July 2010


I should confess, this kat gets weak at the knees for good key lime pie. I had been wanting to make a new gelato flavor and was leaning toward lemon till I saw a recipe with sweetened condensed milk–canned bliss!–and immediately turned my thoughts to key lime pahhh.

I took Nellie & Joe’s key lime pie recipe, added some fresh lemon zest and combined it with a basic gelato recipe. It’s summery, citrusy-bright with cinnamon graham crumbs to complete the key lime pie flavor. I think you’re gonna love it–I know I had a hard time stopping myself from eating little bowls of the custard before I even spun it up, then shamelessly licked every associated bowl, spatula and the dasher afterwards. Mmmmm!

KEY LIME PIE GELATO

1.5 cups whole milk
1 can sweetened condensed milk
4 large egg yolks
1/3 vanilla bean pod, split and scraped (or ½ teaspoon of vanilla extract)
½ cup key lime juice (I used Nellie & Joe’s)
2 teaspoons lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon salt
cinnamon grahams, crushed (for topping)

Heat milk and vanilla on medium to  medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, till small bubbles form at edge of pan. Remove from heat.

Beat together egg yolks and sweetened condensed milk till smooth. Temper egg mixture by slowly adding to hot milk, whisking constantly. Cook over medium-high heat and continue to whisk until mixture reaches 160 degrees F and custard coats the back of a spoon. Do not let it boil!

Strain through fine-mesh sieve into clean bowl, let cool to room temperature. Stir in salt, lime juice and lemon zest. You can make an ice bath to speed up the process. Chill custard overnight or at least four hours.

Mmmmm...zesty!

Just before turning the chilled custard into your ice cream maker, place the custard and the dasher from your machine into the freezer for up to 10 minutes. And now, into the spin cycle: process according to your ice cream machine’s directions.

Gelato--finito!

Note: after I had smoothed all the gelato into its storage container and set about licking the dasher, I noticed clumps of lemon zest had gathered on it. OOPS! Well, some of it is still in the gelato. You might want to carefully scrape the dasher to ensure the zest goes where it belongs…though it was a tasty, zesty lick, too! NOM! Top each serving with crumbled grahams.

Ready to lick!

This is such a creamy, dreamy gelato–probably the most intense flavor and richest texture I’ve made so far. If you’ve ever been to the Florida Keys and enjoyed frozen key lime pie on a stick, this comes very close–minus the stick and the chocolate dip. So transport yourself, bite by bite, lick by lick–no lines, no luggage, no ticket, no turbulence, just pure pleasure. Enjoy the ride!

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I almost feel guilty posting this as a recipe as it’s just something I’ve been throwing together lately, but if you need an idea for a quick ‘n tasty dinner, here is one! And as part of my ongoing effort to increase my iron intake, it’s a great way to cook a bag of spinach in the iron skillet.

Sadly, no more native spinach in my neck o’the woods till September, so says the man at the farm stand. Like yours truly, spinach doesn’t care much for extreme heat (understatement!), so I had to pick up a bag at the store this time.

SPINACH ‘N SAUSAGE AGLIO E OLIO

2 cloves garlic, pressed
oil for the bottom of your cast iron pan (who measures?!)
1 bag spinach, rinsed (or native if you have it)
2 sausage patties (my local favorite is Public Market’s chicken sausage)
1/2 pound of your favorite pasta
1 tablespoon (or less) of butter

Set a pot of water to boil so you can get your pasta cookin’. Meantime, sautee garlic in a cast iron skillet. Add sausage, breaking up into bite-sized pieces.

When sausage is cooked, add spinach to skillet and cover till it wilts.

Toss cooked pasta with spinach/sausage mixture and add a pat of butter or so ’cause, as always, butter makes it better! Serve with pecorino romano and crushed red pepper.

