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Dinner Menu: Spring Flavors

Apple Salad1

Lots of fresh spring flavors in this dinner menu, which is what I need after a long cold week.

On the board tonight:

  1. Herbed Fettuccini
  2. Apple Salad
  3. Ice Cream or Frozen Yogurt

Herbed Fettuccini

  • 9 oz fresh fettuccine
  • ½ cup chicken broth
  • 5 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 4 oz fresh spinach, torn
  • ¼ cup snipped fresh parsley
  • 2 tsp dried basil
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 2 oz fresh parmesan, grated or goat cheese (chevre)
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 large tomato, chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped hazelnuts
  • 6 oz artichokes hearts (opt)

2 large saucepans, large serving bowl

Cook pasta according to pkg. directions. Next bring broth to boiling in second saucepan. Add green onion and spinach. Reduce heat, cook and stir for 2 to 4 minutes or until spinach is slightly wilted. Add parsley, herbs, salt & pepper; mix well. Remove from heat; cover and set aside. Drain cooked pasta and remove to serving dish, cover and keep warm

In saucepan combine cheese, milk, and butter. Cook and stir until cheese is melted. Add pasta; toss to coat. Remove from heat. Add vegetable mixture, hazelnuts, opt artichokes, half of the tomato to the pasta mixture; toss gently to mix, heat until warm through. Transfer back to a serving bowl, garnish with remaining tomato.

Apple Salad

  • 16 oz spring greens, washed
  • 2 Granny Smith apples
  • 2 Fuji (or other sweet red) apples
  • ½ cup raisins
  • 2 oz toasted  slivered almonds
  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 2 oz feta cheese, crumbled

serving bowl

Layer greens in bowl.  Core and cut apples into large chunks.  Layer over greens, add raisins and nuts.  Mix together vinegar, oil, salt & pepper.  Drizzle over salad, toss, then crumble feta over the top.

Note: If you can’t find toasted almonds, heat a skillet, add almonds and stir constantly until they are lightly toasted.

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Copyright What’s 4 Dinner Solutions Cookbook: Spring Edition

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Dinner Menu: Pineapple Rice Bowls and Chocolate Torte

Pineapple rice2In an odd series of events, I was thinking about focusing on rice for this week’s recipe exchange and then pineapples were on sale  – less than a dollar a piece – which reminded me of this recipe which I haven’t make in quite a while. So tonight I made it for dinner for friends.

And just in time for National Chocolate Cake Day, the menu includes…CAKE!

Here is the original post from January 2011 (where does the time go?)

Tonight I’m putting together a menu from two different restaurant visits. Last Friday night Bad Horse and I were in Santa Monica looking for somewhere to have a late dinner. I wanted something light at a place that was neither trendy nor pretentious. Harder to find than you might think. We settled on a cute little Thai restaurant on Wilshire, near the beach. They had pineapple rice on the menu and that sounded like it would fit the bill. I was pleasantly surprised by the dish. First, they served it in a pineapple, which made me laugh and second it was hands-down better than the Ming Tsai recipe I posted a few months ago. I vowed to go home and recreate it. That is our main dish tonight. The dessert comes from a little Italian restaurant near my house where LFern and I had lunch, I believe for my birthday this summer. I ordered their always excellent carrot cake and she decided to try their chocolate torte. We both really liked the torte (ours is a friendship based on coffee and chocolate) and I said I’d try and recreate it for her. It’s 5 months later, but I finally got around to it.   Hopefully it will not disappoint her – I really liked it and had fun making it, twice.

On the board tonight:

  1. Pineapple Rice
  2. Snow Peas
  3. Chocolate Hazelnut Torte

Pineapple Rice

  • 2 pineapples (if you’re making bowls, otherwise just one pineapple)
  • 4 cups cooked rice (about 2 cups uncooked) – I chose brown basmati
  • 4 strips of bacon, sliced into small pieces
  • 1 boneless chicken breast, diced
  • 8-10 small shrimp, cleaned
  • 3/4 cup raisins
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup cashews (I like lots, your mileage may vary)
  • 1/2 cup pineapple juice
  • 1 cup diced pineapple
  • 1/4 cup Ponzu

Wok or skillet

The reason I really like this recipe is how fresh it is. The last pineapple rice was heavy on spices and all the flavors blended together. It was good, but this one, with only pineapple juice and bit of ponzu added, really lets each flavor shine. Their version did not have bacon, but I love bacon and pineapple together, so I added it. You can omit the bacon and fry the chicken in a tablespoon of oil instead. Personally, my shrimp ends up on Bad Horse’s plate, so I consider them an optional ingredient.

