18 June 2012

It tastes like childhood

So, during yesterday's strawberry extravaganza, I decided I wanted to make some strawberry ice cream. When I envisioned strawberry ice cream, I was thinking little bits of strawberry suspended in a flavourful vanilla base.

After trawling the internet for strawberry ice cream recipes, and not finding anything all that appealing, I stumbled upon this recipe over at smitten kitchen:
http://smittenkitchen.com/2009/04/buttermilk-ice-cream/

Buttermilk ice cream? Sounds nom. Buttermilk ice cream with bits of field fresh strawberries handpicked by me in it? NOMS.

So, I mix up the base more or less as instructed (I don't have a huge sweet tooth so I cut the sugar a little, and I only used 2 egg yolks because I really don't find the idea of using a dozen eggs in one batch of ice cream economical) and wind up with something reasonably custardy and working out to be a yummy ice cream base.

This is where it all started to go wrong.

I go downstairs to get the bowl of my ice cream maker, and discover that the protective saran wrap cover is gone and there are greebies frozen to the bottom of it.

Mistake #1: rinsing out the ice cream maker bowl and continuing on without refreezing. Thought it couldn't possibly warm up to the extent that it wouldn't freeze the ice cream, but I think it did.

Then I tested the ice cream base. It was slightly warm still.

Mistake #2: Continuing despite the ice cream base not being really really cold.

Then I put everything in the ice cream maker. And I mean EVERYTHING.

Mistake #3: Putting the strawberries in the ice cream maker, rather than folding them in after.

Now, all of these mistakes I would normally have not made. However, this is what happens when you take on too much during your precious short 2 days off in the week.

So, on the first try, nothing happened. So I dumped everything into a bowl, threw the ice cream maker bowl back in the freezer, and went for a walk. I came back, strained the base into the ice cream maker bowl, reserved the strawberries, and started the machine up again. Little ice crystals began to form, and my hopes were renewed that this wasn't going to be a disaster.

Then, it died.

So. Ice cream maker is pooched. I have half frozen (semifreddo?) ice cream. So, I put it in the freezer in a container with the aim of stirring it every 20 mins or so.

Only by the time I have to leave to go back to Wilberforce, there is still lots of liquid and little freezing. Have I mistakenly invented edible antifreeze??

So, I leave the whole darn thing in the freezer and forget about it until today.

After work I put the very frozen block of ice cream (would have made good ice cream bars, actually!) in the stand mixer and let 'er rip (nearly losing most of the mixture onto the counter). I beat the heck out of it, got some air in there, and it eventually resembled soft serve. Unfortunately, it also pulverized the strawberries - at this point, I was okay with this. Stuck it back in the freezer for the last time before it would hopefully be consumed ravenously.

Well, the effort was worth it... it is really very good. My brother had some, and being a good one with a turn of phrase said "It tastes like childhood." I'll take that.

So. Given that I really don't feel like getting a new ice cream maker, and don't really trust the old one, I think I'll still attempt another sans ice cream maker ice cream. I'll just pump the air into it prior to freezing, and fold the fruit in after.

But hey, not bad for a near catastrophe!

17 June 2012

For Safekeeping: Strawberry Jam & Pie Dough

Low-ish Sugar Strawberry Jam

1 4lb bag really sour granny smith apples
8 L of fresh picked strawberries (because for anything else it just isn't worth the effort)
1 orange (or grapefruit mistaken for an orange)
1.5 lemons (or more)
1 kg honey
3 cups white sugar

*ERIN NOTE: About 3/4 c. sugar per 1 c. fruit mix at time of adding.

Peel and core apples and put peels and cores in a large/tall soup pot (reserve flesh for another project).
Add enough water to just float.
Boil for a couple of hours until apple detritus is easily mushed and liquid is quite cloudy (that's pectin more or less).
Strain through mesh strainer/cheese cloth, let drip for a while to get all the liquid out. Discard apple detritus.

*ERIN NOTE: Perhaps boil down the pectin a little more to save time later.

Juice citrus. Add juice to apple pectin.
Chop up citrus leavings and wrap in cheese cloth bundle. Tie with string and suspend in pot.
Add clean hulled strawberries. Watch fearfully as pot very nearly overflows.
Bring to a rolling boil (watching fearfully as pot very nearly overflows).
Cook until fruit is softened and some liquid has reduced, skimming foam along the way and mushing strawberries until they are the desired consistency.
Remove citrus bag and let strain into bowl. Add strained liquid back into pot (that's some more pectin). Discard bag.

*ERIN NOTE: Don't cook quite so long next time perhaps?

Add honey and sugar to pot and stir. Continue to boil vigorously to reduce. Sample along the way for sweetness.

*AARON NOTE: Please don't use so much honey.
*ERIN NOTE: But I like it.
*AARON NOTE: But you LIKE honey.
*ERIN NOTE: Okay... next time less honey.

Boil until a) mix is reduced about halfway (maybe less), b) mixture is 105*C (buy thermometer that actually works), c) mix becomes jelly like when spooned thinly on a very cold saucer, d) when mixture sheets between the tines of a fork, e) when it starts splattering so much that you can't even go near it, f) a frantic combination of all of these while realizing you should really have started this earlier in the day.

Ladle into hot sterilized jars and lid. Jars should seal as they cool.

This jam is a fairly soft set. Unmistakenly jammy, but sacrificing stiffness for reduced sugar.

No swear Pie Dough

This is the first damn pie dough that has worked for me in any way.

Link: http://smittenkitchen.com/2008/11/pie-crust-102-all-butter-really-flaky-pie-dough/

Notes:
* when cutting in the butter, really don't over do it. It will look totally uneven. Don't worry.
* keep a really light touch with the mix. Don't so much knead as toss until it all starts to come together itself.
* don't be afraid of adding water. I added about 3/4 c. ice water all told.
* makes enough for a double-crust pie and then some. Lots left over for kisses (sugar and cinnamon all rolled up into left over dough, sliced and baked).