4th of July: Strawberry Buttermilk Ice Cream

It has been way too hot to bake lately and I haven’t been doing a whole lot of cooking either.  Trying to conserve energy– both my own and that of the electricity in my apartment.  I don’t have central air and my little window unit only does the trick for about a third of the apartment and the kitchen is not in that third.  No matter.  I decided it was a good excuse to buy myself a new ice cream maker (as if one needs a good excuse!).  The freezer bowl on my old one started leaking blue fluid everywhere which I’m guessing is not a good thing at all.  It had to go.

I bought some lovely strawberries at the market last weekend and they looked and smelled like strawberries ought to and while I generally think that ice cream should always involve chocolate in one form or another I have occasionally been known to choose strawberry as an alternative flavor.  It just sounded refreshing in this heat.

And man was that a wise decision.  I could have slurped up the batter when it was more like a thick strawberry milk and skipped the freezing step where it turned into ice cream.  It’s that good.  The addition of buttermilk really melds nicely with the strawberries– makes it  little richer.

I hope everyone enjoys their July 4th and manages to avoid the heat!  It’s going to be a sticky one today…

Strawberry Buttermilk Ice Cream

  • 3 cups strawberries, cleaned, stemmed, and sliced
  • 1 ¼ cups sugar
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 5 large egg yolks
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • ¼ cup buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

In a small bowl combine the strawberries, ½ cup of sugar, and lemon juice.  Stir gently and then set aside for 30 minutes to 2 hours to let berries macerate.  Strain the berries, reserving juices.  Mash or puree half the berries.

Meanwhile, combine egg yolks and remaining ¾ cup of sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer. Beat at medium-high speed until very thick and pale yellow, 3 to 5 minutes.

In a medium saucepan, heat milk and whisk in egg-yolk mixture over low heat.  Stir constantly, until mixture has thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon.

Remove from heat and immediately stir in heavy cream.  Pass mixture through a strainer into a medium mixing bowl set in an ice bath until chilled, stirring from time to time.  Stir in vanilla, buttermilk, and juice from strawberries along with the mashed strawberries, then freeze in an ice-cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions.  Five minutes before mixing is complete add the reserved strawberry slices and let mix in completely.  Transfer to plastic container to store.

strawberry freezer jam

All of my adult life I’ve been on the hunt for jam that tastes as good as what my mom made when I was growing up.  It’s been a pretty fruitless (no pun intended) search.  There’s a Polish brand of preserves that almost hits the mark, but doesn’t quite.  I’ve also tried many farmer’s market homemade jams over the years and while they are good and often involved multiple flavors in one jar (jalapeno-pear say, or blueberry-rhubarb), they tend to be on the expensive side and sometimes all you want is simple strawberry jam for your toast.

My mom has told me for years that it is super simple to make but until last week I had never once attempted.  How foolish I was!  Once again, should have listened to my mom earlier.  It’s one of the simplest things to put together and I have to admit I was kind of pumped picking up a pack of Ball jars for canning at the grocery store.  Made me feel all resourceful and stuff.

One thing that I wasn’t wild about in this recipe: the amount of sugar required.  I asked my mom if I could cut it down and she advised that you can skimp by about a 1/4 of a cup but don’t dare cut more than that or it won’t set properly.  I heeded her advice and the jam came out great.  Since a little goes a long ways and you don’t eat it by the cup-full the sugar isn’t such a big deal after all.  Now I just need to get my mom’s bread recipe and I’ll totally be in business.  Stay tuned…

Strawberry Freezer Jam (from Sure Jell packaging recipe)

  • 2 pints of strawberries, rinsed, hulled, and sliced in half
  • 4 cups sugar
  • 1 box Sure Jell fruit pectin
  • ¾ cup water

Crush strawberries with a potato masher or place in a food processor and pulse to finely chop.  Do not puree.  Jam should have chunks of fruit.

Measure crushed strawberries (you want 2 cups exactly, discard any excess fruit) into large bowl.  Pour 4 cups of sugar over strawberries and stir.  Let stand 10 minutes; stir occasionally.

