Homemade Ice Cream Dreams

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I’m not sure I’ve ever receive a more positive reaction to something I made than I did this week when I broke out the old Cuisinart ice cream maker and whipped up a quart of fresh cherry and dark-chocolate chunk ice cream, pressed it between good, soft, store-bought chocolate cookies, and passed the resulting sandwiches around to a group of grownups. Not to be dramatic about it, but I watched as expressions of sheer delight replaced any signs of weekday stress.

I used my regular no-cook vanilla ice cream recipe as a base here—who wants to stand over the stove making custard, or wait for it to cool? I just want to whisk together some cream, milk, sugar, and good vanilla, let it whirl, then add whatever flavor combinations I can dream up (fruit, chocolate, nuts, liqueur…) in the last few minutes. For optimal results, it’s good to let the ice cream harden up in the freezer before scooping it onto the cookies, but there’s nothing particularly wrong with a drippy homemade ice cream sandwich either, so if time is at a premium, don’t stress one bit.

I used Dancing Deer Baking Co. cookies that I bought at Whole Foods, but any good, relatively soft medium-to-large chocolate cookie will do.

Gingered Cherry & Dark Chocolate Chunk Ice Cream

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If you’re serving grownups, consider soaking the cherries briefly in ginger liqueur before adding them to the cream mixture. If you want the ginger flavor without the alcohol, mince one or two pieces of candied ginger and throw them in when you add the cherries and chocolate. I chopped up a bar of Green & Black’s organic dark chocolate for this recipe, but you can substitute your favorite chocolate chips if you like. And I used 2-percent milk here, but anything works.

  • 1 ½ cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup milk
  • ½ cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar (or to taste)
  • 2 tablespoons real vanilla extract
  •  1 tablespoon Domaine de Canton ginger liqueur or 1-2 pieces of minced candied ginger (optional)
  • 1 cup fresh cherries, pitted and halved or quartered
  • ½ cup dark chocolate chips or chopped dark chocolate 
  1. In a medium bowl, whisk the cream, milk sugar, and vanilla. Add mixture to your ice cream maker and process according to the machine’s instructions.
  2. Meanwhile, toss cherries with ginger liqueur, if using, and set aside. (If substituting candied ginger, toss with cherries.) When ice cream is close to desired consistency (about five minutes before it’s finished), add fruit and chocolate. When ice cream is ready, transfer to a storage/serving container with a lid. Chill in the freezer if desired, or serve immediately, either on its own or between two cookies.

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Banana Chocolate Almond Ice Cream

For this recipe I chopped up a really good bar of Green & Black’s organic dark chocolate with almonds, but sometimes I use a combination of chocolate chips and peanut butter chips instead.

  • 1 ½ cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup milk
  • ½ cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar (or to taste)
  • 2 tablespoons real vanilla extract
  • 2 ripe bananas, chopped
  • ½ cup chopped dark chocolate with almonds or dark chocolate chips

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk the cream, milk sugar, and vanilla. Add mixture to your ice cream maker and process according to the machine’s instructions.
  2. When ice cream is close to desired consistency (about five minutes before it’s finished), add fruit and chocolate. When ice cream is ready, transfer to a storage/serving container with a lid. Chill in the freezer if desired, or serve immediately, either on its own or between two cookies.
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Samoriglio, Just for the Halibut

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I remember the first time I had Marcella Hazan’s swordfish with samoriglio sauce, one of the greatest (and easiest) of the incomparable recipes in Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking, which is probably the cookbook I’ve used most in my life.

It was at my mother’s apartment on East 71st Street, and Mark and my sister and Rob were there too, and none of us had kids of our own yet, and we didn’t know about mercury in fish yet, and my mom served the swordfish over Julia Child’s soubise, which is rice cooked in lovely sautéed onion. While she broiled the swordfish and finished the rice, she had me whisk the sauce ingredients together—olive oil, dried oregano, lemon juice, salt and pepper. When the fish was done, we poked it with a fork to make little holes for the samoriglio to sink into, then poured the no-cook sauce over it, and that was that. The dish was sublimely delicious and supremely easy, and it made such a big impression on me that I immediately adopted it into my own regular recipe rotation.

When my then editorial assistant Dana Natkevecius asked me what she should make for her then new boyfriend Will Rousmaniere, I gave her the recipe. And that, apparently, is how she became Dana Rousmaniere. (I suppose I could be giving slightly too much credit to the powerful hook ‘em fish, though I think Dana might actually back me up here…)

Over the years, I’ve made adjustments. I pretty much gave up swordfish and started using halibut or sea bass or any other fresh, white-fleshed,  lower-mercury fish. And I started tossing halved green olives and capers into the sauce. When fresh oregano is available, I use that instead of the dried. I long ago stopped measuring my quantities, and have found that it’s impossible to go wrong.

When our friends Rob and Lisa came to stay last week, I picked up a fat, glistening slab of halibut fillet (about 7 ounces per person), which Mark grilled, skin-side down (brushed with olive oil and sprinkled with salt and pepper), while I whisked up the samoriglio: To about a quarter cup of peppery extra-virgin olive oil I added the juice of one lemon and the segments of another, a big handful of chopped French green olives and a small one of chopped oregano, salt and pepper. I pulled the capers out of the fridge but forgot to put them into the sauce. When the fish came off the grill, I poured the lovely cool samoriglio all over it, and we devoured it with a corn and tomato salad and a tossed green salad, with lots and lots of cold rosé.

