Thursday, February 28, 2013

Molly Moon's "Scout" Mint Ice Cream

It's been just over a month since my husband got me an ice cream maker for my birthday. Quite frankly I'm surprised the motor hasn't given out (yes, I've been making a lot of ice cream). In addition to the ice cream maker, I also received two terrific cookbooks: Molly Moon' s Homemade Ice Cream and People's Pops: 55 Recipes for Ice Pops, Shave Ice, and Boozy Pops from Brooklyn's Coolest Pop ShopI decided to start with the Molly Moon's book. 
I first heard of Molly Moon's about 4 1/2 years ago. I was 6 months pregnant with my first son Otis and we were trying to figure out whether or not we should relocated to Seattle. Our apartment in the Prospect Heights section of Brooklyn was feeling pretty crowded and it was going to seem even smaller once the baby arrived. We were also starting to sour on the city, despite having most of our family and closest friends around. I always loved the Pacific Northwest, so we booked a flight and flew to Seattle to check things out. 
Seattle had a lot of things going for it: employment prospects were better for me because I was a member of the Washington Bar. And the overall cost of living, while not cheap, was more affordable than NYC. The food scene (amazing), hiking options (tons), and the politically active citizenry of Seattle made us think it would be a good place to live.
Once we got there we ate; we ate a lot. We went to Macrina Bakery for brunch, shopped at the Pikes Place Market, and stumbled upon a cheese festival that happened to be taking place while we were in town. We slurped tons of pho, dined at Tilth (oh lord that place is good)and walked around Gasworks Park. We also got tickets to see the Mariners clobber the Red Socks at Safeco field. (I was rooting for the Mariners because I was in their stadium. Of course I'm also a New Yorker and a Yankee fan-- so I don't have much love for the Boston Red Sox!)

We took a little side trip to Vancouver, which was fabulous (more great food and lots of great walks). Upon our return to Seattle we decided to get some ice cream. The spot? Molly Moon's. The line? Around the block. I heard their salted caramel flavor was incredibly popular and worth the wait. It was to-die-for. We got a pint. 
Anyway here we are, 5 years later. Lots of things have changed since that trip to Seattle. We are living in Denver, not Seattle, and our family now has 5 happy members (I'm including our trusted Rottweiler in this count). One thing that hasn't changed much is my love of ice cream...especially Molly Moon's.

Salted Caramel was the first recipe I tried. I paired it with a warm Ghirardelli brownie (above) and it was fantastic. Next up was Mexican Chocolate (nice heat from Vietnamese, a.k.a Saigon, Cinnamon) and blood orange sorbet (seasonal and refreshing). 
I didn't think it would be right to print every recipe I fell in love with, so I decided to post the Scout Mint because it is, hands-down, my new personal favorite.

I did my happy-dance the minute my husband returned from the grocery store. I could see those boxes through the shopping bag. Know which boxes I mean? Hmmmm? Yes? The little green boxes that are hard to find and sold by Girl Scouts around the nation? Thin mints! Yes, thin mints! THIN MINTS! 

People, it's very hard not to fall in love with this one. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did. A special thank you goes out to the awesome people at Molly Moon's who let me publish their recipe. 

"Scout" Mint Ice Cream (Courtesy of Molly Moon's Homemade Ice Cream, printed with permission)

Makes 1- 1 1/2 Quarts
1 cup whole milk
2 cups heavy cream
3/4 cup sugar
Pinch of kosher salt
2 teaspoons peppermint extract 
1 1/2 cups crushed Thin Mint Girl Scout cookies (about 15 cookies) 
Note: The cookies can be crushed into pieces as big or as small as you want them to be in your ice cream. We shoot for pea-size pieces and leave a cookie or two mostly intact- because who doesn't love finding a big cookie in their ice cream?
Put the milk, cream, sugar, and salt into a small, heavy-bottomed saucepan. Cook over medium heat, whisking occasionally to dissolve the sugar. Before the mixture has come to a boil, remove from the heat. Pour the mixture into a shallow pan or bowl and place in the refrigerator to chill thoroughly, 1 to 2 hours.
When the mixture is cold, stir in the peppermint extract. Pour it into an ice cream maker and process according to the manufacturer's instructions(mine takes 20-25 minutes from start to finish once the power is turned on and the bowl starts turning). During the last few minutes of processing, add the cookies. Using a rubber spatula, transfer the ice cream to an airtight glass or plastic freezer container. Cover tightly and freeze until the ice cream is firm, at least 4 hours. 
Note: You have to freeze the bowl that comes with the ice cream maker for 24 hours prior to use, so don't forget to do this in advance! 
Enjoy :)

