Today’s post will be short and sweet. It might have something to with the fact that I only have two useable photos for this ice cream. I know, what kind of food blogger am I? Will you accept a gratuitous picture of a grooming bunny as recompense?
In my defense, shooting ice cream on the non-air conditioned porch has its limitations. I had about 10 seconds to take as many photos as possible before everything turned into a puddle of liquid.
And only two came out. But I think you get the idea of this ice cream. You take a honey cinnamon custard base and stir in pieces of chopped up peaches. We actually had to go out and buy alcohol for this recipe since you need to macerate the peaches in vodka before adding them to the ice cream so they don’t freeze solid in the freezer.
The end result is an amazingly refreshing summer treat that perfectly blends the flavors of peach, honey and cinnamon. I loved the contrast of the smooth ice cream custard and the bright, sweet peach pieces. This has definitely been my favorite ice cream this summer.
Honey Cinnamon Peach Ice Cream
Adapted from The Merry Gourmet
Makes about 1 quart
1 ½ cups 2% or whole milk
¾ cup granulated sugar, divided
pinch of salt
1 cup heavy cream
1 cinnamon stick
5 large egg yolks
2 large peaches, peeled, pitted, and chopped into 1/2 pieces
2 Tbsp honey
1 ½ tsp vodka
In a medium saucepan over medium heat, heat the milk, ¼ cup sugar, salt and cinnamon stick, stirring occasionally to dissolve sugar. Heat for approximately 5 minutes, or until the temperature is 175 degrees. Meanwhile, put cream in a large bowl and set a mesh strainer over it.
In a separate bowl, whisk together ¼ cup sugar with the egg yolks. When the milk mixture is hot, slowly add about 1 cup of the hot milk mixture into the yolks, whisking constantly. Then, slowly whisk the warmed egg yolks back into the remaining milk mixture in the saucepan. Continue to stir until the mixture thickens and coats the back of the spoon and reaches 180 to 185 degrees.
Strain the custard into the bowl of cream, stir to combine, and return the cinnamon stick to the custard. Let the custard come to room temperature, then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate 8 hours, or overnight.
Next, prepare the peaches. Combine the chopped peaches with the honey and the remaining ¼ cup sugar in a small saucepan set over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes, until the peaches have released their juices. Pour into a bowl, cover, and refrigerate until ready to use.
When the custard has chilled sufficiently, freeze it in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. In the meantime, pour the peaches through a strainer set over a bowl to catch the juices. Reserve the juice for another time or discard it. In a small bowl, toss the peach solids with the vodka. About 5 minutes before the ice cream churning is complete, add the peaches to the ice cream maker.
Transfer the ice cream to another container and freeze until the ice cream is firm, about 3 hours, and enjoy!
Adjusting to cooking/baking and figuring out when/where/how to shoot the results in the house has been an interesting process. Back in the apartment, I did most of my shooting on the radiator cover in the kitchen because it was convenient, and it got good light.
Things in the house have been a little tricky, especially when we first moved in. I keep the window shades drawn in the kitchen because the house next door (aka across the driveway, we do kind of live in a city) is being seriously renovated and I don’t need the men over there knocking down walls and such to judge me as I meticulously arrange food, photograph it, then put it away.
But of course, I had nowhere else to shoot really and I liked the look of the kitchen floors, so I started there. Of course I forgot that there was one other obstacle that I’d never ecountered before…a pet able to roam the entire house. And so my first floor shoot was photobombed by my rabbit. Not fun.
So I decided to shoot on the porch floor, where the bunny is not allowed. But getting certain shots on the floor is hard. It’s great for overheads but that’s about it. Finally, we bought a table from Ikea. It now resides on the porch and is my official shooting table. But I made this cake before I had the table, which is why it was shot on the kitchen island. Which doesn’t get great light. Thank goodness for the free version of photoshop I got for work in college.
This cherry cake was one of the first things I made in the house. It was the perfect welcome-to-your-new-kitchen cake. Which means it helped me figure out the temperature variations in the new oven. Scary I know, but thankfully I didn’t burn it. In fact, this melding of cherry and almond into a moist, sweet cake was just what I needed after moving heavy objects around all day.
Cherry Almond Cake
Adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod
Makes one 9” cake, about 10 servings
For the cake:
6 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
½ cup buttermilk
½ tsp vanilla extract
½ tsp almond extract
1 ½ cups fresh cherries, stemmed, pitted and halved
For the almond streusel topping:
¼ cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup brown sugar
¼ cup almond paste, crumbled
2 Tbsp unsalted butter, cold and cut into small pieces
pinch of salt
For the almond glaze:
½ cup powdered sugar
¼ tsp almond extract
2 to 3 Tbsp milk
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9-inch springform pan or pie plate. Set aside.
