cooking: salted caramel ice cream sandwiches

If you follow my tweets, you saw that I made quite a special dinner last Monday. While brainstorming for my dessert course, the idea of homemade ice cream came to mind. With a cookbook and the internet, I decided to make salted caramel ice cream sandwiches!

I’ve never made caramel or ice cream before. I waited about 18 minutes before I added the cream. The caramel never quite browned. I’ve been told that there’s a short window between caramel and burnt though, so I guess it was better taken off earlier than later? Also, as seen in the Twitpic’d menu above, the Maker’s Mark caramel drizzle unfortunately never made it to the plate. I just ran out of time. I also did not use a 10″ x 15″ baking sheet originally as seen in the photo below. A much larger sheet was used. I think a smaller one would help create a more even layer.

Salted Caramel Ice Cream Sandwiches
adapted from Thomas Keller’s Ad Hoc at Home and

Ice Cream:
-1 3/4 c granulated sugar
-1/2 c water
-2 c whole milk, warm
-2 c heavy cream, warm
-10 large egg yolks
-3/4 tsp kosher salt

-non-stick cooking spray
-1/2 c unsalted butter, melted
-1/2 c granulated sugar
-1 egg
-1 tsp vanilla extract
-1/2 c ap flour
-1/4 c unsweetened cocoa powder
-1/4 tsp salt

Mix 1 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons of sugar and the water into a heavy casserole or deep pan so that it resembles wet sand. Over medium heat, bring to a simmer for 15 minutes, or until browned appropriately and sugar has melted. Do not stir before it browns. Immediately remove from the heat and slowly add the milk and cream. Stir to combine.

In a separate bowl, whisk the remaining sugar (2 tbsp) and yolks until slightly thickened. Temper the egg mixture by adding the caramel mixture, little by little, starting with 1/2 cup and eventually adding the remainder.

Have another saucepan ready. Once the mixture has been completely tempered, pour the mixture through a fine strainer and into the new saucepan. Prepare a large ice bath with a medium bowl in it.

Heat the mixture in the saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly until a custard forms which coats the back of a spoon. Strain once more, this time into the bowl which has been sitting in the ice bath. Add the salt and let cool, stirring every once in a while.

Once cool, refrigerate overnight.

mixing the chilled custard

Prepare ice cream using your method/machine of choice using the overnight chilled custard.

To make the cake, preheat the oven to 350° F. Spray the bottom of a 10″ x 15″ baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray and lay out parchment paper.

In a large bowl, whisk the butter and sugar, followed by the egg and vanilla. Lastly, add the flour, cocoa, and salt. Whisk until smooth.

Spread the batter out onto the parchment, making sure to form as even of a layer as possible. Place in oven for about 12 minutes, checking the surface of the cake if it’s dry to the touch. Once dry, remove from oven and cool on a rack.

Once cool, cut the cake in half. Place softened ice cream over one of the cake layers. Top the ice cream with the remaining cake and seal tightly with plastic wrap. Place the sandwich into the freezer until it sets.

When ready to serve, cut the large sandwich into more desirable serving sizes. Enjoy!

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cooking: fried tofu w/ spicy ginger sesame sauce

I’ve had bad luck in the past trying to fry tofu. It just never came out how it was supposed to. I now know how important it is to blot out as much water as you can!

I’m a F&W subscriber and when I saw this in the pages of the December 2010 issue, I knew I had to try it. This was my chance at fried tofu redemption.

Redemption was accomplished. The dish came out great! Definitely going to make this again.

Fried Tofu w/ Spicy Ginger Sesame Sauce
adapted from Food & Wine
serves 2

-2 1/2 tbsp light soy sauce
-1 tbsp sugar
-2 tsp crushed red pepper
-1 clove garlic, minced
-1/2 tsp sesame oil
-2 tsp ginger, grated
-1 tsp toasted sesame seeds
-1 package firm tofu (14 – 16 oz.)
-veg oil, for frying
-1-2 scallions, thinly chopped
-white rice

Slice tofu into 8 even slices. Place on paper towels and blot with extra paper towels until most of the water is gone.

In bowl, whisk together soy sauce, sugar, red pepper, garlic, sesame oil, and sesame seeds. Set Aside.

Heat around a 1/4″ of vegetable oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet until shimmering. Place tofu slices in pan and fry until golden brown, flipping once (about 4-6 minutes on each side). Once done, drain on paper towels.

Stack 4 slices of tofu on top of each other. Top with sauce, then scallions. Serve alongside white rice.


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cooking: pickled red onions

I’ve only had pickled red onions one other time…at the 2010 Taste of the Nation – Philadelphia event. Fond served pickled red onions over a chicken liver mousse on homemade sourdough. Ahhhh. I want that NOW. Anyway, from that moment on, pickled red onions changed me…so. effing. delicious.

