Orange Ice Cream with Dried Cherries and Toasted Pecans AND a Kitchen Remodeling

OK. I promise...no more ice cream recipes until next spring. But this is such a super one for the holidays I couldn't resist posting just one more. I think I actually might like this one better than the cranberry ice cream!

This ice cream is boozey, chewy and crunchy all in one bite. Very much in tune with the holidays. It doesn't make much so if you have a bigger churn than I do, double the recipe. Trust me, you're going to need every bite. But don't make it too far in advance of serving, because the men in your family will keep dipping into it with a spoon. Speaking from experience here guys. Luckily, it doesn't freeze hard so you can make it ahead.

Holiday Orange Ice Cream

From Fine Cooking, Holiday Issue

2 medium navel oranges
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup skim milk
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
large pinch of salt
1/4 cup skim milk powder (I didn’t have any so eliminated it)
5 large egg yolks
1/2 a vanilla bean, split lengthwise
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup dried cherries
1/4 cup orange juice
2 1/2 tablespoons Cointreau
3/4 cup toasted pecans, broken up slightly

Toast the pecans. Set aside.

Soak the cherries in the orange juice and cointreau for a few hours until soft.

Pare off the peel (not getting any pith) of the oranges. Set aside.

Fill a saucepan half way with water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer. Combine the cream, milk, sugars, salt, skim milk and skim milk powder, egg yolks, vanilla bean and orange zest in a glass bowl and set it over the simmering water. Stir the mixture constantly until it reaches between 165 and 180 degrees. Test with a candy thermometer and keep the temperature in that range for 10-15 minutes. The mixture will thicken somewhat.
Cool over an ice bath until it is cool, or 65 degrees. Add the vanilla. Cover and refrigerate 4 hours or overnight.When you are ready to freeze the ice cream, pour it through a sieve to remove the orange peel and vanilla bean. Add half the cherries and ALL of the excess soaking liquid. (I squeezed the cherries to get most of the liquid out.) Freeze according to manufacturers instructions and when the mixture is semisolid (like a stiff cake batter), add the remaining cherries and the pecans. Continue until the mixture holds stiff peaks. Pour into a covered plastic or steel container and freeze.


A Kitchen Remodel

Penny over at Lake Lure Cottage thought it would be fun to peek into our kitchens. And because I did a complete remodel 4 years ago, I thought it would be fun to join in. She has chosen December 1st as the date to post so be sure to check in with her tomorrow. You'll love seeing what everyone else has done. 

My home is mostly blues and whites with lots of antiques. We thought it would be a nice contrast to make the kitchen very contemporary. Most of the photographs were taken professionally for a magazine right after it was finished. I still can't figure out why the cabinets looked so white in their photos; do they really like kitchens to look cold and uninviting?  It's really a warm room, with lots of family activity and messy cooking!

The final two photos I took more recently. The kitchen's end wall leads to a laundry room and is filled with  souvenirs from different Caribbean islands. I think the wall adds warmth to the kitchen and gives you a better idea of the true cabinet color, which is more a soft cream than white. And of course now, my cookbook shelf is jammed with books and notice the ceramic morel mushroooms; I have an ongoing love affair with morels and found these years ago in northern Michigan.
My kitchen hasn't looked so pristine since that first day!


On a very sad note, the paintings and painted objects on the back walls were mostly done by a local island artisan and friend named Matthew Paul who resided on St. Lucia. He and his family of 6 lived at the base of a small mountain and had a little gallery there. Their home was not very sturdy and the gallery was little more than a lean-to. My children and I have collected a great deal of his art over the years; it has always held a special charm for us.

We just found out that Matthew and his family were killed in a landslide during Hurricane Tomas which recently hit several Caribbean islands. St. Lucia was quite badly hit and there was a great deal of damage. The six of them were the only fatalities on the island. Can you imagine? Matthew was in the middle of doing one of his spectacular wall murals for Anse Chastanet, a resort we visit often. The owner tells me they will leave the unfinished mural as is.

A small section of Matthew's gallery....and my daughter, shopping. Don't you love the bright colors in his art work?