Stir 1 box of pectin and ¾ cup water into small saucepan.  Bring to boil on high heat, stirring constantly.  Boil 1 minute, stirring constantly.  Remove from heat.

Stir pectin mixture into fruit mixture.  Stir constantly until sugar is completely dissolved and no longer grainy, about 3 minutes.

Pour into five 8 oz. plastic or glass jelly jars, leaving a ½-inch space at top for expansion during freezing; cover.

Let stand at room temperature 24 hours until set.  Refrigerate up to 3 weeks.  Otherwise, store in freezer for up to 1 year.  Thaw in refrigerator.

berry season is here!

I hadn’t been to the farmer’s market for a few weeks so was pleasantly surprised to see loads of strawberries, raspberries, and even a few tart cherries on Saturday.  Allegedly there are some local blueberries that are coming in too but alas, I bought mine on sale at the supermarket last week and they originated in California.  Never mind.  The season is upon us no matter where the berries may have grown!

I had been craving blueberry muffins ever since I brought the blueberries home so this morning got to quick work making it happen.  I tried a Barefoot Contessa recipe that sounded interesting due to the streusel topping (I’m a sucker for streusel toppings) and use of lemon zest in the batter.  I know Ina is a big fan of using lemon zest to bring out other flavors in baking (or adding coffee to chocolate baked goods to deepen the chocolate flavor) and it really works here.  It brightens the flavor of the muffin, if that makes sense.

They were a cinch to make and they made a lovely second breakfast this morning.  The first breakfast of steel cut oats was hearty and all but not the most exciting.  (No offense steel cut oats, we’re still bros.)

Blueberry Streusel Muffins (from “Barefoot Contessa: Back to Basics” by Ina Garten)

  • 3 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 4 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups buttermilk, shaken
  • ¼ pound (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 ½ teaspoons grated lemon zest
  • 2 extra-large eggs
  • 2 cups fresh blueberries (2 half-pints)

For the streusel topping:

  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) cold unsalted butter, diced

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Line two 12-cup muffin tins with paper liners.

Sift the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a large bowl and blend with your hands.  In a separate bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, butter, lemon zest, and eggs.  Stir the buttermilk mixture into the flour mixture with a fork, mixing just until blended.  Fold the blueberries into the batter.  Don’t overmix!  With a standard (2 1/4-inch) ice-cream scoop or large spoon, scoop the batter into the prepared cups, filling them almost full.

For the topping, place all the ingredients in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade and pulse until the butter is in very small pieces.  Pour into a bowl and rub with your fingers until crumbly.  Spoon about 1 tablespoon of the streusel on top of each muffin.  Bake the muffins for 20 to 25 minutes, until golden brown.

Strawberry Rhubarb Cobbler with Cornmeal Biscuit Topping

You might be thinking to yourself, another rhubarb recipe?  I hope you aren’t, but if you are I get it.  I have rhubarb coming out the wazoo right now so have been experimenting a lot with it lately.  I am also simultaneously trying to clear out my freezer of last year’s fruit to make room for this year’s and last June I did some serious strawberry-picking and thus still have it in abundance in my freezer.  So when I found another awesome-sounding recipe for a strawberry-rhubarb combination I knew it was meant to be.

This time I bring you a cobbler with a cornmeal biscuit topping.  The cornmeal topping made it a bit lighter than traditional cobblers so in turn I did not feel guilty eating it for breakfast and dessert in the same day.  I love it when that happens!

