Pumpkin and Spice Ice Cream

Of course, it’s still roasting in Los Angeles right now.  It’s our hottest time of year; no rain since May, no end

in sight.  And yet, the signs of fall, though subtle, are there.  Kids back in school, days getting shorter, the air acquiring a ‘dry’ and hot smell.  Like the season is struggling, and dying soon.  I can’t help but think of New England in the fall.  This time of year the nights become cooler, the smell of dry crab grass fills the air, and apple picking has started.  Everyone gets excited about the changing of the seasons.  It’s a wonderful time of year.  

Naturally, we turn our palettes away from the sweet but finicky summer treats, such as peaches, and toward the heartier and earthier fall ingredients.  Like apples.  Like pumpkins.  Pumpkins are one of my favorites.  Roasted and mixed with spices, pumpkins embody everything wonderful about fall in New England.  Cinnamon, sugar, allspice, nutmeg, vanilla, cloves… you can almost smell it.  Like a Yankee Candle filling and warming the house with bliss.

I also think desserts made with pumpkin and spices are destined for success.  One of my more successful posts was pumpkin bread pudding http://chefnotebook.blogspot.com/2012/10/pumpkin-bread-pudding-with-white.html which I still love.  The smell of the cooking pudding is almost better than the taste.

So, now, taking a slight turn, let’s talk about putting those magic pumpkin and spice flavors into an ice cream.  Served over apple pie, pumpkin ice cream could be one of the best things in the world.  It takes a little patience, and requires an ice cream machine, but it’s worth it.

This is really a basic French-style ice cream recipe (cooked ice cream) with pumpkin, spices and brown sugar instead of white granulated sugar.  You will need to ‘temper’ the eggs, which is an easy process of adding hot cream to eggs while whipping, bringing them to an even temperature without cooking the eggs.  The process is quite easy, and the results speak for themselves.  Side note:  this is not my recipe, but adapted from someone else.  But I’ve made it, and can’t think of any way to make it better.

Pumpkin and Spice Ice Cream

Prep time:  20 minutes
Cooking time:  about 45 minutes
Non-active cooking time:  3 hrs
Yield: 1 qt

Ingredients:

1 cup fresh pumpkin puree or canned  unsweetened pumpkin puree1 tsp. vanilla extract2 cups heavy cream3/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar5 egg yolks1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon1/2 tsp. ground ginger
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
1 Tbs. bourbon
1/4 tsp. salt

Method:

In a bowl, whisk together the pumpkin puree and vanilla. Cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours or up to 8 hours.

In a heavy 2-quart saucepan over medium heat, combine 1 1/2 cups of the cream and 1/2 cup of the brown sugar. Cook until bubbles form around the edges of the pan, about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a bowl, combine the egg yolks, cinnamon, ginger, salt, nutmeg, the remaining 1/2 cup cream and the remaining 1/4 cup brown sugar. Whisk until smooth and the sugar begins to dissolve.

Remove the cream mixture from the heat. Gradually whisk about 1/2 cup of the hot cream mixture into the egg mixture until smooth. Pour the egg mixture back into the pan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon and keeping the custard at a low simmer, until it is thick enough to coat the back of the spoon and leaves a clear trail when a finger is drawn through it, 4 to 6 minutes. Do not allow the custard to boil. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl.

Place the bowl in a larger bowl partially filled with ice water, stirring occasionally until cool. Whisk the pumpkin mixture into the custard. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing it directly on the surface of the custard to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate until chilled, at least 3 hours or up to 24 hours.

Transfer the custard to an ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Add the bourbon during the last minute of churning. Transfer the ice cream to a freezer-safe container. Cover and freeze until firm, at least 3 hours or up to 3 days, before serving. Makes about 1 quart.
In a heavy 2-quart saucepan over medium heat, combine 1 1/2 cups of the cream and 1/2 cup of the brown sugar. Cook until bubbles form around the edges of the pan, about 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a bowl, combine the egg yolks, cinnamon, ginger, salt, nutmeg, the remaining 1/2 cup cream and the remaining 1/4 cup brown sugar. Whisk until smooth and the sugar begins to dissolve.

