Sunday, August 31, 2008

Toasted Almond and Brandied Nectarine Ice Cream

Yes, more frozen treats. I know, it's enough already, but summer is almost over, at least officially with the end of August and all (although I'm hopeful about it lasting a bit through September...) and there won't be much time left to make this seasonal dessert without it chilling us to the bone.

I only made ice cream once before this summer. I was at camp and I was about nine. The whole process required ten of us, a ton of cream and eggs and big pots and pans, and a huge contraption made of wood and metal, an absurd amont of ice and salt, and what seemed like hours of cranking and cranking. Clearly, this was not something you would ever try at home.

That was my vision of making ice cream, something you could not do unless you had many small children tricked into thinking this was "fun," or something you might be able to muster if you had a fancy ice cream machine, but a task that would be ridiculously complicated and arduous.

My thoughts about all this changed after reading Food and Wine's wonderful article on Jeni Britton of Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream in June. Her recipes are so creative and accessible they got me thinking... and the concept of egg-free ice cream that still tastes wonderful was extremely exciting. So after a little internet research and some trial and error I figured out a way to make ice cream and sorbet without a machine. Ms. Britton's article changed my summer, and I'm sure my friends weren't too upset about it either.

This recipe is basically an alternate take on Ms. Britton's Pistachio Ice Cream recipe, which I made for my birthday.

Toasted Almond and Brandied Nectarine Ice Cream


2 c. whole milk
1 T. + 1 t. cornstarch
3 T. plain yogurt
1 1/4 c. heavy cream
2/3 c. sugar
1 1/2 T. light corn syrup
3/4 c. slivered almonds
1/2 t. almond extract
1/4 t. kosher salt
2 large nectarines
1/3 c. sugar
1/4 c. brandy

1. Lay out almonds on cookie sheet. Bake at 300 degrees F for 5- 10 minutes, shaking occasionally, until toasted. Be careful to watch, they will burn quickly. Let cool. Put toasted almonds in food processor. Grind until they are a fine meal. Set aside.

2. In small bowl mix 2 T. of milk with cornstarch. In another large bowl, whisk yogurt until smooth.

3. In large saucepan combine remaining milk with cream, 2/3 c. sugar, and corn syrup. Bring mix to boil. Cook over moderate heat until sugar dissolves. Off heat, gradually mix in cornstarch mixture. Return to a boil and cook over moderately high heat until mixture is slightly thickened, about 1 minute.

4. Gradually mix milk mixture into yogurt until smooth. Whisk in almonds, almond extract, and salt. Put bowl in refrigerator for half an hour to an hour.

5. While milk mixture is cooling, cut up nectarines and peel off skins. Put them in food processor and pulse until they are very small pieces. Put pieces into a small bowl. Mix in brandy and 1/3 c. sugar. Let stand half an hour to one hour.

6. After milk mixture is cool, move to freezer or ice cream maker. If putting in ice cream maker, add nectarines now. If following stand and freeze method, wait.

7. Stand and freeze: after about one hour: whisk mixture, add nectarines. Continue waiting half an hour to one hour between whisking mixture for four to six hours, after which you can transfer ice cream to intended container or if leaving in the bowl, cover and let freeze.

8. Serve and enjoy.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Nectarine and Almond Tart with Lavender Honey

Last night my friend K. had a housewarming party and I brought this tart over. The crust is my fav Martha Stewart pastry dough recipe, the frangipane is from Bill Granger's, Bills Food, always an amazing source of inspiration.

My stomach is grumbling and I'm thinking of all the food they had at the party last night. I should have brought some home like they said. Right now I'm kicking myself for not taking any of K.'s boyfriend's macaroni salad -- it was so good, with dill and tuna, and I could really go for some right now. Damn.

Nectarine and Almond Tart with Lavender Honey

serves 8-10

you will need: a 10" tart pan


for pastry crust:

1 1/4 c. flour
1/2 t. sugar
7 T. butter, chopped
1/2 T. distilled white vinegar
1 oz. ice water

for frangipane:

2 1/2 oz. butter, chopped
1/3 c. sugar
3/4 c. finely ground almonds/ almond meal
2 egg yolks
1/2 t. vanilla extract

for topping:

1 large nectarine, sliced thin
1/2 t. lavender
2 t. honey

1. Preheat oven to 375 F. Put lavender in small bowl with honey (can be done up to 2 weeks ahead of time).

2. To make pastry dough, pulse flour and 1/2 t. sugar together in bowl of food processor. Add 7 T. butter. Pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal. Pour in vinegar and ice water. Process until dough just comes together. Pat into a disc. Roll out to 1/8" thickness. Place in tart pan, roll off edges.

3. Prick bottom and sides with fork. Line tart shell with aluminum foil. Put pie weights or uncooked rice on top of foil. Put in oven and bake for 10-15 minutes.

