Kohlrabi Spring Rolls

Several years ago, when I worked at a previous institution, the students working in our office over the summer lamented their ability to cook.  As three professional staff members who really enjoyed cooking, we wanted to pass this interest along to the students (and make sure they were eating something beyond cereal and taco Tuesdays at the local bar).  Some students were gourmands themselves, sharing how they whipped up garlic and mushrooms in the middle of the night for a bedtime snack, while others had no talents.  The basic premise was this: we would pair up two-by-two and the pair would have to decide what they were going to make.  Sometimes there would be a theme or an assignment of the course, while other times it was a free-for-all.  A shopping list would be procured and two of us would go tot he grocery store and acquire the necessary ingredients.  Finally, we would go to the boss lady’s house and spend the time doing team building, cooking, and skill-development.

On the very first of these visits, I was working with a student who didn’t have much cooking experience but was filled with ambition.  She wanted for us to make spring rolls together.  This was a slightly disastrous, but not horribly awful experience.  Since then, I have been hesitant to try spring rolls or something of the like again.  But, with an abundance of kohlrabi, I went looking for recipes and was delighted to find this recipe for Kohlrabi Spring Rolls from the Love and Lemons Cookbook.  They tasted great.  The peanut sauce could use some work — I haven’t found a homemade or store bought peanut sauce I love yet.  But, I’ll keep looking.  My rolling skills could continue to be developed, but flavor-wise, the recipe is a keeper.

Kohlrabi Spring Rolls.jpg

Kohlrabi Spring Rolls

Peanut Dipping Sauce

1/3 c creamy peanut butter
2 tsp tamari, plus more to taste
Juice of 1/2 lime, plus more to taste
2-3 Tbsp water
1 tsp sriracha, plus more to taste
1/4 c crushed peanuts, toasted

Spring Rolls

4 oz vermicelli rice noodles
1 kohlrabi bulb, sliced into matchsticks
Juice of 1/2 lime
1 mango, peeled and sliced into thin strips
1 avocado, pitted and sliced
1/2 c loosely packed basil
1/2 c loosely packed mint
8 rice papers
Sea salt
1/4 c microgreens (optional)

Make the peanut dipping sauce: In a bowl, mix together the peanut butter, tamari, lime juice, water, and sriracha and adjust the seasonings.  Sprinkle with crushed peanuts.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Cook the vermicelli rice noodles according to the instructions on the package.  Drain and set aside.

Toss the sliced kohlrabi with the lime juice and a pinch of salt.  Have all filling ingredients prepped and in front of you before you start rolling — noodles, kohlrabi, mango, avocado, basil, mint, and microgreens, if you are using.

Assemble the spring rolls: Fill a shallow baking dish or pie plate with 1 inch of warm water.  Submerge one rice paper wrapper in the warm water for 15 seconds and then lay the softened wrapper on a clean kitchen towel.  Place a portion of each filling ingredient on the rice paper.  Fold the bottom of the wrapper over the filling and gently tuck the filling under the wrapper.  Fold the sides over the filling.  Then continue rolling and tucking the rice paper to form the spring roll  Repeat with the remaining rice papers.

Serve with the peanut dipping sauce.


Dark Chocolate Zin Ice Cream

When I was going through my cupboards, I found a bottle of Zin and this sparked a recollection of seeing a recipe from Izzy’s Ice Cream shop, a great little ice cream shop in St. Paul in the Scoop Adventures cookbook, so I thought it was time to go grab this recipe and try it out.

By the way, if you get a chance to visit Izzy’s, you should definitely do it.  Not only is it close to where I went to college, but they have a great little add-on, called the Izzy scoop.

When I reviewed the ice cream and saw that it was egg yolk-based, I questioned for a moment whether I wanted to make it.  As I shared a month or so ago, I didn’t love the egg-based ice cream base I had previously attempted, but it seemed worth another shot.  Overall, I’m very happy with the recipe itself and the ice cream — the taste of the dark chocolate is strong and the zinfandel in relatively faint in the background.  My only complaint/frustration is that the ice cream is VERY soft.  It hardly firmed up.  I’m hoping that the returning it to the freezer after some scooping will help with the firmness.  That being said, it’s not so soft that it’s not servable, but in the hot summer days we’ve been having, I wouldn’t trust it to travel very far and not melt.