Coring the pineapple can be tricky. A friend has a pineapple corer and I wished I had one while I was making this recipe. You don’t need to serve it in pineapple bowls, but if you do, coring out the pineapple can be difficult. I cut off the stem to make a flat bottom, cut the pineapple in half, took out the core, scored the pineapple and scooped it out. By the time I was done, the rice had finished cooking, so it was time consuming.

Next you’ll want to fry the bacon until crisp, add chicken and fry on medium heat until it is cooked through. Add shrimp and let cook for 3-5 minutes, add remaining ingredients (including rice), mixing well over medium heat for 3-5 minutes. You want the pineapple and raisins to be warm, but not necessarily cooked. Serve in pineapple bowls with ponzu or soy sauce. Serves 4

Snow Peas

I served these raw because I liked the crisp contrast to the main course. You can lightly steam them if you desire, or even add them to the rice dish for a true one-dish meal.

Chocolate Hazelnut Torte

  • 12 oz bittersweet chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 2 tbsp milk or cream
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 7 eggs
  • 3 tbsp Frangelino (opt)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup hazelnuts, chopped
  • 1-1/2 tsp baking powder

Preheat the oven at 375 degrees. Butter a 10-inch springform baking.

With this recipe, I made it two different times. The first time I separated the eggs, beat the whites until stiff and folded them in last. The second time I just beat the whole eggs until they were frothy. I actually liked the texture better the second way. You can do either. The directions below are for the latter cake.

In a medium saucepan, whisk the chocolate, milk and butter together over low heat until a smooth mixture forms. Set the chocolate mixture aside to cool.

In a blender, beat eggs well. Add sugar, blending until the mixture turns thick and pale yellow. Add the Frangelino and gradually add the cooled chocolate mixture, blending slowly until combined. Add baking powder, vanilla and nuts and mix until just combined.

Bake for 45 minutes, turn oven down to 350 degrees, then cover with foil and bake for an additional 15-20 minutes until a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool on rack until completely cooled. Serves 12 small portions

Shopping List:

  • 2 pineapples (if you’re making bowls, otherwise just one pineapple)
  • 2 cups white rice
  • 4 strips of bacon
  • 1 boneless chicken breast
  • 8-10 small shrimp, cleaned
  • 3/4 cup raisins
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup cashews
  • 1/2 cup pineapple juice
  • 1 cup diced pineapple
  • 1/4 cup Ponzu
  • Snow peas
  • 12 oz bittersweet chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 7 eggs
  • 3 tbsp Frangelino (opt)
  • 1/2 cup hazelnuts, chopped

Also: baking powder, vanilla, sugar, milk or cream,

Holiday Gift Ideas: Chocolate-Chocolate Chip Cookies

I’m busy baking for my annual gift boxes. These won’t be in them, because I”m working on two new cookie recipes I’ve never tried my hand at before. More on that later…

Chocolate Chocolate Cookie

These are pretty and very tasty.  They’re easy and just a touch above regular chocolate chip cookies.

Chocolate-Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • 1 cup + 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • dash of salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup nuts (walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds or peanuts), chopped

mixing bowl and cookie sheet

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Cream together butter and sugars.  Add eggs and vanilla, mixing well.  Sift together salt, soda, flour and cocoa, then add to butter mixture, blending well.  Add nuts and chocolate chips.  Spoon onto cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes.  Cool on cooling rack.

cropped-flower_poinsettia_d2.jpg

Originally posted Nov 2011

Friday Recipe Exchange: Ice Cream and Gelato Treats

Key Lime Pie2

I’m swamped with work, trying to catch up after a week away, so tonight in true summer fashion, we’re going to have a repeat. But it’s a delicious repeat. Last year, friends lent me their Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker to test drive, so I spent a week making various frozen treats, testing them on all the neighbors (I was very popular that week) and posted the results. This summer I bought my own Cuisinart, so I thought it was time to pull out the recipes and make some ice cream and gelato. After all, it’s just been too hot to cook. Perfect time for frozen treats.

While Gelato is by far my favorite, I played no favorites and included ice cream and sorbet in the selection. These recipes all make between 1 and 1-1/2 quarts.  Here’s the lineup:

Vanilla and Strawberry Ice Cream (recipes here)

Blueberry Sorbet (recipe here)

Chocolate-Hazelnut Gelato (recipe here)

What’s your recipe for fun this weekend? What delicious things are you cooking up for this final weekend of July (oh, how can that be)?

