Peppermint Patty Ice Cream

At 6:34 pm on 6/20/2016, the Summer Solstice officially begins.

Oh boy has it been hot the past two weekends!  So happy we made the investment in that swamp cooler six years ago. We’ve already had two porch parties since Memorial Day, but now we are just kicking back and enjoying the cool house and the fruits of our garden.

We’ve had a mint plant for a few years. I mostly used the leaves for garnish, to steep in hot water or in cold water. But I have discovered a few more recipes here and there to make the mint the star of the recipe.

mint plant

This is one of our mint plants. It has behaved itself and not spread out like crazy as mint can do. We have another mint plant that did go wild last year. My husband ripped it out but the little bug-gar keeps sprouting little offspring. They are similar plants but the leaves are distinctly different.  I am wondering if this well-behaved mint plant is spearmint flavored and the wild mint plant, peppermint in flavor. Hmmmm?

I was dreaming of ice cream in this heat so I perused my recipe books. After looking them over and reading reviews about type of ice cream, I decided to combine two recipes into one from the Cuisinart recipe booklet and from Alton Brown’s Good Eats 2: The Middle Years cookbook.

cream and mint

Ingredients:

3 cups half and half

1 cup heavy cream

8 large egg yolks

9 oz sugar

large bunch of mint leaves

3-6 oz of peppermint patties candy coarsely chopped

1 tsp vanilla

Directions:

Combine the half and half and cream in a saucepan and bring to simmer over medium heat stirring occasionally. Then remove from heat and add the mint leaves allowing them to steep for 20-30 minutes.

steeping the leaves

Whisk the egg yolks in a large mixing bowl until they lighten in color, then add in the sugar and mix until smooth.

Remove or strain the cream and mint mixture. Then temper the egg yolk and sugar mixture by ladling 1/3 of the cream mixture into the bowl whisking constantly. Then place the tempered cream and egg yolk mixture back into the saucepan. Cook over low heat, stirring frequently until the custard thickens to coat the back of a spoon or a temp of 170-175 degrees F.

heating the mixture to 170 degrees F

Transfer the custard into a new bowl or wash out the egg yolk bowl and then add the vanilla and cool at room temperature for 30 minutes. Cover and refrigerate for 8-10 hours (or overnight)

fresh from the churn

Pour the mixture into the prepped ice cream maker then add the candy and process for 20 minutes.

creamy mint chip ice-cream

Serve as soft serve and place into a container to freeze and hard for 3-4 hours.

Patty’s Points:

1.I like the frozen custard or French-style type of ice cream which must contain 1.4 percent egg yolk solids to meet that definition.

2.You can substitute 1 teaspoon of peppermint oil instead of mint leaves but you would add it after the tempering of the egg yolks and cream mixture and omit the vanilla.

3.You can substitute the peppermint patties with mint chocolate chips or with good shaved dark chocolate and white chocolate.

4.I LOVE my new find the Tovolo Glide-a-scoop Ice cream container

Tevolo

It has two layers, Inner for the ice cream and Outer to insulate it from over-freezing and protecting it from forming ice crystals
Two parts of Tevolo

It also is easy to store, taking up less space than traditional ice cream containers. It cost about $15.00 and I had a 10% off coupon which was nice.

storing the ice-cream

5. The mint had more of a spearmint taste to it and it gave the cream a slight green color. I like it but I like peppermint better. I’ll have to try the wild mints leaves to see if it has more of a peppermint flavor. You could add a few drops of green food coloring to get the full color experience of mint.

6.Some of the recipes called for more cream (3 cups) and whole milk        (1 1/2 cups) or varying amounts of cream 2 cups half and half to 1 cup cream. Use whatever combo you wish for your taste.

7. Another option would be to use the peppermint oil 1 tsp and add crushed peppermint candies or candy canes and make it festive for the Christmas holidays.

Welcome Summer – We’re so glad you are here!

I’m going to stay inside where it is cool.

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My favorite things Australia

Water served in wine bottlesMy husband and I returned from Australia about 100 days ago. We jumped back into the stress of work upon our return. Lucky for us, the house was clean and work tasks were addressed so the re-entry shock was minimal. After the lovely sunshine of Australia we returned to a Mother’s Day snowstorm and a rainy spring. I’ve now come out of my shell, we’re in the dog days of summer and it’s nearly Labor Day. It’s time to wrap up all things I loved about the Land Down Under.

