Thursday, July 20, 2017

Conch Fritters with Key Lime Chile Mayonnaise





     Key West Style Conch Fritters!
     Conch fritters are a popular appetizer in Florida seafood restaurants and local bars.  Conch fritters have a nice mellow conch flavor combined with spicy peppers.  The conch fritter batter has a high proportion of conch, vegetables and seasoning.  The small amount of stiff batter simply holds the ingredients together.  The fritter batter is thick enough to be gathered with a small scoop, then dropped directly into hot frying oil.  The batter can also be made thick enough to be rolled into small ball shapes by hand for a more uniform shape.
     There are two types of conch fritters.  One type of conch fritter is made with wheat flour.  The problem with wheat flour fritters is that the center of the fritter sometimes remains gummy after frying.  The older Florida Cracker style conch fritter recipe combines corn flour, corn meal and wheat flour.  This type of conch fritter has the texture of a fried Hush Puppy.
     Conch meat can be found fresh, frozen or canned.  Fresh conch can no longer be harvested locally in Florida due to sustainability issues, but fortunately, conch are still abundant in some fisheries around the globe.  Frozen conch is usually poached before freezing, but some fisheries market frozen raw conch meat.  Both fresh and frozen conch meat needs to be tenderized with a meat mallet, before the meat is chopped for making fritters.
     If frozen conch meat is not available, then there is a nice alternative.  Scungilli is an Italian Mediterranean conch species that is usually sold as a canned product.  Canned scungilli is tender from the canning process and it does not need to be tenderized with a mallet.  Canned scungilli is available at Italian delicatessens.
     Key Limes are a special breed of small limes that have a rich tart flavor.  Key Limes are about 1/3 the size of a regular lime.  Either fresh Key Lime Juice or bottled Key Lime Juice can be used to make the Key Lime Chile Mayonnaise.  Bottles of Key Lime Juice can be found at most grocery stores.

     Key Lime Chile Mayonnaise:
     This recipe yields about 1 cup.
     Step 1:  Place 3/4 cup of mayonnaise in a mixing bowl.
     Add 2 tablespoons of Korean style Coarse Red Serrano Chile Pepper Paste.  (sambal)
     Add 1 tablespoon of Key Lime Juice.
     Add 1 pinch of sea salt and black pepper.
     Stir the ingredients together.
     Step 2:  Place the Key Lime Chile Mayonnaise in a container.
     Chill for 1 hour, so the flavors meld.

     Conch Fritters:
     This recipe yields 2 petite appetizer portions.  (12 small fritters) 
     Step 1:  *If fresh frozen or poached frozen conch meat is used, then the meat must be tenderized with a mallet to the point of being pulverized.  If Canned Scungilli is used, then the meat does not need to be tenderized.  
     Place 3/4 cup of minced tenderized conch meat in a mixing bowl.  (About 6 ounces.)
     Add 2 tablespoons of whisked egg.
     Add 2 tablespoons of milk.
     Add 2 tablespoons of minced celery.
     Add 2 tablespoons of minced red bell pepper.
     Add 1 tablespoon of minced green onion.
     Add 1 tablespoon of minced onion.
     Step 2:  Add 1 pinch of thyme.
     Add 2 pinches of oregano.
     Add 1 pinch of cayenne pepper.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of Spanish Paprika.
     Add 2 pinches of black pepper.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of sea salt.
     Step 3:  Add 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda.
     Add 1 tablespoon of all purpose flour.
     Add 2 tablespoons of prepared corn flour.  (Masa Harina)
     Add 1 tablespoon of corn meal.
     Stir the ingredients together.
     Step 4:  Check the consistency.
     *The stiff fritter batter should be thick enough to hold its shape when scooped with a spoon.  If the mixture is too loose and wet, then add a little more prepared corn flour.  If the stiff batter is too dry, then add a little more milk.  
     Chill the stiff Conch Fritter Batter for 1 hour, so the flavors meld.
     Step 5:  Heat 6" of vegetable frying oil in a high sided pot to 360ºF.
     Step 6:  *If necessary, fry in small batches!
     Select a small 1/2 ounce capacity sorbet scoop.
     Scoop 1 ball shape of the conch fritter batter at a time and carefully drop each conch fritter batter ball into the hot frying oil.
     Fry till the fritters are a light brown color and fully cooked.  (The center temperature of each fritter should be at least 190ºF.)
     Step 7:  Use a fryer net to scoop the fried conch fritters out of the hot oil.
     Place the conch fritters on a wire screen rack over a drip pan to drain off any excess oil.
     Keep the fritters warm on a stove top.

     Conch Fritters with Key Lime Chile Mayonnaise:
     This recipe yields 1 petite appetizer portion.
     Place a bed of Italian Parsley sprigs on a small appetizer plate.
     Place a 2 ounce ramekin of Key Lime Chile Mayonnaise on the plate.
     Place 6 Conch Fritters on the bed of parsley around the ramekin.

