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2013.02.07: "For truly to pursue monsters, we must understand them."

Friday, February 08, 2013

A while back I bought a quart each of half-and-half and heavy cream. The former was for panna cotta; with the latter I planned on making ice cream. But that event came and went, and I did use about half the half-and-half in a rather tasty (and rich!) panna cotta (with a honey blueberry sauce).

But still the cream sat in the fridge. Unopened.

Until yesterday.

It still smelled good ... and the remainder of the half-and-half (by this point about a cup) was likewise good.

This evening we watched 'Millennium' ("The Judge") and 'The X-Files' ("Unruhe"), along with the most recent episode of 'Top Chef' (so much fish!).

I. Ice Cream

I poured the cream into a metal mixing bowl and re-refrigerated it after scraping down the carton; chunks of butter cream adhered (and were deliicous!) ... it was just a matter of what to do with all that cream. The answer? Ice cream.

- 2 cups of heavy cream
- 1 cup of half-and-half
- 1 cup of brown sugar, not packed
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/3 cocoa powder
- 2 tsp espresso grind coffee
- 1/4 tsp salt

1. Combine all ingredients in a sufficiently large pot, one to two quarts is fine.

2. Whisk while gently increasing heat.

3. Once it's smooth and swell-stirred, continue stirring. I switch from a whisk to a rubber spatula.

4. Bring it at most to a bare simmer; once the liquid coats the back of a spoon it is ready.

5. Remove from heat and pour through a mesh strainer (this will catch stray congealed proteins as well as the coffee grounds). Pour into a bowl, cover (with lid or plastic wrap), and refrigerate over night or until chilled to refrigerator temperature.

6. When ready to make ice cream, remove mixture of refrigerator, stir a few times, and prepare in ice cream maker as appropriate.

For me that last bit means putting the machine together, turning it on, pouring in the mixture, scraping it down once or twice along the way, and waiting about 20-30 minutes, depending on the recipe. This one set up relatively quickly and didn't take in that much air. It was a rather heavy mixture to start with. I didn't make it a 'frozen custard' (no egg yolks here), but since it was composed mainly of cream, rather than lighter dairy or pseudo-dairy, it was already rich enough.

It portioned nicely into ten little ramekins and custard cups, each serving about half a cup in size. Then I put the lids on the containers and stuffed them in the freezer. I'll have one tonight. At about 250 calories per serving, I won't be having more than one a day.


Life cannot, alas, be comprised only of desserts. One of my 'favorites' these days when it comes to a relatively nutritious and balanced single-bowl meal is a salad comprised of a couple different component: about 3oz/85g of greens, particularly spinach but also 'baby' leaves from Swiss chard and the like that do not need to be cooked; about 1/2 cup cottage cheese, preferably large curd because I like the texture; a teaspoon or two of a balsamic vinaigrette or similar, just a splash of balsamic vinegar as the 'acid', perhaps accompanied by sliced olives and grape tomatoes; and a serving or so of sardines.

I hesitated for the longest time when it came to sardines, as I was wary of the flavor and, to a lesser extent, the smell. I've loved canned tuna ever since I was a child. Canned salmon was more a special treat; and I still haven't had a good salmon loaf in many years, but I still love it. Tuna-noodle casserole, tuna salad, tuna sandwiches (a little mayo, relish, white or wheat bread ...) -- it was all good. Tuna from the pouch is, I admit, tastier than that from the can, but it's also quite a bit pricier. Based on flavor alone and versatility, I would gladly eat tuna at almost every opportunity, but due to concerns about mercury contamination, tuna isn't I can see myself eating every day.

And so I finally bought a couple tins of sardines and gave them a try last summer. I ended up liking them, though at first I figured I'd mask the flavor under salad dressing or plenty of salad ... or just about anything. But quickly enough I realized that they were just like a slightly more flavorful tuna in some regards. In contrast to tuna there's no significant concern about mercury or similar contamination, and sardines seem relatively sustainable, also a plus over tuna.

