ice cream

iScream for Ice Cream!

I know it’s December and barely anyone is thinking about ice cream, but personally, I could go for this frozen creamy goodness any day of the year. I have been lucky enough to inherit my friend’s ice cream maker for the semester while she is abroad, and let me tell you, it’s been the best accessory in my kitchen. So far I’ve made Alton Brown’s Banana Ice Cream and Simply Recipes’ Peppermint Ice Cream, and I predict an influx of more recipes in the near future as final exams approach (ice cream counts as a healthy, motivational study snack, right?). I know everyone is on the foodie instagram craze right now, but I must admit, ice cream looks particularly appetizing on this iPhone app. See for yourself, and try one of these sinfully rich and drool-worthy recipes soon!

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The banana ice cream had an insanely natural banana flavor- no banana extract necessary here! Despite having real mashed bananas in it, the texture was smooth and rich. I actually felt like I was eating something healthy!

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Now this is just an all-around holiday people pleaser. The ice cream is so custard-y and melt-in-your-mouth delicious. I had to use a significant amount more of the peppermint extract than what the recipe called for, to get that true peppermint flavor. Adding crushed candy canes on top really makes this dessert special, beautiful and perfect for the holidays.

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Greek Cherry-Basil Pops

One of the best things about coming home from New York City was being able to actually experience a true, suburban summer. Hearing the birds chirp, smelling freshly cut lawn and actually being able to lay outside without hearing 14 ambulances drive by are just among the list of things I love about a suburban summer in Cleveland. While I’m still in the pre-back-to-school-summer mood, I wanted to create something that would capture summer in just one taste. Alas: the popsicle. A summer dessert icon- so sweet and frozen, with all the flavors you want compacted into one swift lick. I would make popsicles.

My mom bought me POPS! Icy Treats for Everyone, by Krystina Castella at the beginning of the summer, after I raved about Jeni’s Mango Lassi Pop. I was unable to utilize the cook book in New York but was determined to make at least one of the recipes while I was home for just 10 short days. I have tweaked the recipe a little to make it my own, but it was definitely inspired by this amazing book full of more popsicle recipes than you could ever make in your lifetime. Here is my recipe for Greek Cherry-Basil Pops (inspired by Bing Cherry and Vanilla Pops):

Ingredients

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup water

1 bunch basil leaves, roughly chopped

3 cups fresh cherries, pitted and chopped

3/4 cup cherry juice

1 cup greek yogurt

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Sweet Summer Cherries

Directions

In a medium saucepan, bring the water, sugar and basil to a light boil. Allow the sugar to dissolve. Remove from the heat and let cool before straining into a bowl. Discard the basil. This will be your basil simple syrup.

In the same saucepan, simmer the cherry juice, 1/4 cup basil simple syrup and cherries over low heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Let cool, then add the yogurt and vanilla extract. Stir until the mixture is completely uniform in color. Pour into six 8-ounce popsicle molds and freeze for at least six hours.

Cherries in 3 beautiful shades of pink (from left): cherries in the pot, cherries with juice and syrup simmering, cherry mixture once yogurt and vanilla were added.

Let the pops stand at room temperature for about five minutes before removing from the molds. If they are still stuck, try running the molds under hot water for a few seconds, and they should slip right out! Your result: sweet summer in one swift lick- just what I intended.

So they didn’t come out perfectly, but tasted just as sweet!

Note: if you have extra mixture, like I did, you can pour it into small ramekins and freeze for a frozen yogurt-ice cream-like treat instead!

The Grand Finale to My NYC Summer

I am very upset to be announcing that this past weekend was my final weekend living in the Big Apple. I have fallen in love with this city, and more importantly, with the food. You can get any type of food at any hour of the day, and odds are, it will be better than what you can get in any other city in this country. I have a whole Word document of restaurants I wanted to eat at this summer. Sadly I only made a dent in the list. But during my final weekend, I did some pretty decent damage. Let’s start with Saturday, shall we?

I said to myself that I wouldn’t leave NYC without a trip to Katz’s Deli. So Saturday was dedicated to that, and by “dedicated” I mean you only eat one meal at Katz’s because you will eat enough to suffice for the rest of the day. There was no question when it came to ordering: I would have the corned beef sandwich. Tender, falling apart, well seasoned, and surrounded by fresh rye bread. You really can’t ask for more. Their steak fries and pickles are superb, too. But I’m really just obsessed with this sandwich.