     Conch Fritters are a nice appetizer before a seafood dinner and they are a great bar snack!

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Hickory Smoked Armenian String Cheese White Pizza ~ Garlic, Tomato & Banana Peppers









     Gourmet Pizza!
     What constitutes a Gourmet Pizza?  Basically, a gourmet pizza is hand crafted and made with select toppings that support an overall flavor theme.  The choice of bread dough, the thickness of the crust and the shape of the finished pie have to be factored in.  The choice of pizza sauce or the decision to make a white pizza counts.  Above all else, most pizza aficionados agree that the selection of cheese is what really makes the difference.
     Pizza is a nice medium for showing off a great cheese.  If the selection of cheese is good enough, little thought has to be given to deciding on which toppings to add.  Whatever tastes good with the specific cheese makes the list of topping options, then the list can be narrowed down to create a flavor theme.  When a nice select cheese is used, it is best to limit the number of toppings, so the great flavor of the cheese takes center stage.
     Occasionally I find a cheese that might be good for making an interesting pizza.  Today's pizza recipe features Hickory Smoked Armenian String Cheese.  Armenian String Cheese is usually made with sheep milk or a combination of sheep and goat milk.  Sheep milk cheese has a high fat content, so String Cheese will easily melt.  The String Cheese making process is similar to how Mozzarella is made.  String cheese is stretched at a specific temperature, so the proteins align.  String Cheese can be torn by hand into long thin shreds.
     There are two methods for adding a smoke flavor to cheese.  Cold smoking cheese wheels, logs or blocks in a smokehouse is the traditional method.  Modern cheese makers also soak the finished cheese in a smoke flavored liquid.  The "Liquid Smoke" method is used in places where air pollution is a concern or if cutting cost will make a cheese product more competitive.  Real smoked cheese can be featured on its own, while liquid smoked cheese is better suited for cooking.
     Today's recipe features a Hickory Smoked Armenian String Cheese that is made with the "Natural Liquid Smoke" flavoring process, which is fine for making a tasty pizza.  Keeping the toppings simple is the best way to let the light smokey flavor shine through.  No sauce is needed, so this is a white pizza.  A simple Napolitano style Margherita topping of tomato, basil and olive oil is a classic choice.  Adding some Pickled Banana Pepper Rings adds a mild spicy flavor that goes well with the smoke flavored cheese.        
                         
     Pizza Dough:
     Follow this link to the pizza dough recipe in this website:
     • Pizza Dough

     Hickory Smoked Armenian String Cheese White Pizza ~ Garlic, Tomato & Banana Peppers:
     This recipe yields 1 large 16" pizza.
     It is easier to pull thin strands of String Cheese by hand, than it is to use a grater to shred this cheese.
     Step 1:  Place a 19 to 20 ounce portion of pizza dough on a flour dusted countertop.  
     Use finger tips or a rolling pin to flatten the pizza dough into a round disk shape that is about 16" in diameter.  The rolled dough should be about 1/4" to 3/8" thick.
     Step 2:  Lightly brush a pizza pan with blended olive oil.
     Place the shaped pizza dough on the pizza pan.
     Even the edges of the dough, so it looks nice.
     Pat the edge of the pizza dough with fingertips to form the crust.
     Step 3:  Place 1/4 cup of olive oil in a mixing bowl.
     Add 2 tablespoons of minced garlic.
     Mix the ingredients together.
     Brush the shaped pizza dough with the garlic oil.     
     Step 4:  Sprinkle 2 loose packed cups of shredded Hickory Smoked Armenian String Cheese on the pizza dough.  (Leave the crust bare.)
     Step 5:  Cut 3 or 4 fresh Plum Tomatoes into 1/4" thick slices.
     Arrange the tomato slices on the pizza so it looks nice.
     Step 5:  Sprinkle 1/3 cup of Pickled Banana Pepper Rings in the pizza. 
     Sprinkle 1/2 teaspoon of oregano on the pizza.  
     Step 6:  Sprinkle 1 cup of shredded Hickory Smoked Armenian String Cheese over the toppings.
     Drizzle 1 tablespoon of virgin olive oil over the pizza.
     Step 7:  Place the pizza pan on a stone slab in a 450ºF oven.  
     Bake till the crust is fully cooked and a few golden brown highlights appear on the cheese. 
     Step 8:  Remove the pizza pan from the oven.
     Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of bias sliced green onion over the pizza. 
     Cut the pizza into pie shaped slices and serve on the pizza pan.  

     Viola!  A great tasting gourmet pizza that will please guests! 

