Sunday, January 9, 2022

AND SO A NEW YEAR BEGINS...!

This Thanksgiving Jerry and I celebrated 28 years of marriage. We rented the most adorable 100+ year old cabin on the northwest side of Tucson. You can find it on AirBnB.

https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/33250035


I knew the kitchen would be small so had the Thanksgiving dinner prepared in advance. I made a fairly traditional dinner, but instead of a whole turkey, did a turkey breast roulade. I often make the boneless stuffed turkey breast along with the whole turkey. For the roulade recipe, go to:

http://cookwithcindy.blogspot.com/search?q=turkey+roulade

Scroll down to second post to find the roulade. On the way you will see my 'Do-Ahead' gravy, which I also made ahead and brought to the cabin.

Here's a shot of our whole meal...
Rolls are super-sized as I wanted to make
turkey sandwiches with cranberry and mayo next day.

For dessert we had Martha Stewart's mile-high apple pie and home made vanilla ice cream. I have made the pie for past Thanksgivings. The crust is a rich pate brisee and the recipe calls for 14 apples. It is always a hit! 

There are a million vanilla ice cream recipes out there, but this is the best I have found.

BEST, MOST CREAMY, AND DELICIOUS 
OLD FASHIONED VANILLA ICE CREAM
Here's the recipe: 
http://cookwithcindy.blogspot.com/search?q=apple+pie.
The crust came out even better this time; very flaky!

Even when it's just the two of us, Thanksgiving dinner sometimes gets hectic so I forgot to take a photo of the pie served with the ice cream, but trust me, this is the most perfect, old-fashioned rich vanilla ice cream; only using 5 ingredients.
This vanilla ice cream photo was nabbed from the web!

Ingredients:
4 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
2 tsp. good quality vanilla extract

Preparation:
Add egg yolks and sugar to medium saucepan and whisk until a light yellow color and well combined. In another small saucepan, heat milk over medium heat until it just begins to simmer. Do not stir. Gradually add milk to egg and sugar mixture, stirring constantly so the egg does not cook. Return to heat until it reaches 165 degrees (or coats the back of a wooden spoon). Do not allow to boil. As soon as it reaches temperature, remove from the heat. Pour custard base into an airtight container and store in fridge a few hours or overnight. Once custard is chilled, stir in the heavy cream and vanilla extract and pour into your ice cream maker. Process according to manufacturers instructions. One quart in my Cuisinart takes between 20-30 minutes. 

Christmas was very low-key for us this year, but I did make a nice beef tenderloin, which was delicious. Simplest of preparations...liberal salt/pepper, tie, rub gently with olive oil. Pan sear in a hot heavy-bottomed (I prefer cast iron.) pan and finish in a 400 degree oven until internal temp is around 120 degrees. Let rest about 10 minutes. It will keep cooking. Slice into thick servings. I served with baked potato and steamed asparagus. I do like the look of a raw piece of beef, neatly tied and ready to cook!

New Year's was also very quiet. I made a seared double-thick, bone-in center pork chop, brined in maple syrup, salt, water for 8 hours, and then glazed with a maple gastrique while pan searing. This was served with a creamy, mushroom marsala sauce, mashed sweet potato and buttered asparagus.
The maple gastrique did play havoc with my cast iron pan, but it was worth it!

MAPLE GASTRIQUE

Ingredients:
1/4 cup maple syrup
3 Tbsp. Blood Orange glaze
1/4 tsp. Kosher salt
1/4 tsp. Roasted Garlic and Herb seasoning
Freshly ground black pepper.

In general the proportion of sweet to vinegar in a gastrique is about 2 parts sweet to 1 part vinegar, but adapt to your own taste. 




Preparation:
Heat all in a small saucepan over medium heat until the sauce begins to bubble. Stir constantly until desired thickness. It needs to be thin enough to brush on the chops while they are cooking.

The holidays this year were saddened by the death 
of my dear brother, Skip, who after a brief illness, 
passed away in mid-December. 

Skip shared my love of cooking and was an excellent cook. 
He spent hours researching recipes, was a fabulous gardener, 
loved to fish and had a generous and open spirit. 

