Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Tasty Tuesday: David Leboviz's Salted Butter Caramel Ice Cream


When we were planning our trip to Paris last year, I found David Lebovitz's blog to be informative, interesting, and full of totally sinful recipes.  One of his best recommendations was eating as much Berthillon ice cream as a person could possibly consume.  I will admit to having more than one scoop, but my absolute favorite remains their salted caramel ice cream.  I still get cravings for this deliciously rich treat!

Seeing as my sister is a very talented pastry chef, I mentioned to her that David had published a recipe for the ice cream on his blog and encouraged her to try her hand at making it.  She did and included it with a few accompaniments at the restaurant where she works.  The special sold like hot cakes, but its run was over before we moved back to town, and I was unable to get my fill of this Parisian delicacy.

When she and my friends began planning my baby shower (lots more on that tomorrow), she asked if I had any special requests.  I could not think of any more special a request that having her make a batch of Salted Butter Caramel Ice Cream.  It turns out that this request set the tone for the day, as the fabulous hostesses planned a Parisian themed shower fit for a queen. 

I cannot tell you how many people I heard say after just one spoonful that it was the best ice cream they have ever tasted.  I couldn't agree more.  I know this recipe is long and probably too cumbersome to wrap your head around after just one read, but if you are ever looking to be an ambitious at home chef - here's your chance!!!

Berthillon's Salted Butter Caramel Ice Cream
For the caramel praline (mix-in)
½ cup (100 gr) sugar
¾ teaspoon sea salt, such as fleur de sel

For the ice cream custard
2 cups (500 ml) whole milk, divided
1½ cups (300 gr) sugar
4 tablespoons (60 gr) salted butter
scant ½ teaspoon sea salt
1 cups (250 ml) heavy cream
5 large egg yolks
¾ teaspoon vanilla extract
1. To make the caramel praline, spread the ½ cup (100 gr) of sugar in an even layer in a medium-sized, unlined heavy duty saucepan: I use a 6 quart/liter pan. Line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or brush it sparingly with unflavored oil.

2. Heat the sugar over moderate heat until the edges begin to melt. Use a heatproof utensil to gently stir the liquefied sugar from the bottom and edges towards the center, stirring, until all the sugar is dissolved. (Or most of it—there may be some lumps, which will melt later.)  Continue to cook stirring infrequently until the caramel starts smoking and begins to smell like it’s just about to burn. It won’t take long.

3. Without hesitation, sprinkle in the ¾ teaspoon salt without stirring (don’t even pause to scratch your nose), then pour the caramel onto the prepared baking sheet and lift up the baking sheet immediately, tilting and swirling it almost vertically to encourage the caramel to form as thin a layer as possible. Set aside to harden and cool.

4. To make the ice cream, make an ice bath by filling a large bowl about a third full with ice cubes and adding a cup or so of water so they’re floating. Nest a smaller metal bowl (at least 2 quarts/liters) over the ice, pour 1 cup (250 ml) of the milk into the inner bowl, and rest a mesh strainer on top of it.

5. Spread 1½ cups (300 gr) sugar in the saucepan in an even layer. Cook over moderate heat, until caramelized, using the same method described in Step #2.

6. Once caramelized, remove from heat and stir in the butter and salt, until butter is melted, then gradually whisk in the cream, stirring as you go.  The caramel may harden and seize, but return it to the heat and continue to stir over low heat until any hard caramel is melted. Stir in 1 cup (250 ml) of the milk.

7. Whisk the yolks in a small bowl and gradually pour some of the warm caramel mixture over the yolks, stirring constantly. Scrape the warmed yolks back into the saucepan and cook the custard using a heatproof utensil, stirring constantly (scraping the bottom as you stir) until the mixture thickens. If using an instant-read thermometer, it should read 160-170 F (71-77 C).

8. Pour the custard through the strainer into the milk set over the ice bath, add the vanilla, then stir frequently until the mixture is cooled down. Refrigerate at least 8 hours or until thoroughly chilled.

9. Freeze the mixture in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

10. While the ice cream is churning, crumble the hardened caramel praline into very little bits, about the size of very large confetti (about ½-inch, or 1 cm). I use a mortar and pestle, although you can make your own kind of music using your hands or a rolling pin.

11. Once your caramel ice cream is churned, quickly stir in the crushed caramel, then chill in the freezer until firm.

Note: As the ice cream sits, the little bits of caramel may liquefy and get runny and gooey, which is what they’re intended to do.