That’s what I call stress-free summer cooking for company.

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First Corn Salad of the Season

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This salad makes me want summer to last forever. 

For four people, steam/boil four ears of corn and sheer it off the cobs; add about half a pint of sweet cherry tomatoes, halved; some shredded basil; and chives, scallions or a little red onion if you like. Douse it with a glut of good olive oil or walnut oil, and a touch of wine vinegar (or even rice vinegar), along with a sprinkling of salt and a few grindings of black pepper.

Eat it as a side dish or use it as a bed for seared scallops, grilled fish, or chops from a roasted rack of lamb, as I did here:

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Not to be redundant, but…

Not to be redundant, but…

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Just in time for Independence Day and in honor of my Yankee Doodle Boy, who turns 17 tomorrow, the answer to the question of what to have for breakfast, and also dessert: berries over yogurt in the morning and under freshly whipped cream at night. That’s some delicious red, white, and blue.

Just in time for Independence Day and in honor of my Yankee Doodle Boy, who turns 17 tomorrow, the answer to the question of what to have for breakfast, and also dessert: berries over yogurt in the morning and under freshly whipped cream at night. That’s some delicious red, white, and blue.

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The Daily Dish: Salmon on Asparagus Purée

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I’m boring when it comes to salmon, because when I buy it I get the good stuff—wild Alaskan—which is so vibrant and flavorful on its own that I don’t want or need to do much more than sprinkle it with salt and pepper, brush it with olive oil, and roast it in a hot (425-degree) oven until it’s barely cooked through. (I like my salmon more well done than many people, it seems. Restaurants are always offering it medium-rare.) For a thick fillet, roast 8-12 minutes, depending on your preference. For me, 11 tends to be the sweet spot.

I’ve been buying asparagus practically in bulk, since the season’s so short and it’s one of my favorite things, but I guess I couldn’t quite keep up with it and ended up discovering two bunches in the fridge. One  was past its prime in that the tips were a little slimy, but the other one was mostly fine.

Rather than steam or roast it, which is what we’ve been OD’ing on lately, I decided to purée it—but not too smooth. First I cut off the tips, throwing the slimy ones away and setting the good ones aside. Then I simmered the stems (tough parts removed) two minutes beyond where I usually cook them, or about 6 minutes. (These were relatively thin asparagus—adapt accordingly.) I wanted them tender but still bright green.

I removed them from the pot with a slotted spoon and put them in cold water for a minute to stop the cooking and keep them bright, then right into the food processor with a dollop of crème fraîche, salt, pepper, a squeeze of lemon juice, and some freshly grated nutmeg. Meanwhile, I threw the good asparagus tips into the pot and cooked them for two minutes.

To serve the dish, I divided the purée onto the plates, scattered it with the asparagus tips, topped the purée with the salmon fillets and voilà—a seasonal, healthy, and beautiful meal in under 20 minutes.   

 

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The kids departed for their summer adventures today, and now it’s time for ours. This is a pretty good way to start: heaven on the terrace at Nougatine in NYC.

The kids departed for their summer adventures today, and now it’s time for ours. This is a pretty good way to start: heaven on the terrace at Nougatine in NYC.

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I made these pancakes for Mark on Father’s Day. They’re insanely delicious and even healthy (hold the bacon!). The recipe (and a little story that explains why I named them “Gratitude Pancakes”) is here.

I made these pancakes for Mark on Father’s Day. They’re insanely delicious and even healthy (hold the bacon!). The recipe (and a little story that explains why I named them “Gratitude Pancakes”) is here.

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The Daily Dish: Second-Day Lamb

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In winter I roast leg of lamb on the bone, smeared with a mixture—almost a paste—of finely chopped garlic and rosemary, salt, pepper, and olive oil. I love the way the foresty smells fill the house, and how the long lit oven keeps the kitchen warm.

In summer, though, I prefer a butterflied leg—deboned and flat; not rolled and tied—which cooks quickly either in a hot oven or on the grill.

A butterflied leg of lamb is a topographical wonder—uneven in thickness, which suits me fine. Most of the meat will remain medium rare, while some will turn out well done. There’s a clear advantage to this in that I’ve had friends beg me to keep it rare, while others cringed at almost any pink at all.

The next day, lamb is lovely cold. For years we roasted it on New Year’s Eve, then indulged in thick sandwiches slathered with a sauce of horseradish, Dijon, and whipped cream or crème fraîche for New Year’s Day lunch. These days, I prefer my leftover lamb over salad, often with a Middle Eastern bent. The one pictured here is a mixture of greens, cucumber, tomatoes, calamata olives, torn mint leaves, and crumbled feta tossed with lemon and olive oil. I made a similar meal last spring, actually carving the lamb hot from the oven right over a cool, crunchy salad. It was wondrous. (The recipe is here.) So I guess this doesn’t have to be a second-day dish after all… Do as you will. Maybe do it this weekend.

 

 

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