Category Archives: Thursday Night Menu
My friend LFern and I are not able to get together frequently. Family, work and other daily obligations, plus the fact we now live about 25 minutes apart, make it difficult to plan a lunch or coffee time. But this week I sent her an email that said this:
If you decide to come visit me this week I’ll make chocolate-hazelnut gelato (ok, I’m making it anyway, but why miss out?)
That seemed to be incentive enough. Remember she’s my coffee and chocolate friend. I sweetened the deal with the promise of Lavazza coffee, too. When she arrived the ice cream maker was busy humming away. Fifteen minutes later, we had coffee and Gelato ready for a well-deserved girls’ afternoon.
I served up bowls and then proceeded to put the rest in the freezer. LFern mentioned I really didn’t need to do that, she’d be happy to finish it for me. I reminded her I still needed to take photos. She suggested this would be the only photo I would need:
Needless to say, the recipe was a success. I had to agree with her, it was difficult to put enough away to photograph later. But luckily, once the photos were done, someone had to eat the bowl of goodness. Since I was the only one around at the time, I didn’t have to share.
- Gelato plain base (recipe below)
- 1 tbsp dark cocoa
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 13 oz chunky chocolate hazelnut spread (Nutella style spread)
- 3/4 cup hazelnuts, roughly chopped
bowl with cover, ice cream freezer
ETA: Two things I forgot to mention. I reduced the sugar in the plain base because the hazelnut spread has lots of sugar in it and I was afraid it would be overly sweet. When I tasted the mixture after the spread was added, it was still a little too sweet, so I decided to add the tablespoon of dark cocoa powder. That did it and gave the finished product a nice rich chocolate flavor.
Make gelato plain base. Remove mixture from the heat and sift dark cocoa into the mixture and then add vanilla and hazelnut spread, stirring until the spread has dissolved completely. Remove to bowl, cover and refrigerate 4 hours or overnight. Before covering with lid, I also cover with plastic wrap, pressed down onto the mixture to keep it from forming a ‘skin’. Next add to the ice cream freezer and freeze according to the machine’s directions. It will be a soft serve consistency when done, freeze for at least an hour before serving. (Okay, we didn’t wait that long and it was yummy anyway). You can stir the chopped hazelnuts in before freezing or you can use as a garnish for each bowl.
This recipe is the base for most gelatos, it’s also good frozen by itself:
Gelato di Crema (Gelato Plain Base)
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 4 large egg yolk
- 2/3 cup sugar (for the Hazelnut Gelato, reduce to 1/2 cup)
In a heavy-bottom saucepan, combine the milk and cream. Place over medium-low heat and cook, stirring occasionally so a skin doesn’t form, until tiny bubbles start to form around the edges and the mixture reaches a temperature of 170°F.
Meanwhile, in a medium heat-proof bowl, whisk the egg yolks until smooth. Gradually whisk in the sugar until it is well incorporated and the mixture is thick and pale yellow. Temper* the egg yolks by very slowly pouring in the hot milk mixture while whisking continuously. Return the custard to the saucepan and place over low heat. Cook, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon, until the custard is thick enough to coat the back of the spoon and it reaches a temperature of 185°F. Do not bring to a boil.
*The best way to temper is to add a tablespoon at a time until you’ve added about 1/4 cup. Then you can add a full ladle at a time, slowly.
Recipe makes 1 to 1-1/2 quarts.
Side note: While I was typing this entry, late (last) night, I kept hearing this repetitive sound. It took a moment for it to register. It was our neighborhood Great Horned Owl, making quite the ruckus, hoot-hooting away in the rain. That was a pretty perfect moment.
I’ll conclude this series with the Friday Recipe Exchange, featuring the recipe idea that started the whole thing off. Until then…
This week I’m doing frozen treats. Vanilla and Strawberry Ice Cream began the series here. This is the next treat.
