Tag Archives: recipes

Cocoa Amaretto Ice Cream with Cowboy Bark

A subtle amaretto and brown sugar custard base gets a burst of chocolate from cocoa almond spread and chocolate bark. It’s sure to be a crowd pleaser!

For my latest diabolical ice cream creation, I drew inspiration from my favorite nocciola (hazelnut) and amaretto Italian gelato flavors. As I’ve found home ice cream makers and residential freezers distort the delicate texture of a milk-based gelato, I’ve used my standard custard base. The thickness of a cooked, egg-based custard creates an ideal, soft texture and rich product that you’ll enjoy long after it hits the freezer.

For additional texture and an intense burst of chocolate, I incorporated chocolate bark, which is usually less brittle than solid chocolate. Trader Joe’s Cowboy Bark is a personal favorite of mine, with a sweet-salty smattering of chopped nuts, pretzels, and toffee to make it extremely addictive and fun. If you’re avoiding gluten, find another type of bark to suit your needs.

Cocoa Amaretto Ice Cream with Cowboy Bark

Yield – One Quart

  • 1 Tbsp. salted butter
  • 1/4 c. Brown sugar
  • 1 c. Plus 4 tbsp. Heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 c. Amaretto liqueur
  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 1 tsp. Vanilla extract
  • 6 egg yolks, room temperature
  • 1/2 c. Granulated sugar
  • 1 cup cocoa almond spread (for a hazelnut flavor, use a chocolate-hazelnut spread, such as Nutella)
  • Chocolate bark, such as Trader Joe’s Cowboy Bark (about one cup, chopped)

In a medium pot over medium heat melt the butter. Quickly whisk in the brown sugar to form a paste. Gradually add the four tablespoons of whipping cream whisk (set aside one cup of cream). Whisk in the amaretto and vanilla and allow to bubble/boil for 5-10 minutes. The liquid’s volume should reduce by 1/3 to 1/2.  

Whisk in the milk and remaining cup of whipping cream. Bring to a boil.

Meanwhile, separate eggs and place the yolks in a small mixing bowl (save or discard the egg whites). Beat briskly with a wire whisk (small bubbles should appear) for about 30 seconds. Gradually add the granulated (white) sugar and beat with the whisk until sugar is more or less dissolved.  

When the milk mixture has reached a boil, allow it to boil for 2-4 minutes; it should begin to expand or become frothy. Remove from heat. Pour about 1 cup of the milk mixture into the eggs, whisking in gradually to temper the eggs. Add in another cup of the milk mixture to the eggs, whisking continuously. Pour the resulting milk-egg mixture into the pot with the remaining milk and whisk to incorporate fully.

Return the pot to heat. Whisking occasionally, bring to a slight boil; remove the pot immediately from the heat to prevent curdling. The custard should now be thick enough to coat a mixing spoon.

Cool the mixture for about 15 minutes at room temperature. Cover and refrigerate for 1-2 hours or until thoroughly chilled (you can chill overnight or for 24 hours). Whisk periodically if possible during the first hour of chilling. You can shortcut the chilling by placing the custard in the freezer for about 30 minutes, but stir/whisk every 5 minutes to prevent a skin from forming and the custard from freezing to the metal.

Outfit your ice cream maker and pour in the custard. Follow instructions for your appliance and begin churning. Meanwhile (if not churning manually), roughly chop chocolate bark into 1/2″ (approx. 1.5 cm chunks). About 5-10 minutes from completion of churning, or when the ice cream is uniformly firm but still churning smoothly, add the cocoa-almond spread, a few tablespoons at a time. Next, complete the ice cream by adding the bark pieces directly to the mixture.

Transfer to airtight containers and freeze.

Honoring France with Boeuf Bourguignon

This post is a dedication to the people of France, Lebanon, and Iraq in the wake of the tragic attacks of November 13, 2015. Lest Beirut and Baghdad’s losses be dwarfed, the CD will post future Lebanese and Iraqi recipes; stay tuned! May we all stand firm against hate and fear. May we all show love – and possibly a bit of culinary diplomacy – to those in need around the world.

