Game Changer

Oh goodness. Where to begin? Well, first off, I shouldn’t be writing this right now. What I should be doing while Lilli takes her nap is tidy up the house. Or maybe crowd source the name of a cleaning lady. The house looks like an 18-month-old lives here…on her own. My friend Sara called Lilli the “tiny tornado” a few months back, and the local children’s librarian referred to her as a “little tornado” just last night.

soft serve

So the house is beyond a disaster, and no, I will not post any photos of that. Like I said, I should be cleaning the house right now, but instead I’m going to tell you about vegan ice cream sandwiches.

Before I go any further, Rich wants me to make it clear that he did not have any of the vegan ice cream sandwiches. When the book Vegan Ice Cream Sandwiches by Kris Holechek Peters arrived in the mail I was excited at the prospect of a delicious and creative summertime dairy-free dessert. And Rich? Well, he made a face and declared, quite forcefully, I might add, something he has said for years: “Dairy-free ice cream is an abomination against nature.” I’ve learned to pick my battles, so I let this one slide.

When the book arrived I did what I always do with an unfamiliar cookbook – curled up into a corner on the couch and read through it. Sure, the book has the standard vanilla ice cream with chocolate cookie sandwiches, which I choose as my first recipe. But it also has Crisp Cinnamon Cookies with Chai Ice Cream, Chewy Chocolate Cookies with Mint Nut Ice Cream, and a peanut butter cup flavor, which includes a recipe for the peanut butter cups so you don’t have to run around town trying to find vegan peanut butter cups. I’m looking forward to corn in the CSA because I’ve bookmarked the Sweet Corn Ice Cream that’s been paired with Rhubarb Cookies. (The author labeled them “Mouthful O’ Midwest Sandwiches”.)

The most pleasant surprise about making this dessert was the fact that I found everything, save the soy milk and Earth Balance, at Ocean State Job Lot. (The other two ingredients were purchased at Whole Foods.) Yup, the sugar cane sugar and tapioca starch (sometime referred to as tapioca flour) were both found in the extensive Bob’s Red Mill section at the store. Now, I don’t see any reason why you can’t use regular white granulated sugar, but with baking I try to stick to the recipe before I futz with it. OSJL has a great price on all of Bob’s flours and grains, so if you’re anywhere near one, my advice is to stock up. (If you’re afraid of little creepy crawling things getting into your grains and flours, which has happened in my own pantry, I’d suggest purchasing a package of Ball Jars, conveniently on sale this month, perhaps for the summer jam and preserves crowd.)

As with any ice cream recipe, make sure to have your charger in the freezer overnight. These particular cookies are a slab cookie, although there are drop cookies galore in the book. You’ll notice the recipe has you make the sandwiches, then wrap them in plastic wrap and pop them back in the freezer for a half hour to bind them. It also suggests having the ice cream sit out for a half hour. I guess that’s typical for soy-based ice creams, although the ice cream was ready to scoop after only a few minutes out on the counter.

3 scoops

And the result? Well, at first taste the soy ice cream tasted like Tofutti, but that soy flavor diminished after a few days. The cookies were, legit, delicious — so delicious that Rich ended up eating ALL OF THE COOKIES, except for two. (He swears he thought I’d already assembled the sandwiches and the cookies were left overs.) That means I only had one ice cream sandwich when all was said and done. That’s right, he refused to eat the ice cream sandwiches, but then went and ate all the cookies. I take that as a good sign.

This ice cream sandwich was WAY BETTER than a Tofutti Cutie. For those of you out there that are looking for a Saturday lunchtime dessert that’s dairy free and delicious, this is a game changer.

Classic Ice Cream Sandwiches from Vegan Ice Cream Sandwiches by Kris Holechek Peters

Classic Chocolate Cookies

Ingredients

1/3 cup nondairy margarine, at room temperature

2/3 cup evaporated can sugar

2 Tablespoons nondairy milk

¼ teaspoon mild vinegar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

¾ cup unbleached all-purpose flour

1/3 cup unsweetened baking cocoa, sifted

½ teaspoon baking powder

1/8 teaspoon salt

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper
  2. In a medium bowl, cream together the margarine and sugar. Stir in the milk, vinegar, and vanilla. In a small bowl, combine the flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix thoroughly.
  3. Turn out onto the prepared baking sheet. Place a sheet of waxed paper over the dough and roll out onto a square about ¼ inch thick. Remove the waxed paper and bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until the edges are set and it’s slightly puffy. It will seem soft and not fully baked, but it is.
  4. Remove from the oven and let cool for about 15 minutes on the baking sheet on a wire rack. Carefully cut the cookies into the desired shape. You can use a glass or biscuit cutter to make them round, or maximize the dough by cutting them into evenly sized squares.
  5. Remove the cookies from the sheet and allow to finish cooling on the rack.

