Spicy Crunchy Chocolate Ice Cream Love

You know how you flip through a new cookbook and there’s so many amazing looking recipes you hardly know which one to make first? Yeah, this book is like that.

Last year I was walking through the aisles of the bookstore, when my eyes landed on an ice cream cookbook. It looked adorable, and there were pictures of each ice cream beckoning me to take it home and give the indulgences within a turn in my ice cream machine. But, having recently been disappointed with another ice cream cookbook purchase, I resigned to leave it be. Several months later I returned to look up an apple ice cream recipe after spending the day in an orchard, and came home with the scribbled down version of Jeni’s Splendid Baked Apple Sorbet. At that point I knew that this woman was probably on to something and it was only a matter of time before I’d give in to the crippling cravings to own this book.

Two more visits and a round of “Oh, I want to make that! And That! AND THAT ONE TOO!!!” I went ahead and bought Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home by Jeni Britton Bauer, and haven’t been disappointed. Not only are her flavor combinations really something to celebrate, but she really knows how ice cream works. I bothered to read the introductory chapters before diving into the recipes and learned that her techniques are a little different than the classical anglaise bases I was taught in pastry school and have duplicated in several restaurants.

So I decided to start with the Gucci Muu Muu, a rich and creamy chocolate ice cream with the warmth and spice of curry and the subtle crunch of toasted coconut. IT ROCKED. The whole quart of it. Which I ate all by myself. I’m not even the tiniest bit sorry either. I’m pretty much ready to take anything Jeni says about ice cream as gospel at this point. The book is broken down into four main recipe sections, based on season, and while the winter recipes have been delicious I’m anxious for the springtime ingredients to work with, and warmer weather to ride my bike around in. Preferably while eating a homemade ice cream cone (see recipe in the book) full of Roasted Strawberry and Buttermilk Ice Cream! {heart melts in anticipation}

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A Handful of Macarons

Our little street in Montreal (on St. Dennis) was crammed with restaurants, lounges, and little speciality stores. The block is mostly 3 or 4 story townhouses, with the basement and first levels of each home all commercial. Tucked into the ground level of one of these buildings is Marius et Fanny Patisserie Proven├žale. This place has it ALL. Chocolates, cakes, savory goods and sandwiches, croissants, macarons, EVERYTHING.

So of course I had to get one of every macaron…for photographic purposes! They even made them all the way back to the states so I could photograph them. I honestly don’t even remember what flavor all of them are, apart from delicious. Some were filled with creams and ganche, while the fruity ones had jam sandwiched in between. Why haven’t I thought of using jam?!

I really adore the bold colors they used in creating these. I know some of the Parisian macaron makers prefer to be a little more subtle with their colors, but it’s great that they’ve created their own palette so to speak.

With the weather finally being cool enough to whip up a sturdy meringue, perhaps it’s time to give making macarons at home another shot. Since the possibilities are endless they’re a great treat for just about any occasion. Maybe a set of fall/Halloween colored macarons?

The Best of the Worst – Vacation Food

Most chefs that I’ve met will eat almost anything. They’ve got good taste, but that doesn’t mean that they’re picky. Even if it’s bad, they’ll try anything…because you just don’t know until you try. Furthermore, while professional chefs may eat and cook well now there’s still a good chance a little bit of fast food or microwave mac and cheese is comfort food.

In honor of these foods, here’s the quick roundup of some of the not-four-star but tasty foods I came across on vacation.

Vacation was kicked off at the Norwalk Oyster Festival, where I convinced myself to finally give oysters a try. To ease myself into it I ordered some fried oysters, which taste like generic fried seafood I suppose. Yummy! Next I tried a raw one , and well – I just can’t do them. After spitting out my first, last, and only raw oyster I headed back to the fried oyster booth and got another. Also, tartar sauce is pretty good. Why haven’t I tried that before?

The Marchiano’s Calzone. I’m not entirely sure this is actually a calzone, but it’s calzone-like. Sunday mornings living in the East Falls & Manayunk neighborhoods of northwest Philadelphia were some of my favorites because of this thing. After a typically obnoxious Saturday night on Main Street we’d wake up and walk down the hill to Marchiano’s Bakery for one of these delights, and wander on home in time to catch the football game. I don’t even want to begin to analyze the nutritional values of this (or lack thereof) but it’s the definition of comfort food. Unfortunately, I’ve never tasted anything like it.

The entire time we were in Montreal, we kept meaning to try Poutine. According to our trusty guidebook, “The legend is that sometime in 1957 a customer walked into Le Cafe Ideal…and asked owner Farnand Lachance to add a handful of cheese curds to his order of [fries and gravy]. He shoved the result in front of his customer and muttered “Quel poutine” – which could be roughly translated as “What a mess.” ” Finally, on the last evening of our stay we went down to the Rapido diner on the corner for a fresh plate of poutine, and were pleasantly surprised. So surprised and delighted that we nearly cleaned the plate.

After tasting them and deciding I liked them, I mentioned to Greg that it was just like cheese fries, but with gravy on them. He reminded me that it wasn’t the gravy that originally made the dish strange, but the addition of the cheese – which I’m still having a little trouble understanding.

Storm Rations

This weekend has been spent hunkered down in the house waiting for Hurricane Irene to blow us away or blow by. While I normally work on the weekends, the MTA shutdown and subsequent shutdown of New York City has given me my first weekend “off” in eight months. It has been wasted watching the weather channel and eating an entire box of Double Stuf Oreos.

To be honest, I started eating them on Friday night.

The wind and rain were falling so hard last night that it was nearly impossible to sleep. At 4:30am I sought refuge on the couch, with no more luck in sleeping. Luckily it seems that most of it has passed, except for lingering high winds and a little bit of water blowing around. The Long Island Sound which has washed out our road seems to be retreating back to its murky depths and the stuffiness of the house is making me antsy to open the windows again.

The bad weather has also given me an excuse to play mixologist and come up with a fun photo shoot which I’m really excited to post tomorrow! In the mean time, I hope everyone is safe and not too shaken up by the storm. Stay dry and see you tomorrow =)

Farmer’s Market Treats

It’s a shame really that I’ve only made it to one farmer’s market this summer. I was looking forward to the Union Square Farmer’s Market in New York all winter, excited with the cooking possibilities it might have in store – and have yet to go. Here, at the end of August I realize that I’ve got to get my market trips going before it’s too late!

Luckily, on a random Thursday off I remembered the Westport Farmer’s Market here in Connecticut and headed over to see what I could find. I left with two bags of groceries, including beautiful multi-colored eggs, farm fresh whole milk, honey in the comb, two pints of blueberries, a half pint of currants, and a wedge of dreamy local cheese.

Who knows. Maybe there’s still time. I’ll wait for this hurricane to blow over then head downtown to the market to see what I can find. =)

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