Boeuf Bourguignon, or Beef Burgundy, may sound like a fine, complicated example of French hautê cuisine. At its most basic, however, the dish is simply a French country stew. Much like its Belgian/Flemish counterpart, Carbonnade (replace wine with beer), an American Yankee Pot Roast, or even a distant south Asian curry, boeuf Bourguignon is a peasant’s soul food, transforming inexpensive, poorer cuts of meat and simple ingredients into something much greater than its components with a gravy you almost want to drink, it is so delicious. Through braising – slow cooking the meat immersed in liquid – and the labor involved in doing so, this stew turns the ordinary into the extraordinary. The result is a velvety stew with a meaty gravy. A generous use of wine becomes mellow with time and rounded out with root vegetables and mushrooms. Through the human hand, nature becomes greater. How rarely do we see such examples these days?

French cooking has instilled fear in many a home cook; however, it need not do so. With a bit of preparation, and a decent amount of time, you can make this dish! If you look at the process as a sequence of steps, it won’t seem quite so daunting:

Step 1: Browning


In this step, the meat and veggies are seared in fat with high heat to cook and crisp their exterior surfaces. Both the stove top and oven play a role in this process.

Step 2: Braising

Liquid – in this case, wine and stock – is added and used to cook the meat and veggies over low and slow heat. This process spans several hours, but it requires very little attention and effort on your part.

Step 3: Vegetables and assembly
  Pearl onions and mushrooms are cooked separately in a bit of fat and eventually, added to the stew.

Step 4 (optional): Thicken/finish the stew
Using flour to make a roux, the stew can be thickened, or uncovered to allow the liquid to reduce, if desired.

So set aside your culinary fears and make a bit of French comfort food to bring together your family or friends!

-I have an aversion to pork, so I substituted turkey bacon. It is leaner than true pork bacon, so I had to add extra virgin olive oil to sear the beef. After the bacon is braised for several hour, it loses its flavor, so I discarded it (since it no longer adds any positive value).
-The original recipe called for only one carrot, which I found too meager. I recommend three large carrots to add more color, texture, and nutrition.
-Finally, a horrible bottle of cheap wine can be put to good use! I used an American table wine (Two-buck Chuck) in the style of a Beaujolais Nouveau – nope, not a Burgundy! Save the good stuff to pair with the meal as a beverage.

-To ensure a proper braise without the watched pot, transfer to a slow cooker/Crock Pot instead of the 325 degree oven. Use a high heat setting for an hour or so if possible, and then reduce heat to low for 2-3 more hours (or cook all day).

-If you need to remain gluten free, omit the flour and the last step; the stew will be a bit thinner but still delicious.

-Serve the stew with a starch. Traditionally, potatoes would be served, but I prefer something more nutritious, so I used leftover roasted and mashed cauliflower. You could also try roasted sweet potatoes or puréed celeriac (celery root).

Boeuf Bourguignon

  • Servings: 8+
  • Difficulty: Medium
  • Print

Adapted from Julia Child and “The Answer is Always Pork” http://theanswerisalwayspork.com/julia-childs-beef-bourguignon/


  • 6 oz. bacon
  • 3 lbs. beef stew meat, cubed (about 2″)
  • 3 large carrots, chopped roughly (about 1″ or so)
  • 1 large sweet onion, diced roughly
  • 2-4 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp. flour
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 cups red wine
  • 2 cups (or more) plus 1/2 cup beef stock
  • 1 heaping Tbsp. tomato paste
  • 2 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
  • 2 Bay leaves
  • 1 tsp. dried thyme, divided in half
  • 20 pearl onions
  • 3 Tbsp. salted butter
  • 1 lb. mushrooms (Cremini preferred), rinsed and quartered.
  • 2 Tbsp. flour, optional

Step 1: Browning
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.

  If bacon is purchased in a slab, slice in large pieces (do not dice); if already pre-sliced, do not slice further. In a large pot (cast iron or ceramic – like Le Creuset work best), brown (sear) the bacon on the stove top over medium high to high heat. If it begins to smoke, add a small amount of olive oil to prevent burning. Once each side is brown and begins to crisp, remove from heat with a slotted spoon, leaving as much bacon fat as possible in the pot. Do not reduce the heat. If oil does not coat the pan, add olive oil gradually to coat.

