Monday, May 30, 2011

French Vanilla Ice Cream

I love the idea of making ice cream. It reminds me of chemistry lab and I always seem to overcook it, but once it all comes together everything turns out OK. Homemade ice cream tends to be more eggy than store bought ice cream, but it is also richer in flavor and creamier. I hate ice cream that is mostly air which tends to be the new trend for store bought ice cream (with some exceptions like Ben and Jerry's). Like most foods, I love ice cream, but only if it is done right. This recipe should completely satisfy you unless you overcooked the eggs. If you overcook the eggs... well you could just say its an acquired taste. Best of luck!

This recipe if from Food Network Kitchens.

  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 2 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 vanilla bean or 1 1/2 Tbsp. vanilla extract
  • 8 large egg yolks
  • 3/4 cup sugar
In a saucepan, combine the milk and 1 cup of the cream. If you are using a vanilla bean, scrape the seeds from the pod into the milk mixture and then add the rest of the vanilla bean pod. Otherwise add the vanilla extract. Cook over medium heat until bubbles from around the edges of the pan, about 5 minutes. Using the vanilla bean creates a more natural taste, but the vanilla extract tastes great too. When choosing between the two options I usually let my budget decide. 

Meanwhile, combine the egg yolks, sugar and remaining cream in a bowl. Whisk until the mixture is smooth and the sugar begins to dissolve. I usually keep the egg whites for an omelette later. 

Remove the milk mixture from the heat. Gradually whisk about 1/2 cup of the hot milk mixture into the egg mixture, whisking constantly until smooth. Pour the egg mixture into the saucepan and cook over medium heat stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. Keep the custard at a low simmer, until it is thick enough to coat the back of the spoon and leaves a clear trail when a finger is drawn through it. This takes about 10 minutes. Do not let the custard boil and be careful and try not to over cook because this will cause the eggs to scramble which will make a very eggy tasting vanilla ice cream. Pour the mixture through a strainer and into a bowl. 

Place the bowl in a larger bowl filled with ice and water. Leave until the mixture is cool. Now you have two options: you can either place it directly into the ice cream maker or keep it refrigerated for up 24 hours.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

California Roll

For my birthday James and I went crabbing and then made sushi with family and friends. I love making california rolls because you can modify them to be just veggie so I can make them even if I don't have time to go crabbing. Also home made sushi makes a fun school lunch.

To make california rolls you will need:
  • Sushi Nori
  • Sushi Rice
  • Rice Vinegar
  • Avocado
  • Cucumber
  • Carrot
  • Crab Meat
Sushi nori is just flat sheets of seaweed. You can find sushi nori and sushi rice at Whole Foods or similar stores. To be honest I don't keep track of the amount of each ingredients I use. The directions for cooking the sushi rice can usually be found on the container. Once you have cooked the sushi rice and it has cooled pour about a tablespoon of rice vinegar on the it and stir. Then spoon out some rice and cover one side of the sushi nori with it. The amount of rice depends on your personal preference, but you want to make sure you have enough rice around the edges so your roll will stick together. Cut the carrot, cucumber and avocado into long thin pieces. Then place the carrot, avocado and cucumber pieces along with the crab meat at one end of the nori. Don't over pack it otherwise it won't roll. It is helpful to place some sort of mat under your nori to help with the rolling process. A mat made out of small bamboo sticks is best. Roll the sushi using the mat so that it sticks onto itself. This part is tricky and it is best to find a video to follow along with if it is your first time. I will try to find a good one for reference. 

Red Rock Crabs

Crabbing is one of my favorite things to do around San Francisco. With the right materials, it is a very easy and fun way to catch your own food. James and I went crabbing on Valentines Day and it was a fantastic date. We like it because it is a fun outdoor activity by the bay and we can socialize between catches. When its really cold or rainy we'll wait in the car otherwise we enjoy the view. Our favorite spot is the pier under the golden gate bridge at Fort Baker. This spot also has an amazing view of the San Francisco fireworks on New Years. Crabbing is great food related activity that is fun to do with multiple people. Taking people crabbing for their first time is always a big hit- assuming you get a good catch. Plus there are often seals that come and visit. 

I have only experienced crabbing around San Francisco and therefor much of what I mention may not be true for other locations. For starters, you need to know the rules and regulations of your area. In the bay you can only catch Red Rock Crabs and other Rock Crabs. Every once and a while you may be lucky to catch a Dungeness Crab, but you are not allowed to keep it. Dungeness crab have slightly purple legs and Rock crabs have black pincher tips. There is a steep fine for keeping Dungeness Crab caught in the bay. There is also a fine for keeping crabs that are to small. All crabs caught must be four inches or larger. 

Female Red Rock Crab
You will need a crab net, a bait cage, lots of rope and old stinky meat. It is best to avoid the wire mesh bait cages because the seals can open them and steal your bait. Plastic cages with small holes seem to work best. Its best to bring extra rope until you know how deep your crabbing spot really is. As for bait, we usually go to Safeway and buy the chicken legs on sale. Although, I have heard that cheap cat food will do the trick as well. Basically they eat anything and everything, but the stinkier the food the larger your catch. 

Once you are at a pier or spot of choice cram as much bait into your cages which should be attached to the middle of your net.  Throw the net  into the water making sure it lands face up and let out rope until the net reaches the bottom. You can usually tell when you hit bottom because the rope will loosen. Don't forget to tie the rope onto the pier. Wait 10-20 minutes before pulling the net back up. Pull the net up fast so the crabs don't fall out. If you aren't having any luck its probably not the right season. I don't know the seasons exactly so its best to just google it. Although I seem to have the best luck late summer.

Once you have your crabs back home in your kitchen its best to give them a scrub because they are always really dirty. They are usually submissive if they have been out of water for a while, but you don't want to leave them out too long, because you want to boil them when they are alive for better taste. When it comes to cooking the crab, start by bringing a big pot to boil. How long to cook the crabs depends on the kind of crab and the amount. Once again, its best to google it. When you boil them, they die pretty quickly and turn bright red. Once they are done they should be oozing nasty green and white stuff. Let them cool and begin to crack, smash or pummel which ever works best to get to the meat.

Have you ever been crabbing? What is your favorite spot?
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