Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Chocolate Mint Ice Cream

I really don’t think I’ve produced a batch of chocolate ice cream since I made this one. That was three years ago. Three years!! That’s just not right.

To make up for it, at least a little bit, I recently made one of my husband’s favorite forms of chocolate ice cream: a slightly lighter-flavored chocolate with Andes mints mixed in. This time I enhanced the minty-ness with a splash of peppermint extract. Pretty darn delicious!!

If you adore deep, dark chocolate, you could use that Rich Chocolate Ice Cream recipe from three years ago and add the mints to that. I, however, like the ever-so-slightly lighter chocolate in this recipe for allowing the mint to shine through a little more.

Really, it’s the mints that make this special, so whatever basic ice cream recipe you like to use, chocolate or vanilla, don’t hesitate to add crème de menthe candies to it! In this hot, hot, hot July they make ice cream even more refreshing. Really! Even more refreshing!

And let’s not neglect chocolate this summer. We do that too much when the temperatures rise, for a variety of pretty good reasons. But with chocolate ice cream, we don’t have to do that, and with a little sprinkle of refreshing mint there’s no excuse to go without chocolate at all.

Chocolate Mint Ice Cream with Andes Mints
Adapted from Ben & Jerry’s Homemade Ice Cream & Dessert Book

2 eggs
¾ cup sugar
1 ½ cups whole milk
1 ounce unsweetened chocolate
¼ cup cocoa powder
1 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon peppermint extact
28 crème de menthe candies (such as Andes brand), unwrapped and coarsely chopped (a 132 g or 4.67 ounce package)

1. In a medium-size bowl, beat the eggs well. Slowly add the sugar and whisk until the mixture is pale and thick. Set aside.

2. In a medium-size saucepan, heat the milk with the unsweetened chocolate over medium heat, stirring frequently. When the chocolate is nearly melted, whisk in the cocoa powder. Continue whisking until smooth.

3. Pour about ½ cup of the hot milk mixture into the egg mixture to temper it. Stir quickly. Pour the mixture into the saucepan with the rest of the milk mixture. Heat over medium heat, stirring frequently and making sure the mixture doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan. Continue heating and stirring until the mixture reaches 165 F.

4. Remove from the heat and pour into a large bowl. Stir in the heavy cream. Cool then cover and chill until very cold, at least a few hours and up to two days.

5. When you are ready to freeze the ice cream, stir in the vanilla extract and peppermint extract. Transfer to the freezing canister of an ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer’s instructions.

6. About two minutes before the freezing process is done, gradually pour in the chopped Andes mints. Continue mixing until the mints are well-distributed. Transfer to a freezer-safe container and freeze for at least two hours or until firm.

Makes a generous quart. Keep frozen and enjoy for a week or so.

Another recipe like this one: Rich Chocolate Ice Cream

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Black Rice Salad

This post is the documentation of another adventure in a new-to-me grain: Chinese black rice, also known as “forbidden rice.” I cooked up a pot of it and combined it with fresh sugar snap peas and avocado in a salad based on a recipe in Fine Cooking magazine. I was so happy with this dish that I’ve come to the conclusion that black rice might have to share the title with faro as my new best grain friend.

Chinese black rice is a medium-grain rice. The bran layer is intact and is responsible for its shiny black appearance. This rice is quite nutritious, largely because that bran layer has been left where it grew. It’s not only high in fiber but is also loaded with antioxidents, vitamins, minerals and iron. More important, though, is its deliciousness.

When cooked, black rice is chewy in texture and a little nutty in flavor. It doesn’t have a very strong flavor. It is, after all, rice, but it’s unique enough to put an interesting spin on your usual rice dishes. Let’s not underestimate, however, the effect of its striking appearance. Even after being cooked, the grains maintain a deep, deep purple hue that really is almost black. The bright greens of the snap peas, avocados and scallions made a pretty contrast in this salad.

I made a lime juice and roasted peanut oil dressing for my salad, which was quite a nice accompaniment with the rest of the ingredients. The peanut oil really gives the whole salad a peanutty flavor, so be prepared for that if you use it. If you wish to avoid peanut oil, olive oil or even a neutral oil like canola would make a nice salad dressing, too. I loved the roasted peanut flavor, so I added a handful of roasted salted peanuts to the salad as well.

You could use this salad as a starting point and add whatever vegetables are in season. I will say, however, that I particularly liked the contrast of the smooth, buttery avocado chunks with the chewy black rice. Leave them in if you can and you’ll be rewarded with something interesting.


