Colorado Peaches and Cream Ice Cream

Two weekends ago, I broke out our newest kitchen appliance, a Cuisinart ICE-21 Yogurt-Ice Cream, and Sorbet Maker, to churn up a quart of ice cream featuring one of Colorado’s prized summer agricultural wonders, the Western Slope Palisade Peach. I debated its merits in one of my early blog posts, but after living in Colorado for a few years, I’ve come around to the glory that resides beneath the fuzzy skin of the state’s favorite stone fruit.

Succeeding at a double-crust pie that happened to be stuffed with fresh Colorado peaches earlier this month may have been the turning point for me in the best state peaches contest. I’m still thinking about joyously forking up a bite of buttery lattice crust commingled with its sweet and tangy peach pie partner-in-crime. But a gal can’t survive on pie alone. Sometimes she needs a scoop of ice cream.

Below you’ll find a great ice cream recipe that blends seasonal peaches with a vanilla custard base that’s been tweaked from the one I tried. The original recipe was not creamy enough for my tastes and unfortunately instructed me to use chopped fresh fruit as an add-in. Bad move. While the ice cream photo shows off pretty peach chunks in the ice cream scoops, those chunks are like flavored ice cubes that hurt my teeth whenever I bit into one. My solution: create a sweetened peach puree that’s added into the ice cream near the end of the churning process as I did with the Strawberry Balsamic Ice Cream earlier this summer. You’ll get amped-up peach flavor that goes down smoothly and will have you scrambling for another scoop.

Colorado Peaches and Cream Ice Cream

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Colorado Peaches and Cream Ice Cream
(adapted from a Sweet Cream and Sugar Cones recipe)
Makes about 1 quart


Ingredients

For the Peach Puree:
– 3 cups peeled, seeded, and chopped ripe peaches

– 2 TBS sugar (Add more, to taste, if your peaches are tart.)

For the Custard Base:
– 1 3/4 cup heavy cream

– 3/4 cup whole milk

– 1/2 cup sugar

– 1/4 tsp kosher salt or sea salt

– 1 vanilla bean

– 5 egg yolks

– 2 tsp pure vanilla extract

Directions
Make the Peach Puree:
1. Combine the peaches with the 2 TBS sugar in a large, nonreactive skillet. (Avoid using cast-iron here.) Put the skillet over medium heat, and cook, stirring frequently, until the peaches are soft and the liquid they release has reduced somewhat, 6 to 8 minutes.

2. Let cool slightly, then transfer the peaches and their juice to a blender or food processor. Puree until smooth, and refrigerate until ready to use.

Make the custard base:
1. In a heavy, nonstick saucepan, stir together the cream, milk, 1/4 cup of the sugar, and salt. Split the vanilla bean lengthwise and use a knife to scrape out the seeds. Add the seeds and the bean to the pan and put it over medium-high heat.

2. When the mixture begins to simmer, remove from the heat, cover, and steep for 30 minutes.

3. Make the base: In a heatproof bowl, whisk the egg yolks just to break them up, then whisk in remaining 1/4 cup sugar until smooth.

4. Uncover the cream mixture, move it onto medium-high heat, and when it starts simmering, reduce the heat to medium.

5. Carefully scoop a 1/2 cup of the hot cream while whisking the eggs constantly, and add the cream to the eggs. Repeat adding another 1/2 cup hot cream to the bowl of eggs. Using a heatproof spatula, stir the remaining cream in the pan as you slowly pour the egg/cream mix back from the bowl into the pan.

6. Cook this mixture carefully over medium heat, stirring the entire time. When it is thickened, 1-2 minutes later, it will coat the back of your spatula or wooden spoon and if you run your finger across the spoon it will create a clear path that holds. Remove from heat.

7. Strain the base through a fine-mesh strainer into a clean container. (I use a cheese cloth or fine metal strainer for this). Set the container into an ice-water bath and stir with a clean spatula until the base is cool. Cover and refrigerate the base for at least 2 hours or overnight. (I usually go the 2-hour route because I want ice cream as soon as possible.)

8. Now that the custard base has cooled for at least two hours, remove the bean, and add the vanilla extract to the base and stir. Spin in your ice cream machine for about 20 minutes, or until the ice cream is fluffy and thick, adding the peach puree during the last few minutes of churning to blend. Transfer your ice cream to a chilled plastic container and freeze for at least 4 hours.

