Olive Oil Ice Cream

Olive Oil Ice Cream // Sweetsonian

Of the many things I fell in love with while in Greece, olive oil might be the most memorable. Every restaurant and cafe table had a bottle of it. It was probably locally sourced, as the mainland was absolutely covered in olive trees.

To be honest, I didn’t ask many questions in Greece. If someone recommended a beach, we went there. If they gave me cookies, I ate them. If there was a bottle of olive oil and nothing to eat it with, I drizzled it onto a plate and dipped my fingers in it… and if there wasn’t a plate, I resisted the temptation to pour it directly onto my tongue.

Needless to say, I was absolutely shocked when I got back to D.C. and discovered that my weight hadn’t changed at all — oh, the agony that led up to the calculated and anxiety-filled two seconds of fluctuating numbers — probably because my entire diet in Greece consisted of beer, cocktails, and Greek salads. At some meals, Silje and I would split moussaka or some other local dish.

But for the most part, it was all salads and all yogurt, all the time.

Olive Oil Ice Cream // Sweetsonian

Olive Oil Ice Cream // Sweetsonian

Olive Oil Ice Cream // Sweetsonian

I didn’t bring the iPad with me on vacation. Thankfully, because I was able to at least limit my over-connected tendencies. Why give myself more than two mediums to read work emails on, right? The only downside of leaving the iPad at home was that I didn’t have my normal magazines, which I only really read on the iPad.

Side note, if you have an iPad and you don’t subscribe to the Bon Appetit or Martha Stewart Living iPad apps… please change that immediately. Especially if you’re a sucker for impeccable design and super interactive buttons. I’m amazed by absolutely every issue.

ANYWAY… when I got home, I came across this recipe for olive oil flavored ice cream in Bon Appetit. As Shaeda would say: cosign.

Olive Oil Ice Cream // Sweetsonian

Olive Oil Ice Cream // Sweetsonian

Olive Oil Ice Cream // Sweetsonian

Olive Oil Ice Cream, from Bon Appetit

1 3/4 cups whole milk
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 cup, plus 2 Tbsp. sugar
4 large egg yolks
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil (the stronger and more olive-r, the better)

Preface: I did bring back a ton of olive oil from Greece, but many of them were gifts. The bottle I brought for myself was strong, but not as strong as a bottle that was gifted to me — and it was purchased at a French market in D.C. that only happens once a year.

I did learn a LOT about olive oil last night from my new roommate, Emily, who walked our dinner guests through the ins and outs of olive oil pressing and the flavors to look for. If you can find a bottle of domestic first-press olive oil, that would be absolutely ideal for this recipe — when tasted by itself, you’ll feel a slight burn in your throat. That’s how you’ll know it’s top quality.

First, heat the milk, cream, salt, and 1/2 cup of sugar in a saucepan — bring to a simmer, and stir with a whisk to dissolve the sugar. Once the cream starts simmering, remove from heat.

In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks and 2 Tbsp. sugar vigorously, until they look a pale yellow — about 2 minutes. Gradually whisk in a 1/2 cup of the hot milk mixture into the bowl of yolks. Gradually combine the yolks into the saucepan, and cook and stir over medium heat until it’s thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon (2-3 minutes.

Strain the custard through a fine mesh sieve, and let chill completely — my favorite method is to prepare an ice bath in a mixing bowl (salt water + ice) and then pour the custard into a Ziploc bag, which I douse in the ice bath. Your custard will be chilled in a matter of 10 minutes.

Once cooled, whisk in your olive oil. Pour into your ice cream maker, and prepare according to manufacturer’s instructions.

Spicy Penne with Tomatoes, Sardines and Lemon

Tomato, Sardine, and Lemon Pasta

Growing up, I didn’t know very many people who liked sardines or anchovies. I definitely didn’t eat them — but like I’ve mentioned before, I was the pickiest of eaters.

I honestly didn’t even eat them until former-roommate-turned-friend, Kristen, introduced this pasta dish to me.

