Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Donut Ice Cream

I double dog dare you to eat a donut-donut ice cream sandwich

The time of summer has come where its so hot your brain and stomach sort of melt together, and the desire for ice cream is full force.

I like to make ice cream, but with the surge of amazing new artisanal flavors and brands, I feel the need to make something totally different and delicious. But not so weird that the kids will deny it.

A few years ago, my husband was a reporter for the now defunct Life Magazine, and we had the honor of eating at a restaurant in Chicago called Moto. He was writing about new food in Chicago and we ate dinner there. The most memorable moment of the meal was the "Donut Milk" dessert, which was a small shotglass of warm milk which looked and felt like milk on the tongue, but tasted like a rich honey glazed donut. 

I have thought often of that drink, how it made me feel so many emotions at once- comfort, humor, nostalgia, college dorms, Sunday mornings, etc. while drinking it.  I have wanted to make it for so long, but haven't felt the right moment for how I could use the amazing flavor in a new way. While racking my brain for a good ice cream flavor,  it struck me that making the donut milk will be the perfect base for a flavorful, donut ice cream. And a note to self that in the winter this will make a killer hot drink for the campfire. 

But here is the dilemma- I bake with organic ingredients, yet I also have two kids who love the local donut shop. We actually have one of the best old fashioned, old school donut stores in all of New York City called Peter Pan Bakery. The women wear mint green and pink uniforms and the baker can be seen working at 3 in the morning through the window. (Witnessed on my last moms-gone-wild night out). 

I do love making homemade donuts, but I usually do it in the winter to celebrate Hanukkah. (Fried jelly donuts symbolize the oil in the menorah that miraculously lasted for 8 nights instead of 1). They take lots of time to rise and sweating into a vat of boiling oil is pretty unappealing in the summertime heat. So with great humility and for a lack of a better word for being a totally lazy mom in an overheated summer kitchen, we will use the humble Honey Dip from Peter Pan Bakery for this cause.  (If you do make homemade donuts, you really are better than me at the moment and I am sorry if I let you down.) My organic donut recipe will come in the future when life is feeling less boiling and kids going summertime-crazy. For now, making life easy and delicious makes the most sense to me.

First rip up three donuts. 

Add milk and heavy cream to saucepan

Bring to a boil, then cover for 25 minutes to infuse the flavor

Strain the mixture in a fine mesh sieve. 

Beat egg yolks and sugar until light and thick. This is an important step

You can use a saucepan or microwave to get the custard going. It should coat the spoon. 

It is ready when the mixture thickens up and you can mark your finger down the back. 

The glory.

the critic's reaction

the spoon is licked clean


3 honey dip/glaze donuts
1 cup organic heavy cream
2 cups organic whole milk
1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract 
6 organic egg yolks
1/4 cup organic cane sugar
*extra donuts for double dog dare ice cream sandwich 

1. Rip donuts up into pieces, put into a small heavy bottomed saucepan.
2. Add milk and heavy cream and bring to a boil. Turn off heat and cover pot, let sit for 25 minutes for donut flavors to absorb.
3. Set up a medium size bowl with a fine mesh strainer on top. Pour donut mixture through strainer, with a spatula. 
4. In a medium size bowl or standing mixer, whip the egg yolks and sugar until the mixture is light and thick, about 4 minutes. 
5. Now to make the custard base two ways:
a. Microwave method: Warm donut milk in microwave safe glass bowl for 1 minute. With standing mixer on low speed, slowly pour the warm milk into the egg/sugar mixture until combined. Then pour everything back into the glass bowl, and put into the microwave for 3 1/2 minutes, stopping it every 1 minute to whisk and mix. Check more frequently if mixture gets hot, this is to ensure the eggs do not curdle and overcook. Once hot, custard should be thicker and noticeably coating spoon. Add vanilla, let cool to warm temperature, then cover bowl with plastic wrap and cool in refrigerator for a few hours or overnight.

b. Stove top method: Pour donut mixture into medium heavy bottom saucepan. On low heat, slowly add the egg/sugar mixture and bring to medium heat, whisking frequently until mixture is hot and almost simmering. Whisk constantly to prevent curdling, and after 5 minutes, custard should be thicker. Pour into glass bowl, add vanilla, and let cool to room temperature.

