I told you about my office’s soup swap before, which we copied from Shaeda’s office on the Hill. But since soup swap started, our little creative office decided that soup is just not enough. We evolved with cheese swaps, cookie swaps, and with the recent heat waves, have moved on to popsicle swaps.
But seriously, DC was the hottest spot in the nation yesterday at noon. Hotter than Death Valley. DEATH. VALLEY.
Meanwhile, I took a lunch break trip to Marshall’s, and when my coworkers asked me how it was outside, my response was “not bad.” Who am I?
Anyway, our popsicle swaps happen every Thursday afternoon for a few weeks. Each week, three members of our team bring in enough of one kind of popsicle for everyone to try. You have one (or two) on popsicle swap day, and the rest are stored in the freezer for you to munch on later in the week.
It’s a nice little break for our little muggy office. I meant to make my own popsicles for the swap, but with catsitting this little dude, freelance and AirBnb, I’ve just been a little too busy. In honor of popsicle swap, I’ve pulled together a few of the recipes that I’m just dying to try for this summer.
Hope you all enjoy the mild summer weather we’re having here in DC. And… make this ice cream. You won’t regret it.
Matcha Green Tea & Mint Ice Cream
2 cups whole milk 1 cup heavy cream 3/4 cup sugar 1/2 cup fresh mint leaves 5 egg yolks 2 tablespoons ground matcha powder
Combine the milk, cream, and matcha powder in a medium-sized saucepan. Bring to a boil for just a moment, and reduce the heat to low. Add the mint leaves into the saucepan, stir and muddle with a large spoon, and turn off the heat entirely. Let the cream steep with the mint leaves for 30 minutes to one hour — the longer it steeps, the stronger the mint flavor.
In a separate bowl, combine the egg yolks and the sugar, mixing with a fork. When you’re done steeping the cream, run the mixture through a sieve to remove the mint leaves. Then, turn the heat back on, and bring the mixture to a boil once more, again, immediately removing the heat once the boil starts.
Using a smaller measuring cup (I used a 1/4 cup), slowly pour the hot mixture into the bowl with one hand as your vigorously stir the mixture with a fork in your other hand. Gradually add one or two cups until the custard is fully incorporated, and then combine the custard with the remaining cream in the saucepan. Run the mixture through a sieve one more time to filter out any egg scrambles. Let chill completely in the fridge, and run the mixture through an ice cream maker according to its manufacturer’s instructions.
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.
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, 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.
My definition of “favorite holiday” has fluctuated over the years. As a kid, the Fourth of July was never really a big deal. It wasn’t like Christmas or a birthday — we didn’t get presents and there wasn’t any special sort of character that came to visit. I actually don’t remember many of my childhood Fourth of Julys… they were always relatively tame.
But in D.C., Fourth of July is the greatest holiday. Ever.
I remember when I was still working at the Department of Labor — there was a little yellow concessions stand right outside the main entrance, facing the Capitol Building and the National Mall. Rachel and I used to schlep outside on the hottest days (it was frigid inside because of the air conditioners) and we’d grab ice cream snacks.
Firecrackers were always my top choice. And when you’re in one of the most American places on the planet, every ice cream cart is well-stocked with Firecracker pops.
I even proactively purchased popsicle molds just so I could make my own Firecracker pops this year — I purchased these ones from Amazon — and they came with popsicle sticks. And, I prefer the classic look.
So, popsicles are pretty easy, right? You make some sort of liquid, fill the molds, and freeze overnight. Well, I tried this with coffee, and the coffee came out so rock-hard-icy that it hurt my teeth. I figured that this time, I’d run each liquid through the ice cream maker so they would soften up. WRONG. Don’t do this. Most of the pops were too soft to be pulled out in once piece.
So I’ve adjusted the instructions below to eliminate what I actually did in practice. Running the mixtures through the ice cream maker actually incorporated too much air into the mixtures, which kept them from freezing solid. Not running them through the ice cream makers should do the trick.