Lobster and Mango Cocktail

Black Friday has arrived...which always makes me sit up and take notice: the Christmas holidays are upon us. The Christmas trees have filled the lots on main street and the stores, bless them, have had their holiday decorations up since Halloween. It's that time, my friends....of good cheer, carol singing, happy children's faces and candy canes.

So, even before the turkey leftovers have disappeared, are you planning your next holiday meal? At least on paper? I am. I'm an inveterate list-maker. My Christmas list has been made for months and I'm nearly done. I like to finish early... no panic shopping for me.... so I can kick back and enjoy the sparkling tree lights, wrap gifts with care, cook with love, share egg nog with friends, help the less fortunate children among us with the Spirit of Giving Network, remembering what Christmas really means and taking time to enjoy the holiday.

I'm really looking forward to everyone's postings for the next few weeks...I just know you're all going to be chock full of great holiday ideas. I hope you can discover an idea or two here that will help with your planning as well.

Here's an elegant starter for a sit-down holiday dinner. I normally use lobster, but don't see any reason why you couldn't substitute shrimp or crab. I've never really cared for the Cognac addition (so unlike me!), but do a little taste test for yourself and  decide. I debated about using rum instead. Next time, perhaps. It has all those lovely Caribbean flavors, doesn't it?  Also, try to find a nice sweet mango. If it's unavailable where you live, you could try melon. Lots of possibilities with this appetizer.

Lobster and Mango Cocktail
From Gourmet Magazine, June 1992

1/3 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup plain yogurt
2 tablespoons Cognac (optional)
1 tablespoon ketchup
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, or to taste
four 1 1/2-pound live lobsters (I used lobster tails)
3 firm-ripe mangoes
1 cup finely diced celery
4 whole Belgian endives plus 12 leaves for garnish
3 tablespoons minced fresh chives plus 24 whole chives for garnish

In a small bowl whisk together the mayonnaise, the yogurt, the Cognac, the ketchup, the lemon juice, and salt and pepper to taste and chill sauce, covered. Plunge the lobsters into a large kettle of boiling salted water and boil them, covered, for 10 minutes. Transfer the lobsters with tongs to a bowl and let them cool until they can be handled. Crack the shells, remove the meat, and cut it into 3/4-inch pieces. Transfer the lobster meat to a large bowl and chill it, covered. The lobster cocktail may be prepared up to this point 1 day in advance.

Halve the mangoes by cutting just to the sides of each pit and, using a 3/4-inch melon-ball cutter, scoop the flesh from the mango halves. (There should be about 2 cups.) To the lobster meat add the mango balls, the celery, the whole endives, trimmed and sliced thin crosswise, the minced chives, and the sauce and toss mixture until it is combined. Divide the lobster mixture among 12 chilled small glasses and garnish each serving with 1 of the endive leaves and 2 of the whole chives.
Serves 12.


Just Awesome: A Random Act of Culture

A few weeks ago, shoppers at the Macy's in Philadelphia (the old Wanamaker building) were surprised when over 600 choristers who were there mingling with regular shoppers suddenly burst into Handel's Hallelujah Chorus. It was truly amazing.

The Opera Company of Philadelphia was instrumental in bringing it together to perform one of the Knight Foundation's "1000 Random Acts of Culture" which they'll be doing over the next three years across the country. Accompanied by the Wanamaker Organ - the world's largest pipe organ - the singers burst into song at exactly noon.

Please take the time to watch.....


Nana's Potatoes

I'm offering you an apology in advance...this recipe is downright dangerous. Fattening as all get out and all carbs. OMG! But it's worth every bite. And aren't we supposed to splurge over holidays? It's expected, yes?

So here it is in all its glory: my mother-in-law's holiday potatoes. Better than mashed. Better than scalloped. Just better period.

You can either hand grate (takes a strong arm) or use your food processor's grating attachment. Remember, my MIL made these back in the days when there were no processors. You only need three ingredients...all bad. Potatoes, whipping cream and butter. Yes, I said butter; but just a dotting. It's a long slow bake in the oven with a stir once in a while. But when it somes out....dreams are made of potatoes like this.