Remove the cream mixture from the heat. Gradually whisk about 1/2 cup of the hot cream mixture into the egg mixture until smooth. Pour the egg mixture back into the pan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon and keeping the custard at a low simmer, until it is thick enough to coat the back of the spoon and leaves a clear trail when a finger is drawn through it, 4 to 6 minutes. Do not allow the custard to boil. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl.

Place the bowl in a larger bowl partially filled with ice water, stirring occasionally until cool. Whisk the pumpkin mixture into the custard. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing it directly on the surface of the custard to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate until chilled, at least 3 hours or up to 24 hours.

Transfer the custard to an ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Add the bourbon during the last minute of churning. Transfer the ice cream to a freezer-safe container. Cover and freeze until firm, at least 3 hours or up to 3 days, before serving. Makes about 1 quart.
Meanwhile, in a bowl, combine the egg yolks, cinnamon, ginger, salt, nutmeg, the remaining 1/2 cup cream and the remaining 1/4 cup brown sugar. Whisk until smooth and the sugar begins to dissolve.
Remove the cream mixture from the heat. Gradually whisk about 1/2 cup of the hot cream mixture into the egg mixture until smooth. Pour the egg mixture back into the pan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon and keeping the custard at a low simmer, until it is thick enough to coat the back of the spoon and leaves a clear trail when a finger is drawn through it, 4 to 6 minutes. Do not allow the custard to boil. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl.

Place the bowl in a larger bowl partially filled with ice water, stirring occasionally until cool. Whisk the pumpkin mixture into the custard. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing it directly on the surface of the custard to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate until chilled, at least 3 hours or up to 24 hours.

Transfer the custard to an ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Add the bourbon during the last minute of churning. Transfer the ice cream to a freezer-safe container. Cover and freeze until firm, at least 3 hours or up to 3 days, before serving. Makes about 1 quart.
Remove the cream mixture from the heat. Gradually whisk about 1/2 cup of the hot cream mixture into the egg mixture until smooth. Pour the egg mixture back into the pan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon and keeping the custard at a low simmer, until it is thick enough to coat the back of the spoon and leaves a clear trail when a finger is drawn through it, 4 to 6 minutes. Do not allow the custard to boil. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl.
Place the bowl in a larger bowl partially filled with ice water, stirring occasionally until cool. Whisk the pumpkin mixture into the custard. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing it directly on the surface of the custard to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate until chilled, at least 3 hours or up to 24 hours.

Transfer the custard to an ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Add the bourbon during the last minute of churning. Transfer the ice cream to a freezer-safe container. Cover and freeze until firm, at least 3 hours or up to 3 days, before serving. Makes about 1 quart.
Place the bowl in a larger bowl partially filled with ice water, stirring occasionally until cool. Whisk the pumpkin mixture into the custard. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing it directly on the surface of the custard to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate until chilled, at least 3 hours or up to 24 hours.
Transfer the custard to an ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Add the bourbon during the last minute of churning. Transfer the ice cream to a freezer-safe container. Cover and freeze until firm, at least 3 hours or up to 3 days, before serving. Makes about 1 quart.
Transfer the custard to an ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Add the bourbon during the last minute of churning. Transfer the ice cream to a freezer-safe container. Cover and freeze until firm, at least 3 hours or up to 3 days, before serving. Makes about 1 quart.

Best Served with warm apple pie.

Enjoy.

Lemon Grilled Asparagus with Tarragon Hollandaise and Coddled Eggs

We cook for the love of cooking.  It’s a hobby, a passion, a calling… whatever you want to call it, it’s a person thing and it’s an art.  It’s an escape.  We like to feed other people (and ourselves), like to make other people happy, but most of all, we love to cook for ourselves.  The craft of cooking is different, and to be discussed another time.  The art of cooking is the bedrock of what we do.  Art is expression.  Art is passion.  Art is our release, our grip away from reality, our creative outlet.  Imagine what you can do with a few simple ingredients.  Imagine the result, the beauty in your food.  Be creative.  Express yourself.  Your food is art, and it’s part of you, and no one can make it exactly the same as you.  You will not make the food in this blog as I do, as I cannot make your food just how you do.  You embody yourself in your art, and no one can replicate it.

