Tag Archives: ice cream

Summer, strawberries, pie and ice cream (oh my)

You know what I love about summer? It’s not the endless days, the sun, the vegetables growing in my garden—though those are all wonderful things. No, what I love most about summer is the smell of it. It comes in my bedroom window in the morning, a round warmth that smells vaguely like hot concrete. It’s a city smell, but I’ll take it.

Summer heralds the beginning of berry season, and as if on cue, the first BC strawberries made their appearance this week. I picked up two flats of them at the Main Street farmers market, along with some scandalously red rhubarb, and ta-da! we have pie. And by we, I mean me. And all of my best friends who have suddenly crawled out of the woodwork, pleading for pieces of pie.

If I could somehow manage to stop eating strawberries (seriously now, my fingers and kitchen are stained irrevocably scarlet), I would make strawberry ice cream.

What’s that, you say? You’d like a recipe for strawberry ice cream?

Conveniently, you can find my recipe for egg-free strawberry ice cream in the Summer 2011 issue of Edible Vancouver. Furthermore, it runs alongside a recipe for kick-ass chocolate wafer cookies, and then, if you’re feeling really ambitious, you can put the two together and make ice cream sandwiches. And, because I’m pedantic that way, I’d like to point out that said ice cream sandwiches appear on the cover of said magazine. You can pick up a copy at various points in Vancouver, but if the magazine goblins have stolen them all away—or you’re not in Vancouver—here’s the electronic edition.

Edible Vancouver Summer 2011

Photo and styling by Bambi Edlund


Peanut butter and chocolate

I apologize to everyone who is allergic to peanuts. Partly because this post is all about peanut butter, but mostly because it’s just so damn delicious.

Every year for the past three years, I have made a peanut butter banana chocolate pie on March 14. For you folks who aren’t math geeks, that’s pi(e) day. As in, 3/14 and 3.14. And really, an excuse to make and eat lots of pie.

Really, it’s an exercise in taking something that’s pretty cool, and making it extravagantly over-the-top. I looked at a recipe for peanut butter mousse pie in a chocolate crumb crust and thought, “you know, what that needs is some sliced bananas in the bottom of it, and maybe a layer of chocolate ganache on top for good measure.” And thus, the peanut butter banana chocolate pie was born. Next time around, I think I’ll take it further and caramelize the bananas in rum.

~~Science interlude~~

Peanuts are not a nut, they’re a legume. Ergo, people who are allergic to peanuts can still eat nuts – unless, of course, they’re allergic to nuts.

Peanuts are rich in an amino acid called arginine (arr-jin-een). Foods that are rich in arginine have been associated with higher likelihood of outbreaks of cold sores and, erm, outbreaks that are like cold sores. To be precise, it’s thought that an imbalance in the levels of two amino acids, arginine and lysine, is responsible for cold sores. (Outbreaks, that is. There’s a cute little virus that causes cold sores and the like in the first place.)

Incidentally, chocolate is also quite rich in arginine. Hrm. Arginine sure is tasty.

~~End interlude~~

There’s just something about peanut butter. It’s rich and luxurious, and that stick-your-tongue-to-the-roof-of-your-mouth feeling is comforting. It reminds me of being an awkward kid with pigtails. I’m pretty sure that when I was a kid, my parents gave me a spoonful of peanut butter just so I’d stop talking.

And peanut butter and chocolate? Divine. Baskin-robbins ice cream, all melty chocolatey with a ribbon of peanut butter stickiness? Yes, please.

I picked up some peanut buttery chocolatey things while in Seattle last week. It’s all research, you see. In my head, I’m creating the world’s best peanut butter and jelly bonbon. It’ll be one part peanut butter praline, one part grape jelly, and all kinds of grown-up, nostalgic tastiness.

Summer in the city

It’s hot and all my chocolate is in the fridge. I wish I were in the fridge.

Chocolate ice cream, that’s where it’s at.