‘Forgive and Mostly Forget’ Marinated Zucchini

Before I grew a yellow variety of zucchini this year (not the crookneck yellow squash piling up at the supermarket), I’d thought zucchini could only be a dark-green, thin-skinned squash. Apparently the kind I grew this year is known as a “golden” zucchini, a hybrid of the green and crookneck. Honestly I can’t taste the difference, though the skin on our squash species is thin like that of zucchini and there is no crooking of the neck. I can vouch for its ability to blend well into a variety of dishes and for cooking up well in savory dishes.

Speaking of zucchini, you sick of them yet? I hope not because I’ve got more zucchini-filled recipes coming your way. Below you’ll find an easy marinated zucchini dish I hit upon while scrolling through the seemingly endless summer vegetable recipes on Food52. Food52 is a great food blog that see itself as a community sharing recipes, cooking tips, and cooking. Here’s a link to their “About” page if you’re interested. As far as I can tell, the editors at Food52 aggregate recipes, and today’s recipe originates from Canal House Cooking Volume No. 8: Pronto, a cookbook created by the cooks at the much-loved Canal House in New Jersey. The Canal House slow-cooker lentils I made last year is still a cold-weather favorite at the Middleton and Turner house.

This zucchini recipe calls for few ingredients and little prep time. The only planning comes in giving yourself enough time to allow the lightly browned zucchini pieces to soak up the additional flavors of the marinade. Even if you don’t have a squash plant that’s too legit to quit, I recommend picking up a few zucchini from your grocery store this weekend and giving this recipe a try. You’ll end up with a delicious side that’s a great veggie sandwich filling, too.

Marinated Zucchini

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Canal House’s Marinated Zucchini
(from Food52)
Serves 2 to 4


Ingredients

– 5 TBS extra-virgin olive oil, divided

– 1/2 lb very small zucchini, trimmed and halved lengthwise

– Salt

– 1/2 clove garlic, minced

– 1 TBS red wine vinegar

– Pepper

– A small handful fresh basil leaves, sliced

Directions
1. Working in batches as needed, heat 2 TBS of olive oil in a heavy medium skillet (I used my 10″ cast-iron skillet) over medium-high heat. Arrange the zucchini cut side down in one layer in the hot skillet and cook until browned, about 3 minutes. Use a fork or tongs to turn the zucchini over, then cook them until tender, about 2 minutes, reducing the heat if the zucchini get too dark. Transfer the zucchini to a shallow dish and sprinkle with salt.

2. Whisk together the garlic, vinegar, and remaining 3 TBS of olive oil in a small bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Pour the vinaigrette over the zucchini, and add the basil. Gently toss everything together and adjust the seasonings.

3. Let the zucchini marinate at room temperature for about 1 hour before serving. Alternately, let marinate longer in the refrigerator. Tightly covered, marinated zucchini will keep for up to a week in the refrigerator.

Whole-Wheat Zucchini Pancakes

Our zucchini plants show no sign of giving up the ghost, and I’ve been scrambling to make use of their squash offerings as quickly as possible to enjoy them at peak freshness. A couple of weeks ago my pal Anna, solidarity sister during my tropical Malaysia days, shared a zucchini pancake recipe that I eyed for a week before trying.

The recipe was far from unappetizing, but Cameron and I have a love-hate relationship with pancakes. We love their taste but hate the inevitable carb coma they put us in after we make our way through our respective stacks. Still, I was intrigued with the prospect of finding a new home for at least one of our zucchini, and this recipe uses whole-wheat flour over the standard all-purpose variety. Also, the recipe post on the Two Peas and Their Pod blog included beautifully lit pancakes. Who can say no to a beautifully lit pancake?

Beyond the time it took me to manually grate the zucchini (if you have a food processor with a grater blade attachment, this is the time to break it out), assembling the ingredients was painless. I was able to stack 16 pancakes, Jenga-style, on a plate before the empty batter bowl forced me to call it quits. We did not eat all 16 pancakes in one go, though it would have been easy to overindulge because they turned out fluffy despite the zucchini addition. I cooled the leftover pancakes before popping them in freezer bags for a future pancake-filled breakfast.

Despite maintaining our 3-pancake limit, we had items on the to-do list and a narrow window to finish them on Sunday, so even the smallest risk of a carb coma could not be in the cards. Our remedy: Dish up a few pancakes each with a cooked egg or a protein-dense veggie or chicken sausage for a balanced breakfast.