Friday, July 7, 2017

Tacchino Panini with Balsamic Sun Dried Tomato Pesto, Garlic Arugula and Provolone









     Gourmet Panini! 
     Panini Sandwiches originated as bar snack food in Milan Italy.  The original Panini were made with just enough tasty ingredients to flavor the bread, just like how Focaccia is topped with only a few toppings when served as a bar favor.  
     Things have changed as far as modern Panini are concerned.  Modern Panini are no longer just two pieces of grilled bread that has a few thin slices of meat, cheese or vegetables added for flavor.  The portion size of the featured ingredient and garnish on a typical Panini has increased to the point of this sandwich being a meal, rather than just a snack.  This satisfies those who go out to eat and drink, rather than drink and snack.  Needless to say, because of the increased cost, modern Panini are no longer complimentary bar snacks.     
     A Panini sandwich is pressed between two hot griddles, so the sandwich warms evenly.  Just like with a Cuban Sandwich, the pressure applied when grilling causes the bread to gain a crispy golden brown crust.  A Panini can be pressed on a flat double griddle or a double griddle that has a ribbed surface.  A ribbed griddle produces dark grill marks on the bread, while a flat griddle surface creates a golden color.  Either way, it is the crispy crust that counts.  
     The difference between a Panini and a Cuban Sandwich is the bread and the amount of pressure applied.  A Cuban Sandwich is pressed very flat, while a Panini is just gently pressed.  A Cuban Sandwich is made with soft Cuban Bread that has a thin crust.  A traditional Panini is made only with Ciabatta Bread, which has an airy chewy texture.  Another difference is that a Cuban Sandwich is served whole or cut in half, while Panini are always cut into triangle shapes.    

     Balsamic Sun Dried Tomato Pesto:
     This recipe yields about 1/2 cup.  (Enough for 2 sandwiches.)
     Step 1:  Place 8 sun dried tomato halves in a small sauce pot.  
     Add 2 cups of water.
     Place the pot over low heat.
     Gently simmer till the sun dried tomatoes become soft.
     Step 2:  Remove the pot from the heat.
     Remove the sun dried tomatoes from the hot water.
     Coarsely chop the sun dried tomatoes.
     Step 3:  Place the sun dried tomatoes in a food processor.
     Add 1 teaspoon of minced garlic.
     Add 1 tablespoon of minced onion.
     Add 1 tablespoon of virgin olive oil.
     Add 1 tablespoon of Modena Balsamic Vinegar.  
     Add 1 pinch of basil.
     Add 1 pinch of oregano.
     Add 1 pinch of sea salt and black pepper.
     Step 4:  Pulse the food processor for a few seconds at time till the mixture becomes a smooth spreadable paste.  
     Step 5:  *Check the consistency.  Add a little bit of virgin olive oil if the paste is too thick.  The paste should be thick enough to be gathered with a spoon, yet soft enough to easily spread. 
     Step 6:  Place the Balsamic Sun Dried Tomato Pesto in a container.
     Chill for 30 minutes, so the flavors meld.  

     Garlic Arugula: 
     This recipe yields about 1/2 cup.  (Enough for 1 large sandwich.)
     Step 1:  Heat a wide sauté pan over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of olive oil.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of minced garlic.
     Sauté till the garlic is a light golden color.
     Step 2:  Add 2 1/2 cups of baby arugula leaves.  (Gently packed.)
     Add 1 pinch of sea salt.
     Sauté and toss till the arugula wilts.
     Step 3:  Remove the pan from the heat.  
     Place the wilted garlic arugula in a container and set it aside.

     Tacchino Panini with Balsamic Sun Dried Tomato Pesto, Garlic Arugula and Provolone:
     This recipe yields 1 large Panini Sandwich.
     Step 1:  Cut an 8" long piece of Ciabatta Bread.
     Split the bread in half horizontally.
     Step 2:  Spread 3 or 4 tablespoons of the Balsamic Sun Dried Tomato Pesto on both halves of the Ciabatta.
     Place a thin layer of the Garlic Arugula on the bottom half of the sandwich.
     Place 5 ounces of thin sliced roast turkey on the garlic arugula.  (Roast turkey from a delicatessen is fine for this recipe.)
     Place a few thin slices of provolone cheese on the turkey.  (About 1 1/2 to 2 ounces.)
     Place the top half of the Ciabatta Bread on the sandwich.
     Step 3:  Set a Panini Griddle to a medium heat range.  (Either a flat double griddle surface or a ribbed double griddle surface can be used.)
     Place the sandwich on the Panini Griddle.
     Lower the top griddle plate and gently press the sandwich.  (Do not squash the sandwich flat!) 
     Grill till the Ciabatta has a golden crust or till golden brown grill marks appear. 
     Step 4:  Place the Panini on a cutting board.  
     Cut the sandwich into 2 or 3 triangle shapes.
     Place the Panini Triangles on a plate.
     Garnish the pate with an Italian parsley sprig, black olives and a pickle of your choice.

