Kheer Ice Cream (#56-E)

10 04 2013

Rice pudding used to totally gross me out.  I mean, come on, I’m Chinese.  Rice should be:

  1. Steamed
  2. Cooked into congee
  3. Fried

Cooked with milk and sugar?  Eeeeeeewwwww!!!

But my tastes started to change some years ago, and now I love rice pudding, especially South Asian style rice pudding, kheer.  Last week, while at an Indian restaurant enjoying a bowl, it occurred to me this dessert could be probably churned into a delectable ice cream.

After doing some research, I realized there many, many different methods and variations of making kheer.  Should I use cream, milk, coconut milk, or sweetened condensed milk?  Full fat or reduced fat?  Basmati rice or regular long grained rice?  Raw or cooked?  If raw, pulse the rice first or not?  Will frying the rice in ghee first really make a difference?  Saffron or not?  Pistachios, cashews or almonds?  In the absence of an obvious go-to  recipe, I developed a recipe for kheer that draws from numerous recipes found online and with ingredients that I had on hand at home.

For my first attempt at making kheer, it turned out quite well — sweet, creamy, and wonderfully aromatic.  Cardamom is what gives kheer its unique, distinctive taste — if you’re a fan, you might want to use an extra pod or two into the recipe.

Indian rice pudding

Homemade kheer — sweet, creamy, and wonderfully aromatic!

When the kheer was churned into ice cream, it developed quite an interesting texture.  Even though the recipe uses milk instead of cream, the starchiness of the rice made the ice cream quite thick and creamy.  The broken grains of rice added a bit of a chew and the pistachios a nice crunch.

You’re best off serving this ice cream shortly after churning and with only a quick chill in the freezer.  If you chill it overnight, it will freeze up rock solid due to the low fat content.  (This is solvable of course by letting the ice cream warm up on the counter or in the fridge… but who has the patience!!)  Also, this ice cream has almost no overrun, so you might want to double the recipe if you want to make a full litre.

Kheer Ice Cream (Makes about 0.5 L)

4 cups whole milk
1/4 cup long-grained rice
3 cardamom pods, crushed
Small pinch of saffron threads
1/4 cup white sugar (or more to taste)
1/4 cup chopped pistachios

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Red Velvet Ice Cream (#49)

13 02 2013

Red.  This week is all about red.  First off, we rang in the Year of the Snake for Chinese New Year on Sunday.  In Chinese culture, the colour red symbolizes good fortune and joy.  During the 15 days Chinese New Year is celebrated, red envelopes, red lanterns, red paper-cuts, and other red decor abound.

And then there’s Valentine’s Day tomorrow.  Definitely not a day I’m rah rah rah about, but an occasion that many enjoy.  Red hearts, red roses, red, red, red all around.  A red ice cream is befitting for this week.

Back in Week #39, I made the most gorgeous red ice cream: Beet and Orange Ice Cream.  I’ve been racking my brain all week trying to figure out what other intensely red ice cream recipe I can develop.  I was inspired by the idea of Red Velvet Cake — layers of red-tinged chocolate cake and cream cheese frosting — but after poking around online, I realized that Red Velvet Cake recipes typically call for a ridiculous amount of red food colouring to tint the cake red.  Some recipes call for a WHOLE BOTTLE of colouring!  Adding chemicals to my ice cream recipes is the last thing I want to do!  Fortunately, I came across Bake Cakery’s post on Red Velvet Cake made with beets.  This was the perfect inspiration to use beets in another ice cream recipe and in a way that will lead to a completely different taste.  Beets + cocoa + cream cheese = all natural Red Velvet Ice Cream bliss!

I used 1.5 cup of grated beets in this recipe (compared to the 2 cups used in my Beet and Orange Ice Cream recipe) to make sure the taste of beets would not be overwhelming.  A 1/4 cup of natural cocoa powder introduces just enough of a chocolatey taste to the ice cream, and half a brick of cream cheese pays tribute to the cream cheese frosting traditionally used to frost a Red Velvet Cake while adding a subtle tang.

grated beets

Instead of using red food colouring to tint the ice cream red, this recipe uses grated beets!

The ice cream turned out reddish-brown — definitely not the same luscious red as my Beet and Orange Ice Cream or the deep garnet colour of a traditional Red Velvet Cake made with food colouring.  I was a little disappointed in the colour, but it was a small price to pay to not add any food colouring to the recipe.  If you want your Red Velvet Ice Cream to have a more brilliant red colour, go ahead, add a few drops.  Your secret is safe with me!

