“X-HOT Chile Peppers & COLD Ice Cream”

   Fresh Roasted New Mexican Hatch Chile Peppers

Late August….early September…our ritual chile pepper roasting day came again this year just like clock-work. Wouter returned home to Nashville with a very large burlap bag of fresh red and green New Mexican chile peppers straight from the fields around Hatch.

This was a hard year for chile growing in New Mexico, not enough rain for too long left much of this world-famous crop of peppers more scarce than usual. Therefore,I am even more delighted to have a little part of this years New Mexican chile pepper harvest.

In his haste to get packed up for his drive back to Nashville, Wouter bought 2 bags of peppers, tossed them in the back of the car…heading East….thinking one was mild & one hot. Not so…one HOT and one X-HOT for roasting day..even better!

Roasting these peppers with their fleshy skins and thick meat is quite easy. Just a few steps takes the chile fresh from the bag to being fresh frozen in the freezer. New Mexican chiles have a very unique flavor that is both bold and earthy. We add them throughout the year to soups, egg dishes, salsa, pastas, steaks…..not to mention homemade ice cream….we’ll get back to that later. First the roasting……

Gather together the following: a few really cold beers; your chiles, prepare a charcoal grill with very hot coals (you can use a gas grill of course, but the charcoal just adds to the flavor); tongs, a couple of metal trays, a few large zip-lock type bags to “sweat” the peppers & some small pint size freezer zip-lock type bags to store peppers.

Directions:

1. Sort through peppers tossing out any that are rotten. Pile good firm peppers in a pan & place close to the grill.

2. Start roasting. Wouter manned the grill….the cold beers helped!

3. When peppers are black on the outside and roasted, this happens pretty quickly, place on a metal pan to cool for a few seconds. I cannot adequately describe the smell wafting up and out of our backyard…the rich earthy chile roasting smell of these particular chiles…unless you have either been in and around Santa Fe during chile roasting time or have roasted your own…it is the smell of hard work, harvest time, and things that matter.

  4. I put the still hot roasted peppers into large plastic bags & close tightly. You can add lots of peppers to each bag. Sweat peppers until they cool. This usually takes about 20 to 30 minutes.

5. When they are cool enough to handle remove peppers, one by one, from the bag & peel. You might want to wear protective gloves for this part. I usually don’t but I make sure I clean my hands & fingernails with a nail brush after peeling. I do the peeling while Wouter roasts. A cold beer helps with this process also.

6. Peeling the peppers can be a bit tedious, but I enjoy the process. Don’t fret about getting every little piece of blackened skin off every pepper. A bit of the skin just adds to their flavor. Seeds? I pretty much discard what comes out easy & rest stay.

7. I add about 2 to 4 peppers to each small freezer bag & seal tightly, press out most of the air & freeze. (A couple of these babies will be enough for most recipes.)

Peppers ready for the freezer…..and ice cream?

I have been interested in using the fresh New Mexican chiles as an addition to a homemade ice cream concoction for a couple of year. This year I came up with just the right recipe and ingredients. Each one compliments the other very well.

“Chocolate Chile Pepper Mocha Ice Cream”

Ingredients:

1 pint heavy cream; 1 pint whole milk; 1 tsp instant espresso powder; 2 tsp vanilla extract; 1 cup sugar; a dash of salt;  3 tbsp dark cocoa; 1/4 cup chopped frozen or fresh chile peppers  (For this recipe I used an electric ice cream freezer.)

Directions:

1. Freeze bowl of electric ice cream freezer based on directions with your particular brand.

2. Put sugar, salt, cocoa & chile peppers in the bowl of a food processor & pulse until well mixed & no chile chunks remain.

                                                           

3. Heat cream & whole milk over medium heat. Do not boil. Add sugar-cocoa-chile mixture to pan & sir until sugar is dissolved. Add vanilla. Remove from heat. Bring to room temp & then chill in refrigerator.

4. Pour chilled mixture into the freezer bowl and freeze according to directions…about 20-30 minutes is what it took for mine to bring the mixture to the right texture.

My “Chocolate Chile Pepper Mocha Ice Cream” had the right amount of “hot & cold, sweet & chocolate”.

The end.

“July Fresh Peaches & Cream Corn Ice Cream with Blackberries”

“July Peaches & Cream Corn Ice Cream with Fresh Picked Blackberries”

I first tasted corn ice cream in Quintana Roo, Mexico a few years ago. I have never forgotten the rich, sweet fresh corn flavored frozen dessert and have often tried to recreate it. I have used various recipes that I have found on-line and in cookbooks but I found them all too fussy & too lengthy (it shouldn’t be rocket science). This week while at the Farmer’s Market buying some fresh corn I had a “corn ice cream epiphany” and came up with this recipe that is as good as my first tasting. Try this recipe which is simple and uses Peaches & Cream corn and you will be just as seduced by the taste as I have been.

Fresh Peaches & Cream Corn

To Make Fresh Corn Ice Cream:

1. I used an electric ice cream freezer. Whatever freezer you use prepare it according to the instructions that came with your freezer.

2. Shuck & clean the silk from 4 ears of sweet corn such as Peaches & Cream or Silver Queen. Using a sharp knife, cut corn from ears into a bowl. Then scrape each with the knife to “milk” the corn. Save one ear & cut into smaller pieces and set aside.