Sift flour, baking powder, and salt together into a medium bowl. Set aside.
In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add in egg, buttermilk, vanilla, and almond extract. Mix until combined. Gradually mix in the dry ingredients. Transfer batter to prepared pan and arrange cherries on top of batter.
Next make the almond streusel topping. In a small bowl combine flour, brown sugar, almond paste, butter, and salt. Mix together with your fingers until crumbly. Sprinkle the topping evenly over the cake.
Bake cake for 10 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees. Bake until cake is golden brown and firm to the touch, about 50-55 minutes. Let cool in pan.
While the cake is cooling, make the glaze. In a small bowl, combine powdered sugar, almond extract, and just enough milk to make a pourable glaze. Remove cake from pan and drizzle the glaze over it, then let set for 10 minutes. Cut and enjoy!
As you can tell, I stuck to using up my fruit by baking them into sweet things. I’m not saying I wouldn’t try fruit in a savory dish (I once made a pear & cheese quesadilla) but there were just so many tasties calling out to me. Maybe next year I’ll branch out a little bit more.
For now, let’s take a quick break and talk about noodles. Yes, I know I could fill a book talking about my love of noodles. So let’s narrow it down a bit, shall we?
Pad thai. That quintessential dish with its lightly sweetened sauce, soft rice noodles, crunchy bean sprouts and chopped peanuts. There is a wonderful Thai restaurant in my hometown whose pad thai I have unequivocally endorsed as the best pad thai ever. And I order pad thai every time I go to a place where it’s on the menu. None have been better. Not even my own rendition sadly. But! This is the closest I’ve come to recreating it, and believe me, there have been multiple attempts.
The key to pad thai’s sweetness lies in using tamarind paste, as well as sugar. I would never trust any pad thai recipe that includes ketchup. Pad thai is not red. There is definitely no ketchup in a thai kitchen. If you can’t find tamarind paste at your local Asian grocer, try Amazon. It is truly a key ingredient in getting your pad thai to taste like it came from a restaurant. I didn’t have bean sprouts on hand, so I only used scallions for garnish. I wasn’t going to drive for 30 mins just to get bean sprouts.
Even without their iconic crunch, I loved every bite of this pad thai. I can’t wait to make it again.
Adapted from Cook Like a Champion
Makes 4 servings
2 Tbsp tamarind concentrate
2/3 cup hot water
3 Tbsp fish sauce
1 Tbsp rice vinegar
3 Tbsp sugar
¾ tsp cayenne pepper
4 Tbsp peanut or vegetable oil
8 ounces dried rice noodles about 1/8-inch wide
2 large eggs
¼ tsp salt
12 jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium shallot, minced
6 Tbsp chopped unsalted roasted peanuts
3 cups fresh bean sprouts
5 green onions, green parts only, sliced thinly
In a small bowl, dissolve tamarind concentrate in hot water. Stir in fish sauce, rice vinegar, sugar, cayenne and 2 Tbsp of oil and set aside. Place noodles in a large bowl and cover with hot water. Soak until softened and pliable but not completely tender, about 20 minutes. Drain and set aside. Whisk together eggs and 1/8 tsp of salt in a small bowl and set aside.
Season the shrimp with salt and pepper. Heat 1 Tbsp of oil in a large skillet over high heat for about 2 minutes, or until it’s just beginning to smoke. Add shrimp and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 3-5 minutes or until cooked through and pink. Transfer to a plate and set aside.
Off heat, add the remaining Tbsp of oil to skillet and swirl to coat. Add garlic and shallot and return pan to medium heat. Cook, stirring constantly, about 2 minutes or until light golden brown. Add eggs and stir vigorously with a wooden spoon or spatula until scrambled, about 20 seconds. Add noodles and toss to combine. Pour the tamarind mixture over the noodles and increase heat to high. Cook, tossing constantly, until the noodles are evenly coated with the sauce. Add 1/4 cup of peanuts, bean sprouts, shrimp and all but ¼ cup of the green onions to the noodles. Continue tossing until well combined and noodles are tender, 2-3 minutes. If noodles are not yet tender, add 2 Tbsp of water to skillet and continue cooking.
Transfer to serving dishes and sprinkle with remaining green onions and peanuts.
Sometimes I do silly things. Occasionally, my mom is there to take a picture of it. I was trying to get Izzy to climb on top of me…but she had other plans.
Also, this kitty really wanted in to our house. For obvious reasons, I could not oblige, though my kitty-in-distress senses were tingling beyond belief. However, not enough to sacrifice the well being of my bunny or Luke who is allergic.
When the mountain of summer produce arrived, I was so stoked. I watched gleefully as my mom pulled the bags of peaches and little blue boxes of blueberries out of her car. She plopped them down on the kitchen counter, along with something I did not expect.
