Tag Archives: Cook the Books!

Cook the Books October! Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking with Marcella Hazan

29 Sep

Well, I’ve fought it long enough. Fall is, decidedly and unfortunately, here. I get it from the internet that people all over the country love the onset of fall, with its sweaters and its pumpkin flavored everything, but that’s not the case here in Seattle. Now don’t get me wrong. I like the fall, when it’s actually the fall. But here in Seattle, fall means its time to start worrying that because you don’t know exactly what it is that your sump pump does, it will break and you’re doomed. Buzzkill.  And, I mean shit, I spent the entire past Saturday re-organizing my closet. If that doesn’t say summer is over, I’m not sure what does. And with fall, comes more time in the kitchen. You know what sounds good this fall? Italian food. Let’s cook it, shall we?

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And if you wanna cook Italian food, you start with Marcella Hazan. For this month’s Cook the Books Challenge, we’re taking on Hazan’s classic, Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking.

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Marcella changed the way Americans eat Italian food, and in 2010 won a James Beard lifetime achievement award.  All told, she wrote six cookbooks.  And, it must be noted, Marcella Hazan died yesterday, September 29, 2013. Obviously, Meg and I didn’t know this a few months back when we chose the cookbooks for this fall, and Hazan’s classic specifically for this month, but it must be said. And her incredible contributions to Italian cooking must be noted. Rest in peace, Marcella. We, and our plates, are all better off because of you.  Read more about Marcella and her legacy here and here.

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Marcella Hazan, 1924-2013

Do check out this modern classic of Italian cuisine, and cook along with us this October. Cook from Marcella’s classic tome, blog about it, then send us your link (to cookthebookschallenge@gmail.com) by the end of the month, and we’ll include you in our end of the month round-up. Fun! So put on your flannel jammies, pull those tomatoes you preserved last month out of the cupboard, make sure your gutters are clear (If you live in Seattle that is. Nothing says fall in Seattle like worrying that your basement will flood!), and let’s make some pasta!

Cook the Books! Review and Round-up! Sweet Cream and Sugar Cones!

5 Sep

Hey, Cook the Bookers!  So, it’s September.  But that doesn’t mean summer is over.  First, it’s still warm most places.  Second, summer doesn’t end till you pry it out of my soon to be rain-soaked fingers on September 22nd.  Third, I’m still talking about ice cream, so it must still be summer right?  Don’t you leave me summer, don’t you dare leave me!

Basil Ice Cream, by Rake and Make

Basil Ice Cream, by Rake and Make

So we made ice cream and ice cream related products in August.  Pretty fun, right?

Lemon Gingersnaps, by Homemade Trade

Lemon Gingersnaps, by Homemade Trade

Lime Blackberry Popsicles, by Grow and Resist

Lime Blackberry Popsicles, by Grow and Resist

I’d made ice cream before.  And blogged about it even…see?!  I loved this ice cream, bt dubs, and I stand by that recipe.  This month, I gotta admit, I think the late summer action made me a bit lazy.  Double S razzed me for promising her ice cream all month, then not making said promised recipe till this past Monday.  Yep, I labored on Labor Day by making ice cream.  I dunno, making ice cream just seemed too hard to me all month, even though I really wanted to eat it.  There was the whisking, and the pre-freezing of bowls, and the ice baths.  I just couldn’t do it most days.  Then most nights I was watching Orange is the New Black and couldn’t be whisking or making ice baths.

And shit, I live in Seattle.  Do you even know how much good ice cream we have here?  I’m talking Molly Moon’s, Full Tilt, Bluebird, Parfait, and so on.  If you find yourself in the Emerald City, do check these out.  My strategy?  Order salted caramel at each one, cuz it’s just that good.  My favorite spot is Full Tilt, which is right near my neighborhood.  They also have beer!  And skee-ball!

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And creative ice cream flavors!

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But sometimes, you wanna make ice cream.  Even though it was hard for me to get off my ass this month, I did and I don’t regret it.  And this month’s choice, Sweet Cream and Sugar Cones, was a good jumping off point.  And Cook the Books participants this month made some delicious treats that inspired me.  Check it!