For my first experience with Chinese black rice, I think this dish went really rather well. The recipe below makes a lot, and can probably be halved if desired. I’ve been taking leftovers to work in my lunchbox and they have held up very well. (The dressing appears to be acidic enough to keep the avocado from darkening too much to be unappetizing.) That convenience alone has made it worth it for me to make this big batch. It’s so delicious that I’m not getting tired of it, either…Plus, black rice is quite a conversation-starter among co-workers.

It’s new to me now, but I think Chinese black rice is going to be making many appearances on my dinner table…and in my lunchbox. Forbidden, schmorbidden!

Black Rice Salad with Snap Peas and Avocado
Adapted from Fine Cooking April/May 2013

If you can’t find Chinese black rice, aka forbidden rice (you might find it in the bulk and specialty foods sections of supermarkets or at natural food stores) you could use Thai black rice or any brown rice.

1 ½ cups Chinese black rice
2 ¾ cups water
4 ounces sugar snap peas, strings removed, coarsely chopped
½ cup chopped scallions
2 avocados, peeled and chopped
3 tablespoons lime juice
3 tablespoons roasted peanut oil
½ teaspoon Aleppo pepper (optional)
½ teaspoon coarse (kosher) salt
½ cup chopped roasted salted peanuts

1. Place the rice in a bowl and cover with plenty of water. Swish the rice around the bowl to rinse it. Drain and rinse again.

2. Place the rinsed rice in a medium-size saucepan. Add the 2 ¾ cups water and bring to a boil. Cover and boil gently about 30 minutes or until the rice grains are tender, but still separate. The water may not all be absorbed. Remove from the heat and partially cover. Cool to room temperature. The rice can be cooked a day or two ahead of time. If you do this, cover and chill until needed.

3. Place the cooked and cooled rice in a large bowl. Add the snap peas, scallions and avocado. Toss together to mix well.

4. I a small bowl, combine the lime juice, peanut oil, Aleppo pepper and salt. Whisk together until smooth and emulsified. Pour the dressing over the rice mixture and stir to coat. Sprinkle the salad with the peanuts.

Makes 6-8 servings. Cover and refrigerate leftovers for a few days.


Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Green Pea Hummus


I do have peas in my garden. Some. Just enough to eat out of hand, savoring their special seasonal flavor. To make hummus out of green peas, where one would usually use chickpeas, is going require a bit of a cheat. Since I don’t have a source of enough fresh peas, I used frozen peas to make this delicious dip.

Like traditional hummus, this one is made with tahini (sesame seed paste), lemon juice and plenty of garlic. Actually, I used the uniquely spring ingredient, garlic scapes in place of garlic cloves when I made this. I happened to have acquired some from the local farmer’s market and I like to use them this time of year when I make garlicky recipes. You certainly could stick with garlic cloves, and, if I make this again, I’ll likely be using them, too. Parsley also gives the flavor of this hummus a bit of a boost and keeps things especially green.

There’s nothing more to Green Pea Hummus than quickly cooking a package of frozen peas in boiling water, draining and cooling them off, and then whirling them in the food processor with the rest of the ingredients until smooth and dip-able. I served this with pita chips, but I think it would make a mighty fine sandwich spread as well, although it’s not quite as thick as traditional hummus.

  I realize it isn’t spring anymore, but here in Minnesota, only fast-growing early produce crops have been available. Green Pea Hummus, served as a dip for pita chips, crackers or even some raw veggies is right at home on the table with those early-season favorites. Just because the lettuce and radishes are soon to be replaced with summer squash and cucumbers, however, doesn’t mean I’ll have to stop making this rich, filling and fresh-tasting hummus variation.


Green Pea Hummus
Adapted from Cooking Light magazine

I used some Aleppo pepper to spice up my hummus. You could replace it with cayenne or some other form of chile pepper, or you could leave it out for a milder flavor.

10 ounce package frozen green peas
½ cup chopped parsley (I used flat-leaf)
3 tablespoons lemon juice
3 tablespoons tahini
1 teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon Aleppo pepper
¾ teaspoon coarse salt
3 cloves garlic or ¼ cup garlic scapes, chopped
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the frozen peas and cook about 3 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl of ice water. Drain well. (You could also drain from the boiling water and rinse in cold water until cool.)

2. Place the drained peas and the remaining ingredients except for the olive oil in the bowl of a food processor. Process until nearly smooth, stopping to scrape the sides as needed. With the machine running, pour the olive oil, through the opening in the top of the food processor lid. Continue to process until very smooth.

3. Taste for seasoning and adjust as needed. Transfer to a serving bowl and chill until ready to serve.


Other recipes like this one: Hummus, Asparagus and Goat Cheese Dip