Saturday, July 18, 2015

Carrot Ice Cream With Salted Caramel

Nothing beats a really good carrot. They are just so tasty! Sweet, simple, crunchy, aromatic and awesome! Carrots and I had a moment a few weekends ago when I got some really tasty ones in my CSA box from South Central Farmers Cooperative. They were just so good and I just got so inspired. I think we tend to dismiss carrots as a whole, as they are very common and we have been eating them since we were wee babes. Carrots have a lot of potential and should not be overlooked!

Imagine tasting a carrot for the first time....I am pretty sure it would blow your mind.

Before I get started about ice cream, here is a bit about carrots. I have also included links to Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds if you are interested in growing these awesome things!

Carrots are pretty much always in season, and are easy to grow. They are high in fiber and antioxidants and good for digestive, dental, eye and heart health. They come in all sorts of crazy colors and shapes. Carrots were domesticated from the wild carrot Daucus Carota that is native to Europe and Southwest Asia. The wild carrot is not very palatable (quite bitter) and is woody. It's naturally occurring subspecies, Sativus, was selectively bread to be the carrot we know today. The domesticated carrot originated in Persia (Afghanistan and Iran) around 1,100 years ago and they were yellow and purple, not the orange color commonly associated.

Yellow carrots like the Amarillo Carrot, Jaune Obtuse du Doubs and the Lobbericher Yellow  are high in lutein and xanthophyll, which are good for eye health, helping to prevent macular degeneration and cataracts. Studies have also shown that they are very helpful in preventing cardiovascular disease as well.

Purple carrots like the Cosmic Purple,  Pusa Atica Black Carrot and the Spanish Black Carrot contain the highest amount of the antioxidant anthocyanin and vitamin A (specifically the black carrots), which, along with these carrot's anti-inflammatory and anti-carcinogenic properties, can be useful in treating cancers and Alzheimer's, as well as also being good for digestive, colon, and heart health.

As carrot cultivation spread from Afghanistan, red and purple became popular in Asia.

Red carrots like the Atomic Red are super high in lycopene which is an antioxidant that also gives tomatoes and watermelon their red color. It has also been linked to help prevent cancer and is good for heart health like it's purple and yellow sisters.

Yellow, orange and white carrots took over Europe, and then made their way to America where the orange varietals are the most popular, having been brought over by european settlers to colonial America in the 17th century.

White carrots like the Lunar White and the Snow White have all the same benefits as the others in regards to fiber.

The orange carrot is the most popular today, and was developed in the Netherlands in the 17th century. They are exceptionally high in betacarotene that the body metabolizes into vitamin A which helps vision health, as well as helping white blood cells fight infection. Some orange carrot varietals are the Oxheart, Parisienne, Nantes, Muscade, Kuroda.......and any more.

And last of but not least, don't forget carrot tops! They are not poisonous, contrary to popular belief! They are very high in vitamin K which is good for bone health, and very high in potassium which can help prevent Osteoporosis and lower blood pressure.  Add to salads, make pesto! Carrot top pesto is amazing. Sometime I will post about it. Believe it or not, carrots were originally grown for their aromatic tops before being cultivated as a root vegetable. Some of it's close relatives are still grown for their foliage and seeds, such as parsley, fennel, dill and cumin. They do all smell a bit similar, do they not? You can definitely tell they are related, I think.

And.....finally, carrot seed oil, extracted from the wild carrot I mentioned earlier and and Queen Anne's Lace, has been used to treat exhaustion and stress. It also has a detoxifying effect on the liver, and digestive system and is highly valued in the skincare industry. It is used in skin creams to nourish, tighten, revitalize and rejuvenate the skin, while improving skin tone and elasticity. Some even claim it slows the progression of visible wrinkles!

Well, you probably didn't expect to learn so much about carrots here. You are here for the ice cream, right? Because ice cream. Ice cream is one of the greatest inventions of mankind!

So, I did some research and ultimately ended up referencing Thomas Keller's red beet ice cream recipe to make this. I wanted the carrot flavor to be preserved and to be as fresh as possible. I added a caramel swirl (hard to tell in the picture because it's light in color) because I thought the awesome burnt sugar and fatty rich awesomeness would be a nice compliment to a fantastic carrot flavor.

