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The Ultimate Chocolate Ice Cream for the Most Discerning Chocoholic (w/Brandied Cherries)

20 Jun

I’m not a huge Chocoholic, but when I want to eat chocolate it’d better be damn good. I like my ice cream rich in flavour, all natural and delicious. I love any recipe by the ice cream guru himself, David Leibovitz, and this will surely win over any discerning Chocoholic or will convert non-believers. Not too sugary sweet, very rich… A crowd pleaser.

As for the brandied cherries, first time I had them was at the now closed The Corner Suite Bistro De Luxe. I used the recipe below, and kept them in the fridge to marinate for a year. I was initially going to chop them up, but was afraid that the syrup would change the flavour of the ice cream. However, if you freeze the cherries, chop them up and add them that would probably work, but then again alcohol doesn’t freeze well.

I’m trying a new method here, not just photos, but tips and tricks before the actual recipe.

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I bought a chunk of Callebaut bittersweet chocolate, mostly because most chocolate recipes require bittersweet and not semisweet and so the chocolate can be used for other purposes. 5oz of chocolate doesn’t seem like much (0.142kg) but that’s all you need. I tried to be cool by shaving chocolate which took a lot of effort, so take a shortcut by using chocolate chips or bars. Then again, it probably won’t melt as fast.

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When cooking the egg mixture, be sure to work fast and be vigilant or else you’ll end up with scrambled eggs. There will always be a little, hence the straining, but it only takes a few seconds for the whole thing to turn into a wet egg mess. When pouring the milk into the egg yolk, whisk fast and furious. When cooking the egg mixture, watch it carefully – once it coats the back of the wooden spoon, remove it from heat, and immediately strain into the chocolate, because the eggs will keep cooking.

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I tend to like to adjust the flavour as it freezes – if it’s too bitter, add tablespoons of condensed milk till it’s just right. If it’s not creamy enough, I like to add coffee cream The ice cream is so rich and dense, once it hardens it’s like a fudgesicle. For frozen treats, pour and freeze in a popsicle mold. Add almonds or chunks of skor bars to up it, or keep it pure.

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Chocolate Ice Cream
from David Lebovitz’s The Perfect Scoop

2 cups heavy cream
3 tablespoons unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
5 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
1 cup whole milk
¾ cup granulated sugar
Pinch of salt
5 large egg yolks
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
Coffee cream, condensed milk

Warm 1 cup of the cream with the cocoa powder in a medium saucepan, whisking to thoroughly blend the cocoa. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer at a very low boil for 30 seconds, whisking constantly. Remove from the heat and add the chopped chocolate, stirring until smooth. Then stir in the remaining 1 cup cream. Pour the mixture into a large bowl, scraping the saucepan as thoroughly as possible, and set a mesh strainer on top of the bowl.

Warm the milk, sugar, and salt in the same saucepan. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolk. Slowly pour the warm milk into the egg yolks, whisking constantly, then scrape the warmed egg yolks back into the saucepan.

Stir the mixture constantly over the medium heat with a heatproof spatula, scraping the bottom as you stir, until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula (170°F on an instant-read thermometer). Pour the custard through the strainer and stir it into the chocolate mixture until smooth, then stir in the vanilla. Stir until cool over an ice bath.

Chill the mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator, then freeze it in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. (If the cold mixture is too thick to pour into your machine, whisk it vigorously to thin it out.)

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A cherry pitter from Ming Wo is your best friend – makes the pitting fast, easy and mess free. Always boil the jar and lid you’re going to use.

Lu’s Brandied Cherries
Homemade brandied cherries are a simple and delicious way to dress up your cocktails.

1 lb. sweet cherries, pitted
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
2 tsp. lemon juice, fresh-squeezed
1 stick cinnamon
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup brandy
Tools: cherry pitter, saucepan, ladle, jars with lids

Wash and pit the cherries. In a saucepan, combine all ingredients except the cherries and brandy and bring to a rolling boil. When the liquid begins to boil, reduce the heat to medium. Add the cherries and simmer for 5–7 minutes. Remove from heat, add the brandy and let cool. Transfer the cherries into clean jars and refrigerate, uncovered until cherries are cool to touch. Cover tightly and refrigerate for up to two weeks.

