Friday, July 12, 2013

Summer Beers

Summer Beers

With summer in full swing, I have been reaching for a beer at dinner to help beat the heat.  Allagash White is a light, Belgian-style wheat ale that I particularly enjoy in the late afternoon before dinner.  Anderson Valley's Summer Solstice is my favorite summer beer, and I recently converted my father and brother over as well.  It has strong caramel notes, and as one friend says, "it tastes like a chocolate chip cookie."  Lastly, Widmer Brothers Marionberry Hibiscus Gose is pink, with fruity and citrusy overtones that are nicely balanced with tartness and wheat flavors.


Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Homesickness Cures

I arrived last week in San Diego, my home from the age of three until college.  Despite the fact that I am living in my childhood house, I could not feel farther away from home. I love my family.  I love my periwinkle room. But San Diego and the sleepy suburb of Rancho Boring Bernardo, no longer feel like home.  San Francisco, with its restaurants, beautiful views of the Bay, and eclectic neighborhoods, now is the place I call home.
On Saturday, I was feeling particularly homesick, so I pulled out a cookbook from one of my favorite SF ice cream stores, Bi-Rite Creamery.  My boyfriend and I would often end our evenings in the city with a stop at Bi-Rite to get a hot fudge sundae.  I thought making some of their scrumptious ice creams might make me feel a little less homesick.  I mean, Brown Butter Pecan ice cream solves everything, right?

Brown Butter Pecan Ice Cream
(from Bi-Rite Creamery's Sweet Cream and Sugar Cones)

5 large egg yolks
3/4 cup sugar (I recommend splitting the sugar into two bowls, with six tablespoons in each)
1 3/4  cups heavy cream
1/4 (1/2 stick) unsalted butter 
3/4 cup 1% or 2% milk
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup chopped toasted pecans

1.  In a medium heatproof bowl, whisk the yolks just to break them up, then whisk in half of the sugar (6 tablespoons). Set aside. Set the cream by the stove. 

2.  Put the butter in a heavy nonreactive saucepan and put the pan over medium heat. The butter will melt and bubble, and after a few minutes it will start to turn brown. Continue to cook until it has a rich, nutty smell and the butter solids (the little specks floating around in the liquid) have turned a dark brown, 6 to 8 minutes total. 
     Add the cream to the pan and stir until blended. (It's important to mix in the cream before adding the milk to prevent the mixture from breaking.) Add the milk, salt, and the remaining sugar (6 tablespoons) and increase the heat to medium-high. When the mixture approaches a bare simmer (meaning bubbles are just starting to break around the edge of the pan), reduce the heat to medium.

3.  Carefully scoop out about 1/2 cup of the hot cream mixture and, whisking the eggs constantly, add the cream to the bowl with the yolks. Repeat, adding another 1/2 cup of the hot cream to the bowl with the yolks. Using a heatproof rubber spatula, stir the cream in the saucepan as you slowly pour the egg-and-cream mixture from the bowl into the pan. 

4  Cook the mixture carefully over medium heat, stirring constantly, until it is thickened, coats the back of a spatula, and holds a clear path when you run your finger across the spatula, 1 to 2 minutes longer.  

5.  Strain the vase through a fine-mesh strainer into a clean container. Set the container into an ice-water bath, wash your spatula, and use it to stir the base occasionally until it is cool. Remove the container from the ice-water bath, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight. 

6.  Add the vanilla to the chilled base and stir until blended. 

7.  Freeze in your ice cream maker's machine according to the manufacturer's instructions. While the ice cream is churning, put the container you'll use to store the ice cream into the freezer. Add the pecans in the last minute or so of churning, or fold them in by hand after transferring the ice cream to the chilled container. Enjoy right away, or for a firmer ice cream, freeze for at least 4 hours. 

Brown Butter Pecan Ice Cream


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