1. Bottles of water served in wine bottles.

bottles of water

2. Cooking and eating with old friends

anne and me

 Anne and her husband Jerry, have been friends with Bob since for 30+ years. They moved to Melbourne from the US a year ago and we learned about living the Australian way. Anne loves the plentiful number of Chinese markets, restaurants, and community they are living in. She said she wished she could be in our cooking club and I wished she could be also. She is an experimental cook, trying new techniques and ingredients to make the dish interesting.

egg drop frothing

egg drop soup

stir fried veggies

steamed chicken

Chinese chicken soup

 This is Lai-fu. His name means good luck comes in Chinese.

Lai-fu good luck comes

Dinner and after dinner with the Willemens and Donovans on The Rocks in the Sydney Harbour!

eating in sydney

 

group picture at The Rocks

3. Touring the Yarra Valley. The lovely countryside north of Melbourne. Rolling hills, vineyards, fruit trees, dairy cows, and sheep.  Vineyards, tasting rooms, wine, cheese, cured meats, and restaurants.

chandon view from Chandon

Yering Station

wine glassess

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yarra Valley Dairy goat cheese

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. Comic relief. My dear husband travels all over the world for his job. One would think he had a good sense of direction. But when there are no deadlines to meet, he wanders.  The first night he convinced us to jump on a bus after a rugby game in Brisbane saying it was the way home. It was heading north to the suburbs. I said he could wander but we weren’t going to follow any more.

He drank a lovely glass of wine from Squitchy Lane at lunch. We drove and twisted through the country back roads to discover it was not open during the week.

Squitchy Lane

view from Squitchy Lane

We found a perfect bottle of wine to sum up his trip.

the wanderer wine

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. The natural wonders

beach

palm tree

great barrier reef

crocodile

koala

rainforest

sand crabs

12 apostles

6. The Sydney Harbour

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7. Reuniting with family

the mining sculpture

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Cheers Australia! Until we meet again. Let’s hope we don’t wait 27 more years to pass until we meet again.

Australian coffee and tea chronicles

My husband and I spent two weeks visiting our son who lives in Australia. Our last visit to Australia was 27 years ago when I was about my son’s age. Love the big hair, eh-yea?Patty & koala

The food and drink were wonderful, never had a bad meal. Coffee and tea were available everywhere.

The Australians love their coffee, drinking it all day and late into the night. Coffee shops are on every corner and most of them are not marketed chain stores. Lattes are called flat whites, pictured above.  At home in the U.S. I have pretty much given up coffee and milk, so drinking these were a leap of faith. The cows in Australia must be happier because the milk was creamier and frothier and didn’t make me ill. The baristas made each cup of flat white with love swirling me their signature on each one whether it was a ceramic or paper cup. I saw very few Starbucks but McDonald’s restaurants were quite prominent and they all had McCafe’s inside. McCafe’s served coffee and tea and were lovely respites serving, wait for it…..macarons!

I didn’t abandon my love for hot tea. It was everywhere also. All of the hotels we stayed at had kettles to boil water for tea.

The best part about drinking coffee or tea at a shop was enjoying a sweet or pastry.

Tim Tams are Australian favorites so I stocked up at duty free on my way home. They are chocolate covered cookies with caramel filling. They now come in a variety of flavors.

Tim Tams

Family friends from Australia had told us about the Tim Tam Slam for years. The first coffee shop we saw in the Brisbane airport validated that it really exists. The steps are: 1) bite off the diagonal corners of the Tim Tam. 2) use it as a straw to slurp up a warm cup of tea or coffee, 3) pop it in your mouth and enjoy the melted Tim Tam.

tim tam slam

We’ve been home for a few weeks now. I have returned to my daily spot of tea, sans sweets and pastries. The relaxed feeling of sipping coffee or tea lingers in memory. A moment of civility. Cheers.

great barrier reef

Spring Green

I spent the past week in the snowy mountains. Upon returning home the trees have burst out with flowers, shoots of grass have sprouted, and the sun has warmed the earth.  I’m feeling green. The color of spring.

Two months ago for the tea party I made goodie bags with Matcha green tea. I started drinking it during menopausal years for an energy boost. According to Wikipedia Matcha green tea is a finely milled or fine powder green tea.  Japanese tea ceremonies focus on the preparation, serving, and drinking of matcha. Matcha is used to flavor and dye foods such as sobi noodles, ice cream, pastries and even a Japanese candy called wagashi.