My childhood in a dessert: Ovaltine & Rice Krispies

24 May

Growing up in Vancouver as a child of immigrants in the 80’s, it wasn’t easy to assimilate into the Western culture and still have to struggle to maintain my Chinese heritage. I didn’t have Saturday morning cartoons because I had Chinese school, had thick glasses from grade 4 onwards and I wanted to bring a ham and cheese sandwich to lunch because the other kids would make fun of me that I was eating worms, when it was really chow mein.

Times have changed, of course… kids don’t have to struggle with their cultural identity as much anymore and I’m sure there’s a “Chinese Day” in high school cafeterias with chow mein, spring rolls and all.

So when I saw this recipe it brought me back. Back to the good old days of comfort food, homemade sweets and I smile thinking that this is symbolic of my childhood growing up… Ovaltine and Rice Krispies….

Ovaltine Pudding with Honeyed Rice Krispies

Malty Ovaltine flavors these puddings from New York City chef Pichet Ong.Ovaltine_Pudding_with_Honeyed_Rice_Krispies

SERVES 8

  • 2 1/4-oz. packages unflavored powdered gelatin
  • 1 cup milk
  • 3 cups heavy cream
  • 3/4 cup Ovaltine powder
  • 1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped and reserved
  • 10 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3 tbsp. honey
  • 3 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 1 3/4 cups crisped rice cereal, such as Rice Krispies
  • Whipped cream, for serving

In a 2-qt. saucepan, sprinkle gelatin over milk and let sit for 5 minutes. Add cream, Ovaltine, and vanilla seeds and heat over medium heat; cook, stirring often, until gelatin dissolves and mixture is warmed through. Remove from heat and stir in chocolate and 1/4 tsp. salt until smooth. Pour mixture through a fine strainer into a large pitcher; then pour into eight 6-oz. serving glasses or ramekins. Cover each glass with plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled and set, at least 2 hours or overnight.

Meanwhile, heat sugar, honey, and butter in a 4-qt. saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook, swirling pan often, until mixture turns the color of medium-dark caramel; add remaining salt and cereal and stir to coat evenly. Transfer mixture to a greased baking sheet and spread out evenly; let cool and then break into small chunks.

To serve, uncover each pudding and top with some of the crisped-rice mixture. Garnish with a dollop of whipped cream and serve immediately.

Madeleines

26 Dec

The origin of the madeleine, the shell-shaped sponge cake eaten as a cookie, is disputed, although most food scholars believe it originated in the Lorraine city of Commercy. It traveled first to the court of Louis XV at Versailles and then on to Paris, gaining converts at each stop. Today, the pâtissiers of Commercy are still considered Frances premier makers of madeleines, and boxes of madeleines de Commercy are sold throughout the country. You will need a madeleine pan, made of tinned steel and with a dozen molds, to bake these little cakes.

These little sponge cakes, immortalized by Marcel Proust in Remembrance of Things Past, are at their most memorable when eaten as Proust himself liked them, fresh from the oven, still warm and a little crisp on the outside. As madeleines tend to dry out quickly, home-baked ones are best.

If you use a black nonstick madeleine pan, decrease the oven temperature by 25°F or shorten the baking time by a few minutes.

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Thanksgiving Recipes: Part 2 – Veggies

10 Oct

Thanksgiving seems to be one of the few occasions where veggies are tolerated or even welcomed as a reprieve from all the meat and starch. Glazed veggie or brussel sprouts are traditional, but it seems like not everyone likes brussel sprouts, probably because they’re boiled or steamed (oh so bland) or overcooked and emit that sulphurous stink.

The key to perfect brussel sprouts is to watch them closely while cooking. To prepare for steaming/boiling, remove outer old and wilted leaves, trim the stem and score an X in the stem.Boil or steam for 4-7 minutes until they turn a vibrant green, then quickly remove from heat and drain. Pick the smaller, tightly packed sprouts, and purchase as close to the use date as possible.