     This is a great tasting Panini Sandwich.  The peppery flavor of Garlic Arugula and Balsamic Sun Dried Tomato Pesto taste great with roast turkey!  

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Philadelphia's Texas Tommy








     Texas Tommy!
     If you are into health food, then just skip over today's recipe!  The Texas Tommy is a Philadelphia hot dog specialty.  A Texas Tommy is a bacon wrapped cheese stuffed hot dog.  A Texas Tommy can be deep fried or baked.
      Today's recipe is the original authentic way to make a Texas Tommy.  Many modern Philadelphia restaurants have bastardized the Texas Tommy recipe and it is not as good as the original.  Modern snack bar cooks simply put a hot dog on a bun, then they top it off with strips of crisp bacon and pour warm Cheese Whiz over the entire mess.  Needless to say, this is not exactly a gourmet Texas Tommy!
     A bacon wrapped cheese stuffed hot dog is the original Texas Tommy recipe.  I am sure that you can imagine what this hot dog tastes like.  It is the warm melted cheese in the middle of the Texas Tommy that makes this hot dog so appealing.
     I was working as an expeditor and garde manger cook at a popular Philadelphia restaurant and night club back in the late 1970's the first time that I was asked to prepare a Texas Tommy for the evening sandwich special.  I asked the chef, "What is a Texas Tommy?"  He couldn't believe that I did not know what it was.  I was not a Philadelphia native, so I had never heard of a Texas Tommy before.  I ended up making about 50 Texas Tommy specials per night at, till the Texas Tommy craze was no longer popular with the clientele.  The Texas Tommy definitely appealed to the late night party crowd that liked munching on junk food while drinking and dancing the night away.
     I soon left Philadelphia to apprentice in French and Italian restaurants in Florida.  The memory of how the Texas Tommy sold like wildfire stuck in my mind.  As a sous chef, I actually did run a Texas Tommy lunch special at a French café.  There is something about a bacon wrapped cheese stuffed hot dog that even makes fine dining customers forget about maintaining a healthy diet.  The French chefs that were into American junk food liked the Texas Tommy and they liked the profit margin of this gourmet junk food lunch special even more.
     Classic American junk food currently is en vogue in France and many European countries.  Classic junk food is still the king in urban areas and Route 66 style tourist traps, where customers could care less about overpriced modern health food that would only satisfy a caged rabbit.  The Texas Tommy is a sinfully delicious temptation that reigns supreme in this modern age!

     Philadelphia Style Mustard Relish:
     This recipe yields 1 cup.
     Place 1/2 cup of dill pickle relish in a container.
     Add 1/2 cup of Dijon Mustard (or Yellow Mustard).
     Mix the ingredients together.
     Chill the Mustard Relish till it is needed.
   
     Texas Tommy:
     This recipe yields 1 Texas Tommy.  
     Step 1:  Heat a griddle over medium low heat.
     Place 3 or 4 strips of Hickory Smoked Bacon on the griddle.
     Blanch the bacon till some of the grease renders out and the fat turns a translucent color.
     *Do not cook the bacon crispy!  The bacon should have no brown color and it should be flexible.
     Set the blanched bacon aside on a wire screen roasting rack over a drip pan.
     Step 2:  Select 1 all beef ballpark style Vienna Hot Dog that weigh 4 ounces.
     Cut a slit lengthwise from almost end to end, to form a pocket in the hot dog.
     Cut some 1/4" thick sticks of Cheddar Cheese (or American Cheese).
     *Cut cheese sticks to a size that can be stuffed in the hot dog.  (Refer to the picture above.)
     Stuff the cheese strips in the hot dog till the pocket is full.
     Step 3:  Place 1 strip of the blanched bacon lengthwise over the cheese stuffed pocket.
     Hold the bacon in place with fingers.
     Step 4:  Starting at one end of the hot dog, wrap 1 strip of blanched bacon around the hot dog and fasten it in place with toothpicks.
     Continue wrapping the hot dog with strips of blanched bacon and fastening with toothpicks, till the stuffed hot dog is completely covered with bacon.
     *Be sure to slightly overlap the bacon as you wrap the hot dog, so the cheese stuffing will be sealed in.  Use as many toothpicks as necessary to hold the bacon strips in place.
     Step 5:  *There are two cooking methods for a Texas Tommy.  A Texas Tommy can be deep fried or baked.  Deep frying is traditional, but baking is better for a home kitchen.
     Place the bacon wrapped stuffed hot dog on a roasting pan.  (Try to set the Texas Tommy on the pan so the side with the cheese stuffing faces upward.)
     Place the pan in a 350ºF oven.
     Bake till the bacon coating is golden brown and the cheese stuffing melts.
     Keep the Texas Tommy warm on a stove top.
     Step 6:  Warm 1 hot dog bun in the oven.
     Spread a thin layer of the Mustard Relish on the hot dog bun.
     Carefully pull all of the toothpicks out of the Texas Tommy.
     Place the Texas Tommy on the hot dog bun.
     Place the Texas Tommy on a plate.
     Garnish the plate with pickles of your choice and a parsley sprig.

