Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Ice Cream Is Hard

Souper Roll-Up Cafe- Cambridge, MA

Chicken Tarragon Salad Wrap and Mushroom soupz!
     I'm terrible when it comes to getting lunch with coworkers. No matter where I work. They always ask me to go. I always say no. Why? I'm poor, nervous, and ... well... the lightweight rowing thing. However, as some of you might not know, I've decided to take some time off of rowing/retire my elite rowing career. I'm not about to get into the details about it, but I think it's just what's best for me right now.
     Regardless, this means I now feel like I can say yes to things like getting lunch and dinner with friends. So after David made fun of my puny sandwich, I said said yes to going to get lunch with him at Souper Roll-Up. This tiny little restaurant is really close to Gentle Giant, and is run by a cute asian couple. Everyone at GG knows them and apparently they give us discounts? I had no idea. Meh.
     I was a copycat and ordered the same thing as David. He goes often. He knows what's up. We got the chicken tarragon salad wrap and one of their homemade soups. This half and half deal was something like $7! Stellar. Their soups are always changing and always made fresh. It's like going to Trader Joe's for the sample. You never know what it's gonna be. Mastering soups is an art. I got their cream of mushroom soup which was thicker than any I've ever had before. It was so delicious. Real big chunks of mushrooms interspersed among a thick soup of smaller mushroom bits. I also really liked that it wasn't actually very creamy. The appeal of soups for me is generally that they're light and mildly refreshing, which you often lose in creamy soups. Not this one. It was on the lighter side of cream soups and had a nice peppery kick.
    It's hard to beat my stepmom's chicken salad, but this one came close. I can't say I know exactly what tarragon tastes like, but if it gave this chicken salad its incredible flavor, then I love tarragon. The chunks of chicken were so moist and small, so you weren't pulling hunks out of the wrap with each bite. The chicken salad itself was nice and peppery and full of celery. Celery and fresh lettuce is key in chicken salad. The mayo in the chicken salad was speckled with something orange too. It wasn't spicy, and I'm inclined to think they were really small pieces of carrots. That was the flavor I thought I could suck out of each little speck. There were so many flavors and feelings put into this wrap. Then again, there are only so many weird people out there that can be as blown away by chicken salad as I can. Oh! Plus, the wrap came with a nice big hunk of a baguette. Bonus bread is the best. Forever and always.
     As we left, the little asian man (I forgot his name) told us to "tell everyone I said have a good day!" Adorable.


Cherry Chocolate Stracciatella Ice Cream - My Kitchen, Cambridge, MA

All of my tools I attempted to use to pit cherries.
     Let me just say that making ice cream is the hardest thing I've ever had to "cook." Harder than granola. I really just suck at it. Tempering the egg? I can't do it apparently. No matter how many times I try, I always end up with scrambled eggs in half boiling milk and cream. And then when I put the mix all in my ice cream maker it never sets up... leaving me with flavored ice once I freeze it. Ok, that's an exaggeration... because this cherry chocolate stracciatella ice cream from Closet Cooking wasn't half bad. It was a little crystally, but I think that's because it didn't set up in the ice cream maker, and I had to strain out all of the scrambled eggs. It was a complicated process, and I'd be here for years trying to explain. Not to mention I'd be full of rage when I'm done. However, I can give you some pointers regarding how it's SUPPOSED to work. Maybe I just am not meant to make ice cream... or maybe I should use rock salt like every recipe on the planet says to use. Yes, I admit that I attempted to use regular salt the first couple times I tried ice cream, and I'm almost 100% sure that's why it didn't work. Egg or no egg. 
     Anyway, the flavors in this ice cream are incredible. I'd suggesting making it when cherries are in season to get the freshest fruit. The chunks of cherries in the ice cream are key, so don't be afraid to chop your cherries in larger chunks or add more than the recipe calls for. I could only nail the flavor, but if you can figure out how to achieve a smooth and creamy texture, you'll make friends wherever you go. 

-Pitting cherries is miserable. I used a chopstick. Good luck.
-Use rock salt in your ice cream maker. No exceptions.
-Make sure you chill the mixture fully before you put it into ice cream maker. I suggest overnight.

Cherry Chocolate Stracciatella Ice Cream

1 cup cherries (pitted and chopped)
1/2 cups sugar
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup milk
2 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup dark chocolate

1. Heat the cherries and sugar in a small sauce pan until the sugar is dissolved and the cherries are tender, about 10 minutes.