4. Remove tart shell from oven. Remove aluminum and pie weights.

5. While tart shell is baking, mix 2 1/2 oz. butter, 1/3 c sugar, the ground almonds, egg yolks, and vanilla together in the food processor until combined.

6. Spread almond mixture evenly in the tart shell with a spatula.

7. Arrange nectarine slices neatly on top of the frangipane. Return tart to oven. Let bake 15 minutes.

8. Take tart out of oven. Carefully brush nectarine slices with honey, making sure to dab with lavender as well. Return to oven. Bake another 10 minutes.

9. Take from oven. Let cool on rack.

10. Serve and enjoy.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Mixed Berry Cheesecake

My friend's birthday was yesterday, and needed something that was lower in sugar, fat, and carbs, due to her special diet. I used a recipe I saw at Bon Appetit as a jumping off point and went from there.

My recipe is below:

You will need:

7" spring form pan
roasting pan or deep cake pan
aluminum foil


3 8 oz packages neufchatel cheese, room temp
1 c. frozen mixed berries (raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, cherries), thawed
1/2 c. plus 2 T sugar
1 1/2 T. flour
3 eggs
1/4 c. plus 1 1/2 T. cream
1 1/2 t. vanilla
1/2 t. almond extract
3 oz. dark chocolate chips
fresh raspberries

1. Puree berries in processor. Should be about 3/4 c. of puree.

2. Preheat oven to 350 F.

3. Beat cream cheese and sugar together until smooth and fluffy. Beat in flour. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Beat in 1 1/2 T. cream and 1 1/2 t. vanilla. Stir in berry puree and almond extract.

4. If spring form pan in nonstick, leave as is. If not, butter and flour bottom and sides. Pour batter into spring form pan. Wrap bottom and sides in aluminum foil twice. Set pan in roasting pan. Fill roasting pan with hot water until 1 inch high. Bake around 1 hour to 1 1/2 hours, until middle is set.

5. Remove springform pan from water bath. Set on cooling rack. Let cool 10 to 15 minutes, leaving springform on.

6. Bring 1/4 c. cream to simmering. Pour over 3 oz. chocolate chips. Stir until completely melted and incorporated. With a large spoon, put some ganache in center of cheesecake, then gently circle out with the back of the spoon, icing the cake. Continue until cake top is iced. Take raspberries and gently place them on top of the cake, around the edge.

7. Place the cake in the fridge for half an hour, then remove spring form. Return to fridge for another 3 1/2 hours, at least. Or, if you're in a hurry, like I was, another, half an hour, then put it in the freezer for an hour, then back to the fridge.

8. Serve and enjoy.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Blueberry Lavender Sorbet

Last night was the weekly get together to watch Project Runway at my friend K.'s. I have made a point of bringing dessert every week, because what's a girl's night watching super skinny models if you aren't happily eating sweets while talking about how freakin' tiny those poor girls are? But last week K. was feeling "bloaty" from a week of over indulgence, and I was feeling a little pudgy myself after going away on vacation, so when K. requested something low fat, I complained at first, but eventually relented.

I had these amazing blueberries that I'd brought back from vacation, that were full of flavor and kind of tart.

I was thinking of making a galette but that's not very lowfat, so I came up with this sorbet instead. I even went to the local ice cream place and bought a little pint container so I could bring it over and have it look all proper.

The super cute label was printed out from The Small Object, artist Sarah Neuburger's website, where you can find her artwork, products, blog, free downloads, and more. It's worth checking out.

By the way, do you like how I messed up and then tried to cover up my spelling of "Lavender"? So instead of the word looking the way it should, like a summer breeze over the fields in Normandy or some place, it says "laven DER-- moron." But my friends don't care, which is nice, because really, who would want friends who would judge you on the label of the sorbet you just made them from scratch?

Blueberry Lavender Sorbet

makes appx 1 pint


1 pint blueberries
1/2 c. sugar syrup (see recipe below)
1 t. dried lavender
1/2 c. fat free plain yogurt

1. Make sugar syrup.

2. Let sugar syrup cool for 5 minutes. Stir in lavender. Let cool 25 minutes.

3. Puree blueberries in blender. Add 1/2 c. sugar syrup and all of lavender buds. Blend.

4. I don't have an ice cream maker, so I use the stand and freeze method (pour in large bowl, put in freezer, stir with whisk every half hour or so). If you have an ice cream maker, use it now.

5. When mixture is starting to stiffen up (after about three hours with the stand and freeze method), mix in 1/2 c. yogurt, until it is completely incorporated. Continue making sorbet as usual.

6. At appropriate time, pack mixture into pint container and let freeze.

7. After frozen, serve and enjoy.

Sugar Syrup Recipe
this sugar syrup recipe comes from Jeni Britton of Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream via Food and Wine

1/2 c. sugar
1/4 c. light corn syrup
1/4 c. water

Combine all in small sauce pan over moderate heat. Stir until sugar dissolves, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Let stand til cool, about 30 minutes.