Next, pat the beef to dry as much as possible using a paper towel. In batches, arrange beef cubes in a single layer in the pot; sear and brown each surface of the cube (about 2 minutes per side); then remove the cubes and set them aside while browning additional batches. Make sure to leave as much fat as possible in the pot for the next batch. Add more oil as needed, making sure the beef does not stick and burn. Once finished, remove the remaining browned meat, while retaining the oil/fat.

Brown the chopped onions and carrot by cooking in the same pot over medium-high heat, uncovered, for about 5 minutes. Add the beef and bacon back to the pot. Toss in about 1 Tbsp. flour, 1/2 tsp. salt, and pepper to coat the mixture. Cover and place in the 450 degree oven. Bake for 4 minutes; remove from oven; toss the mixture again and return to oven for another 4 minutes. Remove.

If you plan to braise the meat in the oven (and not, instead, using a slow cooker), reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees at this point. If using a slow cooker, turn off oven.

Step 2: Braising
Return the pot to the stove top on medium heat. Add the red wine and beef stock; stir to incorporate. Add the tomato paste, garlic, one bay leaf, and 1/2 tsp. thyme (if using fresh thyme, chop and double the amount). Bring the mixture to a simmer; cover and cook for about 15 minutes.

If braising in the oven, cover the pot and place it back in the now 325 degree oven. Cook for 2-3 hours.

If using a slow cooker/Crock Pot, transfer the stew to the slow cooker’s bowl; turn on the unit. If you must leave unattended for an extended period of time, use a low heat setting and cook for 5+ hours. If you are able, cook over high heat for 90 minutes to two hours; add the pearl onions (see instructions below), reduce heat setting to low and cook for 2 or more hours on low.

Step 3: Vegetables and Assembly
While the meat undergoes the slow braise, cook the Pearl onions: If using fresh Pearl onions, peel them. An easy way to do so is to first bring about a quart of water to a boil in a clean saucepan. Add the onions and blanch for about 3 minutes. Drain and remove the onions. Cut the tip of one end of each onion and gently squeeze each onion out of its skin. You can also rub the skin off with dish towels. Cut off the root ends and set aside.

If using the slow cooker, you can reuse the original stew pot to cook the onions; just discard or gently wipe out any pieces of yellow onion or meat left in the pot. Add 1 Tbsp. of butter and heat on high. Once the butter has melted and begun to sizzle, add the peeled pearl onions to the pot and brown. Add about 1/2 cup beef stock, and the remaining bay leaf and thyme. Toss to coat and reduce heat to low. Simmer for about 20 minutes. Add to the braising stew mixture up to 2 hours before serving or storage.

While the stew continues to cook, rinse and quarter the mushrooms. Over medium heat (reuse the same pot used for the onions), melt 2 Tbsp. butter until sizzling. Add the mushrooms and toss to coat. Sprinkle with salt to draw liquid out of the mushrooms and provide additional liquid to cook the mushrooms. Cover and cook for 5-10 minutes until the mushrooms have reduced in volume by about half. Remove the lid and simmer on low heat for another 5-10 minutes to allow some of the liquid to reduce.

About an hour prior to serving, you may add the mushrooms to the rest of the stew. Meanwhile, prepare your starch (boil, roast, and/or mash potatoes or substitute (see Tips, above).

Step 4 (Optional): Thicken the stew
If you need not stay gluten free, make a roux to thicken the stew. add about 2 Tbsp. flour to a small, dry bowl. spoon about 1/3 cup of the hot stew liquid (avoid the solid ingredients) into the bowl and whisk thoroughly until a smooth paste is formed. Gradually ladle another 1/2 cup (give or take) of hot stew liquid into the paste and whisk again. Gradually whisk/stir in the roux into the stew pot until fully incorporated. Simmer for about 10 minutes to thicken if desired.

Store leftovers in airtight containers. This dish is one for which leftovers are as good – if not better than freshly prepared!

Italian-Californian fusion: A hearty sauce Romanesca over roasted spaghetti squash

This classic, hearty Italian sauce adds some masculinity and depth to roasted spaghetti squash for a nutritious and satisfying low-carb, comfort meal. Customize by going meatless or pair it with your favorite pasta for a taste of Roman home cooking in your own kitchen.

