Strawberry Balsamic Ice Cream

Strawberry Balsamic Ice CreamBerry Different
When you ask most kids what their favorite ice cream flavor is, more often than not it will involve chocolate, and/or caramel, and some sort of add-in like marshmallows or Oreo cookies. My son always had a different answer. Don’t get me wrong, he would never refuse a scoop or three of something gooey and chocolatey. But, if you ask him was his favorite is, he will tell you it’s strawberry.

I like to do as much as possible with the summer produce that’s available. This includes making ice cream out of the best peak-of-ripeness fruits I can find. I am a peach lover. So, it goes without saying that I make peach ice cream at least once during the warm months. Sometimes I whip up a quart of cinnamon ice cream because it’s ridiculous melted on a warm slab peach pie.

Strawberry is the flavor I make most because I like to have it readily available in the freezer for craving emergencies. A “Rescue Ice Cream”, if you will. For the record, I use the phrase “rescue” a lot. I have a stash of “rescue” chocolate in my pantry for those times when nothing but chocolate will do. Alas, I have to constantly move my stash because others in my household freely “rescue’ themselves and they are like bloodhounds on the scent.

Most people think of strawberry ice cream as the sad, artificially-flavored third of the Neapolitan carton that only gets eaten because there are no other options. In fact, strawberry ice cream can be amazing if you use really good and ripe strawberries. Anything less will produce a lackluster finished product. This recipe for Strawberry Balsamic Ice Cream is one of my favorites.

And, don’t be scared off by the addition of balsamic vinegar. You don’t really taste it in the ice cream. It’s purpose is to intensify the flavor of the strawberries for a fantastic summer treat.

Strawberry Balsamic Ice Cream Recipe
Adapted from Sweet Cream and Sugar Cones by Bi-Rite Creamery
Yields 1 Quart

This is one strawberry ice cream recipe that you can use even if you have slightly out-of-season berries. The addition of the balsamic vinegar adds both complexity and some of the acidity that was lost from freezing the strawberries.

If you want a smoother ice cream, you can also strain the seeds out of the purée—or enjoy the crunch of the tiny seeds. Read more…

Smokey Blackberry Barbecue Sauce

Smokey Blackberry Barbecue SauceVery Berry BBQ
I have a reservation this weekend to go berry picking—and I am very excited. There is a chance that the berries: a.) won’t be ripe or b.) might be all gone by the time I get there.
I’m keeping a positive attitude while crossing my fingers.

U-pick is one of my favorite things about this time of year. It starts with berries and cherries and moves into peaches and nectarines. I look forward to this every year starting January first. Since I didn’t get to go last year for obvious reasons, the anticipation has been killin’ me. But, I know this time it will be that much sweeter. (See what I did there?)

The last u-pick haul I had was 10 pounds of blackberries. This sounds like a lot, but once you cook ‘em down for jam and make a pie, there’s not much left over. If the stars align, I am planning to get at least that much again and maybe a bit more. Because I really want to make this sauce for Memorial Day.

I love the combination of sweet fruits and pork and there is no better showcase than pork ribs. My Cherry Cola Ribs are a family favorite. And, they are a perfect example of what I am talking about. Juicy tender ribs covered in a spicy sweet glaze. It just doesn’t get much better. (Unless there’s cake or pie…all bets are off at that point!)

I have tried other rib sauces and glazes that had raspberry or blackberry in them and I have always loved the combination. So, I am going to set aside some of this weekends blackberry harvest and cook up some of this spicy berry awesomeness.

Smokey Blackberry Barbecue Sauce Recipe
Yields enough sauce for about 4 pounds of pork spare ribs plus extra
Adapted from Food & Wine

We are using this sauce on pork spareribs, and it is also delicious on grilled pork, baby back ribs, and chicken. The smoky flavor comes from the grilled berries and also the chipotle chiles packed in adobo. Read more…

NY Style Bagels

Amy's New York Style BagelsWho Needs Noah?
NY Style Bagels have been a popular topic lately. The rise of the Boichick Bagels from Berkeley (as well as the article in the New York Times) have led to bagel lovers searching far and wide to get a taste of what the Times called the best bagels in the country. That’s what they said. I’m not trying to start a fight. I know how adamant people can be about their bagels. I do, however, propose another way to enjoy a great bagel.