6. Once your donut cream mixture is chilled, follow the directions on your ice cream maker.

*Note: If you are a 6 year old boy who cleans their room, or a total glutton, you can buy extra donuts for a donut ice cream sandwich. Split the donut in half, and slather with a thick layer of donut ice cream, refreeze for 20 minutes then eat. Peter Pan Bakery does this with their donuts and all kinds of flavored ice cream, it is the ultimate combination!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Cherry Berry Scones

Following the theme of early morning baking during hot summer days, today we made some Cherry Berry Scones, with more of the fruit that we amassed at the farmer's market over the weekend.

I like to make scones because they are hard to screw up once you get the basic proportions down. With lots of butter coating the flour and grains, you are bound to always have a flaky, tender crumb. I know the idea of blueberries and cherries sound quite dull, but when fruit is ripe and at its peak, there is a taste to it that is unmistakable- a hint of sunshine,  fresh earth and a true sweetness because its meant to be eaten. Fruit out of season is such a sad, wasteful thing--not only in the bad taste, but all the unnecessary energy that went into it.

my mix of flour, ground oats, wheat germ,  and flax

unsalted cold chunks of butter get coated so that each morsel is flaky, moist, scrumptious

Lately I have also been resourceful with what I have in my pantry (aka husband wanting to throw out all the small bags of random things from the bulk aisle at the health food store). Lots of goodies like oats, flax, and wheat germ. This morning I felt like I should throw some of these in, partially to get rid of them and also to have a heartier base for the sweet, ripe fruit. Although these aren't as firm as the oat scones I love to make, I think they make a great morning treat. We carried some extras around all day and by the afternoon they still were moist, delicious and the kids ate them all up.

what the scone mixture looks like after the butter has been added. Coarse sand

the fruit. note that I got butter on my lens so it has a very 70's erotica look

Clyde got all Jackson Pollock with the buttermilk coating. He is getting into 6am baking.

Morning Victory. See how the butter melted and got all oozy on the piece. It was so good.

Note: You can mix any kinds of berries. Berries are good for scones because they don't mush up, they just cook into these little bursts of flavor. I think apricots and blueberries are a good combination too, as they are super ripe right now. Again you could also spice things up with some cinnamon, cardamom or cloves but for pleasing the masses I stayed true to the fruit. 

Cherry Berry Scones

2 cups all purpose organic flour
1 3/4 cup ground oats (I cleaned my coffee grinder and ground whole slow cook oats until it became powdery)
3 tablespoons wheat germ
1 teaspoon flax seeds or ground flax seeds (  I ended up grinding them to hide from Clyde)
1 1/2 tablespoons baking powder
pinch of salt
3 tablespoons organic cane sugar (I bet maple sugar would work well too)
6 1/2 tablespoons unsalted organic butter, cubed and chilled (I stick this in the freezer while preparing dry ingredients to ensure it is very cold)
1 1/2 cup blueberries and cut up cherries, or a mix of all kinds of berries
1 cup organic buttermilk
buttermilk or milk for brushing
demerra, turbinado, or cane sugar for sprinkling

preheat oven to 400 degrees, line two baking sheets with foil

1. Cut up fruit (if using cherries) and set aside in small bowl.
2. Measure dry ingredients and add to food processor. Pulse until combined.
3. Add butter a little at a time and pulse until mixture looks like coarse sand.
4. Pour mixture into medium sized bowl. Add buttermilk until just combined, then add fruit. 
5. Use a measuring spoon if desired, to have even looking proper scones. Or you can roll them by hand into blobs that look alike. I made one tray smaller so that it would be more kid friendly.
6. Place scones on prepared baking sheet, brush tops with buttermilk or milk, then sprinkle sugar on top.
7. Bake for 10-15 minutes depending on size. They should be slightly golden brown. Remove and cool on a wire rack.
8. Best eaten fresh from the oven with a bit of butter and not a white shirt. We have a tub full of morning pajamas with berry stains!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Farmers Market Fruit Pie

Yesterday at the market I blew my budget at the fruit stand. It was hard to avoid the ripe crop of apricots, blueberries, nectarines, cherries, and donut peaches. I have been slow to make a lot of pies this summer due to traveling and the idea of a hot kitchen, but I knew if this fruit did not get put in a pie we would have serious belly aches from eating it all this week.

my fruit loot. 

Clyde was excited to help roll out the pie dough, and I made the crust last night so it would be chilled for this morning. I think the trick to summer pie baking is to do it early before it gets too hot. Like around 6:45 am on a Sunday when the kids wake up...