     The Texas Tommy is a classic summertime treat!

Monday, July 3, 2017

Dead Red Root Beer & Thai Banana Coconut Ice Cream Float






     A Gourmet Root Beer Float!
     There are many kinds of root beer in America.  Root Beer is a classic American creation that had its beginnings in local farms back in the 1800's.  Root Beer originally was a beverage that had a very light alcohol content.  Local farmers brewed root beer for social occasions like family get togethers and cookouts.  After root beer was commercialized, this beverage became completely alcohol free, but in recent years a few craft brewers have returned hard root beer to the market.    
     The original American root beers had medicinal value.  Root Beer was a health tonic of sorts, just like Sarsaparilla.  Sassafras Root contains chemicals that create a light euphoric effect.  Root Beer flavored with Sassafras Root has a deep reddish brown color.  Other natural medicinal ingredients, like Horehound Root Bark, Birch Bark, Cherry Tree Bark, Wintergreen and Licorice Root are also found in classic root beer recipes.   
     In recent years, a few modern craft breweries and gourmet soda companies have been making some high quality root beer.  Some of the craft root beer recipes are based upon old hillbilly or Penn Dutch farm recipes.  Some of the craft root beers can be featured in recipes and if the name of the root beer is catchy, then all the better. 
     Jack Black's Dead Red Root Beer is a nice choice of gourmet root beer for making sundries.  The label logo has a pirate theme.  The reddish color is the same as an old fashioned Sassafras Root Beer.  Jack Black's Dead Red Root Beer is made with Brazilian Guarana, which packs a caffeine energy kick.  Combining this red root beer with Thai Banana Ice Cream to make a pirate style gourmet float was the natural thing to do!           
     Finding information about Jack Black's Dead Red Root Beer is not as easy as it seems.  Finding this great craft root beer on shelves at a grocery store is next to impossible too.  Modern liquor and wine stores often stock gourmet sodas.  I found bottles of Dead Red Root Beer at Total Wine & More in Las Vegas.  This root beer is also available at internet beverage stores.  A distributor website link was provided on the Dead Red Root Beer label:  Real Soda

     Thai Banana Coconut Ice Cream:
     For those who so not have an ice cream machine, select the best banana ice cream that you can find at a grocery store.  For those who make their own ice cream, follow the link to the recipe in this website.

     Dead Red Root Beer & Thai Banana Coconut Ice Cream Float:
     This recipe yields 1 ice cream float.
     Step 1:  Chill a 20 ounce soda glass.
     Step 2:  Place 2 scoops of Thai Banana Coconut Ice Cream in the chilled soda glass.  (About 3 1/2 ounces per scoop.)
     Slowly pour a chilled 12 ounce bottle Jack Black's Dead Red Root Beer over the ice cream, till a foamy head appears.
     Step 3:  Place a fancy milkshake straw in the glass.
     Spear a maraschino cherry with a fancy cocktail umbrella and place it in the straw. 
     Garnish with sprig of mint.  
     Step 4:  Serve any extra root beer in the bottle on the side.
     Serve with a long handle sundae spoon.  
          
     This is a great tasting pirate style ice cream float!  

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Thai Banana Coconut Ice Cream