The sorbet was by request and I’m so glad they voted for it. It was terrific. Cool, light, tangy and slightly sweet. The lemon is the perfect addition to the blueberries, giving it a nice depth. Easy to make. Perfect for a warm summer day.
- 1 cup water (3/4 cups if you’re using frozen blueberries)
- 1/2 cup sugar (you can use half sugar, half honey if you prefer)
- 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 5 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen
- a few blueberries and fresh mint for garnish
saucepan, blender, ice cream maker
In the saucepan, add water, sugar and lemon juice. Bring to a low boil and stir constantly until the sugar is dissolved. To blender add blueberries and slightly cooled sugar mixture and puree until smooth. I have a vitamix, so I got a very smooth puree, you may need to run the blueberry mixture through a cheesecloth or fine sieve to remove any remaining skins or stems.
Let mixture cool in the refrigerator for at least an hour and then process in your ice cream maker according to directions.
Remove to an airtight container and let freeze solid. I actually covered the top with wax paper to keep it from getting a dry crust on top. It worked well.
Stay tuned, tomorrow there will be another treat. Until then….
Friends are letting me test drive their Cuisinart Ice Cream maker and it inspired a whole week of frozen treats, which will conclude with the Friday Recipe Exchange.
I thought it would be good to start with the basics. The first recipe is for a cream only ice cream and I’ll link to a JeffreyW post that has an egg custard ice cream. Then I’ll add strawberries to it. These recipes all make 1 to 1-1/2 quarts.
Vanilla Ice Cream
- 2 cups half-and-half
- 1 cup whipping cream
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 vanilla bean, split and scraped (or 3 tsp high quality vanilla extract)
Combine all ingredients (including the bean and its pulp – if you’re using extract, DO NOT add yet) in a large saucepan and place over medium heat. Stirring occasionally, bring the mixture to barely simmering, about 170 degrees F. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly – remove the hull of the vanilla bean or add extract at this point, stirring in completely. Pour mixture into lidded container and refrigerate mixture overnight to mellow flavors and texture.
Freeze mixture in ice cream freezer according to unit’s instructions. The mixture will not freeze hard in the machine. It will reach a soft serve consistency. Then spoon the mixture back into a lidded container and harden in the freezer at least 1 hour before serving.
Strawberry Ice Cream (or really Any Berry Ice Cream)
- Make the vanilla base (above), cooled overnight
- 2 cups of chopped frozen strawberries (or any quality frozen berry of your choice)
- 1 tbsp vodka
ice cream maker
Toss strawberries with vodka, stir into the cold vanilla cream mixture. Add to your ice cream maker and freeze according to unit’s instructions. Again it will be a soft serve consistency when done, remove to an airtight container and freeze for 1 hour before serving.
For an egg custard ice cream, go to JeffreyW’s post here.
JeffreyW makes strawberry ice cream, too
I’m a romantic. I love picnics – you know the fried chicken, potato salad, baked beans and tasty dessert kind of picnic. So I decided to put together some recipes for a nice picnic or your Memorial Day cookout. Picnic basket is optional.
The featured recipes tonight are an easy fried chicken and spiced up baked beans. What goes great with fried chicken and spicy baked beans? How about some salads?
Italian Potato Salad (recipe here)
JeffreyW makes a bunch of picnic sides, including Red Potato Salad and a Tomato, Black Olive and Mozzarella Salad (recipes and great photos here)
And then for dessert? A simple pie that looks amazing and tastes pretty good, too.
Buttermilk Pie (pictured above and recipe here)
Now it’s your turn. What are some of your favorite picnic/cookout foods? Do you have anything that’s different and unexpected? Don’t hold out, share in the comments.
