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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Kheer Ice Cream (#56-E)

10 04 2013

Rice pudding used to totally gross me out.  I mean, come on, I’m Chinese.  Rice should be:

  1. Steamed
  2. Cooked into congee
  3. Fried

Cooked with milk and sugar?  Eeeeeeewwwww!!!

But my tastes started to change some years ago, and now I love rice pudding, especially South Asian style rice pudding, kheer.  Last week, while at an Indian restaurant enjoying a bowl, it occurred to me this dessert could be probably churned into a delectable ice cream.

After doing some research, I realized there many, many different methods and variations of making kheer.  Should I use cream, milk, coconut milk, or sweetened condensed milk?  Full fat or reduced fat?  Basmati rice or regular long grained rice?  Raw or cooked?  If raw, pulse the rice first or not?  Will frying the rice in ghee first really make a difference?  Saffron or not?  Pistachios, cashews or almonds?  In the absence of an obvious go-to  recipe, I developed a recipe for kheer that draws from numerous recipes found online and with ingredients that I had on hand at home.

For my first attempt at making kheer, it turned out quite well — sweet, creamy, and wonderfully aromatic.  Cardamom is what gives kheer its unique, distinctive taste — if you’re a fan, you might want to use an extra pod or two into the recipe.

Indian rice pudding

Homemade kheer — sweet, creamy, and wonderfully aromatic!

When the kheer was churned into ice cream, it developed quite an interesting texture.  Even though the recipe uses milk instead of cream, the starchiness of the rice made the ice cream quite thick and creamy.  The broken grains of rice added a bit of a chew and the pistachios a nice crunch.

You’re best off serving this ice cream shortly after churning and with only a quick chill in the freezer.  If you chill it overnight, it will freeze up rock solid due to the low fat content.  (This is solvable of course by letting the ice cream warm up on the counter or in the fridge… but who has the patience!!)  Also, this ice cream has almost no overrun, so you might want to double the recipe if you want to make a full litre.

Kheer Ice Cream (Makes about 0.5 L)

4 cups whole milk
1/4 cup long-grained rice
3 cardamom pods, crushed
Small pinch of saffron threads
1/4 cup white sugar (or more to taste)
1/4 cup chopped pistachios

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Avocado Ice Cream (#47-E)

2 02 2013

Organic avocados were on sale this week for $1 each.  While I typically pounce on sales, I’ve always been a bit cautious with sale avocados.  Will they be a perfect creamy green inside or a brown icky mess?  It’s always been a bit of a gamble for me… until I recently stumbled upon this neat little tip from The Kitchn on how to tell if an avocado is perfectly ripe inside.  Pop off the dry button on the stem end of the fruit.  If it’s green underneath, the avocado is ripe.  If it’s brown, it’s past its prime and most likely brown and stringy inside.

Avocado

Score.  That little trick from The Kitchn worked!  Perfectly ripe inside!

So, what to do with three perfectly ripe avocados?  Ice cream of course!

Avocado Ice Cream might sound rather bizarre, but in Southeast Asia, avocados are typically used for sweet rather than savoury dishes.  When I was travelling in Vietnam, when I wasn’t sipping an iced Vietnamese coffee with sweetened condensed milk (cà phê sữa đá), I had an avocado milkshake (sinh tố bơ) in hand.  Avocado milkshakes are rich and buttery in taste and ultra smooth in texture.  Surely avocados would work well in ice cream.

This egg-free ice cream recipe is super simple: blitz four ingredients in a blender, chill, churn, done.  I would suggest that you churn the avocado mixture as soon as it is thoroughly chilled (about four hours), otherwise the mixture will start to discolour and darken from contact with air.

Results?  An amazingly smooth, creamy, and pillowy soft ice cream with the rich taste of avocado and just a hint of caramel from the condensed milk.  Be careful with this one, it might be hard to stop yourself from eating the whole batch in one sitting!!

Avocado Ice Cream  (Makes about 1.5 L)

2.5 cups half-and-half cream
3 avocados
Juice of half a lemon
225 mL (3/4 can) sweetened condensed milk (save the rest for cà phê sữa đá)
1/4 cup white sugar (optional)

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Pomegranate Ice Cream (#46-E)

27 01 2013

Pomegranates are a fascinating fruit.  Crack one of these guys open and there are hundreds of red, jewel-toned seeds (AKA arils) inside.  Beautiful.

pomegranate, pomegranate seeds

Pomegranates have hundreds of gorgeous red seeds inside.