     Gourmet Ice Cream!
     Plantain and Cavendish Bananas are sold in nearly every grocery store in America.  Occasionally common grocery stores stock Hog Bananas or varieties of Finger Bananas, but this is about as exotic as the selection gets.  Gourmands do have to "shop outside the box" when seeking exotic banana varieties.  Once again, the word "exotic" has a relative meaning that depends on geographic location.  Bananas that are exotic or hard to find in America are often a commonplace food staple somewhere else around the globe.  When seeking a species of banana that native to a region like Southeast Asia, the most likely place to find such a banana would be at a good Asian food market or an International food specialty market.  
     Thai Bananas are almost never stocked in the produce section at common grocery stores, yet they are one of the most highly prized gourmet bananas that there is.  A bunch of Thai Bananas definitely has an exotic look, because these bananas cluster together in perfect rows.  
     Part of the reason why Thai Bananas are not stocked in common grocery stores is because many Americans are not familiar with the nature of this banana species.  American grocery shoppers tend to think that brightly colored unblemished fruit is always the best choice.  Unblemished yellow Thai Bananas really are not ripe at all.  Thai Bananas have to ripen almost as much as a plantain.  
     A perfect yellow Thai Banana is still in the starchy stage of the ripening process and the carbohydrates have not converted to fructose sugars.  Thai Bananas start to become sugary sweet and tangy when the skin becomes mottled with plenty of brown color.  The skin on Thai Bananas is very thin, when compared to a Cavendish Banana, yet the fruit is not easily bruised until the Thai Banana becomes ripe.  
     The reason that Thai Bananas are so highly prized is flavor!  Thai Bananas have a strong classic tangy sweet banana flavor.  
     Thai Bananas are usually fried and served as dessert in Thai and Filipino restaurants.  They are also used to flavor many baked or pudding style desserts.  As far as the flavor goes, Thai Bananas could be used to make the world's greatest tasting Banana Cream Pie!  Thai Bananas can also be used to make the richest tasting banana ice cream that has ever been experienced.
     The Thai Bananas in the photos above were purchased at an Asian food market in Chinatown, Las Vegas.  These bananas were grown in Mexico.  Since they were imported from Mexico, in all likelihood, Thai Bananas just might also be found in Latin food markets in America.  From what I saw while researching the availability topic on the internet, a few food writers mistakenly stated that Thai Bananas are never sold in America.  I guess that my purchase proved that those food writers were absolutely wrong.  As consumer interest grows, so will the availability of this great tasting banana. 
    Crème Anglaise is the base sauce for making French ice cream.  A Crème Anglaise that is thinned with just a little bit of milk will produce an ice cream that is not 100% butterfat and it will be a bit lighter on the palate.  Coconut compliments the flavor of banana.  In today's Crème Anglaise recipe, the proportion of milk and cream is reduced to make room for the addition of coconut milk.  
     The addition of Thai Bananas to the Crème Anglaise is kind of like adding a stabilizing agent, because of the starchy nature of the banana.  Therefore, to produce an ice cream that does not become solid as a rock after the ice cream is frozen for 24 hours, the ice cream has to be churned to a medium thick gelato finish temperature, which falls just short of a soft ice cream temperature.  Some ice cream machines, like the Breville model that I use, do have an automated finish temperature system.  For this kind of machine, just pre-set the dial to the medium gelato or firm gelato setting.  
     For those who have an ice cream machine that has no guidance system, just visually check the ice cream.  When the ice cream looks like it is a soft serve ice cream texture, then it is ready.  After the Thai Banana and Coconut Milk Ice Cream is placed in the freezer for 24 hours, it will become a classic firm hard ice cream texture.  

     Ice Cream and Frozen Dessert Machine:
     Breville Ice Cream Machines are about as good as an ice cream machine can be.  These machines are very heavy, because the compressor is huge.  Anything from slushies and sorbet to gelato and hard packed ice cream can be made with a Breville Ice Cream Machine.  These machines are housed in stainless steel and they are heavy duty enough for restaurant applications.   
      • All ice cream machines have their own maximum capacity.  The Breville Smart Scoop has a max capacity of 1 1/2 quarts.  
     • A common mistake that home cooks make is to use the max capacity as the guideline for how much liquid ice cream mixture cab be added to the machine drum.  Aeration causes the liquid volume to expand and increase in size as the ice cream mixture gels and freezes.  
     • For a Breville 600 machine, 3 1/2 cups of liquid ice cream mixture will increase in size and it will expand to nearly 1 1/2 quarts (about 6 cups).  It is important to not exceed the 3 1/2 cup limit or there will be an out of control big mess to clean up!  

