Saturday, June 23, 2012

Jeni's Roasted Strawberry Buttermilk Ice Cream

Though I may have brought home quite a haul of sour cherries from this month's berry picking expedition to Hollin Farm, the original purpose of the trip was a hunt for strawberries. A true harbinger of the arrival of summer, I couldn't wait to get my hands on some fresh, ripe berries for the plethora of strawberry recipes I'd been collecting.  Along with jams, galettes, compotes and breads, I knew for sure that Jeni's Roasted Strawberry Buttermilk Ice Cream had to be one of the first destinations for these babies.

If you remember, finally making ice cream has been one of my 2012 Baking Resolutions--after my ice cream maker had been languishing in the cabinet for two long years, I finally took the plunge inspired by the dozens of amazing flavors in the new Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams cookbook. By now you may have seen Jeni's featured on any number of morning and talk shows, not to mention places like Saveur and Dean&Delucca but growing up with it in Columbus, OH I had always taken it for granted. Now that I live in DC, the ability to whip up confections like Toasted Rice Ice Cream with a Whiff of Coconut and Black Tea at home whenever I want is just too tempting.

Despite a couple of missteps, I think my first ice cream attempt came out amazingly well! Rookie mistake #1 was not watching the custard base while it was cooking, letting the milk boil over and create a skin on the bottom of the pan. Rookie mistake #2 was not straining the mixture to remove the skin and assuming that it would get smoothed out during the mixing process. Wrong. So, let this be a warning to you, ye young ice cream maker.

If, like me, you also have an ice cream maker languishing in your cabinets and are thinking about liberating it this summer, I might also refer you to rookie mistake #3--not reading the manufacturer's instructions. Depending on the type of machine you have, it may require you to first freeze the mixing bowl for 16-24 hours in advance or, oh, I don't know, ADD 3 CUPS OF ROCK SALT AND 8 POUNDS OF ICE around the mixing bowl. So, yeah, there's that.

Roasted Strawberries!

All in all the ice cream making was ridiculously easy and now I just have the difficult decision of choosing what recipe to try out next!

Jeni's Roasted Strawberry Buttermilk Ice Cream
1 pint strawberries, hulled and sliced 1/2-inch thick
1/3 cup sugar
3 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 cups whole milk
2 tbsp cornstarch
2 oz (4 tbsp) cream cheese, softened
1/8 tsp fine sea salt
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
2/3 cup sugar
2 tbsp light corn syrup
1/4 cup buttermilk

1. To roast the strawberries, preheat the oven to 375F. Mix the strawberries with the sugar and place in an 8-inch square glass or ceramic baking dish, stirring to combine. Roast for 8 minutes, just until soft. Allow to cool slightly.

2. In a food processor or a blender, puree the strawberries with the lemon juice. Measure 1/2 cup of the pureed mixture and refrigerate the rest for another use (I threw it in a smoothie).

3. To make the ice cream base, mix 2 tbsp of the milk with the cornstarch in a small bowl, mixing to make a smooth slurry. In a separate large bowl, whisk together the cream cheese and salt. Set aside.

4. Fill a large bowl with ice and water and set aside.

5. In a 4-quart saucepan, combine the remaining milk, the cream, sugar, and corn syrup, heating to a rolling boil over medium-high heat. Boil for 4 minutes. Remove from heat and gradually whisk in the cornstarch slurry. Return the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring with a heatproof spatula, cooking until slightly thickened (about 1 minute). Remove from heat.

6. Gradually whisk the hot milk mixture into the cream cheese, whisking until smooth. Stir in the 1/2 cup strawberry puree and buttermilk, mixing well. Pour the mixture into a gallon Ziploc freezer bag and submerge the sealed bag into the ice water. Allow to stand for about 30 minutes, until chilled.

7. Churn ice cream according to ice cream maker instructions. Pack the ice cream into an airtight storage container and freeze until firm, at least 4 hours.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Sour Cherry Almond Pie

If you've never experienced the joy of sour cherry season, you're not alone. Available for few brief blink-and-you'll-miss-them weeks at the beginning of June, sour cherries (also called pie cherries, or tart cherries) are the lesser-known cousins of the sweet cherries we all know and love from the late summer. Prepping for a four month stint overseas last June, I managed to miss the entire sour cherry season and vowed to make up for it this year.

While you may find sour cherries available at your local farmer's market this time of year, I was lucky enough to get some hands-on picking experience at Hollin Farm in nearby Delaplane, VA. A beautiful plot of rolling hills just 1 hours from DC, Hollin Farm had strawberries, cherries and a few early raspberries on offer as well as a few early summer veggies for picking. It's also conveniently adjacent to several local wineries if you feel the need to stop off for a quick tasting on the way home, like we did. :)

While I debated for awhile what to do with the quarts of strawberries I'd picked, I knew immediately that these cherries were meant for a pie. I also figured it was about time to try my hand at making a crust from scratch again. I usually go with store-bought crusts, since mine never seem to measure up in taste or texture despite all of the hard work and heartache.  This time I decided to try a recipe from one of my new favorite cookbooks, Alana Chermila's The Homemade Pantry.

My first lattice top pie!