Red Velvet Ice Cream (makes about 1.5 L)

1.5 cups grated beets
1/2 cup water
125 g cream cheese
1/4 cup natural cocoa powder
Juice of half a lemon
3 cups half-and-half cream, divided
2 eggs
3/4 cup white sugar
Pinch of salt Read the rest of this entry »





Purple Yam and Coconut Ice Cream (#45-D/E)

18 01 2013

This week’s recipe features another tuber: the purple yam.  Purple yams are commonly used in the Philippines, where they are known as ube.  In North America, you can buy purple yams at most Asian green grocers.  You can also find them in some conventional grocery stores, alongside potatoes and sweet potatoes.  Purple yams have a reddish-brown skin and the most delightful purple insides.

purple yam, purple sweet potato, ube

Look at this gorgeous colour!

Purple yam and coconut are a common combination in Filipino desserts, such as ube macapuno cake and halo halo.  With this in mind, I thought I’d give purple yam and coconut ice cream a try.

This is a super simple ice cream recipe.  You puree peeled and boiled yams with some coconut milk, soy milk, sugar, and a pinch of salt and – ta da! –  your custard is done and ready for chilling.  Yes, finally, another dairy-free and egg-free ice cream recipe!

I had a bit of a chuckle as I was pouring the custard into the ice cream maker.  It was super thick and goopy because of the richness of the coconut milk and the starch in the yams, and the colour reminded me of McDonald’s Grimace character.  As for taste, the Official Taster claims it’s “gentle”.  Huh???  I will interpret that to mean “an ice cream with a soft, pillowy texture, wonderful coconut flavour, and subtle undertones of purple yam”.

Keep in mind this ice cream freezes up quite hard overnight.  Enjoy it as soon as it is chilled to serving consistency.  If you need to freeze it longer, give it a good 15 to 20 minutes on the counter to warm up before scooping.

Purple Yam and Coconut Ice Cream (makes about 1.5 L)

2 cups of purple yams, peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces
1 – 13.5 oz (400 ml) can coconut milk
1.5 cup soy milk (or substitute dairy milk)
1/2 cup sugar
Pinch of sea salt

  1. Place the yams into a medium-sized sauce pan, cover with water, and bring to boil.  Let simmer for about 20 minutes, until the yams are fork tender.  Drain the yams, reserving 1/4 cup of the cooking water.
  2. Tip the yams and the reserved cooking water into a blender and puree until smooth.

    Purple yam puree, purple sweet potato puree, ube puree

    Purple yam puree

  3. Add the coconut milk, soy milk, sugar, and salt into the blender.  Puree until very smooth.
  4. Chill overnight in the fridge.
  5. Pour the custard into an ice cream maker and prepare according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Purple yam coconut ice cream, purple yam ice cream, ube ice cream

The Official Taster says: “Gentle.”





Sweet Potato and Kahlua Ice Cream (#44)

10 01 2013

Ahhh, sweet potatoes!  Packed with anti-oxidants, vitamins, minerals, and fibre, these bad boys are one of my favourite superfoods.  They were on sale last week, so I bought a big pile.

Yams

Sweet potatoes are one of my favourite superfoods.

I baked the sweet potatoes with every intention of eating them plain as I usually do, but then I thought, hey, why not incorporate them into this week’s ice cream recipe?  I’ve tried a few veggie ice cream recipes now — Mint and Peas Ice Cream, Carrot Cake Ice Cream, and Beet and Orange Ice Cream — so Sweet Potato Ice Cream should hardly be considered weird!

Baked sweet potato, baked yam

Fresh out of the oven and oozing with sweetness!

So I peeled them, tipped them into the blender, and stirred the silky orange puree into a basic custard along with a few spoonfuls of Kahlua.  Results?  This was an interesting one.  The taste of the sweet potato and the Kahlua were both fairly subtle, emerging only after the third or fourth bite.  As with the Beet and Orange Ice Cream, I found I really had to focus to figure out what flavours I was tasting.  The ice cream was also surprisingly not very sweet, considering I used my standard 3/4 cup of sugar and also had the natural sugars in the sweet potatoes.  Depending on your tastes, you might want to the increase the sugar to 1 cup or give the ice cream an extra drizzle of Kahlua or maple syrup.

Sweet Potato and Kahlua Ice Cream (makes about 1.5 L)

3 medium or 5 small orange sweet potatoes (enough to yield 1.5 cups of baked sweet potato puree)
3 cups half-and-half cream
2 eggs
3/4 cup brown sugar
Pinch of sea salt
2 tablespoons Kahlua liqueur

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.  Scrub the sweet potatoes under cold running water.  Prick the potatoes a few times to let steam release while baking.  Place the potatoes on a baking sheet and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until soft when pierced with a fork.  Let cool.
  2. Peel the skin off the sweet potatoes.  Tip the potatoes into a blender and puree until smooth.  Measure out 1.5 cups of puree.  Set aside.
  3. In a heavy saucepan, lightly whisk together the eggs and sugar.
  4. Add 2 cups of the half-and-half cream and the salt.
  5. Cook the mixture over medium-low heat stirring constantly, until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon (170 degrees F / 77 degrees C).
  6. Remove from heat immediately and add the remaining cup of the half-and-half to stop the cooking.  Place the saucepan into an ice bath to cool the custard rapidly.
  7. When the custard is cool, whisk in the sweet potato puree and the Kahlua.
  8. Chill overnight in the fridge.
  9. Pour the custard into an ice cream maker and prepare according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Sweet potato and kahlua ice cream, sweet potato pie ice cream

