Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Ice Cream Cinniminions!

When my husband and I were registering for our wedding, he decided that he wanted an ice cream maker. I found it amusing and went along with it. I mean, how often do people make homemade ice cream? Especially when you can go out to the store and buy some.

I let it sit for a while before attempting to make a Guinness ice cream one Super Bowl. It didn’t turn out how I had hoped (icy and hard) and the ice cream maker sat in our cabinet for another two years. It wasn’t until last Thanksgiving when I had the idea that cinnamon ice cream would go really well with the pie I was making for dessert. And I figured why not test out the old ice cream maker.

This batch was everything that my Guinness batch wasn’t; it was creamy and smooth and delicious. I’m not a huge fan of cinnamon, I loathe Big Red gum and generally avoid adding too much of it to any breakfast dish I make. But this ice cream was different. It had a subtle flavor, more vanilla like, with a hint of the cinnamon; just enough to notice it and make it delicious as its own dish, or bringing out the best flavors in an apple pie.

And since that point I’ve decided to make special ice creams for holidays. Last Easter I made a deconstructed s’mores bar with graham cracker ice cream (I’ll post that at some point too). But for this Thanksgiving I went back to my year old ice cream making roots and alongside my pork fat crusted apple pie (see previous post) , made a delicious batch of cinnamon ice cream. The recipe is really easy and you can get an attachment to your kitchen aide mixer for $80 or buy a standalone (Ice cream makers)

The key to this recipe is grinding the cinnamon yourself. I’ve done it with a zester, with a mortar and pestle or you can do it with a cleaned out (VERY WELL so as to not taint the flavor) coffee/spice grinder. I promise you, it takes time, but it’s worth it. Fresh cinnamon makes 150% of a difference. And make this the night before you serve, it takes time to set.


1 cup white sugar

1 1/2 cups half-and-half cream

2 eggs, beaten

1 cup heavy cream

1 TSP vanilla extract

2 TSP FRESH ground cinnamon

In a saucepan over medium-low heat, stir together the sugar and half-and-half. When the mixture begins to simmer, remove from heat, and whisk half of the mixture into the eggs. Whisk quickly so that the eggs do not scramble. Pour the egg mixture back into the saucepan, and stir in the heavy cream.

Continue cooking over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a metal spoon.

Remove from heat, and whisk in vanilla and cinnamon. Set aside to cool. If you just leave it out on your counter, this takes about 2 hours. I would recommend stirring it every 20 minutes or so. The mixture will continue to thicken.

Pour cooled mixture into an ice cream maker, and freeze according to the manufacturer's instructions. If you are using a Kitchen Aide Ice Cream Maker attachment, I recommend keeping it in the freezer for at least 3 days before you make the ice cream. You want the bowl to be absolutely freezing. The recommended 15 hours just isn’t enough.

Also, I should warn. All of the manufacturer’s directions say that the ice cream will actually turn INTO ice cream while you’re mixing it. I have never found that to be the case. It will thicken up, and will look like the consistency of melting ice cream but you will need to put it in an air tight container in the freezer for at least 10 hours before serving.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Pizza, Pizza!

Being born to two die hard New Yorkers in Brooklyn, and then moving to the suburbs of Philadelphia when I was 8 meant that my parent's spent years, YEARS trying to find good New York style pizza. I grew up loving the huge pies, with paper thin crusts; to me, that is pizza. Seven years ago I moved to Chicago, and while Chicago is known for it's stuffed pizza, it's just not the same. And quite frankly, I don't think as good. I know I've lost some of you there, but I can't lie. I'm not saying stuffed pizza isn't good, I'm just saying there's better out there. There's something very satisfying about picking up a slice of pizza, folding it in half, turned your head to the side and taking a bite. The idea of cutting my pizza into pieces so I can eat it is seemingly sacrilegious.

Growing up, my dad used to make pizza from scratch. I distinctly remember him coming into my first grade class and making french bread pizza. The class and the parent's loved it so much, they asked him where his pizza place was. He informed them he didn't have one, as he was a doctor. No one believed him. I always loved making pizza with him. The anticipation of waiting for the dough to rise, spinning it in the air like a champion pizza maker, the smell of pizza in the oven, it's a reminder of childhood.

So, when I moved to Chicago and couldn't find pizza that I liked, I decided to start making my own. Now I should add, since I've been here I've found some pretty amazing places (Piece, BoilerRoom, Santullos). I have a hard time buying pizza that I know I can make, so these places give me things that I can't, like the BoilerRoom at the BoilerRoom. Meatballs soaked in PBR and a spicy giardiniera. But I digress.

So, home made pizza! It's not that hard and it tastes so darn good!

If you become committed to the homemade pizza cause, I would recommend going to Bed Bath and Beyond and buying a pizza stone. You can get them for $25 or $30 and they do make a difference. They're also great for baking cookies. If you want to spend a little more money and have a lifetime guarantee, Williams Sonoma has one for $50. We have it and love it.

The important thing here is to have fun with it! Put on as much or as little of every ingredient as you'd like. Add pepperoni, add sausage and peppers, go CRAAAZZY!


3 Cups All Purpose Flour
1 packet Quick Rise Yeast
1 TBS Olive Oil

Pinch of Salt
2 Cups Hot water

Quick Sauce
Can of Crushed Tomatos
2 garlic cloves minced
1 pinch of sugar
1 TSP Crushed Red Pepper
1 TBS Italian Seasoning

2 TSP Garlic Powder
2 TBS fresh Basil, chopped

2-4 Cups Shredded Mozerella Cheese (depending on how cheesy you like it)

Crushed Red Pepper
Italian Seasoning
Garlic Powder

You can do this by hand or with a mixer. If you use a mixer, use the dough hook. Combine flour , olive oil and salt in a bowl, mix well and then add yeast. Mix in ONE cup of the hot water. Dough should be soft and smooth, without being sticky and all of the flour is included. If it isn't, add water one teaspoon at a time until it is. Once dough is fully mixed, cover with a dish towel and let sit for 45 minutes.