Now for the recipe that started the whole thing, the reason I borrowed my friends’ ice cream maker. A while back I was searching for gelato recipes and came across one for Key Lime Pie. It sounded awesome. I tucked it away, planning to try it someday. Someday finally came and I put my own twist on it:

Key Lime Pie Gelato

  • Gelato Plain Base (recipe below)
  • 1 graham cracker crust, broken into pieces and frozen (recipe below)
  • 3 tbsps fresh lime juice, preferably Key lime*
  • 2 tsp grated lime zest

Make the Gelato Plain Base and chill as directed. Make the graham cracker crust as directed and freeze.

To make Key Lime Gelato: Gently whisk the limejuice and zest into the base. Pour the mixture into the container of an ice cream machine and churn according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Just after churning quickly stir in the graham cracker crust pieces, reserving some for garnish. Transfer to an airtight container and freeze for at least 2 hours before serving.

*after you mix in the lime and zest, give it a taste and add more limejuice as desired. If you’re prefer it a bit more tangy, you can add up to 2 more tbsp without worrying about consistency.

Graham Cracker Crust

Note: You can substitute graham cracker pieces if you don’t want to make an actual crust. I just like the buttery flavor and texture of the actual crust in the gelato.

For the graham cracker crust: Mix 1/2 cup melted butter, 2 tbsp sugar and 2 cups graham cracker crumbs together. Press firmly onto the bottom of a well buttered 8×8 glass baking dish and bake at 375 degrees F for 10 minutes. Cool and remove from the baking dish, break into bite-size pieces and freeze in a covered container.

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

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.

One final note. If you’re wondering what the difference is between Gelato, Sorbet and Ice Cream, click here for a pretty good explanation.

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Frozen Treats: Chocolate-Hazelnut Gelato

Hazelnut Gelato1

This first appeared May 2013. At the time I had borrowed my friend’s ice cream freezer to test drive it. I bought my own this past week or so and decided it was a good time to start making some sweet frozen treats again. And as luck would have it, LFern is back from Japan and coming over tomorrow to share stories of her adventure. I also need to ask her a big favor, so I thought a fresh batch of her favorite frozen treat couldn’t hurt my case.

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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?)

T.

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:

empty bowl1

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.

So here is the next recipe in the Frozen Treats series. (A reminder, the first recipe is here and the second one is here. )

Hazelnut-Chocolate Gelato

  • 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…

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Friday Recipe Exchange: Christmas Eve Party

DSC_7514 (1600x1060)

Once again I am hosting Christmas Eve dinner. I try and keep the menu simple because I have a small kitchen and I like to spend time with my guests. I’m actually doing much of what I did last year, because it worked so well.  The menu will serve as tonight’s recipe exchange.  Thanks to JeffreyW for making lasagna this week so that I had an awesome photo to use tonight.

Christmas Eve Menu:

Appetizers –  Herbed Tomato Crostini (recipe here), vegetable tray

Main Event – Spinach Lasagna (recipe here), Salad, Cheesy Garlic Bread

Dessert – Truffles (featured recipe below), Peanut Butter Cookies (recipe here) and everyone’s favorite, a Sundae Bar

With the exception of the garlic bread, because I’m using gluten free noodles, the entire evening is gluten free and vegetarian. Everyone should be happy.

Dinner is at 6 pm, bring the wine.

That takes care of Christmas Eve, but what about Christmas day? How does this sound:

German Pancakes with Walnut Syrup (both recipes here) for breakfast and a Roast, Garlic Mashed Potatoes and Glazed Carrots for dinner (all those recipes are here and tips for perfect mashed potatoes are here).

How are your holiday plans coming along? Do you have a crowd coming? Share your favorite holiday recipes in the comments, I’d love to see what you prepare.

Now about those truffles. This was the first time I’d made them, though I’d thought about it for a while. How hard could it be? It’s basically ganache, right? That was very simple to make. The pain was making the actual truffles, a bit of work and very messy. But I think it was worth it and I’m sure the guests will enjoy them.

Truffles

Here’s the basic recipe, I then added pieces of walnut to the center of some, hazelnut to others and rolled them in either crushed walnut or hazelnut. The rest are rolled in either dark cocoa and powdered sugar. The powdered sugar kind of melted into them, so I’ll probably dust them quickly right before I serve them.