The Official Taster says: “This is a slow-release taste ice cream. “





Beet and Orange Ice Cream (#39)

6 12 2012

Nature creates some pretty amazing things  Take beets for instance.  A humble root vegetable with an impossibly beautiful fuschia colour.  Surely it’d make gorgeous ice cream.

If the idea of beet ice cream sounds downright weird to you, it’s probably because you are thinking of pickled beets.  No, no!  This recipe uses fresh beets, which have a fresh, natural sweetness.

beets, beetroots, farmers market

Fresh beets at the farmers market earlier this year.

Chopped beets are gently simmered, whirled into a luscious puree, then mixed into a basic custard along with some fresh orange juice and orange zest to brighten the flavour.  The taste of beets in the finished ice cream is rather subtle.  Unless you’re told or unless you have a very discerning palette, you might not even know there are beets in this recipe.  I brought samples to work and one taster thought the flavour could have passed for cherry.  Another thought it tasted like a Creamsicle.  The Official Taster LOVED this ice cream, mainly for its complex flavour.  Personally, I was more interested in the colour of the ice cream than its taste.  The custard is a glossy hot pink (I want to paint a feature wall with this colour!) and freezes to an intense, matte red.

If you’re a beet lover, you should definitely make this ice cream.  If you’re not, try this recipe anyway for the novelty factor!

Beet and Orange Ice Cream (makes about 1.5 L)

2 cups finely chopped beets
1/2 cup water
3 cups half-and-half cream, divided
2 eggs
3/4 cup white sugar
Juice of one orange
Finely chopped zest of one orange

  1. In a small saucepan, simmer the beets in the water and 1/2 c cup of the half-and-half until they are tender, about 30 minutes.
  2. Tip the beets and the liquid into a blender and puree until smooth.  Set aside.
  3. In a heavy saucepan, lightly whisk together the eggs and sugar.
  4. Add 2 cups of the half-and-half cream.
  5. Cook the mixture over medium-low heat stirring constantly, until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon (170 degrees F / 77 degrees C).
  6. Remove from heat immediately and add the remaining 1/2 c cup of the half-and-half to stop the cooking.  Place the saucepan into an ice bath to cool the custard rapidly.
  7. When the custard is cool, whisk in the beet puree, orange zest, and orange juice.
  8. Chill overnight in the fridge.
  9. Pour the custard into an ice cream maker and prepare according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Beet orange ice cream

The Official Taster says: “I LOVE it!  It starts off citrusy and sweet, and then you can taste the beet.”





Lime and Phu Quoc Peppercorn Ice Cream (#27)

13 09 2012

The inspiration for this week’s ice cream recipe is an ingredient I obtained while travelling in Vietnam last year: Phu Quoc Peppercorns.

Last year, the Official Taster and I travelled to Vietnam and Cambodia.  Hands down, the favourite part of our trip was a few relaxing days at Freedomland, a homestay resort on Phu Quoc Island in southwestern Vietnam.  While Freedomland is truly a little piece of paradise in and of itself, the highlight of our stay was definitely the food.  Peter and Rita (the owners) and their staff do an amazing job every night cooking for up to 30 guests.  Peter is extremely passionate and knowledgeable about food, and having travelled and lived in so many parts of the world (including Vancouver!), this was Vietnamese fusion cuisine at its best.  Each dish was so fresh, flavourful, and exquisitely prepared and plated.   He really ought to have his own cooking show.

Grilled lemongrass prawn

Grilled prawns on a lemongrass skewer, served over fresh pasta and pesto.  We had three dinners at Freedomland during our stay and Peter prepared a total of 25 (yes, 25!) dishes.  I’m not exaggerating about his amazing food!  Check out the Tripadvisor reviews.

Phu Quoc peppercorns made their way into many of Peter’s dishes.  Vietnam, I learned,  is the leading global exporter of black peppercorns, and the best quality peppercorns come from Phu Quoc.  Peter — sensing my extreme enthusiasm for all things food — was kind enough to get me a huge bag of peppercorns from a local pepper farm.  Don’t buy it from the market, he warned.  It’s mixed with the cheap stuff! 

Phu Quoc peppercorns

Spicy, aromatic Phu Quoc peppercorns — real ones, not the cheap stuff!