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Thursday, February 21, 2013

red rocks in january and a winter citrus salad (beets, grapefruit and watercress)

We absolutely love living in Colorado, but every now and again we get a bout of homesickness. Technology helps us connect with our families back east, but nothing, and I mean nothing, is a substitute for a face-to-face conversation; an in-person visit. When someone buys a ticket, gets on a plane, doesn't mind sleeping on an inflatable mattress for a week and is more than happy to wake up in the morning with your early-rising kids...well, that just says love. 
Aunt Barbara, my mother-in-law's sister, has visited us twice since we moved here. On her most recent trip she came with us to the petting zoo, hiked a trailhead at Red Rocks, and was more than accommodating when we did a little house-hunting. She also washed every dish I own until it sparkled like a diamond. Aunt Barbara did some babysitting too, so my husband and I were able to get a few nights off to celebrate my birthday weekend. We had some great meals at Jonsey's Eat Bar and The Kitchen...and a few drinks too. When we dropped Aunt Barbara off at the airport we asked, "When are you coming back?" And we really meant it. 
Clean sheets and a comfortable bed are one way to make a guest feel welcome. But so is good food. For Aunt Barbara's first night I made Baked Ziti with homemade sauce and this salad (below). It's fresh, clean and seasonal too. This is one to make before winter citrus is no longer at its peak. Here it is...enjoy!

Grapefruit-and-Beet Salad (Adapted slightly from The New York Times)
Originally published with Eat, Memory: The Ideology of Taste by Roy Blount Jr., November 27, 2005
1/2 pound beets (2 or 3), trimmed
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more for beets
Kosher salt
2 large red or pink grapefruit, peeled, white pith removed
1/2 shallot, finely diced
2 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon Dijon-style mustard
1 bunch watercress, stemmed and trimmed (about 2 cups)
Freshly ground black pepper

  • Preheat the oven to 350F. Lay the beets on one end of a sheet of aluminum foil, sprinkle with olive oil and season with salt. Fold over the remaining foil and crimp the edges to seal. Place on a baking sheet and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until fork tender (this step usually takes me about 1 hr. 15 minutes.) Cool and peel, then slice into 1/4-inch-thick half-moons.
  • Segment the grapefruit and set aside the membrane. Gently pat the segments dry with a paper towel. Squeeze 1* teaspoon juice from the membrane and reserve.*You can do a little more if you want a more intense grapefruit flavor.
  • Combine shallot, reserved grapefruit juice, lemon juice and salt to taste in a bowl. Let sit for 10 minutes. Whisk in mustard, then 3 tablespoons olive oil. Adjust seasoning.
  • In a large bowl, add the beets, grapefruit segments and watercress. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. (Don't neglect this step. Salt and pepper are key!) Gently fold the dressing into the salad.

...and here are some photos from our hike:

I like seeing how the colors change with the seasons. At one of my favorite hiking spots near Red Rocks there's green brush in the spring, the rocks look redder in the summer (and there are wildflowers too), leaves start falling in the autumn and the grasses are dry and the color of honey-straw in the winter. 
It had been quite some time since we went to Red Rocks, so when Aunt Barbara said she was game to go on a hike, we piled in the car and headed out in the direction of Morrison, Colorado. After Morrison we drove a few more miles before we got to the trailhead where I've taken the boys several times. Otis had his 'hiking bucket' and was ready for rock collecting. Theo was content picking up small twigs. My husband had the day off from work so he was happy to be getting some fresh air. And Aunt Barbara, realizing just how strong the Colorado sun can be, understood why hiking in the middle of January can be a wonderful way to spend an afternoon...

