March 2, 2012 § 2 Comments
Something y’all may not realize about me: I love making ice cream. Last summer, I went out and bought an ice cream maker. I have not regretted this decision. I like making wacky flavors, using herbs, and experimenting with technique. Having an ice cream maker also eliminates all the weird looks one gets from cashiers when one buys pint after pint of Ben & Jerry’s. Not that I buy multiple pints of Ben & Jerry’s at a time. It gets expensive. Also, my waist starts protesting.
Another thing I am slightly obsessed with: mochas with cinnamon. And chocolate with cinnamon. Basically, anything chocolate must also have cinnamon. This is the rule. However, not all cinnamon-y things require chocolate. I’ll get a math person to figure out the equation.
But the cinnamon mocha, friends, is one of the most delicious coffee beverages ever. Take a simple mocha, preferably one made by your favorite local coffee shop, and add a shot of cinnamon syrup. The end product is close to perfection.
As much as I love both of these things, they are not the reason I decided to make ice cream this week. For the past month, I’ve had three Mexican vanilla beans quietly sitting in my spice cabinet. I’ve never used vanilla beans; I’ve only ever used extract. So, I’ve been thinking about the best way to experiment with the strength of beans versus extract. Ice cream, duh.
Then I just started throwing stuff in a pot. This is how most of my experiments go. Though they do not often turn out quite this tasty.
Cinnamon Mocha Ice Cream
1 C heavy cream
2 C half and half or whole milk
2/3 C sugar
2 tsp instant espresso powder
1/2 tsp coffee extract
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 vanilla bean pod, seeds scraped out
3/4 disk of Abuelita Mexican hot cocoa
Make sure your ice cream maker is completely frozen.
On very low heat, in a large saucepan, whisk together everything but the cocoa sections. Add in the cocoa sections, stirring slowly so the chocolate melts completely. Once everything is incorporated, turn off the heat, remove the vanilla bean,* and chill the mixture in the fridge for at least 4 hours, or overnight.
Is your ice cream maker still frozen? Yes? Good. Make the ice cream according to the directions on your machine. Mine takes 20 minutes, from liquid to soft serve.
This recipe makes around a quart of ice cream, and since there are not really any preservatives in it, it’s not going to last as long as store bought. If it even sticks around that long. I mean, come on, it’s cinnamon mocha ice cream.
*If you let it dry out a touch, you can pop it in your sugar canister and have vanilla sugar. It’s delicious.
March 1, 2012 § Leave a comment
One of my first food memories is about duck. I was probably eight or nine years old, and my aunt was throwing a shower of some kind. I don’t remember if it was a baby shower or a bridal shower. It was the kind of party that took place on a Saturday afternoon, with sherbet punch and tiny napkins.
Back to the duck. It was in the center of the dining table/buffet area, on a large platter, smelling sweetly. I think it had a maple glaze. It was tender, moist, and like nothing I had tasted before. I recall asking my mom what it was, and she replied, “It’s duck. I don’t like it that much. It gets slimy.” I remember the comment about it being slimy. It has stuck with me throughout the years. But from that day until last weekend, I had not tasted duck again.
So three weeks ago, I found a frozen duck at Wegman’s. I broke down and bought it. It lurked in my freezer, while I tried to work out the best way to cook and serve the waterfowl. Several recipes suggested breaking it down, like cutting out the spine and splitting the bird in half. As into cooking as I am, I retain a few butterflies when it comes to breaking down whole birds. Other recipes only featured the duck breast or the duck legs. I finally just decided to wing it. (With some knowledgeable help.)
I used Ina Garten’s roasting method, which meant poaching the duck for a while to render off most of the fat, and then roasting it at a high temperature to get the skin to a pretty brown color.
I love simple food. So I feel like the duck would be fine with just a little salt and pepper, but there were blood oranges at the store. When Tex-Pat sees blood oranges, Tex-Pat buys blood oranges. The insides are a wonderful ruby color, and the juice is tart enough to make your mouth pucker in the best way.
INSTANT FLAVOR IDEA!
Do a “duck l’orange” with blood oranges and a touch of fresh ginger. I just glazed the duck in the last few minutes of roasting, let it rest for 20 minutes, carved it, and served. Oh, and I stuffed the cavity with blood orange slices, and slices of ginger. And there was a touch of glaze left over, which was perfect for individually saucing each person’s portion of duck.
Roast Duck with Blood-Orange Ginger Glaze (adapted from Ina Garten)
1 4 to 5 lb duck, completely thawed and with innards (neck, guts, etc.) removed
3 Blood Oranges
3 inch knob of fresh ginger, divided
2 Tbsp sugar
Get out a pot big enough to hold the duck. Completely. Like, so it can be submerged in water. Fill up the pot with water, or with chicken stock if you’ve got it. Get it boiling. While the water boils, rinse out the duck, and also check for pinfeathers. Pull out the pinfeathers. You do not want to eat the pinfeathers. Take a fork and poke some holes in the skin of the duck, all over. This allows the fat to render out into the water. Once the water is at a rolling boil, carefully slip the duck into the stove-top jacuzzi. Keep the water at a simmer, and keep the duck completely submerged in the water. Use a heat safe plate or bowl to weigh it down. Simmer the duck for around 45 minutes. Skim off some duck fat from the top of the pot, using it to grease the roasting pan or cast iron skillet. With the help of a friend, take the duck out of the hot pot and drain it (I burned myself trying to do this alone, so bring a friend to avoid the burn unit.) Pat the duck dry and let it hang out in the greased skillet for half an hour. This is to allow the skin to dry out a touch, so it gets nice and crispy in the oven.
Heat the oven to 500 degrees!
While the duck is drying and the oven preheating, prepare the the glaze and stuffing. Zest and juice 2 of the blood oranges into a small saucepan. Peel and grate 2 inches of the fresh ginger into the saucepan as well. Add two tablespoons of sugar to the orange juice/ginger liquid and stir. Heat on low til it thickens slightly. It’s done. Take the other blood orange and cut it into 8 wedges. Peel and slice the last of the ginger. Stuff the orange slices and ginger into the cavity of the duck.
Stick the duck in the oven. Set the timer for 20 minutes. Halfway through the cooking time, start glazing the duck. The duck is finished when the juices run clear. If you have leftover glaze, I highly recommend having your guests sauce their own adventure.
This serves 3 or 4 people, with heavy sides. 2 or 3 if you want to go heavy on the meat portion.