Sunday, August 9, 2009

Adventures In Ice Cream and Pizza

Salted caramel ice cream. Made of awesome (and heavy cream, sugar, eggs, vanilla, salt). Trust me it tastes better than this pic looks, I really need a new camera for proper food photos or I need better lighting in my kitchen...or both.

I am a horrible blogger y'all. I blame it on time and lack of photos but then I have time and I have yummy things to write about and I sit here and stare at a blank screen. Then it's midnight on a Sunday and suddenly I want to sit down and blog. My creative energy is not friends with my corporate work schedule.

Ok so I've wanted an ice cream maker for a long time now and always talked myself out of it for one reason or another. I hate single use kitchen appliances (with the obvious exception of the coffee maker that I would be lost without) so it always seemed silly to buy a machine just to make ice cream - why do you need a machine, why can't you just make ice cream and put it in the freezer? Well because you can't or actually you can, but it's called semifreddo and that's different. Anyways, to get the proper texture for ice cream it's really tough to do it without an ice cream machine so I broke down and picked up a used on on Ebay a couple weeks ago. Totally worth it. My first attempt was rather ambitious but hey if you're going to do it you should just jump right in, right? There was a salted caramel ice cream in last month's Gourmet that looked heavenly so of course it was the first ice cream I wanted to make. It did take me two attempts to get the base right, the first one involved me turning the custard into scrambled eggs, swearing a lot, dumping like $8 worth of good whole milk, cream, and eggs down the drain and muttering to myself that Ben & Jerry's is totally delicious - but then success! I made the base as directed, let it sit in the fridge for several hours, poured it in the ice cream machine and like 30 minutes later there was ice cream! I transfered to a container and froze overnight and of course first thing when I woke up I headed to the kitchen for a spoonful - I don't normally have ice cream for breakfast, but it was really hard to stop at that spoonful!

After the success of the first batch I decided to use up a bunch of rainier cherries I had and made a frozen lemon custard with cherry puree and chopped cherries. This one didn't have the rich texture I was looking for, but was still delicious. This week I'm attempting a key lime watermelon sherbet. I'll let y'all know how that goes.

I'd been wanting to make pizza on the grill for while now but haven't gotten around to it until this weekend. I picked up some pizza dough in the bakery at Publix which worked just awesome for this. I wanted something really light and simple so I took some ricotta and mixed in some lemon zest and handful of fresh herbs from my herb garden (basil, flat leaf parsley, chives, and thyme) and sliced up a nice heirloom tomato I needed to use up. I heated up the grill, brushed the pizza dough with olive oil and threw it on the grill. After a few minutes it was crisping up and getting some nice grill marks so I flipped it over, spread the lemon herb ricotta on and added the tomato. Then I just shut the lid to the grill and gave it a few minutes to finish. It was one of the tastiest things I've eaten in awhile, the crust was perfectly crisp with a little softness to it, the ricotta was bright and fresh and the tomato was sweet and delicious.

I'm planning on making this again tomorrow for a meatless monday dish, I may swap out the tomato for roasted beets though and throw a little arugula on top. That sounds really good. I can't believe how simple and quick the meal was and it was a nice summer dinner that I could cook outside and not heat up my kitchen on a hot night. Perfect.

I also saw Julie and Julia today, which was very entertaining. I don't know if I think it's as good as the book, it's hard to compare because it's two books woven together and the Julia Child part of the story was really great to have in the movie. Overall it was worth the ticket price and of course it made me head over to Whole Foods afterwards and pick up all kinds of yummy food. I realized on my very long scooter ride back to East Nashville from Green Hills that what I really love about cooking is that it makes me feel alive. There is a part in the movie where Julie is making a chocolate cream pie and talking about how awful her day was and how great cooking is because there are constants, if you follow the recipe you will get the result (well, most of the time anyways). There are few things like that in life, but when I'm in the kitchen I always know that I'm going to put work into something and it's going to yield a result I'm looking for (again, MOST of the time). It's comforting to me and no matter how simple or how fancy of a dish I'm making, being in the kitchen is always the best part of my day because I know I can do something right there.

Alright, enough kitchen philosophy here, time for bed!


Erin said...

That ice cream sounds insanely delicious! I saw that recipe too! Salted Caramel is pretty much amazing.

Beth said...

I totally agree with your comments on cooking and being in the kitchen. It makes me so happy to create new dishes and even happier when they bring smiles to people's faces. It's honestly a huge stress release for me and it boggles my mind that so many people don't like to cook!
I've also been wanting to grill some pizzas, so you've inspired me-if you do the roasted beets, let me know how it turns out!

Kristina said...

That recipe for the ice cream sounds heavenly!

I honestly have the crappiest kitchen in the world - seriously, no floor, no walls, no ceiling, no A/C and in the winter I've had to go into the den because it was too cold to cream butter (it's an 115-yr-old we're renovating). Even so - cooking just calms me and it gives me such a feeling of satisfaction. You just can't bullshit your way through cooking.

I love grilled pizza - do you have a pizza stone? Because we never get pizza out anymore because we can do it so much cheaper and almost as easy at home. Plus it's miles better than any you can buy.