I believe that Italian food is the world’s comfort food. Whether you have a taste for Mediterranean calamari, pasta, pollo Milanese, Genovese pesto, northern risotto, or Neapolitan pizza, Italy serves flavors that transcend culture. So after a trying day of wine tasting in Sonoma County, California, my Italian friend’s home-cooked Roman meat sauce (similar to a Bolognese) served over rigatoni and paired with one of our favorite Sonoma Zinfandels, was the perfect ending to one of those days that makes you grateful to be alive and for those around you.

The dish was so straightforward, not the sort of slave-all-day complexity that surprises and delights. Mushrooms and beef are better together than separately. The tang of ripe tomatoes, with fresh basil and a subtle heat create a combination you couldn’t imagine any other way. 

Personified, this Roman-Bolognese is that friend you haven’t seen in years, but you pick up right back up as if you’d been in touch all along. In other words, make it and you have an instant go-to dish.

a hearty Bolognese/Roman sauce featuring beef, mushrooms, and tomatoes that can be made meatless

After watching my friend cook this pasta dish. I realized that I needed to recreate it, but with a California twist. After months of transient living, restaurant food and perhaps a bit much wine have taken their toll on my body, so of late, I’ve been looking for healthier options. My philosophy is not to fear carbs or be overly restrictive (as you’ll see on my Healthy Diplomat page), but to load up on vegetables, fruits, and limit processed foods.

West Coast cremini and chanterelle mushrooms

In Northern California, the abundance of fresh, local produce is one of the secrets to the area’s culinary notoriety. Quality ingredients make quality food. So I turned to spaghetti squash from a local farmer’s market to carry its weight with this hearty Roman version of a Bolognese (meat sauce).  

It is an easy way to lighten a heavier, food-coma inducing dish without sacrificing the experience and texture of al dente pasta. It also is friendly to those on gluten-free, paleo, or low-carb diets. Substitute crumbled seitan or texturized vegetable protein for the meat in the sauce (or double the amount of mushrooms) to make it vegetarian or vegan (without cheese). If you don’t have dietary restrictions, try making it different ways to see which one you prefer!

I used local and almost exclusively organic produce for the entire sauce, including canned San Marzano tomatoes for that “authentic” (a word I generally hate to use in food speak) Italian flavor. Feel free to substitute whatever varieties you can find in your area.

This dish isn’t at its best without wine (so long as you are of age!). A California Zinfandel’s subtle sweetness and fruitiness are a perfect pairing for this sauce, but I’ve also had it with a bold, jammy Cabernet Sauvignon. Whichever you choose, the wine and dish play together very nicely, only enhancing the flavor of each.

Start to finish, it can be made in about an hour and fifteen minutes, but simmering the sauce for a few extra hours will deepen the flavors.

When using pasta, rigatoni is ideal, since its tube shape and ridges carry the sauce easily, though spaghetti or angel hair would be appropriate substitutes. Whole-grain wheat, spelt, or quinoa pasta are wonderful, more nutritious alternatives to “white” pasta.

Sauce Romanesca over Roasted Spaghetti Squash 'Pasta'

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print


  • 1 large spaghetti squash OR 8 oz. (typically half of a bag/box) uncooked rigatoni or penne pasta
  • 2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 cloves fresh garlic, peeled and pressed or minced
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 3 cups mushrooms, chopped (cremini and/or a mix of varieties)
  • 1 lb. (about 400 g to 1/2 kg) ground beef (ideally 15% fat) OR 3 cups of crumbled meat substitute
  • 1 cup fresh whole basil leaves, plus additional for garnish
  • 1 28 or 32 oz. can of crushed or diced San Marzano tomatoes
  • 1 tsp. sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • Pinch of cayenne or black pepper – to taste
  • Parmesan cheese (or nutritional yeast), grated


To roast/steam spaghetti squash, preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Place whole squash in a roasting pan with about 1/4″ water. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove temporarily; cool for 5 minutes. When cool enough to handle, cut in half lengthwise. 