He had a brilliant mind and quick wit.
As an educator, he devoted his life to helping others.

The love he and Esther shared was nothing short of amazing.

I will miss you dearly, brother...
A few years back in the Bahamas.


PAUL 'SKIP' FREDERICK ASBELL, JR.
JUNE 13, 1950 - DECEMBER 14, 2021

www.cookwithcindy.com













Saturday, November 20, 2021

HOLIDAY TREATS! ONE SWEET...ONE SAVORY!

Let's start with dessert. Once again, I thought I had come up with an original...wrong! But I did find a bunch of different recipes online and put my own twist on this creamy ice cream. With Thanksgiving right around the corner, this would make an excellent addition to your dessert table. It tastes exactly like apple pie!

APPLE PIE ICE CREAM

Ingredients:

FOR THE APPLES-

1/4 cup brown sugar

1 Tbsp. unsalted butter

2 medium Granny Smith apples; peeled, cored and cut into 1 inch chunks

1 rounded tsp. ground cinnamon

Pinch of salt

Preparation:

Combine brown sugar and butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. When the butter is melted and bubbly, add the apples and cinnamon. Cook, stirring frequently until the apples are softened and most of the liquid has evaporated, about 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from heat. Cool. Store in an airtight container in the fridge until ready to use. Since the custard has to cool overnight I made the apple mixture the day before churning the ice cream.

FOR THE ICE CREAM-

Ingredients:

5 egg yolks

1/3 cup white sugar

1 cup heavy cream

3/4 cups half and half

1/4 tsp. salt

1 rounded tsp. cinnamon

1/2 tsp. nutmeg

1/4 tsp. allspice

1 tsp. vanilla

Preparation:

In a medium bowl whisk together the egg yolks, then whisk in 2 1/2 Tbsp. sugar. Set aside. 

In a medium saucepan, stir together the two creams, salt and remaining sugar over medium-high heat. When the mixture approaches a simmer, reduce heat to medium. Do not boil. Ladle some of the hot cream mixture into the egg yolk mixture, whisking constantly. Repeat once more. By gently heating the egg yolks you will not end up with scrambled eggs once all is added to the cream mixture. Once the eggs have warmed up a bit, very slowly stir in the rest of the eggs to the cream mixture. Add the vanilla and spices.

Cook the mixture over medium heat, stirring constantly until it is thickened. Temperature should be about 170 degrees. Remove from the heat and strain the custard through a fine mesh sieve. Using the back of a wooden spoon or a rubber spatula press the custard through the sieve. You may see little pieces of cooked egg in the sieve. That is why this step is so important. Once strained, set the bowl in a larger bowl of ice water, stirring occasionally until cooled. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

When ready to churn add the custard and apple mixture alternately to your ice cream maker. Refer to manufacturers instructions for churning time. I use a Cuisinart and this ice cream took about 23 minutes to churn. Transfer the ice cream to a freezer-safe container and freeze. Take out of freezer about 10 minutes before serving. 

My good friend Debby Vis made a spectacular apple pie. Her recipe uses cream cheese in the filling so it is super rich and creamy. We topped the pie with the Apple Pie Ice Cream and an Apple Cider reduction. This photo is a bit of a mess, but it sure was, as Mary Berry would say, SCRUMMY!

TO REDUCE THE CIDER-
8 cups apple cider
Measure 1 1/4 cups of cider and pour into a larger heavy-bottomed stock pot. Reduce by half and then add all the cider and boil over medium-high heat until it is reduced to about 1 1/4 cups syrup Watch it towards the end as it may 'catch'. This sauce is surprisingly tart, which was a lovely contrast to the sweet pie and ice cream. This sauce would be excellent on either pork or chicken.


AND NOW FOR THE SAVORY-
I've been on an old fashioned hors d'oeuvres kick. This cheeseball would be a great starter to Thanksgiving dinner, but is good any time. So easy to put together and can be made a day in advance. I served with assorted crackers and slices of Granny Smith apple.

