Vegan Mixed Berry “Ice Cream” (#60-D/E)

12 07 2013

Apologies!  I realize it’s been quite a while since I’ve posted a new recipe.  But now that we’re into July and there’s nothing in the forecast but sunshine, it’s definitely time to kick up ice cream consumption into high gear.

Environment Canada weather forescast

Nothing but sunshine in Vancouver’s summer weather forecast!

There’s nothing better than a huge bowl of creamy goodness when it’s 27 degrees out.  Except if you have a dairy or egg allergy or if you are vegan.

That’s where alternative frozen treats come in.  Walk into any grocery store and dairy-free and egg-free options abound — there’s rice milk ice cream, nut milk ice cream, soy milk ice cream, and coconut milk ice cream.  But personally, I’ve been pretty disappointed with alternative ice creams.  The taste seems artificial and the texture far too gummy.  And brands that pass the taste and texture test are usually pretty pricey, up to $9.00 a pint.  Solution?  Make your own, of course!

There are two routes for making dairy-free/egg-free/vegan ice cream at home:

  1. Use a non-dairy milk as the base (e.g. rice, nut, soy, or coconut milk)
  2. Use frozen banana as the base.

I’ve explored the first option (check out my recipes for Banana Bread Ice Cream, which has the option of using soy milk, and Purple Yam and Coconut Ice Cream, which uses both soy and coconut milk), so I figured it’s time to start exploring the latter.  The method is super simple and you don’t even need to have an ice cream maker!  For this particular recipe, it was just a matter of whirling up frozen, ripe bananas and mixed berries.  Done.  Ripe bananas are so sweet that you don’t even need to add any extra sugar, which is a bonus.

Give this recipe a try and let me know what you think!

Vegan Mixed Berry Ice Cream (Makes about 1 L)

4 very ripe bananas, peeled, sliced, and frozen overnight
2 cups of mixed berries, frozen overnight (I used a combination of blueberries and strawberries)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon vodka

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Chocolate Raspberry Frozen Yogurt (#59-Y)

11 06 2013

There are a lot of people out there who don’t like yogurt.  For many, it’s the characteristic tang of yogurt that’s the deal breaker.  The solution?  Chocolate.  And lots of it.

This frozen yogurt recipe calls for a whopping 3/4 cup of Dutch cocoa powder — the same amount as in my recipe for Ultra Decadent Chocolate Ice Cream, which I made waaaay back in Week #5.  I assure you that the deep, chocolatey taste of cocoa powder will mask any hint of tang in the yogurt.  Even if you have the most discerning palette, hyper-sensitive sour taste buds, and can pick out even the slightest whisper of tang in your food, you will likely attribute that taste to the sweet-tart macerated raspberries that are churned throughout the frozen yogurt.

Rather than using 2% plain Greek yogurt (Oikos brand – 130 calories, 3.5 g fat, 17 g protein per 1/2 cup) as I did with my last two frozen yogurt recipes, I gave 3% plain regular yogurt (Astro brand – 80 calories, 4 g fat, 5 g protein per 1/2 cup) a try this week to see if there’d be any difference in using a thinner yogurt, albeit one with a slightly higher fat content.

Astro 3% plain yogurt

3% plain regular yogurt has fewer calories and is cheaper than 2% plain Greek yogurt, but doesn’t compromise on taste and texture in frozen yogurt recipes.

Results?  Taste: AWESOME.  Texture: AWESOME.  Granted, I ought to test this recipe using both 2% Greek yogurt and 3% regular yogurt and do a side-by-side comparison, but based on this recipe alone, I’m convinced I could use either variety in my frozen yogurt recipes and have fantastic results.  Bonus: regular yogurt is usually cheaper than Greek yogurt!

(Readers: please let me know if you try this recipe using fat-free, 1%, or full-fat varieties of yogurt.  I’d be very interested in hearing about your results!)

Chocolate Raspberry Frozen Yogurt  (Makes about 1 L)

For the Chocolate Frozen Yogurt:

3/4 c Dutch processed cocoa powder
1/2 cup white sugar
3 cups of plain yogurt

For the Macerated Raspberries:

1 cup fresh raspberries
2 tablespoons white sugar
1 tablespoon vodka

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Strawberry Balsamic Frozen Yogurt with Balsamic Syrup (#58-Y)

20 05 2013

The Victoria Day Long Weekend calls for an impromptu dinner party, and an impromptu dinner party calls for quick, simple dishes:

French bread, tapenade, olives, bruschetta

Olives, bruschetta, tapenade, and crusty French bread.  (Pick up from the deli and ask the bakery to slice the bread for you.)

fennel orange salad


Fennel and orange salad with lemon olive oil dressing.  (Pre-washed spring mix is such a time saver!)