Using a fork, scrape and remove the loose innards and seeds (usually darker than the bright yellow, edible flesh beneath) and discard. Leave the remaining flesh intact and return to the roasting pan, cut sides up. Brush or drizzle with olive oil. Return the pan to the oven for an additional 15-20 minutes, or until inner flesh begins to brown slightly. Remove and cool.

May be made in advance of spaghetti squash or simultaneously.

If preparing the sauce and squash simultaneously, begin the sauce after placing the whole squash into the oven for the initial bake.

In a medium pot or saucepan (ceramic is preferable), heat the olive oil over medium heat. When hot, add the crushed garlic. After about a minute, add the chopped onion. Close the lid and allow the onions and garlic to sweat and cook until tender (monitor constantly and stir as needed, especially with a steel or copper-bottomed pot).

Add meat or meat substitute and brown thoroughly. Roughly chop about 1/2 cup of the basil leaves and add them to the mixture. Next, stir in the mushrooms. Cook while covered, for about five more minutes. Add tomatoes, salt, and peppers, stir continuously for a few minutes. Cover. 

Allow sauce to come to a boil; reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for at least 15 minutes. Add most of the remainder of the basil, reserving some for garnish. If you have time, reduce heat to low and simmer for 1-2 hours, stirring occasionally.

If using pasta, cook according to package directions. Drain, rinse with cool water, and drain again. Add pasta to sauce and stir to combine.

If serving with squash instead of pasta, top with sauce during – not before – serving.

Top with reserved basil and grated Parmesan or Romano cheese, or if staying dairy-free or vegan, nutritional yeast.

Foster’s Market Pumpkin White Chocolate Chip cookies: A taste of North Carolina fall

The CD is finally back in the kitchen! From California, I’ll continue to share flavors and unique finds imported from around the globe, but I’ll also share my old East Coast culinary traditions and discover new perspectives of the American West. It is fitting that the East Coast gal marks her return to the – now West Coast – kitchen with a bite of the American South.

Durham, North Carolina’s Foster’s Market was a go-to for a creative, globally inspired weekend lunch while I was an undergraduate. After graduation, nostalgia led me to a recipe-filled calendar about 10 years ago. After I tried out Sara Foster’s recipe for Pumpkin White Chocolate Chunk cookies, they were such a hit and great, homemade addition to (or substitution for) the Pumpkin-palooza that hits the American packaged and prepared foods industry every fall.

This chewy cookie employs a secret ingredient: butterscotch chips. How, might you ask, is that a secret ingredient? They are nearly hidden in the recipe, almost undetectable: they are ground and incorporated seamlessly with the flour in a food processor. The result is a subtle butterscotch flavor that only enhances the pumpkin flavor. I’ve also made a few minor tweaks to the original Foster’s recipe – raised the baking temperature and added pumpkin pie spice for that comforting, familiar flavor.

If you intend to share them, you might want to double the recipe – they go quickly!


Foster's Market Pumpkin White Chocolate Chip cookies

  • Servings: 3 1/2 dozen
  • Print

Adapted from a recipe by Sara Foster of Foster’s Market


  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks or 12 Tbsp) salted butter
  • 2 1/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour (or All-purpose flour)
  • 1 cup butterscotch chips
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt.
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup light or dark brown sugar, packed
  • 1 egg
  • 2/3 cup puréed canned or fresh pumpkin
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 cup whole rolled oats
  • 1 1/2 cups white chocolate chips

In a large mixing bowl, bring butter to room temperature. Preheat oven to 365 degrees Fahrenheit.

Meanwhile, in a food processor, combine butterscotch chips and 1 cup of the flour, and pulse until the chips are ground finely into a meal. Gradually add the remainder of the flour (or as much as will fit in the processor), the baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Pulse to incorporate. Set aside.

Cream butter and each sugar. Beat in egg by hand. Continue to stir/beat briskly while adding pumpkin and vanilla. Stir in oats. Gradually fold in flour and butterscotch chip mixture until well incorporated. Fold in white chocolate chips.

Roll into 1″ balls and arrange on cookie sheet. Bake for 10-15 minutes; cool on a wire rack or waxed paper.

Voodoo Doughnut-inspired “Memphis Mafia” ice cream

It is quite possibly the most ridiculous ice cream inspired by an equally ridiculous pastry.

