Sunday, August 7, 2011

Adventures with the Ice Cream Maker: Keeping It in the Family

Note: Today's double-header is brought to you by Sarah and the Baking Sisters' dad, Irv.

If you're like me, then you believe that there are certain things that define summer. Beautiful sunset walks along the Hudson in Riverside Park...


And these small, ripe, intensely flavorful strawberries that start to pop up in farmers' markets around June.
For me, this summer has also brought some exciting news - I finally got a job! I started last week and I love it so far. Conveniently, the night before I started my job happened to be Erev Rosh Chodesh Av. For those of you scratching your heads, that means "the evening of the first day of the month of Av" (Av being the fifth month on the Jewish calendar, and Jewish days starting at sunset.) Despite my happy employment news, Av is considered the saddest month on the Jewish calendar because both of the ancient Temples in Jerusalem were destroyed on the Ninth of Av, plus a lot of other sodding things supposedly happened on that date that I won't get into here. One of the ways that we show our sadness is by not eating meat or doing various other happy things for the nine days leading up to the Ninth of Av. So between our impending meat deprivation and my entry into the world of wage labor, the situation obviously called for some meat. And when the situation obviously calls for some meat, there is an equally obvious call for parve dessert.

My contribution came in the form of brownie bites from Kosher by Design: Short on Time. They are a snap to put together, they are moist and fudgy and last for ages, and when I gave one to my friend she didn't even realize they were parve! You obviously don't have to cut them just the way the recipe says but I agree with Susie Fishbein that it's waaaay fun to eat the edges around the brownie circles. I didn't do all that business with flipping the brownies out of the pan; I found that if you just use a biscuit cutter, they come out pretty easily. I also didn't roll them into balls because in my experience that's always made a huge crumbly mess, but if you want to try it best of luck to you.

Brownie Bites
From Kosher by Design: Short on Time (page 240)

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted margarine, melted and placed in refrigerator to cool for 10 minutes
3/4 cup good-quality Dutch process cocoa powder
1/4 cup vegetable or canola oil
2 cups sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Coating: confectioner's sugar, cocoa powder, chopped nuts, edible glitter, colored sanding sugars

Preheat the oven to 325 F. Line a 7- by 11-inch brownie pan with parchment paper and coat with non-stick cooking spray.
In the bowl of an electric stand mixer, combine the melted margarine, cocoa powder, oil, sugar, flour, eggs and vanilla. Beat to combine.
Spread the mixture into the prepared pan.
Bake for 35-40 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and place into the refrigerator for 20 minutes or until cool enough to handle.
When the brownies are cool, run a knife around the edge of the pan. Flip the brownie out onto a piece of parchment paper on a hard word surface in one whole piece. Using a 1 1/2 inch diameter round cookie cutter, cut circles from the center of the brownie, leaving the harder crust. Roll the circles between the palms of your hands to form into balls, and roll into coating of your choice.
Store in airtight container.

Over to you, Dad!

The Baking Sisters’ father is glad to be back for a guest blog. When Sarah graduated from college and returned home with her ice cream maker, I decided to experiment. (I guess it’s in my blood, since my father owned a drive-in ice cream store when I was growing up, and I worked there every summer when I was a teenager.) This recipe was one of my best finds.

Everyone knows that there are two kinds of strawberries: those made for travelling and those made for eating. The travelling kind – the ones you get in the supermarket year-round that are bred to make it across the country in one piece – look beautiful but are hard and white on the inside and have no taste. The eating kind are small, sometimes misshapen, but red all the way through and almost oozing sweet juice. So while summer lasts, get to a greenmarket or farm stand and buy some locally-grown berries. Then turn them into this amazing strawberry sorbet with flavor even more intense than the berries themselves. You can make it with “travelling” berries, but why bother?

This recipe is adapted from The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz. It makes about 4 cups.

1-1/3 lbs. (yes, pounds) fresh strawberries, rinsed and hulled

1 cup sugar

1-1/3 tsp. kirsch (optional, but it adds a nice punch)

1-1/3 tsp. freshly-squeezed lemon juice

Pinch of salt

Slice the strawberries and toss them in a medium bowl with the sugar and kirsch, stirring until the sugar begins to dissolve. Cover and let stand for one hour, stirring every so often.

Puree the strawberries and their liquid with the lemon juice and salt in a blender or food processor until smooth (I prefer the blender). There is no need to strain out the seeds.

Chill the mixture thoroughly, then freeze it in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Enjoy, and plan to make more soon, since this batch won’t last.

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