Sunday, July 28, 2013

Quick Peanut Butter-Banana Ice Cream

I've posted uses for overripe bananas a few times already, but this is now far and away my favorite method of using up those speckled stragglers squirreled away in my freezer. I've used frozen bananas to add oomph to smoothies for ages, but I'd never tried to blitz them on their own until the other day when I wanted to make some cool and delicious treat, only to find I was out of dairy (save a couple cans of condensed milk). After some experimentation with the sweetened condensed milk and some peanut butter (and lots of scraping down the sides of my blender), I achieved my goal, and how! I'm shocked at just how well this mimicked ice cream with a solid custard base, in both mouthfeel and scoopability. I credit that to the higher levels of sugar in the overripe bananas as well as the addition of sweetened condensed milk. Whatever the sorcery, it made for a scrumptious, easy (and mildly healthier!) dessert.

Quick Peanut Butter-Banana Ice Cream
Makes about cup and a half, or 3 servings

*2 frozen bananas, peeled and sliced
*2 tablespoons peanut butter (I used chunky-style for some textural fun, but feel free to use smooth)
*1/4 cup sweetened condensed milk

Blitz it all together in your most powerful blender or food processor. My blender isn't the greatest, so there's a fair deal of scraping I have to do to get it all to blend properly, but if you have something top shelf like Vitamix, this should be a snap. Once it's getting...for lack of a better word, goopy, scrape it out into a container, press a round of Saran-wrap on top to prevent ice crystals from forming, lid it and pop into the freezer to harden again until you're ready to serve.

Note: Some googling turned up plenty of other delicious additives - must try Nutella next time!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Roasted Garlic & Cannellini Bean Dip with Basil Oil

With all the office gatherings, potlucks, picnics, porch parties and BBQs that come along with summer, I thought I'd share my cheapest, quickest and easiest, yet still terrifically tasty, recipe for a perfect please-'em-all offering to bring along to any of the above. It's great in a pinch when I remember I have to make something a little too late to devote hours to my favorite potluck dish, baked lentils (the recipe for which, eventually, I'll post to the blog!). This dip is delicious, dirt-cheap to make, will appease nearly any dietary restrictions, and is easily doubled (or tripled, etc). You can even nix the pretty basil oil topping if you're really pressed for time.

A note about the garlic: I am gonzo for garlic, so I put 4-5 cloves into my dip if it's just for me and my garlic lovin' spouse/friends/family. However, if this dip is making its way towards an office function, or set in front of a group of people I don't know that well, I usually tone it down to 2 or 3 so there's just a hint of garlic, not an all-out assault (the way I like it). Find your happy medium!

Roasted Garlic & Cannellini Bean Dip with Basil Oil

Makes about 2 cups - approx. enough for 10-12 people in a potluck setting
*1 15oz can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
*2-5 cloves garlic
*Juice + 1 teaspoon zest from one lemon
*Scant 1/4 cup evoo
*A pinch of dried oregano

Basil Oil
*Equal amounts of basil & evoo (I usually go with 1/4 packed cup to 1/4 cup)

Rub the unpeeled garlic with a little oil, wrap in foil and toss in a 400 degree oven to roast for about 30-40 minutes - I suggest popping in a few extra cloves while you're at it, because the temptation to slather some roasted garlic all over toasty bread when it's done will be too great to resist. While the garlic is roasting, puree the basil and olive oil in a small food processor, and then pop into a mason jar and set in the fridge. No need to rinse the processor, just toss all the dip ingredients in it when the garlic is done. Pulse everything until pureed, and season with S&P to taste. Refrigerate until you're ready to serve, and then drizzle some of the basil oil over top. Any leftover oil can be re-purposed in myriad ways.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Blackened Shrimp Salad with Buttermilk Vinaigrette

The other day I stopped at my beloved local dairy farm, Baily's, to pick up a little pint of buttermilk for weekend pancake dreams. No pints to be found, but the avuncular Mr. Baily sent me packing with a quart for the same price. So, saddled with a largess of buttermilk (a problem anyone should like to face!) I noodled around on chowhound for ideas, and came across the notion of a buttermilk dressing. Instantly I imagined it luxuriously poured over a spinach salad, and the rest came together from there. The buttermilk made for a very tasty, pleasantly sour and tart vinaigrette, which mingled well with the smoky and piquant flavors of blackened seafood. I'm kind of in love with this salad.

Blackened Shrimp Salad
Makes 2 entree size salads or 4 side salads

*8 oz fresh spinach
*A couple slices of stale crusty bread
*1 ear corn, shucked, washed and kernels cut off cob
*A handful of thinly sliced red onion crescents
*10-12 shrimp, shelled and deveined
*2-3 tablespoons blackening spices (you may find my mix recipe here)
*High smoke point oil
*Leaves from 2 sprigs of thyme

Buttermilk Vinaigrette
Loosely adapted from Frank Stitts' Southern Table
Makes about 1/2 cup

*1 tablespoon cider vinegar
*1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
*1 teaspoon minced shallot
*1/4 teaspoon lemon zest
*1/2 teaspoon minced thyme leaves
*1/4 cup buttermilk
*1 heaping tablespoon sour cream
*1 tablespoon evoo

Wash and dry the spinach, and prep the croutons. Remove the crusts and then cut the bread into modestly sized cubes. Toss with some sea salt, pepper and olive oil and bake at 300 for about 10-15 mins, flipping once. Meanwhile, toss the shrimp with the blackening spices and set aside while you prepare the vinaigrette.

Combine the vinegar, lemon juice, minced shallot, zest, thyme and pinches of S&P and slowly whisk in the buttermilk and sour cream. When combined, slowly emulsify the evoo within and season to taste. Set aside and heat a cast iron skillet over medium high. When it starts to smoke add a glug of canola oil, swirl around, and then set the shrimp in. Blacken about a minute and a half per side or until cooked through. Beware - there will be smoke! Make sure your exhaust fan is on high or you've got some windows open in the joint.

Throw the spinach, red onions, corn, shrimp, and croutons together, fleck with thyme leaves and then drizzle the dish with the vinaigrette. Freshly cracked pepper and some grains of sea salt to complete.