Thursday, July 18, 2013

Ginger Ice Cream

As the Northeast is in the grip of a 90+ degree heatwave (I think we're on day 5 of above 90 degree temps?), I decided it was a great time for an ice cream post.

Ginger ice cream, to be precise.

Remember the peach ice cream I made last summer? This is basically the same recipe from The Savannah Cookbook, except with ginger instead of peaches.

Because you can get the full recipe for making the custard from the peach ice cream post, I won't go through it here. Everything is done exactly the same until you get to the point where you add the flavors. After mixing the cooked custard with the whole milk, you just mix in a very generous 3/4 cup of chopped crystallized ginger and about  a tablespoon of grated fresh ginger. Tip: fresh ginger is easier to grate if you freeze it first. Mine wasn't quite frozen so I got a bit of a juicy mess. Still tasted good though.

Another tip I discovered this time around. The recipe in the cookbook says to scald the cream and vanilla in the top of your double boiler over direct heat. I never really like this step, I didn't feel it worked well.  But since you really do need to use a double boiler to get the custard to cook right, I just switched it up a bit. I scalded the cream in a regular 1-quart saucepan, stirred in the sugar, beat the egg yolks in the top of the double boiler (off heat). Then I beat a cup of the cream mixture into the eggs and put the double boiler top over simmering water to complete the process. Worked great. No pictures, unfortunately, since I was too busy whisking away.

Incidentally, this ice cream is a delightful accompaniment to raspberry pie. Just in case you wanted a pairing.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Crispy Buffalo Chicken Bites

Here's an easy, quick recipe you can put together and serve in about a half hour or so, start to finish. It beats commercially made, frozen chicken nuggets hands down. I adapted it from the "Crunchy Whole-Grain Chicken Bites" recipe from The Pampered Chef's 29 Minutes to Dinner recipe book. Mostly because I didn't have any whole-grain chips (meaning Sun-Chips) or ranch dressing mix.

Of course, if you're not a fan of buffalo sauce, you can always leave the chicken bites plain and serve with your family's favorite dipping sauces.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Strawberry Jam

Around here, you always know summer's on the way when the first of the local strawberries start showing up at the Farmer's Market and at the local farm stands. I'm a big fan of strawberries - they've been my favorite berry since I was a little girl. And I love turning them into delicious strawberry jam!

When people find out I can, they always ask if it's hard. The answer, in a nutshell, is no. But it is time consuming, and you have to have the right equipment. I personally stand by the Ball Canning guides and equipment, mostly because the directions are straightforward and the equipment is easy to use.

My husband bought me my canning equipment for Christmas a couple years ago. Seriously one of the best gifts he's ever given me. You can find canning equipment, Ball or otherwise, in many stores, including Walmart. I recommend the Ball Enamel Waterbath Canner Kit, because it has everything you need to get started, and the Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving, because the directions and recipes are very easy to follow.

A note about preserving - it's a great way to store fresh produce for a taste of summer all year round. But if you plan to preserve vegetables and meat you really need to have a pressure canner. Waterbath canners just can't meet the correct processing heats necessary to prevent botulism. And nobody wants that.