Chocolate Coconut Milk Ice Cream

Here’s a delicious treat for your weekend! This is a recipe that I posted a long while back, but it is buried in a post with another recipe. And since it is quick and fairly healthy, I decided to re-post. Plus, it’s summer, so who doesn’t love some ice cream?!

I should note that the original recipe is  not mine; however, I do not remember where I found it. This time around I did add a 1/2 teaspoon of almond extract, which was a nice twist.

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CHOCOLATE COCONUT MILK ICE CREAM
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2-14 oz cans full-fat coconut milk
2/3 c. sugar or agave nectar (I used coconut sugar)
1/4 c.  unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2  tsp vanilla extract (feel free to replace 1/2 tsp of vanilla with 1/2 tsp almond extract)

Place all ingredients in a blender and blend thoroughly. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Pour into the bowl of an ice cream freezer and freeze according to the manufacturer’s directions. Serves 4.

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Weekend Fare: Peppermint Ice-Cream

Peppermint ice-cream is such a delicious seasonal dessert! And, when it’s homemade, it’s nothing short of luxury! If possible, make the custard the night before you plan to use it, chilling it in the fridge overnight. If you are in a rush, stir it over the ice bath until very cool.

PEPPERMINT ICE-CREAM
(SimplyRecipes.com)

2 1/2 cups heavy cream (Costco organic is not only very cheap but also very good)
1  1/2 cups whole milk
8 large egg yolks (preferably from free range chickens)
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons peppermint extract
1/2 cup crushed candy canes or hard peppermint candy

Warm the milk, sugar, and salt in a medium saucepan. Make sure the sugar and salt completely dissolve.

Pour the cream into a metal bowl set in a larger bowl of ice and set a medium-mesh sieve on top.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg yolks. Slowly pour the warm milk into the egg yolks, whisking constantly, then scrape the warmed egg yolks back into the saucepan.

Stir the mixture constantly over medium heat with a wooden or heatproof rubber spatula, scraping the bottom as you stir, until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula, about 5-7 minutes. Don’t think twice when the mixture coats the spoon — remove it from the heat immediately!

Pour the custard through the strainer and stir it into the cream. Then stir until cool over the ice bath. Chill mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator.

Once the mixture is thoroughly chilled, add peppermint extract, a 1/4 teaspoon at a time, tasting the mixture after each addition, until you reach the desired level of peppermintiness.

Once chilled, freeze in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Once the ice cream has been formed in the ice cream maker, it will be fairly soft. Fold in the crushed peppermint candy. Put in an airtight plastic container and place in the freezer for at least an hour, preferably several hours. If it has been frozen for more than a day, you may need to let it sit at room temperature for a few minutes to soften it before serving.

Makes 1 1/2 quarts.

Summer Recipes: Fresh Strawberry Ice Cream

I love making ice cream with my counter-top Cuisinart ice cream maker. This weekend at the farmer’s market I bought lots of freshly picked local strawberries. Not only do we like to eat them, but I wanted to make fresh strawberry pie, strawberry shortcake, and strawberry ice cream while the berries are still in season. The two of us can’t possibly eat all that dessert, but it’s so rare that I get to enjoy fresh strawberry desserts!

Today I tackled the ice cream on my list. I used a recipe from the Williams-Sonoma ice cream book. It’s not super sweet, but it’s light, fresh and delicious.

STRAWBERRY ICE CREAM
(from Williams-Sonoma Collection: Ice Cream)
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2 cups heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
3/4 cup sugar
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups strawberries, stemmed and coarsely chopped

In a bowl, combine the cream and milk. Add the sugar and salt and whisk until the sugar begins to dissolve. Stir in the vanilla. Set aside, stirring occasionally, to allow the flavors to blend, about 15 minutes. Cover and refrigerate the mixture until chilled, at least 3 hours or up to 8 hours.

In another bowl, using a fork or potato masher, mash half of the chopped strawberries; they should break down into small chunks. Add the remaining coarsely chopped strawberries to the bowl. Cover and refrigerate the strawberries for about 1 hour.

Pour the milk mixture into an ice-cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions. When nearly frozen and the consistency of thick whipped cream, add the strawberries. Churn or stir until just blended. Transfer the ice cream to a freezer-safe container. Cover and freeze until firm, at least 3 hours or up to 3 days, before serving.

Weekend Fare: Coconut Lime Chicken

I’ve recently been experimenting with using coconut milk in cooking and baking and I’m excited with the results! (I am referring to the coconut milk in the can, such as Thai Kitchen brand.) In honor of my recent experience with this versatile ingredient, I wanted to share with you two recipes: Coconut Lime Chicken and Chocolate Coconut Milk Ice Cream.