     Thai Banana Coconut Crème Anglaise:  
     Yield:  This recipe yields about 4 cups of flavored crème anglaise.   3 1/2 cups of crème anglaise is enough to make 1 batch of ice cream in a Breville 600 machine.   Any extra sauce can be used as a dessert sauce or poured over fresh fruit.    
     Crème Anglaise is used to create a classic French style ice cream texture.  Crème Anglaise is not difficult to make.  After the egg yolks are combined with the cream mixture, the temperature of crème anglaise should not exceed 140ºF or the sauce will break.  
     It is best to make the crème anglaise the day before making ice cream.  The crème anglaise must be chilled for 4 hours before it can be placed in an ice cream machine.  Crème anglaise can be kept in a refrigerator for 7 days.  
     Step 1:  Place 4 egg yolks (AA Grade Large Eggs) into a mixing bowl.
     Add 1 cup of cream.  
     Whisk the ingredients till blended.
     Set the mixture aside.
     Step 2:  Place 1 cup of cream in a sauce pot.
     Add 1/4 cup of milk.
     Add 3/4 cup of coconut milk.
     Add 1/3 cup of granulated sugar.
     Step 3:  Add 1 small pinch of nutmeg. 
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract.  
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of lemon juice.
     Add 1 small pinch of allspice.
     Add 1 small pinch of cinnamon.
     Add 1 pinch ginger powder.
     Add 4 to 5 drops of yellow food color.  (use organic if it is available)
     Step 4:  Add 5 average size ripe Thai Bananas that are coarsely chopped.  (About 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 cups.)
     Step 5:  Bring the cream to a gentle simmer over medium/medium low heat.  
     Stir occasionally.  Do not allow the cream to overheat and foam!  
     Adjust the temperature to 145ºF to 155ºF.
     Gently simmer till the bananas become very tender.
     Step 6:  Use an emersion blender (or food processor) to puree the sauce.  (Try to do this quickly, so the sauce stays warm.) 
     Step 7:  Slowly add the warm cream mixture to the cold egg yolk/cream mixture in the mixing bowl while constantly stirring with a whisk.
     Step 8:  Return the entire crème anglaise mixture to the sauce pot.
     Place the sauce pot over medium low heat.
     Constantly slowly stir the crème anglaise with a whisk, as it heats and thickens to a thin sauce consistency.  
     *Do not allow the creme anglaise to exceed 140ºF or the sauce will break!  The sauce should a thin consistency that evenly coats the back of a spoon.  
     Step 9:  Pour the finished Thai Banana Coconut Crème Anglaise into a container.
     Chill the Thai Banana Coconut Crème Anglaise for at least 4 hours before using it to make ice cream.   
  
     Thai Banana Coconut Ice Cream: 
     This recipe is written for a 6 cup max capacity ice cream machine! 
     Step 1:  Set the ice cream machine dial to a medium firm gelato setting or a soft ice cream setting.
     Pre-cool the ice cream machine.  
     Step 2:  Place 3 1/2 cups of the Thai Banana Coconut Crème Anglaise in the churning drum.
     Place the drum in the ice cream machine.
     Assemble the machine pieces.
     Step 3:  Start the ice cream churning process.
     Churn till the crème anglaise is a soft ice cream texture. 
     Step 4:  Turn off the machine.
     Remove the drum.
     Pack the ice cream into a container and place it in the freezer.
     Freeze for 12 to 24 hours, till the ice cream becomes a firm texture.   

     This is the tastiest banana ice cream!  Thai Bananas really do make a big difference in flavor.  

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Chat Masala Mango Milkshake









     A Gourmet Brain Freeze!
     Chat Masala is an Indian dessert spice mixture that usually accompanies fruit.  Chat Masala has a complex sweet sour exotic spice flavor.  Chat Masala contains cardamom, dried sour mango powder, cumin, Himalayan Salt, coriander, pepper, ginger powder, mild chile powder and asafoetida (Hing).  Containers of Chat Masala Spice Mixture are available at Indian food markets.  Amchoor (Sour Mango Powder) is available at Indian food markets too.  
     Making caramel sugar candy garnishes, like the one that garnishes today's milkshake, is easy to do if a silicone baking mat is used.  Care must be taken when working with molten sugar, because the temperature of the sugar is high enough to cause severe burns.  Wearing protective clothing is a good preventative measure.  
     Because sugar is a liquefier, anything moist will cause sugar to melt, even if the sugar is hard caramel candy.  A piece of fresh mango is part of the caramel sugar candy garnish, so this hard amber sugar garnish cannot be made too far ahead of time or the sugar will melt.

     Hot Fudge Painted Frozen Glass:
     For the sake of convenience, a pre-made hot fudge topping product was used to garnish the milkshake.  Some ice cream topping brands are better than others and it does pay to read the label.  Choosing pre-made ice cream toppings that do not have a long list of artificial ingredients is best.  
     Step 1:  Warm the jar of chocolate fudge in a microwave or double boiler.
     *The chocolate fudge should not be hotter than 99ºF or the frozen glass might crack from making contact with hot liquid.  Letting the hot fudge cool to just above room temperature is best.
     Step 2:  Place the warm fudge topping in a plastic squeeze bottle.
     Keep the squeeze bottle warm on a stove top or in a warm water bain marie.
     Step 3:  Freeze a tall 20 to 24 ounce soda glass (or lager beer glass) to below 32ºF.
     Step 4:  Hold the glass at an angle and paint the inside of the glass by using the squirt bottle to stream the hot fudge inside the glass, while turning the glass.
     Step 5:  Place the fudge painted glass back in the freezer till the milkshake is ready.

     Whipped Cream: 
     This recipe yields 2 to 3 portions.
     Whipping fresh cream with sugar in a chilled bowl produces the best whipped cream.  A cake mixer with a whisk attachment works best.
     Step 1:  Place 1 cup of chilled cream in a chilled mixer bowl.
     Add 4 drops of pure vanilla extract.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of granulated sugar.
     Step 2:  Place the mixer bowl on a cake mixer with a wire whisk attachment.
     Set the machine to a medium fast speed.
     Whisk till medium stiff peaks appear.
     *Do not over-mix or the cream will turn into butter!
     Turn off the mixer.
     Step 3:  Load the whipped cream in a star tipped pastry bag.
     Keep it chilled in a refrigerator till it is needed.