Tomato, Sardine, and Lemon Pasta

Tomato, Sardine, and Lemon Pasta

Back in the day, when we lived together in that old, falling-apart row house, she and I spent a lot of time making dinners together. We’d both come home, pop open a bottle of wine (we went through a lot of wine back then), and throw something together for dinner. It was usually some sort of pasta, because we were both pretty much broke, and a little bit of pasta goes a long way.

I can’t remember where she got the recipe, but it was her go-to meal when it was her turn to cook. And it costs less than the wine, so it was a-okay for our budget.

I still make it for dinner, from time to time. And it’s the recipe that turned me on to sardines and anchovies. In fact, I sneak anchovies into a few of my recipes, just to strengthen the flavor… pesto, salad dressings, pasta sauces. You name it.

Tomato, Sardine, and Lemon Pasta

Tomato, Sardine, and Lemon Pasta

Tomato, Sardine, and Lemon Pasta

Spicy Penne with Tomatoes, Sardines and Lemon

1 lb. uncooked penne pasta
2 14-oz. cans of diced tomatoes
1 lemon
2 cans sardines or 3 cans anchovies
Crushed red pepper flakes
Parmesan cheese

First, fill a large saucepan with your pasta, cover with a couple of inches of water, and cook pasta to your desired consistency — IMHO, al dente is best for this dish.

In a large skillet and low heat, empty both cans of tomatoes and sprinkle with red pepper flakes. I like this dish very spicy, but you can add pepper flakes to taste.

As your tomatoes heat up, peel open both cans of sardines over your sink. Using your hands, remove the spines from each of the sardines, and use your fingers to break the sardines up into chunks. Set the meat into a separate bowl. Note: this doesn’t really apply if you choose to use anchovies.

When the tomatoes are boiling, add your sardines, and use a wooden spoon or spatula to help mix them into the sauce. They should start to disintegrate. Cover the skillet, and let cook over low heat for about ten minutes. Then, squeeze the juice from one lemon, two if needed, and stir to mix completely.

Mix with the cooked penne in a large bowl, and garnish with heaps of parmesan cheese.

Roasted butternut squash, penne, and pistachio pesto

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Last weekend, I took a fairly impromptu trip to Miami.

It’s a place I had been meaning to visit, and there’s just something about February that makes me want a break. I love the winter, but a nice warm weekend is a treat a girl needs.

So I left work a little early on a Friday, trained up to Baltimore, and hopped on a quick little flight to the F-L-L. Dave, a friend I’ve known since our debate club days at different high schools, picked me up from the airport, and brought me straight to Little Havana.

*Swoon*

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It wasn’t long before I found myself booking flights back to Miami. In fact, it wasn’t more than a few hours after I landed in Florida.

We went to a great little hostel on Miami Beach named the Broken Shaker — an old hotel with a laid back, twinkle light-entranced pool and outdoor hangout area. The cocktails were perfect. The bartender even gave us one for free, which didn’t happen very often to the two guys that were showing me around town. Anyway, around 3 AM, I found myself just basking in the cool seventy degree Miami breeze. There was a little bit of salsa dancing on a street corner, and just being able to wear my neon yellow shorts put me in a mood that I almost didn’t recognize on myself.

And right about then, I decided. Yes, Dave, I’ll be back here for your birthday. Four weeks away? No problem.

I pulled up the Kayak app on my iPhone and booked the flights right then and there.

It wasn’t entirely an “Oh my god I drunkenly booked a vacation” moment the next morning, because I was only a gin-and-ginger or three in, and I remembered making the decision very clearly. But I did wake up laughing, and checked my email to find that the timestamp actually read 3:48 AM.

I really don’t have a problem with going back to Miami. I actually can’t wait. I even left my heels there, knowing that I could just retrieve them in a month.

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Roasted butternut squash, penne, and pistachio pesto, adapted from the Sprouted Kitchen

Ingredients:
One large butternut squash, peeled, seeded and diced
2 tsp. olive oil or melted coconut oil
Paprika to taste
Salt
Grated nutmeg
8 oz. penne pasta
(About) 3 cups chopped spinach

Pistachio pesto:
1-2 cloves garlic
Zest and juice of one lime
1/3 cup pistachio nuts
1 serrano chile, with seeds according to how spicy you like them
1/3 cup parmesan cheese
1 cup basil and spinach (I used a mix of both)
1/3 cup olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees and boil water in a large saucepan. Season the water with salt.