The chicken is incredibly tender (although the photo shows a whole piece of chicken make sure to cube it because the result is much more tender!) and the almond butter dipping sauce adds a delicious twist. The ice cream is amazing and so simple! It’s unbelievably creamy. I adapted it slightly from a recipe I found online and promptly forgot where I found it. 🙂

Both of these recipes are gluten-free and dairy-free.

COCONUT LIME CHICKEN
(from The Whole Life Nutrition Cookbook)
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2 large boneless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch cubes
coconut oil, for sauteing

Marinade:
2 Tablespoons coconut milk
2 Tablespoons lime juice
2 Tablespoons wheat-free tamari (or soy sauce)

Almond Lime Dipping Sauce:
6 Tablespoons almond butter
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
1/4 cup coconut milk
1-2 Tablespoons tamari (or soy sauce)
1 Tablespoon agave nectar or honey
1-2 cloves garlic, crushed

Place the chicken breast pieces into a bowl and cover with the ingredients for the marinade. Stir together to coat evenly. Let chicken marinate for 30 minutes.

Heat a 10-inch skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Add about one Tablespoon of coconut oil. Then add chicken pieces. Saute, stirring frequently, for about 3-5 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through.

Place the dipping sauce ingredients into a bowl and whisk together until mixture is thickened and well combines. Alternatively, sauce can also be warmed on the stove in a small pot over low heat.

To serve, divide dipping sauce into four small bowls and serve alongside chicken. (Brown rice and stir-fried veggies make a great side!) Serves 4.

CHOCOLATE COCONUT MILK ICE CREAM
Print This Recipe

1-14 ounce can coconut milk (not light)
1/3 cup sugar or agave nectar (I used coconut sugar)
2 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Place all ingredients in a blender and blend thoroughly. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Pour into the bowl of an ice cream freezer and freeze according to the manufacturer’s directions. Serves 2.

Kids in the Kitchen: Snowmen

I saw this cute snowmen idea in Midwest Living and had to make them for my kids who just loved them! You need:

vanilla ice-cream
string licorice
chocolate chips
regular sized marshmallows
a candy kiss or maraschino cherry for the hat

Place 1/4 cup chocolate chips in a freezer ziplock bag and immerse in hot water until chips are melted. Snip the tip of the ziplock bag and squeeze eyes, nose and mouth onto a marshmallow.

Scoop ice-cream onto plates, two scoops per plate, arranged on top of each other. Place chocolate chips on for buttons and set marshmallow head on top. “Glue” cherry or chocolate kiss to marshmallow with more of the melted chocolate chips.

Stick in licorice arms.

Off the Shelf: Nigel Slater Appetite

Appetite by Nigel Slater is one of my favorite inspirational cookbooks. I love reading cookbooks by people who are not only passionate about cooking but also eating. And, another thing I like about Nigel is his flexibility. Many of his recipes give guidelines, not precise ingredients, and he also adds lots of suggestions on ways to tweek the recipe he gives.

The first fourth of this book contains all kinds of helpful information such as: the new cook’s survival guide, learning to trust your own taste, how to make something taste better, measurements and why you don’t always need them, kitchen kit, basic kitchen skills, ingredients — how to buy, store, and use them, herbs, vegetables and fruit, fish, meat, and dairy, as well as seasonal cooking.

Nigel then launches into the recipes which include all kinds of things: a simple loaf of bread, a great tomato sauce, variations of soup, easy pasta dinners, different ways with rice, thirty-minute fish supper, classic roast chicken, a thin, crisp, fruit tart, a warm and crumbly fruit tart, and a rib-sticking pudding for a cold day.

We have used Nigel’s Creamy, Unctuous Potato Dish over and over at family dinners and holidays. Yes, it is rich, but it pairs so nicely with holiday meats, and it is so easy to prepare, that it is fine with me to enjoy this treat once or twice a year.  (Note potatoes to the top left in picture below.)

A CREAMY, UNCTUOUS POTATO DISH
(Appetite, by Nigel Slater)

potatoes — waxy-fleshed if possible, about 2 pounds
garlic — 2 large, juicy cloves
butter — just enough to butter the baking dish thickly
heavy cream — enough to cover the potatoes (about 2 1/2 cups)

You will need a moderate to low oven, so set the heat at 325F. Peel the potatoes and slice them thinly. This, by the way, is one of those dishes where you really must peel: strings of brown, “healthy” skin are totally at odds with the gratin’s hedonistic overtones. The slices should be no thicker than 1/8 inch. If the garlic is really juicy, cut the cloves in half and rub them around an earthenware or enameled cast-iron dish, pressing down hard to release the juices. Otherwise it might be better to slice it thinly and tuck the slices between the potatoes.

