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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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Cook the Books! Review and Round-up! Susan Feniger’s Street Food

1 Jul

For the month of June here at Cook the Books, we decided to try our hand at some street food. I don’t need to tell you that food from carts and trucks has never been more popular. Expenses are low and experimentation is high. This is why I chose this book. And I really liked it. And so did all of this month’s participating bloggers!

Coconut Curried Mussels with Smoky Chorizo, by Prospect: The pAntry

Coconut Curried Mussels with Smoky Chorizo, by Prospect: The Pantry

The author of this month’s time is Susan Feniger, Food Network personality and chef-owner of several restaurants in LA and Vegas. In Street Food, she documents her travels world wide sampling food from trucks and stands and carts and home kitchens and shares some of her favorites.

Croatian Sour Apple Fritters, by Homemade Trade

Croatian Sour Apple Fritters, by Homemade Trade

Susan talks about flavors as the book opens: salty, spicy, sour, sweet. Flavor is really what this book is all about. And I think, as a group, we just about covered them all!

Licorice and Cherry Biscotti with Buttermilk Koldskal, by Tea Time Adventures

Licorice and Cherry Biscotti with Buttermilk Koldskal, by Tea Time Adventures

So what did everyone make? Well, it’s summer and the cook the books numbers are dwindling. I don’t blame y’all, it’s summer…get out and enjoy it! We did have some people cooking along though, and they had fun!

Sarah at Eat Locally, Blog Globally made Coconut Curry Caramel Corn and took it to a bar snack themed monthly food meet-up. Glad to hear this was a hit, Sarah! Sarah tells us how she later took the rest of the popcorn to a bar, and the coconut curry popcorn was a hit. So much so that Sarah gifted the rest to the bartender who shared it with his lucky customers. Damn, these recipes make a LOT of food, don’t they? Regardless, success!

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Coconut Curry Caramel Corn, by Eat Locally Blog Globally

Karen at Prospect: The Pantry made: Tunisian Chicken Kebabs with Currants and Olives (page 34), Five-Spice Marinade (page 161), Thai Drunken Shrimp with Rice Noodles (page 130), Thai Curry Paste (page 171), Coconut Curried Mussels with Smoky Chorizo (page 118).

Nice work once again, Karen! Wow, you made a good selection of dishes. And I like how you think with the making of the spice mixes. These spice mixtures may be what I return to most in this cookbook. I liked how Susan spoke about making the Thai Curry Paste in advance then busting it out for a delicious Thai meal instead of ordering take out. Great idea. Karen made her curry paste into a easy vegetarian meal, which seems genius to use with all my fading snap beans out in the garden. And soon I’ll do like Karen and use it with the explosion of  zukes that is about to happen at the homestead garden.

Marinade for Tunisian Chicken Kebabs with Currants and Olives, by Prospect: The Pantry

Karen really liked Susan’s sidebars explaining some of the more unusual spices. And lucky Karen, she grows a lot of these in her garden: shiso, shado beni, epazote, lemongrass, and Thai basil. You grow lemongrass? Damn, girl, I’m jealous! I’ve always wanted to grow epazote but it seems so small and delicate.  Perhaps I’ll give it a shot next year! Thanks for playing along, Karen, and glad you liked the book!

Thai Drunken Shrimp with Rice Noodles, by Prospect: the Pantry

Cyn at River Dog Prints made Coconut Curried Mussels with Smoky Chorizo. Cyn, like me, enjoyed Susan Feniger from her time on Top Chef Masters. Shouldn’t that be coming on again soon? Isn’t Susan so fun and friendly on there? Love it. Anyway, Cyn marveled at the beautiful color and aroma of this mussel dish, and tells us how her and her husband ate every last mussel, whilst dipping their fresh sourdough bread in the sauce. One of the true pleasures in life, am I right, Cyn? Awesome!

Coconut Curried Mussels, by River Dog Prints

Angela at Tea Time Adventures made Heirloom Tomatoes with Garlic and Balsamic Vinaigrette, and then had a lunch spread with friends where they enjoyed Cactus Rellenos with Corn Salad and Arbol Chili Salsa, which they ate while imbibing in the Canton Ginger Kick cocktails, and finished with Danish Black Licorice and Cherry Biscotti with Buttermilk Koldskal.  What a lunch!  I wish I was in your lunch club!

Lunch, by Tea Time Adventures ( and friends!)

Lunch, by Tea Time Adventures ( and friends!)

Angela used cactus paddles (aka nopales) for the first time as well.  It seemed liked lunch went well and everyone enjoyed the recipes.  And sorry you didn’t get those matzo toffee things, Angela!  I wanted to make those too but never got around to it.

Angela also made Earl Grey Tea Dust and Rooibos Dust, inspired by Susan’s Ginger Dust (page 209). She took these and her tomato salad to a food swap and all were hits.  Congrats Angela!

Aimee at Homemade Trade made Croatian Sour Apple Fritters with Orange Sugar, Coconut Curry Caramel Corn, Thai Tea Pudding, Brussel Sprouts with Goat Cheese, Apples, and Hazelnuts, and Chilled Soba Noodles with Spicy Orange Sesame and Tofu.  Holy crap!