On a large rimmed baking sheet (maybe two), drizzle olive oil over the butternut squash, and toss with paprika, salt, and nutmeg. Using a pastry brush, coat each piece to make sure everything gets a little bit of seasoning. Bake for about 30 minutes until the edges are brown (or black – I like them a little charred).

Cook your pasta. Al dente is good.

In a food processor, combine the garlic, lemon zest and juice, pulsing a few times. Then, add the serrano, pistachios, herbs, and cheese. Drizzle olive oil through the oil dropper as the processor is chopping, and grind in salt and pepper as necessary.

In your large saucepan, combine your pesto, some of the pasta water, and spinach. When entirely mixed, add in your pasta.

Serve with fresh parmesan cheese. Hold on to winter, but just enough to enjoy this seasonal dish, because spring will be here before we know it.

Pasta Primavera

November makes me think of my youngest brother.

Kevin was born in November, when I was seventeen. At the time, he was three months premature — and in North Carolina.

So my dad and I spent a lot of time flying back and forth between L.A. and Chapel Hill to spend time with Kevin and Susie (my stepmom).

Kevin makes me think of high school. I recently found my Livejournal. That was embarrassing. And… I used to think I was really good at Photoshop. I guess we all need a reality check once in a while.

Bad photoshop and high school remind me of when I first toyed with the idea of being a graphic designer. I went to an art school open house when I was a junior, only to realize that I went a week late. I took it as a sign that I wasn’t entirely cut out to be a designer. Like my bad Photoshop skills, this also makes me smile.

I’m getting to a point in my life where the people around me, whether they’re close in age or they’re not, are starting to figure out what to do with their lives. It’s refreshing and exhilarating. Words cannot express how excited I am to see someone who was once frustrated start a new phase in life — doing what they love, loving what they do, and amazing the world with his or her spectacular talents.

Kevin, at age seven, is a pumpkin carving pro.

My dad likes to take Kevin to the pumpkin patch on Halloween, when pumpkins are in clearance mode. They purchase basically whatever is left at the pumpkin patch with however much cash is in my dad’s wallet. Last year, it was something like 14 pumpkins for one dollar each.

Kevin, unlike myself, can carve pumpkins for four hours straight.

For the first time in years, I’ll be sitting inside this Halloween. I’ll be hoping Sasha and Malia trick-or-treat at my house (my fingers are still crossed), while eating Ethiopian food and drinking this cocktail.

I’ve long since bid my farewell to summer. After all, my flip flops never really get too dusty, as I break them out every December for my annual trip to L.A. But this primavera — it’s too hard to let go of. I made this back when the vegetables were fresher and less expensive, but winter never stops me from doing anything now, does it?

Happy Halloween. It’s a good holiday, and I hope you enjoy it.

Pasta Primavera

Ingredients:
Note: measurements are estimates. Use your best judgement.
2 carrots, either julienned or finely chopped
Half an onion, finely diced
Handful of cherry tomatoes, halved
Handful of fresh broccoli florets
Drizzle of olive oil
Handful of fresh basil, sliced into strips
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 clove garlic, minced
As much pasta as you desire. For two, I usually cook a half pound.

Instructions:

Fill a large pot halfway with water, and bring to a boil. Add a pinch or two of salt, and throw some pasta in. I used linguini, which takes just over 10 minutes to get to al dente. Have a strainer ready over your sink. Pour the contents of your pot into the strainer, under cold running water. The cold water stops the pasta from cooking — and you definitely do not want overcooked linguini. Once cooled, drizzle with some olive oil, and delve your hands into the pasta to toss it. You don’t want your pasta sticking to itself and drying out.

In a large chef’s pan over medium-high heat, saute your finely diced onions, your carrots, and your tomatoes. Once the onions begin to soften, add the broccoli, garlic and basic, and a little more olive oil. The tomatoes will start to cook, and their insides will provide a nice base for the sauce.

