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Cooling Off {CtBF}

What a hot week!  Temperatures were high in the nineties and the muggidity was stifling for a big part of the week.  On the hottest day, a team of lawn guys, wearing black hooded sweatshirts, were working hard grading our backyard for a much-needed new lawn.  Ugh!

I chose to live in New England to escape the “Hazy, Hot, and Humid” summers of my childhood in Maryland.  Due to climate change, these many years later, more frequent, longer stretches of the Maryland summers have caught up with me in Boston.  The difference, I don’t live in a house with central A/C now.

Frozen desserts like ice cream and popsicles are an antidote to the hot weather.  It was fortuitous that the recipe chosen for Cook the Book Fridays, an Extra Edition on this fifth Friday in August, was ice cream!

The actual recipe was for Apricot Kernel Ice Cream.  I didn’t have any apricot kernels to use.  Instead, I remembered that Italian amaretti cookies, the ones that come in the red tin with pairs delightfully wrapped in paper, are made NOT with almonds but with apricot kernels.  Without apricot kernels, I went the opposite way and simply made Almond Ice Cream by adding almond extract instead.  I realize the flavor isn’t the same.  The almond flavor was smooth where it would have had a bitter note with the kernels.  However, I was in the mood for ice cream and didn’t have readily available apricots.

Without needing to steep the kernels makes the recipe simper.  I added the sugar to the milk and cream which I warmed to dissolve the sugar.  I immediately proceeded with the recipe by whisking the warm milk into egg yolks and heating to for a custard.  I might have overcooked it slightly as it seemed to curdle at the end but pressing it through the strainer smoothed it out.  I added a teaspoon of almond extract to the final mixture of custard and cream.

After chilling the custard for most of the day, twenty minutes in the ice cream maker froze the custard for a smooth ice cream.  I let it sit in the freezer for a few hours to firm up further.

Almond ice cream was a refreshing topper for the last slice of the peach tart I made this week.

Note that when I was searching for a picture of the amaretti tin, I found this article in the New York Times archives that indicates I could have substituted peach, nectarine, or plum kernels for the apricot.  That never occurred to me.  Apparently, the inner kernel of all these stone fruits share the bitter almond flavor of the apricot.  I wish I’d known that.  I could have tried out the real thing.  Next time.

You can find the recipe for Apricot Kernel Ice Cream on page 312 of David Lebovitz’s My Paris Kitchen.  Reviews of the ice cream recipe by other members of Cook the Book Fridays can be found here.

If you want to make a delicious peach tart before summer ends, here’s my latest favorite dessert concoction.

Peach Tart

One batch of your favorite Sweet Tart (shortbread style) Crust. My favorite is Dorie Greenspan’s recipe (I added ½ tsp almond extract with the egg yolk for an extra boost of flavor)

½ cup turbinado or demerara sugar
2 Tbsp flour
1 Tbsp almond flour
¼ tsp salt
2 Tbsp butter
½ cup peach jam
3-4 peaches, pitted and sliced (I don’t peel them)

First, prepare the sweet tart dough.  Press into a 9- or 9½-inch tart pan with a removable bottom.  Freeze for at least 30 minutes.  Line with foil and bake at 375F for 25 minutes.  Remove the foil and bake another 3-5 minutes until lightly golden.  Let cool.

Preheat the oven to 400F.

To make the topping: Whisk together sugar, flour, almond flour and salt.  Use your hands to work butter into the dry ingredients until it’s crumbly.

Spread the peach jam on the bottom of the crust.  Top with peach slices, arranged in concentric circles.  Sprinkle with the topping.

Bake for 45 minutes until fruit is bubbly.

 

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Dairy Dreams

I have a mixed relationship with dairy.  I was a kid who had to be bribed to drink milk, even if it was heavy laden with chocolate Quik powder.  Since childhood, if I eat cereal with milk, its sole purpose is to the wet cereal.  I drain the milk off every spoonful and discard what’s left in the bowl.

I’m ambivalent to ice cream.  I’ll eat it.  In fact, a favorite summer activity is to go for a drive where the destination is somewhere to eat ice cream.  I’ll never say no to the trip.  For me, ice cream is a vehicle for mix-ins or toppings.  I seldom order an ice cream that doesn’t contain pieces (chocolate chips, chopped up cookies, cookie dough, candy or nuts).  Plain ice cream requires hot fudge.

On the other hand, I could never live without cheese.  I’m slightly lactose intolerant, but I’m willing to live with the side effects.

I am always enchanted by the idea of making ice cream, enough that we own an ice cream maker, though we seldom make the effort.  David Lebovitz’s Buttermilk Ice Cream, this week’s recipe for Cook the Book Fridays, offered the needed excuse.

This recipe was so simple to prepare.  Sugar and corn syrup are dissolved in heavy cream which then chills overnight.  Stir in buttermilk before freezing in the ice cream maker.  There was leftover peach tart, so rather than serve the ice cream drizzled with olive oil and salt, I served the tart à la mode.

Unfortunately, it was not a hit.  I’ll admit that the corn syrup helped with the iciness that my homemade ice cream often has.  Another positive: the ice cream wasn’t too sweet. Other than that, neither of us liked it.  It tasted too much like frozen milk, more specifically buttermilk, and not enough like ice cream.  What a bummer to pour the rest down the drain.

I’m guessing mine might be the minority opinion.  To see whether my Cook the Book Fridays friends were fans, check out their links here.

Better Late Than Never

I’ve been struggling with my posts lately.  There is too much going on the world at large.  News has captivated my attention, and when I sit at the computer, I end up reading more and more news.  In comparison, taking time to write about what I cooked or ate seems insignificant and irrelevant.

I did make the other August recipe assignment on time, but failed to share the results.  Eggplant caviar is a smooth dip, similar to Baba Ganoush but without any tahini.  Once the eggplant is charred and roasted, it is quick to put together.  Served with pita chips (and maybe some hummus), this is a nice nibble before dinner.  David Lebovitz’s version is tasty, but I preferred the one we made for French Fridays with Dorie which included chopped fresh tomatoes.

Others from Cook the Book Fridays share their opinions here.

Here’s hoping that I’m timely in September.