Monday, May 25, 2009

Hazelnut Gelato--not for the faint of heart

(adapted from The Martha Stewart Living Cookbook, 2000)

Makes about 1 quart

2 cups shelled hazelnuts (8 ounces)

3 cups milk

5 large egg yolks

2/3 cup sugar

1 cup heavy cream

1 T. hazelnut liqueur, optional

Preheat oven to 350° F. Toast nuts in a single even layer on baking sheet until the skins are split, about 8-10 minutes. [don’t wait until you can smell them a lot, they’ll be burned about 3 seconds later.] Rub the warm nuts with a clean kitchen towel to remove the brown skins. [this is fairly laborious but you’ll remember how worth it all the work was when you take your first bite.] Return to pan; toast until fragrant and golden brown, about one minute more. Let cool completely, grind coarsely [in food processor] or chop finely [with a knife].

In a medium sauce pan, heat milk and chopped nuts. Bring to a gentle boil, cover, and remove from heat. Let steep at room temperature for 2 hours. Pass through a cheesecloth-lined strainer, pressing hard on solids and reserve milk. Discard solids [or if you can’t bear to, they can be used for a few ingenious things—call me, I’ll fill you in].

Combine egg yolks and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat at medium-high speed until very thick and pale yellow, about five minutes. Meanwhile, return milk to a simmer.

Prepare an ice-water bath. Whisking constantly, add half the milk to the egg yolk mixture to temper it. Stir egg mixture into milk in sauce pan and cook over low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. [this can be a tricky thing to do—lots of good cookbooks will describe better what kinds of tests you can do to determine the doneness of a custard if the spoon test is not clear to you].

Remove from heat and immediately stir in cream and hazelnut liqueur, if using [I have tried the hazelnut syrup made for using in lattes—it’s pretty good but not strictly necessary]. Pass mixture through a fine sieve [to remove any possible scrambled egg bits] into a medium bowl set over the ice bath to chill. Freeze in an ice-cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions [or follow David’s great instructions for liquid nitrogen ice cream]. Freeze in a plastic container up to one week [if it lasts that long].

Pistachio variation: cover and bring a sauce pan of water to boil. Add pistachios and cook 30 seconds. Remove from heat and drain. When cool enough to handle, remove outer skins and discard. Toast in 350° F oven until aromatic, about 5 minutes.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Shrimp, Avocado, and Mango Salsa Quesadillas

I found this book at the Amherst Library while I was home in March. I scanned several pages of it and have tried two or three of the recipes. They have been unusual mixtures of textures and flavors and I've been enjoying it. This is a favorite that we've had a couple times now. If you like this, you should definitely find the book and try some of his others.

1 small, ripe avocado, peeled and pitted
1 Tbsp plus 1 tsp fresh lime juice
1/2 lb large shrimp (about 12) peeled and deveined
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 small ripe mango, peeled, pitted, and cut into 1/4" dice [We use a whole small mango]
2 scallions (white and light green parts), finely chopped
1 1/2 Tbsp finely chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
2 All-Purpose flatbreads (page 22 of his book) or 8-inch flour tortillas [We use 6 inch tortillas and with those this recipe makes 4-5 quesadillas]
2 oz Monterey Jack cheese, grated (about 3/4 C)

  • Heat a panini or sandwich press according to instructions [We only have a small George Foreman grill and that works fine for these or other paninis]
  • Place avocado in a small bowl and sprinkle with 1 tsp lime juice. Set aside.
  • Place shrimp in a bowl and add olive oil and salt. Toss to coat. Arrange them on the press and cook until pink and just cooked through (2-3 min)
  • Carefully remove them and set aside. When cool enough to handle, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • Place mango, scallions, cilantro, pepper flakes, and remaining 1 Tbsp lime juice into a bowl and toss to combine.
  • Arrange the avocado in one half of each flatbread. Arrange the shrimp on top of the avocado. Spoon the mango salsa on top of the shrimp. Sprinkle with grated cheese. Fold the flatbreads over.
  • Put the sandwiches on the press, pull the top down and cook until browned and crisp, 3 to 6 min. Remove from press and serve immediately.

Pad Thai-- Gluten Free

I found this recipe at my friend Marci's dinner blog: On My Menu. She got it from Kill.The.Gluten blog and tweaked it. I like her additions (in italics) and have added my own (*starred*). The ease and deliciousness of this dinner have made it a regular at our house. The photo is from Marci who takes excellent pictures of all her dinners.

1 box Original Pad Thai
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, sliced thin---season with 1/2 t. each pepper, garlic salt, onion salt and 1 t. curry---*We have used either 1 lb shrimp or a mixture of shrimp and chicken. The shrimp makes it oh so rich.*
3 Tbsp oil, divided---I use 1/2 sesame oil, 1/2 canola or veggie oil---*I used peanut oil*
1 egg, scrambled (we like 2)
2 green onions, sliced
2 Tbsp cilantro, chopped
1 lime...optional (I forgot tonight and it still tasted great)
2 Tbsp peanuts, coarsely chopped
1/2 c. shredded carrots

- Boil 4 cups water. Add the noodles and remove from heat. Let the noodles soak for about 5-8 minutes, then drain and run under cold water.
- In a large skillet, heat 1 Tbsp oil. Add egg(s) and cook until done. Remove the egg, chop, and set aside.
- Add the other 2 Tbsp oil and heat. Add the chicken (and carrots) to the skillet, cooking until just done, about 3-5 minutes. *If you're using shrimp, stir fry it 2-3 min on each side until it's done, then remove until the end. If you over cook them, they'll be rubbery*
-Add the noodles and the sauce packet. Stir fry for a few minutes, or until the noodles are done, adding water if necessary to keep them from sticking to the skillet.
- Add the egg, green onions, cilantro, and squeeze the juice from the lime over the top. Stir for 1 minute and remove from heat.
- Garnish with peanuts. (and some soy sauce if desired)

Homemade Power Bars

I like to make these as a snack for that late afternoon slump when I'm tempted to eat chocolate or ice cream but should really have some protein.

1 C peanut butter
1 C honey
1 C protein powder (I use soy)

Add 4 C of other stuff like:
quick oats
chocolate chips
flax seed
pumpkin seeds
sunflower seeds
golden raisins
dried fruit
chopped nuts

(My favorite sweet/tart mix is at least 3/4 C oats, chocolate chips, craisins, flax seed, sunflower seeds, and chopped almonds)

Stir until combined. Add more honey if you need things to stick together better. You can then roll this out and cut it into bars and wrap it in saran wrap. Or, roll it into balls and place in cupcake liners. Keep them in the fridge if you want them to last longer than a couple days.