Saturday, July 13, 2013

you scream, I scream, we all scream for ice cream

In most kitchens, there is a graveyard. A dusty cupboard of appliances, items with grand promises of health and ease, convenience and culinary assistance. What are they really? A waste of space. A panini press? You can do it with two frying pans and a brick. A waffle maker? Just make pancakes. A slap chop? Learn how to use a knife.

However, I'll admit it. A trivial, luxurious, non-essential appliance has won my heart. It's frosty and cold, and it's a workhorse. It churns out the best gelato, frozen yogurt, sherbet and ice cream I can dream of, flavoured with dark chocolate, just-picked berries, or coconut milk. I bought an ice cream maker, and I just can't stop using it. I'm an addict.

This blog post should really be labelled 'how to make friends with ice cream.' Here's the first few weeks of ice cream adventures:

#1: Inaugural use, full of excitement. Picked a frozen yogurt recipe from Green Kitchen Stories: Strawberry Rhubarb Fro-Yo. Result? Amazing healthy dessert, made with all-local ingredients (full fat yogurt, honey, organic strawberries and home-picked rhubarb).

#2: Decided to be less health conscious, so I turned to an expert for a Chocolate Sorbet. David Lebovitz has a cookbook entitled The Perfect Scoop, which has every ice cream recipe you could possibly imagine. I melted two dark chocolate bars and waited eagerly. I was not disappointed.

#3 Cashew Ice Cream with Roasted Strawberries. A vegan creation with a cashew base. Interesting, but needs some work. Those roasted strawberries though - unbelievable.

#4: Roasted Banana and Coconut Ice Cream. Becoming more confident, and I decide to make my own recipe. One can of coconut milk, two oven-roasted bananas, three spoonfuls of sugar. Genius!

#5: Out in the country, picking wild berries, so Wild Black Raspberry Sherbet was a no-brainer. My friend Katy's property is covered with wild berries right now. Countless mosquito bites and thorn scratches are a small price to pay for a bucket of berries. This recipe is based on a David Lebovitz recipe for raspberry sherbet, but go crazy with any berry!

Wild Black Raspberry Sherbet
You can find black raspberries at the market right now, but if you can't get them (or you don't have a property covered in wild raspberry bushes), substitute raspberries, strawberries or cherries!

1 lb black raspberries
1 cup sugar
juice from 1 lemon
2 cups soy milk, almond milk or cow's milk

Puree all ingredients in a food processor or blender. Push through a fine mesh sieve, and discard seeds (or skins or pips, depending on which berry you're using). Finish in your ice cream maker.

The final word? This appliance was worth every penny. You're welcome, Kitchen Aid. I may have just sold a few more ice cream makers for you.

Friday, July 12, 2013

rhubarb here, rhubarb there, rhubarb chutney everywhere

I've been going a little rhubarb nuts lately. Rhubarb syrup for lemonades and cocktails, rhubarb upside down cakes made in the cast iron skillet, strawberry-rhubarb frozen yogurt in my new ice cream maker. Fun fact about rhubarb: yes, the leaves are poisonous, but you'd have to eat five kilograms of leaves to reach a lethal dosage of oxalic acid.

For my first canning project of the year, I chose a rhubarb chutney, from the awesome Food in Jars, via Food 52. Chutneys are a South Asian condiment that usually contain fruit or vegetable mixed with spices - there's hundreds of varieties. North American chutney is usually fruit based, cooked down with vinegar and sugar, and a mixture of spices. The problem I've had with chutney in the past is what the heck do you do with all that chutney? Many cookbooks are quick to suggest serving it with meat, but vegetarian ideas? Here's a list I've come up with:

1. Obviously, a cheese plate! Chutney goes great on a crostini with brie or camembert. 

2. Grilled Cheese! Spread a spoonful of chutney on an aged cheddar grilled cheese.

3. With greens! Hearty sautéed greens, like kale or swiss chard taste great finished off with a spoonful of chutney. 

4. In a glaze! Use it as a sauce to glaze roasted or grilled vegetables. 

5. At a BBQ! Chutney is an awesome condiment for all manner of veggie burgers (and meat burgers.)

Now that I've convinced you, go make some chutney! As a note, I've also made Food in Jars Apple-Pear Chutney from her cookbook, which is also amazing.

Rhubarb Chutney
This recipe makes only 3 half-pints, so if I've convinced you that you're going to love chutney, and you've got room on your shelves, you should double it. 

4 cups sliced rhubarb (around 1 pound)
1 cup minced onion
3/4 cup raisins
2 cups brown sugar
1 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp freshly grated ginger
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1/4 tsp red chili flakes

Combine everything in a wide pot, bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce to simmer. Cook until the rhubarb breaks down, and the chutney is thickened, stirring regularly. It should take 20 to 30 minutes.

If you want to can this recipe, process for 10 minutes in a water bath. Otherwise, it will keep in the fridge for a few weeks, or the freezer for 6 months.

The last word? You can never have too much rhubarb.