Linguine with clams, pasta with clams


Bucatini with Clams (An easy and impressive main with just 12 minutes of cooking time!)

And to finish, Strawberry Balsamic Frozen Yogurt.  But I’ll save that photo for the end of this post, along with the Official Taster’s comments 🙂

If you haven’t had strawberries with balsamic vinegar before, you must.  They are a classic and wonderfully complementary pairing, with the depth and tang of balsamic vinegar bringing out the sweetness of the strawberries.  Absolutely divine!

The recipe itself is deceptively simple: whirl together four ingredients, chill, and churn.  It’s fantastic served on its own, but dress it up with a drizzle of homemade balsamic syrup for that additional WOW factor.

Store any leftover syrup in a jar in the fridge — it will keep indefinitely.  The syrup will be very thick when it’s cold, so warm it up for a few seconds in the microwave before using it.  Try it drizzled over asparagus or a tomato bocconcini salad.

Strawberry Balsamic Frozen Yogurt with Balsamic Syrup  (Makes about 1.25 L)

For the frozen yogurt:

1 lb strawberries
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup white sugar
3 cups of 2% plain Greek yogurt

For the balsamic syrup:

1 cup balsamic vinegar

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Backcountry Blackberry Cheesecake Ice Cream (#53-E)

17 03 2013

Admit it.  Some of you didn’t think I’d be posting more ice cream recipes after finishing 52 Scoops.  But as promised, here’s another!

A few weeks ago, prior to this HUGE deluge of Vancouver rain, the Official Taster and I, along with our friend Jason, thought it’d be fun to head up one of the local mountains and build an igloo.  Yes, an igloo.

I hadn’t grown up camping, let alone snow camping.  The Official Taster introduced me to this activity just a few years ago, and let’s just say my first snow camping experience was rather… epic.  New Years Eve, 2009/10.  Mount Seymour.  22 hours of rain and sleet.  Two people who were sent down around midnight because they wouldn’t have lasted the night.  Huddling under a tarp in the morning hoping for a break in the weather so we could pack up and haul all our gear, plus the evacuees’ abandoned gear, down the mountain.  I think my body needed three days to recover after that!

But I’ve since grown to love snow camping.  Because when you can fall asleep to something like this…

winter camping

Mount Seymour. Photo courtesy of Peter G.

… Or wake up to something like this…

Mt. Strachan, Cypress Provincial Park

Mt. Strachan, Cypress Provincial Park

… It’s pretty amazing.

And when you introduce a snow saw to your arsenal of winter gear, it gets even more fun.  Because you can play around and cut out sleeping platforms like this:

Sleeping platform cut into a huge snow bank.  Mt. Strachan, Cypress Provincial Park, West Vancouver.  (Photo courtesy of Dave F.)

Sleeping platform cut into a huge snow bank. Mt. Strachan, Cypress Provincial Park, West Vancouver. (Photo courtesy of Dave F.)

Even better, you can cut blocks to build igloos, as the O.T., Jason, and I did recently:

building igloo

The Official Taster laying igloo blocks. Black Mountain, Cypress Provincial Park, West Vancouver

igloo, winter camping

The finished igloo!

Knowing we were going to be building a warm, cozy snow shelter, Jason had suggested we might as well get fancy with food – why not churn a batch of ice cream up on the mountain?

A half-pint jar of custard and my half-pint Baby Donvier wouldn’t add that much weight to my backpack, and since I had some leftover blackberry puree from my blackberry escapades last summer and a block of cream cheese in the fridge, an egg-free Blackberry Cheesecake Ice Cream it was then!

Donvier half pint ice cream maker, blackberry cheesecake ice cream, blackberry ice cream

Churning out a mini batch of ice cream in the backcountry.

As expected, the ice cream did not firm up as much as it usually does when I churn it at home, since the inner frozen cylinder — though packed in the snow while we were busy igloo building — was not at its optimal ultra-cold temperature.  But after two and a half hours of cutting, hauling, shaping, and stacking blocks, we were hungry and happy to have a treat to enjoy, even if it was a bit on the soft side.