Strawberry Sorbet, adapted from the Joy of Baking
1/3 cup simple syrup
2.5 cups strawberries, cleaned and sliced
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons vodka
1 tablespoon Triple Sec
Blueberry Sorbet, adapted from Simply Recipes
2 cups fresh blueberries, stems removed
1/3 cup simple syrup
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 tablespoon lemon juice
pinch of salt
Vanilla ice cream, adapted form David Lebovitz
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup whole or soy milk
5 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons bourbon
First, assemble the vanilla ice cream mix. Combine 1 cup heavy cream and 1 cup milk in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Keep an eye on it, and make sure it doesn’t boil over. Heat them until you start to get a nice froth on top, and immediately remove from the stove. In a mixing bowl, combine your egg yolks, sugar, and vanilla extract.
While whisking vigorously, gradually pour about 1/4 cup of the milk and cream mixture into your egg yolks and sugar. You really cannot whisk vigorously enough — you need to temper the yolks to ensure they don’t scramble. This is how we make a custard. Continue adding the hot milk in 1/4-cup increments until it is completely mixed. Filter the custard through a fine mesh sieve, and set aside in a jar. If you’re not one to wait around, set that jar in a bath of ice and salt water to speed the cooling process up. When it’s entirely cool, stir in the bourbon.
Then, create the other sorbets. This process is pretty easy — you just take all of the ingredients and pulse grind them in a food processor until the fruit is entirely pureed. Keep the strawberry and blueberry sorbets separate, and let chill in the refrigerator until the vanilla ice cream is cold.
Assemble the popsicles. First, spoon the blueberry sorbet into your popsicle molds. I’d go with 2-4 tablespoons in each mold, depending on the mold size. Go ahead and tap the counter with the popsicle molds a few times to get any bubbles out, and set in the freezer for at least two hours.
After the first layer is frozen, repeat with the vanilla ice cream mixture — spoon a bit into each mold, and tap on the counter. Freeze for one hour.
Then, fill the popsicles to the brim with the strawberry sorbet mixture. Insert popsicle sticks into each mold, and freeze overnight.
If you’re regular reader, you’re probably well aware of my obsession with sweet and salty combinations.
I honestly had the most wonderful weekend — these ice cream sandwiches were key, and probably should be part of every weekend for the rest of my life.
On Saturday, a handful of friends and strangers embarked on a river tubing trip. The weekend before, I had made these saltine ice cream bars. Naturally, I avoid them like the plague (especially when I know I’ll be wearing a bathing suit a few days later), so I piled the individually wrapped cracker bars into a ziploc and into a cooler bag. Let’s be real. I didn’t avoid them as much as I should have.
I borrowed Kristen’s car for the drive to West Virginia (and Virginia, and Maryland), and with fewer people tied to our bunch of inner tubes than I was expecting, I had way too many ice cream bars left. So after a couple of runs on the river (and a great roll of fisheye film), I did what I do best: I made friends.
There was the belligerent and NSFW-named team of 29 southern Marylanders who were too drunk to understand “does anyone want free homemade ice cream sandwiches?” but there was an awesome group of girls who were waiting for the bus back to the parking lot at the same time. So I did the college thing and walked over with a bag of melting ice cream bars.
How to make friends 101.
It even escalated to my handing out blog business cards (they’re just the cutest) and one of the girls begging me to cater a bridal shower — why not?
And it even carried through the evening, when I was out to drinks, and complimented a random lady’s super pretty criss-cross backless dress. I’m not exactly sure how it turned into a card exchange, but hey, it’s DC. At least my cards have photos worth salivating over.
Sunday was spent sleeping in, and eventually just chatting in my living room with the Baltimore friends, which later faded into a spontaneous sailing trip on the Chesapeake Bay. Gotta love being friends with awesome people who know other awesome people. I really couldn’t have asked for a better weekend.
This week, there’s a lot of freelance, and a lot of True Blood. Due to too much flopping in bed this weekend, I didn’t get anything cooked… so we’ll see how I hold up.
On any given spring day, I would normally advocate for eating fruit as-is. Especially strawberries — they are so sweet and pretty to begin with… so why mess with that?