What's your favorite ice cream flavor?

Friday, September 23, 2011

Weeks 29 and 30: It's a...

Dear Baby A,

At this time we do not know if you are a boy or a girl.  But there is one thing we are certain of - you are a Saints fan!  Baby A, you and I spent weeks 28 and 29 gearing up for Mommy and Daddy's final trip of our life pre-you.  I am sure that between the brat on a pretzel roll, the cheese curds, and the weiner schnitzel Mommy ate and the unusually cool summer air, you figured out that somewhere along the way we weren't in New Orleans anymore.  No, Baby A, we were in Packers country. 


You got to be a part of what most sports fans would consider the ultimate in professional sports experiences - gameday at Lambeau Field.  While I know you were there and a part of it, I wish you could have seen it.  It was truly something magical.  We were greeted by some of the friendliest away fans we've ever met.  They are a prideful bunch, but considering their team's histry, who wouldn't be.  There is an aura that surrounds the grounds of this hallowed venue that is unmistakable and likely unmatched anywhere.  The only thing that could have possibly made this experience even better would have been a different outcome to the game.  As you probably know from the cursing you might have heard from a lady that sounds a lot like Mommy, ok it was Mommy, we lost the game.  We certainly did make it interesting until the very last minute though!

Baby A, I have to tell you that the life of a Saints fan is not always easy, and when it's good, it's has a way of taking over your whole week.  But for all of the anxiety we expend on this team, I can tell you being a Saints fan is the greatest thing in the world.  I cannot wait for you to create memories like I have of Sundays spent watching the games with my dad.  We would watch together as he would explain to me fourth down conversions and holding calls and all of the other assorted rules of NFL football.  And we would share in the joy, and more often than not, in the pain of being Saints fans.  And when we won the Superbowl, the fist call I made was to him.  He taught me how to love this game, and all I wanted was for him to get to see us win the big one! 

That's what's so wonderful about sports.  Sure, it's just a game.  But we here in New Orleans know more than anyone, that sports has a way of transcending the action on the field.  Sports weaves its way into our lives and becomes a part of our timeline.  Lucky for you, your sports timeline begins with a trip to Lambeau Field.  I truly can't wait for you to become the next member of the Who Dat Nation!

With lots of love,

Mommy and Daddy

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Tasty Tuesdays: Ina Garten's Lemon Chicken with Croutons


I mentioned last Tuesday that we'd be hosting a Parisian inspired dinner party last Saturday.  With several sticks of butter, some rosemary, lots of lemons, and a variety of cheeses, it went off without a hitch.  

I initially pictured a tablescape that was more French country than anything else.  I was thinking white linen table linens and fresh lavender bouquets until I saw this Eiffel Tower candle holder at Pier One.  I decided instead to go with red linen table clothes and on each side of the Eiffel Tower centerpiece I added two small bouquets of white hydrangeas.  The glow from the candles against the red linens and the white hydrangeas felt warm and chic at the same time.


The main dish we served at dinner was Ina Garten's Lemon Chicken with Croutons.  I always like to serve one dish that does not require a lot of attention so that I can focus on the other dishes and my guests.  For this dish, I prepared the croutons earlier in the afternoon and had them ready in the serving dishes I planned to use to serve the chicken.  About an hour before the guests arrived, I put the chicken in the over and let it roast for an hour and a half.  After fitting minutes of resting time, it was ready to serve.  Voila!  

Ingredients

  • 1 (4 to 5-pound) roasting chicken
  • 1 large yellow onion, sliced
  • Good olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • lemons, quartered
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 6 cups (3/4-inch) bread cubes (1 baguette or round boule)
  • Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Directions

Take the giblets out of the chicken and wash it inside and out. Remove any excess fat and leftover pinfeathers. Toss the onion with a little olive oil in a small roasting pan. Place the chicken on top and sprinkle the inside of the cavity with salt and pepper. Place the lemons inside the chicken. Pat the outside of the chicken dry with paper towels, brush it with the melted butter, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Tie the legs together with kitchen string and tuck the wing tips under the body of the chicken.
Roast for 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours, or until the juices run clear when you cut between the leg and the thigh. Cover with foil and allow to sit at room temperature for 15 minutes. (The onions may burn, but the flavor is good.)
Meanwhile, heat a large saute pan with 2 tablespoons of olive oil until very hot. Lower the heat to medium-low and saute the bread cubes, tossing frequently, until nicely browned, 8 to
10 minutes. Add more olive oil, as needed, and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Place the croutons on a serving platter. Slice the chicken and place it, plus all the pan juices, over the croutons. Sprinkle with salt and serve warm.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Louisiana Ladies Book Club


A friend from work mentioned a few months back that she missed being in a book club.  So did I.  As we got to talking about what makes a book club great, we decided to try our hand at starting one.  Rather than reading NY Times bestsellers or all chick lit or some other common topic, we thought it would be fun to read books by Louisiana authors.