MAJOR GREY'S CHUTNEY CHEESEBALL
Ingredients:
8 oz. softened cream cheese
1/2 cup Colby cheese, grated
1/2 cup Monterey Jack cheese, grated
1 scallion, mainly white part
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup Major Grey's Chutney
Salt/Pepper to taste
1/2 cup chopped pecans for coating
Preparation:
Mix cream cheese together with the chutney, scallion, garlic, salt and pepper. Fold in the two cheeses. Form the mixture into either one large ball or make two cheeseballs. Place the chopped pecans on a piece of plastic wrap and drop the cheese onto the nuts. 


Bring the four corners of the plastic wrap together ensuring that nuts are evenly coating the entire ball. Using your hands pat the cheese so it is fairly even and then twist and tighten the plastic wrap to complete the cheeseball. Place in the fridge for a few hours to firm up the cheese or make a day ahead.

THAT'S IT FOR TODAY...

THANKSGIVING IS NEXT WEEK!
WISHING YOU ALL A BEAUTIFUL HOLIDAY!

www.cookwithcindy.com








Tuesday, November 2, 2021

A TWIST ON MUHAMMARA!

 A twist on what? Muhammara is a Syrian Roasted Red Pepper Spread, popular throughout the Middle East. It is thickened with bread crumbs and toasted walnuts. It's excellent alone on crackers, grilled pita or toast points, but is also very good spread over chicken breasts and baked. It would also be excellent as a dip along side of a lamb kebab. Traditionally Muhammara is made with Pomegranate Molasses, but I did not use it in this recipe...that's the twist!

Ingredients:
2 red peppers, roasted*
1 cup coarse fresh bread crumbs
1 cup chopped toasted walnuts**
1 Tbsp. vinegar. I used Rice wine vinegar, but any vinegar is good. 
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/8 tsp. cayenne, more if you like it hotter
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 cup olive oil

Preparation:
* Place peppers on a foil-lined baking sheet under broiler. Roast all sides until blackened. Remove from oven and seal the foil around the peppers. Allow them to cool and then remove blackened skin and seeds.
** To roast the walnuts, heat a small heavy bottomed frying pan (no oil) to medium high. Add the nuts and stir every couple of minutes for about 5-7 minutes until nuts deepen in color. Because of the high fat content, nuts burn quickly so watch them carefully.
Puree roasted peppers, bread crumbs, toasted walnuts, vinegar, cumin, cayenne, and salt in a food processor until almost smooth. 
With motor running, add the oil until you have a thick spread, but not so thick that it is paste-like. Chill covered in the fridge for up to 5 days. Bring to room temp before serving. 

CHEDDAR CHEESE ROUNDS

Here's another very 80's hors d'oeuvres that I made recently for my Friday afternoon card group. I have grown to truly enjoy our Friday afternoon Canasta game, which is always accompanied by yummy snacks, good wine, hearty laughs and lots of love.
Ingredients:
6 oz., about 1 1/2 cups finely grated Cheddar. I used Irish Kerry Gold, Reserve Cheddar.
1/2 cup mayonnaise
6 Tbsp. finely chopped sweet onion. I didn't have a sweet onion, like Vidalia, so just used a yellow onion, diced very finely.
12 slices good quality bread, such as Brioche
3/4 cup (6 Tbsp.) butter, softened
5 Tbsp. pine nuts, roasted
Salt/Pepper to taste
Chives for garnish
Next time I would use more chives, but my chives got a little nipped from an early frost so I didn't have that many left.

Preparation:
Stir together Cheddar, mayonnaise, onion and salt and pepper to taste. I bought the Brioche from my local grocery store bakery and it was delicious. Cut rounds of bread using a cookie cutter. Spread softened butter on top of each round of bread. Divide Cheddar/mayo mixture evenly between the rounds of bread. Garnish with roasted pine nuts and chives. These are super rich, but very tasty.

Both of these recipes came from my recipe collection; 30+ years worth of clipping recipes from Gourmet, Food and Wine, Epicurious, Bon Appetit, Cooks Illustrated, and more. I believe these both came from Gourmet, circa 1980's!

