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My Five Inexpensive Kitchen Essentials

Beet Ravioli with Goat Cheese

Sunday
May112008

Cherry Ice Cream

Fresh ice cream is such a treat. If you've never made it, go out and buy an ice cream maker and get ready. When berries are in season, there's nothing like fresh ice cream. And I mean fresh - right out of the ice cream maker. You can put the ice cream in a plastic container and freeze it, but it's not the same as eating it right when it's ready. And it's absolutely pure - no fillers or ingredients you can't pronounce. We have a Cuisinart ice cream maker, but there are many brands on the market now. You just keep the bowl of the ice cream maker in the freezer all the time and you are always ready to make fresh ice cream. We love to make strawberry ice cream and one of our favorites is blueberry ice cream, when blueberries are in season.  With the recipe I'm giving here, you can make any kind of fresh fruit ice cream.

Last year when cherries were in season, they were so delicious that I couldn't bear the thought of going all year without them. I loved just eating them raw and, of course, my family loved the fresh cherry ice cream. So I bought lots when they were in season and froze them. I just pitted them, put them on a cookie sheet in the freezer and then vacuum sealed them and stuck them in the freezer. When they're frozen, they don't make for a good raw snack, but they are outstanding in pies, cobblers and ice cream. So we had "in season" cherries all winter. What a difference.


This recipe calls for heating the cream with the sugar on the stove before chilling. I like doing this because I feel the sugar gets dissolved better this way. If you don't have time for this, you can simply mix everything together and make the ice cream. But I like to make this mixture in the morning, stick it in the fridge to get really cold, and then when you want the ice cream, all you have to do is pour it in the ice cream maker and 30 minutes later you have fresh ice cream. It's really a convenience.

I wanted to post this recipe because Susan, from Food Blogga, is hosting a "Beautiful Bones" food blogging event. She has osteoporosis and is asking people to post calcium rich recipes. What's better than ice cream?

Cherry Ice Cream

 

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 cups half n half
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean (or 1 tsp. vanilla extract)*
  • 1 cup pureed fresh cherries (or any kind of fruit)

Instructions:

Warm half n half and cream with sugar on the stove. Split vanilla bean and scrape into mixture. Add pureed fruit. Warm gently until sugar has melted. Pour into 4-cup Pyrex measuring cup or any other container (the Pyrex just makes it easier to pour into the ice cream maker later). Stick in the fridge and chill thoroughly.

When you're ready to make ice cream, put the freezer bowl into the ice cream maker, pour in the cold mixture, press the button and 30 - 40 minutes later you have outstanding, fresh ice cream!

ice cream maker:  Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker

*tip: Please use vanilla beans if you can! They make such a  difference. You can buy them in any grocery store.

Tuesday
Apr292008

Asparagus Risotto

It's asparagus season and fresh asparagus is so good, I want to use it any way I can. There's a farm across the road from us and they have their fresh asparagus for sale. I had some for breakfast the other morning and wow. You forget what really fresh asparagus tastes like after so long! What a difference. If you're buying it now, here's one delicious way to use it. This risotto is a little different from a lot of vegetable risottos because instead of just adding the asparagus at the end, you puree some of it with the stock. This makes for a richer flavor. It's delicious!

Asparagus Risotto

serves 4

Ingredients:
  • 1 pound of asparagus
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 cup onion, finely chopped
  • 1 cup carnaroli or arborio rice
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 3 Tablespoons heavy cream
  • zest of 1 lemon

Instructions:

Cut the tips from the asparagus and set aside. Cut the woody ends off the asparagus so you have just the nice stems left.

In a pot of boiling water, cook the tips for about one minute and then plunge in an ice bath.

In the same pot of water, boil the stems until they are soft, about 8 minutes. Drain.

Place the stock in a saucepan and add asparagus stems. Insert an immersion blender and blend. ( If you don't have an immersion blender, you'll have to do it in a blender). Bring the stock to a low simmer and just keep warm on the stove.

Heat the olive oil in a risotto pan or any heavy saucepan. Add the onion and cook for a few minutes, but do not brown. Add the rice and cook for a minute. Add the wine.  Stir in a ladleful of the stock and stir, with a spatula. Every time the stock is absorbed, add another ladleful or two. Keep stirring so the risotto does not stick to the bottom of the pot. Keep adding stock and stirring until the risotto is cooked, about 30 minutes, to your taste.

Take off the heat and add the cream, parmesan cheese, lemon zest and asparagus tips and gently blend.

For a longer discussion about risotto, you can refer to my previous post about how to make risotto.

 

Sunday
Apr272008

Farm Eggs


Look at these beauties! Remember my post back in February complaining about having to buy grocery store eggs? Well, the new hens over at Flying Goat Farms in Mason are finally laying! I've great fresh farm eggs again. What a difference. Take a look:


Can you see how orange the farm egg is compared to the paler grocery store egg? Well, that makes a very big difference in the taste. And if you look carefully at the picture, you can even tell a difference in the egg whites. The farm egg's white is much firmer and distinctive. Michael Pollan talks about this in his book, The Omnivore's Dilemma. If you haven't read it yet, what are you waiting for? It should be required reading. If you are interested in the health differences of food like this compared with industrial food, or if you're at all interested in food and nutrition, put this book on your reading list.