For our first book, we wanted something that was not too heavy, that was a good New Orleans read, and that lent itself to easy conversation over a potluck supper.  Neither of us had read it, but we knew enough about Julia Reed's The  House on First Street: My New Orleans Story to know that it fit the bill.  It was a story about a journalist's coming of age in the city we both loved.  It was a story about building both a home and a life here.  It was a story of how one storm had the power to change everything and how that storm gave people the power to change as well.

The book, like its author, is not without its flaws.  Julia's Katrina story is personal and sincere and unique.  And I imagine if I was from Omaha or Tacoma or Virginia Beach or some other part of our country where I did not have my own Katrina story, I would find empathy for her.  But I have my own story, and at times when reading hers, I couldn't help but feel like she was slightly out of touch with those of us who lost so much. 

I did find that Julia has a way of capturing the essence of life in the Big Easy.  From her tales of days spent strolling through the French Quarter to long Friday lunches at Galatoire's, she perfectly describes all of the things that made rising from Katrina's ashes worthwhile.  I have no doubt that she, like all of us with a New Orleans story, believes that life should be lived surrounded by the company of good family, good friends, and good food.

I can't wait to hear what everyone else thought this evening when we meet!!

Has anyone out there read the book yet?

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Tasty Tuesdays: Caramelized Apple Napoleons

recipe, presentation and photograph created by Peggy Bucholz  www.finedinings.com

We have a guest coming in this weekend, and we thought it would be fun to host a little dinner party to celebrate!  Even though it's not quite fall yet, I have been craving this roasted lemon chicken with croutons that my friend Christie made a while back.  

Since the recipe comes from Ina Garten's Barefoot in Paris, I thought we'd have a French theme for dinner.  We're going to start with mini croque monsieurs followed by a mixed green salad with baked goat cheese croutons.  For our entree we will have Ina's delicious lemon baked chicken, and for dessert, I am going to try my hand at these caramelized apple napoleons.

One of the tastiest thing we ate in Paris was a mille feuille (a Napoleon as we know it).  It translates to a million layers, and who can resist a million layers of pastry dough covered in caramelized apples and whipped cream!

Bon App├ętit!

Caramel Apple Napoleon Puff Pastry Dessert
  serves 2


Prepare Puff Pastry
Frozen puff pastry, thawed
1/2 teaspoon powdered sugar

Cut into 6 (3-1/2 x 3-1/2-inch) squares, place on baking sheet; prick with fork and dust with powdered sugar. Bake at 375° for 10 minutes. Flatten with a spatula; bake 5 more minutes until lightly brown; remove from oven to cool. They can be made ahead.


Caramelized Apples
1/2 cup sugar
8 teaspoons water
1 tablespoon butter
1-1/2 cup apples, peeled, cored, sliced thinly

In skillet over medium high heat combine sugar and water; cook until it turns medium amber; lower heat to medium; add butter and apples; cook until apples are tender and browned; remove from heat to cool. They can be made ahead.


Assemble
1/2 teaspoon powdered sugar
2 tablespoons slivered almonds, toasted
2 small scoops ice cream (flavor of your choice) made with a melon baller
fresh Mint sprigs for garnish 

Dust baked squares again with powdered sugar. Place one on plate, add 1/4 of apple mixture; add 2nd square turning a quarter turn, with 1/4 of apple mixture; end with a square turning a quarter turn, each plate should have 3 pastries. Repeat process for each napoleon dessert. 

Garnish plates with almonds, ice cream, mint sprigs and serve Napoleon caramelized apple dessert.



Monday, September 5, 2011

Tropical Storm Lee Brought with It...

Lots and lots of rain...

High Winds

An O.C. marathon

And now temperatures in the low 70s


Mark and I ended a long weekend with a stroll through Audubon Park.  The sky was slightly gray and there was a breeze in the air and if I hadn't lived here all my life and suffered through some very hot late September evenings, I would have thought that fall was here.  I think it's just a little taste of what's to come!

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