Thai Tea Pudding, by Homemade Trade.  Hey Angela, I have that same Ikea serving tray!

Thai Tea Pudding, by Homemade Trade. Hey Aimee, I have that same Ikea serving tray!

Aimee, you are my hero!  You made awesome stuff too!  I wanted to make the popcorn!  Look at the visible spices in her photo!  Intriguing!

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Coconut Curry Caramel Corn, by Homemade Trade

Aimee also did a much better job than yours truly on her sour apple fritters.  I agree with you on two key points, Aimee.  1) Who the hell could eat this many fritters?  and 2) Do NOT skip the orange sugar!

Aimee also got her hands on chocolate sugar and Earl Grey tea dust,  both scored from Angela at Tea Time Adventures at a local food swap.  I love it!

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My partner in crime Meg over at Grow and Resist also made some great looking recipes from Street Food.  Meg made Lamb Meatballs with Date and Carob Molasses (p. 38), Scandinavian Mixed Greens and Apples with Juniper Vinaigrette (p. 53), Couscous Tabbouleh with Dried Apricots and Pistachios (p.91), Danish Black Licorice and Cherry Biscotti with Buttermilk Koldskål (p.181), Thai Tea Pudding with Lime Caramel and Candied Cashews (p. 186), and Mango Lhassi (p.214)Nice work, Meg!  Meg also introduced next month’s gigantic and awesome looking selection, Gran Cocina Latina. Check it out here!

Ok, so what about me?  Look, I’m gonna be frank. First, don’t call me Frank. Second, it’s summer in Seattle and it’s 90 degrees and sunny as I type this. That just doesn’t happen here very often, so I gotta get out and enjoy it. Not to mention that tomorrow is a holiday. Also, Double S and I went camping in Eastern WA over the weekend and went cherry picking. So I also need to make this short and sweet cuz I’ve got about 40 lbs of the 70 lbs of cherries we picked left at home to finish freezing, drying, and otherwise processing. I always know its summer around the homestead when I’ve got boxes of WA fruit to deal with. Also, I’m gonna try my hand at a little Cherry Garcia ice cream this weekend.

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So, I really liked this book. I made quite a sampling of things. As I already told you, I made artichokes with za’atar dipping sauce that was to die for. Besides that, I also made the Indonesian Tek Tek Noodles, Saigon Chicken Salad, Black Kale Crostini, and the Croatian Sour Apple Fritters. Thus I tried some appetizers, a salad, an entree, and a dessert. Way to be well rounded, me!

Verdict: aside from the massive portions that each recipe made, I really liked this book. The theme is flavor, and the flavors didn’t disappoint.

Indonesian Tek Tek Noodles: I’m usually someone who finds Asian dishes with peanut sauce to be too sweet.

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I tried this one because Susan infuses it with a lot of tamarind. I love the sour sweet goodness of tamarind. For this dish, you also must make the tamarind paste.

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This recipe is a keeper, and easy to make once you have the ingredients. It’s versatile too. You could easily sub in chicken or other veggies in place of the tofu and bok choy.

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Saigon Chicken Salad: this is Susan’s take on one of my favorite things to order when I got out for Thai food: papaya salad.

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It takes a long ass time to hand cut papaya, y’all!

Susan kicks this one up a notch with the addition of lemongrass poached chicken. I also appreciated learning another recipe for nuoc cham, the salty, fishy, sweet dressing that is key to so many dishes in this tradition.

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We grow a lot of kale in the Pacific Northwest, so when I saw Susan’s recipe for Black Kale Crostini, I had to try it. And holy crap, is this one good. Perfect little crostini appetizer for a party, and so flavorful. We’ll be eating this one come fall and winter when our now effing rocking garden is down to just kale.

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Sour Apple Fritters: I had high hopes for these but they were my least favorite of the things I made. Ok, so these were still fried sweet things, so even being my least fave they were still good. But I was disappointed because the finished product looked nothing like the pictures. The photo looks like a perfect fritter with apple bits inside. The finalized product just looked like a blob of fried dough. No visible apple chunks and the most distinctive flavor was kinda of just grease. Now fried things are always good so this wasn’t unpleasant to eat, but I was disappointed in the flavor.

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As I said above, I don’t have time to do a full review this month, so a few quick points about Susan Feniger’s Street Food, to wrap up the month.

  • I really liked this book. Some may wonder about a unifying theme, but I think there most definitely is one: flavor. Bold flavor. Perhaps unusually flavors. Tips on how to get a favorite flavor from a new source: salt from fish sauce, sweet from palm sugar, and so on.
  • The book and the accompanying photos are lovely. And for the most part the recipes come out looking like the photos. But, Susan, how did you get your fritters to look like that?
  • The recipes call for ingredients you regularly may not have in your pantry. But I like how she challenges home cooks to try new ingredients and maybe explore new markets in their cities. I had no problem finding the more unusual ingredients she calls for.
  • This book is good for parties. First, because these recipes produce ginormous quantities of food. And second, because the home cook can create a spread with a wide array of flavors, sure to please a lot of different partygoers.

Ok, that’s it for street food, though I will certainly be returning to it this summer when my tomatoes come in season, and also to make some more of Susan’s recipes for various spice rubs and pepper-centric hot sauces.  On to July!