Here we have a surprisingly elegant but decadent ice cream, inspired by a gluttonous fritter that in turn is a pop food culture to Elvis Presley and his legendary love of (fried) peanut butter and banana sandwiches. What?? Such a complicated means to an end – but one that’s worth exploring.

A rich peanut butter and banana custard base, with a hint of brown sugar, vanilla, and cinnamon. Bittersweet, homemade sea salt ganache and cinnamon roll pieces swirl throughout this rich indulgence. It seems so complex, yet it isn’t terribly difficult to execute. You’ll never make boring ice cream again!

You might be baffled why on earth someone would create an ice cream based on a doughnut (more specifically, a fritter), much less such a bizarrely constructed pastry in the first place. If you have ever visited or heard about Voodoo Doughnut, then you have an idea what I’m talking about.

Portland, Oregon’s Voodoo Doughnut has captivated foodies, pop culture devotees, and tourists alike with its uber kitschy, sharp-humored and decadent creations. Check out my related blog post to learn more about this food and cultural phenomenon. During my visit to Voodoo Doughnuts, it was a friend’s selection of pastry that inspired me. Their Memphis Mafia is a gluttonous monstrosity of a pastry: an enormous, glazed cinnamon and banana fritter topped with peanut butter, chocolate icing, and chocolate chips. It is $6 and took three of us three days to eat it. It pays loving homage to The King himself, Elvis Presley. And it is absolutely delicious.

Back home, I couldn’t help but think about that combination of flavors and how great it would be as an ice cream. So here you have it. A deconstructed Memphis Mafia fritter, with a bizarrely synchronous combination of banana, peanut butter, chocolate, and cinnamon. Rather than wasting several perfectly good bakery fritters, I used readily available cinnamon rolls. Their doughy, subtly sweet flavor helps keep the ice cream from becoming cloyingly sweet.

Tip: dip the cinnamon rolls in the chilled custard base and set aside on wax paper just before beginning the churning process. While the custard churns, the cinnamon rolls will soak up some of the liquid, which will help prevent ice crystals from forming (and the pieces of pastry from becoming icy and brittle) during storage in the freezer.

warm ganache

A homemade, bittersweet chocolate witha hint of sea salt ganache adds an element of sophistication.

churned decadence

The end result is nothing short of amazing. Good luck eating more than a scoop at a time – it is so rich and filling that a little goes a long way. Kind of like the Memphis Mafia fritter itself…!

Voodoo Doughnut-inspired Memphis Mafia ice cream

Sea Salt Ganache:

  • 4 oz. semisweet or bittersweet chocolate*
  • 4 oz. (1/2 cup) heavy whipping cream
  • Pinch sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp. Vanilla extract (optional)

*When choosing chocolate, go with good quality chocolate, but don’t worry too much about percentage chocolate/sweetness. You can use chocolate chips or junks but make sure to use only pure chocolate – no fillers or vegetable fats! I use what I have on hand. In this case, I combined 2 oz. unsweetened baking chocolate (Guittard brand) with 2 oz. semisweet chunks. The result needed a bit added sugar, so you can add in 1-2 Tablespoons of granulated sugar with the heated milk to sweeten.

Make the ganache at least two hours before starting the custard. It keeps well at room temperature overnight and can be made well in advance.

Chop chocolate using a serrated knife. Set aside. In a microwave-safe glass container or liquid measuring cup, measure the cream. Microwave on high heat for one minute or until the cream begins to bubble. Add the chocolate to the cream and whisk to melt the chocolate. Add the salt and any additional sugar and/or vanilla if desired and whisk until smooth. Let stand uncovered until the mixture reaches room temperature and the ganache becomes somewhat firm. Cover and store at room temperature until needed per below. Chill about 20-30 minutes immediately prior to incorporating into the ice cream mixer. Leftover ganache is great on anything or makes a lovely truffle on its own.

Ice cream custard base:

  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 ripe bananas
  • 1/2 c. Peanut butter
  • 1 tsp. Vanilla extract or 1 whole vanilla bean
  • 1 tsp. Ground cinnamon
  • 2 cups (about 4 rolls) baked cinnamon rolls, diced into 1-2 inch pieces

Custard base instructions:

Purée the bananas in a food processor or blender; set aside.

