Butter Up That Ice Cream

Whenever I get a new cookbook I get a little crazy. I feel obligated to cook as many things from it as possible and as a result my grocery trips are a complete mess. “Well I may as well pick this up now and save a trip” vs. “There is no possible way I can make all of these things in a week” is an ongoing mental battle, usually with the former winning out.

I picked up the excellent Ideas in Food recently and have been completely enamored with the way authors Alex and Aki not only push boundaries in flavor, but also seek to improve the way we cook everyday things. Parcook risotto rice in a water bath for 30 minutes, keep it in the fridge, and for the next three days you can have risotto on the table in under 10 minutes. Roast pasta to deepen the flavor, throw it in some water for a few hours, and it cooks, literally, in one minute.

This ice cream recipe caught my attention because a.) I always gravitate toward the sweets recipes and b.) because the flavor potential suggested by the unorthodox procedure seemed too high to pass up.

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New Year New Post

Surprise! I am behind in posting once again. I do have a pretty good excuse though: I started a baking internship last month. I’m making French macarons three to four days a week and I couldn’t be happier. I’m still processing the fact that I’m actually enjoying work and want to go in more often than I already do. After about six months of feeling directionless, I finally feel like I’ve started on the path that is right for me.

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What I’ve been up to (in pictures)

pane siciliano (also pictured: mandoline with which I sliced my finger)

ginger being prepared for…

ice cream!

cookie dough (letting this rest for two days was difficult)

my lazy day bread (a.k.a. no-knead bread)


happy baking, everyone.

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Caramel

One of the most valuable things I’ve learned from cooking is appreciating the beauty of simple things.

Cook sugar until it’s within a second of burning, throw in some butter and cream, and you have one of the many small miracles of the food world. What was once one-dimensional and cloyingly sweet is now smoky, bitter and complex. Some like caramel a little less cooked than the degree in this recipe, but if you really want to make the most of sugar, this is the way to do it.

sugar and corn syrup

caramelized sugar, cream, butter


it speaks for itself.

My gratitude once again goes to David Lebovitz for this excellent walkthrough.

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Give me flour or give me death

Mostly a picture update. I think I will post here on a project-by-project basis rather than compiling over a long period of time. This will be better for you, loyal three readers, and me.

Not as many pastries this time around. As they say, money is tight and flour is cheap.

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Another month goes by

Once again I am slow to update. I have a good excuse though: I bought an ice cream attachment for my stand mixer. Up until last week my freezer could barely close due to being full of ice cream. I have the worst luck.

Here’s what I’ve been up to:

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pain l’ancienne

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rustic sweet bread

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pain de mie (toast bread)

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cinnamon raisin swirl bread

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chocolate chip cookies (best I’ve ever had, make these now)

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concord grape sorbet

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chocolate gelato

pain de mie & pain l’ancienne from Peter Reinhart’s The Breadbaker’s Apprentice. Cinnamon-Raisin Swirl bread from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking: From My Home To Yours. Chocolate Chip Cookie from New York Time and Jacques Torres. Concord grape sorbet and chocolate gelato from David Lebovitz’s The Perfect Scoop and Ready for Dessert, respectively.

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An Ode to Sour Cherries

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Oh sour cherries, your time is so short

I’m not usually a sucker for “limited time only” promotions, but when it comes to fruit, I get a little crazy.

The sour cherry season is here and gone; I picked up my first quart in late June and their run ended in mid to late July. Hoping to make the most of their limited season, I attempted to use them in a wide variety of applications.

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Obviously, I had to make a pie.

Pie is the perhaps the most straightforward application for good fruit, aside from just eating it, but I wanted to take it a little further. I made my first foray into jam-making this year, and let me say that it is perhaps the most zen cooking experience that exists. Also, it’s really, really easy. Fruit+sugar+lemon juice=jam. Sour cherries make a particularly nice jam, so aside from putting it on toast, I put it into a gâteau basque.

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Gâteau Basque, before and after

This was certainly delicious, but the next week I brought home another two baskets of sour cherries, and was a little unsure as to what I could possibly do with them. The answer: pickles and booze.

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I stumbled across a recipe for pickled sour cherries in early July, and thought, what the hell, why not? I prepared some cherries and put them in a jar with a couple bay leaves and exactly 20 peppercorns. I poured a warm brine of white vinegar and sugar over the top, let it cool, and threw it in the fridge. I tried one a few days letter, and it was terrible. Harsh, acrid – why did I do this to these poor cherries? It was only last week when I decided to try another that I realized how incredible these are. Given the time to mellow out, these are insanely delicious – tart, sweet, and briny all at once.

As for the booze:

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Cherry hooch

I put cherries in a big container (it’s hard to tell, but the above bottle holds 64 oz.), poured in some cheap vodka, and let it sit for a month. I then added sugar, stirred it, and am waiting until the next month is up, when I will strain the cherries and let the liquor mellow for about 6 months, depending on how patient and/or desperate I am.

The last remnants of les griottes are jars of the frozen fruit at the farmers market. Good? Probably. But not the same. I look forward to next June and the little baskets of red jewels that await.

Cherry pie recipe adapted from smitten kitchen. Sour cherry jam and Gâteau Basque recipes courtesy of David Lebovitz. Pickled cherries and sour cherry jam courtesy of Chez Loulou.

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