Can’t you see why?

On Sunday I attended my second iAdventure event- The International Food Truck and Beer Festival at NYC’s South Street Seaport. But I’m not here to tell you about that. While I enjoyed my afternoon full of food truck tastings, beer and music, two things- er, trucks, I should say- stuck out in particular. The first, Kimchi Taco Truck

Let me preface this by explaining the event. Each purchaser (from livingsocial.com) was entitled to two beers and three food truck tastings. I went with my foodie partner in crime, Lizzy. Since there were 8 food trucks to choose from, we decided to divide and conqure and get six different trucks’ samples and share them. The samples were rather… skimpy. Don’t get me wrong; they were all delicious. But a few french fries, about a quarter slice of pizza, half a dumpling, one gnocchi and half of a pretzel ball was not filling. So we decided to actually buy some lunch and share that, too. We went for the Grilled Korean BBQ Short Rib Kimchi Bowl, complete with multigrain rice, kimchi, pico de gallo, pickled daikon and cucumber kimchi, and boy, was I a happy camper afterwards. The short ribs were juicy and melted in my mouth. They were perfectly seasoned, with that unique Asian flavor. The classic kimchi was full of vinegar and spices, still with just enough crunch to remind you that its cabbage. I am a huge fan of Korean BBQ, and this meal definitely lived up to my standards.

After a day of spicy ethnic eats, Lizzy and I were looking for something to cool us down. I have been following Big Gay Ice Cream on Twitter for over a year now, after hearing about it on the Food Network. I had always wanted to try it but the truck is never near my office. Taking advantage it being Sunday, I convinced Lizzy to make the trek with me to Alphabet City to visit their storefront. The trip was well worth it. I can’t stop thinking about this soft serve. I got the American Globs- vanilla soft serve lined with pretzels and sea salt, all covered in a chocolate shell. The soft serve was so deliciously creamy without being too sweet. The pretzels and sea salt provided the perfect salt factor, especially combined with the chocolate. Biting into this massive cone was so satisfying. I am seriously dreaming to go back and get it. Lizzy got the Monday Sundae- a vanilla-chocolate twist lined with dulce de leche, Nutella and sea salt all in a waffle cone. The creamy dulce de leche worked so perfectly with the sea salt, and how can you go wrong with Nutella? This shop is literal heaven on earth (or wheels, if you go to the truck). I can’t decide if its a blessing or a curse that I’m leaving New York on Wednesday, because I would be genuinely scared for my health if I had year-round access to this ice cream.

Monday Sundae (left) & American Globs

So there you have it, folks. My final weekend in NYC wrapped up into one post about three incredible eats. Until next summer….

Paper Magazine’s Super (Duper) Market

Last weekend was the 1st annual Super Duper Market, a “three-day pop-up super-store featuring our favorite vendors, retailers and food fanatics from East Coast to West Coast selling their goods under one roof,” according to its host, New York’s very own Paper Magazine. I say “1st annual” because the event seemed so successful that I hope to be returning next year.

I attended the event on Saturday with my best friend, Lizzy, and a very empty stomach. ‘Twas a good thing, because I ate more food than a human should physically be able to digest… and that was just off samples. I’ve highlighted some of my favorite vendors from the event. May the drooling commence!

Nordic Breads (Long Island City) putting together tea sandwiches of Ruis whole grain rye bread, butter, cheese and cucumbers

A variety of flavors of Empire Mayonnaise (Brooklyn). I generally don’t care for mayonnaise (tip: I use greek yogurt in place in chicken, tuna and egg salad), but their truffle mayo was to die for. I could see myself using this on sandwiches, with crudités, or licking it right off the spoon.

The Salted Sailor S’more from S’more Bakery (NYC).  A cakey, shortbread-like graham cracker hugs a homemade vanilla bean marshmallow, toasted to order, coated in salty vanilla bean caramel sauce. Definitely not a traditional s’more but I loved it nonetheless.

Speaking of s’mores, I just had to create this before-and-after shot of the s’mores pie from First Prize Pies (NYC). This was the last item we bought before leaving the market, and I’m so glad we did. The crust was crumbly, buttery and sweet; the perfect vessel for a creamy, rich, decadent chocolate pudding filling, topped with toasted fluff. This was the epitome of a true s’more, in pie version. So sinfully delicious, and as full as we were, we gobbled it up (clearly).