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, bring the milk and cream to a boil; if using a whole vanilla bean, steep it in the milk while heating. While the milk heats, in a small mixing bowl, beat the egg yolks with 1/4 cup brown sugar using a wire whisk (about one minute by hand).

When the cream begins to bubble, remove from heat. Remove vanilla bean from the milk; slice in half vertically from top to bottom; scrape the seeds from the pod halves and add them back to the milk. Discard pods or save them for reuse. Whisk in remaining 1/2 cup sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla extract (if not using the bean) until incorporated.

Temper the egg mixture:  Add about 1/2 cup of the milk mixture to the small bowl with the eggs. Whisk quickly to combine. Add another 1/2 cup of the milk to the egg mixture, whisk. Pour the entire egg mixture into the saucepan with the remaining milk mixture and whisk thoroughly.

Return back to heat and reduce heat to medium-low heat. Gradually whisk in the banana and then peanut butter until smooth. Allow the entire mixture to heat until small bubbles form. Remove immediately from heat, whisk, and cool to room temperature. Chill the custard for two hours or overnight; if time is short, chill in the freezer for 30-45 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Ice cream assembly:

When ready to churn the ice cream, prepare your ice cream maker/attachment. Dip the cinnamon pieces in the custard individually or pour a small amount of the custard onto the cinnamon roll pieces and toss to coat. Set cinnamon roll pieces aside on wax paper and allow the custard to soak in.

Pour the custard into the ice cream maker and freeze according to the equipment manufacturers’ instructions.

When the ice cream is finished freezing, add the ganache and cinnamon roll pieces and allow the ice cream maker to continue to churn and mix in the ganache and pastry bits. Remove the bowl from the attachment and if needed, mix by hand with a rubber spatula to disperse the mix-ins. Serve immediately or chill for 1 hour prior to serving. Garnish with chocolate chunks.

If storing long-term, freeze in small, airtight portions. Thaw for 30 minutes before serving.

Recipe Reinterpretation: Salt & Straw’s Strawberry-rhubarb pie coconut ice “cream”

Portland, Oregon’s Salt & Straw makes a killer coconut milk ice cream packed with gooey, tangy chunks of strawberry-rhubarb pie. I recreated it with easy to assemble ingredients. So great you won’t miss the dairy, and non-vegans will miss the fact that it can be vegan.

After trying my sister’s scoop of Coconut with Petunia’s Strawberry Rhubarb Pie, I was enamored – and a bit envious of her choice. After I learned that its base consisted of coconut milk instead of dairy, I was floored. I’ve had nondairy, coconut milk ice cream before, but this version took it to another level. It was so creamy and had the melt-in-your-mouth texture of dairy cream, it seemed rich and indulgent.

Back home on the East Coast, attempting to replicate that experience was a no-brainer. The resulting nondairy ice cream incorporates pureed fruit, which lightens it up for hot summer days poolside. It may be a relatively healthy reinterpretation of the strawberry rhubarb pie coconut ice cream, but it does not skimp on large chunks of fresh strawberry-rhubarb pie. My own version was not completely vegan, since I used a pie containing eggs, but if you can make your own or find an egg and dairy-free store-bought version, you can keep it vegan-friendly.

What The CD used:
I used Silk brand Original coconut milk. It has added (natural) stabilizers, which help it emulsify cleanly with the strawberry purée. Purists may want to use canned coconut milk or cream instead, which is richer and tends to have fewer additives.

I purchased a ready-made, fresh strawberry-rhubarb pie from Trader Joe’s. It is all-natural, preservative free, and best of all, inexpensive at about $6. It also happens to have plenty of crust and gooey fruitiness, which make this a full-fledged dessert. By all means, if you’d like to make your own from scratch, go ahead! Personally, I believe it’s entirely too much effort for an ice cream mix-in.  Since the recipe only calls for half of a pie, however, it’s a great use for the leftover pie we almost always have after large gatherings and potluck meals.