Oh, and now for a little lesson in Italian dialects. I know it’s not book Italian, but this dish is–in my mind, anyway–phonetically ah lee ohl. That’s how I always heard it said here in my hometown–sister city of Melilli, Sicily–where we drop final vowels and order gabbagoal in the deli and make manigawt at home. My guess is if you’re anywhere in New England, you know EXACTLY what I’m talkin’ about. Eh, cumpari! Tippity-tippity-ta!

milk, cream, herbs 'n vanilla...mmmmm

 Hot fun in the summertime turns this kat’s thoughts to cooler sweet indulgences–like gelato. Mint is flourishing on the deck and I wanted to change up last year’s lavender mint ice cream–tastes great, less fattening. 

a cuppa mint

 Not a lavender fan? No worries, leave it out and enjoy a fresh mint gelato. Add shards of chocolate to create a fine mint chocolate chip. The kitchen is your playground, after all! 

LAVENDER MINT GELATO

2 ¼ cups milk (I used 1% Over the Moon, which tastes like whole milk)
¼ cup heavy cream
1 cup fresh mint leaves
1 tablespoon dried lavender (or 2 tablespoons fresh lavender)
¼ of a vanilla bean, split and scraped (or ½ teaspoon vanilla extract)
5 large egg yolks at room temperature
2/3 cup sugar, divided (1/3 cup for milk mixture; 1/3 cup for egg yolks)
¼ teaspoon coarse salt

Heat milk, cream, mint, lavender, 1/3 cup sugar and vanilla bean in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir and watch for small bubbles to form at the edge of the pan. Remove from heat, cover and let steep for 30 minutes. 

Strain liquid using a fine-mesh sieve, pressing on the leaves to extract all the liquid. 

In a medium bowl, beat together the egg yolks and sugars with a whisk until thick; set aside. 

Combine egg mixture with milk mixture in saucepan. Add salt. Cook over medium-high heat and continue to whisk until mixture reaches 170 degrees F. Do not let it boil! 

Custard is ready to chill.

 Using a fine-mesh sieve, strain into a clean bowl. Refrigerate at least four hours or overnight. 

Just before turning the chilled custard into your ice cream maker, place the custard and the dasher from your machine into the freezer for up to 10 minutes. And now, it’s time to go for a spin: process according to your ice cream machine’s directions. 

Lavender Mint Gelato

Wanna lick?

I’ll get back to you soon with something tasty to do with the five egg whites you’ve got leftover. Stay cool and I’ll try to do the same! 

HELLO AGAIN–ABOUT THE EGG WHITES!
I didn’t forget! I revisited these yummy flourless chocolate cookies from a few months back, but with a Mexican twist this time. Rather than raspberries and white chocolate, I added:

½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon ancho chili powder
¼ teaspoon chipotle

From your egg whites, do your best to subtract 2 tablespoons’ worth (to equal one egg).
18 minutes will give you a crispy cookie.
Around the 15 minute mark produces a cookie with a chewy, brownie-like texture.
Have fun!

Talk about fruit basket upset: I had a handful of rhubarb stalks in the fridge, picked from our friends’ garden, some blueberries leftover from last week and a small native peach. What to do?

Sometimes you’ve just gotta ride the nostalgia train–what can I say but the classics endure. Nanny’s apple crisp as a base recipe can be used for any variety of fruits, varying the sugar depending on what you use. I halved her recipe and made a small fruit crisp with a personal portion, too. And god, it was good.

Double this recipe and you can bake in an 8-inch square pan rather than a smaller casserole dish as I did.

NANNY’S FRUIT CRISP
from the recipe files of Eva Maturo & Hope Simmons

FOR FRUIT
2 cups fruit: 1 cup rhubarb, some blueberries and a small peach
2 teaspoons corn starch
1/2 cup sugar

FOR CRISP
4 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup quick oats
1/3 cup sugar
3 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon water

Start with two cups of fruit.

Butter a small casserole dish. Combine fruit with sugar and corn starch to coat.

Place fruit in dish(es).

Melt butter in skillet. Add quick oats and saute, stirring constantly, 3 minutes or a little more to get the oats lightly browned.