It was long and green, and I definitely did not recall asking for anything matching that description.
But then I remembered how my mom had kept bragging about her abundance of zucchini, and realized she was passing the bounty on to me. Oh joy. For the record, I do not enjoy eating gourd vegetables. Squash in all its variations and zucchini just don’t do it for me. So as I stared at that green tube of a vegetable, I thought, “What the heck do I do with this thing?”
Thankfully a quick internet search brought up quite a number of tasty looking options, and I finally settled on this quick bread.
You can’t taste the zucchini at all (bonus), and what you do taste is a whole lot of chocolaty goodness. Double bonus.
When I cut the ends off of the zucchini to grate it, both ends started sweating. I guess it knew it was being done in. If your zucchini sweats too, make sure to dry the grated bits before adding them to the batter, as you don’t want that extra moisture in there.
Double Chocolate Zucchini Bread
Adapted from Brown Eyed Baker
Makes one 9×5” loaf
1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup Dutch-process cocoa powder
1 tsp salt
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
2 large eggs
½ cup vegetable oil
½ cup light brown sugar
1/3 cup honey
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups (one medium) shredded zucchini
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9×5” loaf pan and set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, salt, baking powder and baking soda; set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, vegetable oil, brown sugar, honey and vanilla extract. Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients and use a rubber spatula or wooden spoon to gently fold the batter together until almost no flour remains. Stir in the zucchini and chocolate chips, ensuring that they are evenly distributed.
Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and bake for 65 to 75 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with just a few moist crumbs attached. Allow to cool in the pan for 15 minutes, then turn out onto a cooling rack to cool completely before slicing. Store leftovers at room temperature, tightly wrapped in plastic wrap.
Without further ado, I return us to the summer fruit frenzy. August is the month for peaches, and if you find yourself in possession of a few extra, I think I have an idea of how to use them.
Ok, I have another confession. You all know I love pie. What you may not know is that I love pie filling just a little bit more than the crust. Yes, I’m one of those people that scoop the filling out of the crust or leave the crimped edges for the crust-lovers to eat (I’m the same way with pizza).
Though I am getting better at appreciating a good crust. Especially since whenever I make pie, I always make my own crust. I now finish my entire piece of pie almost every time! However, one thing I really am not ready for is double-crust pie. Nope, can’t do it. I need an open-top pie or a crumble pie; baby steps here people.
I am all about this crumble pie. Fresh peaches, salted caramel, crumb topping…yeah, this is practically my perfect pie. It could be your perfect pie too. Do me a favor and make this pie. Make sure to drizzle each piece with extra caramel.
Ohhhh yes. Summer just got slightly more tolerable.
Salted Caramel Peach Pie
Adapted from Evil Shenanigans
Makes one 9” pie, 10-12 servings
For the dough:
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp packed light brown sugar
½ tsp salt
8 Tbsp (1 stick) butter, cubed and chilled
3-5 Tbsp ice water
For the crumble:
½ cup all-purpose flour
½ cup sugar
¼ tsp salt
¼ cup (half a stick) butter, cubed and chilled
For the filling:
6 medium peaches, peeled, stone removed, and sliced
¼ cup cornstarch
¼ cup salted caramel (I used this brand)
½ tsp vanilla
¼ tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg
salted caramel sauce, for garnish
First make the crust. In a large bowl combine the flour, brown sugar, and salt. Whisk to combine then add the cubed butter and, using your fingers, rub it in until the mixture looks like coarse sand and no large pieces of butter remain.
Add the water, a tablespoon at a time, until the mixture forms a shaggy ball. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and press the dough into a disk. Flatten the dough, fold it in half, and flatten it again. Repeat this process 4 times, then wrap the dough in plastic and chill for 1 hour.
Once chilled, pull the dough out of the refrigerator and let stand for 5-10 minutes to warm up. Roll out on a lightly floured surface to 1/8-inch thick, about a 12-inch circle, turning the dough often to make sure it does not stick. Dust the surface with additional flour if needed.
Press the dough into a greased 9” pie plate and trim the dough so that ½” of dough hangs over the plate’s edge. Tuck the dough under and crimp the edges. Cover with plastic wrap and chill until ready to fill and bake.
Next, prepare the crumble. In a medium bowl combine the flour, sugar, and salt. Add the butter and rub it into the flour mixture with your fingers until the mixture resembles coarse sand. Cover and chill for 30 minutes before using.
Lastly, prepare the peach filling. In a medium bowl combine the sliced peaches, cornstarch, salted caramel sauce, vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Gently toss to coat, then allow to stand for at least 10 minutes at room temperature.
