Tuesday, August 21, 2012

A Welcome Home Treat!

Mr. Ripe had been away for 3 weeks and he returned tonight. While I was sure he'd have jet lag and not want to do much of anything, who can refuse berry cobbler upon an anticipated homecoming? I deliberated over what kind of treat to make all evening yesterday and morning today. I wanted to make use of some of the berries I froze after wild blueberry picking upstate a few weeks ago, and I wanted it to be good! (It's always so hard to choose what recipes I want to put special, limited time foods in - I feel this tension between wanting to save them for as long as possible and wanting to share them with everyone, not knowing exactly when the right moment to use them will come!)

So I settled on a triple-berry cobbler with strawberries and blueberries I picked and froze, and some raspberries from the store. And then I decided a warm berry dessert wouldn't be complete without some sort or ice cream, so I whipped up a batch of cinnamon gelato as a sidekick.

The recipe for the cobbler is below, adapted only slightly from a woman who really knows what she's doing.

5 c berries (I mixed 1 c tiny strawberries, 3 c raspberries, and 1 c blueberries)
3/4 c sugar
2 T cornstarch
1/4 t salt

1 c whole wheat pastry flour
3/4 c all-purpose flour
1 3/4 t baking powder
pinch salt
1/4 c sugar
6 T butter
3/4 c cream + more to brush top with

Preheat oven to 375. In a large bowl, combine filling ingredients and set aside. Although the topping can be made by hand, I did it in my food processor by combining the dry ingredients and then adding the butter and hitting Pulse until the mixture looked sandy with some pea-sized chunks of butter remaining. Then, through the top, pour in cream slowly, and Pulse just 5 or 6 times, until evenly distributed but still crumbly. (If making by hand, mix dry ingredients, then cut in butter until it looks the same, and add cream and mix with a fork.) Dump topping dough out onto a cutting board or clean surface and knead only a couple of times - you don't want it to warm up from your body heat! Now roll out or pat dough into a square about 1/4" thick. Cut into 9 squares. Place berries into a 9x9 baking dish and and layer cobbler dough on top - Some of my dough pieces overlapped. Bake for 1 hour, let cool (I know, but you must resist the temptation to dig in right away!), and enjoy with ice cream or alone. Perfect for dessert or breakfast!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Buttermilk Gelato

Aww yeah! A few years ago I had the best ice cream flavor I'd ever had at Ici in Berkeley, CA. Ici is one of those ice cream shops that changes its flavor rotation daily. For those of you who've never been or never heard of it, it's also the ice cream creation of a former Chez Panisse pastry chef (what culinary gem in the Bay Area is not run by Chez Panisse veterans?). Ici is one of those ice cream shops that makes me feel happy. The sweets are special, not just run-of-the-mill. A cone from here (homemade, with a dollop of chocolate in the bottom) is a perfect celebration for no good reason, or for any reason! Anyway, yes, back to the best flavor I had ever had: It was buttermilk!
And since the flavors changed so frequently, I never had it again. Once, and then never again! So sad. I've tried similar sounding flavors other places since then, but none has been as good.

I started making experimenting with making ice cream and gelato comfortably (read: just swingin it, no recipes or precise measurements needed) years ago. This summer has been the best frozen treat summer of my life! Here at 666, we've been churning out both fruity and creamy popsicles, flavors including chili lime mango, strawberry mint, lemonade, and bittersweet chocolate, as well as gelato. So far, we've made chamomile (from fresh flowers picked by invitation from an old kitchen friend), mint chocolate chip, and ... my long lost favorite !!! Buttermilk!

Here's my buttermilk recipe. It makes 1 quart. The key is to eat it within the first week of freezing it, because otherwise it gets pretty icey. You need an ice cream maker, too. I use this one, which is not too expensive an works very well for small-ish batch ice cream.

2 c whole milk
2 egg yolks
3/4 c sugar
2 T cornstarch
2 c buttermilk
juice from 1 1/2 lemons

In a medium saucepan, heat milk over medium heat. As it heats, whisk sugar and cornstarch in one bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk egg yolks. When milk is just about to boil, temper the egg yolks to raise their temperature by adding some of the hot milk to the yolks and mixing well. Add warm egg yolks to pot and stir rapidly. Continue stirring, and then add the sugar/cornstarch mix. It is important to whisk this well as you want as few clumps to form as possible. When the custard is beginning to boil, turn off and remove from heat. Whisk in the buttermilk and lemon juice. Pour through a sieve and cool to room temperature. Then cover and cool in fridge at least 3 hrs. When completely cool, Freeze in ice cream maker.