Folks, we may have a winner :)  Flaky but not too flaky and neutral enough in flavor not to overwhelm the pie, I was a big fan of this crust.  I would only note however, this recipe calls for vinegar as the only liquid, but there was no way this crust was ever coming together without a little cold water. I'm not sure exactly how much I added but it was at least 5 tablespoons, so you'll have to experiment.

I have to say I absolutely loved this pie and already can't wait for next year's sour cherry season!

Basic Pie Crust
     from The Homemade Pantry
1 cup (2 sticks) cold, unsalted butter
2 1/4 cups (12.5 ounces) all-purpose flour
1/3 cup water

2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt

1. Cut the butter into half-inch squares and combine with the flour in the bowl of a stand mixer. Using your hands, toss the mixture to coat the butter in the flour. Put the bowl in the freezer. In a measuring cup, combine one-third cup water, the vinegar, and salt. Stir until the salt dissolved and put the measuring cup in the freezer. Freeze both mixtures for 10 minutes.

2. Take the mixing bowl out of the freezer and blend the mixture on low speed with the paddle attachment until it starts to become the texture of crumbly meal. take the measuring cup out of the freezer and, with the mixer still running on low speed, slowly pour the wet mixture into the bowl. The dough will be crumbly at first, then after 10 or 20 seconds, it will come together in a ball. Stop the mixer

3. Turn the dough out onto the counter and press it together into a large disc. Cut the dough into two equal parts, wrap each piece in waxed paper, and press each into a disc. refrigerate for at least two hours, and up to three days.

4. Grease a 9-inch pie dish with butter and lightly dust with flour. Take the dough out of the refrigerator 15 minutes before you are ready to roll it out. Unwrap the dough and place one of the discs on a lightly floured counter. Starting from the center, roll the dough into a circle about 12-14 inches in diameter and 1/4" thick.

5. Fold the crust in half then fold that semicircle in half again so that you have a quarter of a circle. Line up the corner of the quarter with the center of your pie dish and unfold the quarter into a semicircle, then into a full circle.

6. Fill the crust with your pie filling. Repeat the rolling process with the second disc of dough, and either lay it on top of the filling, or cut in strips to form a lattice. Brush top crust with 1 Tablespoon milk and dust with remaining 1 Tablespoon sugar. Use your fingers to crimp the edge of the dough along the circumference of the pie dish.

Sour Cherry Pie

     adapted from Epicurious
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
3 tablespoons quick-cook tapioca (can substitute cornstarch)
1/4 teaspoon salt
5 cups whole pitted sour cherries (about 2 pounds whole unpitted cherries)
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/4 cup sliced almonds (optional)
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 tablespoon (about) milk

1. Position rack in lower third of oven and preheat to 425°F. Whisk 1 cup sugar, cinnamon, tapioca (or cornstarch, if using), almonds (if using), and salt in medium bowl to blend. Stir in cherries, lemon juice, vanilla and almond extracts; set aside.

2. Transfer filling to dough-lined dish, mounding slightly in center. Dot with butter. Top pie with remaining crust or lattice strips as directed below. 

3. Place pie on rimmed baking sheet and bake 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 375°F. Bake pie until filling is bubbling and crust is golden brown, covering edges with foil collar if browning too quickly, about 1 hour longer. Transfer pie to rack and cool completely.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Martha Monday: Raspberry Custard Tart

I actually made this tart for a friend's Easter dinner this year--even though I may have jumped the gun a little, as raspberry season is finally almost here and this would be a great, refreshing tart recipe to celebrate the early summer.  I especially love that the crust is a super easy phyllo pastry--So long, time-intensive crust baking on hot summer days!

Raspberry isn't usually a fruit I would associate with Easter, but this tart was listed in Martha's recommended Easter dessert recipes, so that must make it legit :) This recipe does take quite a few raspberries, so feel free to substitute any other summer fruit if raspberries aren't on sale at your local grocery, or you don't have easy access to bulk berry picking.

A couple of notes: I wasn't able to find créme fraîche, so I went with a pastry cream recipe for the filling rather than a strict custard and I honestly couldn't even tell the difference. I would recommend making sure your custard is really set after baking (mine was still a little jiggly) and also let the tart sit in the fridge for a little while before serving if you have the time, otherwise it doesn't keep its shape as well during serving. I also decided to brush the berries with a little melted apricot jam to make them shine a little bit more, but this is completely optional.

My fancy shmancy pie weights :)
Really proud of myself for actually cooling the custard in an ice bath...which I usually skip out of sheer laziness

Raspberry Custard Tart
1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed
1 cup créme fraîche
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
4 cups raspberries (about four 6-ounce containers)

1. Roll out pastry sheet to a 12-by-14-inch rectangle. Line a 10-inch ceramic tart dish with pastry, pressing it into bottom and up side of dish. Trim edge, leaving 1/2 inch to hang over rim of dish. Refrigerate dough 20 minutes.

2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Prick dough all over with a fork. Generously line shell with parchment, and fill with pie weights or dried beans. (Parchment should drape over rim of dish to prevent shell from overbrowning.) Bake shell 35 minutes. Remove parchment and weights, and bake shell until pale golden brown, about 2 minutes more. Let shell cool 5 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees.

3. Meanwhile, make the filling: Whisk together creme fraiche, sugar, vanilla, salt, eggs, and flour in a medium bowl until smooth.

4. Pour filling into tart shell, and bake until custard is set, about 20 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack 30 minutes. To serve, top tart with raspberries.