Monthly Archives: December 2010

Interesting ice cream idea…

Okay, I know I had a poll a few weeks back on what flavor ice cream to make. Thanks to all of you for suggestions. On the actual survey I got 3 responses, but got several more from you personally, including: Pistachio, plum, anything chocolate, etc.

I definitely think all of those are great ideas. I will consider them. I will also probably focus on the Bananas Foster ice cream, White Chocolate Peppermint ice cream, and the cookie pieces ice cream soon.

I was thinking…chocolate covered bacon ice cream, maybe with some maple flavor? LOL, too crazy?

Just a random thought.

What do you think? Comment back.

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Gingerbread and Pumpkin Mousse Trifle

Hey everyone, hopefully you’ve all had a great holiday weekend, or if you don’t celebrate, just a great weekend in general.

This dessert is something that I’ve made for the past few years, whether it is for Thanksgiving or for Christmas. I’ve made several variations, as it is a very versatile dish that has endless flavor combination possibilities. It’s fairly easy to make, but looks like it took some time. I always have made the cake layers, whipped cream, and anything else from scratch. If you want to make it even easier, use a cake mix, or a store bought pound cake or any other favorite loaf cake.

For example, last year, I made a Tiramisu inspired trifle. Instead of lady fingers, I made a Genoise cake (Italian Sponge cake) as the base dipped in espresso, and layered a mix of whipped cream and sweetened mascarpone between the layers, topped with a dusting of cocoa powder.

Another time, I made a spice cake as the base layers, and layered homemade raspberry curd and whipped cream between each cake layer.

This year I decided to make a gingerbread cake, with a pumpkin mousse and stabilized whipped cream in between each later. Stabilized whipped cream is cream whipped with a little gelatin in order to help it set up. I did this because I was making it the night before. By stabilizing it, it can last a day or two longer than if you just used regular whipped cream.

I adapted the recipes for the gingerbread and pumpkin mousse using the Pumpkin Gingerbread Trifle recipe on my Epicurious phone app, which they sourced from Gourmet Magazine. I substituted ingredients mainly in the gingerbread because I either had overlooked them, or ran out.

What You’ll Need:

Gingerbread:

 

– 2 cups all-purpose flour

– 1 tsp baking soda

– 2 tsps ground ginger (I used closer to 2.5 or 3 for more flavor)

– ½ tsp cinnamon (I used 1 teaspoon)

– ½ tsp salt

– 1 stick unsalted butter (room temperature)

– 1 cup packed brown sugar (I used light brown because that’s what I had, recipe called for dark)

– 1 large egg

– ½ cup maple syrup (The recipe called for molasses, but this is the closest thing I had available)

– ¼ cup whole milk and ½ cup of sour cream (the recipe called for ¾ cup buttermilk, but I used milk and sour cream to recreate the tang. I didn’t have any buttermilk available and forgot to buy it)

– ½ cup of hot water (not boiling)

Pumpkin Mousse:

– 1 envelope (1/4 ounce) unflavored gelatin

– ¼ cup cold water

– 1 (15 oz) can pure pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie mix)

– ½ cup packed brown sugar

– ½ tsp cinnamon (I used slightly more)

– ½ tsp grated nutmeg

– ½ tsp ground ginger

– 1/8 tsp salt

– 1 cup chilled heavy whipping cream

– ½ tsp pure vanilla extract (I used slightly more)

Stabilized Whipped Cream:

– ½ envelope unflavored gelatin

– 1/8 cup cold water

– 1 ½ cups chilled heavy whipping cream

– 3 Tbsp granulated sugar

– 1 tsp pure vanilla extract

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The How To:

Note: You can make the gingerbread the day before and keep unsliced and covered. Otherwise, make it several hours ahead of time if making the same day and allow to cool completely.

Gingerbread (Do ahead):

1: Preheat Oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, with rack in the middle

2: Butter / grease a 13 x 9 baking pan. Line with foil or parchment paper, and grease the liner

3: In a stand mixer, or in a large bowl using a hand mixer, beat the butter and brown sugar at medium speed until they fully incorporate, becoming light and fluffy in texture. This will take a few minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl once or twice to ensure all ingredients are mixed evenly

4: Whisk together flour, baking soda, dry spices, and salt in a separate bowl

5: To the butter/sugar mixture, beat in the egg, milk, and sour cream until blended

6: Slowly add the flour mixture in small batches with the mixer on low (otherwise you’ll be wearing the flour). Keep adding until fully incorporated and smooth, but do not over-mix

7: To the batter, mix in the hot water and beat for another minute

8: Spread batter evenly in baking pan and bake about 35-40 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean from the center. Cool completely for a few hours.

