Thursday, June 28, 2012

Lemon and Basil Sorbet

Lemon Basil Sorbet duo

Are you a fan of Italian ices?  When I lived in the Lehigh Valley in Pennsylvania, they called them water ices. Joe has been buying a lot of the lemon Italian ices from the supermarket, and I wondered about making something similar.  After two rounds of homemade ice cream recently, it sounded like a lighter and more refreshing option.  And not in that bland diet way.  These are wonderfully cold and lemony and won't weigh you down.

Lemon Basil Sorbet single

But I didn't want to do a plain lemon sorbet, and I remembered Kiersten from Oh My Veggies blogged a Meyer Lemon and Basil Sorbet a while back.  Alas, meyer lemons were in season when she blogged them in February but they aren't now, and I've never seen a meyer lemon sold around here.  But the sorbet still turned out awesome with ordinary lemons.  I was afraid when making the simple syrup that it smelled too strongly of basil, but when tasting the sorbet it truly was the perfect amount of the herb.  It doesn't overpower the lemon at all but enhances it, and while the basil definitely has a presence I wonder if others could guess what it is.

Lemon Basil Sorbet

And Joe?  He went nuts for the sorbet.  It costs just a little more to make the homemade sorbet rather than buying the Italian ices -- luckily I plucked all the basil off my front porch -- but the sorbet was way better.  I can't say I'll be replacing his Italian ice fix with homemade sorbet a few times a week, but it will make an appearance a few more times this summer.

Click here to visit Oh My Veggies for the recipe.

Update: This post made the Foodbuzz Top 9.  Thanks for all the buzz!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Bailey's Ice Cream


I had been looking to bake something, but it's been a scorcher of a week.  I went to the beach yesterday and actually didn't enjoy it, compliments of what felt like heatstroke.  So forget any recipes I had been eyeing that involved using the oven.  My mother forbids using the oven at her house in the summer, but how else can you get great summer pies and cobblers?  But even I couldn't argue with that on these 95-degree days, so ice cream it was.  And what an ice cream.

This tastes just like Bailey's, and is one of the best ice cream recipes I've ever made.  Some ice creams turn a little icy or crystallized, but this was very rich, creamy, and luxurious.  The alcohol is cooked out, but the taste still has some potency.  The book also has suggestions for mixing it up: throwing in a half-cup of chocolate chips at the end, or a teaspoon of espresso powder for fans of Irish coffee.

Irish Coffee
Scoop some Bailey's Ice Cream into a glass of cold-brew coffee for a fun take on Irish coffee.
I won't lie -- this is an expensive ice cream to make.  Cream and sugar don't cost much, but Bailey's does.  I got a 375-milliliter bottle for $18.99.  That gave me the amount I needed for the recipe, plus a little kick left for me over ice.  Joe mentioned that you can make your own Irish cream with some Jameson and heavy cream, and I see that covered in a bunch of blog posts.  Has anyone ever tried that, and would you recommend it?  I normally say you should use quality ingredients when cooking and baking, but it doesn't make sense to spend over $20 making about a quart of ice cream.  Even if it is a really freakin' good ice cream.

This post was shared with:
Whatcha Whipped Up Wednesdays
Sweets for a Saturday

Friday, June 15, 2012

Plum Skillet Cake

Plum Skillet Cake

Sometimes it's fun to conquer baking challenges -- braided bread, lattice-top pies, croissants -- but sometimes it's nice just to mix together a few ingredients and throw them in the oven. Here a cake batter is easily stirred up, poured into a skillet, and topped with fruit. No fuss, and a stunning and delicious dessert.

Plum Skillet Cake 2

The cake is simple but tasty, and the cast iron gives the edges a nice crust. The plums, which I can find bitter in their fresh form, mellow out as they bake to become lightly sweet and tart, even the peel. A dollop of whipped cream makes a slice even better.


Some important tips to share: Wait until the cake is halfway done baking before adding the plums.  The top row is the first cake I made, and you can see that the beautiful plums sank into the batter as the cake baked.  Also, the plums were only in the center of the cake, so the outer edges didn't have any of the delicious fruit.  In the bottom row, I added the plums after 15 minutes of baking, and you can see that they barely sank in.  I also increased the number of plums to four, so every slice of cake has plenty of fruit.

Update: This post made the Foodbuzz Top 9!  Thanks for all the buzz!

This post was shared with:
Whatcha Whipped Up Wednesdays
Sweets for a Saturday

Friday, June 8, 2012

Rum Raisin Ice Cream with Caramel Sauce

Rum Raisin

I've bailed the ice cream maker out of the basement, and given it a home on the counter.  I know that sounds like neglect, but it's big and heavy due to the built-in compressor (no need to freeze churning bowl!) so I waited for ice cream season to begin.  I never thought Rum Raisin Ice Cream was my thing, until I had something like it at a local ice cream shop last summer.  And then I saw this recipe at Pastry Affair a few months ago, and it's been on my brain since.  And apparently it's Joe's childhood favorite.  I'm not a big fan of drinking rum, but I've concluded I love rum-flavored desserts like Vanilla Bean-Pineapple Tart, Black Bottom Tart, and Baba au Rhum.

Rum Raisin Ice Cream 2

This was excellent.  The raisins are briefly cooked in rum and soak up all the liquid.  When they were almost done I put the lid on my saucepan and turned off the burner, and the flame puffed up before going out -- except it must have caught some alcohol fumes because the lid rim was suddenly blue and aflame.  "Whoa!" I shouted.  "What's up?"  Joe called from the other room.  "Unintentional flambĂ©!"  It was entertaining, but just be careful.

If you're like me, you might ask if you need the caramel sauce.  No one needs caramel sauce, but you want it.  Trust me.  The ice cream and the caramel are each very good on their own, but combined they might sing to you.

View the recipe at Pastry Affair.

Want more recipes for frozen desserts?  Here are some oldies but goodies:

Chocolate Gelato 2

Blackberry Ice Cream

Lychee Sorbet

Caramelized Pear Ice Cream

Maple Ice Cream

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Boston Globe review: The Bloomy Rind

Bloomy Rind cheese slate
Shirley Goh/Globe Staff
Check out my review of The Bloomy Rind in Hingham, Massachusetts.  It's a cheese and gourmet foods shop with a chef who used to cook for Todd English.  This is a cheese slate at the shop with manchego cheese (on the left), camembert (on the right), spicy plum chutney, Picholine olives, dried apricots, Medjool dates, and fresh figs.

Even if you're nowhere near the south of Boston, you might be interested in all the cheeses and gourmet items I tasted.  There were so many, I couldn't fit them all in the review.

Read the review here.  If you run into the subscriber pay wall, the review is also available here (but with only one photo).  Again, I'm open to suggestions of South Shore restaurants and food places to cover!