I hope everyone had a lovely Memorial Day weekend, relaxed with friends and family, and ate lots of good food.  I am still thinking about the various grilled and barbecued meats I consumed over the weekend.  They were all awesome but think I will be detoxing with lots of vegetables this week…

Strawberry Rhubarb Cobbler with Cornmeal Biscuit Topping (recipe found at www.epicurious.com)

Filling

  •   ½ cup sugar
  •   2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  •   1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  •   2 12-ounce baskets strawberries, hulled, halved
  •   1 ½ cups ½ -inch-thick slices fresh or frozen rhubarb

Topping

  •   1 cup all-purpose flour
  •   1/3 cup sugar
  •   ¼ cup yellow cornmeal
  •   1 tablespoon baking powder
  •   1 teaspoon baking soda
  •   Pinch of salt
  •   3 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, diced
  •   ½ cup low-fat buttermilk

Preheat oven to 400°F. Mix sugar, flour and cloves in large bowl. Add strawberries and rhubarb and toss to coat with sugar mixture. Transfer filling to 10-inch-diameter glass pie dish

Mix flour, sugar, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda and salt in medium bowl. Add butter and rub in with fingertips until mixture resembles coarse meal.   Gradually add buttermilk, tossing with fork until moist clumps form (do not overmix). Spoon topping evenly over filling.

Bake until topping is golden brown and filling is tender, about 25 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Happy Mother’s Day!

The lady on the left taught me how to bake pies, amongst many, many other things.  Thanks Mom.  You’re the best.  (Incidentally the lady on the right taught me how to bake some awesome banana bread.  Thanks Aunt Sarah, you’re awesome too.)

I’m the blonde child with the giant red Solo cup that is partially obscuring my cousin’s face in this image.  Sorry cuz.  Looks like I was way more into the grape Kool-Aid or whatever that dark liquid is in the background than I was into smiling for the photo.  Sorry about that Mom.  You and Aunt Sarah look great.  You make the 80’s look stylish.

I remember once when my mom was baking a pie (which she often did) and she had some leftover pie dough that she let my brother and I make our own mini pies with.  I don’t remember the exact details but I think we were either short on fruit in the house that day or she was letting my brother and I get creative with the filling as I recall that my brother filled his mini pie with strawberry jam (smart move, bro).  My choice?  Grapes.  Yeah.  Raw green grapes.  Not good.  Pretty sure the family dog was the only one who enjoyed my pie that day…

But I totally appreciate the fact that my mom let us experiment in the kitchen and also just that she was such an amazing baker and mom and still is.

Her standards are peach, blueberry, or apple pies, but she must have made strawberry rhubarb pies back in the day too.  I realized this today when I ate a bite of the strawberry rhubarb pie I made and it totally brought me back to my childhood and tasted like summer all at the same time.

Thanks for always being an inspiration Mom.

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie (adapted slightly from “Betty Crocker’s Cookbook”)

  • 3 cups 1/2″-thick slices of rhubarb
  • 3 cups strawberries, hulled and sliced
  • 1 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup tapioca flour

Preheat oven to 425.  Combine all of the above ingredients in a bowl.  Pour mixture into pie shell (see below for pie crust recipe).  Place top pie crust over filling and crimp around the edges to seal to bottom crust.  Slice vents into top pie crust.  Cover the crust with aluminum foil to prevent crust from burning.  Bake for 45 minutes.  Remove aluminum foil and bake for 10 minutes more or until crust is golden brown.  Let cool for 2 hours before consuming.

Two Crust Pie Pastry (from Betty Crocker’s Cookbook)

  • 2 cups all-purpose or unbleached flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons shortening
  • 4 to 5 tablespoons cold water

Mix flour and salt in medium bowl.  Cut in shortening, using pastry blender or crisscrossing 2 knives, until particles are size of small peas.  Sprinkle with cold water, 1 tablespoon at a time, tossing with fork until all flour is moistened and pastry almost leaves side of bowl (1 to 2 teaspoons more water can be added if necessary).

Gather pastry into a ball.  Shape into two flattened rounds.  If desired, wrap flattened rounds of pastry in plastic wrap and refrigerate about 30 minutes to firm up the shortening slightly, which helps make the baked pastry more flaky and lets the water absorb evenly throughout the dough.

Roll pastry on lightly floured surface, using floured rolling pin, into circle 2 inches larger than upside-down pie plate.  Fold pastry into fourths and place in pie plate; or roll pastry loosely around rolling pin and transfer to pie plate.  Unfold or unroll pastry and ease into plate, pressing firmly against bottom and side and being careful not to stretch pastry, which will cause it to shrink when baked.