!!

Two thumbs up on all three meals in my first Blue Apron delivery.

Kitchener to Kitchen

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Introduction to My New Blog

So what does it mean, "Kitchener to Kitchen"? I have a somewhat neglected knitting blog. It is being neglected because I haven't been doing nearly enough knitting to have anything to share with my few remaining followers. Many of my posts there were about cooking, which I seem to be doing more of than knitting. Well, a person has to eat, doesn't she? So I decided to take the cooking off the knitting blog and give it a blog of its own.

The Kitchener Stitch in knitting is a way of knitting two rows of live stitches together. It is used to close the open toe of a hand knitted sock. Socks are my favorite form of knitting. Although I venture off to more complex and larger projects, what I love most is knitting socks. When the idea for starting a cooking blog hit me I was finishing a sock, doing the Kitchener Stitch. Lightbulb moment: I had gone from doing a lot of Kitchener to spending a lot of time in the kitchen. Aha! The name for a new blog was coined, "Kitchener to Kitchen"! So now, a couple of posts into it, you know how it came about.

I am not a Chef. I would not say I am a Cook. I will stretch my perceived definition of one and call myself a home cook. Notice I did not make that "Home Cook." I am an eater who enjoys cooking, reading cookbooks (yes, like novels!), and watching food TV--the Food Channel, the Cooking Channel and any cooking related show that happens to come on another channel.

I grew up eating the southern food which came to be called "Soul Food" in later years. My grandmother was from South Carolina and she did the cooking. We had rice every day for dinner except Fridays when we had fried fish with stewed tomatoes and white potatoes--boiled mostly, but sometimes mashed. Back then I was not an eater. I liked most things that Grandmom cooked, but was not a big eater. My favorite meal was fried chicken, riceandgravy (all one word) and green peas from a can. I liked vegetables that most kids would push aside: spinach, string beans, cabbage, collards and kale.

I've always been an adventurous eater even when "I didn't eat enough to keep a bird alive." as I was reminded at almost every meal. I ate raw clams off the half shell, boiled crabs learning how to crack them and eat everything except "the dead man's fingers" (the lungs), and chitterlings and hog maws. Yes!

As a newlywed working in an office with young women in the same situation, we joined forces and learned to cook anything we wanted from a cookbook. I remember my first cookbook purchase, McCalls Cookbook published in 1963. I put a lot of miles on that book. The cover and page corners were chewed by our first puppy. It accumulated food drippings, greasy fingerprints and showed the stress of being stuffed full of recipes cut from newspapers and magazines. When the Internet gave birth to eBay I was able to find this better looking replacement which I still have.

My McCalls Cookbook
Copyright 1963

I also have another copy. It belonged to my aunt. Although she was already a great cook and into her senior citizen years, I raved about the book so much she bought a copy. I don't think she ever used it.

My aunt's copy of the McCall's Cookbook
on shelf with other collectibles

My two most used recipes from that cookbook are (1) Refrigerator Rolls and (2) Spaghetti with Meatball Sauce. I haven't made either one in years. Maybe I'll bring them back now.

Before the Mc Call's Cookbook, another cookbook played an important part in my cooking life. I got it in Junior High School: Food and Nutrition for the Family. It was a publication of the Philadelphia School District. We were given the cookbook and taught to cook in school back then. I still have that cookbook and refer to it from time to time. It is amazing how small the portion sizes were then. No wonder we were not an obese society in those days. I'm fighting my way back to those measures of portion size. Although I still have the tattered and torn original (couldn't part with my maiden name written in my junior high penmanship), this is also a book I was able to acquire in this much better condition from eBay. At least the cover is still attached. What did we ever do before the Internet?

My Junior High School Cooking Class Textbook.

Kitchener to Kitchen

Friday, January 9, 2015

Cooking Blue Apron's Beef Bolognese

I must give you the results of the first Blue Apron dish I prepared. It was delicious! I rate it 5 stars out of 5. My preparation I rate 4 stars out of 5. I did make a couple of flubs.

The recipe was easy peasy. All the ingredients needed were there. The only contributions required  from my pantry: 2 tsps of olive oil, salt and pepper to taste. Of course I had to use my own water. Too much detail? I just want you to know how close to "everything" Blue Apron includes for each recipe in the box.

the recipe with pictured instructions and the ingredients packaged and labeled

the ingredients after being my own sous chef

Flub #1 - I received an email welcoming me to this week's menu which contained a tip for preparing the fresh pappardelle pasta. The tip was to peel apart the pasta before dropping it in the boiling water to prevent the strips from sticking together. Too bad I didn't read that email before I started the dish. I wish the tip had been included on the recipe instructions card. Okay, I'm not a complete dork. I did fluff them up (sort of peel the strips apart), but I believe I did not use a large enough pot of boiling water for the rather wide strips of pappardelle pasta to have room to grow. Next time.

Flub #2 - I also did not salt the water aggressively enough. I use little salt in my food for health reasons. However, I do like it seasoned to be flavorful. Again I blame the size of my pot. I thought I had added enough salt for the amount of water I was boiling. In the future I will remember that the size of those pasta strips need more water and more salt in the water in order to be seasoned. Oddly enough I had watched an episode of Master Chef Junior the night before in which the young chefs prepared pappardelle pasta. Why did I not remember what size pots of water they used?

Since this is also a salt issue I will add it to Flub #2: My final review of my dish is that I did not add enough salt in the preparation. Both the pasta and the completed dish were under salted, even for me. However, it was better than being too salty. On the plate you can add salt to "under salted," but you can't take it out of "too salty."

The portions were more than ample. It was a meal for two and I easily had enough for four.

first plate of Beef Bolognese with Fresh Pappardelle Pasta & Brussels Sprouts.
last plate (#4) of the Beef Bolognese with Fresh Pappardelle Pasta and Brussels Sprouts
Sooooo good!
(In the background: eggs coming to
room temperature for this week's cake)

I loved the dish and the cooking process! I will make it again.

Kitchener to Kitchen

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Blue Apron

Without introduction, explanation, apology or even completing the setup, here is the first entry in my new blog:

I did it! I signed up for Blue Apron and my first box was delivered this morning.

It's here!

I'd been considering this for months, but in summer I would be traveling and in fall it was too close to the holidays. So now is the time! I chose this week to start because the holiday leftovers would be over and I liked the sound of what was being offered:

Beef Bolognese with Fresh Pappardelle Pasta & Brussels Sprouts

Pulled Chicken Tacos with Jicama, Avocado and Cilantro Salad

Thai Coconut Shrimp Soup with Lemongrass & Red Curry

Blue Apron sends all the ingredients I need to cook three meals for two people (the plan I signed up for). I can get meals every week or choose the week(s) I want based on the meals being offered. The menus are available in advance. Check the website for more details. I've not told tales our of school by divulging the menus I received. That information is listed on the site every week. You can see what is offered for next week. 

all the ingredients for three meals for two people

All the ingredients I need are included in the box. Blue Apron plans, shops, measures and delivers what I need to cook the menus right to my front door in a refrigerated box. All I have to do is cook them.

the cover letter and recipes with instructions and pictures

Included in the box is a cover letter and for each dish, a large step-by-step recipe card with pictures showing just what your cooking should look like at each stage. I'm so excited and ready to get cooking!

I'm starting with the Beef Bolognese. I'll let you know how it goes.

Kitchener to Kitchen