Vanilla Soy Ice Cream

Makes 1 ¼ quarts

Ingredients

3/4 cup evaporated cane sugar

1 Tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons tapioca starch

2 ½ cup soy or hemp milk (full fat)

1 teaspoon coconut oil

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Directions

  1. In a large saucepan, combine the sugar and tapioca starch and whisk until incorporated. Pour in the milk, whisking to incorporate. Over medium heat, bring the mixture to a boil, whisking frequently. Once it reaches a boil, lower the heat to medium-low and whisk constantly until the mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat, add the coconut oil and vanilla, and mix to combine.
  2. Transfer the mixture to a heat-resistant bowl and let cool completely.
  3. Pour the mixture into the bowl of a 1 ½ or 2-quart ice cream maker and process according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Store in an airtight container in the freezer for at least 2 hours before assembling the sandwiches.

To Make the Sandwiches

Let the ice cream soften slightly so it’s easy to scoop. Place half of the cookies, bottoms up, on a clean surface. Scoop one generous scoop of ice cream, about 1/3 cup, onto the top of each cookie. Top the ice cream with the remaining cookies, with the cookie bottoms touching the ice cream. Gently press down on the cookies to level them. Wrap each sandwich in plastic wrap or waxed paper and return to the freezer for at least 30 minutes before serving.

 

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A Summer Salad

Last week, after years of careful deliberation, I announced to Rich that my favorite of all berries was the raspberry. The best raspberries of all were the wild ones that grew on the bushes that lined the road to our house in Western Mass. Those bushes are all gone now, replaced with houses, but when I was a little girl my sisters and I would run down the small hill to collect the berries.

For Lilli, strawberries were in the berry lead in early June, but it looks like blueberries have now surged ahead. (Earlier tonight I overheard Rich telling her that she had to eat them one at a time and to stop cramming them into her mouth all at once.) Sometimes I share my raspberries with her, and it’s clear she loves those, too.

cherry herb salad

Longtime readers of this blog would have no idea about my raspberry love, or how much I absolutely adore all summer fruits, for that matter, because I tend to do the minimal amount of preparation to them. (Plums don’t count.) Why bake something, like a peach or cherry, into a pie when it’s already a perfect dessert (or snack, or meal)?

All this changed when I saw this recipe for cherry herb salad. I read the name of the dish long before I had a chance to read the recipe, and my first guess as to what herb it would be was tarragon. It turned out to be a cup of cilantro leaves, and it works. It works well enough that I’m sharing this recipe with you and plan on making it again tomorrow night. Cherries were on crazy sale at Star Market today – I was there this morning AND this evening refilling my supply.

in the kitchen

The recipe calls for a Holland chile pepper which the regular market clearly did not have. I did a bunch of googling and, honestly, use whatever hot pepper you’d prefer. I actually didn’t use the entire pepper in this dish, as I’m a bit of a wimp about spicy things. Although the original recipe claims that the broiling of the pepper takes four minutes, I found it took closer to 10 minutes in the toaster oven, where I also toasted a half cup of walnuts. I clean my cilantro by filling a large bowl of cold water and dropping the herb into it; the sand always sinks to the bottom of the bowl. Today’s bunch of cilantro was especially gritty; I needed to change the water five times tonight. As for prepping the fruit, many years ago Rich bought me a cherry/olive pitter. Money well spent, I say. I buy my pomegranate molasses at the Armenian shops in Watertown. My bet is any Middle Eastern shop in your area would have it, too. It would be right next to the rosewater.

We ate this tonight as a side to our roasted fish and brown rice. You should, too.

Cherry & Herb Salad – This recipe was featured in a May 2013 issue of Saveur within Gabriella Gershenon’s article The Promised Land. It’s credited as a Turkish recipe, but the article is about Israel and the Galilee. I’ve been thinking a lot about Israel lately. I bet many of you reading this are thinking about it, too. 

Ingredients

Up to two red Holland chiles, or chiles of your choosing

1 lb. fresh dark pitted cherries

1 cup cilantro leaves

½ cup walnuts halves, toasted and roughly chopped

3 Tablespoons olive oil

1 ½ Tablespoons pomegranate molasses

1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste

Instructions

Heat oven broiler (or toaster oven) to high. Place chiles on a baking sheet; broil, turning as needed, until charred and tender, 4 to 10 minutes, depending on the size of your pepper.

Transfer to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap; let sit five minutes. Discard stems, skin and seeds from chiles; finely chop and transfer to a bowl. (I did this step wearing rubber gloves.)

In a separate bowl whisk together the olive oil, molasses and lemon juice.

Add the cherries, cilantro and walnuts to the bowl of chopped pepper. Pour the dressing into the bowl and toss to combine. Serve chilled or at room temperature.