THAT'S IT FOR TODAY!
I CAN'T BELIVE WE ARE INTO NOVEMBER AND MY HIUSBAND'S BIRTHDAY IS JUST A WEEK AND A HALF AWAY. WE ALWAYS CONSIDER NOVEMBER 13TH THE KICK-OFF TO THE HOLIDAYS SO LOTS OF COOKING AND ENTERTAINING AHEAD!

WWW.COOKWITHCINDY.COM











Saturday, October 23, 2021

CHICKEN WITH GRAPES, GARLIC AND ROSEMARY!

I found this recipe in Food and Wine magazine. It is from Angie Mar who I am not familiar with, so of course, I looked her up. She is a young chef originally from Seattle, WA; now in New York city where she owns and operates two fabulous sounding restaurants. One, The Beatrice Inn, a traditional New York chophouse, with a contemporary twist by Angie, and her latest, Les Trois Chevaux, named for her family and two younger brothers. 

Learn more about Chef Mar: http://angie-mar.com

Angie's recipe calls for cutting a whole chicken into 8 pieces. I rather use all of one cut so the chicken cooks evenly. I love chicken thighs so that is what I chose. This dish is so simple to put together, but elegant enough for a dinner party. I don't use much fruit in savory dishes and was delighted at how succulent and delicious the grapes became after roasting.

Ingredients:

6 large chicken thighs, bone, skin and fat on

4 tsp. Kosher salt

1/3 cup olive oil, divided

1 medium bunch seedless red grapes

12 large cloves garlic, peeled and slightly smashed (Chef Mar calls for a whole head of garlic.)

12 large sprigs fresh rosemary (She calls for one 1/2 oz. bunch.)

1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

Preparation:

I made this dish the day before serving and also made it in two stages. First I pan seared the chicken thighs and the next morning I put the  rest of the dish together. If you are making the dish in one step, proceed with the following directions.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Season chicken thighs with salt. Also put the salt under the skin. Heat 2 Tbsp. oil in heavy skillet. Add chicken skin side down and cook over high heat undisturbed for about 7 minutes. Turn and cook on the other side for about 5 minutes. Remove the chicken from the pan. Reduce to medium-low heat. Add grapes, garlic, and rosemary to the skillet, carefully stirring and scraping up any browned bits. Try not to break the grape clusters apart. Return the chicken to the skillet with browned skin sides up. Drizzle with remaining olive oil and black pepper.

Roast in preheated oven until a meat thermometer reads 155 degrees; about 25 minutes. I like to cook to about 150 degrees as the chicken will continue to cook after you take it out of the oven and who likes dry chicken?

If you prepared the dish the day before or the morning of, just bring to room temp before roasting. The chicken is moist, deeply flavored with garlic and rosemary and slightly sweet with the flavor of grape. Simply delicious!


Even though flavor-wise you do not need it, when I make it again I will add a small sprig of fresh rosemary to garnish the served plate. I know you will love this dish as much as I did!

NEXT TIME I'M GOING TO TALK ABOUT 

A COUPLE FUN APPETIZERS, 

INCLUDING A SYRIAN DISH CALLED 

MUHAMMARA, I MADE FOR MY 

FRIDAY AFTERNOON CARD GROUP!

UNTIL THEN...

STAY INSPIRED! KEEP COOKING! 

LOVE LIFE TO THE FULLEST!

WWW.COOKWITHCINDY.COM





Thursday, September 30, 2021

A COUPLE MORE IRISH DELIGHTS!

We've had such a beautiful few months in Ireland, but it is time to return to America. I have a couple more Irish taste treats I want to share with you before we travel next week. First...Blackberries. Blackberry vines grow everywhere in Ireland and this year was a bumper crop. 

BLACKBERRY CHUTNEY

I've been on a pork schnitzel kick. This time I coated the pork with Dijon mustard, Panko bread crumbs, Salt/Pepper and lots of caraway seeds. The Blackberry Chutney was the perfect accompaniment.

Ingredients:

2 cups blackberries

1/2 cup sugar

1 small shallot

1 clove garlic

2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar

1 Tbsp. water

Salt/Pepper

Preparation:

Put all ingredients in a saucepan. Simmer over low heat until shallot and berries have softened. Taste and adjust seasoning. This chutney was excellent with the Caraway Pork Schnitzel and local, organic Rainbow Chard. 

