Peaches & Cream Ice Cream

Happy August to all! It’s the end of summer in WI which means warm, humid temps which always makes me want some nice, cold ice cream. Speaking of ice cream, I have recently become the proud owner of an ice cream maker. Now one might wonder if such a kitchen appliance is REALLY necessary, well I’m here to tell you, it is. Ice cream in itself is always great, but homemade ice cream is like no other. The fresh, creamy texture makes you want to make a batch of every flavor under the sun. And to top it all off, homemade ice cream is simple to prepare, but tastes like you spent all day making it. I promise, the hardest part of making ice cream is waiting for the ice cream maker bowl to freeze solid in the freezer.

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With the summer heat slowly slipping away and juicy peaches in season, I set out to make some fresh peach ice cream. This recipe combines whole milk and heavy cream for a slightly softer, yet creamy texture. The fresh peaches and vanilla bean give the flavor great dimension. Give it a shot- enjoy!

Peaches & Cream Ice Cream

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Yields: about 2 quarts20180825_223509.jpg

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract or vanilla paste
  • 3 cups fresh peaches (about 4 medium sized peaches)

Directions:

1.) Take 2 cups of the peaches (about 2-3 peaches) and slice into pieces (remove the pit). 20180825_223555.jpgPlace slices in a blender or food processor and puree until very smooth. Set aside remaining peaches.

2.) Whisk together the milk, cream, sugar, vanilla, and pureed peaches in a bowl until the sugar is fully dissolved. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour to get the mixture really cold.

3.) Once the ice cream mixture is chilled, place into ice cream maker and mix according to manufacture’s directions, approximately 20 – 30 minutes. Note: when the ice cream is done churning, it will be the consistency of soft serve ice cream.20180728_120153.jpg

4.) While the mixture is churning in the ice cream machine, take the remaining peaches and chop into very fine pieces. For bonus points, freeze the diced peaches in the freezer until firm before adding them into the ice cream maker with the rest of the mix. Add the peach pieces about 2 minutes before the end of the churning cycle.

5.) Scoop churned ice cream into airtight containers and place in freezer for about 2 hours to firm up.

Notes and Tips:

  • Make sure both your ice cream maker bowl is frozen solid AND ensure your ice cream mixture is very cold before putting it in the machine. If the bowl or ingredients are fully chilled, you ice cream will not churn properly and will be a soupy mess.
  • If you are mixing your ice cream longer than 30 minutes, it’s probably too long and the mixture will likely not freeze up any more.
  • Add the peach pieces in the last 2 minutes of the mixing cycle so it doesn’t interfere with the churning process. If you prefer not to have peach pieces in your ice cream, you can blend all of the peaches into a puree and add in Step 2. If you do keep the peach pieces, be sure to chop them very small. Once added to the ice cream, they will freeze into little ice cubes so you want them to be small so you don’t bite into a large, frozen piece of peach.
  • Since there are only a few ingredients to this recipe, using high quality vanilla extract, vanilla paste, or fresh vanilla bean will make a world of difference in terms of taste.

 

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Lemon Curd

Spring and warmer weather has finally arrived in Wisconsin. It always feels great to see sunshine, birds and green grass. And nothing says SPRING better than lemons. The bright yellow color of the rind and the fresh citrus flavor make your taste buds sing!

If you haven’t tried lemon curd before, it’s a “must try” item. Think of it as creamy, slightly sweet, lemon jam. “What do you put lemon curd on?” you might ask. It’s great on pancakes, waffles, pound cake, angel food cake, and for a British flair, try it on scones. It’s even great on a spoon, right out of the jar.

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It’s a perfect recipe to use up left over egg yolks from making Angel Food Cake. And lemon curd happens to go great with Angel Food Cake so it’s a match made in heaven. Now if you want to give this recipe a try, put down the bottle of lemon juice! For the love of curd, please do not use store-bought, bottled lemon juice. The fresh lemon juice in this recipe makes all the difference. Give it a try, enjoy!

Lemon Curd

Yields: 2 cups of curd

Ingredients:20180218_120707-1.jpg

  • 3 lemons (will use for juice and rind)
  • 1/2 cup fresh, strained lemon juice
  • Zest of 2 lemons
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 8 tablespoons of unsalted butter (1 stick)

Directions:

1.) Combine sugar, yolks, lemon juice, salt and zest in top of double boiler. Cook at medium-low heat, whisking frequently for 10 minutes or until mixture coats the back of a spoon.

