Monday, March 30, 2009

Weekend Update and Ice Cream

This Sunday Chris returned from the Photoshop World conference in Boston. He brought back some amazing photos and lots of new tricks for photographing food! I am super excited to learn all there is about the photography in order to better share my food with all of you. As the old saying goes you eat with your eyes first! Plus with Chris back at home I have someone to taste all of my creations and get some real feedback. That being said he was very happy to be home. We were sitting over dinner last night (Jamaican Jerk Chicken with, refried black beans and sautéed kale, more on this later) and he was lamenting the state of food and eating out in general. Now to give you a little background Chris did not grow up in a culinary household or a particularly health conscious kitchen. Think baloney, cheese, and ketchup sandwiches. When we started dating Chris was looking to get into better shape and lower his cholesterol (his family has a genetic disposition to be on the high side) through diet and lifestyle.

I can be a challenging person to date. I come from a very unusual background with very divergent experiences than most Americans. This can make me seem a little crazy at times and it is only compounded by my aversion to what is becoming the average American lifestyle. Then you put me in a kitchen and well healthy, strange, beautiful things happen. Chris is an amazing sport and though he tries everything I make I know there are times he misses Oreos and Kraft Macaroni and Cheese. He will often say what I make is different or outside the box, and that it may take some getting used too. That being said since we started dating he has totally transformed his diet and lifestyle. He is much more active and he is eating 100% better than before. He has also recently noticed his pallet has really changed. Soggy, overcooked veggies drowning in butter or sauce are no longer acceptable. He appreciates the time and importance of being connected with your food, where it comes from, how it is sourced, how it is prepared and honoring the quality of the raw ingredients. He is a new foodie and doesn’t even know it.

This weekend I busted out my new toy, an ice cream machine. I made two very different batches of frozen goodness this weekend. One was inspired yet again by 101 cookbooks author Heidi and the other came straight out of the booklet from my little ice cream machine. Both turned out amazing but as I said very different.

The first batch was a health conscious frozen yogurt recipe.
Cinnamon Maple Flax Frozen Yogurt
3 c. Vanilla yogurt * I used low fat organic
¼ c. Pure maple syrup or to taste * I like B grade
¼ c. Flax seeds
2 tbl Cinnamon
1 tbl Pure vanilla extract (optional)

Use well chilled yogurt, drain off any excess liquid (you could strain through cheesecloth in the refrigerator for a few hours if you wanted a thicker texture) then combine all ingredients in a bowl stir well and follow the instructions for your ice-cream machine.

I just dump mine in for 30 min and then at the end I had a very light tangy golden frozen yogurt with flax seed specs. Chris and I love it with fresh sliced strawberries.

Makes about 1.2 liters
The big thing with this recipe is to taste it (no raw eggs so go ahead and taste it till you're happy) and adjust the sweetness/cinnamon to your ideal. I really liked the tang of the yogurt so I only used a little bit of maple syrup. I like the little flecks of the Flax in this and you could also add some chopped nuts (walnuts or almonds would be especially good) or a little almond extract instead of the vanilla.

The second batch was a more traditional chocolate ice cream recipe.
Almond Rocky Road Ice Cream
2 c. heavy cream
1 c. Almond Milk *I used low fat vanilla
10 oz Dark chocolate finely chopped
¾ c. fine sugar or agave syrup
½ c. mini marshmallows
½ c. chopped nuts *I used toasted almonds
2 tbl fine coca powder
1 tbl vanilla extract (1 vanilla bean if available)

1. If using raw nuts toast over medium heat in a heavy bottomed pan until fragrant, let cool and coarsely chop.
2. Bring almond milk to a bubble just around the edges and split vanilla pod and scrape in seeds, you can also simmer the pod in the milk for a few min just remove before combining with the chocolate.
3. Melt the chopped dark chocolate and sugar together in a double boiler (or bowl set over boiling water the bowl should not touch the water, stirring occasionally until the chocolate is thick and smooth.
4. Remove milk from heat and stir in coca powder, whisk to combine be sure there are no chocolate lumps. Mix together chocolate milk and melted chocolate. Refrigerate until completely cooled.
5. Wisk together cold cream and well chilled chocolate mixture. Follow directions for your ice cream machine.
6. You can add the chopped nuts and marshmallows in the last few min, of freezing in the ice cream machine or mix them in by hand before you put it in the freezer.

Makes 1.5 liters
This turned out creamy without being over the top. It is also fairly simple since we omit eggs and making a custard which can sometimes be tricky. Again you can taste test this before it goes in the machine at any point and fine tune it to your own ideal. I like my Rocky Road on the dark side, the more cocoa the better!
The marshmallows do freeze so they area little chewy, I liked it just fine but if you wanted you could use a little marshmallow crème instead for a softer ribbon effect. Chocolate covered nuts instead of toasted ones could save you a little time and add more chocolate, never a bad idea. You could also substitute whole milk for the almond milk.