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Cooking
Volume 39 Issue 11 • July 16-22, 2009
now in our 39th season

Cool It

by Jenn Farmer
Sous Chef at Bartlett's Farm

I love all the wonderful flavors that summer brings.  I am a fiend for fresh salad greens, tender freshly picked vegetables and fruits.  All this fresh produce is wonderful, but I have to admit that I have in recent years acquired a real sweet tooth.  In the summer I especially enjoy ice cream, frozen fruit desserts, and cookies.  My grandmother made the very best cookies.  She would make big chewy monster cookies, snickerdoodles, flaky light sugar cookies, oatmeal golden raisin cookies, molasses cookies, and of course the classic chocolate chip cookie.  When I was really good she would make an ice cream sandwich with the warm, freshly baked cookies, what a summer treat!   My favorite was the monster cookie and ice cream sandwich.  Nothing quite compares to the moist oatmeal, brown sugar flavors, with the crunchy M&M candies, and the creamy vanilla ice cream.  She always made them with vanilla ice cream (my grandfather insisted on having it in the house at all times). 

Recently I have been experimenting with different flavored ice creams and cookies.  Some have been surprisingly elegant, and I would not hesitate to make them for a dinner party or upscale event.    I do still love the rustic simple ice cream cookies also because they can be so satisfying.  Some combinations I have tried include; oatmeal cookies with peach ice cream, hazelnut cookies with chocolate ice cream, chocolate cookies with mint ice cream, chocolate chip cookies with cookie dough ice cream, and mandarin orange cookies with crème fraîche ice cream.  With all the wonderful cookie and ice cream flavors out there the possibilities are endless.  

Cinnamon Oatmeal Cookies

  • 1-1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/3 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Position 1 rack in top third and 1 rack in bottom third of oven and preheat to 350°F.  Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper, or spray lightly with pan spray.

Mix oats, flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt in a medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat butter in another larger bowl until fluffy. Add both sugars to the fluffy butter; beat until well blended. Add egg and vanilla to the butter and sugar mixture and beat well.  Fold dry ingredients into the butter mixture. For each cookie use approximately 2 tablespoons of batter.  Drop 8 mounds onto each sheet, spacing them about 3 inches apart. Flatten to 2-inch rounds.

Bake cookies 10 minutes. Reverse baking sheets and bake until cookies are golden and dry to touch, about 3 minutes longer. Remove cookies from oven and let cool for about 2 minutes. Transfer cookies to rack. Cool completely.

Peach Ice Cream

  • 3 peaches
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 cup half-and-half
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • a 2-inch piece of vanilla bean
  • 1/4 teaspoon finely grated fresh lemon zest

Peel the peaches, reserving the peelings, and slice them, reserving the pits. In a food processor combine the peach slices, 1/2 cup of the sugar, and the lemon juice and pulse the motor until the peach slices are chopped coarse. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and chill it, covered. In a saucepan heat the half-and-half, the cream, the reserved peach peelings and pits, the remaining 1/4 cup sugar, the vanilla bean, the zest, and a pinch of salt over moderate heat until the mixture is very hot, but not boiling.  Remove the pan from the heat, let the mixture cool to room temperature, and chill it, covered, for 1 hour, or until it is very cold.

Strain the cream mixture through a fine sieve or cheese cloth into the bowl with the chopped peaches, stir the mixture until it is combined well, and freeze it in an ice-cream freezer according to the manufacturer's instructions.

In the summer I love making ice cream, frozen custard, sherbet, sorbet, and gelato.  There are so many great recipes out there, and they are fun to experiment with.  Although I consider ice cream a special treat, it really was once a luxury reserved for very special occasions.  Before modern refrigeration,  people cut blocks of ice from lakes and ponds in the winter and stored it in the ground or in ice houses for use in the summer.  If that wasn’t laborious enough, the ice cream was made by hand in large bowl placed inside a tub of filled with ice and salt.  This method was the pot-freezer method.  The hand-cranked churn was probably invented in the early to mid-1800s, and made ice cream quicker, easier and creamier to make. 

Luckily today there are several styles of ice cream machines to select from, including electric, and a fun ice cream ball that can be tossed between friends until the liquid is churned and cold.  Just about any type of ice cream (or other frozen treat) can be made in these modern ice cream makers, so let your imagination go, and try any sweet or savory flavor you want.  Infusing herbs or citrus into the warm cream or milk mixture is one way to flavor the ice cream.  Lavender, thyme, and lemon verbena are exceptional flavors in ice cream.  Crème fraîche is one of my favorite flavors of ice cream since crème fraîche is very creamy and flavorful, but has a little tartness too.  Crème fraîche is a soured cream that is a little less thick than sour cream, and has a slightly nutty flavor.  Sour cream, though different, can be substituted for crème fraîche in the following recipe.  The following recipe is frozen custard as opposed to ice cream, since it has eggs and is cooked first before freezing.  Much of what we call ice cream is actually frozen custard, or ice milk, either way I consider it delicious. 

Crème Fraîche Frozen Custard

  • 1 cup half and half
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 1 cup crème fraîche

Combine half and half and cream in heavy large saucepan. Scrape in seeds from vanilla bean; add bean. Bring to boil. Remove from heat. Cover and let stand 15 minutes.

Beat sugar and egg yolks in large bowl until thick and pale yellow. Gradually beat in warm cream mixture. Return mixture to saucepan. Stir over medium-low heat until custard thickens and coats a spoon, this should take 5-7 minuets (do not boil). Remove from heat. Strain, and discard the vanilla bean.  Chill for about 15 minutes, then whisk in crème fraîche. Cover and chill custard until very cold, about 3 hours or overnight.

Process custard in ice cream maker according to manufacturer's instructions. Transfer ice cream to covered container. Freeze until firm.
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