All of that being said, I think we can agree on a few things.  One, culinary arts is in fact an art.  Two, sometimes you don’t have time to make masterpieces of food.  Like on a Monday night when you’re tired and take our sounds great.  BUT, sometimes you do.  Sometimes it’s the right thing to do.  Sometimes you need to escape into the ingredients, seeing the project to its delicious fruition.  Sometimes a complicated project is just what you need to put your mind at ease and find the zen you’ve been looking for.

I’d like to think the following recipe is one of those recipes.  The ingredients are simple.  The techniques are not difficult.  But there are a lot of steps, each one requiring a high attention to detail and high level of culinary awareness.  It’s not a beginner’s recipe, and the end result will be proof enough.

It’s also nothing new.  This isn’t re-inventing the wheel.  This recipe is a time honored classic pairing that you would find on good menus in the spring, or high end restaurants during Sunday brunches.  Asparagus, lemon, eggs, hollandaise… classic, and classic for a reason.  It’s delicious, and IF you can make this, IF you have the patience, IF you feel the passion and want to be part of it, you and your guests will be rewarded.  It’s a great dish, a spring dish good any time of year, and I hope that one of these days you will be inspired to try it.

Lemon Grilled Asparagus with Tarragon Hollandaise and Coddled Eggs

Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time:  45 minutes
Yield:  3 large portions

Ingredients:

1 bunch jumbo asparagus, peeled and trimmed
3 jumbo organic eggs
2 egg yolks
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 cups sweet white wine
2 sprigs tarragon
1 shallot, rough chop
1cup clarified butter, melted
zest of 2 lemons
extra virgin olive oil
dash of cayenne pepper
2 tbsp white vinegar
1 sprig of tarragon, leaves only, fine chop
kosher salt
black pepper

Method:

Fill a medium sized heavy bottomed stock pot 3/4 with water.  Salt heavily.  Have an ice bath ready.  Bring to a rapid boil, submerge the asparagus and cook until barely al dente.  This will take 45 sec to 1 minutes.  Remove the asparagus from the boiling water and plunge directly into the ice water.  Let cool completely.  Remove the asparagus from the water, pat dry and reserve.

In a small non-reactive heavy bottom sauce pan, begin reducing the wine with the lemon juice, shallot and tarragon.  Reduce by 3/4.  Remove from the heat and strain.  Place a metal mixing down over a shallow pot of simmering water.  In the mixing bowl, add the egg yolks and wine reduction.  Using a balloon wire whisk, begin whipping.  It will initially appear frothy and disorganized.  Be persistent.  As it begins to thicken and heat up, whisk for 30 seconds over the simmering water, 30 seconds away from the simmering water.  This will prevent you from cooking the eggs.  You will know it’s ready when it gets to the ‘ribbon’ stage, or when you run the whisk through the ‘sabayon’, it leaves thickened ribbons behind.  Turn off the water.  Gently and slowly pour the butter into the sabayon, while continuously whisking.   it should be thick and slightly airy.  Season with salt, pepper and the cayenne.  Add the chopped tarragon.  Reserve in a moderately warm place, covered.

Fill a small heavy bottomed sauce pan half way with water.  Add 2 tbsp white vinegar and a liberal amount of salt.  Bring to a simmer.  Stir the water to create a small vortex.  Crack the eggs and drop them into the moving water, one at a time.  Let the water come back to a simmer and cook for approx 30 seconds, and then turn the water off completely.  Let sit for a couple minutes.  You want the whites to be barely set, and the yolks to be runny.  You can hold the eggs in the warm water until ready to serve.

Heat a grill to high heat.  Coat the asparagus with a small amount of oil (too much will cause a flare-up which lends a jet-fuel flavor and ugly black finish to the asparagus), the lemon zest, salt and pepper.  Grill until slightly charred.