I bought Thomas Keller’s Ad Hoc at Home cookbook a few months ago but unfortunately haven’t used it. Finally, I got my ass off the couch, picked up a pickling jar, ingredients, and got to work with Chef Keller’s pickled red onions recipe.

Pickled Red Onions
stored in 1 quart pickling jar
adapted from Thomas Keller’s Ad Hoc at Home

-2 med-large red onions (about 1 lb each)
-1 1/2 c red wine vinegar (I used Wegmans Chianti)
-3/4 c sugar

Prepare onions by trimming root and tops then peeling the outer layer. Next, half the onions and get rid of the whitish-yellow center part by making a v shaped cut.

onion x-section, get rid of that whitish-yellow part

Next, chop the onions longitudinally along the “lines” into 1/8″ thick slices. I’m aware my cuts below aren’t quite 1/8″…my knife skills need sharpening…no pun intended hehe.

slice into 1/8″ thick slices

Pack as much onions as you can into a 1 quart jar. You won’t be able to fit all of them in now.

pack as much as you can into the jar

In a small saucepan, combine sugar and vinegar and bring to a boil, stirring often to dissolve sugar. Once boiling, off the heat and pour the liquid into the jar over the onions.

Once the onions start to wilt from the heat, continue to pack more onions in. I wasn’t able to fit all of the onions I chopped, but give it a try.

Let cool to room temperature.

Once cool, seal the top and toss in the fridge for up to one month.

Now, if I could only figure out what to use them with. I certainly won’t be making any chicken liver mousse anytime soon, nor would my version be any good…

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cooking: green bean casserole

Here it is, my contribution to the family Thanksgiving dinner this year.

Green Bean Casserole
adapted from Serious Eats
serves about 10-15 people, assuming there are other Thanksgiving dishes available

-2 lbs (pre peeled & sliced) shallots, trimmed, peeled, and sliced to 1/8″ thickness using mandoline
-2 c canola oil
-3 lbs white button mushrooms, chopped into 1/4″ x 1″ pieces
-2 tsp soy sauce
-2 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
-2 c chicken stock
-1 1/2 c heavy cream
-2 tbsp butter
-2 cloves garlic, minced
-1/4 c ap flour
-2 1/2 lbs (leave allowance for trimming waste) green beans, trimmed into 2″ long pieces

Heat oil in wok over high heat. Once hot, toss shallots in and fry until golden brown, stirring often. While frying, get a heat proof bowl, a strainer, and a sheet pan with several layers of paper towels ready. Once shallots are ready, pour the shallots/oil into the strainer, allowing the oil to cool down in the bowl. Place the shallots on the paper towel lined sheet and blot the shallots with the paper towels until most of the oil has been absorbed. Season with salt. Set aside to let cool.

In large bowl, combine soy sauce, lemon juice, chicken stock, and heavy cream.

Heat 2 tbsp of the shallot oil and butter over high heat in a large non-stick skillet until butter melts. Add mushrooms and cook until liquid is gone, about 10 minutes. Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds until fragrant. Add flour and cook until golden brown, about 2 minutes. Next, add the cream mixture and whisk until well combined. Bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until mixture thickens. Season with salt and pepper.

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil. Prepare an ice bath in a large bowl on the side. Once boiling, add green beans and boil for 5 minutes. Immediately drain and place beans in ice bath until cool. Drain and set aside.

In large bowl, combine green beans, mushroom sauce, and 1 cup of the fried shallots. Transfer to a large casserole dish and place in oven for 20 minutes. Top with remaining shallots and serve.

Having some drinks while cooking isn’t always a bad thing…why is that? Because you can use the empty bottle to store the leftover shallot oil for future use!

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cooking: pumpkin gnocchi in a gorgonzola cream sauce

I finally had a chance to stop by Severino before dinner and I picked up some pumpkin gnocchi. The pumpkin gnocchi was delicious – pumpkin flavor with hints of cinnamon and nutmeg. Severino was pretty awesome and I’m totally stopping by again to pick up other kinds of pasta.

Pumpkin Gnocchi in a Gorgonzola Cream Sauce
serves 3

-1 lb pumpkin gnocchi
-2 c/1 pint heavy cream
-4 oz. gorgonzola, crumbled
-2 tbsp parmigiano reggiano, grated
-freshly ground black pepper, to taste
-salt, to taste
-italian parsley, chopped

Bring salted water to a boil in large pot.

In 8″ saucepan or saucier bring the heavy cream to a boil, whisking occasionally and continue to boil until reduced by half. Turn the heat to low, add the cheeses, pepper, and salt. Continue to whisk until cheese is all melted and sauce thickens.

Add gnocchi to boiling water and cook until gnocchi floats (about 2-3 minutes). Drain and mix with sauce in large bowl.

Serve on plates with a sprinkle of parsley. Enjoy!

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