Sunday, September 29, 2019

Rosie Makes Roasted Red Pepper Soup.

With the Outer Banks weather hovering in the mid- to low-seventies,
it's time for soup!
Since my peppers are maturing and turning red now,
I'm taking advantage of those sweet, ripe peppers
and making a roasted red pepper soup with Italian sausage.

Now, about those red peppers.

The bell pepper plants (Capsicum annuum) in my garden are now producing the best and sweetest peppers of their growing season – the mature, fully ripened red peppers.  All peppers, whether sweet or hot, start out green, and then they go through the spectrum of colors and flavors, from the grassy and slightly bitter green pepper, to yellow then orange, gradually sweetening, and finally to the nutrient-rich, mellow, and almost fruity, red pepper.  By staying on the plant longer, the red pepper has had time to develop additional flavor characteristics and nutritional qualities, making it an excellent source of antioxidants, beta carotene, Vitamin C, and fiber.  Longer vine-time, while making the red pepper sweeter than its predecessors, also makes it more expensive, due to the required use of extra resources demanded by the longer harvest.  All this is moot if you’re growing your own, in which case, good things come to those who wait.

I’m taking the fully mature red peppers and charring them over an open flame which concentrates the sugars, making them even sweeter, and then showcasing them in a smoky, velvety, roasted red pepper soup.  It’s perfect for this time of year.

 First, let's get the peppers roasted,
then I'll give you the "recipe."

It helps to slice the peppers.

Keep turning to roast evenly.
Skin side to flame.

You want to blacken the skin.
If you don't have an open flame,
blacken the peppers under your broiler.

When the peppers are blackened,
immediately immerse in ice water.

Use your fingers to rub off the blackened skin.

Place on cutting board and slice out ribs and remove seeds.

And your peppers are ready.

Here's what I threw together for a nice, hearty fall soup.

Rosie's Roasted Red Pepper Soup
2 red peppers, roasted and chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
6 oz. or so hot Italian sausage, cooked and crumbled
1 TB olive oil
1 TB unsalted butter
1 garlic clove, minced
1 heaping TB flour
2 cups vegetable stock
1/4 cup cream
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
fresh thyme

Cook the sausage until browned, drain, and hold for later.
Heat olive oil and butter over medium heat
 until butter is foamy.
Add onion and sauté for 2 minutes.
Add chopped, roasted red peppers and garlic
and sauté for a minute.
Add in flour and cook for another minute
to cook out the raw taste.
Slowly pour in stock, stirring.
Bring to simmer and thicken a bit.
Immersion blend the mixture.
If you don't have an immersion blender,
pour 1/2 cup at a time into a blender/processor
and blend/process away until smooth.
(Don't pour the entire amount in the blender at once,
else you'll have a hot mess.  Literally.)
Stir in the cream and heat through.
Season, to taste, with salt and pepper.
Ladle into bowls and add crumbled sausage and fresh thyme.

The amounts I give are merely guidelines.
Use as much sausage as you like.
The more, the better.

Cook the sausage until nicely browned.

Drain it and save it.

Chop the onion and peppers.

Sauté the onions in oil and butter for a couple of minutes.

Add in the red pepper and ...
... the minced garlic.

Cook, stirring.
Medium heat.

Add the flour.
Stir and cook it to get out the raw taste.

Slowly add in the stock, stirring, to thicken.

Add in some cream.

Immersion blend.
And season, to taste, with salt and pepper.

I happened to have some lovely parmesan/garlic knots
I'd already made.
Heat 'em up.
Butter and toast 'em.
However you want 'em. 
They're great for dipping, dunking, and sopping up every last drop.
And here's how to make them:  Bread Knots.

They went perfectly with the soup.


Saturday, September 21, 2019

Rosie Makes Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream Bars.

I love ice cream.
And I have a pot full of mint on my deck.
I think some mint chocolate ice cream bars with a homemade magic shell coating are in order.

If you decide to make these, note that it's a two-day process.
The mint needs to cold-steep overnight.
Yes.  Cold-steep.  No heat.
Cold-steeping infuses the mint flavor and results in a smoother, fresher taste.  Heating the mixture can alter the flavor of whatever ingredients you're steeping, particularly in the case of fresh herbs.  So I'm taking the time to let the mint flavor infuse into the cream overnight.