Dark Chocolate Zin Ice Cream

Dark Chocolate Zin Ice Cream

Chocolate Liquor
3/4 c cocoa powder
1/3 c water
1/3 c red zinfandel
1/4 c sugar
1 oz dark chocolate, chopped

Ice Cream Base
3 egg yolks
2 1/4 c heavy cream, divided
1 c whole milk
1/2 c sugar
Pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla
3 tsp balsamic vinegar, divided
1/4 c red zinfandel

To make the chocolate liquor, combine the cocoa powder, water, wine, and sugar in a small saucepan.  Place the saucepan over low heat and bring to a low boil, whisking constantly.  As soon as you see bubbles, remove from the heat and add the dark chocolate.  Let sit for 2 minutes, and then stir the chocolate liquor until smooth.  Pour into a medium bowl and set aside.

To make the ice cream base, fill a large bowl with ice water and set aside.  Lightly whisk the egg yolks in a medium bowl and set aside.  Combine 1 cup of the cream, milk, sugar, and salt in a medium saucepan and place over medium-low heat.

Warm to dissolve the sugar, about 5 minutes (do not boil).  Temper the eggs by slowly pouring the warmed cream mixture into the yolks, whisking constantly until combined.  Return the custard to the pan and stir in the remaining 1 1/4 c cream.  Warm over medium-low heat, stirring until the custard thickens and coats the back of a spoon, 8 minutes.

Remove the custard from the heat and pour through a fine-mesh sieve into the chocolate liquor.  Add the vanilla and whisk to combine.  Set the bowl into the ice water bath to cool, 20 minutes, whisking occasionally.  Once cool, add 1 teaspoon of the vinegar and stir to incorporate.  Cover and refrigerate until well-chilled, at least 4 hours or overnight.

Once chilled, pour the ice cream base into an ice cream maker and churn according to the manufacturer’s instructions.  When the ice cream has begun to freeze but is not completely frozen, slowly pour in the remaining 2 teaspoons vinegar and wine.  Complete churning.  Transfer the ice cream to a freezer-safe container and freeze overnight.

Peanut-Coconut Crunch

I was hoping this recipe would be like a slightly different version of the cereal bars, which are a family favorite of ours.  And, maybe they are in the long run, but I found myself disappointed with this recipe.  So much so, I thought I had to have made a mistake the first time I put these together and made them a second time.  They still didn’t meet my expectations.  But, if you love corn syrup, maybe they would be exactly what you are looking for from a bar.  Perhaps some vanilla in the sauce could help improve this recipe, but I’m not willing to try it again.  Let me know if you decide to try it.

The bar recipe came from the Recipes from Iowa with Love Cookbook.  I think the cookbook is fine, but this recipe is not one I would recreate.  So, please let me know if you’ve been able to improve upon this recipe.

Peanut Coconut Crunch.jpg

Peanut-Coconut Crunch

4 c corn flakes
1 c coconut
1 c salted peanuts
1 c sugar
1 c corn syrup
1/2 c cream

Place corn flakes, coconut, and peanuts in a buttered mixing bowl.  Combine sugar, syrup, and cream in a small saucepan and place over medium heat.  Stir until sugar is dissolved.  Continue to cook until mixture reaches soft ball stage (238 degrees on a candy thermometer).  Pour syrup mixture over the ingredients in the mixing bowl, and stir.  Pour into a 9×13 buttered pan and cut while still warm.

Tahini Blondie Ice Cream Sandwiches

Some of my friends have wondered what I’ve been doing with the ice cream I’m making this summer.  And, while lots of it has made its way other places, I also have been on the lookout for other recipes using ice cream.  Having read Molly’s blog for quite some time, I was excited to read her cookbook when it came out.  One of the recipes included was for these Tahini blondie ice cream sandwiches.  After making the animal cracker ice cream, I thought it could be a great complement to the tahini flavor in the bars, and I was right.