Matcha is made from shade-grown tea leaves. The preparation of matcha starts several weeks before harvest & can last up to 20 days, when the tea bushes are covered to prevent direct sunlight.This slows down growth, stimulates an increase in chlorophyll levels, turns the leaves a darker shade of green, and causes the production of amino acids in particular L-Theanine. Only the finest tea buds are hand-picked. After harvesting, if the leaves are rolled out before drying, the result will be auokuro tea. If the leaves are laid out flat to dry, they will crumble somewhat and become known as tencha. Tenchacan then be de-veined, de-stemmed, and stone-ground to the fine, bright green, talc-like powder known as matcha.

It can take up to one hour to grind 30 grams of matcha. Now I know why it is so expensive. I purchased 1.5 ounces for $14.

Matcha green tea

My fellow blogger, jothetartqueen has made many recipes with Matcha green tea. She is a trained chef and I appreciate her talents and daring skills.

For my challenge I made macarons and candy laced with matcha.I’ve made macarons before check out this earlier posting.

Match tea macarons from  Mélanger :: to mix

100 g egg whites

35 g egg white powder

125 g almond meal

125 g powdered sugar

2 tsp Matcha green tea powder

Syrup: 150 g sugar and 50 ml water

Directions

Process the almond meal and icing sugar together.  In a mixer, whip half the egg whites to soft peaks.  Meanwhile, in a saucepan bring the water and sugar for the syrup to 117C (or 242F) on a candy thermometer.  Once ready, slowly add the boiling syrup to the egg whites and continue to whip on medium speed until they thick and shiny and are completely cooled (about 10 minutes).  At the final changes of whipping the meringue, and add the matcha tea powder.  Mix the remaining egg whites to the sifted almond mixture and fold into the meringue in four parts.

green tea macarons

Pipe macarons on lined baking sheets. Double up your baking sheets if you do not have professional grade quality.  Let your macarons sit at room temperature for 30-60 minutes. Bake at 140C or 280F for 15-18 minutes.  Fill with ganache or filling of your choice.  Refrigerate to set.

baking sheets of macarons

Chocolate ganache 

120g dark chocolate, chopped

1/2 cup heavy cream

Directions

Heat cream until bubbles form around the edge of the pan.  Pour over the chocolate.  Let sit for 2-3 minutes and then stir.  Let cool then transfer to the refrigerator to thicken.


chocolate ganache

the final product

Matcha White Chocolate Pistachio Cups – The Sweetest Kitchen

Makes about 10-12 mini cups

Ingredients
For the outer shell:
140 grams good quality white chocolate (at least 30% cocoa solids)
About 1/2 teaspoon Matcha – or enough to get a nice pastel green color

For the filling:
1 cup pistachios, shells removed
pinch of salt
1 tablespoon flavorless oil, but you may need less or slightly more (I used canola)
pinch or two of Matcha
25g icing sugar

For the filling, place pistachios and salt in a food processor and blend until it starts coming together in a ball. This could take up to 15 minutes and you’ll have to scrape down the sides of the bowl often. If you’ve ever made your own nut butter, it’s basically the same process. With the motor running, add some oil slowly until the nut butter begins to thin out. Do not use too much though as you don’t want it to be runny. About the consistency of commercially prepared peanut butter is good. Add a pinch (or two if you like) of Matcha to the nut butter and blend again until well combined.  Set aside.

paste

Place 12 mini cupcake wrappers into a mini cupcake baking tray. Note, I only got 11 1/2 cups using this recipe!

For the outer shell, melt chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water, stirring constantly. Do not let the bowl touch the water, and do not get water into the chocolate. When chocolate is melted and smooth, remove from heat, immediately sift over matcha and stir until well combined and matcha is dissolved. Do this in small amounts so you can ensure you get the green color you want. If you put in too much matcha, you might get an unappealing dark green color that no one wants to eat!

When you reach your desired color, place about 1 even teaspoon of melted chocolate into each mini cupcake liner. Using the back of a small spoon, bring the chocolate up the sides of the paper liners and smooth down the bottom to make it flat. Repeat for each liner. Place the tray in the refrigerator for about 15-20 minutes to set.