Forgive me, please. Only once a year do I dare make this.....

Nana's Holiday Potatoes

6 baking potatoes
salt and pepper
2 or 3 cups heavy whipping cream


Peel and grate the potatoes. Place them in a LARGE buttered casserole. You will find everything overflowing half way through if it's not big enough. Look at the photo below, it spilled over and the raw potatoes only filled about half way up. Besides, you need room to give this a big complete stir every so often. Be sure to put a piece of tin foil under the casserole.

Dot with butter and season with salt and pepper. Stir. Pour in heavy whipping cream stirring until it seeps down through the casserole- you should see a slight layer of cream on the top. Bake in a 300 oven for 2 hours. Check frequently, stirring thoroughly and adding more cream to keep it moist. Serves 8-10.


Creamy Baked Leeks

Does everyone like a side of creamed onions on Thanksgiving? It always seems to be on the menu, doesn't it?  Truthfully, it's never been a favorite of mine. Then I ran across this recipe in a magazine called Fine Cooking which I (accidentally) picked up a couple weeks ago. It was chock full of great ideas for the holidays; I bookmarked a bunch and am going to make several of them during the next couple months. And here was the answer to my creamed onion dilema: creamy baked leeks.

I've always liked leeks because they seem to whisper onion rather than yell it. So I decided to give this recipe a pre-Thanksgiving try to see if I wanted to serve it to guests. We found them delicious; they are definitely going on my menu!  And you can get the leeks cut, trimmed, rinsed and in the pan a few hours in advance. Just boil the cream and add just before baking. This recipe serves about 6 or so, depending on how large your leeks are; you may have to increase the recipe. Mine were not very big ( I saw some huge leeks yesterday, a couple days too late!) and I should have either used a smaller pan, or bought more leeks. They are supposed to be crowded in the pan.

Creamy Baked Leeks
From Fine Cooking Magazine, Make-ahead Holidays


1 teaspoon unsalted butter
Kosher salt
8 medium-large leeks, ideally with several inches of white
2 teaspoons lightly chopped fresh thyme
1 cup heavy cream
2 large cloves of garlic, smashed and peeled
1/2 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1 piece of parchment paper

Heat oven to 350° F.  Butter a 10 by 15 inch baking dish and sprinkle 1/4 teaspoon salt in the bottom.

Cut the dark green portion and all but 1 inch of the light green off the top of the leeks. Discard any tough or damaged outer leaves. Trim the ends by cutting the roots, but leaving a bit of the bases intact to hold the leeks together. Cut each leek in half lengthwise and rinse under cold water, fanning the layers to make certain all the dirt is removed. Pat dry and place cut side down in the baking dish. They should fit snugly. Sprinkle with the fresh thyme and 1/4 teaspoon salt.
At this point you can refrigerate for up to 6 hours.

Heat the cream and garlic to a rolling boil, watching carefully so it doesn't overflow. Remove from heat and allow to stand for 5 minutes. Pour the garlic and cream mixture over the leeks and cover with a piece of parchment paper, cut to fit the inside of the baking dish.

Bake until the thickest part of the leek is fork-tender and the cream is nearly all reduced, about 35 minutes. Remove from the oven and sprinkle on the Parmigiano-Reggiano and some black pepper. Return to the oven until the cheese is melted, about 2-3 minutes.
Transfer leeks to a warm serving platter.


Zimtsterne: Twelve Weeks of Christmas Cookies.....Week 7

There's no point in telling you these cookies were simple to make. They weren't. But they ARE a true European Christmas cookie; interesting, frustrating,  unusual and yes, tasted wonderful, but will I make them again? Well....maybe. And compared with some of the other photos I found online of these, all I can say is: I had a bad baking AND camera day. Oh well, I'm going to post this anyway. They were worth the trouble.

First of all, 
Breakfast, Lunch, Tea, The Many Meals of Rose Bakery is a gem of a cookbook.