I didn’t have 2 8×8 pans on-hand, so I ended up baking the bars in two round pans.  I was very happy with how these turned out and have them in the freezer for the next time friends stop by!

Tahini Blondie Ice Cream Sandwiches

Tahini Blondie Ice Cream Sandwiches

1 1/2 c flour
3/4 c sugar
3/4 c brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
3/4 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 c unsalted butter, melted, but not hot
1 1/4 c tahini
3 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 pints vanilla ice cream

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Grease to 8×8 in baking dishes and line them with parchment paper, allowing 1-inch wings to hang over all 4 edges.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, salt, and baking powder.  In a medium bowl, whisk together the melted butter, 3/4 c of the tahini, the eggs, and vanilla.  Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir with a wooden spoon or spatula to combine.  Divide the mixture between the two baking dishes and spread it out evenly with a spatula or your hands.

Bake until the center is just set.  Begin checking for doneness at 23 minutes.  Cool the pans completely.

While the blondies cool, allow the ice cream to soften at room temperature to a spreadable consistency.

Using an offset spatula, spread the softened ice cream evenly over one of the blondies while it’s still in the pan.  Drizzle on the remaining 1/2 c tahini and use the spatula to swirl it into the ice cream.  Place the other blondie on top of the ice cream and freeze for 4 hours, until the ice cream is firm.

Using the parchment wing, lift the whole thing out of the pan and onto a cutting board.  Use a sharp knife to trim the edges (if desired, this isn’t necessary) and cut it into 1 1/2-to-2-inch squares.

Wrap individually in plastic wrap or place in an airtight container and store in the freezer.  Dip in sprinkles right before serving, if desired.

Brisket and Sweet Potato Hash

In July, we had a neighborhood gathering and my neighbor Roy made an excellent smoked brisket.  Along with his barbecue sauce, it was delicious.  I had previously had an opportunity to eat some brisket he had smoked, and now I know that when I smell the smoker going early in the morning, I should do what I can to get invited for dinner that night.  He’s clued me in on a few things to look for online and I hope to some day have his talents.  In addition to the brisket, he made delicious burnt ends, and there was a theme of items that started with “b” at the barbecue — broccoli salad, brisket, burnt ends, bruschetta, boozy sangria, boozy margaritas, brownies, baked beans, and more.  Someone had requested I make apple coleslaw again, but we called it bowlslaw, to help it fit into the theme.

At the end of the night, Roy sent home some brisket with us and I had grown a little tired of fried eggs for breakfast.  However, we both noted that the brisket, on top of a bun with, along with some of the coleslaw made for an excellent sandwich.  I decided to get creative with a hash and some sweet potatoes.  I thought this would add some great smoky flavor.  I also added some Phat Daddy’s Smokehouse Rub.  When I reheated this for breakfast, at times I added some scrambled eggs, but it was great on its own as well.

Brisket and Sweet Potato Hash.jpg

Brisket and Sweet Potato Hash

1 sweet potato, diced
5-6 slices of smoked brisket, chunked
1/2 small onion, diced
1/2 Tbsp Smokehouse Rub
salt and pepper to taste
4 oz cream cheese

Animal Cracker Ice Cream

As I have mentioned, I have spent a lot of time this spring and summer trying to go through different parts of my cabinets, refrigerator, etc, to use up some different ingredients.  One thing I found while doing so was a half-eaten box of animal crackers.  I started to think about how I might bake with them when I came across this recipe in the Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream Desserts cookbook for Graham Cracker Ice Cream, with a variation listed for animal cracker ice cream.  After a series of relatively adventurous ice creams, this seemed like a more standard ice cream to throw together and use up some of the ingredients I had on-hand.  The cookbook described the recipe as “both familiar and indescribably delicious” and that description fit nicely.  I would consider increasing the number of animal crackers in the ice cream, because the flavor was fairly faint by the time I ate the ice cream.