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Sunday, February 10, 2013

inspiration from the kitchen in boulder: parsnip soup puree with mushrooms

I'm a winter baby, born in the middle of January, right on the cusp of Capricorn and Aquarius. My special day also falls on (or very close to) our country's inauguration day. So in 1981, I wrote to President-Elect Ronald Reagan and asked to be invited to the big party. You know, because I was a birthday girl and all. The letter went something like: 

Dear President-Elect Ronald Reagan,
I turn 5 years old the very same day you will become the President of the United States. Can I come to your inauguration party and stay with you and Nancy at the White House?
Batya S.
Bronx, New York

Then there was radio silence. Nary a peep from the soon-to-be-commander-in-chief. The man-in-charge left me hanging. But a few months later, some time in the spring, a large envelope arrived at our doorstep and it had my name on it. I opened up the package and there it autographed photo of President Ronald Reagan. He looked very official and my initial impression was, "Wow, he's got great head of hair." I also thought he was very generous to send along a glossy photo book, which had lots of pictures of The White House's interior decor. 
I asked my dad for a thumbtack and up the photo went- it hung right over my bed for about a year. It's funny to think of it now since my own political inclinations are far to the left. But at the time I was just a kid and I really liked that picture. 
I toyed with the idea of writing to President Obama and asking him for inauguration day tickets (or at least entrance to a party). But in the end I never got around to it. Instead we did what we always do when birthdays arrive...we celebrated with lots of good food. 

This year I had my birthday dinner at The Kitchen in Boulder. I can't say enough good things about that place. I didn't know what to expect since The Kitchen seems to pride itself on its close relationship with local food growers and it emphasizes seasonal produce. I mean it is the dead of winter, after all. Root cellar vegetables-- that's pretty much what comes to mind when I think of the winter. But my birthday dinner, that meal, was absolutely impeccable and extremely delicious...the chefs did an impressive job with the less than glorious bounty of mid-January. 
I've been trying to recreate the meal at home. So this is my attempt to figure out the starter soup: parsnip soup puree with sauteed mushrooms. I think it comes close enough...

There are so many good recipes out there. Some are basic, some are thick, some are complicated and have lots of ingredients and some use walnut pesto. In the end, I went with something fairly straightforward and simple. The result was a very satisfying rich soup, which I topped with sauteed shiitake mushrooms. Enjoy!
Parsnip Soup Puree with Sauteed Mushrooms
Inspired by the Kitchen Community (The Kitchen, Boulder) 
Heavily influenced by Orangette and Edible Brooklyn through this post
Yields 2-4 servings
Adjust the thickness of the soup by adding stock/water. Also season well with salt.
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
3 parsnips, peeled and diced into 1/2 inch cubes
2 carrots, peeled and diced
3/4 cup vegetable stock
3/4 cup water (with more for thinning out the soup)
salt, to taste
1/2 cup of heavy cream

1 tablespoon of unsalted butter
2 large handful of shitake mushrooms
salt, to taste
large pinch of dried thyme or 2-3 fresh sprigs
1/2 cup of stock or water
Poached egg (optional)

Preparation: Soup
Peel the parsnips, trim and discard the ends, and cut them into 1/2-inch pieces. Put 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter in a large pot, over low-medium heat. Add the parsnips and carrots. Heat for about 5 to 7 minutes, mixing every few minutes. Add the vegetable stock and the water. Bring to a simmer, and cook, uncovered, until the parsnips (and carrots) can easily be pierced with a fork, about 20 to 25 minutes.
Working in batches, puree the soup in a blender or use an immersion blender. If you think the consistency is too thick, you can add additional water or stock. Pour the pureed soup back into the pot and stir in the cream.  
Taste for salt, and serve hot. Top with sauteed mushrooms and/or a poached egg. 

Preparation: Mushrooms
Sauté mushrooms in butter over medium-high heat until mushrooms start to brown and soften, about 4 minutes. Add salt. Add stock and thyme; cook, stirring occasionally, until liquid reduces to a glossy, stew-like consistency, about 4 more minutes. Remove thyme sprigs (if using fresh). Spoon mushrooms on top of parsnip soup puree. 

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