Mix together sugar, flour, cinnamon and salt. Stir into oat mixture.

Spread mixture over fruit.

Sprinkle water. Bake at 400 degrees F 30 minutes or until fruit is tender. Top with ice cream or whipped cream if you like, but this kat likes it just the way it is. It’s great for breakfast or dessert or anything in between!

Happy (belated) 4th of July!

Now that I’ve moved on to the next native berry and picked my first blues of the season, I was ready to make a third variation on my cherry almond cake from few weeks back…until my friend Christina, a.k.a. Culinspiration, tempted me by sharing a link for raspberry frangipane cake. Oooooh! 

I’m a fool for all things almondy. But as much as a sugar girl as I am, there was QUITE A BIT in the first recipe I saw–not to mention 2 sticks o’butter and almond paste, which is already plenty sweet. Hmm. So I poked around, found an old Bon Appétit recipe, then hacked it to come up with the following. It is dense, delicious, all sorts of almondy and bursting with blueberries. Better still, it’s impressively good for being so darned low-fuss. 

Speaking of fuss, some recipes make things harder than they need to be! Case in point: parchment paper. I have a brand-new,  nonstick springform pan (thank you, IKEA!). I buttered it, baked my cake  et voilà–perfection. No need to go nuts and cut out rounds of parchment like paper dollies. Trust me, we can keep it simple. 

KATTY’S BLUEBERRY FRANGIPANE CAKE 

butter to grease pan
1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted
3 large eggs
2/3 cup sugar
½ cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup milk (as usual, I used Simply Smart 1% milk that tastes like whole milk)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups fresh blueberries
1 7-oz. tube almond paste 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter 8-inch diameter springform pan. Toast almonds and sprinkle evenly over bottom of springform pan. 

 

Use mixer to beat 2 eggs, sugar, oil, milk and vanilla till smooth. Add flour and salt, beat just till combined. Stir in blueberries. 

Hey, batter batter!

 Spread batter evenly over almonds. 

Layer one is done!

Cut almond paste into small pieces. Use mixer to beat 1 egg and paste till just blended. Spoon almond mixture over cake batter and smooth with a knife or spatula. 

 

Bake till toothpick inserted into center comes out clean–about 50 minutes. 

 

Run knife around perimeter of pan to loosen cake. “Unbuckle” pan and transfer to a serving plate. 

Unbuckled!

 Serve warm or at room temp. I recommend sending any additional slices for a brief ride in the microwave before serving. 

 

Happy belated 4th of July from Katty’s Kitchen! 

April Katt salutes everyone who has served--past and present!

Remember that old Martini & Rossi commercial from the 70s? “Martini & Rossi on the rocks–say yes!” If you like lavender (I love!), you’ll wanna say yes to these two easy recipes.

We recently went out for adult beverages at a local wine bar. I was intrigued by a lavender martini with Stoli Vanil and had to have it. Quite delicious and so refreshing on a hot summer night!

Luckily, it’s easy to replicate, but I’m doin’ it on the rocks (!) to keep it extra cool. Now you can, too. Here we go.

LAVENDER SIMPLE SYRUP

½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup water
1 ½ tablespoons dried lavender

Bring ingredients to a boil.

When sugar is completely dissolved, let cool and store in the fridge. Strain lavender buds before using in your drink.

Feel free to double–I make half batches at a time since it’s so easy to throw together…and the Yankee in me hates to throw anything away! Look how pretty!

And now, for the cocktail part of the program.

LAVENDER MARTINI

Crush ice.
Pour 1/4 cup Stoli Vanil over ice.
Squeeze a wedge of lemon.
Add 1 tablespoon of lavender simple syrup.
Add a splash of sparkling Pellegrino or soda/seltzer.
Stir with a straw and enjoy!
It’s martini time (recorded live at Toad’s Place, New Haven)!

Martini & lavender on the rocks–say yes! Yeahhhhh!