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Angela at Tea Time Adventures made both Chocolate Ice Cream (page 78), and Pear Sorbet.  To make fruit sorbet from this book, the authors provide a template in their Mango Sorbet recipe on page 205. Angela and company used a vintage Salton Ice Cream maker, not used since 1975!  Keepin’ it retro, yos!  That ice cream maker is as old as yours truly!  Get this, readers, you can put this ice cream maker directly into the freezer.  None of that incredibly annoying pre-freezing needed, which seriously stopped me from making ice cream several times this month, as I hadn’t pre-chilled the machine’s mixing bowl or didn’t have enough time to chill my ice mixture prior to churning.

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Salton Ice Cream Machine, courtesy of Tea Time Adventures

Angela and friends made their chocolate ice cream into ice cream sandwiches.  Good choice! Angela mentions finding the chocolate ice cream to very chocolate-y.  Based on my experiments, I would concur that the authors tend to go over the top with sweetness and chocolate.  More on that later.  Oh and check out their pear sorbet…looks good!

Pear Sorbet, by Tea Time Adventures

Pear Sorbet, by Tea Time Adventures

Lilly over at Rake and Make took this month to do some experimentation with non dairy ice creams.  Lilly, you are an ice cream natural!  Experimenting and getting all creative, Lilly made non-dairy versions of Basil Ice Cream (page 176) and  Balsamic Strawberry Ice Cream (page 138), and made ice cream sugar cones (page 46)!  Lilly, you made non dairy ice cream look good, which is no small feat.  Lilly made the ice cream that I put off making all summer, basil ice cream, which just sounds like summer in a dish to me, dessert style.    Lilly used basil from her windowsill and eggs from her own chicken!  You’re making us all look bad, Lilly!  You can tell she used fresh eggs, look at this color!

Basil Ice Cream, by Rake and Make

Basil Ice Cream, by Rake and Make

Lilly continued to utilize summer’s bounty in her Balsamic Strawberry Ice Cream, using some gorgeous looking strawberries.  Lilly used the same base for this one as she did for the Basil ice cream.  It’s helpful to learn that these recipes are versatile and good bases for experimentation.  Lilly’s post is chock full o’ good advice for non dairy ice cream makes, so go check it out!

Balsamic Strawberry Ice Cream on homemade cone, by Rake and Make

Balsamic Strawberry Ice Cream on homemade cone, by Rake and Make

Aimee at Homemade Trade, like Lilly, also made some non ice cream items from this month’s cookbook, cookiewiches!  Is there anything better than the combo of two of the best sweets out there: cookies and ice cream?  No!  No, there isn’t!  Aimee made Lemon Gingersnaps and Carmelized Banana Ice Cream.  Gotta love these creative Cook the Bookers!  Aimee ran straight to the Lemon Gingersnap recipe, with good results.  These are sounding so good right now!

Carmelized Banana Ice Cream in a Lemon Gingersnap Cookie sandwich, by Homemade Trade

Carmelized Banana Ice Cream in a Lemon Gingersnap Cookie sandwich, by Homemade Trade

Aimee than borrowed an ice cream maker from a neighbor and got to churning.  Aimee, you’re like me in failing to read recipes thoroughly.  Wonder twins!  Well, we know now, keep that equipment chilled!  But once it all worked out, Aimee got this.  Looks delish!

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Carmelized Banana Ice Cream, by Homemade Trade

Karen at Prospect: The Pantry (Sorry I forgot you at first, Karen!) also made some gorgeous creations this month.  Karen rightfully points out that, although the tile implies it, Sweet Cream and Sugar Cones is about far more than ice cream making, and makes a good addition to your cookbook shelf as an all-purpose dessert cookbook.

Brown Sugar Graham Crackers, by Prospect: The Pantry

Brown Sugar Graham Crackers, by Prospect: The Pantry

Karen made Vanilla Ice Cream (page 34), Caramel Sauce (page 71) , Blackberry Ice Cream (page 143), a lemon verbena version of the Basil Ice Cream (page 176-177),  Dark Chocolate Cookies (page 90), (her favorite!) the Brown Sugar Graham Crackers (page 66-67), Lemon Gingersnaps, and Chocolate Ice Cream!  Holy Moly!  Nice work, Karen!