Pumpkin Mousse:

1: Place the cold water in a small saucepan and sprinkle gelatin evenly across the water. Let set for a minute or two

2: Turn on the burner to medium heat, bring gelatin water to a simmer until it is dissolved completely

3: In a bowl, combine the pumpkin, spices, salt, and vanilla flavoring and add the liquid gelatin. Whisk until fully mixed and combined

4: In the bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, preferably chilled, or a large bowl using a hand mixer or whisk, add the whipping cream and beat until it firms up and forms soft to medium peaks (Be careful to avoid overwhipping, or you’ll have lumpy cream/butter)

Note: Peaks refer to the whipped cream’s ability to hold it’s shape. Soft peaks will hold some shape, but will generally be loose and pliable. Medium peaks are slightly stiffer. Stiff peaks means that the whipped cream will stand up on end without moving or flopping back down…anything past stiff peaks = BUTTER.

5: In 3 batches, fold, not stir, this whipped cream into the pumpkin mixture until fully incorporated. Do not overmix or mixture may deflate a bit. If not using right away, cover and place in the fridge until ready to use

Stabilized Whipped Cream:

1: Place the cold water in a small saucepan and sprinkle half envelope of gelatin across. Let sit a minute or two. As before, turn on to medium and bring to a simmer until dissolved completely. Let sit until it begins to cool a bit, but is still liquid

2: In the bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, preferably chilled, or a large bowl using a hand mixer or whisk, add the whipping cream. Beat until it reaches soft peaks, then slowly add the sugar and vanilla, and beat until it stiffens up to medium sized peaks. If not using right away, cover and place in the fridge until ready to assemble

Assemble the Trifle:

1: Cube the gingerbread into 1 inch cubes.

2: In a trifle bowl, or a medium sized glass bowl, or whatever you have, layer the bottom with cake pieces in a single layer, covering completely

3: On top of the cake layer, place about half of the pumpkin mousse on top and cover completely, smoothing and evening the layer as you go

4: On top of the mousse, add half of the whipped cream and do the same, covering the mousse and smoothing as you go.

5: Repeat the process starting with the cake, then the mousse, and then ending with the final layer of whipped cream. You can top with crystallized ginger, dried cranberries, etc, or serve as-is.

Try it out. It’s really a simple dessert to make. Enjoy!

– Anthony

If you can’t see the picture slideshow, Click Below to see the individual pictures, and in a larger format.

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Gnudi Colony (Pronounced “Nudie”): Spinach-Ricotta Gnudi with Quick Tomato Sauce

I know some of you may ask, “What are gnudi?” Is this post safe for work and safe for children? Should I not be looking at this post here?

Yes, yes it is. Gnudi can be thought of as ravioli filling without the actual pasta around it. They are more like dumplings made from the ricotta mixture, using eggs and flour as a binding agent. And they are delicious. They are similar to ricotta gnocchi, and if made well, should be light.

I’ve made gnudi before, and after cooking them in boiling water, have toasted them in some brown butter. They are delicious, and have a nice crispy texture on the outside, but I didn’t do that this time, instead opting to serve them with a quick tomato sauce.

I think with this batch, I used a little too much flour, so they were a little heavier than what I expected. But, they tasted good, and I know now to use less flour in the mixture. I’ll edit the ingredients below to reflect this reduction in flour.

What You’ll Need:

Sauce Ingredients:

– 1 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
– 2-3 Tbsp tomato paste
– 1 small onion, diced
– 3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
– 1 tsp oregano or Italian seasoning
– ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
– salt and pepper to taste
– ¼ cup water
– red pepper flake (optional)

Gnudi Ingredients:

– 15 oz of ricotta cheese (use full-fat here if you know what’s good, lol)
– 2 eggs
– ½ cup flour (add extra 1 tsp at a time if the mixture seems too thin)
– 1 package of thawed spinach, drained very well (or you can use cooled sautéed spinach)
– 1 cup of parmesan or your favorite grated cheese
– 1 tsp garlic powder
– a few grates of fresh nutmeg
– Salt and pepper to taste

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The How-To:

Note: Before starting to cook the sauce and gnudi, set a pot of water over medium / medium-high heat so that it comes to a boil while you’re prepping everything else. Salt the water well after it starts to boil.

Sauce:

 
1: In a sauté pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat for about 3-4 minutes, until hot. Add the onion and garlic, salt and pepper, and stir. Let the onions and garlic sweat for a few minutes, making sure to stir to avoid burning anything. You can add the optional red pepper flake at this point to infuse the oil.

2: After the onions start to become soft, add the crushed tomatoes, the garlic paste, the water, and the oregano (or Italian seasoning). Stir, and reduce heat to medium low. Continue to stir occasionally while it cooks. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Gnudi:

1: If you don’t have a food processor, you can finely chop the spinach by hand, then place in a bowl. But I used my small one. In the bowl of the food processor, place the spinach, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and nutmeg, and pulse until finely chopped.

2: Add the ricotta, and pulse again until combined. Move to a medium sized bowl.

3: To the spinach and ricotta mixture, first add the grated cheese. Combine well.

4: Add the eggs next, mixing until the eggs are well combined.

5: Add the flour in small increments, making sure to mix well so that none of the flour remains.

6: Add some extra flour to a board, about 1 cup, and then using two spoons, make small ricotta dumplings. Place these in the flour, and roll until coated. Shape them lightly and set aside. Continue until all of the mixture is used up.

