Monday, June 28, 2010

key lime pie ice cream sammiches

just because i live in a climate where 75 degrees is considered sweltering doesn't mean i'm immune to the it's-june-and-that-means-frozen-summer-treats mindset. i recently read that ciao bella is releasing several new frozen desserts this being a key lime ice cream sandwich. well, key lime pie has been one of my absolute favorites for as long as i can remember and when i read the ciao bella news i thought "i must make this. now!" this treat might win fastest turn around time from my brain to my belly. and the best part about them is that they exceeded my highest expectations.

the ice cream is creamy, tart and smooth just as key lime pie filling should be, and it really does taste like pie. and the graham crackers are, well, like graham cracker crust! i made my own graham crackers* which i would highly recommend because you can bake them slightly less so that they are a little soft rather than crispy crispy crackers.

key lime pie ice cream sammiches
ice cream ingredients:
1 14 ounce can coconut milk (not lite)
3/4 (scant) cup sugar
1/2 cup soy milk (plus a little)
1/2 cup key lime juice (i used nellie and joe's double strength**)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

measure your coconut milk and top off with enough soy milk to get an even two cups. pour into a bowl and add the sugar. whisk until the sugar is dissolved. stir in the remaining 1/2 cup soy milk, key lime juice and vanilla extract. taste and add more lime juice if needed.

pour into an ice cream maker and freeze according to the maker's instructions (mine took about 30 minutes). pour onto a baking sheet lined with parchment and smooth out so that it's about an inch thick. freeze until firm.

to assemble:
i used a biscuit cutter to make nice uniform graham cracker circles. as i mentioned above, i cooked them so that they were still a little soft. once the ice cream is firm use a slightly smaller cookie cutter to cut through the ice cream. place onto a graham cracker, top with another and press together slightly. wrap individual sammiches in wax paper and freeze until you're ready to eat them.

*need a graham cracker recipe? there's a great one in vegan cookies invade your cookie jar that is both tasty and fast (no chilling time). this is the one i used with one little change - i used agave syrup instead of molasses for a lighter flavor. there's also a yummy one over at smitten kitchen that i've made with delicious results.

**my bottle claimed to be double strength. don't know if it really is but if yours appears to be normal strength you might need to use a bit more. if you can't find key lime juice regular lime juice should work just fine.


Monday, June 21, 2010

strawberry granita

What to do when it's a thousand degrees outside and there are strawberries in the fridge? Why not make some granita! I did a quick Google search, and came up with the following recipe. It is super easy, deliciously refreshing, and so much easier than making ice cream. It has all the freshness of perfectly ripe strawberries, in an icy-cold refreshing dessert!

fresh strawberry granita
Bon Appetit, May 2005

1 cup hot water
3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3 cups sliced hulled strawberries (1 pound whole berries) plus additional berries for garnish

Stir first 3 ingredients in small bowl until sugar dissolves. Blend 3 cups strawberries in processor until smooth. Add sugar syrup and blend until combined.

Pour mixture into 13x9x2-inch nonstick metal baking pan. Freeze until icy around edges, about 25 minutes. Using fork, stir icy portions into middle of pan. Freeze until mixture is frozen, stirring edges into center every 20 to 30 minutes, about 1 1/2 hours. Using fork, scrape granita into flaky crystals. Cover tightly and freeze. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Keep frozen.) Scrape granita into bowls. Garnish with berries and serve.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

wedding pies!

Over Memorial Day weekend, Darcy and I undertook the great pie making endeavor. A few months ago, our friends Jane and Craig asked us to make the dessert - pies! - for their impending nuptials. D and I said yes, and the wheels started turning. Oh, the ideas we had for pies! Mango, coconut, various other tropical flavors, to mesh with the Indian food that would be served at dinner. In the end, it came down to seasonal flavors and colors, the fresh bounty of late spring. After a tasting a few weeks ago, the bride and groom settled on four flavors:

strawberry rhubarb, with a hint of orange zest. I cannot tell you how amazing this smelled as the berries and rhubarb macerated in the orange zest-sugar combination; blackberry apricot, with a splash of cassis (a berry liquer) and walnut streusel topping.

Our friend Jill said the topping "smelled like Christmas" with a blend of cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove; vegan chocolate, oh so creamy, with a graham cracker crumb crust and a splash of whiskey. Oh, and it's a no-bake pie; and, finally, my personal favorite - a truly luscious lemon curd, from Alice Waters, topped with blueberries and citrus zest. These disappeared at the wedding!

