Homemade ice cream!!

Mmmm ice cream!! Here in north FL, it’s been hotter than hot this last week. I’ve lived here for 10 years, but I never seem to get used to that first wave of really hot weather. YUCK. So in an attempt to beat the heat (and also feed my cooking club friends!), I broke out the ice cream maker. I LOVE making homemade ice cream! It’s really not that hard to do once you know a few secrets!

First secret – don’t use low fat ingredients!! I know,  I know… you CAN make lowfat ice cream (and I promise to try that out soon!), but the real, fattening stuff is so good and will give you the perfect creamy texture. YUM.

Second secret – any good ice cream recipe will instruct you to do this, but it’s worth repeating. Don’t add the hot liquid right to the eggs (or vice versa). You will end up with scrambled eggs. Most recipes will have you add a little bit of hot liquid to your eggs (this is called “tempering”) and then combine the tempered eggs with the remaining hot liquid.

Third secret – Patience is a virtue. Waiting stinks, but you have GOT to make sure the mixture is totally cold when it goes into the ice cream maker!!

This is the handy dandy machine that I have! It’s a Cuisinart and you can get it for under $50. I keep the bowl in the freezer at all times and the base is fairly small, which is nice for storage purposes!!

Now, let’s talk recipes. They both come from Cooks Illustrated. Love that magazine! They never steer me wrong!! The first is Burnt Sugar Ice Cream. It’s slightly bitter (kind of like dark chocolate), but creamy and rich. The second is the polar opposite – Strawberry Ice Cream. I used fresh strawberries from the farmer’s market and this ice cream SCREAMS summer!!

If you have a favorite homemade ice cream recipe, please send it my way!! I’m SO looking forward to making new combos this summer….

Knives

Before I started cooking a lot, I just used the steak knives that came in a little roundabout and that always sits on my counter. Those knives (Farberware, to be specific) still sit on my counter in one of those fancy spinny things and are used for quick hits and to put out with the dinner plates if needed.

But when I really get to cooking, I use my good knives. We got them as a wedding gift from a friend – it’s a knife block with Henckel’s knives in them. This is not the exact set, but they’re similar to these knives. I use the small and large chef’s knives the most, followed by the paring knife and the serrated knives. I also somehow ended up with two sankotu knives, which are also handy to have!

The most important thing in my block, however, is the sharpening steel!! Dull knives are not only annoying, but they are DANGEROUS. You’d think sharp knives would be more dangerous, but really the opposite is true. When your knife is dull, it’s going to slip, cause you to exert more force, etc. and you’re going to end up wounding yourself. So keep your knives sharp!! Oh and never ever put them in the dishwasher! HAND WASH ONLY!

Anyway, I love David Lebovitz’s blog and he recently blogged about knives. He gives great detail on what the different kinds of knives are, what all the fancy knife terms are all about (forged?! tang?! grip?!). You don’t have to spend a small fortune on knives to get good results in the kitchen. One or two good, sharp knives are all you need to get started!! Happy reading and happy chopping!

A word about the Indonesian Chicken

Due to my inability to stop eating the cauliflower last night, there were very few leftovers. So we were left with 2 of the Indonesian Chicken breasts for lunch today. I’m happy to report that they tasted great sliced up and put on a nice green salad. One of my favorite salad dressings is Ken’s Lite Asian Dressing….

It’s got a sesame ginger taste similar to the dressing you get on the salad at a sushi or hibachi restaurant. Anyway, with the Indonesian Chicken, Ken’s dressing, and lots of veggies, I was a happy happy girl!! So try it out with your leftovers this week!! (and for what it’s worth – nobody is paying me to say this, this is just my 2c!)

Roaster Oven Ham

I had never seen a roaster oven before I married my husband. His mom and grandmother both have one and they are ancient. But they ROCK. They use them all the time and I have come to appreciate their usefulness! When you’re preparing a big meal (like Christmas dinner!) your ham or turkey or whatever can cook in the roaster oven and not hog up space in the oven. Very handy!

I also happen to live in Florida, so it’s nice to be able to not turn the oven on at all. On at least 1 occasion, I’ve put the roaster oven in the garage in order to keep the kitchen cool! (side note – today is 12/26/08 and it was 80 degrees out! ACK!)


Roaster Oven Ham

Source: Hamilton Beach Website
Yield: Depends on how big your ham is

This produces a flavorful and moist ham. I’ve made this more than once and always with success! (works just as well with a regular ham or spiral slice)

15 pound fully cooked smoked ham
2 cups water
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup orange juice
1 cup brown sugar, packed

1. Remove rack. Pour 2 cups water into insert pan and preheat roaster oven to 325°F.

2. Trim thick part of fat off of ham down to 1/4-inch. Score remaining layer of fat into diamond design; this will help hold glaze.

3. Place ham on rack and place in roaster. Combine remaining ingredients to make glaze. Bake 1 hour.

4. Remove cover and spoon half of glaze over ham. Replace cover and bake 1 more hour.

5. Remove cover and spoon remaining glaze over ham. Replace cover, increase temperature to 400°F and bake for 10 minutes to set glaze. Internal temperature of ham should be at least 140°F.

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