Measure 96 grams of pistachio butter and transfer this amount to a clean bowl. Sift over the icing sugar and stir (or use your hands) to thoroughly combine. Form 12 balls from the pistachio butter/icing sugar mixture using about 1 teaspoon, just slightly rounded, each. Place on a clean surface. Take out the baking tray from the refrigerator, ensure the chocolate is hardened, then slightly flatten the pistachio balls with the palm of your hand and place 1 ball into each chocolate cup.

candy cups

Pour 1 teaspoon of chocolate (you may need to re-melt it) on top of each pistachio ball, ensuring the filling is completely covered. To get a smooth top, do not use a spoon or knife to flatten or spread it; just pick up the tray and tilt it around (you may need to tap it gently on the countertop) to get the chocolate to cover the filling and you should end up with a completely smooth top. Repeat for each cup. Refrigerate until set, around an hour.

To serve, let the cups come to room temperature and for a more intense matcha flavor, dust some matcha over the top of the cups.

 

tea cup

 

Patty’s Points:

1. Loose green tea that is steeped, cannot be blended into Matcha tea. I tried doing that before reading the Wikipedia article. How silly! A coffee and tea shop owner thought it was a good day also. I was also surprised she had never heard of matcha green tea. Only a few shops carry Matcha green tea. I have found better prices on the internet but haven’t delved into purchasing it as yet. I have purchased “shots” of Match green tea that was added to a smoothie which was yummy.

2. Macarons are fun to make, now that I have mastered them. I whipped out the batches in about 2-3 hours. I sprinkled the Matcha tea atop each cookie for a nice accent.

3. The candies were actually pretty easy to make. Unsalted pistachios can take a while to find, look somewhere where they have bulk items. These candies are so rich, they don’t need any additional salt so try to get the unsalted type.  I had to make adjustments to the amount of powdered (icing) sugar so make sure to taste it as you mix it.

4. These treats are quite rich, so eating one or even half of one was plenty for me to sample.  They made nice treat bags.

What a fun way to use tea! Another culinary adventure!

 

Culinary Tea Party


Culinary Tea cookbook

The Fearless Cooking Club and friends gathered to celebrate all things tea. We had food steeped from tea in eggs, candy, fruits, vegetables, and salmon. We also drank tea as well. Culinary Tea written by Cynthia Gold, the tea sommelier at the Boston Park Plaza Hotel and Towers, was the basis of most of the recipes. Char visited Boston last fall and enjoyed an afternoon tea a the hotel. She delighted us with her cooking skills and beautiful setting to enjoy a culinary tea.

Char and Debbie greeted us at the door with a flute of champagne infused with raspberry truffle tea syrup. Wow!

hostess and greeter

the culinary tea table

Each guest was presented with a card to keep track of types of teas tasted.

place setting

culinary tea card

We started with a flowering tea pod or bud.

pouring the water

After pouring hot water atop, the bud opens into a beautiful flower

flowering tea

Our first course was marbled eggs. They were hard boiled eggs, the shells cracked but left intact then steeped in green tea with brown sugar. After two days of steeping in the refrigerator, the shells were removed and voila marbled eggs.

marbled eggs

The marbled egg was served with rose petal and wine salts and mixed green salad.

marbled egg, flavored salts

Each guest brought a tea pot. We all went around the room telling the story of our teapot and the type of tea we were sampling. This was an opportunity to share our teas with others.

tell us about your tea pot

The main course was salmon en papillote steeped with darjeeling tea and acorn squash with chai cherry walnut tea.

Salmon en papillate with acorn squash

To cleanse our palate before dessert we had a Blackberry tea sorbet. I was surprised it wasn’t made with a blackberry tea. Instead fresh blackberries, sugar and Darjeeling or Assam tea.

blackberry tea sorbet

And for dessert (I was so full by this point), Riesling Poached Pears with Cardamon cream and

White Chocolate chai and Earl Grey Chocolate  truffles

poached pears and truffles

Patty’s Points:

1) Everything was sumptuous and beautiful. Char hit a high mark with her beautiful presentation and culinary tea skills. Her dining room was a beautiful tea room.

2) Char said that if she could change one thing she would’ve put more cracks in the egg shells before steeping them in the tea for 48 hours to add more marbling. I thought they were wonderful. The salts made of rose petals and wine were Mary Beth’s contribution from her trip to Europe this past fall. Thanks Mary Beth, they were a spectacular addition.