Chocolate Truffles

  • 1/2 pound good bittersweet chocolate (I use 60% Cacao Bittersweet Chocolate)
  • 1/2 pound good semisweet chocolate
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tbsp Grand Marnier, (optional)
  • 1 tbsp prepared coffee
  • 1/2 tsp good vanilla extract
  • Powdered sugar
  • Cocoa powder (I used dark)
  • Nuts, whole and finely chopped (optional)

baking sheet, parchment paper

Heat the cream in a double boiler until it’s hot, not boiling, and then add chocolate chips. Whisk together until fully melted, then remove from heat.  Whisk in the optional Grand Marnier, coffee, and vanilla. Set aside at room temperature for 1 hour.

Spoon a dollop of the chocolate mixture onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Refrigerate for 30 minutes, until firm. Roll each dollop of chocolate in your hands to roughly make a round ball. Roll in powdered’ sugar, cocoa powder, or both.

Makes about 48.

These will keep refrigerated for weeks, but serve at room temperature.

cropped-flower_poinsettia_d2.jpg

Dinner Menu: Lemon Nut Pork Chops and Raspberry Poppyseed Cake

Lemon nut pork copyrighted

I had a request for a Poppyseed Cake, so I thought it was a good enough reason to use it for the menu this week. These are some of my favorite pork chops (the other being my peach chutney pork chops) and a breeze to make. If you want some good baked potato ideas, head on over to last week’s recipe exchange.

On the board tonight:

  1. Lemon-Nut Pork Chops
  2. Baked Potatoes
  3. Steamed Asparagus
  4. Raspberry Poppy Seed Cake

Lemon-Nut Pork Chops

  • 4 boneless pork loin chops (approx. ½” thick)
  • ½ tsp crushed garlic
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • ¼ tsp lemon zest
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • ¼ cup finely chopped pecans or hazelnuts (the finer the grind, the better this works, if you have a coffee grinder that’s best)
  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  • 1 lemon, quartered

skillet

Rub chops with garlic, salt, pepper, & zest. Melt butter in skillet on medium heat. Brown chops, 5 to 7 minutes on each side. Spread 1/4 nuts on plate. Remove chops 1 at a time and press 1 side into nuts. Add ¼ more nuts each time. Sprinkle any remaining nuts over chops. Stir lemon juice into pan drippings, deglaze, heat for 1 minute and spoon over chops. Serve with lemon wedges.

Baked Potatoes – scrub well, rub with olive oil and kosher salt. If you have them, use metal skewers to speed up cooking.  You can place two potatoes per skewer.  Bake at 450 degrees, for about 30-45 minutes, depending on size of the spuds.

Asparagus – snap ends off each stalk by grabbing the lower, tougher end of the stalk and then tugging on the flower end until the tough bottom stalk snaps off. I use a skillet to steam with just enough water to barely cover stalks, cover and cook for 2 to 8 minutes, until stalks are bright green, but still slightly crisp. Serve with butter or vinaigrette.

Raspberry Poppy Seed CakeRaspberry Poppy Seed Cake

  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • ½ cup butter
  • 2 tsp lemon zest
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbsp poppy seed
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 ½ cup flour
  • ½ cup sour cream

Filling:

  • 2 cup raspberries (about 12 oz)
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tsp flour
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg

10” springform pan, greased & floured and 2 bowls

In one bowl, beat sugar & butter until fluffy. Add zest and egg. Beat 2 minutes at medium speed. In second bowl, mix together poppy seeds, soda, flour & salt. Add to butter mixture. Add sour cream. Mix well. Spread batter in springform pan. Combine filling ingredients with a fork, mashing slightly and spoon over batter. Bake at 350 degrees for 45-55 minutes until golden brown. Cool slightly before removing from pan.

Shopping List:

  • 4 boneless pork loin chops (approx. ½” thick)
  • 2 oz finely chopped pecans or hazelnuts
  • 2 oz lemon juice
  • 1 lemon
  • 4 baking potatoes
  • 1 lb asparagus
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1-1/2 sticks butter
  • 2-1/2 tsp lemon zest
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbsp poppy seed
  • 4 oz sour cream
  • 1 ¾ cup flour
  • 12 oz raspberries

Also: baking soda, salt, nutmeg, pepper, crushed garlic, olive oil, kosher salt

Originally posted January 2010

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Friday Recipe Exchange: Frozen Sweet Treats

Key Lime Pie2

My house was the most popular house on the block this week. That’s because I decided to make a different batch of frozen treats everyday. All so you could have something fun for the holiday weekend. I toiled away in the kitchen and gave no thought whatsoever to my hips, freezing and taste-testing five batches of creamy, sweet, cold goodness. Each one got rave reviews, and while it was a close vote, in the end the Chocolate-Hazelnut won by a nut. Tonight’s featured recipe is the flavor that inspired the entire week.