Pomegranates are typically available during the fall and winter.  They are considered a superfood and loaded with antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and fibre.  If I can get my superfoods in ice cream format, all the better!!

I thought the simplest way of making Pomegranate Ice Cream would be to go Philly-style, simply whirling pomegranate syrup into some cream and adding a handful of pomegranate seeds at the end of the churning process for some texture.  I used Alton Brown’s recipe for pomegranate syrup, which involves cooking pomegranate juice, sugar, and a squeeze of lemon juice into a thick syrup.  Pomegranate juice can be found at higher end grocery stores.  I used a bottle of POM 100% pure pomegranate juice for this recipe.  If you are inclined to juice your own pomegranates, the POM council lists three methods on its FAQ page.  Make sure you’re not wearing any white clothing!  You will need at least eight pomegranates for 1 litre of juice.

Be sure to let the pomegranate syrup cool completely before you whisk in the cream.  If you add cold cream to hot syrup, the mixture will curdle and there will be no way to rescue it.

This egg-free ice cream has a very concentrated, rich, fruity taste, with a hint of tannins during the first few bites.  The frozen pomegranate seeds add a delightful pop in the mouth.  Overall, Pomegranate Ice Cream is a winner in my books!

Pomegranate Ice Cream (Makes about 1.25 L)

4 cups of 100% pure pomegranate juice
1/2 cup white sugar
Juice of half a lime (I love the combination of pomegranate and lime; feel free to use lemon as Alton suggests)
3 cups half-and-half cream
Pinch of sea salt
1 cup of pomegranate seeds
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Purple Yam and Coconut Ice Cream (#45-D/E)

18 01 2013

This week’s recipe features another tuber: the purple yam.  Purple yams are commonly used in the Philippines, where they are known as ube.  In North America, you can buy purple yams at most Asian green grocers.  You can also find them in some conventional grocery stores, alongside potatoes and sweet potatoes.  Purple yams have a reddish-brown skin and the most delightful purple insides.

purple yam, purple sweet potato, ube

Look at this gorgeous colour!

Purple yam and coconut are a common combination in Filipino desserts, such as ube macapuno cake and halo halo.  With this in mind, I thought I’d give purple yam and coconut ice cream a try.

This is a super simple ice cream recipe.  You puree peeled and boiled yams with some coconut milk, soy milk, sugar, and a pinch of salt and – ta da! –  your custard is done and ready for chilling.  Yes, finally, another dairy-free and egg-free ice cream recipe!

I had a bit of a chuckle as I was pouring the custard into the ice cream maker.  It was super thick and goopy because of the richness of the coconut milk and the starch in the yams, and the colour reminded me of McDonald’s Grimace character.  As for taste, the Official Taster claims it’s “gentle”.  Huh???  I will interpret that to mean “an ice cream with a soft, pillowy texture, wonderful coconut flavour, and subtle undertones of purple yam”.

Keep in mind this ice cream freezes up quite hard overnight.  Enjoy it as soon as it is chilled to serving consistency.  If you need to freeze it longer, give it a good 15 to 20 minutes on the counter to warm up before scooping.

Purple Yam and Coconut Ice Cream (makes about 1.5 L)

2 cups of purple yams, peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces
1 – 13.5 oz (400 ml) can coconut milk
1.5 cup soy milk (or substitute dairy milk)
1/2 cup sugar
Pinch of sea salt

  1. Place the yams into a medium-sized sauce pan, cover with water, and bring to boil.  Let simmer for about 20 minutes, until the yams are fork tender.  Drain the yams, reserving 1/4 cup of the cooking water.
  2. Tip the yams and the reserved cooking water into a blender and puree until smooth.

    Purple yam puree, purple sweet potato puree, ube puree

    Purple yam puree

  3. Add the coconut milk, soy milk, sugar, and salt into the blender.  Puree until very smooth.
  4. Chill overnight in the fridge.
  5. Pour the custard into an ice cream maker and prepare according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Purple yam coconut ice cream, purple yam ice cream, ube ice cream

The Official Taster says: “Gentle.”








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