18 April 2011

Family recipe Monday: cold and sweet

Bear Butte cloaked by an unexpected snowstorm

You'd think we'd learn, being on the prairie for some time now....but, no, we just had to go out birding and photographing on an April weekend, in spite of the weather predictions that went from a 30% to a 60% chance of "wintry mix." This is not a good mix when you are out on rural roads. But we are adventurous, daring, and not right bright, so out we went. I'll post a full account tomorrow, once I have the sleet out of my hair.

It was a tough week for many people, waiting to find out how the Federal (and, in our case, state) budget cuts would affect them and their communities. I'm happy to report that the museum is alive and well after the budget cuts. We will need to look at how we survive and thrive in a more austere economy, but we will be around to do that. Not all museums or agencies have fared so well, which is sobering indeed.

So we needed a change of scenery, a chance to get away from the budget migraines, some reassurance that life goes on. Well, it does. So does winter weather in the spring. Oddly, I really wanted something cold and sweet when I finally thawed out. Here are some suggestions from the Simple Gifts files that make a nice transition from winter to spring.

Cinnamon ice cream

1 ¼ cups half-and-half
2 ½ cups whipping cream
1 cup less 1 T sugar
1 stick cinnamon
½ tsp ground cinnamon
6 egg yolks

Warm half-and-half, whipping cream, sugar, and both kinds of cinnamon in a non-corroding saucepan. Steep for about 15 minutes, always keeping temperature below boiling. Taste once or twice; flavor will grow even stronger after ice cream is frozen. Whisk egg yolks just enough to break them up and pour in some of the hot mixture, stirring constantly. Return to the pan and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until the custard coats the spoon. Strain into a container, put cinnamon stick in for stronger flavor, and chill thoroughly. Remove stick and freeze in ice cream maker. Makes a generous quart. Spectacular on apple pie.

Lemon velvet ice cream

1 quart plus 1 1/3 cups whipping cream
1 quart plus 1 1/3 cups milk
4 cups sugar
2 tsp lemon extract
Juice of 8 lemons
1 T grated lemon rind

Mix together and freeze.

Berry sorbet

1 envelope unflavored gelatin
½ cup sugar
1 ½ cups water
2 cups puréed raspberries or strawberries
½ cup cranberry juice or black currant liqueur
2 T lemon juice
Whole raspberries or strawberries for garnish

Mix gelatin with sugar and water in a saucepan. Let stand 1 minute. Stir over low heat until gelatin dissolves, about 5 minutes. Cool to room temperature. Stir in berries, juice or liqueur, and lemon juice. Turn mixture into a shallow baking pan. Freeze 3 hours or until barely firm. With an electric mixer or food processor, beat mixture until smooth. Return to pan and freeze until firm, about 2 hours. To serve, thaw at room temperature for 15 minutes or until slightly softened. Spoon into serving dishes. Garnish with whole berries and serve at once. Makes about 8 servings.

Grape juice blanc-mange

Scald 3 cups grape juice in double boiler, adding ¼ cup sugar. Blend ¼ cup cornstarch with ¼ cup cold water and add to juice. Cook 15 minutes, stirring constantly. Add 1 T lemon juice, then cool slightly. Pour into sherbet glasses and chill. While hot, it is very thin, but it stiffens as it cools. It should be very delicate, not overly stiff. Serve with plain cream and powdered sugar.
--Louise Hastings

Happy Monday. It really is a new season out there; get out and celebrate it.

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