Phu Quoc peppercorns are wonderfully aromatic and spicy — like no other peppercorns I’ve ever tasted.  Finish any Southeast Asian dish with freshly ground Phu Quoc peppercorns and a squeeze of lime juice and it comes to life!  A perfect flavour combination, and a perfect combo for ice cream.

If you can’t source Phu Quoc peppercorns from your local Vietnamese grocer for this ice cream recipe, substitute with the freshest, highest quality black peppercorns you can find.  Also, be sure to infuse the custard with the peppercorns overnight if you want a spicier ice cream.  You will find many peppercorn ice cream recipes instructing you to strain out the peppercorns after one hour, but why be apologetic in its use?

Freedomland homestay resort

The Official Taster, Peter, and I on our last day at Freedomland, Phu Quoc Island, Vietnam

Lime and Phu Quoc Peppercorn Ice Cream (makes about 1 L)

1/2 cup fresh lime juice (about 4 limes)
1 tablespoon lime zest
1 tablespoon coarsely ground Phu Quoc peppercorns
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
3 cups half-and-half cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

  1. In a heavy saucepan, whisk together the first five ingredients.
  2. Slowly whisk in 2 cups of the half-and-half, taking care that the mixture does not curdle.
  3. Cook the mixture over medium-low heat stirring constantly, until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon (170 degrees F / 77 degrees C).
  4. Remove from heat immediately and add the remaining half-and-half to stop the cooking.  Place the saucepan into an ice bath to cool the custard rapidly.
  5. Stir in the vanilla.
  6. Cool and chill overnight in the fridge.
  7. Strain the custard through a fine sieve into a bowl to remove the zest and pepper.  If some of the pepper escapes, that’s okay!
  8. Pour the custard into an ice cream maker and prepare according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  9. Garnish with freshly ground pepper and slice of lime.
lime peppercorn ice cream

The Official Taster says: “It would have been nice to have this while in Vietnam!”





Hungarian Plum Dumpling Ice Cream (#26)

6 09 2012

Week #26!  This is the halfway mark in my year of ice cream making!  I’m pleased to report that I’ve only gained 3 lbs so far.  Bring on another 26 weeks.  I’m ready.

This week’s recipe is inspired by a dish originating from Hungary: szilvás gombóc, plum dumplings rolled in buttery cinnamon sugar bread crumbs.  I first learned of this dish from my co-worker Lisa, who travelled to Hungary some years ago, where she had authentic szilvás gombóc and — even better — szilvás gombóc flavoured ice cream.  After hearing about this, I endeavoured to try making both.

I came across Dog Hill Kitchen’s recipe for szilvás gombóc and thought I’d give it a try — after all, the recipe originates from someone’s Hungarian great-grandmother, so surely it must be authentic!

Dough for Hungarian plum dumplings

Mix together flour, mashed potato, and egg.  This is almost like making a gnocchi dough.

Italian prune plums and cinnamon sugar

Slice open Italian prune plums and fill the centres with cinnamon sugar.

Hungarian plum dumpling

Roll or pat a portion of the dough into the circle and place the cinnamon sugar filled plum in the centre.

Hungarian plum dumplings

Form the dough around the plum and pinch the top together. These will be giant dumplings!  Cook them for 10 minutes in boiling water.

Cinnamon sugar buttered breadcrumbs

While the dumplings are cooking, melt some butter, and add some breadcrumbs, cinnamon, and sugar.

Cinnamon sugar buttered breadcrumbs

Cook until golden brown and fragrant.

Hungarian plum dumplings

When the dumplings are cooked, drain well with a slotted spoon, and roll each one in the buttery cinnamon sugar breadcrumbs.

Hungarian plum dumpling

The dumpling sliced open! Yum!

Hungarian plum dumplings

Even better: if you use perfectly ripe Italian prune plums, the dumplings will be filled with juicy plum goodness!

Now, how to capture the taste of plum dumplings in ice cream?  I decided the best method was to cook Italian prune plums with some cinnamon and sugar until they were thick and saucy and then swirl the compote, along with some buttery cinnamon sugar breadcrumbs,  into a delicate vanilla ice cream.  The results?  AMAZING.  This recipe is currently ranked among my Top 3 ice cream recipes (Mango Ice Cream with Chili Sea Salt and Black Forest Ice Cream being my two other current favourites).  The prune plums cook down to a gorgeous fuchsia colour and the breadcrumbs add a delightful sweet crunch to the ice cream.  Élvez!  Enjoy!

Hungarian Plum Dumpling Ice Cream  (Makes about 1.25 L)

Ice Cream

2 eggs
3/4 cups white sugar
3 cups half-and-half cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Plum Compote

2 1/2 cups diced Italian prune plums
1/3 c white sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Cinnamon Sugar Breadcrumbs

2 tablespoons butter
1 cup coarse bread crumbs
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons white sugar

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