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Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Maple Bacon Ice Cream!

How is fall going for everyone? Good? Great! I will soon have some yummy pumpkin recipes to share (Pumpkin Pie Bars anyone???), but right now, I want to share this amazing recipe with you.

A few weeks ago I was watching the food network and saw Claire Robinson make this ice cream. Maple Bacon Ice Cream? Huh? 

The more I thought about it, the more I had to make it. I bought the ice cream making attachment to my KitchenAid mixer a few months ago, and I've only had the chance to make a chocolate ice cream. This would be a great opportunity to use my purchase as well as enjoy some rich homemade yumminess. And Maple Bacon Ice Cream... How could I not make it?

Disclaimer: I do not want anyone to be fooled into thinking this is a healthy or to be made healthy recipe. This is pure indulgence (I mean, come on... its bacon ice cream). Treat it as so.

Maple Bacon Ice Cream
1 cup grade B maple syrup (I used light syrup from Log Cabin… if you’re a New Englander, feel free to gasp!)
4 cups half-and-half
1 1/2 cups sugar, divided
5 egg yolks
1/2 pound thick-cut bacon (about 6 slices)
Special equipment: Candy thermometer, ice cream maker

In a medium saucepan over moderate heat, reduce the maple syrup to 1/2 cup. Set aside.

Over moderate heat in a medium saucepan, heat the half-and-half with 1/2 cup sugar until hot and just bubbling around the edges.

In a medium bowl, whisk the yolks with 1/2 cup sugar, then add 1-cup hot half-and-half mixture in a slow stream, whisking constantly. Pour the whole egg mixture back into the saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until the mixture coats the back of the spoon and registers 170 degrees F on a thermometer (when I combined the egg mix with the cream, it was already at 170. I just turned the heat way down and let it hold its temp for a few minutes). Do not let boil. Pour the mixture through a fine mesh sieve into a medium bowl and whisk in the maple syrup. Cover with parchment paper letting the paper touch the surface of the mixture, to prevent a skin from forming. Chill the mixture until very cold, at least 6 hours and up to overnight.

Preheat the oven to350 degrees F.
Line a rimmed sheet pan with heavy foil. Place a baking rack over the lined sheet pan and arrange the bacon slices across the rack next to each other. Bake until crispy, about 15 minutes. When all the fat is rendered off, pat the warm bacon with paper towel to get as much of the fat off as possible. When cool enough to handle, finely chop.

Line a sheet pan with parchment paper and set aside. Place the remaining 1/2 cup sugar in the saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring with a fork, until the sugar starts to melt. Stop stirring and cook until the sugar is a golden caramel color (keep an eye on the sugar, it will go from golden to burnt very quicky). Add the bacon and stir to coat. Pour onto prepared baking sheet and let harden. Chop  the candied bacon into small pieces.

Freeze the custard in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions, 20 to 30 minutes and at the last minute, add the candied bacon and let churn until just combined. Transfer to an airtight container and freeze for at least 6 hours (or just dig in... I won't judge!)

Hint: Try adding some cayenne pepper to your chopped bacon before you stir it into the melted sugar (I'm going to try this next time).
Oh yeah... (Said in Ferris Bueller voice)

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Cheesy Roasted Tomato Soup

Back in June, I attended the International Conference on Infant Studies in Minneapolis. It was a great conference... I learned a lot and received great feedback on my publication. Also, my friend Lauren and I stumbled upon a great little restaurant called "The Local." We enjoyed our meal so much the first day that we went back the next day.

On The Local's menu, they have this incredible soup called Baked Cheddar and Tomato Soup. This soup is amazing! Creamy, tart, cheesy.

So of course, as soon as I came home I decided to make my own. Overall, I think its a pretty close replication of the Local's recipe. I think next time I make it, I'm going to also roast a potato or two with the other veggies so that I can get some of the creamy/starchy-ness from them.

Cheesy Roasted Tomato Soup
7 Roma/Plum tomatoes
1 Red bell pepper
1 Medium Red Onion
6-8 cloves garlic
2 medium potatoes, peeled (optional)
Olive oil
Balsamic Vinegar
4 leaves of basil
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 small can of tomato paste
32 oz veggie broth
8 oz sharp cheddar cheese + more for serving
salt & pepper
French bread
immersion blender

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Oil the bottom of a 13x9 pan, and place veggies (tomatoes, pepper, onion, garlic, potatoes...largely chunked) into it. Drizzle a little more oil on top. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar, then sprinkle with salt and pepper, toss to coat. Put the pan into the oven for 20-25 minutes until well roasted, stirring once.

While the veggies are roasting, prepare the soup base. In a large soup pot (I used a large dutch oven for even heating), drizzle a few tablespoons of oil in. Put all of the tomato paste into the oil and stir over medium heat to smooth out. Pour in 3/4 of the carton of broth, and stir until well combined. When the veggies are done, use a slotted spoon to put them into the broth (you don't want too much of the oil from the roasting pan in the soup). Bring to a boil, then simmer for 15+ minutes until all the veggies are soft. Tear up the basil leaves and add into soup. If you want, you can add 1/4 cup of dry white wine (I did not do this). Add 1/4 cup of heavy cream and shredded cheese. Use an immersion blender to puree the soup until thick and creamy. Serve with more cheese and a large chunk of french bread.

Big pot o' yummy!

Update: I made this soup again... this time without peppers and added a good sized clump (~1/2 cup) of sundried tomatoes and a few tablespoons of pesto! Amazing!