On the other hand, strawberries were my favorite fruit growing up. I ate strawberry-flavored everything. Ice cream, frosting, cupcakes, you name it. It didn’t matter if they were real or artificial. I loved the flavor, and I loved that they turned everything pink.
Can you blame me?
I’ve gone through a transition over time, as we all have. I not only want to fit into my clothes, but I’ve wanted to eat more healthily. Fruit has enough sugar, right?
Well, on this Sunday Funday, we’re just going to take strawberries to the next level.
I found this recipe on Pinterest a while back, and I’ve been itching to make it ever since. I found that there was not nearly enough crumbles to make both the bottom and the top crusts, so I’ve doubled those measurements here.
1/2 cup pecans, toaste
8 whole gram crackers, broken into pieces
1 cup butter, melted
2 cup flour
2/3 cup brown sugar
2 egg whites
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup whipping cream
Juice from 1 lemon
4 oz. cream cheese
2 cups diced strawberries
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
In a food processor, combine the pecans and graham crackers. Pulse-grind until uniformly mixed in a pretty, crumbly mix. Then, transfer to a large mixing bowl with the melted butter, flour and brown sugar. Mix with a fork, and spread out onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Pat down with your fingers to make one giant cookie (you’ll be crumbling this later). Try to keep it about 1/4 to 1/2-an inch thick.
Bake for 15 minutes, and remove to cool. Crumble into a bowl.
In your stand mixer, beat the egg whites until you have soft peaks. Then, gradually add the sugar and heavy cream. Beat for another 4 minutes, until the mixture is light. Beat in the lemon juice and cream cheese until evenly mixed, and then fold in the strawberries.
Line a 9×13 cake pan with parchment paper. Spread half of your cookie crumbles into the pan, coating the surface evenly. Then, pour your strawberries and cream mixture on top of the crust, using a spatula to spread the cream all the way to the edges. Sprinkle the remaining crumbs over the top, coating the cream entirely.
Let freeze for AT LEAST four hours, but preferably overnight. When fully frozen, slice with a very sharp knife, and wrap individually with plastic wrap or parchment paper. Distribute to your friends on a pretty spring day.
Believe it or not, I was my father’s daughter. Still am.
My earliest memories are of waking up early to eat cereal with my dad as he read the newspaper. I had no idea what the stocks were, but nothing gave me more joy than crumpling up the corner of the page that, to this day, I don’t really understand.
He and I are cut from the same cloth. We are both practical, temperate, and sincere. We value honesty, good grammar, and thinking things through. We explore all of our options before making a decision, but we’re both generally quick to do so.
We know what we want.
Then, there are the moments where I am more like my mother. Like whenever my decisions are more emotional than practical. Like the time I booked an impromptu trip to Mexico before knowing what my grad school schedule was (whoops).
And then, there are the things about me that are somewhere in between the two, or the things about me that come completely out of right field (that’s the side of the field where no one hits, right? My baseball knowledge is limited). I love planning. I value little luxuries, sometimes more than I should. I’m stubborn. Sometimes mercurial, but not very often. That’s a trait that comes from my mother.
What I’ve learned from my father over the past twenty-five years is naturally infinite: he taught me how to type, how to write, how to draw, and how to photograph. He helped me learn to be independent, which is something I had to learn earlier than most people my age. And most importantly, he taught me how to want to live the most fulfilling life that I could. To take opportunities to make your life better when they come, and to take the opportunities to help others as much as possible, when possible, and affordable.
Some girls think they have the best dad in the world.
Whatever the ranking is, they’re missing out, because they don’t have mine.
Writing Father’s Day cards is something I enjoy slightly more than any other type of card, because I can be completely sincere with my father. I am who I am mostly because of what I’ve learned from him. He wasn’t exactly happy with my decision to study Arabic, or move east, but he’s the one who taught me to be independent, and make something of myself… so here I am. My father’s daughter.
I like to introduce the Gerritys to a new dish or dessert whenever I see them. Croquembouche was first, then there was banh mi, and then coq au vin.
They’re coming to Washington in a couple of weeks for a whirlwind of a Fourth of July – the best Fourth of July celebration they’ll ever have. My dad asked about beer bats, and I told him about the flabongo. I’m sure he’s ready. And he’s excited to see all my UCLA friends on the East Coast, so there will probably be an eight-clap.