Divide the asparagus among three warm plates.  Remove the eggs from the warm water with a slotted spoon, blot dry with a paper towel, and place one egg on top of each bundle of asparagus.  Spoon the sauce over the top and elegantly around the plate.

Serve right away.

Please note, a lot of chefs like to add Parma ham, Speck ham or prosciutto to the asparagus.  While delicious (and it is!) I don’t because the dominant and salty flavor of the ham will drastically change the dish, and I want the delicate flavors underneath to come through.  But, by all means, if you like the way it sounds, go for it, it will still make for a great dish!

Enjoy.

Grilled Lobster Tails with Yuzu Butter

Compound butters are one of the most under-rated powerhouses in the culinary world.  They seem to have

faded a long time ago, as titans of the past; old world cuisine that has outdated itself.  In my humble opinion, it’s time to re-embrace what they can do for us.

Just to clarify, a compound butter is butter mixed with something.  Anything.  Mix butter with parsley and you’ve created parsley butter.  Mix butter with roasted garlic and you have garlic butter.  Garlic/sage butters are typical for prepping turkeys for Thanksgiving.  Tomato butter, shrimp butter, citrus butter… you can make anything you want, but the trick is to make something with a specific purpose in mind.  Citrus butter might be wonderful for finishing a seafood saute.  Tomato butter might be great for finishing a pesto pasta dish.  Shellfish butter for finishing your favorite scampi.  They add richness and an abundance of flavor to so many dishes.  Shellfish risotto finished with uni butter… heaven.

Lobster and butter are one of those rare perfect matches that exist in this culinary world of ours.  Lobster dipped in butter is standard fare at any lobster shack, and any additional flavor you add is welcome.  For this  particular dish, I’d like to highlight one of my favorite Asian citruses: Yuzu.  Yuzu is native to southeast Asia, and is mostly associated with Japanese cuisine.  It resembles a small grapefruit and the flavor is somewhat of a cross between a lime, bitter orange and grapefruit.  It’s unique enough to be remarkable.  Butter mixed with yuzu will be sweet, bursting with citrus flavor, and will have a slight Asian accept.

Yuzu butter on grilled lobster is excellent and worth trying.  And it’s easy.  Try it with roasted Okinawa sweet potatoes, carrot and nappa cabbage slaw, grilled or pickled hom shimiji mushrooms, or any other great Asian side appropriate for grilling.

Grilled Lobster with Yuzu Butter

Prep time:  15 minutes
Cook time:  25 minutes
Yield:  4 portions

Ingredients:

1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temp
zest of 1 yuzu, or zest of 2 limes and 1 orange, fine chop
2 tbsp yuzu juice
1 cup sake
2 cloves roasted garlic
3 tbsp light brown miso
1/2 tsp kosher salt
4 lobsters

Method:

Bring 1 gallon water to a boil in a large pot.  Add the miso and sake and return to a boil.  Put the lobsters in and return the water to a boil.  As soon as it boils, turn the heat off and cover tightly.  Let steep for 5 minutes.  Remove the lobsters and plunge them into an ice bath.  Let cool completely.  Once cool, remove the tails from the bodies and crack down the middle (cutting down the underside with a high strength kitchen scissors is the best approach).  Save the rest of the lobsters for other uses (lobster salad, bisque, etc).  Once the tails are split, gently work out the meat, devein, and rinse off any roe from the meat.  Gently work the meat back into the shell.

In a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, begin whipping the butter with the garlic at medium speed.  Let the butter almost double in volume.  Add the salt, zest and yuzu juice.  Let incorporate completely.  Transfer to a bowl and reserve.

Heat a wood grill to medium heat.  Let the coals go white and push them all to one side of the grill, leaving an indirect zone.  Make sure the grates are clean and well oiled.  Place the lobster tails open side down on the grill and cook until lightly charred.  Flip and spoon a liberal amount of yuzu button on top.  Let the lobster tails cook through.  Remove and serve with additional yuzu butter (melted) for dipping.

Enjoy.