2.) Stir in butter, 1 tablespoon at a time until well incorporated. Remove pan from heat.

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3.) Let mixture cool off the stove; it will continue to thicken as it cools. Cover lightly with plastic wrap so it touches the surface of the curd. This prevents a skin from forming on the top. Once fully cooled, store in tightly sealed jar in the refrigerator.

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Notes and Tips:

  • Use fresh lemon juice for the best flavor.
  • To get the most juice from your lemons, give um a squeeze! Place lemon on counter and “roll out” a few times. Or you can microwave the lemon for 10 seconds.
  • If you want super smooth curd, feel free to run mixture through a fine, mesh strainer for a silky consistency.
  • If your curd curdles slightly, you may be able to save it by straining out the cooked egg bits.
  • Store curd in tightly sealed container in the refrigerator for up to one week.

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Oatmeal Chocolate Cherry Cookies

One of my favorite weekend getaways is Door County, Wisconsin. Located on the “thumb” of Wisconsin, Door County is the ideal place to relax at a B&B, take in a traditional fish boil and enjoy all things cherry. Wisconsin (mostly Door County) ranks 5th in the Nation for cherry production. So when you visit the county, it’s cherry overload. Cherry pie, cherry wine, jam, juice, french toast… I snagged some dried montmorency cherries when I was there last and set out to create something yummy with them. These soft, oatmeal cookies are studded with cherries and chocolate chips. It’s a perfect combination of sweet, tart and chocolate all in one cookie. Add a little bit of Wisconsin to your upcoming holidays and give these a shot! Enjoy!

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Oatmeal Chocolate Cherry Cookies

Yields: 3 dozen cookies

Ingredients:20170430_130343

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 cups old fashioned oats
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup dried cherries
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips


Directions:20170430_131235

1.) Combine the softened butter, sugar, and brown sugar in bowl and mix on high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.

2.) Add in eggs and vanilla extract and mix until well incorporated.20170430_131555

3.) Next mix in flour, salt, baking soda and oats. Mix just until ingredients blend together.

4.) Lastly, fold in the dried cherries and chocolate chips until evenly distributed throughout the batter.20170430_131803

5.) Let dough sit for 30 – 60 minutes in the refrigerator.  While dough is resting, preheat oven to 350° F.

6.) Drop cookie dough by 2 teaspoons onto baking sheet and bake at 350° F for 12-14 minutes, or until golden brown on bottom and edges. Remove from oven and let cool on pan for 1 minute then transfer to wire cooling rack. Store in air tight container up to 3 days or freeze.

Notes and Tips:

  • I like to use semi-sweet chocolate in these cookies because the cherries and cookie base add sweetness and the bittersweet chocolate is a good balance.
  • If you aren’t a fan of cherries, you could also use dried cranberries or raisins.

 


Sweets of Italy

Buon giorno! I just returned from 10 days in Italy which included 10 days worth of Italian sweets and amazing food! We had an unique opportunity to enjoy three cities in Italy: Rome, Florence and Venice.

Italy has many exciting sites to see including: the Colosseum, Roman baths, the Vatican, Sistine Chapel, canals in Venice or Duomo in Florence. However, the food and dining is an experience all in itself. Italians take their food seriously and dinner usually consists of multiple courses, laced with wine, and topped off with something sweet. Dinner starts at 8 or 9 pm, and don’t expect to eat and run! Enjoy a glass of wine or a spritz and take it all in.

Antipasto: This literally means before (anti) the meal (pasto). Common options for this course are cheese plates, meat plate, olives, bruschetta, or salads. Also small baskets of bread and/or bread sticks are served. The fresh mozzarella is out of this world!

 

Primo Piatto: This is the first (primo) course (piatto), and is almost always pasta but can also include risotto or gnocchi. The serving size is typically appropriate for a second course which leaves enough room for the other two.

 

Secondo Piatto: The second (secondo) course (piatto) is the protein course of meat or fish, sometimes with a small side of vegetables.

 

Dolce: The best course of all, dessert. Because of all the previous courses, Italian desserts are usually fairly light. After dinner, it’s common to enjoy a drink a digestif, like limoncello (lemon liquor), or an espresso to help digest the meal they just enjoyed.