I hope you heart sprouts as much as I do after trying one of my favourite recipes below – Brussel Sprouts, Chestnut and Bacon Sauté. As for something sweet, a take on the traditional honey/brown sugar glazed carrots – Mirin Glazed Carrots

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Thanksgiving aka Turkey Fest Recipes: Part 1 – Starch

5 Oct

Thanksgiving is next Monday – Canadian Thanksgiving that is. Unfortunately since most of the food mags and sites are American, the recipes for all the ‘what’s new’ and trendy ideas for Thanksgiving come out in November. I’m not fretting too much though – as long as there’s all the essentials like turkey, veggies, starch and pumpkin pie on the menu, I’m good. Over the next few days leading up to the turkey/binge fest, I’ll be posting up recipes I’ll be trying or want to try, and hope you are inspired to do so too.

I can only eat so much turkey, but I can never get enough starch. Whether it’s mashed potatoes, candied yams, roasted sweet potatoes or any starchy gratin, it’s always a crowd pleaser. Here are some of my favourites, from savoury to sweet…

p.s. and no, I will not be putting the nutritional values up for these =)

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Sangria Recipes| Food & Wine

27 Sep

I know it’s a Monday. There are just some Mondays that make you want to drink. But don’t bring out the hard liquor yet my fellow alkie, let’s start the week with something festive and light and progress to the gin and tonic later in the week, shall we? My fave from the Food & Wine Sangria slideshow:

Shinsei Sangria

Ingredients

  1. 3 pears, sliced
  2. 3 oranges, sliced
  3. 6 Granny Smith apples, sliced
  4. 24 canned lychees, drained
  5. 1 1/2 pineapples, peeled and cut into large chunks
  6. One 750-milliliter bottle vodka
  7. One 750-milliliter bottle Sauvignon Blanc or other dry, citrusy white wine
  8. One 750-milliliter bottle sake
  9. Ice

Directions

  1. In an airtight container or large bowl covered with plastic wrap, combine all of the ingredients except the ice and refrigerate for at least 24 hours. Strain the mixture into a punch bowl, discarding all of the fruit except for the lychees. Add enough ice to chill the sangria to serving temperature. Serve in ice-filled white wine glasses.

Shinsei Sangria Recipe – Cocktails 2008 | Food & Wine

Other fave sangrias:

White Wine and Sparkling Cider Sangria

Vino Francesca

Watermelon Sangria

Zen Sangria – Sauvignon Blanc with green tea–flavored vodka

Thai Basil Sangria

Sangria Rosada – rose wine

Sangria Flora – with elderflower and grapes – perfect Fall/Winter festive drink

Summer dishes: Yucatan Shrimp

22 May

Warmer weather usually means get togethers with family and friends -potlucks, picnics, BBQs – communal cooking and casual dining. One of my fondest childhood memories was the gathering of 3 or 4 families (actual relations, friends, neighbours) to eat shellfish. No bbq, no meats, no fish. Anything with a shell – lobster, crab, shrimp, clams, mussels – that all the men in the family would go early morning to the docks to buy fresh off the boats and the women would clean/devein and boil and serve on large platters, only to be instantly descended upon and devoured. It wasn’t the just the food that brought people together, but the barbaric and natural act of eating without utensils and using your teeth, fingers and the occasional napkin. The communal and raw way of eating shellfish like this transcended sex, age, race and class – and gave way to a sense of bonding.

In honor of the first long (and much anticipated) weekend of the year – I give you Yucatan Shrimp. Happy bonding.

Yucatan Shrimp (wok style)

Variations below

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced (yes, the whole damn thing)
  • Juice of two large limes
  • 1 tablespoon Indonesian sambal (preferably sambal oelek)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 pound large, fresh, shell-on shrimp (or prawns, deveined)
  • 1 teaspoon jalapeño, seeded and chopped (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro.

1. In a small saucepan set over low heat, melt 1 tablespoon of butter. Add the garlic and cook, stirring for 2 minutes.

2. Add remaining 3 tablespoons butter to saucepan. When it melts, stir in the lime juice, chili sauce, salt and pepper. Turn off the heat and allow the sauce to rest.

3. Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil. Add the shrimp and cook for 2 minutes or until they are just firm and pink. Do not overcook. Drain into a colander and shake over the sink to remove excess moisture.