Now about that fried chicken and my very favorite sweet and spicy baked beans that use unexpected ingredients:
Easy Fried Chicken
(adapted from Cook’s Country)
- 1-1/4 cups buttermilk (use 5 tbsp buttermilk powder and 1-1/4 cup water)
- 1/4 tsp hot sauce
- 3 tsp black pepper
- 1 tsp garlic powder (this works better than fresh)
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
- 3 1/2 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken parts (breasts, thighs, and drumsticks, or a mix – go with your favorites. With breasts cut them in half to make them equal size with the thighs, so they all cook evenly)
- 2 cups unbleached flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 3/4cups vegetable oil
Whisk 1 cup buttermilk, 1 tablespoon salt, hot sauce, 1 tsp black pepper, ¼ tsp garlic powder, ¼ tsp paprika, and pinch of cayenne together in large bowl. Add chicken and turn to coat. Refrigerate, covered, at least 1 hour.
Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 400 degrees. Whisk flour, baking powder, 1 teaspoon salt, and remaining 2 teaspoons black pepper, ¾ teaspoon garlic powder, ¾ teaspoon paprika, and remaining cayenne together in large bowl. Add remaining ¼ cup buttermilk to flour mixture and mix with fingers until combined and small clumps form. Working with 1 piece at a time, dredge chicken pieces in flour mixture, pressing mixture onto pieces to form thick, even coating. Place dredged chicken on large plate, skin side up.
Heat oil in 11-inch straight-sided sauté pan over medium-high heat to 375 degrees. Carefully place chicken pieces in pan, skin side down, and cook until golden brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Carefully flip and continue to cook until golden brown on second side, 2 to 4 minutes longer. Transfer chicken to wire rack set in rimmed baking sheet. Bake chicken until instant-read thermometer inserted into thickest part of chicken registers 160 degrees for breasts and 175 for legs and thighs, 15 to 20 minutes. (Smaller pieces may cook faster than larger pieces. Remove pieces from oven as they reach -correct temperature.) Let chicken rest 5 minutes before serving.
I’ve stolen this baked bean recipe from friends who wowed me with it years ago. Amazingly simple, it takes ordinary canned baked beans up a notch. Go for good quality beans and sausage and real maple syrup and it’s a can’t miss. Sit back and accept all the compliments that will come your way.
Nita’s Baked Beans
- ½ lb spicy Italian sausage
- 28 oz can favorite baked beans
- 3 tbsp maple syrup
In saucepan, brown Italian sausage, drain well and crumble. Add beans and syrup, let simmer for 15 minutes to heat through and let flavors blend together.
Probably should think about doubling this recipe, because the leftovers are even better.
Quick note: I’ve been playing with the layout of the blog, so it may change several more times over the weekend. Please standby.
JeffreyW has been teasing with some impressive looking South of the Border treats lately, so I thought it would be a good night to focus on them. The featured recipe is an enchilada pie. It is kid friendly and a breeze to put together. Perfect for an easy weeknight dinner.
JeffreyW makes a similar dish, called Enchiladas Montadas (recipe here), which is pictured above.
Also from JeffreyW, a quick and easy Chicken Enchiladas (click here), including his terrific photos.
From frequent visitor, Joshua De Mers (you may know his as Yutsano), his Pork Enchiladas (recipe here).
All of that should give you an idea how to create your own enchilada to satisfy your tastes. Hit the comments and share some of your favorite enchilada, nacho, burrito or other favorites. And if you need more inspiration, click here for a complete photo gallery of JeffreyW’s enchilada creations.
Finally, tonight’s featured recipe:
- 1 pound ground beef
- ½ large onion, chopped
- salt & pepper to taste
- ¼ teaspoon oregano
- ¼ teaspoon cumin
- 20 oz. enchilada sauce
- 8 oz. tomato sauce
- 10 corn tortillas
- 8 oz cheddar cheese, grated
skillet & 8×8 glass baking dish, lightly oiled
Add beef and onion to skillet and cook until beef is browned and onions are translucent. Add spices and sauces; let simmer while you prep tortillas. Tear tortillas into strips and use some to cover the bottom of a well-oiled casserole dish. Layer a portion of the beef mixture and cheese on top, then repeat (tortillas, beef, cheese) to fill up casserole; finish with layer of cheese. Bake 30 minutes at 350°