Vanilla Ice Cream and Caramel Sauce, by Prospect: The Pantry

Vanilla Ice Cream and Caramel Sauce, by Prospect: The Pantry

Karen got her trusty ice cream maker out of storage and whipped up some delicious frozen and baked desserts.  She makes the important point that vanilla ice cream is a pretty good test of a ice cream cookbook, and she and her family loved the vanilla ice cream from Sweet Cream.  Plus, she is scheming to make a pie crust from the above pictured brown sugar grahams.  Color me jealous!

And finally, there was the work of my blogging partner Meg this month, over at Grow and Resist.  Med’s dad passed away this past month.  I actually got the chance to meet him once, and even in that brief encounter I could see he was a great Dad, as he was popping around Meg’s yard helping and giving tips. Meg was a bad ass, advocating for him and his healthcare for years.  As the end drew near, she made him ice cream.

"Daddy tracks" ice cream, by Grow and Resist

“Daddy tracks” ice cream, by Grow and Resist

This ice cream which she dubbed Daddy Tracks, was made with the vanilla ice cream base and lotsa candy, and it ended up being her favorite.  I gotta say, it looks delicious, like the best of a DQ blizzard made with much better ingredients.  And that wasn’t all.  As the month continued, Meg also made Butter Brickle Ice Cream (page 124) and Lime Blackberry Ice Pops (page 146), Blackberry Ice Cream, Strawberry Ice Cream, Vanilla Ice Cream, and Sugar Cones.  Nice work Meg!

So how about me?  I made two recipes from the book, Nectarine Sorbet and Peanut Butter Fudge Ripple Ice Cream.  I had always wanted to try my hand at sorbet, and I had just bought 50 pounds of stone fruit from a bulk buy, so making a nectarine sorbet was a no brainer.  This was a pretty easy recipe to put together.  I pureed my nectarines, skin on, in the blender.  The nectarine skins make the ice cream look lovely!

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I, like Aimee, didn’t read the directions too carefully, so I made the sorbet mix one day, then chilled it and froze the bowl from my machine overnight.  This was a bummer when we wanted sorbet after a hike, but it tuned out good the next day.  And bonus! We ended up putting some in our mimosas the next morning as well.  Yes, we are very fancy!

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I wanted to make a regular dairy based ice cream as well.  Double S and I like to occasionally hit up our local Dairy Queen for Reeses Peanut Butter Cup Blizzards.  So making the Peanut Butter Fudge Ripple was an easy choice.

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I had the whole pre-freezing bowls and various accoutrements things down this time.  Now, I have a history of not really loving super egg based ice creams.  I’m from St. Louis, home of the best frozen custard in the world, but still.  However, I threw caution to the wind and made an ice cream recipe that called for 5 egg yolks.  In the end, I wish I hadn’t.  This ice cream, although it looked wonderful, was just too much for me.  I liked the peanut butter ice cream bases a lot before I added the chocolate, but once the chocolate was added, oooohhhhh boy.  I couldn’t even finish the first bowl I tried.  I think the problem for me was that the recipe didn’t clarify how much fudge ripple to add to the base, and I think I added way too much.  The fudge ripple itself, by the way, was outstanding.  Valrhona chocolate is the bomb, yo!

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So although making ice cream can be kind of a pain in the ass, I now feel that I know the basics and, most importantly, I know what I like.  And I think this book is a good one to have on the shelf for those times, any time of the year, that you just gotta have ice cream.  As you can see from our other participants, the recipes are versatile and create a good base for experimentation.  I also like how the book is organized, by flavor really: chocolate, nuts, herbs, berries, and so forth.

As for me going forward, I’m gonna stick with non egg based recipes, like the Salted Caramel recipe in this book, which I was kicking myself for not trying.  But hey, like I said, summer isn’t over!  Really!

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