Backcountry Blackberry Cheesecake Ice Cream  (Makes about 1.25 L)

2 cups of strained blackberry puree (about 4 cups of fresh or frozen berries)
250 g cream cheese, softened
Juice of half a lemon
3/4 cup white sugar (adjust to taste; depends on the sweetness of your berries)
2 cups half-and-half cream

  1. Puree the blackberries at low speed in a blender.  Strain the puree through a sieve to remove all the seeds.  You should have about 2 cups of puree.
  2. Place the cream cheese in the (now empty) blender.  Add half of the blackberry puree and blend at medium speed.  Scrape down the sides.  Add the remaining blackberry puree and blend some more.
  3. Add the remaining ingredients and give everything a good whirl, until the mixture is smooth.
  4. Chill overnight in the fridge.
  5. Churn according to manufacturer’s instructions.
inside igloo with ice cream

Jason, the Igloo Builder and Guest Taster, says: “This tastes pretty good!”





Wild Blackberry Ice Cream (#25)

30 08 2012

I have a secret berry patch near my work.  Over the past few weeks during my lunch hour, I would head down the street, around the corner, and then along a country lane.  At the end, I would find a tangly mess of thorny bushes loaded with sun-warmed berries.

country lane

A lunch hour stroll along a country lane…

blackberry bushes

Wild blackberries galore!

I am never prepared for berry picking.  Protective long-sleeved top and long pants?  No.  Sturdy shoes for stepping on and over thorny branches?  No.  Heavy duty gardening gloves, mega garden shears, and a stack of plastic buckets?  No, no, no.  Office clothes, open-toe shoes, and two pint-sized Ziploc bags tucked in my back pocket?  Why, yes!  That’s me.  But so far, I’ve emerged from the bushes unscathed (except for the odd little scratch here and there), and my clothes are still free of berry stains.

As with Week #19’s Raspberry Cheesecake Ice Cream, this recipe requires the berries to be pureed and strained of its seeds, which are full of bitter tannins.  The puree is then gently simmered until its volume is reduced by one-half, reducing its water content and intensifying the sweet blackberry flavour.  Enjoy the last days of summer with some berry picking and this simple, four-ingredient ice cream recipe!

Wild Blackberry Ice Cream  (Makes about 1.25 L)

2 cups of strained blackberry puree (about 4 cups of fresh or frozen berries)
2 eggs
3/4 cup white sugar (adjust to taste; depends on the sweetness of your berries)
3 cups half-and-half cream

  1. Puree the raspberries at low speed in a blender.  Strain the puree through a sieve to remove all the seeds.  You should have about 2 cups of puree.
  2. Pour the puree into a saucepan.  Bring the puree to a simmer over medium heat and let the puree reduce in volume by one-half, stirring occasionally.  This should take 10 to 12 minutes.  Let cool.
  3. In a heavy saucepan, lightly whisk together the eggs and sugar.
  4. Add 2 cups of the half-and-half cream.
  5. Cook the mixture over medium-low heat stirring constantly, until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon (170 degrees F / 77 degrees C).
  6. Remove from heat immediately and add the remaining half-and-half to stop the cooking.  Place the saucepan into an ice bath to cool the custard rapidly.
  7. When cool, whisk in the blackberry puree.
  8. Chill overnight in the fridge.
  9. Pour the custard into an ice cream maker and prepare according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
blackberry ice cream

The Official Taster says: “The North Shore black bears would love this!”





Blueberry Lemon Basil Ice Cream (#20)

26 07 2012

I was hoping to get this post up earlier, but I ran into some technical difficulties a couple of days ago: I discovered that my Donvier Chillfast cylinder, which I normally store in the freezer, wasn’t frozen solid and icy cold, but was melty and sloshing around!  How could that be?!  I had turned down the freezer to its coldest setting the night before to make sure the cylinder would be as cold as possible.  Was my freezer on the fritz?  The cylinder itself?  Luckily, it was neither.  It turned out that the Official Taster was in a pinch to quickly chill two kegs of beer and had grabbed the Chillfast cylinder and submerged it in a tubful of water, along with the kegs and a couple bags of ice cubes.  Official Taster, you owe me some extra dish washing for thisSurely the ice cubes alone would have been sufficient!  So, this set me back half a day while I re-froze the cylinder.  On the upside though, my custard had some extra time to “age” in the fridge.