While Gelato is by far my favorite, I played no favorites and included ice cream and sorbet in the selection. These recipes all make between 1 and 1-1/2 quarts.  Here’s the lineup in order of appearance:

Vanilla and Strawberry Ice Cream (recipes here)

Blueberry Sorbet (recipe here)

Chocolate-Hazelnut Gelato (recipe here)

Before we get to the featured recipe, what fun things do you have planned for this holiday weekend? What delicious things are you making for your cookout/picnic/get-togethers? I’ll probably take advantage of the predicted good weather to hike and cycle. Maybe even drive up to the mountains.

Now for the recipe that started this whole week of  treats. A while back I was searching for gelato recipes and came across one for Key Lime Pie. It sounded awesome. I tucked it away, planning to try it someday. Someday finally came and I put my own twist on it:

Key Lime Pie Gelato

  • Gelato Plain Base (recipe below)
  • 1 graham cracker crust, broken into pieces and frozen (recipe below)
  • 3 tbsps fresh lime juice, preferably Key lime*
  • 2 tsp grated lime zest

Make the Gelato Plain Base and chill as directed. Make the graham cracker crust as directed and freeze.

To make Key Lime Gelato: Gently whisk the limejuice and zest into the base. Pour the mixture into the container of an ice cream machine and churn according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Just after churning quickly stir in the graham cracker crust pieces, reserving some for garnish. Transfer to an airtight container and freeze for at least 2 hours before serving.

*after you mix in the lime and zest, give it a taste and add more limejuice as desired. If you’re prefer it a bit more tangy, you can add up to 2 more tbsp without worrying about consistency.

Graham Cracker Crust

Note: You can substitute graham cracker pieces if you don’t want to make an actual crust. I just like the buttery flavor and texture of the actual crust in the gelato.

For the graham cracker crust: Mix 1/2 cup melted butter, 2 tbsp sugar and 2 cups graham cracker crumbs together. Press firmly onto the bottom of a well buttered 8×8 glass baking dish and bake at 375 degrees F for 10 minutes. Cool and remove from the baking dish, break into bite-size pieces and freeze in a covered container.

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

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.

One final note. If you’re wondering what the difference is between Gelato, Sorbet and Ice Cream, click here for a pretty good explanation.

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Cherry Pineapple Dump Cake Crisp..er, cobbler..thing

I just don’t know what to call these things.  I made the full 13×9 pan this time.  I divided most of the leftovers into individual portions, set them out on a silicone mat on a baking tray, and froze them solid.  The cakebergs went into a freezer bag for storage.

I followed the same method as all of the others:  Pour a can of cherry pie filling into the pan followed by a can of pineapple chunks.  Use crushed if you prefer.  Sprinkle old fashioned rolled oats atop that, then empty a box of yellow cake mix onto it.  I like to add chopped hazelnuts-a good cup of those went on top the cake mix.  Finish the assembly by adding 2 sticks of butter, scatter thin slices about or do what I do, freeze the butter then grate it on.  Works great!  Just be sure to get it really cold first!  I also sprinkled some brown sugar as a finishing touch, maybe  a quarter cup.  Bake at 350 for 45 minutes or until the top browns and the juices bubble up.

Hazelnut crunch peach dump cake.

These are so easy.  We made it peach this time because that is what turned up in the freezer.  I forgot to look at the weight on the label but I would guess a pound or less.  Just right for the 8×8 pan.

Combine 3/4 cup of brown sugar with the fruit and add an appropriate juice.  We had some of those juice boxes and the choice was either punch or banana strawberry, we went with the latter.

I didn’t cook the fruit this time, and added no corn starch, just the fruit, the brown sugar, and the juice.  I warmed it to speed the thawing of the frozen peaches.

Dump the fruit into the pan and sprinkle on some rolled oats.

I suppose more wouldn’t hurt, this turned out well enough.

Now sprinkle half a box of cake mix over the oats, I tried to get it pretty even but I am not sure it is necessary.  I may go for clumps next go around.

Now distribute a stick of butter over the cake mix.  A grater like this one works well but remember to put the butter into the freezer for a while first.

Now sprinkle on whatever else strikes your fancy.  We’ve been using chopped hazelnuts to good effect.

Now pop that into a 350 degree oven, set the timer for 30 minutes, then take a look.  I gave mine more time.

You want it to toast on the top, you should see the juices bubbling up.  Serve warm with ice cream.

Enjoy!