Monday, June 15, 2009

Nutella-banana ice cream

This past Sunday there was a whole lot of crazy kitchen activity around here, culminating in the absolutely sinful homemade ice cream combination of nutella and banana. The velvety vanilla-cream base is very easy to make and lends itself to all kinds of creative possibilites. I see production of a zabaglione ice cream on the horizon...or a strawberries and cream, then maybe a lemon-blueberry...infinite variety to lazy summertime Sundays.

I had 3 frozen bananas in my freezer ready to go--they had been getting too ripe so I just peeled them and wrapped them in plastic until I had an opportunity to use them up. You could use fresh ones instead if you don't have any already frozen. These got sliced up into chips and set back in the freezer to wait their turn to be added into the ice cream.Whisk together 1 cup whole milk with 1/2 heaping cup sugar.After the sugar dissolves (about 1-2 minutes), stir in 2 cups heavy cream......and 1 teaspoon vanilla.At this point, this is your basic vanilla ice-cream base, suitable for many different add-ins. Pour this mixture into your ice cream maker and follow the manufacturer's directions. Mine is this little R2D2 Cuisinart, it takes about 25 minutes of mixing time.Added in the Nutella--about half of this container. Then after about 10 minutes of mix time, the frozen banana slices got added in as well.After the mixing time was through, it needs to get quickly packed into a container and returned to the freezer for at least 1 hour. It is tasty right away but the texture is very soft-serve--if you want it to be more like ice cream, you'll need to let it freeze up some.It was just a really great combination: tiny bites of banana and frozen chunks of Nutella in a light chocolatey-hazelnut base.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Grilled new potatoes

I got these fantastic little potatoes from the Morningside farmers market. I love the mixed bag of tiny new potatoes--purple potatoes, golden yellow ones...just all different colors and textures. I decided to make these adorable little guys on the grill alongside a new york strip steak and it was a really really good idea. I had just about 1 pound of these teeny potatoes: first pricked each one all over with a fork, then rolled them around in 2 tablespoons olive oil, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes and at least 1 tablespoon of chopped fresh rosemary.I slapped them on the cooler end of a hot grill, being careful not to lose any of the especially small ones between the grates. I guess you could thread them on a skewer if you steamed them a bit first, but I just threw them on there as they were.They got their head start and eventually were joined by the steak, which I placed on the hotter side of the grill.I do recommend getting a taller grill if possible. Otherwise you might attract some unwanted dog attention.Turn the potatoes over a few times to get them nicely browned on all sides. If some are bigger than others, you may need to cut them down to the same size so they all cook at the same rate. Pull them off when they are cooked through and soft with a nicely crisped exterior; the timing here is quite variable depending on size of potatoes and your grill heat, but it should probably take somewhere between 30-45 minutes. Taste them as you go to see if they are done to your liking. Then roll them back in the same pan of olive oil-rosemary mixture so they get another coating of delicious flavor.This and a steak...they belong together.

Rooster chicken

I thought it would be interesting to show a work in progress for once, instead of a recipe that I feel totally confident in. A couple weeks ago I read a good article in the New York Times about Sriracha sauce and decided I wanted to try making a glaze for chicken. This will work really well on grilled chicken--the version I tried out here was roasted in the oven and basted with the sauce. It was tasty but I think glazing grilled chicken pieces (or better yet, a whole chicken on the grill) with this sauce would be even better. I whisked together Sriracha sauce with brown sugar, soy sauce, a little minced ginger and garlic.Brushed this over my chicken as it roasted in the oven...After it was fully roasted (thigh temperature at 170 degrees, which takes about 1 hour or so for a small bird in a 400 degree oven), I added one more coat of sauce then squeezed lime juice over everything as I sliced it.It makes a delicious, tangy, spicy bird done this way, but I plan to refine this further for the grill.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Octopus salad

My mother, who loves me very much, came to visit me recently. She cleaned my house, walked my dogs and we cooked. One night she made an excellent white bean-chicory stew and I decided to try to make an octopus salad based on what I had learned on my flight down to Puerto Rico last month. My seatmate described a simple salad with spicy tinned octopus (and some other sea creatures, possibly squid?) tossed together with avocado and other veggies. I decided to make mine with diced sweet onion on top of arugula, dressed simply in lemon juice and olive oil. On one of our wanderings through Rincon, I picked up a couple of these tins of octopus. Happily, they were not confiscated by the USDA on my return flight because these are great for delicious, no-heat summertime cooking. They probably sell the tinned octopus here in the states too, I just like bringing food back with me from trips as a sort of evanescent souvenir. One tin of octopus plus one avocado was the right amount as a first-course salad for two people. Cut up one avocado, slice into chunks and dress lightly with lime juice to prevent browning while you get the rest of the salad ready.Toss the octopus gently together in a bowl with your avocado and about 1/4 cup diced onion. I have tons of Vidalias right now due to living in Georgia so I used those. Something with more bite might be nice though. Or green onion...anyway. I added a little bit more lime juice, salt, pepper, a teeny pinch red pepper flakes as I combined them.Then I tossed some arugula with a drizzle of olive oil and lemon juice, then rested the octopus mixture on top. Perfect for an early summer dinner out on the porch.