I also recently made BLACKBERRY SYRUP and served with Irish bangers and home made pancakes. 

To make the syrup, place 2 cups of blackberries, 1 Tbsp. water, pinch of salt, and 1 cup of sugar in a saucepan over medium heat. Cook for about 20 minutes until blackberries are softened.  If the syrup is too thick add more water, 1 Tbsp. at a time until you have the right consistency. Taste for sweetness. Depending on how sweet your berries are you may need to add a bit more sugar. Cool. Push through a fine mesh sieve to make a completely smooth syrup. 

My friend Brenna Reilly made me a big batch of beautiful plain yogurt; so smooth and creamy. I want to start making this yogurt myself as it was infinitely better than store-bought. I added about 1/2 cup Blackberry Syrup to 1 1/2 cups yogurt and made some very tasty parfaits with home made granola.

For contrast I used blueberries for the fruit.

Here is one more idea using Black Pudding, aka Blood Pudding, and sometimes referred to as Blood or Black Sausage. Blood Pudding is made throughout the world and each region has their own spicing, but one ingredient they all use is blood, either dried or fresh. I made Blood Pudding this year with dried blood. Here is the stuffing recipe...

BLOOD PUDDING STUFFED CHICKEN BREAST
Served with peas and butternut squash seasoned heavily with cinnamon and nutmeg.

Ingredients:
3/4 cup diced onion
3/4 cup diced celery
1 clove garlic, diced
2 sage leaves, about 1 tsp. finely chopped
1 tsp. fresh marjoram
3 Tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped
2 Tbsp. butter
Small piece, about 1 inch of chicken fat
2 Tsp. salt
3 blood pudding patties
1 cup fresh bread crumbs
Splash of red wine

Preparation:
Melt 2 Tbsp. butter in a heavy-bottomed skillet. Saute onion and celery for about 5 minutes over medium heat. Do not brown. Add garlic and continue cooking for another couple of minutes. Add herbs and cook for another 2 minutes. Remove from the pan. Add the chicken fat and increase the heat and cook 3 blood pudding paddies until very crisp on both sides. Blood pudding has a fair amount of fat, which is why 2 Tbsp. of butter is enough to keep the stuffing very moist. Crumble the blood pudding and return veg to the pan. Add 1 cup fresh bread crumbs and a splash of red wine. Stir to mix thoroughly.

Clean the chicken breasts. I used boneless, skin-on breasts.  Remove some of the fat; a small piece to fry the blood pudding and a few small pieces to top the chicken breast with before cooking. 
Place about 2/3 cup stuffing on a lightly oiled pan. Lay the chicken breast on top of the stuffing. Dot the top with some chicken fat. Liberally salt and pepper the chicken.
Preheat oven to 350F and roast chicken for about 25 minutes until skin is nicely browned and internal temp is 165 degrees. 

And, lastly, we eat a lot of lamb when we're in Ireland; Roasted Leg of Lamb, Lamb Chops, especially the thick-cut Loin Chops, and also Lamb Mince. This is a simple LAMB BURGER, but instead of placing the burger in a bun, I sliced thick pieces of eggplant, dipped into an egg-bath and then coated with Panko bread crumbs. I sauted the eggplant until nice and crispy and used as the burger bun. Of course you could not pick this Lamb burger up and eat with your hands. A knife and fork was necessary. They were very yummy!

THAT'S ALL FOR TODAY...

IT'S ANOTHER BLUSTERY IRISH DAY.


HERE IS THE VIEW OF OUR BACK YARD 
OVERLOOKING GALWAY BAY.

WE WILL SOON BE BACK IN SUNNY, SOUTHERN ARIZONA WITH A VERY DIFFERENT VIEW!



WWW.COOKWITHCINDY.COM




Tuesday, September 21, 2021

IRELAND'S UNIQUE ELIXER!

 

Padraic O'Griallais having a 'taste' of Poitin. Padraic is a
6th generation distiller. The Distillery is named
after his great, great, great grandfather, who started
 distilling in Ireland's west--Connemara--in 1848.

