Suzi’s Blog

Caramel Ice Cream from Carol Bloom

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When I was growing up, if you said “caramel” then everyone knew just what you meant. In aisle 3 or 4 of every supermarket, you found the candies and there would be that big bag of Kraft caramels, individually wrapped in the cellophane that seemed quite unwilling to yield to your fingers. Sometimes, someone would try to slip you something they called a caramel, maybe something home-made or something from Paris, but those were never caramels. It had to be Kraft.

In the past few years, we find caramel everywhere. And often combined with salt which we know is a match made by the culinary gods. Caramel is here to stay: in our stores, our restaurants, and our bookshelves.

Caramel by Carol Bloom was published three years ago and remains the superior caramel reference. This is book you want close at hand. You can read review here. Or you can ignore me — I won’t mind because this is about caramel — and get to work on this ice cream.

I’m posting this early on Sunday morning. You need to chill the ice cream mixture for several hours, so it’s time to move. Now!


Caramel Ice Cream

Yield: 1 quart

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups granulated sugar, divided
  • ¼ cup water
  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream, divided
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher or fine-grained sea salt
  • 4 large egg yolks, room temperature
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

Preparation:

Combine 1 ¼ cups sugar and the water in a 3-quart heavy-duty saucepan. Cook over high heat, without stirring until the mixture begins to boil. Brush around the inside of the pan with a damp pastry brush at the point where the sugar syrup meets the sides of the pan. Do this twice during the cooking process to prevent the sugar from crystallizing. Continue to cook the mixture, without stirring, until it turns a medium amber color, about 10 minutes

While the caramel is cooking, heat ¾ cup of the cream in a small saucepan over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Stir the hot cream into the caramel, using a long-handle heat-resistant spatula. Be careful because the mixture will bubble and foam. Turn the heat off under the pan. Stir in the salt and blend well.

Whip the egg yolks with the remaining sugar in the bowl of an electric stand mixer using the wire whip attachment, or in bowl using a hand-held mixer, until thick and pale and the mixture holds a slowly dissolving ribbon as the beater is lifted, about 5 minutes.

At the same time, heat the milk in a 3-quart heavy-duty saucepan over medium heat until hot. Gradually pour ½ cup of the hot milk into he beaten egg mixture and blend. Then pour this mixture into the saucepan of the hot milk. Place the pan over low heat and cook, stirring constantly with a heat-resistance spatula, until the mixture thickens and reaches 185 degrees F on the candy thermometer, 10-15 minutes. At this point a line drawn through the custard on the back of the spatula should leave a clearly defined path.

Strain the mixture into a large bowl, stir in the remaining cream and vanilla, then add the caramel mixture, and blend together thoroughly. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap to preen a skin from forming on top and cool to room temperature. Then chill the ice cream mixture in the refrigerator for several hours. Process the mixture in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s directions. Be sure to process the ice cream long enough so that it sets up.

To make Banana Caramel Ice Cream, stir in 1 cup ripe mashed bananas to the ice cream mixture before chilling. To make Salted Caramel Ice Cream, increase the sea salt to 1 teaspoon. And, you can always add 1 cup of toasted nuts to any of these versions.


Source: Caramel by Carol Bloom [Gibbs Smith, 2013]

 

 

 

Sautéed Spinach

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This is one of the meals Suzi is offering this season at Cooking by the Book: Pan-Crisped Chicken in Dijon Mustard Sauce with Cauliflower Gratin and Sautéed Spinach.

I’m going to post the meal in stages, beginning with the “bright” spot on the plate. The sautéed spinach is actually key to the success of this meal. You begin eating with your eyes and your nose. The plate here is brown + brown + GREEN. Intense green. Necessary green. The spinach provides a visual contrast that makes the plate richer and seemingly more abundant. And the spinach flavor, shaded with a hint of garlic, is lovely contrast to the richness of that mustard sauce and the gratin.

This dish is easily prepared, but not instantly. You are seeking to caramelize garlic and that just takes about 30 minutes in a pre-heated oven. But once the garlic is ready, you can cook in the spinach in a flash. Serve it steaming hot and enjoy that unique, if not a bit peculiar I know, flavor.


Sautéed Spinach

Yield: serves 12

Ingredients:

  • ⅓ cup olive oil
  • 1 cup garlic cloves
  • 3 pounds baby spinach
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 400 F for 20 minutes.

In a piece of aluminum foil, add the garlic and drizzle with 2 tablespoons oil. Wrap it up so the garlic is enclosed and secure and roast in the oven until the cloves are soft and caramelized, about 30 minutes.

About 5 minutes before the garlic is done cooking, heat a large skillet over high medium heat. Add the remaining oil and sautee the spinach until just wilted. Toss in the roasted garlic and season with salt and pepper taste.

 


Source: Corinne Trang for Cooking by the Book

 

Black Sesame and Lime Cake from The Cardamom Trail by Chetna Makan

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Sometimes you see a picture in a cookbook, and you know right then you have to make it. So the top picture here is from The Cardamom Trail by Chetna Makan. She started life in India but ended up a finalist on cooking shows in England. She always loved baking and she grew up with spices seemingly in every meal. Her parents had a lime bush in their garden, and she remembers waiting, perhaps impatiently, for the limes to ripen so she could make lime water.

Now, her citrus creations are a tad more complex. This cake is quite unusual. The texture is dense and the notes of sesame seeds cannot be missed. It’s a very “Asian” dessert experience. I suppose this is one time when dessert should definitely come with tea and not coffee.


Black Sesame and Lime Cake

Yield: serves 8-10

Ingredients:

For the cake:

  • 1 tablespoon black sesame seeds
  • 5 ½ ounces caster sugar
  • 5 ½ ounces unsalted butter, softened, plus extra for greasing
  • 5 ½ ounces self-rising flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3 large eggs
  • Finely grated zest of 2 oranges
  • Finely grated zest of 2 limes
  • 1 tablespoon orange juice

For the icing and decoration:

  • 3 ½ ounces icing sugar, sifted
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • Finely grated zest of 1 lime
  • Black sesame seeds for sprinkling
  • Fine strips of lime rind for sprinkling

Preparation:

Preheat the oven to 375°F.

Grease a 900g (21b) loaf tin and line it with nonstick baking paper.

In a small pan, dry-roast the sesame seeds for 2 minutes over a medium heat. Transfer to a mortar and crush them lightly with the pestle. Set aside.

Combine the remaining cake ingredients in a large mixing bowl and mix with an electric whisk for 2 minutes until the batter is light and creamy.

Add the crushed sesame seeds.

Pour the batter into the prepared tin and bake for 35-40 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Leave the cake to cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then turn out on to a wire rack and leave to cool completely.

To make the icing, mix the icing sugar with the lime juice and zest to produce a runny paste. Spoon this mixture over the cake, then sprinkle some sesame seeds and lime rind strips on top to finish. This cake will keep in an airtight container for up to 5 days.


Source: The Cardamom Trail by Chetna Makan [Mitchell Beazley, 2016]