Wednesday, August 29, 2012

In my ice cream maker......

I've got the following concoction.  But I need to preface this, with this fact: It's partly an accidental concoction, as are a lot of my culinary experiences.

1 cup shredded, totally dried out coconut
3 cups heavy cream (it is ice CREAM after all)
3/4 cup maple syrup
1 tsp bourbon vanilla
1 Tbsp. lime juice
the zest of 1 lime
toasted, dried out, coconut (which sounds redundant) will be added after it is finished in the ice cream maker.

You see, I have never in my life made anything with a fresh coconut before. I intended to make this ice cream differently than I did.  But, I sort of misread, or mis-remembered to be more accurate, the directions on preparing a fresh coconut.  So, I poked holes in the soft spots, and no milk came out.  Not sure if I even bought a good coconut.  Off to a bad start.  Then,  I wanted to crack it open, so I put it in the oven like the directions I was following told me to do, but here's where I messed up.  I was supposed to put it in the oven at 350 degrees until it cracked, and then after I got the meat out and pureed it, dry it out in the oven at 150 degrees for like 12 hours.  BUT, since my brain is very literally mush most days, I remembered this backwards, and so I baked the coconut for 12 hours at 180 because my oven doesn't go down to 150, and it never cracked.  Then I read the directions again and realized my mistake.  So I cooked it at 350 for another hour or so and it still didn't crack.  SO I just took my mallet out to the back yard and put that stubborn coconut on my concrete table and started beating the ever living daylights out of it until it cracked open.  I found a nicely dried out interior of my coconut.  It was at this point, extremely difficult to peel away the shell, but I was pretty determined to have this ice cream.  So after I did that I put it in my food processor and made coconut that is about the consistency of bread crumbs.  It's totally dry.  So, I put a cup of this in my ice cream, and I'm at this moment toasting the rest of the coconut crumbs to mix in approximately 15 minutes.  I'm shaking the pan a bit every few minutes so that they are evenly toasted and not burned to a crisp.  I still have enough cream left to try it the way I originally intended later this week, once we eat this, and I buy another coconut.  

In the meantime, I thought I'd tell you about this wonderful peach salad I discovered last night.  It was absolutely wonderful, and I might have to fix it weekly until peach season is over.  It was in Thomas Keller's Ad Hoc cookbook that I mentioned before, and if you want the actual recipe I'll send it to you. But it had arugula, endive, toasted almonds, peaches, and this great peach vinaigrette dressing.  The dressing was made with white wine vinegar, olive oil, shallots, salt, pepper, and a peach puree.  The peach puree is the part I am most excited about - it's pretty much just peaches, cinnamon, nutmeg, and sugar.  Since I refuse to cook with white sugar, I used the rapadura.  You cook this for a while until it reaches the setting point, which I don't have any idea if mine ever did, because believe it or not, I don't have a candy thermometer.  Why I don't just buy one I haven't figured out yet.  So I just pretty much guess, and sometimes we're good and sometimes we're not.  But it worked out last night, and I had tons of left over.  You're wondering why this was exciting.  Well I mixed it into our plain yogurt this morning, and EVERYONE ate it.  My kids have been on a yogurt strike since I started making it at home, and I refuse to sweeten it with white sugar, so we've been at sort of a standoff.  Peach puree may have just saved the day here.

7 minutes left on my ice cream......

Friday, August 24, 2012

My top 3 cookbooks (that I own)

So, after being chastised twice in the same day by two different people for still having cinnamon rolls on the blog, I am updating this, but it will be brief.  Maybe.  I get a little talky sometimes.  Anyway, I thought I would make a couple of cookbook recommendations because these are such good and useful cookbooks in my house.

I have 3 favorites that are practical.  Well 2 of them are really practical and the other one is mostly practical.

1) The 150 best slow cooker recipes   I haven't cooked everything in this, but I'm just gonna tell you that everything I have cooked is wonderful.  And I have cooked a lot out of it.  If you like to use your crock pot, get this cookbook.

2) Williams -Sonoma Comfort Food  It's Williams-Sonoma, so it should be pretty self-explanatory, but as was true of the previous cookbook, everything I have made out of this cookbook is awesome.  I particularly love the corn fritters dipped in maple syrup, and the short ribs and polenta, and the shrimp scampi, and the carne asada, and the coconut cake, and the kids loved the sloppy joes and the spagetti  and meatballs.  I mean, you sort of can't go wrong.  I'm probably forgetting some of the other wonderful things that I love to make, frequently out of this.  BTW Laura, the corn fritters are the other thing I fry a lot besides okra in the tallow.  And by a lot I mean like once a month, maybe.  But that's a lot for me.

3)  Ad Hoc At Home  This one is Thomas Keller.  We've already established that I sort of idol worship him just a little bit, and this one isn't always particularly practical.  But it's always delicious.  Always.  And while we're talking about it, there was this GREAT article about the Pioneer Woman vs. Thomas Keller and this lady made the exact same meal out of both cookbooks.  You should read it. I can't summarize it and do it justice.

So there you have it.  My "go-to's."  Which probably shouldn't have an apostrophe, but I'm a little bit of a perfectionist at times and the spell checker didn't like it without the apostrophe.

We are in the midst of homeschooling and traveling, and birthdays, and all kinds of exciting things.  So this blog has sort of fallen to the bottom of the list of things for me to do.  However, I love having people over, and I love cooking, and I know lots of people who also love to do this, but I know lots of people who are afraid to do it.  So, if I can remember, I'm going to try to put down my recipes of stuff that I make when we have lots of people over.  Because I like to do make-ahead set your oven timer or crock pot type dishes, because they're easy.  But I also like making great food as often as possible, and so this can sometimes be a challenge.  I'm also going to try and make up a top-secret ice cream recipe for our ice cream cook-off in a couple of weeks.  I've been dreaming about this ice cream for like 2 days now and I can hardly stand waiting to make it.  So stay-tuned.