Thursday Night Ice Cream – Coconut Frozen Yogurt

I have made ice cream all sorts of ways, but the methods I always come back to are the simplest ones. No cooking, not too sweet, simple and quick. Greek yogurt is a backbone of this approach, since its thick creaminess gets you most of the way there without all the heavy cream or eggs. In fact, once I discovered that you could essentially make Pinkberry-style frozen yogurt by dumping a carton of greek yogurt into the ice cream maker with some sugar, it seemed even sillier to ride that trend (which has since gone from yogurt to cupcakes to donuts… I think we are rebelling against something).

Coconut Frozen Yogurt

This yogurt is so simple you can throw it together after dinner and be enjoying ethereal bowls of it within a half hour (and yes, you’ll eat multiple bowls of it). You may need to adjust the quantities to fit your ice cream maker — this batch nearly overflowed mine, but I wasn’t complaining. And the ratios are fairly forgiving.

I thought about tumbling all sorts of things into the ice cream maker while it was mixing — cinnamon, blackberries, toasted almonds. But in the end, I kept it simple. It’s slightly tangy from the yogurt and just sweet enough to be dessert.

Coconut Frozen Yogurt
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Greek Yogurt Panna Cotta

Summer is the time for light meals, but my sweet tooth is not seasonal. This recipe for panna cotta has been revised, and instead of using heavy cream, uses thick low fat greek yogurt, skim milk and low fat buttermilk to produce a lightly sweet and creamy cool dessert. Serve with berries or sliced peaches that you pile into your glass or dish as you eat down the panna cotta.

The flavor possibilities are endless with this one. I added cardamom for some cool spice. You could also go with orange or lemon zest, fresh vanilla bean, or cinnamon. But keep it simple and let the cool clean flavors shine.

Greek Yogurt Panna Cotta
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Classic Basil Pesto

In this season of copious basil and fresh summer dinners, the question comes up often: do you have a good pesto recipe? I always balk at this question. Pesto and recipe don’t go together in my mind. You know, a few fistfuls of basil, some lemon zest and juice, some nuts, a few cloves of garlic, cheese if you want it, olive oil until it starts to come together in that softer green emulsified state. It’s just so forgiving and flexible, and can be successful with myriad combinations and ratios of ingredients. But nevertheless, it’s probably useful to have some rough quantities when shopping and preparing, at least until you get the hang of it, so here’s my go at it.

The lemon element is worth discussing since it might not be traditional… I like to add it for two reasons: 1) it helps the pesto to not oxidize and turn brown quite so much, and 2) it brightens up the flavor of the pesto without making it taste lemony, per se. Now, if you’re after that deep sweet earthy richness (who among us is not after that), the quantities here will give you just a shade of brightness without overpowering the richness. If you want more lemon bang, feel free to up the quantities. As I said, this is all very forgiving.

As for salt, go easy, since the parmesan will add some salt, but you just have to do it to taste. Salt, blend, taste, salt, blend, taste, gradually. You’ll know you’ve got it when it stops tasting like garliclemonbasilpinenutsparmesan in a food processor, and starts tasting like pesto.

Basil Pesto
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Cranberry Walnut Buttermilk Bread

So, it’s not remotely cranberry season, but do you know how long those suckers last in the refrigerator? A really long time! Six months and counting! A half-full carton of cranberries had been haunting the back of my fridge since Thanksgiving, and inspiration was just not hitting. A quickbread seemed like the obvious choice, but many of them call for dried cranberries, and well, I wanted to find one that called for fresh. I finally frankensteined a recipe for Cranberry Nut Bread from Simply Recipes to the point that it’s barely recognizable, and what resulted is a barely sweet rustic loaf with a tender crumb and crunchy crust, studded with cranberries and walnuts. Perfect for slathering with butter, peanut butter, and my most recent favorite, nutella. I even melted some shahp cheddah cheese on a piece last night and it was divine.

So, if you’ve got some old cranberries knocking around in your fridge or freezer, here is your vehicle. If not, well, forgive my insensitivity for seasonality, and make a mental note to come back to this one in November.

Cranberry Walnut Buttermilk Bread
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Sauteed Carrot Greens

This time of year farmers markets are bursting with greens. Lettuce, spinach, chard, fresh herbs. But many of the vegetables in season also come with their own greens– beets, tiny white hakurei turnips, and carrots… bonus greens! I work at a local market on Sundays where many customers ask us to discard the carrot tops. When this happens, in my mind I’m shrieking, “What! You don’t want the bonus greens?!” But, wily forager that I am, I try not to let my excitement show, because after they walk away I take their discarded tops and stash them in a shopping bag, and bring them home to cook them for myself.

As you’ve probably gathered, I am a greens fiend, but I had never cooked with carrot greens. Feathery and tougher than most, I wasn’t sure how best to prepare them, so I started with a standard method: quick blanch and saute, finished with some lemon and olive oil. The lemon and olive oil turn into a warm vinaigrette that I was eating with a spoon as it pooled on my plate. I’ve been serving these along side an egg and cheese sandwich for lunch, but they would also be nice mixed with chickpeas and rice, or alongside a roasted chicken.

A word to the wise, carrot greens carry a lot of sand and dirt, so unless you like gritty bites (the dental equivalent of fingernails on a chalkboard), wash them really well. I generally trim my greens as little as possible, in part because I can’t bear to throw food away, but also because I like the texture differences between the leaves and stems. But with carrot greens, the stems are tough and fibrous even when cooked, so I recommend trimming them right up to where the leaves start.

Sauteed Carrot Greens
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Herbed Potato Salad

I have a thing for fresh herbs. To the point where anything that’s teetering on the edge in my refrigerator will go into the food processor with some lemon juice or garlic, and get whirred into a pesto or a sauce, or just get chopped up and frozen until I can think of something to use it for. By straying from the standard creamy sauce and using a vinaigrette jacked up with lemon and fresh herbs, this potato salad gives me a convenient vehicle for those fridge herbs, and goes over pretty well at potlucks and bbqs and such. Use any combination of herbs you like; I’ve gotten good results with a cilantro-mint-parsley mix. If you use a less tender-leafed herb like rosemary, sage, or thyme, use a smaller amount, and balance it out with some tender leafy ones.

Herbed Potato Salad
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Pizza with Sage Pesto, Kale and a Fried Egg!

I’m back!

I’d like to start this post by giving thanks: for finishing my master’s degree, for the absolutely slammin weather that is gracing DC right now, and most of all, for the fact that I have people in my life that understand that it is not only appropriate, but entirely welcome to bring a trash bag full of kale to my apartment as a gift (lookin at you, here, mom). In this season of greens, I have been embarking on all sorts of different versions of the “greens challenge,” (How much mesclun greens can I eat in one week?? A devastating amount, it turns out). But a kale challenge is a welcome one, being that kale occupies such a vaunted seat in my culinary house.

So, kale, lots of time on my hands, some sage pesto chilling in the fridge, enthusiasm for yeast doughs… Kale Pizza with Sage Pesto and a Fried Egg! No other conclusion was possible. Eaten on my balcony with a good friend, some gin-lemonades, and a stormy weather pattern passing over the afternoon. Feels good to be back.

Pizza with Sage Pesto, Kale, and Fried Eggs
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