We had loads of help from our friends - Mo, Jill, Chris. Andy was our clean-up help, dutifully washing dishes - which were plentiful! In the end, we successfully made about 130 mini pies, and one large Strawberry Rhubarb pie. All were beautifully displayed on a pie tower constructed by the groom.

Below are some of the recipes we used, plus loads of pictures of the whole process.

Congrats, Jane and Craig! Thank you for giving us the honor of baking for your wedding. Xoxoxo.

vegan chocolate whiskey pie

for the crust:
3 cups graham cracker crumbs (about 18 graham crackers)
1/2 cup canola oil
3 tablespoons soy milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

place the graham cracker crumbs in a mixing bowl. drizzle with the oil and mix until moistened. add the soy milk and vanilla and mix with your fingers, the crumbs should hold together if pinched. press into pie tins. (note: your graham cracker/oil ratio may vary. vegan graham crackers can be hard to find so if you make your own you'll probably use less oil, add gradually).

for the filling:
12 oz. dark chocolate chips
1/3 cup whiskey (jamesons is delicious)
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 lb. silken tofu, room temperature

melt the chocolate with the whiskey over medium heat, when melted and smooth stir in the syrup and vanilla. remove from heat. blend the tofu in a food processor or blender until smooth. add the chocolate mixture and combine.

you'll be able to get about a dozen little (4 inch-ish) pies out of this.

country pie pastry
used for the fruit and lemon curd pies
(makes enough for 30 4-inch pies)

4 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into pieces
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
1/3 to 1/2 cup ice water

In a food processor, add the flour, salt, sugar, butter and shortening. Pulse for 30 seconds until mixture resembles a coarse meal. Add ice water, one tablespoon at a time, until the dough just holds together.

Divide dough in thirds and shape into flat rounds. Wrap in plastic and chill for at least 1 hour.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

49 cent dinner

yep...that's right, this dinner only cost 49 cents. plus we had two lunches leftover so i'd say it's a bargain. all i bought was a head of lettuce for this big money side salad.

the rest was leftovers we needed to use plus some staples. i love cooking this way, opening up the fridge and using whatever is on it's last legs. it makes me feel like i'm on the tv show chopped (that's the one where they get the basket of mystery ingredients, right?). well my basket contained onion, blanched broccoli, tomato, shallot, two little baby red potatoes and green bell pepper. add to that a couple staples like tofu and brown basmati rice and you have yourself a delicious rice bowl entree and side salad.

the tomato and green pepper went into the salad.

i mixed up a little red miso paste and water to stir into the cooked rice for more flavor.
the tofu got dredged in a cajun spice mixture that i made a long time ago for something (it's paprika, cayenne, salt and......other things) and pan fried.
the blanched broccoli just got a little time in the pan to heat through.
i thinly sliced the potatoes and pan fried them as well until browned and a little crispy.
all of this topped the rice and was finished off with a crispy carmelized onion/shallot mixture.

and i must say it was the best tasting 49 cent dinner i've ever had.


Thursday, June 3, 2010

sour mix

i'm not sure why we suddenly decided that we need to make our own sour mix. i can't remember the last time i bought the stuff and i wasn't really having a hankering for a sour alcoholic beverage of any sort, but when kris first mentioned the idea i was all over it. maybe it's because using fresh fruit and homemade syrups and mixes is the thing in bars now. or maybe it's just because i always love when i realize i can make something that is so far superior to it's store bought version (haHA i win!). either way this stuff is like a whole different concoction. with none of the thick, tooth cringey sweetness of store bought this sour mix is like the most awesome lemonade mix waiting to meet his alcoholic buddy. in our case that alcohol was jameson's* and though the whole whiskey sour thing never sounded particularly tasty to me this one was divine.

when we searched online for a recipe i was shocked (and appalled!) at the number that used corn syrup. i mean, what's the point? might at well save yourself a lot of squeezing and just buy a bottle. then i found a super simple one here and, while this whole idea is very basic and might not seem especially noteworthy, it makes a mean drink. and everyone deserves to know that the best sour beverage of your life (i predict this would make the most refreshing margarita ever) is just a few lemons (and limes and simple syrup) away.

sour mix

2 parts lemon juice
2 parts simple syrup
1 part lime juice

mix 'em all together and drink up!

*and why did we just happen to have a nearly full bottle of jameson's hanging around? that would be leftover from the chocolate whiskey pies which you will hear more about later in an upcoming post that will be overflowing with pie-y goodness!