Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Sexy stracciatella

There is nothing sexier, in my opinion, than melted chocolate. And then to pour that deep, dark molten stuff into homemade vanilla frozen yogurt, made with the full-fat, tangy Greek stuff... well, that's definitely not for innocent eyes.

WARNING: Viewer discretion advised:

Vanilla Frozen Yogurt Stracciatella
(makes 1 quart)

3 cups Greek yogurt
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

4 oz. dark chocolate (I used the Green & Black espresso varietal, it is insane), melted

1. Mix the yogurt, sugar, and vanilla well, until the sugar is completely dissolved and the mixture is completely uniform. Refrigerate for 1 hour.
2. Churn in your ice-cream maker according to the instructions. When the frozen yogurt is just about finished, pour the melted chocolate in a steady, slow stream into the churning fro-yo. A liquid measuring cup does the job well.
3. Remove the frozen yogurt into the storage container and enjoy immediately, or store in the freezer until ready to enjoy.

It's positively sinful!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Not your grandma's banana bread

I consider myself a skilled refrigerator forager, willing and able to make do with what its cubed confines provide me on any given lazy day.
On one such day, not too long ago, I dug out a couple of overripe bananas and a half-full container of sour cream from an earlier taco feast. With the knowledge that I had some walnut halves and dried coconut lingering in my pantry, I carried out the divine will of the leftover-food gods and made this:

Sour Cream Banana Bread
(makes one big loaf)

1-1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 ripe bananas
2 eggs
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup honey
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup milk

1/4 cup walnuts, chopped
1/4 cup shredded unsweetened coconut

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and grease a 4 by 9 inch loaf pan (or whatever you have on hand). Sift together the first five ingredients in a large bowl.
2. In a medium bowl, mash the bananas with a fork until almost smooth. Using a wire whisk or an electric beater, beat in the eggs. Once combined, beat in the remaining wet ingredients until well combined.
3. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ones and stir until just combined. Mix in the walnuts and coconut, and pour the batter into the loaf pan.
4. Bake for 1 hour, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the loaf comes out clean.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Oh my goodness, Guinness!

It all started with my obsessing over the ice cream maker I stupidly left at my parents' apartment when I moved out last fall. Sure, it had been the end of ice cream season, but still, how could I have overlooked such a crucial culinary instrument? Thankfully, we were happily reunited this past weekend, and thus another cycle of frozen wondermaking began!
Part two of this creation myth: Ever since I sampled Mario Batali's overpriced, but inexorably delicious, Guinness ice cream ($8 for a cup?? Sheesh.) from Otto in Greenwich Village, I've been yammering about making my own variation. So finally, I did. And of course, it has dark chocolate. And it's frozen yogurt rather than gelato because Dan is lactose-intolerant and I'm something of a lactobacillus junkie.

But enough talk. Here's a taste:

Chocolate Stout Frozen Yogurt
(makes 5 cups)

1 vanilla bean or 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract1-1/2 cups half-and-half
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup sugar
4 egg yolks
12-oz. bottle Guinness Extra Stout
1 cinnamon stick (optional)
2 cups plain yogurt

1. If using the vanilla bean, split it in half and scrape out the seeds. Combine with the half-and-half, the chocolate, and half of the sugar in a saucepan, and heat while stirring until the chocolate is incorporated and steam rises (don't boil it). Remove from burner and set aside.

2. With a whisk or electric mixer, beat the rest of the sugar with the egg yolks until it thickens and becomes light yellow. Beat 1/2 cup of the half-and-half mixture into this, and then stir this back into the saucepan with the rest of the half-and-half mixture. Cook it over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture is thickened slightly. (It should thickly coat the back of a spoon.)

3. Meanwhile,
boil the Guinness down in another saucepan with the cinnamon stick (if using) until about 1/4 cup remains. Remove cinnamon stick, pour into a mug or small bowl, and cool completely.

4. Strain the custard (that's the tempered egg and half-and-half mixture) into a glass bowl and cool to room temp. Stir in the reduced Guinness, the yogurt, and the vanilla extract, if you're using it.

5. Chill to 40 degrees, or for about 2 hours in the fridge, then churn in an ice cream maker for 30 minutes, or until it's reached the desired thickness. Serve immediately or store in the freezer -- if you do this, you'll have to "thaw" it in the fridge for a half and hour before serving.

** If you don't yet have one of these awesome ice cream makers, I would recommend getting the Cuisinart 1-1/2 Quart model, found here on Amazon. You won't regret it! Ok, that concludes the sales pitch :)