4. In a large bowl, toss the shrimp and chili sauce. Add jalapeño, if desired, sprinkle with cilantro and toss again. Serves 4, messily. Adapted from Greg Nelson at Doc Ford’s Sanibel Rum Bar and Grille, Sanibel Island, Fla.

Notes: Do not use more butter than needed, or your shrimp will be swimming in oil. Be liberal with the garlic – you can never have too much! Because I didn’t have sambal on hand, I figured since it’s kinda stinky and spicy, I mixed fish sauce and vietnamese chili sauce and threw in some lemongrass paste. If it’s not sweet enough, squirt  in some agave, or use honey if you don’t have it. Sugar is just too 2D sometimes. Serve with beer and lime.


Yucatan Shrimp (BBQ style)

  • 2 tablespoons achiote powder (see Note)
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/3 cup fresh orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon ancho chile powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Salt
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 pounds large shelled and deveined shrimp
  • 1/2 cup cilantro leaves
  • Summer Vegetable Rice and lemons, for serving
  1. Light a grill. In a large bowl, blend the achiote, garlic, orange and lemon juices, chile powder, cayenne and 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Whisk in the oil. Add the shrimp and toss. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  2. Thread the shrimp onto six 12-inch skewers. Season with salt; reserve the marinade. Grill the shrimp over a hot fire, basting with the marinade, until barely cooked through, 2 minutes per side. Transfer to plates, sprinkle with the cilantro and serve with Summer Vegetable Rice and lemon wedges. Serves 6.

Notes: Achiote powder is ground from achiote (annatto) seeds. It has no discernible flavor and is used in Latin cooking to give dishes a reddish-orange color. Achiote powder and seeds are available at Latin markets and some supermarkets.

Lavender Honey Ice Cream

13 May

So I’m hosting a cheese and wine thing this Friday – doing the usual pairings: 

  • meats from Oyama Sausage Company on Granville Island – wild boar procuitto and lamb chorizo.
  • condiments – Silkameen honey, spanish peppers, cipollini onions, date bread, quince paste
  • cheese – a blue, stilton, cheddar, riopelle, a spanish hard cheese.
  • fruit – pears, dried figs and cranberries
  • drinks – a Moscato d’Asti (my drink of choice for a sunny Sunday afternoon), Golden Star White Jasmine Sparkling Tea and a Kettle Valley Starboard (port).

So what am I missing? Dessert! Which will be Lavender Honey Ice Cream. Variations of the recipes below. Bon appetit! 

Lavender Honey Ice Cream – from The Perfect Scoop, by David Lebovitz  

  • ½ cup good flavored honey
  • ¼ cup dried or fresh lavender flowers
  • 1 ½ cups whole milk
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 ½ cups heavy cream
  •  5 large egg yolks

1) Heat the honey and 2 tablespoons of the lavender in a small saucepan until the honey is fluid. Remove from the heat and set aside to steep at room temperature for one hour. 

2) Pour the cream into a large bowl and set a mesh strainer on top. Pour the lavender infused honey into the cream through the strainer, pressing on the lavender flowers to extract as much flavor as possible, then discard the lavender and set the strainer back over the bowl. 

3) Warm the milk, sugar, and salt in a medium saucepan. In a separate medium sized bowl, whisk together the egg yolks. Slowly pour the warm milk mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly to prevent the eggs from cooking, then scrape the mixture back into the saucepan. 

4) Stir the mixture constantly over medium heat with a wooden spoon, scraping the bottom as you stir, until the mixture thickens and coats the spoon. (UPDATE: Don’t think that it’ll turn into a thick custard! Just when it starts to get glossy and thick, get it off the stove or in a few seconds it’ll turn into scrambled eggs!) Pour the custard through the strainer and stir it into the cream. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons lavender flowers. Refrigerate overnight. 

5) Before churning, strain the mixture again. Press the lavender flowers to extract as much of their flavor as possible. Discard the flowers, then freeze the mixture in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. 

TOPPINGS: Roasted Blueberries :  spread fresh or wrinkly blueberries out on a cookie sheet, sprinkled them with sugar and roasted them at 400F until they soften and release their juices. OR throw them into a pot of maple syrup and warm it until they pop. 