Coconut Milk Ice Cream with Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

  • Servings: 8
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

  • 1 cup organic (Bio) whole strawberries OR 1/2 c. Strawberries and 1/2 c. Fresh rhubarb, diced – either brought to room temperature
  • 1/2 c. Evaporated cane juice (sugar)
  • 2 Tbsp. lemon or lime juice
  • 1 Tbsp. red dessert wine (optional)
  • 3 cups coconut milk
  • 1/2 tsp. Vanilla extract

Chill the pie 1-2 hours before freezing the ice cream.  In a small food processor or blender, partially purée strawberries (or strawberry/rhubarb blend), leaving some texture.

In a small saucepan, warm the puréed fruit on medium-low heat (3-4 setting out of 10). Add the citrus juice and wine (if desired) and bring to a slight bubble. Remove from heat and bring to room temperature.  Transfer to refrigerator (or freezer to save time) and chill.

Return puree to food processor/blender and gradually pulse in coconut milk until fully incorporated.  Add vanilla extract and pulse to mix. Assemble ice cream appliance, add the coconut milk base, and freeze according to instructions.  While the ice cream is churning, cut the pie into rough chunks.  It need not be pretty! Just before the churning is finished, add in the pie pieces until dispersed evenly.

Freeze for about one hour before serving. If storing long-term, freeze in airtight containers. Thaw for an hour before serving.

Keeping cool and carrying on with chilled cucumber-avocado soup

Sometimes, salads get to be a bit mundane in the middle of a summer heat wave. That’s when a chilled gazpacho or other cold soup variant is a nice change of pace.

My adaptation of a Martha Stewart Living recipe is a summer must-try: Summer-fresh English cucumbers add lightness and volume to the richness and velvety textures of avocado and Greek yogurt.  Lest these mellow flavors put your taste buds to sleep, citrus and jalapeño kick up the soup, while green onion and dill round it out with earthy sophistication. A food processor or blender and a vegetable peeler make preparation of this no-cook soup as easy as soups get!

Healthy Diplomat approved:
The second best aspect of this refreshing soup is how healthy it is. Not only is it raw* (shh!) and vegetarian-friendly, its blend of veggies and yogurt promotes good health. Now, before you run screaming at the mention of “raw” food as a trendy, Goop-like fad that normal people shouldn’t bother to try, think about the last time you ate a salad. Hello! Raw, whole food is more ” normal”than most of the processed foods we gravitate towards.

Anyhow, the only fat in the dish comes from predominantly monounsaturated fats in the avocado. Don’t leave it out! It is high in fiber, Vitamins C and K, folate, and potassium, too. The jalapeño, though small, is densely packed with Vitamin C and capsaicin, the latter of which is an anti-inflammatory and vasodilator. Google its purported benefits – you might be surprised! Greek yogurt not only adds texture, but it offers protein to power muscles and probiotic compounds to aid in digestion. I could go on about the rest of the ingredients’ value, but I won’t bore you further.

If I haven’t convinced you to step out of your summer salad comfort zone and try this elegant soup, take a moment and pledge to try it! It might not be your typical summer dish, but that is exactly why you should try it. Refreshingly complex, delicious, and also nutritious, it’s a sophisticated summer first course or light meal you won’t forget!

*Technically, it’s not completely raw when using pasteurized dairy (yogurt). Technically.

Chilled Cucumber and Avocado Soup

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

  • 1 English cucumber, peeled
  • 1 large avocado, peeled, pitted and quartered or diced
  • 1 Tbsp. lime juice (juice of one lime)
  • 1/2 tsp. lime Zest (optional)
  • 1 small jalapeño, seeded and chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. scallion, chopped (dark green parts excluded)
  • 2 tsp. fresh dill, finely chopped
  • 1 cup nonfat, plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 1/2 tsp. sea salt

Note: Only use the white and light green parts of the scallions; set the dark green parts aside for garnish. The avocado need not be chopped prior to adding it to the food processor; simply halve and scoop the flesh with a spoon directly from the skin.

Place all ingredients, excluding water, in a blender or food processor and purée until smooth. Gradually add in water to desired consistency. Transfer to serving containers and refrigerate at least 30 minutes before serving. The flavors meld well overnight, as well; the heat from the jalapeño builds as it rests.

Garnish with diced green onion (the dark green parts set aside) and/or plantain chips.