2. Heat the cream and milk in a sauce pan until it almost boils, about 5 minutes.

3. Reduce the heat to low. Add one tablespoon of the cream mixture to the eggs to temper them.

4. Add the egg mixture to the sauce pan. Cook at low heat until it thickens and can coat the back of a spoon.

5. Remove from the heat and stir in the cherries and vanilla extract.

6. Chill the mixture in the fridge overnight.

7. Start freezing according to the instructions for your ice cream machine.

8. When the ice cream is almost done melt the chocolate and pour it into the ice cream in a thin stream. If you can't pour in the chocolate as the ice cream is churning, make sure you're stirring the mixture at the same time (otherwise all of chocolate will freeze in one big clump like mine did). 


Peanut Butter and Jelly Ice Cream - My Kitchen, Cambridge, MA

PB&J Ice Cream
       I got frustrated with my cherry ice cream and had some cream left over, so I figured I'd give this peanut butter and jelly ice cream from Fat Girl Trapped In A Skinny Body a try. PB&J is one of my favorite things ever, so I figured it'd be great. Well... I was in for another roller coaster of an ice cream experience. This recipe didn't have egg, so I didn't have to worry about screwing that up again. However, I used crunchy peanut butter which I wouldn't advise if you also plan to not follow the recipe instruction to use rock salt. In doing so, your ice cream won't set up and all of the peanut chunks will just fall to the bottom rather than being dispersed throughout the ice cream. The texture of this one was even worse than the cherry one. I really need to learn to follow directions. It was just super ice crystally. However, I got a ton of compliments on the flavor. I used a raspberry jam instead of the blueberry syrup that she suggests, and I think that substitution was actually a success. Again... rock salt. Please. I think if you do this, it will set up in your ice cream maker and layer it like Julia suggests.

Peanut Butter and Jelly Ice Cream

1/2 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 cups 1% milk
1 cup smooth peanut butter
1/2 cup sugar
pinch of salt
1/2 cup jam or a fruit sauce

1. Bring the milk, cream, sugar and salt to a roaring bowl.

2. Remove it from the heat and whisk in the peanut butter. Whisk the pb in until it is smooth and completely incorporated (it takes a couple minutes). Transfer to a glass bowl, cover and put in the fridge until it is chilled completely (I suggest overnight).

3. Churn/Freeze according to manufactures instructions.

4. Layer in a container with the jam/fruit sauce, ice cream, jam/fruit sauce, ice cream, jam/fruit sauce, ice cream. This will give it the swirl when it is scooped out.


Donuts With A Difference - Medford, MA
Please excuse my mediocre photo of this lemon
filled donut. Excitement got the best of me.

    Union Square donuts couldn't have been pleased when Donuts With A Difference took Best of Boston's title for Best Doughuts this year. I truly can't compare the two, because I've never had Union Square Donuts (terrible... I know). The day the Best of Boston magazine came out, my coworker Carrie came down to the accounting department and talked donuts with us for a bit. She raved about Donuts With A Difference, so when she offered to bring some in the next day nearly all my thoughts and actions the rest of the day and the next morning revolved around the promise of donuts. Don't make fun. It was an exhilarating time.    
     The next morning, however, I got in late and was terrified I missed the donut train. I did. She had come and gone, but LUCKILY I have great friends. Zack grabbed a rogue donut that another coworker didn't want for me. It was a lemon jelly filled donut. Now normally I'm not a huge fan of filled donuts and lemon isn't my flavor. However, this donut may have changed my perspective on such treats. My opinion on lemony desserts is evolving. The lemon jelly inside was very simple and sweet. I really enjoyed it much more than I had anticipated. The donut itself was very moist inside and springy too. I love when donuts have the springy texture rather than a crumbly cake-like texture.
Blueberry Donut
     Zack also gave me the word when Carrie got back from her lunch so I could ask her if she had any others left. Oh she sure did. My third favorite kind of donut is a blueberry donut, and that was one of the very few she had left. Jackpot. I'd definitely say that it was the best blueberry donut I've ever had. It was the outer crust that made all the difference. The crispy fried crust on the outside was much thicker than normal donuts, but I don't think this was because they fried it for a long time. Apparently Donuts With A Difference dips their donuts in honey, and I'm inclined to say that's what gave it such a stellar crust and made each bite melt in your mouth. It was like walking across frozen snow. You know when it rains a little and freezes the top layer of snow to the point where you can almost walk across it? Sometimes you take a step and your weight crushes that outer layer of snow and your foot falls down into the soft and fluffy snow beneath, right? That's what this donut was like.

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