And that's where I found this recipe...they called it Almond, Cinnamon and Meringue Biscuits. But what they really are is Zimtsterne, or erstesternen ("first stars"), a reference to the heavenly signs indicating the end of a fast day. They are traditionally served by German Jews at the meal following Yom Kippur. You can read more about them
here, here and here. European bakeries make them only during the holidays, rather like my mother's favorite Christmas cookie, Springerle. And they are usually made in star shape. I made them round. For one thing, I didn't have a small star cookie cutter and for another working those star points with that dough and meringue was beyond me. Perhaps with practice.....

This is what David Lebovitz says about them (and he doesn't make his own, he buys them):
"There’s just something about these chewy little stars, spiced with lots of cinnamon, then brushed with a glaze of royal icing that provides just the right bit of creamy sweetness in contrast to the chewy cookie below."

So here's the thing. The dough is difficult to work with and I made two different batches, correcting the original recipe a little to make it slightly easier to work with. Still....not the easiest cookie dough to roll out. But as I said, after the first bite, it was worth the effort!
Bench note: many recipes call for 1/2 cup candied citrus peel which I omitted 'cause I just don't like it.


Adapted from Breakfast Lunch Tea, The Many Meals of Rose Bakery

3 1/3 cups ground almonds (I used almond flour)
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
juice of 1/2 lemon and grated zest of 1 lemon
4 egg whites
4 cups powdered sugar, sifted


First, make the meringue. Beat the whites until they form stiff peaks. Then very gradually add the sugar. When the mixture is very stiff, beat in the lemon juice. Set aside 6 ounces of the meringue for the topping, covering with a damp cloth. Place the rest in a bowl.
 Add the ground almonds, cinnamon and lemon zest and mix by hand. Mix until you have a dough-like paste. If it is too sticky to handle, add more ground almonds, by the tablespoon, until it is manageable. If the dough crumbles or falls apart, add a few drops of lemon juice and 1 tablespoon of the reserved egg whites. When the dough has reached the proper consistency refrigerate for one hour.
 Butter a baking tray and line it with parchment paper.
 Then dust a pastry board lightly with granulated sugar. Shape the dough into a flat round and dust the surface lightly with sugar. Roll the dough out into a rectangle 3/8 inch thick. Add more sugar on the board as necessary.
 Cut into desired shapes and place on the baking tray.
 Remove the cloth from the reserved egg whites. Use a metal spatula to smooth an even coating of the meringue over the entire surface of your cookie, just enough to cover it completely with white. To smooth the surface further, dip the spatula in hot water and run it across the glaze.
 Leave to dry on the prepared tray for about an hour.
 Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and bake the biscuits for about 10 minutes until the bases are lightly golden. The tops should remain white and the bases must be soft and moist. And BTW? Keeping the tops from  browning is another tricky part!

Zimtsterne (Cinnamon Stars)


Cranberry Ice Cream

Every once in a while, a recipe makes me close my eyes and say Mmmmmmm. This is one of those times.  The flavor and color, the hint of honey, the tanginess of cranberries and would you believe there is brown sugar in this ice cream?? Words cannot describe. Not too sweet, tart and divine.

Interestingly, this recipe uses gelatin as an ingredient. After some investigation, I discovered gelatin assists in absorbing some of the free water in the ice cream and helps prevent the formation of large crystals. It also gives substance or a less watery taste when the ice cream is consumed.

So, this is the last of my Maida Heatter ice cream recipes for this season (I may sneak in someone else's though)...pretty soon I'll have you all putting her books on your wish list. But let me warn you, there aren't that many ice cream recipes in them....just a few in each book. Which makes them all the rarer. Maida's choosey. But her other recipes are worth their weight in gold; fortunately, Amazon is a great source for used books.

You don't need to serve a thing with this ice cream. I did briefly consider dumping in some dark mini chocolate chips at the end of churning (which I may try the next time I make it) but for the holidays, I wanted that pure red color and just a sprig of green mint. Thanksgiving or Christmas, you decide. It's perfect after a heavy meal.