Whenever I open a can of tuna, or a pouch or can of sardines, the cats run to the kitchen, meow, and try to crawl up my legs in search of the fish. It's bad enough that if I just pull the can opener from its drawer they show up; and with the can opener it can't really be a matter of residual fish smell, as that device has been wash in soap and hot water, as well as a bleach solution, from time to time. But the cats know to associate it with a treat; even a can of tomatoes will bring them to the kitchen now.

As for the salad, a serving of greens, cottage cheese, and sardines garnished with vinaigrette provides about 300 calories and 30g of protein.

- www.montereybayaquarium.

- www.mnn.com/food/healthy

- deepseanews.com/2012/05/

- www.thekitchn.com/12-way

- cookingupastory.com/sard

- grist.org/sustainable-fo

- whfoods.org/genpage.php?

- dinersjournal.blogs.nyti

- www.npr.org/templates/st


I still had cream left over after making the ice cream 'custard'. I put it back in the refrigerator Wednesday night once Ms. S. arrived home (as I was getting to work in the custard), and today I pulled it out, stirred it up, looked it over, and contemplated what to do with it.

Somewhere I have a vanilla bean, I told myself, and it would make a nice, simple vanilla ice cream; after all, done well a basic vanilla ice cream is one of the best things on earth. Refreshing and not too heavy. More like old money than some gaudy nouveau riche extravaganza. I have bananas; I thought of a banana ice cream. Or berry. I could mix it with soy milk or with brewed coffee to take some of the richness out of the straight cream. I could add eggs and stick it in the oven ... creme caramel, anyone? I could make a really rich cornstarch pudding ... perhaps butterscotch?

I settled on a panna cotta. For a while I thought of making it a "banana cotta". To cut richness of the cream I decided to mix the remaining dairy with a cup of chai.

1/2 cup water
1 star anise
3 whole cloves
3 cardamom pods, bruised
1/2 cinnamon stick
1/2 tsp fresh ginger
1/2 cup light soy milk
3 tsp black tea

1 1/2 cups heavy cream
2 tsp powdered gelatin
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

1. In a pot add spices to water, bring to a quick boil, turn off the heat and cover to steep five minutes. Add soy milk and tea, bring back to a simmer, remove from heat and let steep five minutes. A while back I bought a pound of assam tea; it's more like coarsely ground coffee than leaves. It's what my old roommate used to make masala chai. I keep ginger in the freezer and cut off about a 1/4 inch or so. Since the tea will be diluted again when it's added to the dairy, which will also cut any astringency, I wasn't that worried about over-steeping it.

2. Strain the tea and reserve all liquid.

3. In a pot add cream and sprinkle gelatin on top. Let it sit ~7 minutes, then turn on heat to medium and whisk the mixture until the gelatin is dissolved and integrated. While it heats stir in the sugar and tea. Once the liquid begins to simmer remove it from the heat.

4. Strain it through a mesh strainer to remove any congealed proteins, etc., and stir in the vanilla.

5. Portion into 5 custard cups, demitasses, etc. Cover with plastic wrap and store in refrigerator to set up, about 4 hours.

I let it set up starting around 4pm and had a small serving around 10pm as a 'snack'. A full serving of this recipe is about 290 calories, but I split one serving between two espresso cups. And that was about the most delicious 145 calories I've had in a long, long time.

Heavy cream will do that. The tea and spices come through nicely and are quite well-balanced. It's not too sweet at all. It was perfectly firm and silken, with just a little jiggliness to it.

- www.nytimes.com/2008/04/

- www.davidlebovitz.com/20

- whatscookingamerica.net/

- www.surfaslosangeles.com

- dinnerwithjulie.com/2010

- bakingquinn.blogspot.com

- www.chewtown.com/2012/09

- www.zagleft.com/food/van
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