Clyde in his pajamas rolling the crust

We washed and cut up the fruit, feeling kind of crazy and wanting it all in one pie. One trick to my pies is that I roll the dough in between parchment or plastic wrap so I don't add extra flour to the crust. I also use it to push the dough into the pie pan, so it doesn't get stuck to my fingers.

use plastic wrap to transfer and evenly place pie crust

dot the filling with cold bits of butter

cover the top with a glaze of milk and cane sugar, some cut outs too

glorious pie. With a crumbly, light crust thanks to mix of butter, shortening, and apple cider vinegar

 I ate 3 slices for lunch, something I like to do once a summer. 

The only other note I want to say about this pie is that I kept it truly simple. I had the temptation to reach for some cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, etc. but Clyde would have none of it. You can definitely spice this up and give it more of a flair, but sometimes when you bite into a juicy summer fruit its all that you really need.

Farmers Market Fruit Pie 
For the dough:
2 1/2 cups organic all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon organic cane sugar
pinch of salt
1 stick unsalted organic butter, cubed and chilled in freezer
1 stick salted organic butter, cubed and chilled in freezer
4 tablespoons organic shortening (such as Spectrum brand)
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar put into the freezer to chill.

1. In food processor, combine flour, sugar, and salt. Mix to combine.
2. Add butters quickly, and pulse food processor until butter is resembling small peas. 
3. Add shortening, mix for 10 seconds, then add a little of the chilled apple cider vinegar until dough comes together in a ball. (Keep pulsing until this happens).
4. Separate dough into two discs, wrap in plastic wrap and place in refrigerator overnight. The dough needs at least 4-5 hours for the gluten to relax and so your dough has a nice tender crust.

the next day....

Roll out both discs into circles. It may need a bit of softening so it does not crack. Cover the bottom of a 9" pie dish with one of the circles up the sides and to the top. If you need more dough, you can use small pieces to cover bald spots. Wrap the remaining circle and place in freezer to chill. 
Place covered pie dish back in freezer while you prepare the filling. 

For the Filling:

5-6 nectarines
3-5 apricots
1-2 donut peaches
1/2 cup blueberries
1 cup pitted cherries

all in total, you should have around 4 1/2-5 cups of fruit. You can mix it up as you wish!

1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons organic cane sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons organic all purpose flour
2 teaspoons cold butter cut into small cubes
heavy cream or milk for brushing
turbinado or cane sugar for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

1. In large mixing bowl, cut fruit into small pieces. (some I left chunkier for texture, but in general, pieces should be at least 1/4" thick so that it cooks evenly)
2. Add extracts, sugar, flour and mix until fruit is coated.
3. Place fruit into chilled pie dough, then remove second disc from freezer.
4. After fruit has been added to chilled pie shell, brush edges with some milk or heavy cream and cover with second disc. Pinch the edges so that it sticks together. 
5. Use a sharp small knife to cut out a heart, or any other small shape in the center, and make venting holes around the pie for steam to escape. 
6. Brush entire top with milk or heavy cream and sprinkle with sugar.
7. Bake for close to an hour, checking after 40 minutes to make sure edges are not too dark. If they are browning quickly, cover edges with strips of aluminum foil.
8. Pie is done when filling is bubbling and your house smells like a country cottage even though its in the city!

Let cool for 1 hour before cutting so juices can thicken. Serve with fresh whipped cream, vanilla ice cream, or eat two slices by yourself with some coffee.

Thank you farmers! 

Monday, August 3, 2009

cookie paper doll

The final masterpiece 

I like to think of sweets as a medium for making things, rather than just food. Sometimes its easy to be discouraged to make something homeade as a gift, for fear that it will be rejected as "homeade", but thinking about the humble sugar cookie as a metaphor for a piece of blank paper is a great place to start creating things.

The upcoming birthday of my wonderful sister-in-law Sarah inspired the idea for a sugar cookie paper doll. She works in fashion and has fantastic taste, plus she travels to Europe to visit showrooms of some of my favorites such as Marni and Dries van Noten. As an homage to her love for beautiful clothes and things, I thought a cookie paper doll would make a great birthday present. 

I started by rolling a squarish shape out of sugar cookie dough, and cutting freehand with a sharp knife the shapes I envision.

After baking the dough, I made royal icing to pipe some dimension. I wanted to make the Sarah doll in a Prada-ish slip, a dress (inspired by her Roland Mouret one she wore on a visit), a Marni necklace, a 10 Corso Como shopping bag, a bottle of Veuve, a giant birthday cake slice, and some hearts floating around.

detail of the 10 Corso Como bag and cake

the Brian Atwood inspired shoes

the Veuve Cliquot bottle

I love this idea and can see using it for other kinds of friends, could be even funny for cats or dogs. Anyone who is a smart cookie of course!