POITIN is a clear, white spirit, distilled from malted grain and other local ingredients. It is truly Ireland's drink, and has now received Geographical Indicative Protection, meaning Poitin can only be produced on the island of Ireland, if it's to be called Poitin. The word Poitin comes from the Irish word 'pot' or 'pota', which refers to the small pot-still generally used by Poitin distillers. For many years it was illegal to make Poitin, although it was commonly made throughout the country in remote, rural back fields and bogs. In 1997 it became legal to produce, but with lots of red tape and licensing requirements. The Micil Distillery is the first distillery to open in Galway in over 100 years. 

The old family still.

The recipe is the original from the family and all ingredients are local, including 'bogbean', which adds a certain something. This Poitin is smooth with deep rich flavors, similar to Italian Grappa; almost smoky, it lingers beautifully on your palate. I love it and this is the best Poitin I have tasted. Although, the others I have tasted have been produced in those back fields so may not have the distinction of Micil. Not to insinuate that local family distillers of Poitin for home consumption would make any lesser of a product, as I'm sure they have also been distilling for generations. Micil also makes a very fine, award-winning gin, also their own recipe, with complex flavors of hand-picked Connemara botanicals including heather, bog myrtle and bogbean. 

And here is the still used today.

To learn more about this interesting Irish tradition and the fabulous story of Micil Distillery, go to: www.micildistillery.com

My husband,  Jerry and I had the pleasure to spend 2 wonderful hours with Padraic at the Distillery. I had the opportunity to taste not only the two types of Poitin (one is peated), but also taste the gin, and a taste of a 6 week old whiskey that the Distillery will be offering in the future. If his whiskey at only 6 weeks is as good as it was, I can only imagine the flavors after aging. 

I wanted to try to pair the Poitin with tasty bites that are also uniquely Irish. Here are two hors d'oeuvres I came up with to start. It will be necessary to have many more Poitin tastes to continue developing recipes!

BLOOD PUDDING WITH CASHEL BLUE 
CHEESE AND TOASTED WALNUTS

First, the Blood Pudding...I am not going to get into the whole recipe, but if any of you would like it, I am more than happy to email it to you. I made Blood Pudding a few years ago here in Ireland with fresh blood, but this time I used dried blood. Here's the link to the first batch...

http://cookwithcindy.blogspot.com/search?q=blood+pudding

I got this dried blood online.

I got the fresh blood from a local butcher (not in Spiddal),
but have been sworn to secrecy as it is illegal to sell blood
in Ireland. The butcher did not charge me, so
I don't believe we broke any laws, but my lips are sealed!

I prefer using the fresh blood, rather than the dried. Both the flavor and texture were better, but the dried blood made a fairly good pudding. This little canape would also be just fine made with blood pudding from the store. The combination of flavors and textures worked and the blue cheese held up nicely to the Poitin.

I've had fun trying to come up with the perfect name for this canape. Which is better..."Blood and Blue" or "Blue Blood"; probably neither!

Toast rounds of bread. Crisp the blood pudding in a heavy bottomed skillet with a little oil over medium high heat until outer crust is very crisp. One of the things I like about blood pudding is that very crunchy exterior, which contrasts nicely with the creamy interior. Put a piece of blood pudding on each toast round, top with Cashel blue cheese and 1/2 walnut. Put under broiler on low heat until the cheese melts.
I also made an hors d'oeuvres using semi-sun dried tomatoes soaked in herbs and olive oil. Simply throw a few into a food processor with some of the oil and process until blended, but not completely smooth. Top with some fresh basil. These strong flavors also worked very well with the Poitin.

THAT'S IT FOR TODAY.
NEXT TIME I'M GOING TO TALK ABOUT ANOTHER WAY I HAVE RECENTLY USED BLOOD PUDDING....

AND ALSO A COUPLE IDEAS TO USE 
THE ABUNDANCE OF BLACKBERRIES.

UNTIL THEN...KEEP ON LOVING, LIVING LARGE, AND ENJOYING THE THRILL OF DISCOVERING NEW TASTES!


WWW.COOKWITHCINDY.COM







Sunday, September 12, 2021

HEALTHY SWEET TREATS!