So here we go! No pictures of the process. Ice cream making pictures are not the most interesting things to look at. I didn't time this so I don't know how long it will take. I just got too excited and went for it. You do need to chill things over night up to 24 hours, this is not a make it in the evening eat it in the same evening type of's worth the wait though I promise!

Carrot Ice Cream With Salted Caramel

Carrot Ice Cream

2.5 - 3 pounds of carrots. Orange ones will be the sweetest.
2 cups of heavy cream
2 cups of milk
3/4 cup of sugar (or less...up to you)
8 egg yolks
>>>>A juicer. Or a blender. Or a food processor.

Salted Caramel
Note: This recipe makes A LOT more than you need but in my experience it is easier to make a larger amount than a smaller amount....but it's up to you. You can scale this back if you like, or....just have lots of extra homemade caramel to do what you wish with!

2 cups of white sugar
12 tbsp butter
1 cup heavy cream
1 tbsp salt. (You choose type....I used french grey because why not)

Make the ice cream:
Juice your carrots and reserve the pulp. If you don't have a juicer (like me), blend in a blender or food processor (I don't have these things right now either....I borrowed my co-worker's masticating juicer for this process) with enough water to allow them to blend, and strain. Reserve the juice and set aside for now.

in a saucepan, combine the cream, milk and enough of the reserved carrot pulp to make a thick, but still liquidous mixture. I messed up and added ALL MY PULP and ended up with a mass of carrot cellulose pulp that soaked up all my liquid and defeated it's purpose. I had to strain it out and adjust my pulp amount to liquid amount. Bring to a simmer, cover, remove from heat and let it steep for about a half hour.

While steeping, whisk your egg yolks and half of the sugar in a bowl until the mixture lightens a bit and thickens.

Strain your carrot cream mixture (I use my thai tea sock because it's really useful for these types of things) and reserve 3 cups of liquid. Save the rest for whatever you want. I made popsicles with it in my Zoku.  Bring this liquid back up to a simmer and add the other half of your sugar. Slowly whisk a third of the carrot cream into your egg yolks to temper them, and then return to the saucepan and heat until it turns into a custard and coats the back of a wooden spoon (or nicely coats a wooden chopstick, in my case). Pour into a bowl and set into an ice water bath to cool it as quickly as possible so it doesn't continue to cook and thicken. Once cool, put in the freezer over night for the creamiest texture, but a couple hours would be fine as long as it is frozen through if you are Mr. Impatient or Missus Alwus-Inahurry.

Make the caramel:
Bring your 1 cup of cream to a simmer and add your salt and whisk to dissolve.

Put your 2 cups of sugar in a saucepan with 2 tbsp of water. Cook over medium heat, whisking once it starts to melt and as it clumps up until it is completely melted. Keep cooking it until it is a dark amber color (around 350 degrees). Add all of your butter and whisk until butter melts, and then remove from heat and slowly stir in your salty cream mixture until a smooth sauce forms. Once cool enough, move to a container and cool completely in the fridge.

Bring it all together:
Before you are ready to churn, reduce your reserved carrot juice in a small saucepan, skim as necessary, down to 1/4-1/2 cup and strain it out. Cool completely and mix it into your carrot custard before adding to your ice cream maker. Follow your ice cream maker's instructions, and right before you turn it off, add a couple tablespoons of caramel sauce into the mixer. Layer the mixture and more caramel, stirring slightly to swirl and get that ribbon-y effect, into a freezer safe container and freeze overnight. You don't have to add the caramel to the ice cream if you don't want to, you can simply serve this ice cream with it if you want more control.

Viola! What a perfect way to celebrate the carrot.
Carrot Ice Cream with Salted Caramel

Saturday, February 21, 2015

A New Meaning of the Term: "Holiday Cookie."

First of all,  please accept my most sincerest of apologies. I realize my last post was in August! Turns out I am not too great at sticking to a schedule! Although, I have been trying to take lots of pictures. I have many posts planned, but now need to actually execute them!