Smear the dish generously with butter. Please don’t be stingy — you are only cheating yourself. Lay the potato slices in the dish, orderly or positively hugger-mugger, it matters not, seasoning with salt and black pepper as you go along. Pour the cream over the potatoes — it should just come to the top of the slices. Bake for an hour to an hour and a half, until the potatoes are virtually melting into the cream.

Enough for 6 as a side dish.

I recently made Nigel’s custard recipe and then threw it into our ice-cream maker to create this incredible frozen custard. Topped with raspberry coulis, it was a delicious, well-rounded dessert.

Off The Shelf: Cooking with Flowers and Lavender

Summer is a great time to think about cooking with lavender and other flowers. This week we have two books to get you started in the right direction. (And, if you don’t have lavender growing in your own garden, you can find it in the spice section of any good supermarket, or health food store.)

The Lavender Cookbook by Sharon Shipley has 182 pages full of recipes that ALL use lavender! After the basics (such as lavender rubs, sugar, syrup and butter), there are four chapters devoted to the four seasons with recipes such as: Lavender Scones, Lavender Chicken Breasts, Lavender Lemon Buttered Chicken, Old-Fashioned Cherry Pie with Lavender, California Lavender Pasta Salad, Lavender Lemon Cookies, Hot Lavender Cranberry Punch, Baked Spicy Pork Chops with Lavender and Apple, Lavender Blueberry Banana Bread, and Lavender Roasted Beets.

Not only can you cook with lavender, but you can use a myriad of other flowers to accent and decorate your cooking. This book, with plenty of photos, helps you identify safe flowers you can eat and gives you ideas on how to use flowers such as: yarrow, hollyhocks, borage, chicory, fuchsia, sunflower, day lily, honeysuckle, phlox, rose, red clover, and nasturtium.

I decided to try a green salad with sliced peaches and laced with nasturtium flowers and ‘Alaska’ nasturtium leaves. For the dressing I used a lavender vinaigrette out of the lavender cookbook. The dressing was a nice complement to the salad, and the taste of lavender was not “in your face” as it could have been. Lavender-Honey ice-cream from David Lebovitz was incredible.

LAVENDER VINAIGRETTE
(The Lavender Cookbook)
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1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil (I used half canola, half olive oil)
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. dried culinary ‘Provence’ lavender buds, finely ground in a spice grinder (I just chopped them with a knife)

In a small bowl, whisk together the oil, vinegar, salt, and lavender.

Makes about 2/3 cup.

LAVENDER-HONEY ICE CREAM
(The Perfect Scoop)
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1/2 cup good-flavored honey
1/4 cup dried or fresh lavender flowers
1  1/2 cups whole milk
1/4 cup sugar (I left this out as it is quite sweet with just the honey)
pinch of salt
1  1/2 cups heavy cream
5 large egg yolks

Heat the honey and 2 tablespoons of the lavender in a small saucepan. Once warm, remove from the heat and set aside to steep at room temperature for 1 hour.

Warm the milk, sugar, and salt in a medium saucepan. Pour the cream into a large bowl and set a mesh strainer on top. Pour the lavender-infused honey into the cream through the strainer, pressing on the lavender flowers to extract as much flavor as possible, then discard the lavender and set the strainer back over the cream.

In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks. Slowly pour the warm mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly, then scrape the warmed egg yolks back into the saucepan.

Stir the mixture constantly over medium heat with a heatproof spatula, scraping the bottom as you stir, until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula. Pour the custard through the strainer and stir it into the cream. [If the custard curdles — simply whizz in your blender.] Add the remaining 2 teaspoons  lavender flowers (I left these out) and stir until cool over an ice bath.

Chill the mixture overnight in the refrigerator. The next day, before churning, strain the mixture, again pressing on the lavender flowers to extract their flavor. Discard the flowers, then freeze the mixture in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Makes about 1 quart.