NOTES: Since whipping cream comes in 355ml(?) and it calls for 275ml, what to do with the 80ml? Dump the whole thing in I say, cut down on the milk if you want to. More lavender better than less. Infuse the lavender and honey overnight if you want, final infusion 12 hours at least. Don’t overdo the sugar.

Update: This is my go-to HG recipe! HG in makeup speak = holy grail. The honey binds the flavours together creating an all rounded taste. Best part is, no one can guess that it’s honey.

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More sorbet recipes for inspiration – the Alcoholics Anonymous edition

10 May

Finally a use for leftover wine! – always adjust my measurements as you see fit!

Passionfruit Sherry Sorbet

  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 passion fruit pulp.
  • 1/4  cup water, apple juice or passionfruit juice
  • 4 tbsp sherry

Combine sugar and liquids (minus sherry) over low heat till the sugar is dissolved. Add passionfruit. Cool in fridge and then make according to ice cream maker’s instructions. Add some sherry before it reaches a hardened consistency.

Pomegranate Chardonnay Sorbet

  • 3 cups fresh pomegranate juice or 1 (24-ounce) bottle pomegranate juice
  • 1 cup chardonnay
  • ½ cup sugar
  • Fresh pomegranate seeds

1. Place juice, chardonnay and sugar in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes. Remove from heat, and chill well.

2. Pour into the canister of an ice-cream freezer; freeze according to manufacturer’s instructions (or for granita, pour mixture into a 9×9-inch pan, and freeze 8 hours, scraping occasionally with a fork). Spoon into a freezer-safe container; cover and freeze 1 hour or until firm. Garnish with fresh pomegranate seeds. Serves 8.

Recipe by High Cotton Food Styling & Photography, “Relish the Healthy Table,” December 2006

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When I get my ice cream maker…

9 May

I’m gonna make:

Sake Sorbet

I have been OBSESSED with sake sorbet ever since tasting it in NYC. It was smooth, sweet and refreshing, and perhaps the lone reason why I shelled out for a Cuisinart Ice Cream maker. That, and because the weather’s getting warmer, guests are coming over, and I have tons of leftover liquor in the fridge waiting to be put to use. Also my next big purchase will be a BBQ so I can grill. If I’m too lazy to bake for dessert, why not serve a delicious frozen treat instead?

  • 1.5 cups sake
  • 1.5 cups simple syrup
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1tbsp lemon peel

Or sub lime for lemon, add a bit of yuzu – anything citrusy, Serve with, you guessed it, anything citrusy. Use the cheaper Gekkeikan for the sorbet (1.5L for $21.99). Save the exquisitely smooth and sweet (one of the few sakes that can be heated, not all of them can so read the label) YUKI HOTARU SAKE – ECHIGO DENEMON for sipping instead.

Update 2: Maybe I should have included some instructions. Combine all ingredients and freeze according to ice cream maker instructions. Apparently alcohol will NOT FREEZE (or anything over 5%). So either combine the sake with the simple syrup and heat, OR make the sorbet without the sake (add more juice or water) and add the sake to the ice cream maker when it’s close to solidifying and adjust to wanted consistency. So since I don’t have any cheap sake, I think I’ll make some pear sorbet, and add a few tablespoons of the good sake to taste. Hey, experiment! Don’t think you can go too wrong with this.

Simple Syrup:

1 cup white sugar, 1 cup water
In a medium saucepan combine sugar and water. Bring to a boil, stirring, until sugar has dissolved. Allow to cool.

Update3: MY PEAR RIESLING SORBET IS A SUCCESS! In a pot on the stove on med heat combine sugar and water (1/1) until dissolved. Add juice on one lemon, and cubed pears. Cook till pears are soft but not brown or mushy. Add riesling or chardonnay. Simmer for 5 minutes for alcohol to burn off. Cool and add to blender to puree. Put in fridge overnight (6 hours). Make sure ice cream bowl is chilled at least 12 hours. Make according to manufacturer’s instructions. If it’s still a bit too soft, put into container and into the freezer for 15-20 minutes to firm up.

Note: Like boiling water, if you watch it, it won’t freeze. So go away and do something non-constructive and come back and be surprised!