I made these cookies as "holiday cookies" but that is not to say they can't be enjoyed at any time!

So now, I introduce you to:

White Fir Sugar Cookies!

White Fir Sugar Cookies
Did you know that most varieties of pine are edible? They have a refreshing lemon-like flavor and scent, and are high in vitamin C; therefore traditionally brewed as a tisane for it's health benefits.
White fir (abies concolor) is a species native in the mountains here in LA. It also contains the following compounds:

Terpinolene: has shown anti-tumor activity, this is a form of a terpine.
Myrcene: astringent, antiviral, and anti-microbial activity
Limonene: evaluated in trials for use as a cancer chemotherapeutic agent.
Gallic acid: a tannin that has shown anti-tumor activity

You probably recognize white fir from it's most popular modern use - you guessed it - christmas trees!

My good friend and mentor, Mia, was the creative genius that conjured up the idea of mixing pulverized white fir needles (foraged by her and Pascal!) and powdered sugar, and therefor creating "white fir sugar," and man is this stuff amazing!! I first encountered this flavor in a semifreddo we had for an event. It also had peruvian balsam in it, and it was divine, quite unlike anything I have ever tasted before! And most recently, we made and covered little doughnuts with this sugar and then added whipped cream and elderberry syrup. Amazing. Now my mouth is watering! Mia, you are my hero!

Mia was awesome enough to gift me a jar of the stuff!! Thank you so much! While trying to think of how I should use it, I decided dusting sugar cookies with them was perfect: especially for the holidays. Most people that tried them loved them (except for my boyfriend's dad, that's okay! ;) ) even people at work who surely thought I was out of my mind when I offered them: "You mean to tell me, you made cookies out of christmas trees..." well, yes I did! Try one! You don't have to like it and eat it if you don't want to! I greatly enjoy introducing people to out-of-the-box (no I don't mean boxed food, but rather, the way of thinking!) eating and flavors. There are so many possibilities out there!

My favorite sugar cookie recipe I can't take credit for. It belongs to Emily Slocum. We went to high school together and were in the same french class, and she was quite the baker and brought these in. They are soft, pillowy almost shortbready, and not too sweet. They are my favorite sugar cookie recipe by far. I introduced the White fir flavor by dipping each cookie into the sugar and agitating to coat, fresh out of the oven. Wonderfully effective!

I know I usually post pictures of ingredients beforehand...but I think you all know what goes into cookies. Nothing super special.

White Fir Sugar Cookies
Active time: 20 minutes
oven time: 8 minutes per batch
Oven Preheat: 400°

4 cups  of flour
1.5 cups of white sugar
2.5 sticks of butter
4 eggs
1.5 tsp baking powder
1.5 tsp vanilla extract
.5 tsp salt

White fir sugar (put fresh white fir needles and powdered sugar in a blender and pulverize.....for more info there are many articles about infused sugars on the interwebs online edition)

Cream together butter and sugar. Add eggs, mix well. Add vanilla. In a separate bowl sift and mix the dry ingredients. Gradually add  the dry ingredients to the wet to avoid clumping.

I like to dump out onto a floured surface and cut into 4 equal parts. I put 3 in the  fridge so they can stay firm for rolling while I am working with one batch.

Roll out to any thickness you would like (I like between 1/4" and 1/2" thickness) and cut into any shape you desire, but make sure you adjust your cooking time accordingly. Thinner cookies will cook quicker.

Put in the oven for 8 minutes. Keep an eye on them, though. Once they start to be golden around the edges they are usually done.

Put your infused sugar into a bowl or other shallow dish that can accommodate the size of your cookie.

As soon as your cookies are cool enough to handle, which doesn't take long, grab them, place them lightly (top side down) into the sugar, and agitate to coat that surface. The reason to do this while they are still war, is because there is still moisture escaping them, and it helps the sugar stick. Yes, you could also use a shaker and shake the sugar over the cookies, but I was trying to waste as little of my precious bounty as possible!

Lightly place the sugar cookie into the sugar.

The result after a little agitation!

There you have it! White fir sugar cookies! You could modify this concept with any type of infused sugar you can think of. The possibilities really are endless!
White fir sugar cookies!!