Week #20’s flavour came to me when I was shopping at my local produce store.  Blueberries!  Only $1.89/lb!  That’s about as cheap as U-pick, with all the picking done for you!  Blueberries pair well with so many different flavours – cinnamon, cardamom, basil, thyme, orange, and lemon to name a few.  I had a hard time deciding between blueberry-basil and blueberry-lemon, so I figured I’d develop an ice cream recipe containing all three.  So here we have Blueberry Lemon Basil Ice Cream: blueberry compote infused with lemon and basil, dolloped between layers of lemon basil ice cream.

jar of blueberry compote

The blueberry compote, along with a big spoonful of ricotta cheese, would be a great topping for waffles!

Alternating layers of ice cream with random dollops of compote creates a marbled effect that allows the creamy yellow colour of the ice cream to be retained.  Marbling also lets you enjoy the subtle flavours of the lemon basil ice cream on its own as well as with the occasional mouthful of blueberry goodness.  Another option is to swirl the blueberry compote into the ice cream in the final stages of churning, similar to Week 13’s Rhubarb Ginger Ice Cream and Week 16’s Strawberry Rhubarb Ice Cream.  This would result in a purple-blue ice cream with berries evenly distributed throughout.  Either way, Blueberry Lemon Basil Ice Cream makes for a perfect summer treat!

blueberry lemon basil ice cream

Blueberry compote marbled into lemon basil ice cream.

Blueberry Lemon Basil Ice Cream  (Makes about 1.25 L)

Ice Cream

2 eggs
3/4 cups white sugar
1 tbsp finely chopped lemon zest
3 tbsp finely chopped fresh basil
1/2 c freshly squeezed lemon juice
3 cups half-and-half cream

Blueberry Compote (makes about 1.5 cups)

2 1/2 cups of blueberries, divided
1/3 c sugar
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp finely chopped fresh basil

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Raspberry Cheesecake Ice Cream (#19-E)

19 07 2012

Since I come from a family that LOVES food and cooking, I started playing around in the kitchen at quite an early age.  One of my earliest memories of “baking” was mixing together random amounts of butter, flour, milk, and baking powder, forming a few crude biscuits, popping them in the oven (a REAL oven, not an Easy Bake), and excitedly offering them to my dad when he came home from work.  And yes, he ate them (thanks Dad!)… even though I’m sure they were dense little pucks with a flakiness rating of zero.  Luckily, with some guidance from my parents, my baking skills steadily progressed and by grade 6, I could make some pretty mean cheesecakes — double chocolate, pumpkin, citrus, rocky road, and raspberry to name a few.  Raspberry cheesecake was probably my favourite.  With raspberry season in full swing, I thought it’d be the perfect time to reinvent one of my favourite childhood desserts into an egg-free ice cream recipe.

fresh raspberries

Fresh raspberries at Granville Island Market

Raspberries might look sweet and delicate, but they have surprisingly bitter seeds.  For this recipe, be sure to strain out the seeds from the raspberry puree.  I admit I had a moment of laziness in the test kitchen.  I neglected this step and used 2 cups of raspberry puree that included seeds.  The resultant ice cream was okay but it seemed to lack berry flavour and had somewhat of a bitter aftertaste.  I was more diligent during Round #2 of testing, whirling the berries in a blender at low speed to break them up, and then pressing the puree through a sieve to remove all the seeds.  I realized I needed almost twice as many berries than I had previously used in order to get two cups of seedless puree — half the volume of the berry puree was, in fact, those pesky bitter seeds!  This explained the lacklustre, tannic flavour of the first batch of ice cream.  So I will emphasize again: strain out the seeds for ultra berry-liciousness!

Raspberry Cheesecake Ice Cream is absolutely perfect for summer — sweet, tangy, refreshing, and PINK!  Enjoy and eat often!

Raspberry Cheesecake Ice Cream  (Makes about 1.25 L)

2 cups of strained raspberry puree (about 4 cups of fresh or frozen berries)
250 g cream cheese, softened
Juice of half a lemon
3/4 cup white sugar (adjust to taste; depends on the sweetness of your berries)
2 cups half-and-half cream
Graham cracker crumbs for garnish (optional)

  1. Puree the raspberries at low speed in a blender.  Strain the puree through a sieve to remove all the seeds.  You should have about 2 cups of puree.
  2. Place the cream cheese in the (now empty) blender.  Add half of the raspberry puree and blend at medium speed.  Scrape down the sides.  Add the remaining raspberry puree and blend some more.
  3. Add the remaining ingredients and give everything a good whirl, until the mixture is smooth.
  4. Chill overnight in the fridge.
  5. Churn according to manufacturer’s instructions.
  6. If desired, garnish with graham cracker crumbs.
bowl of raspberry cheesecake ice cream

The Official Taster says: “Should I say something cheesy?”








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