If you're not in the mood to make a sauce, I recommend getting the Barilla Tomato Sauce. Their Roasted Garlic and Tomato and Basil are actually rather good and it saves you some time.

To make the sauce, combine all ingredients in a sauce pot and heat until warm. See, I told you it was quick!

After 30 minutes, preheat oven to 400. You want it hot so the crust gets crispy.

On a well floured surface, roll out dough. If you want to play pizza maker, throw it in the air (just be aware flour will rain down on you!). Once dough is thin and is laid out and fits to the edges of the pan, stone ect, sprinkle the crust with some olive oil and then seasonings. As much or as little as you like. I like it a little spicy, so I add probably 1TSP of crushed red pepper, but you can just add a pinch. A few shakes of garlic powder, and a few shakes of seasoning.

From there add the sauce. Make sure to cover all of the pie, save the area closest to the edges. You want some crust! Cover with as much cheese as you'd like and then sprinkle some more seasoning on top.

Throw it in the oven for 20 minutes. Keep checking to make sure that the crust isn't burning. After 20 minutes the crust should be a shade of golden brown. If it isn't put it in for another 5. Keep checking until the crust is golden.

Take it out of the oven, let it cook for 5-10 minutes, that cheese is REALLY hot! Slice and enjoy!
I like my pizza really saucy and cheesy....but that's just me.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

I Was Told There Would Be Punch and Pork Lard Crusted Apple Pie at This Event....

Until last year I had never been to an apple orchard before. And since last year was such a terrible growing season for apples, by the time we got to the orchards in late September the apples were off the trees. I was not about to make the same mistake this year. So I spent three hours researching U-Pick Apple Orchards in Illinois (I should admit now, I have an obsession with researching), trying to find the least hokey, best possible orchard that also has cider donuts. I mean, how can you pick apples without getting the amazingness that is a cider donut?!

So we ended up finding Prairie Sky Orchard in Union. Wonderful small orchard, not a tourist trap, just apples and a barn with autumnal delicacies such a cider donuts, cider, pies ect.. I plan on going back again next fall. Anyway, after getting a peck of an awesome hybrid of Jonathan and Golden Delicious called JonaGold apples, (for those of you who were unaware of how many pickled peppers Peter Piper picked, its 10lbs), we had 10lbs of apples.

And what does one do with 10lbs of apples? Well, when there are two people there are only so many apples you can eat. And I can tell you now, if the old adage of “An apple a day…” is true, we’re set for a while. Anyway, we had all of these delicious apples and I figured a pie would be perfect. I’ve made pie crusts in the past, but to be honest, I’m not a huge crust fan. So this time, I wanted to make something really delicious. After much research I came across a recipe from Mindy Segal of Hot Chocolate. The pie crusts base is butter and pork lard, instead of the usual butter and Crisco. The lard makes the crust insanely flaky and extremely rich. While I kept the integrity of her crust recipe, I did tweak the insides. What resulted was a delicious, flaky, rich pie that I plan on making again. I served this with some homemade cinnamon ice cream I whipped up (recipe forthcoming). They complement one another really well. To make this crust you will need a kitchen scale, the ingredients are in ounces and pounds.

For the Crust (this will make enough dough for two stuffed pies ie top and bottom crust, and one bottom crust)

7 ounces cold cubed butter

3 1/2 ounces frozen cubed pork fat ( I bought this from The Butcher and Larder, but you can probably get from any butcher shop in the area)

1 tablespoon sugar

Pinch of salt

1 pound, 2 ounces all purpose flour

1/2 cup ice water (more or less)

1 egg

Place butter, flour, sugar and salt in the bowl of a mixer with the paddle attachment. On low speed, start mixing. About halfway into mixing, add frozen pork fat and mix until the fat resembles small peas. Then add the beaten egg with a tablespoon of iced water. Work with mixer for one second then take off stand and mix dough with hand to feel moisture. You may need to add more water if you are unable to incorporate all of the flour mixture. I added another 2 TBS of water to get everything. From there, wrap dough in plastic and put in the fridge. Let it sit at least 4 hours, preferably over night.

For the Filling

5 JonaGold Apples (or another sweet baking apple like Honey Crisp)

2 Granny Smith Apples

2 cups Apple Nectar (you can get this at any organic food store)

Kosher salt

Pinch of black pepper

4 tbs natural cane sugar

1tsp AllSpice

1tsp Cinnimon

1/4 cup corn starch

Egg white (for top of pie)

Peel and quarter apples, cleaning out the core. On a mandolin or with a sharp knife, slice the apples paper-thin and place in a bowl with all other ingredients other than egg white and let marinate for at least 1 hour.

Remove the pie dough from the refrigerator and cut off roughly 1/3 of the dough. Cover the remaining dough and place back in refrigerator. From the dough you’ve cut, cut that in half and place ½ on a well floured space. Roll out flat and place in the bottom on a pie dish, make sure the edges are overhanging by at least an inch. Take apple mixture, drain the liquid (but keep it! You’ll need it) and place on top of dough. Take one cup of the liquid and place it in the mixture.

Roll out another circle of pie dough, but only the circumference of the pie tin. Cut four small slits in the middle so that the liquid and steam can release. Place dough on top of apples and roll the overhang dough around so that it curls. Refrigerate.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees, brush pie with egg white and sprinkle with sugar; I like more sugar, others like less. Bake for about 1 hour. If top of crust starts to get too brown, turn down the oven.

Take the pie out, let it rest and serve!