When the broccoli is cooked to your taste (I like mine still crisp, with parts of the edges browned), stir in the heavy cream. The sauce should take on a light tomato-cream consistency.

Toss the pasta with your primavera sauce, and serve with fresh parmesan cheese.

Capellini alla Carbonara


EDIT: First things first.  I entered a recipe contest, and would be honored if you’d vote for me (if you like my recipe best, that is).  MOTIVATION FOR YOU: If I win, I’ll purchase something beautiful from Sur La Table with the prize, and give it to one of you wonderful readers.  Please vote for me here: http://www.saveur.com/RecipeContest/contestant.jsp?ID=42456342.

Ok, back to the regular post.  Thanks for that.

You guys.  Bacon.  It’s growing on me.  Call the newspapers.  Get on the radio!  Wait.  Hang up the phone.  I know, I know.  It’s not that big of a deal.  Is it?

Am I late?  Did I miss something?  Maybe it’s part of the aging process.  Oh, who am I kidding — I’m twenty-three.  It’s about time I got my taste buds together.  We didn’t eat bacon very much in my parents’ households.  And my friends ate it way too much in college.


But I think I’ve reached a healthy level of moderation.  I’ve spent the past couple of weekends in my new house, cooking French dinners.  Coq au vin starts off with bacon, and if you’re in my kitchen, an explosion. This carbonara, inspired by the lovely Angela at The Spinning Plate.  I actually didn’t even know what carbonara was, until she started documenting her love affair with food.

Hers is so romantic.  I don’t have a love affair with food.

Perhaps, food and I exploit each other.  Actually, scratch that — I just exploit my body.   It’s a one-way thing. My poor, confused body, that alternates from running five-plus miles to  savoring the delectable, questionably hazardous, cuisine that will steer me towards a satisfyingly long and healthy life (or a heart attack).  Both my body and I are betting on the former.  Hoping.  Wishing.  Eating.  Running.

And it goes on and on.

I’ve already run ten miles this week.  I made this last night.  So. Good.

Recipe and more photos after the jump.



Pasta alla Carbonara

WHAT YOU NEED:

Pasta — if you’re cooking for people (or for lunch this week), I’d go ahead and cook one pound.
4 egg yolks
4 or 5 slices of good slab bacon
2 to 3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 medium-sized onions, sliced very thin
2 to 3 cloves fresh garlic, finely minced

Grated Romano or Parmesan cheese to top
Fresh pepper to crack
Salt to taste


WHAT TO DO:

First, boil a pot of water to cook your pasta.  Don’t skimp on the salt — this is your chance to really strengthen the flavor of the pasta.  I used capellini (angel hair), so the pasta did not take very long to cook.  Those of you who choose penne, rigatoni, or any thicker pasta should keep an eye on it.

Boil the pasta until al dente — that is, slightly firm.  If you like your carbonara al dente, then cook your pasta slightly less.  You will be throwing the pasta back on the stove later.

While the pasta is cooking, begin frying your bacon in a large skillet, until it’s brown and crispy.  When complete, remove the bacon, and pat down with a paper towel to minimize the grease.  Then, dice the bacon to your preferred size.  I like it in chunks.

When the pasta is ready, drain it.  Eat a little as you go — to taste test, of course.  Definitely not because you can’t wait to eat.  Who does that?

Remove most of the bacon fat from the pan, saving just more than 2 Tablespoons.  Then, drizzle the olive oil in. Replace on the heat, and sautee your onions.  Traditionally, the onions are cooked until translucent, but I like to brown them — it strengthens the flavor.  Add your minced garlic, and let cook for one, maybe two more minutes.

Then, throw in your pasta.  Swirl it around, and let it absorb the moisture and flavor from the pan.  Crack fresh pepper to taste.  Keep the pasta hot.

When just about ready to serve, remove the pasta from any heat source (including the pan itself), add in the egg yolks, and toss until the pasta is evenly coated.  Drizzle with cheese and salt to taste.  To really impress your guests, garnish with a fresh sprig of thyme.  Then savor.