Saturday, May 29, 2010

Coping with the Heat Wave!

For those of us lucky enough to be living in Toronto, or its surrounding area, have been experiencing quite the heat wave lately. With temperatures rendering drying off after a shower almost useless, it is very easy to say that we are all roasting like rotisserie chickens!

To help cope with this heat (and because I am slightly addicted) I whipped out my trusty ice cream maker to create some deeeeeeelicious ice cream! I assessed my current cravings and decided that coffee flavoured ice cream was the way to go! Having only had made ice cream at home a few times, I wanted to try something different and naturally that curiosity lead me to my favourite spot on the internet: Google! After some minor research, I came across a recipe for coffee ice cream on the
Simply Recipes' Blog which is adapted from David Lebovitz's book The Perfect Scoop.

This recipe calls for some pretty simple ingredients: milk, sugar, whole coffee beans, heavy cream, salt, egg yolks, vanilla and finely ground coffee...

This sounded simple enough for the fact that I had everything except for the coffee beans (for some reason we had already ground all of ours at home!). As I was standing in the grocery store perusing the whole coffee bean selection, I realized that the flavour of bean chosen would change the flavour of the final product. I figured for my first attempt that I would stick with a flavour that I have adored for years: Vanilla Hazelnut.

Side Note:
I feel that I must sing the praises of my ice cream maker and how fantastic it is to have one kicking around our house. I received this one as a Christmas gift from my best friend (Thanks Kathryn!) 2 years ago and sadly haven't used it very often. The version of this delightful machine that I was so lucky to receive actually came with two freezer bowls which really just means that it's twice as easy to make ice cream whenever you want (assuming that you have a freezer big enough to hold both bowls... I do not). Once the bowl is frozen, add it to the base, add in the paddle, put on the cover, flip the switch on and add your delicious creamy custard-y concoction and let er' rip! It's THAT easy!

Anyway, back to coffee ice cream! The cream is infused with the delicious coffee flavour and steeps for just over an hour. Maybe it's just me but I think that this is the most gorgeous demonstration of the wonder of food ever! Look how perfectly all the coffee beans just swim in the cream, milk and sugar mixture.

While this recipe is a little more labour intensive that most ice cream recipes I've seen, I promise you this is worth every single second of it. Having enjoyed my share of ice cream over the years, and having worked for Laura Secord I am quite familiar with commercial ice cream and have come to love them all. But the flavour of this ice cream all on its own, without any strange ingredients or things that one can't pronounce, is mind blowing! It is truly incomparable and should be experienced by all!

After the infusing and mixing, the coffee custard is churned through the wonderful ice cream maker for about 25 minutes at which point you end up with delicious soft serve consistency ice cream. If you put it in a container and freeze it for a while, you'll have wonderfully scoop-able ice cream that looks like this (when served over delicious cheesecake with berries):

All I can say is as soon as you have a moment, make this ice cream! It could change your life!!!

Happy Cooking!


Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The Inaugural Post - Coming Home

I have been debating writing this blog for months now... MONTHS! Unfortunately, things like life, school, work and sleep (on occasion) kept getting in the way. Thankfully, school has ended, work is somewhat quieter and sleep is on the rise. This blog is really a gallery of the things that I love to make, the tools I can't live without, the ingredients that make it all work and the poor souls who are typically my guinea pigs for new recipes.

I have always posted my food pictures on Facebook in an album that I have titled My Miracles in the Kitchen. It was a great way to post things but I found that it was just getting to be a bit much when I could only really comment on things in one or two lines, hence why we're here today!

My debate over the last few weeks when I began contemplating my inaugural post was how to start this blog. Obviously I could just yammer on about wanting to write this blog (as I have already done) however I wanted this post to be meaningful. Then, last week, while baking (surprise, surprise!), it hit me! Allow me to elaborate.

I was baking a chocolate cheesecake for my brother who has been away at school since January. We have always been close but over the last few years, not only has he become one of my best friends but also one of my primary taste-testers! It's been weird not having him around these last few months while I've been cooking up a storm. I have missed his ridiculous feedback about my creations; rating them "average at best". While I do enjoy his commentary, I know that there is something comforting about our sibling connection with food. For me, there is something so satisfying in making food for those you love and for my brother, these are the things that make him feel 'home'.

It was only appropriate that my inaugural posting be about coming home to food. My brother has always been an avid lover of cheesecake, regardless of the flavour. A few days before his homecoming, he submitted his request for a Chocolate Skor Bar Cheesecake. His instructions were simple: "Make a chocolate cheesecake, spread some caramel on top and sprinkle on some Skor bits!" Now, while I do love this child more than life itself, time constraints didn't quite allow me to fulfill his list of requests, so instead I opted for the more simple version: A Chocolate Lovers' Cheesecake.
I have just recently discovered making cheesecakes, having made my first one less than 2 weeks ago for my brother's girlfriend's birthday (Happy Birthday T-Spice!). Her cheesecake turned out beautifully and it happens to be the one I snapped photos of!

The recipe was a simple Classic Philadelphia Cheesecake Recipe. It starts out with a simple graham cracker crust (22 graham crackers pulverized in the food processor mixed with a 1/2 cup of melted butter).

Then 3 packages of cream cheese, 3/4 cup of sugar, 1 tsp of vanilla (or if you live in my house, 1 tbsp) are mixed in a stand mixer and blended until combined. 3 eggs are added one at a time with the mixer on low speed. Your mixture should look something like this before you add the eggs.

Pour the mixture into the crust and put it in the oven to bake at 350 F for 40-50 minutes. When mine came out it had a few cracks in it.

I know that I should have used a water bath but I wanted to test drive this recipe first to see how it would turn out. Ironically enough, after allowing it to cool, it deflated a little bit and filled in its own cracks like its own dose of botox!

This one was topped with berries macerated in 1 tbsp of sugar.

For the chocolate variation, I simply followed the Chocolate Lovers' Cheesecake recipe which adds 8 oz of melted semi sweet chocolate after having added the eggs. Sooooo Yummy!

So I think that this is what this blog is more about... the comfort and connection that food provides in conjunction to those we love! Over the next however long, I hope to share more of my creations with you :)

Happy Cooking & Baking!