Animal Cracker Ice Cream

Animal Cracker Ice Cream

2 2/3 c whole milk
1 Tbsp plus 2 tsp cornstarch
2 oz cream cheese, softened
1/8 tsp fine sea salt
1 1/2 c heavy cream
3/4 c sugar
1/4 c corn syrup
1/2 c roughly chopped animal crackers

Mix about 2 Tbsp of the milk with the cornstarch in a small bowl to make a smooth slurry.  Whisk the cream cheese and salt in a medium bowl until smooth.  Fill a large bowl with ice and water.

Combine the remaining milk, cream, sugar, and corn syrup in a 4-quart saucepan, bring to a boil over medium-high heat, and boil for 4 minutes.  Remove from the heat and gradually whisk in the cornstarch slurry.  Bring the mixture back to a boil over medium-high heat and cook, stirring with a heatproof spatula, until slightly thickened, about 1 minute.  Remove from the heat.

Gradually whisk the hot milk mixture into the cream cheese until smooth.  Add the crackers and allow the mixture to steep until the crackers dissolve about 3 minutes.  Force the mixture through a sieve, then pour into a 1-gallon Ziploc freezer bag and submerge the sealed bag in the ice bath.  Let stand, adding more ice as necessary, until cold, about 30 minutes.

Pour the ice cream into your ice cream machine and follow their directions.  Pack the ice cream into a storage container.  Freeze in the coldest part of your freezer until firm, at least 4 hours.

Brined Pork Chops with Peach-Ginger Glaze

It’s grilling season and I have been so intrigued by cooking different meats up this summer.  It probably is not very evident because I’ve spent a lot of time baking as well (why I’m doing that in this heat is beyond me, but it’s part of what I’ve been doing).  Nevertheless, this recipe from Smoke and Pickles uses gin in the brine and that was enough to make me decide to cook it.  So, I grabbed some pork chops and peaches the minute they were in season and put this together.  Note that I couldn’t find the pistachios I could have sworn I had on-hand and so I didn’t make the gremolata that went with the recipe.

Brined Pork Chops with Peach-Ginger Glaze.jpg

Brined Pork Chops with Peach-Ginger Glaze

1 c gin
2 c water
1/4 c kosher salt
3 Tbsp sorghum
3 Tbsp brown sugar

Four 1-inch-thick pork loin chops

3 peaches
1/4 c dry white wine
2 tsp grated fresh ginger
2 tsp honey
Pinch of salt, pinch of black pepper

Pistachio Gremolata

1 c pistachios
1/4 c dried bread crumbs
Grated zest of 1 lemon
1 1/2 Tbsp chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 1/2 tsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper

2 Tbsp olive oil

To make the brine: Bring the gin to a boil in a small saucepan over medium heat and boil until reduced to about 1/4 cup.  Add the remaining ingredients and stir over low heat just to dissolve the brown sugar.  Take off the heat and allow to cool to room temperature.

Place the pork chops in a gallon-size resealable plastic bag and pour the cooled brine into the bag.  Close the bag and brine the pork chops in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours, or up to 24 hours.

To make the glaze: Peel the peaches, cut each peach in half and remove the pit.  Cube the flesh and transfer to a small saucepan.  Add the wine, ginger, honey, and salt and pepper, bring to a simmer, and cook for 10 minutes, or until the peaches are very soft.  Let cool about 15 minutes.

Transfer the peaches and liquid to a blender and puree on high until smooth.  The smell of the sweet peaches and ginger should fill the room.  Transfer to a bowl and refrigerate until ready to use.

To make the gremolata: Combine all the ingredients in a food processor and pulse about 10 times to a rough paste; you can also grind them in a mortar with the pestle.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Remove the pork chops from the brine (discard the brine) and pat dry with paper towels.  Heat the olive oil in a large cast-iron skillet over medium heat.  Add the pork chops and cook for 3 minutes on each side, until browned and nicely caramelized.

Brush a dollop of the peach glaze over each pork chop.  Sprinkle a generous even layer of the gremolata over the glaze.  Transfer the pan to the oven and bake for 12 to 14 minutes, until the pork is cooked to medium-rare.  The juices should run clear when a chop is pierced with a knife close to the bone.  The glaze will be set and the gremolata should look just a shade brown and crunchy on top.  Let the cooked chops rest in the pan for 5 minutes.