Cranberry Ice Cream

From Maida Heatter's Great Book of New Desserts

2 pounds (about 10 cups) cranberries, fresh or frozen
2 cups water
2 cups orange juice
2 envelopes unflavored gelatin
1/3 cup cold water
1 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup water
2 cups light brown sugar, firmly packed
1 cup honey
2 cups heavy cream

Wash, pick over and drain the berries. Place them in a large saucepan with the water and orange juice. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for ten minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool a little. Then process in a processor or blender. Press the mixture through a large stainer into a large bowl. Set aside.

Sprinkle the gelatin over the cold water, set aside.

Bring the corn syrup and the 1/2 cup of water to a boil in a saucepan. Boil gently, uncovered, for 5 minutes. Add the gelatin and stir to dissolve. Add the brown sugar, stir to dissolve. Remove from heat and add the honey, stirring to dissolve everything.

Mix this mixture into the cranberry mixture and set aside to cool. Cover and refrigerate for several hours or overnight. You can also chill it quickly in the freezer.

When you are ready to churn, Whip the heavy whipping cream in a chilled bowl with chilled beaters until it slightly holds a shape. Fold the cream thoroughly into the cranberry mixture and churn.

*Bench notes: This makes enough for a 4 quart churn. Mine is not that big so I cut the recipe in half.
This ice cream will stay semi-firm for several hours after putting it in the freezer. Maida likes it best at this consistancy. I don't. I froze it overnight.


Grateful Pudding (and giveaway winners)

Don't you love the name of this pudding? It's almost worth making just to announce it to your Thanksgiving guests! My family really enjoys plum pudding after a turkey dinner, so they had quite a surprise when I served a light rather than dark steamed pudding last time. Fortunately, they were crazy about it. I have some of my grandmother's old pudding molds- but this is the shape I like best. And it just fits perfectly in my soup pot for steaming.

This holiday pudding is a Martha Stewart recipe from her old cookbook Entertaining. An amazingly simple recipe (although you have to prepare the fruit by soaking overnight) and it's done in about an hour. I kind of like the traditional idea of a steamed pudding for Thanksgiving. Martha suggests using her sour lemon sauce and it's excellent with this pudding. Everyone enjoyed the tart lemon flavor (especially my dad) of this sauce. But you could make my mother's caramel brandy sauce- which would be good too-that recipe is HERE.

Grateful Pudding
From Martha Stewart's Entertaining


1/4 cup golden raisins
1/4 cup muscat raisins
1/4 cup cognac
6 cups white bread, crusts removed, cut into 1/2 in squares (I used challah)
3 cups whipping cream
1 vanilla bean
6 eggs
1 lemon

1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon mace

For the lemon sauce

3/4 cup sugar

1 1/2 Tablespoons cornstarch

dash salt

1 1/4 cups hot water
3 1/2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
4 Tablespoons lemon juice

3 Tablespoons grated lemon rind


Grate the rind of one lemon and soak the raisins with the cognac and the rind overnight. Drain.
Butter and sprinkle with sugar a 2 qt. covered mold including the inside of the lid.
Layer the bread alternating with the raisins. Scald the cream with the vanilla bean and cool slightly. Remove bean, scrape out the seeds and put back in the milk. Beat eggs and sugar until light and gradually pour in the cream. Add the mace and pour over the bread.
Secure lid and steam for 1 hour on a rack in a covered kettle with water 2/3 up the side of the mold.
Unmold pudding carefully and serve with sauce. Serves 8-10. You don't need big servings...this is quite rich.

Method for the lemon sauce:

Combine sugar, cornstarch and salt in a double boiler. Add hot water and cook 3 to 5 minutes or until thick. Add butter, lemon juice and rind. Cook a little longer.

And here are the lucky Cookbook Giveaway Winners. I used the random number generator to pick  four and then if possible, tried to give you the cookbooks you requested.

Then first winner is Donna from My Tasty Treasures . She won the Rose Levy Beranbaum cookie cookbook.

The second winner is Dana from The Kitchen Witch. She won Maida Heatter's Chocolate cookbook.

The third winner is Lea Ann from Mangos Chili and Z.    She won Dorie's book.

 The final winner is Susan from Schnitzel and the Trout.   She won Nigella's book.

Congratulations to all of you! Please email your mailing information to bsmithw@gmail.com so I can mail your cookbook out ASAP!


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