Off The Shelf: The Perfect Scoop

After my recent ice-cream maker purchase a friend recommended David Lebovitz’ The Perfect Scoop. I’ve found it chock full of great ideas. The book covers ice-creams, sorbets and sherbets, granitas, sauces and toppings, and mix-ins. Check out some of the flavors, which range from traditional to way-out:

Vanilla, Chocolate-Raspberry, Coffee Frozen Yogurt, Cinnamon Ice Cream, Green Tea Ice Cream, Fresh Ginger Ice Cream, Date, Rum and Pecan Ice Cream, Orange Popsicle Ice Cream, Oatmeal-Raisin Ice Cream, Goat Cheese Ice Cream, Cheesecake Ice Cream, Lavender-Honey Ice Cream, Sweet Potato Ice Cream with Maple-Glazed Pecans, Sour Cherry Frozen Yogurt, Pear-Caramel Ice Cream, Olive Oil Ice Cream, Avocado Ice Cream, Fresh Mint Ice Cream;

Mango Sorbet, Cantaloupe Sorbet, Lime Sorbet, Lemon Sherbet, Chocolate-Tangerine Sorbet, Apricot Sorbet, Blackberry Sorbet, Strawberry-Rhubarb Sorbet, Pineapple Sorbet;

Espresso Granita, Plum Granita, Nectarine Granita, Strawberry Granita, Grape Granita, Mojito Granita, Pink Grapefruit Granita, and Kiwifruit Granita.

The books ends with more sauces and toppings than you can imagine. It is the “perfect handbook” for anyone wanting to make gourmet ice-creams at home.

I chose to try the Strawberry-Sour Cream Ice Cream. It was incredibly smooth and delicious. The sour-cream added a delightful sour note to balance the sweetness of the sweetened berries. It was most enjoyable just churned, rather than hardened in the freezer. I highly recommend it!

STRAWBERRY-SOUR CREAM ICE CREAM
(The Perfect Scoop)
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1 pound (450g) fresh strawberries, rinsed and hulled
3/4 cup sugar (I used 1/4 cup)
1 Tbsp. vodka or Kirsch (alcohol helps keep ice-cream from freezing too hard; it is optional)
1 cup sour cream
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 tsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice

Slice the strawberries and toss them in a bowl with the sugar and vodka or kirsch, stirring until the sugar begins to dissolve. Cover and let stand at room temperature for 1 hour, stirring every so often.

Pulse the strawberries and their liquid with the sour cream, heavy cream, and lemon juice in a blender or food processor until almost smooth but still slightly chunky.

Refrigerate for 1 hour, then freeze in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Makes about 1  1/4 quarts.

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Counter Culture

My counters have been busy this week: from the stacks of china and glass to be put away after my daughter’s baptism dinner to the mountain of baking on my to-do list, and then the testing of our new ice-cream machine! Yes, we are now the proud owners of a Cuisinart Automatic Ice-Cream Maker!!! This was our first attempt:

The kids decided on mint chocolate chip and we happened to have the chocolate and green chocolate chips to add. We all loved the results and the next night we tried raspberry frozen yogurt — also very delicious. Making one’s own ice-cream means you can control the ingredients, especially the sugar. So far we’ve been using about 1/3 of the amount called for in ice-cream recipes. No doubt ice-cream recipes will begin to appear on The Cooks Next Door.

Getting my CSA each week is something I really look forward to. I love the challenge of using the vegetables we get.

Here’s some of what we’ve eaten recently:

Swiss Chard — I made this Swiss Chard Lasagna and it was so good I hope to make it again soon
Kohlrabi — a relative of the cabbage, I added mine to coleslaw
Peas — we ate the sugar snaps raw and the boys shelled the shell peas to be steamed for dinner
Cabbage — we all love coleslaw and that’s what we did with our beautiful cabbage
Kale — I made an amazing Italian sausage, white bean and kale soup which I plan to make again this week
Mustard Greens — I used these greens in place of spinach in a Greek rice salad
Herbs — we’ve been given a lot of “cutting celery” which I’ve never heard of before. It has the appearance of overgrown parsley but tastes more like celery. I’ve been using it in salads and as a substitute for parsley.
Basil — I came home with a shopping bag full of basil and decided pesto was in order. The recipe I found gave options for freezing, which was perfect for me. Seven little jars found their way into the freezer.

BASIL PESTO
(Food Network)
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2 cups packed fresh basil leaves
2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup pine nuts (I left these out)
2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 cup freshly grated Pecorino cheese

Combine the basil, garlic and pine nuts in a food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped. Add 1/2 cup of the oil and process until fully incorporated and smooth. Season with salt and pepper.

If using immediately, add all the remaining oil and pulse until smooth. Transfer the pesto to a large serving bowl and mix in the cheese.

If freezing, transfer to air-tight container and drizzle remaining oil over top. Freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw and stir in the cheese.

Makes 1 cup.

Last, but not least, the children and I went black raspberry picking in the nearby woods last week. When we got home we made handpies with the berries we found. It made me think of my childhood and the memories I have of berry picking. Hopefully my children will someday look back and remember the fun we had (even though we all ended up being eaten up by bugs!!).