Make Something New Every Day

This blog is inspired by all those who love to cook, whether experienced or not, and who continue to experiment with new ideas & ingredients, and best of all, share their passion with others.

The first entries are recipes prepared by the students of Lionel Wilson College Preparatory Academy in Oakland, CA. Fifteen students with varying cooking experience participated in my weekly workshop (via Tutorpedia), and successfully prepared various meals, snacks, and baked goods as part of an after-school program.

Along with the recipes from that class, I will continue to add new seasonal items, spanning every genre of the culinary world, as well as a helpful list of links to recipes, instructional videos, and places to shop and volunteer in your area.

Feel free to ask me questions and share your recipes and ideas as well. I look forward to cooking with you.

February 12, 2011

I Got The Ice Cream, and You Don't Got None... Until Now

Making your own ice cream is easy. That is if you have a good machine and follow a few simple techniques, which I will do my best to describe for you. As with any of my blogs or recipes, feel free to ask questions.

Start with fresh ingredients. Ice creams are generally made with whole milk, cream, eggs, and sugar. Fresh ingredients = tasty, creamy goodness. Anyone can buy ice cream. If you're going to make it, do it right. You won't be disappointed.

Read through the recipe a few times and measure out all of your ingredients before cracking an egg or turning on a burner.

Read the instructions for your ice cream maker. I use a Cuisinart Automatic ICE-20 Series. It is incredibly simple to use, and produces a good result. This machine requires that I freeze the freezer bowl overnight. The bowl contains a cooling liquid between a double-insulated wall to create fast & even freezing. It's kind of like a coolant/ice pack in a bowl form. When you pour in your custard and switch on the machine, the bowl turns, moving the custard through the mixing arm so your ice cream freezes evenly. Depending on your recipe, and the machine you use, you can have ice cream in less than an hour (about 30 minutes for preparing the custard, and 30 minutes for freezing). Some recipes can use extra time in the freezer once the mixing is done, so it's best to make your ice cream a day in advance, or in the morning for that night's dessert.

Nearly all ice creams begin with the preparation of a custard. This requires more patience than ingredients, but if you take it slow, you should be able to kick some custard booty.

Find the right saucepan for the job - a 2-4 quart pot with a heavy bottom is best. Have a whisk and a spatula on hand. If the handle of your pot gets hot, have an oven mitt nearby. You'll need a medium-sized mixing bowl, and a large sieve or fine strainer (not a colander). You can get by without a sieve, but I find them handy to strain out any lumps. You should also have a container handy for freezing your finished product. I like to use large yogurt cartons. I eat a lot of yogurt, and make a lot of ice cream, so this works out nicely.

You also need to set up an ice bath to cool your custard before you can freeze it. Prepare an ice bath by filling a large bowl with several inches of ice water. Set a smaller metal bowl (one that holds at least 1-1/2 quarts) in the ice water. Before you start your custard recipe, pour 1 cup of the cream into the smaller bowl (the one sitting in the ice bath). This way, when you add in your hot custard later, the cold cream will help cool it down faster. Set a fine strainer or sieve on top of the bowl. You will be straining the hot custard in a few minutes.

A Basic Custard Recipe (aka Vanilla Ice Cream):
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
1 vanilla bean (or 2 teaspoons vanilla extract)
3/4 cup granulated sugar 
pinch of salt
5 large egg yolks (save the whites! I have a great recipe for chocolate cookies. Or make an omelet!)

In a medium saucepan, mix 1 cup of the cream with the milk, sugar, and a pinch of salt. Warm the cream mixture over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar dissolves and tiny bubbles begin to form around the edge of the pan, 3 to 4 minutes. If using a vanilla bean, cut the bean down its length with the tip of a knife. Turn the knife over, and using the back of the knife, scrape out the seeds. Add both the seeds and the bean to the hot cream mixture, cover it and let it sit for 10 minutes. If you're using vanilla extract, pour it into the chilled cream and give it a stir.

Whisk the egg yolks in a medium bowl.

Rewarm the cream mixture over medium-high heat until tiny bubbles begin to form around the edge of the pan. Do not walk away from the stove. This happens very quickly. In a steady stream, pour half of the warm cream mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly to prevent the eggs from curdling.

Pour the egg mixture back into the saucepan and cook over LOW heat, stirring constantly and scraping the bottom with a heatproof rubber spatula until the custard thickens slightly (it should be thick enough to coat the spatula and hold a line drawn through it with a finger), 4 to 8 minutes. An instant-read thermometer should read 175° to 180°F at this point. Don’t let the sauce overheat or boil, or it will curdle. Immediately strain the custard into the cold cream in the ice bath.
Cool the custard to below 70°F by stirring it over the ice bath. Refrigerate the custard until completely chilled, at least 4 hours. Then freeze the custard in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. (Make sure to take out the vanilla bean before freezing).
Transfer the just-churned ice cream to an air-tight container, and freeze for at least 4 hours or up to 2 weeks.

There. Wasn't that easy? Now that you can make this, you can make just about any flavor you want.
Check back here for more recipes, tips, and ideas. And look over on the right for some helpful references.