There will also be affogato. My step mom, the coffee and espresso afficionado, will truly appreciate this delicate dish. After a predictably smoldering July day in DC spent on a bike, in the sun, with the monuments, we’ll all need a little cool-down with a pick-me-up.
Affogato literally means “drowned” in Italian, and is basically a scoop of vanilla gelato, drowned in a shot of espresso. It’s a fat girl’s latte (my name is all over it). I’ve been hitting the gym solely to counter my discovery of this dessert.
I should really double those efforts, because I’ll be riding my bike on a Mexican beach in a few weeks.
Affogato: Honey Vanilla Ice Cream with Espresso
For the Honey Vanilla Ice Cream:
2 cups milk
3/4 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup honey
1 vanilla bean, sliced lengthwise
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 shot espresso per scoop of ice cream
Zest of orange or lemon, to garnish
If you don’t have access to an ice cream maker, well, that’s a problem. But there are ways to make ice cream without one. Some people use a blender or a food processor.
In a medium-sized sauce pan, combine the milk, cream, salt, and honey. Heat over medium- to high-heat, constantly stirring, until the liquid starts to boil. Once it boils, take it off the heat.
Slice your vanilla bean lengthwise, and scrape the vanilla beans from the inside. Whisk them into the ice cream solution. Toss in the bean itself as well, cover the saucepan, and let the vanilla steep for at least 30 minutes. But let’s be honest – the longer, the better. After it’s done steeping, heat the saucepan again, just until it boils. Then, remove from heat.
In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks. Take a smaller measuring cup, and pour about 1/4 a cup of the hot milk solution into your egg yolks. Whisk furiously. We do this little by little so that the eggs do not scramble. Once the first 1/4 cup is mixed evenly, add another, and repeat. When the yolk mixture feels more liquidy than eggy, you can pour the egg solution into the saucepan to combine completely. At this point, we’re completely done with the stove.
Pour your custard through a fine sieve to remove any lumps, and let the mixture chill completely.
Run the mixture through an ice cream machine, according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Once frozen, serve one or two scoops per serving, and douse in a fresh shot of espresso (or very strong black coffee). Garnish with a dusting of orange or lemon zest.
When I first started using the ice cream maker, I was obsessed with sorbets — I don’t know why. But at the request of my friends, I switched to ice creams, starting with last month’s almond flavor. The response was extremely favorable, reaching the point at which we even ordered almond-flavored ice cream at specialty restaurants, and it just wasn’t nearly as good.
I’ve mentioned before that I started a mini garden on my beautiful balcony; the thing that grows faster than anything else is the mint. After all, it is a ground cover, and my family spent years digging it out of the yard at home in Los Angeles. Luckily, my mint is sectioned off in a planter, so it can only really take over so much space. We don’t drink nearly enough mojitos at my house, but we do eat lots of ice cream — and mint chip just seemed like the next best option.
2/3 cup fresh mint leaves 1 cup granulated sugar 2 1/2 cups milk 1 1/2 cup heavy cream 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 3 large egg yolks 1/3 cup honey 1/2 teaspoon table salt 1 – 2 cups finely chopped dark chocolate
WHAT TO DO:
First, combine the mint leaves and sugar in a food processor. Grind until the mint is very finely chopped and the sugar takes on a light green color. In a small bowl, combine the egg yolks with the sugar-mint mixture. Then, heat the milk and heavy cream over the stove. Bring to a boil, and then immediately remove from heat.
Remove about 1/4 to 1/2 of the milk solution, and mix with the egg yolks and sugar. This gradual mixture allowed the eggs to be tempered, rather than scrambled like they would if you threw the yolks into a pot of steaming milk and cream. Once the yolks form a smooth mixture, add the bowl’s contents to the saucepan. Add the salt and honey, and bring to a boil once again. Then let the custard cool completely, which took about 1 – 2 hours in my refrigerator. Before transferring the custard to your ice cream maker, add in the chocolate, and stir.