Zucchini Pancakes

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Whole-Wheat Zucchini Pancakes
(adapted from a Two Peas and Their Pod recipe)
Makes 12 to 16 pancakes

Ingredients
– 2 1/4 cups white whole-wheat flour (I used whole-wheat pastry flour with good results.)

– 2 tsp baking powder

– 1/2 tsp baking soda

– 1/2 tsp table salt

– 3/4 tsp cinnamon

– 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

– 2 TBS brown sugar

– 1 TBS granulated sugar

– 2 cups buttermilk

– 4 TBS unsalted butter, melted and cooled

– 2 large eggs

– 1 tsp vanilla extract

– 1 cup grated zucchini (I used the yellow zucchini from my garden. Be sure to press or squeeze as much liquid as possible from the grated zucchini before using in this recipe. Otherwise, your batter will be very runny, you’ll end up with lumpy crepes. Edible certainly, but no pancake.)

– Maple syrup and butter, for serving

Directions
1. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and sugars.

2. In a separate bowl, whisk together buttermilk, melted butter, eggs, and vanilla extract. Pour liquid ingredients over dry ingredients, stirring until just combined. Fold in the zucchini.

3. Heat a griddle or pan to medium heat. Spray with cooking spray or add just enough canola oil to lightly coat the pan’s surface. Pour about a 1/3 cup of batter onto heated skillet. Cook until surface of pancakes have some bubbles and a few have burst, about 3 minutes. Flip carefully with a spatula, and cook until browned on the underside. Continue making pancakes until the batter is gone. Serve pancakes with butter and maple syrup, if desired.

It’s Never too Hot for Hatch Chile Mac and Cheese

This weekend I grabbed a handful of Hatch Chiles from our supermarket’s produce section. A seasonal pepper that hails from New Mexico’s Hatch Valley, I’d never heard of Hatch Chiles until I moved to Austin, Texas. When the Hatch Chile harvest starts arriving to markets in Texas, folks get inventive in their recipes, and I tried all sorts of tasty takes on Hatch Chile-infused dishes.

These days Colorado green chile farmers are working hard to make a name for their local chiles (Pueblo is our state’s chile hot spot), so I may be booed for showing Hatch love in today’s recipe. Coloradans, before you delete my name from your contact lists and unfriend me on various social media sites, I fully endorse substituting our local chiles for the Hatch variety in this homemade macaroni and cheese offering. Can we still be friends?

Below you’ll find my take on a local’s green chile macaroni and cheese recipe. Rather than go wild with a regular green chile sauce, I added my roasted chile of choice to a traditional made-from-scratch cheese sauce before stirring in the pasta and baking to crispy and gooey perfection. Exactly what Cameron and I needed on a Sunday night.

Hatch Chile Mac and Cheese

Image by author.

Hatch Chile Mac and Cheese
Serves 4 as a main dish

Ingredients
– 1/2 lb any shaped pasta (I used shells), cooked for 3 minutes less than the al dente instructions, then rinsed and set aside

– 3 TBS butter

– 3 TBS all-purpose flour

– Salt and pepper to taste

– Half a medium onion, diced

– 2 roasted Hatch Chiles, stems and seeds removed, and chopped finely (If you can’t get Hatch chiles, try poblanos. I used one mild and one medium-hot Hatch.)

– 1 TBS stone ground mustard

– 2 cups whole milk

– 1/2 lb (8 oz.) of shredded cheddar (I used Colby Jack.)

Directions
1. Melt butter in a heavy pot on medium heat, and add onions to soften, about two minutes. Add green chiles and combine. Add salt and freshly ground black pepper (about 1/2 tsp of each), mustard, and flour to mixture, and let flour cook for about two to three minutes.

2. While that’s going, preheat oven to 500 degrees F. Then, place 2 cups milk in a microwave-safe bowl, and heat for 1 1/2 minutes in your microwave. Slowly add the warmed milk to the flour mixture and whisk to combine–allow to thicken for about 5 minutes–continually stirring for smooth base.

3. Once the mixture is slightly thickened, add your shredded cheese (reserving some to top). When the cheese is melted into the sauce, return the pasta to the pot and combine.

4. Place mac and cheese into a baking dish, sprinkle with remaining cheese, and bake for at least ten minutes, until the cheese topping bubbled and begins to brown in spots.

