Sunday, August 30, 2009

Chillin'

I have to admit, these past few days I've been hard pressed to force my brain to focus on the task of writing any sort of logical blog post. Heck, I've been unable to keep up with my (relatively) small Twitter feed these days! I don't know why, exactly. It's not exactly as if the weather around here has been screaming "come outside, pale bodies, soak up the sunshine!". In fact, this month (usually the hottest of the year) has only had an average temperature of 21°C (70°F). I mean, WTF?

I can't even share the glorious bounty that should have been our garden's harvest with you. Oh, our garden is growing just fine, and even fruiting a fair bit! I just can't show you. You can thank my oh-so-wonderful stepfather, who somehow decided over the springtime that even though I was going to be the only person home during the majority of the harvesting season, and had fulfilled the job of human columbine admirably the past two years, I did not know when vegetables were ripe and therefore had to be banned from picking a single thing - from a perfectly tender baby Sicilian eggplant, to a zucchini so freaking big it engulfed the vine, to a handful of the most perfectly crimson cherry tomatoes. All off-limits. Now, granted, I wasn't told about this new rule at the beginning of harvest season, and I did pick a fair bit of beans and some of the hot peppers since they were literally falling off the plants. Hoo, boy... did that cause a nasty "discussion" between the SF and my poor mother that night. So now, I watch sadly from the other side of the garden fence as the 42 tomato plants we have continue to fruit mercilessly, the pepper plants begin dropping their rotting children on the ground as new spears appear, and zucchinis expand like the grow-your-own toys we used to get from the dollar store as kids.

So to quell the boredom, I've turned to the things I've come to know and love. The first is baking, and the second - frozen yummies. I haven't made as many variations of dairy ice desserts as I'd like to this year, and I bow to the brilliance of the Very Small Anna when it comes to ice cream at all. But I do have two shades of the same creature to share today - an attempt of mine to re-capture the memories of the fragrant vanilla and honey ice cream that used to come with slabs of chocolate fudge cake at Caffe Demetre every time we stopped in. I have nothing but good memories associated with that funky little place, and every time I visit I can almost re-live the visits my friends and I would have there after catching a movie at the theatre next door. The friends have (by and large) moved away, onto their own adventures, but the cafe remains. As does the ice cream.

So, do these recipes come close?? Personally, I don't know. You'll have to ask my loyal taste testers for that answer. What I can tell you is that making the custard style version forever cemented my belief in the fact that tempering egg yolks, no matter how many times you may do it, is always the culinary version of Russian roulette. It took me 3 times to get the damn custard working - that is a lot of eggs, especially when you never use eggs in anything because your family eats at least 5 of them every day of the week (up to 8 on the weekends) and they're expensive! The second recipe, though less decadent (lacking in eggs) is by far the easier course, not to mention held a way better texture in terms of scooping it into bowls - even after days in the deep freezer! It isn't suitable for vegetarians as written, containing gelatin, but if you decide to give it a shot with agar agar and it works out, please let me know!

Custard-Style Honey-Vanilla Frozen Yogurt
Serves 6
1 ¼ cups skim milk or fat-free soy milk (I used So Good Trim but skim milk is used for NI)
2 tbsp dried buttermilk powder (optional, for tangier taste)
2 tbsp honey
4 egg yolks
¼ cup sugar
2 cups low-fat vanilla yogurt
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
½ tbsp vodka
  1. Heat milk, buttermilk powder and honey in a small saucepan until just beginning to steam (don’t let boil), stirring often.
  2. Meanwhile, whisk the egg yolks with the remaining sugar until pale yellow.
  3. Slowly add a ladle of the milk mixture to the egg yolks, whisking continuously to prevent curdling.
  4. Pour egg/milk mixture slowly back into the hot milk on the stove, whisking continuously.
  5. Cook the custard over low heat, stirring often, until it coats the back of a spoon.
  6. Remove from heat and pour into a non-reactive bowl, cool to room temperature.
  7. Stir in the yogurt, vanilla and vodka, then cover and chill overnight.
  8. Churn in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’ s directions, store in freezer.
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 179.6
Total Fat: 3.8 g
Cholesterol: 142.5 mg
Sodium: 92.1 mg
Total Carbs: 28.2 g
Dietary Fiber: 0.0 g
Protein: 7.3 g

Eggless Honey - Vanilla Frozen Yogurt
Makes eight 3/4 cup servings
1 3/4 cups (12 oz can) evaporated skim milk (not sweetened condensed)
1/2 cup whole milk
1 tbsp buttermilk powder
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tbsp unflavoured gelatin
2 cups low-fat vanilla yogurt, strained*
1/4 cup flavourful liquid honey (I used manuka)
1 tbsp vanilla extract
*pour 2 cups low fat vanilla yogurt into a cheesecloth lined strainer, refrigerate overnight.
  1. In a saucepan, combine evaporated skim milk, whole milk, buttermilk powder, sugar, salt and gelatin.
  2. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring.
  3. Cook for 3 minutes, then remove from the heat and our into a non-metal bowl and cool to room temperature.
  4. Stir in yogurt, honey and vanilla extract until well blended, then chill overnight.
  5. Churn in your ice cream maker according to directions, and store in the freezer.
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 164.3
Total Fat: 1.2 g
Cholesterol: 6.9 mg
Sodium: 112.0 mg
Total Carbs: 31.2 g
Dietary Fiber: 0.0 g
Protein: 7.7 g

1 comment :

anna said...

Aw, you flatter me! :P This sounds AWESOME. Really interesting method, too - blending the custard with the yogurt?? Wow! I bet it tastes phenomenal! I haven't gotten around to making my honey-vanilla ice cream because I don't think I can make it as delicious as the stuff I used to eat as a kid, but it really is one of my favorite flavor combos. There's just something magic about it.