2) Everyone had a touching story to tell about their tea pots, given to them by loved ones or special memories of purchasing it. I didn’t have a remarkable story to tell about my tea pot, I had just purchased a new one the day before as I had broken mine. Pictured below is a combination tea pot and cup that belonged to my mother. She purchased it in Ireland (I believe), made in Galway. My father is caring for it at present. I carefully dusted the glass shelving it sits on along with twelve Irish coffee cups. I hope to collect it someday.

Irish teapot and cup

Thank you Char for a wonderful afternoon of all things tea!

The Polish Dinner Party

Babuska doll

The Fearless Cookers have three members who are of Polish descent with family names of Bilikiewicz, Figinski, Wisniewski. It was just a matter of time before we had a Polish celebration.

Last fall when we went to a Polish restaurant to celebrate Joy’s birthday at Cracovia.  We decided right there we would have our Polish dinner party. Now that the holidays are over, we could focus on cooking and learning some new recipes. We picked a weekend with no football and gathered the group and spouses.

All good cooking adventures begin with a shopping trip. We started at the Chicago Market in our neighborhood. The website link is all in Polish.

Chicago Market

Authentic Polish food, shipped in  from Chicago distributers, the hometown of the owner, Krystyna. What a wonderful, gracious person who helped us with our shopping list. There were also Polish-Colorado food items like locally produced honey.

owner of Chicago Market

Menu

Golumbki (pronounced gwumb – key)

Polish sausage and sauerkraut

Pierogis

Potatoes

Cold beet borscht

Chruscki

Belvedere Vodka

IMG_3662Golumbki, aka stuffed cabbage or cabbage rolls, are numerous in versions. We made spicy, medium and plain versions; some with or without tomato sauce.

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Next up were Chrusckis. These lovely delicate fried pastries that took a village to make.

mixing the dough

kneading the dough

cutting the dough

making the bow ties

frying

draining

finished chrusckis

Patty’s Points:

1.  I had never heard of Cabbage rolls until I was an adult and thought they sounded odd. But, if you grew up in Chicago, Baltimore or Philadelphia you would find pockets of Polish heritage. Cabbage rolls to me, were akin to church ladies gathering together to make, sell or serve for a potluck. If you searched the internet you would also find that different types of cabbage rolls native to some South Pacific and Asian cultures as well.

2. I had never understood how to separate the cabbage leaves from the head until I saw this website on how to softened cabbage leaves. Boy, did that help!

3.  Wrapping cabbage leaves around the stuffing of meat can be done two ways: like wrapping a burrito or “pinning” the leaves together with a toothpick while steaming. It depends on how large the cabbage leaf is that you are working with. You can steamed them on a stove top, bake in the oven, or heat in a crockpot. Pretty versatile. You can make them plain or place a tomato sauce atop.

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4. Chrusckis are also a group project. Joy said that they should never be made solo. As you can see in the above pictures, there are many steps involved. Mixing the ingredients, kneading the dough, rolling it to a proper thickness, frying at the right temperature, draining and sprinkling with icing sugar. We actually used a pasta roller to get it a good thickness.

5. There are numerous recipes for chrusckis some have baking powder, some without. Joy referenced a recipe from a friend from  her teenage years .

Bow Ties from Alvena Brudzinski 

1 heaping TBSP butter

4 whole eggs

1 oz whiskey

1 tsp vanilla

4 C flour

3 TBSP baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

1 small can Pet (evaporated) milk (about 6 oz)

Directions:

Mix butter, eggs, vanilla, and whiskey.

Mix flour, salt, and baking powder.

Add dry mix to egg mix gradually at the same time add the evaporated milk gradually.

Knead the dough

Roll thin, cut into strips, cut a slit and pull one end of the dough through the slit.

Fry in vegetable oil or Crisco (325 degrees)

Drain on paper towels or paper bags

Dust heavily with powdered sugar.

Joy kept us organized with all the menu items to combine. A Polish village of Fearless Cooks

Chruscki makers

the babushka picture

Oh we all donned a babushka before sitting down to eat.

the spread

 Belvedere vodka is Polish vodka We kept cold in the front yard snow bank.

Belvedere vodka

I think that is a lovely picture worth advertisement in a magazine eh?