Archive for October, 2009

Ice Cream Makes it Better

October 26, 2009

Today was a long Monday. It was dreary and cold and… Monday. Sitting at work, all I could think about was getting back in my warm bed with my brand new pillows (they’re so fluffy and ammmazing!), eating ice cream, and watching Ghostbusters on repeat. Doesn’t that sound lovely?

Anyway, by the time I was home, I was mostly cured of my monday funk. But! I still needed ice cream. Homemade ice cream. Homemade Caramel Apple Ice Cream. Who doesn’t need Homemade Caramel Apple Ice Cream?

By the way, don’t trust anyone who tells you they don’t like ice cream–it’s just not natural.

And yeah, it’s getting chilly out, but I could eat ice cream in the middle of a blizzard. I have braved snow storms for frozen yogurt, chocolate malts, and ice cream sandwiches. But this winter I won’t have to. I have done something terrible… I have bought an ice cream maker.

Cue the scary Halloween music.

Even worse, I bought it with David Lebovitz’sThe Perfect Scoop, and it’s filled with a ton of AMAZING recipes, including all kinds of fall & winter inspired deliciousness. Really, I want to make everything. But I started with Caramel Apple Ice Cream. You were wondering what I was doing with all those apples from the family trip to the orchard, weren’t you? Well, um… here’s what I did with two of them…

Caramel Apple Ice Cream

Adapted from David Lebovitz’s Pear-Caramel Ice Cream in The Perfect Scoop

This recipe has a rich fruit flavor. The caramel adds depth, but it’s not like a traditional caramel apple. For that I think some sort of caramel sauce would need to be involved. But this recipe showcases the apples perfectly. Make sure you give the mixture a good blending to smooth any apple bits.

2 large apples, peeled and cored (I used JonaGolds)
3/4 cup + 2 Tablespoons sugar
2 cups heavy cream
1/8 teaspoon salt
A squeeze of fresh lemon juice

Chop your apples into small, 1/4” pieces and set aside.

Spread the sugar in a heavy-bottomed saucepan and cook over medium heat. The sugar will start to liquify and brown. Gently stir the mixture to melt all of the sugar and heat to a deep amber. Constantly stirring at this point to keep the caramel from seizing, stir in the apple. Cook for 10 minutes. If you have any hard pieces of caramel, don’t worry, we’ll strain them out later.

Remove the caramel apple mixture from the heat and stir in the cream. Mix in the pinch of salt and squeeze in a bit of lemon.

Let the mixture cool, and then puree in a blender or food processor. Pour through a strainer to remove any pieces of caramel or apple. Chill mixture in the fridge, and then process using your ice cream machine.

Now time to watch Ghostbusters


Fall Love

October 10, 2009

Today my family and I braved the cold to celebrate Fall and pick/eat a crazy amount of apples.  I hadn’t been apple-picking since I was a kid, but my little sis suggested it so off we went to Keipur Orchards in Maple Park, IL.  Despite the freezing temps we had a lot of fun.  I thought it would be a bit late in the season, but Keipur still had a ton of apples and varieties–some of which don’t even have harvest dates until late October/November.  We ended up with yummy Jonathans, JonaGolds, Ida Reds, Empires, and Blushing Goldens.

Oh yeah.  Their bakery/shop?  Awesome.  This apple cider donut coated in cinnamon sugar I devoured?  Awesome.  Everything from pies to caramel apples looked super yummy.  I nabbed some apple cider and my sister picked up some just-blended peanut butter.  Definitely a Saturday well spent.  There are a ton of orchards in the Chicagoland area, you can check them out here…

And some baked apple goodness coming soon!

Biscotti = Awesome

October 7, 2009

My Gram = Totally awesome.

So I’ve been traveling quite a bit.  I’m now in Peoria, IL–just three hours south of Chicago.  Just for a few days.  This is my first trip here, but I’m liking it.  The Illinois river is very pretty and we found a great place for dinner last nite, One World Cafe.  If you’re ever in Peoria, be sure to stop by!  I had some amazing BBQ chicken with andouille sausage stuffing.  Seriously yum.  And great service too.  Go there!

But back to my Gram.  This past weekend I was actually home for a few days so I got to spend a bunch of time with my family & friends.  It was really great–I did laundry (boo) and saw Zombieland (yay Woody Harrelson) AND baked biscotti with my Gram (double yay–yay yay?).  This is my favorite biscotti recipe, especially since I don’t do nuts.  Feel free to add them though, especially pistachios as that’s what the recipe originally calls for.  But don’t even think about making this without the orange zest.  Even if you don’t like oranges.  Really.  It makes the cookie.

Thanks Gram for sharing the recipe and baking with me.  And thanks Grandpa for entertaining us with war stories and glass-cutting techniques.  And helping me stylize my biscotti photo shoot.  You guys are the best!

Chocolate Chip Biscotti

3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1/2 cup butter
1 cup granulated sugar, plus more for “sprinkling”
5 large eggs
zest of one large orange
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
white from 1 large egg, slightly beaten

Beat butter and sugar with a mixer until light and fluffy.

Beat in eggs, orange zest and vanilla until combined.  Add your flour and baking powder gradually until smooth.  Batter will be very sticky.  Stir in chocolate chips.

To make the dough more manageable, we’re going to divide and chill it.  Grease a flat-bottomed roasting pan or cookie sheet. Spoon batter onto greased sheet, creating three separate piles of batter of equal size. Cover and chill in the fridge for 2-3 hours until firm.

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Grease two cookies sheets.

On a floured surface, with floured hands, shape each pile of dough into a 12” long log.  Place two of the logs 4” – 6” apart on one baking sheet, and the third log on the other baking sheet.  Flatten the tops just a bit with your hand.  The logs will be narrow, and not biscotti-shaped at all.  These things really spread out when baked!

Brush the tops and sides of logs with the egg white and sprinkle with sugar.  Bake 30-35 minutes, rotating your two pans halfway through baking.  Start checking your logs at about minute 25.  When your logs are done the top will be golden and firm, and a toothpick inserted in the center will come out completely dry.  They will have flattened out as well…

Remove from oven and let logs cool for 10 minutes, covered with a dish towel.  Do not turn off your oven!

Move cooled logs onto cutting board and slice on the diagonal to your desired size biscotti (mine were about 3/4” – 1” wide).  Place slices on clean cookie sheets.  It doesn’t matter if the cookies are touching at this point, pack ’em in.

Bake the slices for another 8-12 minutes, flipping once halfway through.  Cookies will be slightly toasted and completely dry when done.  Remove and cool on a wire rack.

Serve with coffee or tea and enjoy!  Oh, and you can turn off your oven now.