 Trust me, you won't want a Klondike bar again, once you've had the real deal.

Here's the whole recipe, then I'll give you the step-by-steps:

Mint Chocolate Ice Cream Bars
For the chocolate:
4 ounces Ghirardelli 60% cacao bittersweet chocolate
2 TB water
In a double boiler, melt the chocolate with the water, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and pour mixture onto a piece of parchment paper.  Spread into a thin layer with an offset spatula.  Freeze until firm, then chop the chocolate into bits or shards and return to freezer until needed.

For the mint chocolate ice cream:
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup chopped fresh spearmint leaves

1 1/4 cups skim milk
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup sugar
pinch kosher salt
4 egg yolks
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
chocolate, from above

Mix the cup of cream with the mint leaves.  Cover and cold-steep/infuse in the fridge overnight.
The next day, strain the cream into a medium saucepan, pressing against the mint leaves to extract as much mint flavor as you can.  Discard the mint.

Add the skim milk, heavy cream and sugar and bring to a simmer over medium heat.

In another bowl, whup up the yolks.
Gradually add the hot cream mixture in a small stream to the yolks, whisking constantly. You don't want scrambled eggs.
Return the mixture to the pan, over medium-low heat, whisking the bottom and sides of pan, until the mixture is thickened and registers between 175° and 180°.  Go low and slow.

Refrigerate the mixture until cool. Stir in the vanilla.

Process according to ice cream maker's instructions.

At the last few minutes of processing, add in the frozen chocolate.

Pour mixture into an 8-inch square pan, spread evenly with an offset spatula, cover with plastic, and freeze.

Magic Shell Coating
10 ounces bittersweet chocolate
1/4 cup extra virgin coconut oil
Nuke the chocolate. Stir until smooth.  Whisk in coconut oil until incorporated.
Slice into 16 squares.  Dip the bottom half of each in the Magic Shell Coating.  Let it set and freeze.  Then dip the other half into the chocolate coating.  Freeze.

First, I picked a bunch of spearmint leaves and chopped them up.
You should have at least a 1/2 cup of packed leaves.

Pour a cup of heavy cream over the mint, give it a muddle, cover, and let steep in the fridge overnight.
Now, while the mint is steeping, prepare the chocolate, since that too needs to go into the freezer for a bit.

Break up 4 ounces of a good quality bittersweet chocolate.
I use Ghirardelli.
Add 2 tablespoons water and let it melt in a double boiler, stirring occasionally.

Until smooth.

Pour out the melted chocolate onto parchment paper and ...
... and spread it out thinly, using an offset spatula.

Place in freezer to harden.  I kept mine in overnight since the mint was steeping overnight.

Break up the chocolate into little pieces and set back in the freezer.

Now, let's make the ice cream.
Pour the mint-steeped cream through a sieve into a medium sauce pan.

 Stop and smell
the heavenliness
of all of this.

 Press out every last bit of that minty goodness into the saucepan.
And discard the spent mint.

Add in 1 1/4 cups each skim milk and heavy cream.

And add in 1/2 cup sugar, stirring to dissolve.
Set over medium heat and bring to a simmer.

 In a large bowl, whip the 4 egg yolks until lemon-colored and frothy.

 Slowly(!) pour the hot mint-flavored milk mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly so you don't get scrambled eggs.

Return mixture to medium-low heat and continue whisking (scraping sides and bottom)
until mixture thickens and temperature reads somewhere between 175° and 180°.
You want to go low and slow.

This smells amazingly minty!

Refrigerate mixture until cold.
See how nice and thick it gets?

Stir in the vanilla.

Now, pour the custard mixture into your ice cream freezer and churn away.
At the last 10 or so minutes of churning, add in the frozen chocolate shards.

Spoon ice cream into an 8-inch square pan and smooth surface with an offset spatula.
Cover with plastic and freeze.

Here, I have my frozen mint chocolate ice cream, 10 ounces of bittersweet chocolate bits, and a 1/4 cup of virgin coconut oil. I nuked the chocolate, then added the coconut oil, stirring until smooth.

Cut the ice cream into 16 pieces.

And then dip into the chocolate/coconut oil mixture.

Dip one half, return to freezer and let harden, then dip the other half.
Coat completely.

Oooh!  Oooooh!!  OOOOOOOOH!!!