“shuck, silk, cut, scrape, milk”

3. Place cut corn & cobs into a pan with 2 cups whole milk. Heat over medium heat until mixture comes to a low boil. Turn heat to low & simmer for about 8 minutes.

4. Remove pan from heat & take cobs out of mixture & throw away. Puree corn mixture in a food processor.

5. Pour pureed mixture through a mesh strainer sitting over a glass bowl. Use a rubber scraper to press liquid out.

6. Into bowl of corn-milk liquid add 3/4 cup turbinado or raw sugar & 2 tsps vanilla extract. Stir until sugar is dissolved. Add in 1/2 cup cream & blend. Pour mixture into a measuring cup…you should have about 2 1/2 cups liquid. If you do not then add more cream to make this amount. Cover & chill for at least one hour before making ice cream. The raw sugar & vanilla will give the mixture a caramel color.

7. Freeze corn mixture in ice cream freeze according to directions until creamy-frozen.

8. Serve immediately with fresh picked blackberries scattered over ice cream or cover & place in refrigerator freezer until ready to eat.

Fresh picked Tennessee Blackberries from the West Nashville/Sylvan Park Farmer’s Market

It is very hard to describe the subtle deliciousness of this ice cream. It is unique in the creamy sweet corn flavor with a hint of vanilla which is all rounded out by the raw sugar.

Bon Apetit!

Ice Cream Dreams

Last Friday it was 98 degrees in the shade and the job was to shoot some real ice cream dessert shots.

My part of the shoot was to dream up some ideas as long as they were ice cream-like. I wanted the flavor profiles to be a little outside the box while using familiar ingredients with a bit of a twist. I wanted interesting textures and a refreshing look.

My Ice Cream Dream #1   “Peach & Raspberry Buttermilk Ice Cream served with Ines Rosales Crackers Drizzled with Chocolate Sauce”

 Ice Cream Ingredients:

3 cups good quality buttermilk

1/2 cup turbinado or raw sugar

1 generous TBSP Balsamic Vinegar (I used a Mango flavored Balsamic Vinegar. But any of the fruit flavored ones on the market would be equally delicious or just plain Balsamic.)

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 cups fresh, ripe peaches, peeled  & cut into small chunks

1 cup fresh raspberries

Directions:

1. Prep ice cream freezer as per instructions for your particular freezer. I use a Cuisinart electric freezer that works so beautifully every time.

2. Pour cold buttermilk into a bowl & sprinkle sugar over the surface. Let it sit until sugar has melted about 5-7 minutes. Stir mixture together. Add balsamic vinegar & vanilla extract & blend well. Taste for sweetness. If desired you can add a bit more sugar to suit your taste.

3.  Pour chilled mixture into the freezer bowl and freeze mixture until it is soft-frozen according to freezer instructions. At this point add in the chopped peaches and whole raspberries.  When mixture is frozen, cover and place in refrigerator freezer until ready to serve.

Other ingredients to complete dessert:

A package of Ines Rosales crackers (Whole Foods). (If you cannot find these then use Matzoh crackers that you have brushed with honey & sprinkled with sugar.)

A good quality dark chocolate syrup

Additional raspberries for garnish

To Assemble Dessert:

Place one Ines Rosales on each serving plate. Top with a generous scoop of Peach & Raspberry Buttermilk Ice Cream. Top with another Ines Rosales. Drizzle chocolate syrup over top and garnish with a scatter of raspberries. The crispy, salty, sweetness of these crackers were perfect with the very slightly balsamic flavored Peach Ice Cream and the hint of dark chocolate.

My Ice Cream Dream #2   “Benton Bacon Sugar Cookie Chocolate Ice Cream Sandwich”

I found the Benton Bacon Sugar Cookies last week at the wonderful little grocery in The Gulch “The Turnip Truck”. I was intrigued enough to bring a package home to couple with  dark chocolate ice cream to create an unusually fantastic ice cream sandwich.

Note: if you cannot find these same cookies you can easily make your own by adding some cooked, chopped Benton Bacon pieces to your favorite sugar cookie dough recipe.

Once again this coupling of salt, crunch and creamy cold was a very fine treat.

To Do: Sandwich a scoop of dark chocolate ice cream between two cookies. Place in freezer wrapped in waxed paper until ready to eat.

My Ice Cream Dream #3   “Frozen Banana Peanut Butter Ice Cream Sundae”

I recently ran across this easy one ingredient ice cream idea so it is in no way my original idea. I found it at instructables.com. Of course I gilded the lily somewhat.

Ingredient list:

4-6 ripe, with lots of brown spots, bananas, peeled, cut into chunks and frozen

large bakery or homemade chocolate chip cookies

peanut butter

chocolate sprinkles

Sea Salt

Directions for ice cream:

1. Place frozen bananas into a food processor and process until bananas become the consistency of ice cream. You might have to scrape down sides of processor during this part. Mixture should be “scoop-able”. That’s it.

2. Melt peanut butter in microwave until it is can be poured.

To Serve:

Place a cookie on plate, top with a scoop of the banana ice cream, add a drizzle of the peanut butter, add chocolate sprinkles and sea salt flakes over the top and serve.

Be Sweet, Stay Cool.