Robin Chocolates mint chocolate chip truffle

We’re coming off a gorgeous weekend in Vancouver, and it’s almost warm enough to be summer. My favourite thing about summer – aside from being outside, barbecues, beach, sundresses and painted toenails – is mint chocolate chip ice cream from Baskin Robbins. It reminds me of being a kid, bouncing around in the backseat of my parents’ car as we went for dessert in the summer. We’d buy ice cream cones, wait for my dad to finish his, and then get in the car and drive to the beach.

The Baskin Robbins that we went to is now a vietnamese noodle house. Sigh.

Well, I had high hopes for Robin Chocolates‘ mint chocolate chip truffle. It’s a mint-flavoured white chocolate ganache, with little chocolate chips inside. The flavour is actually dead-on, and were it a shocking shade of pale green, I’d really think that it was the stuff of ice cream dreams. 

The mint is such a powerful flavour that you don’t taste the white chocolate except for the slightly cloying, milky aftertaste that white chocolate usually leaves in my mouth. I’m not the biggest fan of white chocolate, but I think that if you’re going to use it as a base, you should let its flavour come out just a wee bit. There was also a strange crunchiness to the edges of the ganache, like the outside edges had crystallized a little bit. Hrm.

I think I’ll stick to the Baskin Robbins.

You can buy Robin Chocolates here. Their online store isn’t up yet. If you ask very nicely they might ship stuff to you, but only if you live in the continental US.

Frasca: food, wine, and chocolate

“I always pick the second least expensive wine on the menu.”

I went with my friend Mark to Frasca, and he picked the bottle of wine. As you can see, Mark is a very discerning wine drinker. Lest you he’s a total plebe, he picked a lovely Cotes du Rhone that tasted like blackberries, smoke and spice. Nom.

Frasca’s beautiful. Once you get past the slightly confusing black curtain in the entrance, you find yourself in a wood-panelled room full of beautiful people and delirious smells. Aside from that, you might want to eat there because of the restaurant’s, for lack of a better word, pedigree. Among other accolades, co-owner Chef Lachlan MacKinnon-Patterson won the 2008 James Beard award for best chef in the southwestern US. Co-owner and wine director Bobby Stuckey is a Master Sommelier. Oh, and they met while working at The French Laundry. Huh.

Anyway, back to food. The market salad was clean and bright, with nice acidity. Garnished with two kinds of cheese and beauitfully salty salami, it was a great start to the meal. I’ll admit, though, that Mark’s braised lamb dish was exceptional.

Mark’s next course was a duck thigh ravioli, which was as delicious as it sounds. I had a lobster pasta alla guitara, thin noodles (think angel hair pasta, but with a fancier name) tossed with lobster and lemon. Rich, redolent and succulent, this dish could have been the end of the night and I would have gone home happy.

Of course, I kept going. We both got the Colorado beef shoulder, which was so. freaking. good. Enrobed in a salty, sweet, rich and acidic jus, the beef was cooked to exactly medium, all seared and crusty on the outside. Served on a ricotta cream with meaty mushrooms that soaked up all the jus, it was tasty. And then some.

For dessert, I had the house special bombolini, otherwise known as warm, deep-friend pillows of delicious. With a passionfruit centre in the middle and dusted with icing sugar, the bombolini looked a bit like doughy eggs. Served with homemade vanilla ice cream, the hot-cold combination was beautiful. Mark’s chocolate peanut butter torta was a peanut butter mousse on luscious chocolate cake, with banana ice cream.

And because that wasn’t enough, I insisted on getting a plate of house chocolates. More on those tomorrow.

Frasca Food & Wine
1738 Pearl St
Boulder, CO
Frasca Food & Wine on Urbanspoon

The Kitchen Cafe doesn’t disappoint

Before the name Chef Hugh Matheson mean anything to me (he won the 2009 IACP award for community service), I met several people who spoke reverently and enthusiastically about The Kitchen Cafe in Boulder. Well before it was trendy to do so, The Kitchen Cafe supported local farmers and producers, serving organic and seasonal food wherever possible.