     Chat Masala Mango Puree & Mango Garnish:
     This recipe yields 1 cup.  (Enough for 1 milkshake.)
     Step 1:  Select 1 large mango that will yield at least 1 cup of fruit.
     Peel and pit the mango.  
     Step 2:  Cut one triangle shape piece of mango that is about 1/4" thick.  The triangle should look like the one in the pictures above.  (1 1/2" x 2 1/2" x 2 1/2")
     Set the mango triangle aside.
     Step 3:  Small chop the remaining mango fruit.
     Measure 1 cup of mango fruit.
     Step 4:  Place 1 cup of chopped mango in food processor.
     Add 1 tablespoon of palm sugar.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of Chat Masala spice mix.
     Add 1 pinch of turmeric.
     Add 1 teaspoon of Amchoor.  (sour mango powder)
     Puree the mixture.
     Step 5:  Place the Chat Masala Mango Puree in a container.
     Chill the mixture to 41ºF in a refrigerator.

     Caramel Sugar Mango Garnish:
     This recipe yields 1 garnish.
     A silicone baking mat is great for making amber sugar garnishes like the one in the pictures above.  A piece of aluminum foil that is lightly brushed with vegetable oil can also be used.  A thermometer can be used to gauge when the molten sugar reaches the amber temperature range, but the color of the sugar still must be judged by eye.  
     One thing to keep on mind is the caramel sugar garnish must fit the contour of the glass, if it is going to stand up straight.  Cutting a parchment paper outline of the glass and placing it on the silicone baking mat is a good idea. 
     Too much sugar is better than too little sugar when making caramel sugar glass garnishes.  Any extra caramel sugar in the pot can be melted with water and used to flavor other recipes. 
     Step 1:  Place a shallow roasting pan filled with water on a countertop.   The roasting pan must be wider than the sauce pot that will be used to make the caramel.
     *This will be used as a cooling bath.  The base of the hot sauce pot will be dipped in the water to cool the hot caramel sugar. 
     Step 2:  Place a small stainless steel sauce pot over medium high heat.
     Add 1 1/2 cups of sugar.
     Add 1/2 cup of water.
     Boil till the water evaporates and the molten sugar enters the clear candy stages.
     Step 3:  Keep an eye on the sugar.
     When the molten sugar reaches 330ºF, it will start to caramelize.
     Allow the sugar to caramelize to an amber brown color.
     Step 4:  Immediately dip the bottom of the hot sauce pot in the pan of water on the countertop, to stop the sugar from becoming darker.  Cool till the molten caramel sugar thickens to a heavy syrup consistency.
     *Use a spoon too gauge when the caramel sugar is cool enough to stream on the mat.  When a spoonful of caramel can be slowly poured off of the spoon back into the pot, then it is cool enough.
     Step 5:  Immediately use the spoon to stream a design of caramel sugar on a silicone baking mat that is placed on a countertop.
     Place the reserved mango triangle on the caramel sugar garnish.
     Stream more caramelized sugar over the mango triangle and onto the mat, so the mango slice is locked in place.  
     Step 6:  Allow the caramel sugar to cool to room temperature.
     Gently bend the silicone baking mat to free the caramel glass garnish.
     Place the mat and garnish where it will not be damaged.

     Chat Masala Mango Milkshake:
     This recipe yields 1 large 20 to 24 ounce milkshake with some extra on the side.
     Making a little bit of extra milkshake is a tradition!  
     Fancy milkshakes have to be assembled quickly, so be ready to work fast.
     Step 1:  Place 2 1/2 cups of French vanilla ice cream in a milkshake blender.
     Add 1/4 cup of chilled milk.
     Add the reserved 1 cup of chilled Chat Masala Mango Puree.
     Blend until the ingredients are thoroughly combined.
     Step 2:  Pour the milkshake into the frozen fudge painted glass, till the milkshake is about 3/4" from the top of the glass.  (Allow for expansion.  The aerated milkshake will expand in volume!)
     Step 3:  Insert the Mango Caramel Sugar Garnish, so it stands straight up.
     *A milkshake straw can be used to vertically balance the caramel mango garnish.
     Step 4:  Use the pastry bag to pipe some whipped cream on top of the milk shake.
     Place 4 to 5 maraschino cherries on the milkshake. 
     Garnish with tarragon sprig.
     Step 5:  Serve any extra milkshake on the side in the blender cup!

     This gourmet milkshake has an interesting exotic North Indian spiced mango flavor!