Many of us in the last year have turned to bread making—as anyone looking for flour and yeast last April can attest. Thousands of people were introduced to the world of sourdough. I myself got back into bread making but I went a different direction. A few months ago, I had this idea that I wanted something different for breakfast that weekend, but I was tired of the usual sweeter stuff. My daughter had been making some soft pretzels that she saw online. And, watching her prompted me to want to learn about making bagels. (The concept is somewhat similar)

The idea may sound daunting but it’s really not. It does require an overnight rise in your fridge. So, planning ahead is key. Admittedly, the process would have been harder had I not seen a video on YouTube from NY Times contributor Clair Saffitz. As a visual learner, watching this video made the whole process easier. If you are interested in trying to make bagels, I highly recommend you watch this 10-minute video first.

When making bagels, be prepared for a workout. You will be kneading this dough for at least 20 minutes. It’s the perfect excuse to miss arm day…

My first batch of bagels was kind of wonky. I followed Claire’s recipe exactly and while they tasted good, even though I left them in the oven a couple minutes too long, I struggled with shaping them. Ultimately, I gave up on the rope/snake version and tried shaping by making a hole in the middle of the dough ball and stretching it out. (She mentions that method briefly in the video) The result was a puffy, perfectly chewy bagel that looks more like the bagel shape I am used to seeing. (Not sure if that makes it any less authentic?…) This has remained my go-to method of making bagels ever since.

I have yet to make my bagels with toppings on them like everything seasoning or sesame seeds. Personally, I prefer a plain bagel so that I can go savory or sweet depending on my mood. Also, you may or may not get a full dozen out of the dough. I weigh all of my ingredients on a scale and I have never had the same quantity result. Don’t worry if that happens to you. It is what it is…

I have also learned that doubling the batch is a requirement if you have teenage boys in your home. A single batch is great if you just want bagels for a Sunday morning. If you want to have some, say for the week, it’s best to make a double batch. Whatever you don’t eat that day can be sliced and put in the freezer. All you do is grab one and throw it in the toaster for a perfect weekday breakfast.

Another word of advice? Line your cookie sheets with parchment and/or spray them lightly! The water and malt syrup bath can make them stick to the sheet, which is a bummer.

NY Style Bagels Recipe
Adapted from the New York Times Cooking
Yields 12 bagels (most of the time)
Read more…

Amy’s Almost Battenburg Cake

Amy’s Almost Battenburg CakeBattenburg Bunny
When I think of Easter baking two things come to mind: Hot Cross Buns and Carrot Cake. They are two undisputed staples of the Easter celebration. But, as much as I enjoy a good carrot cake with cream cheese frosting, sometimes you just want to do something different. Be a rebel. Take a walk on the wild side. (Okay, wild might be a bit strong.)

My issue is while I know I want to something different, I’m just not sure what that might be. My strawberries are starting to bear fruit—but not nearly in the quantities I need for a dessert for a crowd. There are enough for a nice little snack while watering the garden, though.

Something lemony is always a good idea. The bright yellow color and bright lemony flavor are perfect for a Spring /Easter brunch or dinner. But, finding something new was challenging until I remembered a cake from one of my favorite TV show binges from this past year.

My mother-in-law had been telling us to watch the Durrells in Corfu on PBS for the past couple of years…well before lockdown. So, my husband and I decided to take the plunge out of a desperate need for entertainment. And, we were very glad we did. It’s hilarious, and made even more so because it was way too similar to how my husband was brought up.

Battenburg cake has a reoccurring part in the show. So, of course I was intrigued. I have never made one nor have I ever tasted one. But, there’s no time like the present…right? I found a recipe on Food 52 and have adapted it with lemon rather than marzipan and a buttercream frosting. So, while it may not actually be a Battenburg cake, it will still look like one!   Read more…