Archive for December, 2011

Cranberry Delight

Tuesday, December 20th, 2011

Things have been very busy in our household, not entirely in a good way. My mother (who appears with me on the masthead of this blog) passed away just after a week ago, followed by the cat. Both were very old, and both died very peacefully. Nevertheless, the house is startlingly quiet, and I have a bit too much to do.

Consequently I am DEFINITELY in the mood for a little Christmas cheer … and this recipe fits the bill. I love cranberries. The idea for making ice cream with them came to me in a dream. I need more dreams like this one!

My family tried the recipe over Thanksgiving, not on Thanksgiving Day (because my relatives are fixated on pie on Thanksgiving) but later in the weekend.

My nephew Michael was not at all sure he really wanted to churn ice cream, but we had no choice. My electric ice-cream maker was missing a critical part so we got out the old hand cranker.

It took a while … but even Michael decided that the result was more than worthwhile. I do not exaggerate when I say that moans filled the room as we ate.

In fact, this is one of the last treats my mother enjoyed.

Feel free to experiment with the recipe. I almost added a little orange rind to the mixture. I’m not sure the ice cream could taste any better than it did, however.

Merry Christmas to all!

Cranberry Swirl Ice Cream

Ingredients:

for the ice cream:

1-1/2 cups milk
4 egg yolks
2/3 cups sugar
1-1/2 cups heavy cream
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 pinch salt

for the cranberry swirl:

1 cup water
1 cup sugar
12 ounces cranberries

Instructions:

First, make your ice-cream base. Heat the milk until it is steamy but not boiling. In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar until the mixture is thick and light yellow (about 4 minutes).

Whisk a bit of the hot milk into the egg mixture. Then whisk more, up to about 1/2 or 3/4 cup. Whisk the milky egg yolks into the remaining milk.

Cook over medium heat until the custard begins to thicken but does not boil (about 2 to 3 minutes on my gas stove!).

Remove the custard from the heat, and strain it into a heatproof bowl or pot. Cool thoroughly.

As it starts to cool make the cranberry sauce. (It’s basically jellied cranberry sauce, but avoid using the canned stuff if possible.)

In a medium saucepan combine the water and sugar and bring them to a boil. Add the cranberries, and return the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat, and boil the sauce for 10 more minutes. (If it gets too fuzzy, add a tiny bit of butter.)

Remove the sauce from the heat, and push it through a stainless-steel strainer. You’ll end up with about 1-1/2 cups of sauce and a small amount of solid matter; you may discard the latter.

Cool the sauce, covered, at room temperature; then refrigerate it until you are ready to make the ice cream.

When that time comes, use a mixer or whisk to break up the jellied cranberry sauce into a thick liquid (instead of a solid). Measure out 1 cup. You may reserve the rest to put on top of your ice cream if you want extra cranberry flavor.

Go back to your ice-cream base and whisk in the cream, vanilla, and salt. Place this mixture in your ice-cream freezer and begin the churning process.

When the ice cream looks about ready, add the cup of cranberry sauce and continue churning just until you have a pleasing swirled effect. Serve immediately.

This recipe makes a little more than a quart of ice cream.

By the way, if you find yourself in need of my Pudding Hollow Cookbook to give as a Christmas gift (or to use yourself over Christmas), never fear: copies are DEFINITELY available. If you order by Wednesday noon and live in the continental U.S., the book should arrive by December 24. To order, click here.

Country Ham and Potato Soup

Friday, December 2nd, 2011

Fall calls out for hearty soups, and they don’t come much heartier than this one! I know, I know, “hearty” is a code word for fattening, but I served it to company so I didn’t have to sip it all myself.

My mother’s dear caregiver Pam gave me the recipe when she saw that I had leftover ham in the house, along with leeks and potatoes from our farm share.

Pam explained that she made the soup frequently when she cooked in the cafeteria at the local high school, where our friend Vicky worked as a baker.

One day Vicky tried the soup. She immediately asked, “Pam, will you marry me?”

It may not make you propose marriage—but it will certainly warm you up … and fill you up as well.

Pam’s Soup

Ingredients:

3 cups diced potatoes
5 slices bacon
3 leeks (mostly white part), cleaned and diced
2 tablespoons flour
1 quart warmed chicken broth
2 cups chopped ham
pepper to taste
1 cup milk
cream to taste

Instructions:

In lightly salted water bring the potato pieces to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer the potatoes for 10 minutes. Leave them in the water while you prepare the bacon.

In a heavy Dutch oven fry the bacon until it is crispy and brown. Remove the bacon pieces from the pan and set them aside. Remove all but 2 tablespoons of the bacon fat, reserving the remaining fat as well.

Use the bacon fat in the pan to sauté the leek pieces until they soften.

Push the leeks to the side of the pan and add 2 to 3 additional tablespoons of bacon fat. Whisk the flour into this fat to make a roux. Whisk for at least a minute or two to let the fat and the flour combine.

Gradually stir in the chicken stock; then stir in the ham, the potatoes, and 1 cup of the potato water. (You may discard the remaining potato water now.)

Bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 1/2 hour. Add the milk and a little cream to thin and lighten the soup.

Serve with the bacon (crumbled) as a garnish. Serves 6.