Preheat oven to 425 F. To assemble the pie, fill the pastry crust with the peach filling, then evenly spread the crumble over the top. Bake for 12 minutes, then reduce the heat to 350 F and bake for 45 to 55 more minutes, or until the crumble is deeply golden brown and the filling is bubbling all over. Allow to cool to room temperature before serving. Garnish with extra caramel sauce and enjoy!
With an intense line-up of summer produce baked goods on the way, I thought I’d keep things fresh by mixing it up as we go along. You can only look at so many berry recipes before they become less and less attractive, the novelty of summer’s bounty slowly fading, giving way to ambivalence .
So, in order to make sure we all stay really excited about berries, cherries, and stone fruit, I’m gonna throw in an occasional monkey wrench. Something simple, nothing too fancy; recipes that might come in handy if you’re planning on having one more party before the kiddies go back to school and summer turns into glorious fall.
Oh man. I cannot wait until fall. But let’s shove those feelings aside and try to enjoy the present. However muggy and oppressive that present might be.
Flatbreads. I love flatbreads. I like tearing them apart and smearing them through a big bowl of hummus, or making them into little pizzas. Or just noshing on them late at night because they’re so darn tasty on their own.
This particular version features thyme, which I grow in a tiny pot on my porch. If you are without access to fresh thyme, you can easily sub in dried, or feel free to use different fresh herbs; may I suggest rosemary, dill, basil or oregano? Fabulous. You could even top them with some of this salsa.
Thyme Honey Flatbreads
Adapted from The Baker Chick
Makes 3 large flatbreads
1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
3 Tbsp thyme leaves, removed from stem, divided use
1 tsp baking powder
¾ tsp salt
½ cup water
2 Tbsp honey
1/3 cup olive oil plus more for brushing
sea salt for sprinkling
Preheat oven to 450°F and put a heavy baking sheet or pizza stone on rack in the middle.
Stir together flour, 2 Tbsp thyme leaves, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Make a well in center, then add water, oil and honey, and gradually stir into flour with a wooden spoon until a dough forms. Knead dough gently on a work surface 4 or 5 times.
Divide dough into 3 pieces and roll out 1 piece (while keeping remaining pieces covered with a kitchen towel so they don’t dry out) on a sheet of parchment paper into a 10-inch round. Don’t worry about making a perfect circle, just make sure the dough is thin.
Lightly brush top with additional oil and scatter small clusters of remaining thyme on top, pressing in slightly. Sprinkle with sea salt. Slide round (still on parchment) onto preheated baking sheet or pizza stone and bake until pale golden and browned in spots, 8-10 minutes. Transfer flatbread to a rack to cool and discard the parchment paper, then repeat the process with each of the remaining dough balls.
Store the flatbread in an air-tight container for up to 5 days.
I have a confession to make. I’ve been kind of holding out on you guys just a little bit, and the guilt is too much for me to take anymore. You see, the last time my mom came to visit, she brought with her the most prodigious amount of peaches and blueberries from my favorite orchard back in CT.
I completely swooned over this mountain of produce, and immediately started divvying up the goods: some for eating, some for baking, some for cooking…and then the race was on between me and the heat of my kitchen ripening the fruit. Who would win?
Well I did, and I just can’t keep the results to myself anymore. The first thing I knew I wanted to make was a crumble or crisp of some kind. Something simple that would let the natural sweetness and flavor of the berries really shine.
I also wanted a hint of tang, so I decided on a blueberry lemon crumble, baked in ramekins. I really should bake things in ramekins more often, individual desserts are so much fun.
Anyway, this crumble fit the bill exactly and really hit the spot. The lemon complemented the blueberries perfectly, and the crumble topping added texture and just a touch more sugar. And butter. But you can never have too much of that, right?
Blueberry Lemon Crumble
Adapted from The Pastry Affair
Makes 4 individual servings
¼ cup whole wheat or all-purpose flour
¼ cup rolled oats
2 Tbsp brown sugar
2 Tbsp unsalted butter, cold and cubed
zest of 1 lemon
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 Tbsp granulated sugar
1 ½ cups blueberries, fresh or frozen
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, rolled oats, and brown sugar. Add the cold, cubed butter and, using your fingers, mush the butter into the flour until the whole mixture resembles coarse sand and holds together when squeezed. Set aside.
In another bowl, combine the lemon zest, lemon juice, sugar, and blueberries and toss.
Divide blueberries equally between four ramekins. Sprinkle the oatmeal topping evenly over each. Place ramekins on a baking sheet in case the crumbles overflow and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until topping is browned and the crumbles are bubbly and fragrant. Let cool for ten minutes before serving (the fruit will be very hot). The crumbles may also be enjoyed at room temperature or chilled (or with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or a dollop of whipped cream).