7: Cook the gnudi in batches, about 4-5 at a time if they are large, or more if they are smaller. They should float when they are done, which may take about 5-6 minutes or longer. Remove from the water, drain, and set aside.

8: When all are done, serve with the sauce and extra grated cheese.

Enjoy!

– Anthony

Click below to see the pictures individually…

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Richard Blais on CNN’s Eatocracy blog

Check out Richard Blais, Top Chef All-Stars contestant, and chef-owner of Flip Burger Boutique in Atlanta, GA, on CNN’s Eatocracy blog, making scrambled eggnog.

I know, it sounds funky, but really it’s just eggnog made using liquid nitrogen to freeze it into ice cream, but also making it look like scrambled eggs. Gotta love cooking and science!

Check out Richard using liquid nitrogen to make “scrambled eggnog”

Richard’s new show, Blais-off, premiere tonight, and is on The Science Channel on Friday nights at 10 PM (check your local listings).

EDIT: I just watched the first two episodes of the series. The shows center around Richard preparing foods using advanced techniques, such as sous-vide, chemical/molecular techniques, and other innovative methods, and comparing them to the classics. Think along the lines of Food Network’s Throwdown merged with Alton Brown’s Good Eats. The shows were definitely entertaining, and it was cool to see the different spins on the classics. For example, Richard made mozzarella “spheres” and liquid nitrogen frozen basil to go on top of his pizza. Watch the show and see for yourself.

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…We all scream for…ICE CREAM

Sorry for the lack of updates in the past few days. It’s been busy, and I actually haven’t had much time to make anything. If time works with me tomorrow, or Friday, I should be able to post what I’m planning to make, which is ricotta gnudi. Think a ricotta dumpling, or a ravioli without the pasta sheets. More to come on that later.

But first, a question. It’s been kinda cold already this Winter in South Florida, and regardless, I still think it’s perfect weather for Ice Cream. I haven’t broken out the old KitchenAid Ice Cream attachment in a while, and it’s time to bring it out of storage. What flavor do you think I should attempt to make? I’ve included a few different ones, as well as some general choices, and an “other”.

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Warm pumpkin pudding cake with vanilla ice cream

Made this cake at the last minute while making dinner. I underbaked it slightly to have a molten/pudding like texture. Add some ice cream on top and it’s an awesome dessert, especially for the (somewhat) cold Florida weather.

I posted the recipe below. I got lucky because I did this by memory from another cake, and didn’t use the recipe when I actually made it. Below are the ingredients that I used.

 

What You’ll Need:

– 1 can pumpkin puree (not the pumpkin pie mix)

– 4 eggs

– 1 cup sugar

– 1 stick unsalted butter (1/4 cup, or 8 Tbsp), room temperature

– 1 cup sour cream

– 1/2 cup packed brown sugar

– 1 tsp Vanilla Extract

– 1/8 cup of vegetable or canola oil

– 2 Tsp cinnamon (more if you want a strong flavor)

– 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (add another 1/4  to 1/2 cup if batter is too thin)

– 1 1/2 tsp baking powder

– Pinch of salt

The How-To (No step-by-step pics, as this was done from memory):

Note: Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Also, grease a round 9-inch baking dish, or a cake pan.

 

1: In the bowl of a stand mixer, or a large bowl if using a hand mixer, place both the butter and sugars. Beat together on medium until it is light and creamy, probably a few minutes.

2: Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then add the 4 eggs. Mix until incorporated.

3: To the egg mixture, add the vanilla, salt, and cinnamon. Mix briefly.

4: Add pumpkin puree and sour cream and mix again. Mix in the baking powder, and add the flour in 1/2 cup batches until it is fully added, only mixing briefly to incorporate. Don’t mix too much, as the cake may be tough.

5: After batter is combined, place into greased cake pan and bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees. Check the cake at this point. If the center is still loose and shakes quite a bit, continue baking for another 10-15 minutes. You don’t want to bake this until it’s completely brown, dry, and solid. I underbaked mine just to the point where the center looked moist, but did not move anymore.

Let the cake cool for about 10 minutes, then serve warm, with ice cream or whipped cream on top.

Note: I hope this works out. I put this together from memory and didn’t have a written recipe in front of me (a baking/pastry faux pas I know, unless you’re an accomplished baker, which I am not, lol). Like I said, I lucked out that it worked out. It could’ve been a wet mess…a cake fail, or rather a Cake Wreck. You may benefit from using a cake mix and adding the pumpkin to it instead, lol. Best of luck.

If the recipe doesn’t work out, comment back, and my apologies in advance if that happens. I will use more precise recipes for future baking endeavors.

– Anthony

Edit: I had it again the day after. I just microwaved it for 30 seconds and added the ice cream on top. Still tasted great.

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Top Chef Season 8 – Nightmare at the Museum – Video – Bravo TV Official Site

Jen Carroll’s Exit Interview

Top Chef Season 8 – Nightmare at the Museum – Video – Bravo TV Official Site.

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