Tiramisu: a classic dessert with ladyfingers dipped in coffee, layered with a whipped mixture of eggs, sugar, and mascarpone cheese and dusted with coco powder.

Sfogliatella (lobster tail) and Cannoli:  Sfogliatella is an incredibly flaky, shell-shaped pastry, usually filled with cream (pictured below with strawberries on top). Sfogliatella means “small, thin leaf/layer”, as the pastry’s texture resembles stacked leaves. Cannoli are tube-shaped shells of fried pastry dough and are filled with a sweet, creamy ricotta filling (pictured below with powdered sugar).

 

Torrone and Meringue: Torrone is a soft nougat confection that is typically made of honey, sugar and egg whites, with toasted almonds or other nuts. It’s usually shaped into either a rectangular or round cake (pictured on the left). We saw these all over sold in slices and in a variety of flavors. Meringue is a light, airy and sweet confections made from egg whites and sugar (pictured on the right). There were large piles of meringue sold in pastry shops in various flavors.

 

Gelato: The crown jewel (in my opinion) of Italian treats. Gelato started in Italy and can now be enjoyed all over the world. It is made with a base of milk, cream and sugar. It is lower in fat, but higher in sugar, than other types of ice cream. Gelato typically has less air and more flavoring than other kinds of frozen desserts, giving it a rich and dense flavor. This is why the serving sizes are typically smaller than what you would see in the US and they serve it with a tiny spoon. Common flavors are: Cioccolato (chocolate), pistacchio (pistachio), nocciola (hazelnut), crema (like vanilla), cocco (coconut) caffè (espresso), fragola (strawberry), limone (lemon).

 

If you are considering taking a trip overseas to Italy, I would highly recommend it. It’s worth the gelato alone. Save travels- ciao!

 

Strawberry Shortcake

It’s summertime in the Midwest and we’ve hit the high season for fresh, sweet strawberries. Farms in my area allow families to go out to the fields to pick their own berries. I wasn’t that adventurous this year, but I was inspired by others to get some fresh, pre-picked berries of my own.

Strawberry shortcake is a classic, summer dessert that is quick and a tasty use of fresh berries. Feel free to swap out the strawberries if a different fruit fits your fancy. The slightly sweet shortcakes have a wonderful, light texture and pair well with juicy berries and homemade whip cream. Give them a shot- enjoy!

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Strawberry Shortcake

Recipe adapted from: Better Homes and Gardens

Yields: 8-10 individual cakes

Ingredients:20170625_150338

  • cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • egg, lightly beaten
  • 2/3 cups milk
  • 6 cups sliced, fresh strawberries
  • Whipped Cream

Directions:

1.) Cut off tops of strawberries and slice into quarters. Add 1/4 cup of sugar to the berries and mix well. Set berries aside.

2.) Mix together the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar, flour and baking powder in a medium size bowl. Cut in cold butter pieces using a pastry cutter or fork until the mixture resembles course crumbs.

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3.) Add the milk and beaten egg to the flour mixture and combine just until moistened and all flour disappears.

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4.) Use a cookie scoop, or spoon to drop 1/4 cup of dough onto an ungreased baking sheet. Use the back of a spoon to flatten the dough in a circle that is about 3/4 inch thick. If desired, add a sprinkle of coarse sugar on top of each cake.

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5.) Bake shortcakes at 450° F for 10 minutes, or until golden brown on the bottom. The tops will turn a very light brown. Cool on a wire rack before serving.

6.) To serve the shortcakes, cut each cake in half horizontally. Scoop a few spoonfuls of berries onto the cake and top with whip cream. Add the top layer of cake back on.

Notes & Tips:

  • For a real showcase dessert, you could use a 8 x 1 1/2-inch round baking pan to make one large shortcake. Bake at 450° F for 15-18 minutes. To serve, cut the cake in half horizontally and layer with berries and whip cream; serve in wedges.
  • I found it easiest to use a cookie scoop for the dough to create evenly sized shortcakes.
  • If you are not a fan of strawberries, you could use other fruits such as blueberries, raspberries, or blackberries.
  • For the whip cream, you can make your own or just get some right from the can. No judgement here!
  • Feel free to top the cakes with a sprinkle of coarse sugar for some extra sweetness and crunch. Also, who doesn’t love a little sparkle?

 

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