There’s a proper restaurant downstairs, and a more casual, loungey atmosphere at The Kitchen [Upstairs]. Well, I headed [Upstairs] in search of tasty food and the promise of happy hour. From 5:30-6:30 pm each day, they feature a three-course prix fixe for $26 ($34 with wine pairings). Now, that’s not a cheap dinner, but it’s incredible value for amazing food and wine in a beautiful room.

First course was a rustic bruschetta with basil pesto (thick, rich and unctuous), mozzarella (clean, fresh and delicate), red onion (sweated and sweet), and radishes (crisp, without their customary bite) on top of toasty bread. Garnished with olive oil and parsley, this appetizer was really well-composed. All the flavours worked well together, and – more importantly – complemented each other. This was paired with a 2007 Ochoa Viura-Chardonnay from Spain (nice and light, with notes of roasted pineapple and mango).

Next up was a dish of seared scallops, sauteed romaine, roasted potatoes, and anchovy dressing. The dressing was to die for: rich, creamy and salty. The scallops were sweet and seared, the romaine kept its texture and sweetness, and the potatoes were perfectly cooked. It was an exercise in the perfect bite: the acidity and tartness of the dressing, met by the sweetness and crunch of romaine, mellowing to the sweetness and texture of the scallop, all on top of a solid foundation of potato that actually tasted like potato. It was paired with a 2001 Tempranillo from Ramirez de la Piscina that was a bit too tannic on its own, but mellowed out nicely with the food.

Dessert was a Knickerbocker Glory, which was so insanely delicious but simple. In fact, I’m going to steal it and say I invented it. You can too: here’s how. Start with a large, bulbous glass – a Chimay glass, if you want to be exact about things. Put in a scoop of homemade vanilla ice cream, creamy and fragrant with real vanilla. Top it with softly whipped chantilly cream and crumbled meringue bits. Add a few sliced strawberries, some berry syrup, and a drizzle of Chambord. Serve with a spoon and watch people swoon with delight as they eat a very grown-up ice cream sundae.

Even better, serve it with R&R Naughty Sticky dessert wine, all coy with its honey and toasted almond flavours. Naughty and sticky, indeed.

And because no meal is complete without chocolate, Rick the bartender let me try a homemade chocolate bar: 72% dark chocolate with walnuts and sea salt. This was not a demure salted chocolate. The salt was front and centre. But then it stepped aside to let the walnuts – all nutty, tender and crumbly – shine. And then the 72% dark chocolate brought its bittersweetness to the table.

I have my doubts as to whether Rick really wanted my “professional opinion,” because he knew that it was delicious. But hey, I’m happy to oblige.

The Kitchen Cafe and The Kitchen [Upstairs]
1039 Pearl Street
Boulder, CO
The Kitchen on Urbanspoon

NYC: the legendary Ferrara Cafe

Ferrara Cafe
(Little Italy)

While in New York, I spent many evenings at Ferrara Cafe. There were so many things to try, and just too little time. Tragic.

They make a mean affogato: ice cream doused with searing hot espresso. You have to be careful on busy nights, though – the affogato can sit on the counter too long before it arrives at your table, which just ruins the entire point. Specify that you want the ice cream super cold, and the espresso super hot. I tried it once with vanilla gelato (too sweet) and once with coffee gelato (just right). It would also be pretty tasty with chocolate gelato, methinks.

There are tons of tasty things in the bakery case. Just pick one. You really can’t go wrong. You can do take out, or have a seat in the cafe.

And I dare you not to be tempted by the mountain of torrone that greets you as you walk in the door. Nuts and candied fruit, all wrapped in a sticky sweet honey meringue? How can you possibly resist?

Ferrara Cafe
195 Grand Street
New York, NY