Finally, I was so amazed by the flavor of Humphry Slocombe’s (San Francisco) chocolate and smoked sea salt ice cream that I forgot to take a picture of it. I also generally do not like chocolate ice cream (I know, such a crime) but this is the exception. The milky chocolate flavor had the perfect undertone of salty and smoky. I get it, chocolate and sea salt are the new peanut butter and jelly. But when you smoke that sea salt, it’s a totally different sensation, and I hope to be seeing more of this combination (and maybe even using it myself!). It’s a shame- or blessing in disguise, depending on how you look at it- that Humphry Sloccombe’s only has a storefront in San Francisco, or else I’d be buying this stuff by the bucket. Props to you, Mr. Slocombe.

So there you have it, an afternoon of indulgence at the Super Duper Market. I was happily full until Sunday, and came home with some great products and memories.

Blue Duck Tavern: Save Room for Dessert

Ah, parents’ weekend. The three days out of the year when it is socially acceptable to be a college student and hang out with your parents on campus. Well, I don’t necessarily feel this strongly about my parents’ presence but I’m sure plenty of students do. This past Colonial’s Weekend, I was lucky enough for my mom to pay me a visit and treat me to some fantastic eats.

Now let me give you some background information on my mom. She, just like me, loves to eat and cook. She’s always scanning through cookbooks and trying new recipes (she’s been on a lavender kick recently and insists putting it in everything!). When she booked her plane ticket to D.C. back in August, the first thing she said to me was, “okay, well start looking for places to eat because you know reservations will fill up fast and I want to try all the good food.” And boy was she serious.

When it came down to making reservations, I kept three things in mind. I knew I wanted to eat at restaurants that 1) I had never been to, 2) were all different in cuisine and 3) that were less likely that I would spend my own money on. I fulfilled these goals by booking reservations at the acclaimed Indian restaurant, Rasika, Blue Duck Tavern at the Hyatt, and my favorite chef’s- Jose Andres- Mediterranean Tapas restaurant, Zaytinya. The meal that still sticks out to me even a week later is Blue Duck Tavern. I’m already longing to go back.

What was first most appealing to Blue Duck Tavern was the atmosphere. When you walk in the door you are not only greeted by a friendly hostess but you are also exposed to an open, natural environment with wooden furniture and a full view of the kitchen. I was obviously amused by this aspect, especially the fact that you have to walk through the pastry kitchen to get to the bathroom- you can only imagine how many times I excused myself to use the ladies’ room.

Essentially, the menu has three columns- appetizers, entrees and sides, since everything is served a la carte. You then have your break ups in appetizers with salads and meats, your break ups in entrees with beef, poultry, ham and fish, and your break ups in sides with starches and vegetables. It’s pretty much given that my mom and I will share whatever we order, so we started with the pumpkin soup and the roasted beet salad. For my main course, I ordered the single vegetarian option- sweet potato pasta with Brussels sprouts, juniper berries and mushrooms. The dish was rich and creamy and I didn’t even miss the meat. I wanted to savor every last bite, but forced myself to refrain from inhaling the entire dish, as I knew to save room for dessert. Being at Blue Duck Tavern, it was only appropriate that my mom ordered duck. While I do not usually like or eat duck, her dish was rich, silky and perfectly seasoned. I enjoyed the few bites that I did manage to steal.

After a few moments of digestion, we were ready to order dessert. We decided on the nectarine, blackberry and almond crumble with crème freche, and an order of honey vanilla ice cream, per our eloquent waiter’s suggestion.

When I say to you that this was one of the best desserts I’ve ever had, I am in no sense exaggerating. The crumble was so moist and warm, and the contrast between the soft, sweet fruit and the crunchy, slightly salty crumbled crust was perfect. The crème freche, while tart and creamy, was a good counterpart to the sweetness of the fruit, but even better was the honey vanilla ice cream. Cold, silky and rich, this was definitely the highest quality vanilla ice cream I’ve ever been lucky enough to indulge in. the hint of honey was just strong enough for you to know it was there, but not too sweet that it still left you wanted to keep eating more.

I could eat this meal once a week, I swear to you. If you’re in DC, I would definitely recommend checking out Blue Duck Tavern.