From your advanced calculus course, you may remember the definition of a fixed point for a mathematical function f:
An attractive fixed point of a function f is a fixed point x0 of f such that for any value of x in the domain that is close enough to x0, the iterated function sequence x, f(x), f(f(x)), f(f(f((x))), …converges to x0.
No, Suzen is going to see this and freak. “What do you think …”
Here’s what I’m trying to say. Suppose you try something over and over again and you keep getting the same answer most of the time and then, eventually, the same answer every time. That same answer is the “fixed point.”
When Suzen prepares her seasonal menus for Cooking by the Book twice a year, she assembles many options for first courses, main dishes and sides, and dessert. Every client has potentially 1000 different meals they can select from the menu, yet Suzen finds that clients “zone in” on just a few combinations. And sometimes, for say dessert, everyone wants the same thing.
This spring and summer dessert at Cooking by the Book has been a Killer Brownie with Coffee Nutella Ice Cream. It’s been a fixed point. Just one of these two would be a grand finale. Taken together, this is a double dose of chocolate that will keep you up all night.
This pairing happens to be so richly delicious that you don’t want to be asleep anyway. In the end, it all works out. You can be awake to enjoy hour after hour of after taste. And, Suzen gives you the recipe so you can repeat the whole experience over and over again. Think of all you can accomplish in life if you are not distracted by having to sleep? You could even learn calculus.
This ice cream is non-Philadelphia, meaning it is made with lots of egg yolks plus cream and milk. It’s devilishly rich with an incredible texture, dense yet soft. From the first spoonful, you’ll understand why everyone has enjoyed this dessert. But, you ask, Suzen’s clients selected this dessert off the menu before they tasted it, so how did they know it would be so good?
That’s why it’s called a fixed point. I can suggest some really calculus books if you want.
The proportions of ingredients here can be described in one word: perfect. The first time out, do just follow the recipe. If you want to play with the Nutella or number of egg yolks or the amount of nuts, wait. Make the original so you have the experience of an exceptional recipe. For the record, the first batch of handmade Nutella was crafted by an Italian baker in 1946. 300 kilos of the stuff. It took 18 years, but in 1964 commercial production began and has never decreased. You may want to make a note in Outlook: February 5 is World Nutella Day.
Killer Brownie recipe is tomorrow.
Coffee Nutella Ice Cream
Yield: 16 servings
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 1 ½ cups whole milk
- 1 tablespoon espresso powder
- ½ tsp sea salt
- 5 large egg yolks
- ¾ cups granulated sugar
- 1 ⅓ cup Nutella or other hazelnut-chocolate spread
- 1 cup roasted hazelnuts, chopped
In a sauce pot set, bring the cream, milk, espresso and salt to a simmer.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the sugar with the egg yolks. Slowly pour one-third of the warm mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly, to temper the eggs. Once eggs are tempered pour them back into the pot with the remaining milk cream mixture.
Return the sauce pot to the stove top over low heat. Stir the mixture constantly until it is thickened and coats the back of the spoon, 10 minutes. Remove the custard from the heat and strain it through a fine-mesh strainer into a bowl. Then add Nutella to the mixture. Set the bowl over an ice bath and stir until cool, 15 to 30 minutes.
When completely cold, transfer the custard to the ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer's specifications. Add hazelnuts as ice creams reaches soft serve stage.
Source: Marc Forgione
Photo Information Canon T2i, EFS 60 mm Macro Lens, F/4.5 for 1/60th second at ISO‑3200
No, that’s not my usual high definition picture. I don’t happen to have a bottle of Kraft dressing around, actually. Suzen and I live on a make-from-scratch basis. So, the next time we want Thousand Island Dressing, we’ll use the recipe below from Virgil’s Barbecue in Time Square. The Virgil’s team scoured the South for the best recipes in barbecue, sides and condiments.
Funny, I always imagined Thousand Island Dressing being born, not in the South, but somewhere in Polynesia, the ingredients and the techniques ancient and exotic. Like many of you, I grew up with Thousand Island as a staple: on salads, on sandwiches. My goodness, left over roast beef on French bread with Thousand Island? [Or Russian? More on that to come.]
Actually, Thousand Island is not from the South or Polynesia. It’s from the 1000 Island district of the St. Lawrence River between the United States and Canada. Invented by local housewife, it drew attention and publicity in the early 1900’s. It has a base of mayonnaise spiked with chili sauce. As you can see from the recipe, there’s a herd of ingredients that you would not necessarily expect to be pooled together: celery, pimento-stuffed green olives, pickle relish, a hardboiled egg. Just stuff from a farmhouse pantry. Yet when combined, they yield something we can all recognize. The dressing is wonderfully generous in flavor. Just a sniff and you salivate.
It’s true, that some of us confuse Thousand Island with Russian Dressing. Russian Dressing, of course, was created by a chef to the tsars who spent a decade mastering the nuances to …
No, that’s not true. Russian Dressing was invented in Nashua, New Hampshire by James Colburn in the early 1900’s. He’d probably had Thousand Island with its base of mayo and chili sauce. What did Colburn do? He mixed mayo and ketchup. He kept the pimentos and added horseradish.
Important parts of our culinary heritage are thanks to people who just loved to tinker. So, if you are feeling inventive, grab a jar of mayo and then see what is red-colored and on your shelves. I would suggest that you keep the pimento.
Virgil’s Thousand Island Dressing
Yield: 2+ cups
- 1 2/3 cups mayonnaise
- 1/4 cup chopped celery
- 3 tablespoons chili sauce
- 1 tablespoon chopped pimento-stuffed green olives
- 1 tablespoon chopped bread and butter pickles
- 1 teaspoon sweet pickle relish
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh parsley
- 1 hard-boiled egg, chopped
- Pinch of kosher salt
- Pinch of cracked black pepper
Combine all the ingredients in a large mixing bowl and mix until completely incorporated. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour prior to serving.
Sources: Virgil’s Road Trip Barbecue Cookbook by Neal Corman with information from Wikipedia