5. Pull from oven and dish up. We ate ours alongside generous servings of lightly sautéed broccoli, our idea of penance.

‘Beat the Kitchen Heat’ Slow-Cooker Creamed Corn with Hatch Chiles

Sweet corn season is upon us here in Colorado. People grew Silver Queen corn all over the great state of Alabama when I was growing up, but here in Colorado, we count on our late July and August haul of Olathe sweet corn to get our sweet grain fix. Located along the Western Slope of the state, Olathe is small farm town at the foot of a plateau with views of the San Juan Mountains to the south. While its modern corn crops are more sweet than starch, Olathe corn can be traced to its origins in ancestral Puebloan farming.

These days Olathe sweet corn is a major economic asset for the state’s agricultural community, and the town holds an annual corn festival during the first week of August to celebrate the crop. If you haven’t tasted Olathe sweet, prepare yourself for a sweet and tender kernel. According to David Harold, owner of Olathe Sweet Corn Co., the “Western Slope’s warm days and cool nights” contribute to the corn’s particular flavor and texture. Right now Olathe Sweet is on sale at farmers’ markets and in groceries stores across the state. If you’re not lucky enough to live close to pick up a bag or bushel’s worth of Colorado’s local corn, you can still enjoy today’s summer-friendly recipe. I have no doubt you’ll find tasty varieties in your hometown, too.

Olathe Sweet

Image by author.

I’ve eaten my fair share of fresh corn this summer, boiled and grilled. Today’s recipe, slow-cooker creamed corn, gave me a chance to try my hand at something more decadent but equally easy to prepare. I ate plenty of canned creamed corn as a kid, but usually it was gloppy and left a weird film in my mouth after I’d finished my plate. I can promise that you’ll suffer none of those charges here if you take on this recipe, and you’ll benefit from having a slow-cooked dish that doesn’t steam up your kitchen. Since we don’t use air conditioning in our old house, if the kitchen heats up, the rest of our home soon follows.

Served alongside burgers and a fresh salad, the richness of the dairy in this recipe isn’t overwhelming and the corn’s natural sweetness balances well with the savory qualities of the other ingredients. Speaking of other ingredients, I added two chopped mild Hatch Chiles (seeds removed!) to the recipe since it’s also Hatch Chile season out here, and not surprisingly the addition was a good move. Also, you’ll have plenty to bring to a potluck, BBQ, or picnic. Your friends and family will appreciate such a delicious side, and you won’t be tempted to eat eight servings in one setting.

Slow-cooker cream corn

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Slow-Cooker Creamed Corn
(a Kitchn recipe)
Serves 8 to 10 as a side

Ingredients
– 2 lbs frozen corn kernels, 4 15.5 cans corn kernels (drained), or kernels from 5 to 6 ears of fresh sweet corn

– 2 mild Hatch Chiles, seeds removed and chopped (optional but highly recommended)

– 1 tsp salt, plus more to taste

– 1 cup milk, whole or 2%

– 4 TBS (1/2 stick) unsalted butter

-8 oz cream cheese

– Black pepper, to taste

CCN Creamed corn ingredients

Image by author.

Instructions
1. Combine the corn and salt in the slow cooker. Pour the milk over the top of the corn and Hatch chiles (if using).

2. Cut the butter and cream cheese into small pieces, and then scatter them over the surface of the corn. Do not mix them in.

3. Cover and cook on high for 2 to 3 hours, or on low for 4 to 6 hours. (I went for the 2-3 hour cooking time since I started the recipe later in the day.) If you’re around while this is cooking, stir the corn once during the second half of cooking to prevent a crust from forming around the edge and fold the partially melted cream cheese and butter into the corn. This helps prevent a crust from forming around the edge, but it’s not strictly necessary.

4. Stir the corn thoroughly at the end of cooking. When you first stir the corn, the cream cheese, milk, and butter might look fairly thin and a bit curdled. Continue to gently stir until they come together into a creamy sauce. Taste the creamed corn and add additional salt or sugar, as well as fresh black pepper, to taste.

5. Adjust the consistency of the creamed corn: Let the corn stand for a few minutes, either with the heat off or on the “warm” setting, to give the sauce time to set. Stir again to check the consistency. If it seems thicker than you’d like, stir in some milk. If it’s thinner than you’d like, let the creamed corn stand for a few more minutes before serving; it will continue to thicken as it stands.

6. When ready to serve, transfer the creamed corn to a serving bowl, or serve it directly from the slow cooker. For buffets, leave the slow cooker on the “warm” setting to keep the creamed corn warm; check the corn occasionally and stir in more milk if it seems to get too thick.

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