Well, sort of healthy. Everything is relative. My friend, Brenna Reilly's husband is vegan and I wanted to make him a treat. I found this recipe for vegan ice cream online. They called it Vanilla Vegan Ice Cream. The coconut flavor is so pronounced that you really don't taste much vanilla. I have re-named it Creamy Coconut Vegan Ice Cream. This is a no-churn recipe, which works for me since I don't have an ice cream maker here in Ireland (yet!). The health aspect of this recipe is that it includes a whole zucchini plus 1 cup of raw, organic unsalted cashews. Those ingredients sound so unlikely, but they work. You sweeten the ice cream with Maple Syrup. 

My Dad used to give my husband, Jerry, a gallon of Maple Syrup every year for Christmas from Putnam's farm in Charlestown, NH. It is the best Maple Syrup I've ever tasted! The coconut milk and coconut oil make the ice cream rich, creamy, and delicious.

CREAMY COCONUT NO-CHURN VEGAN ICE CREAM

Ingredients:
1 (13.5 oz.) can full-fat coconut milk; white solid coconut cream only.
1 cup raw, unsalted cashews, soaked in advance, drained and rinsed
1 large zucchini, ends removed, peeled and chopped (about 2 cups)
3/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup melted coconut oil
1 1/2 tbsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp. salt

Preparation:
The night before you plan to make the ice cream, put the can of coconut milk in the refrigerator. This will harden the solid white coconut cream, which is all you are using. Do not add the liquid milk. Next day, using a slotted spoon remove the coconut solids from the can. You should have about 1 cup of solids. Soaking the cashews in advance gives the ice cream a smoother, less gritty texture. Either soak overnight or do a quick soak by pouring boiling water over the cashews for a couple hours. 

Add all ingredients to a high-speed blender or food processor. Slowly begin to blend and when it looks like the ingredients are coming together, blend on high speed for 60 seconds. I knew I was going to be close with the amount of ice cream in my high-speed blender and should not have put them all in at once, but I did. When I moved into high speed mode, the contents starting spewing out both the top and bottom. Quite a mess! Coconut ice cream everywhere! I then cleaned up the mess; cleaned out the blender (only lost about 1 inch of the ice cream) and blended in smaller batches until the right consistency was formed. 

Pour the ice cream into a container. Cover and freeze for 8 hours or overnight. Before serving, remove from the freezer for about 20 minutes so the ice cream becomes scoopable. 

Our dinner with Brenna and John unfortunately got postponed so I will make it again when we get together! Jerry and I had to eat it ourselves. 
Jerry enjoying his ice cream with JoJo fast alseep.

THE NEXT SORT OF HEALTHY DESSERT...

FLOURLESS PEANUT BUTTER 
CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES

I found this recipe in my new Nigella Lawson cookbook-Simply Nigella. I don't know if she came up with this recipe, as there are tons of the same recipe online, but these cookies were simply delicious, very peanut-y and the chocolate turned the entire concoction into a Reeses peanut butter cup taste and texture. The cookies are delicate. I had planned on freezing them to eat them frozen from the freezer, but they never made it to the freezer! Why are they healthy? Peanut butter, in the right amount, is good for you. Tons of protein. Dark chocolate is also good for you. I am not one who is concerned about consuming flour, but for those who are, there is none in this recipe. And, finally, very little sugar. 

Ingredients:

3/4 cup plus 1 Tbsp. creamy peanut butter, such as Skippy*

1/2 cup light brown sugar

1/2 tsp. baking soda

pinch of salt

1 extra large egg

1 tsp. vanilla

1/4 cup bittersweet chocolate chips or break up 1/2 of a good quality chocolate bar.

*Skippy is not available here in Ireland so I used Kelkin, which has no sugar added. I am sure any smooth peanut butter would work.

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a bowl, beat together the peanut butter, brown sugar, baking soda, and salt. Beat in the egg and vanilla extract, but not too vigorously. Just mix them. Stir or fold in the chocolate chips or pieces. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place heaped tablespoons  of the cookie dough onto the lined sheet, placing them about 2 inches apart. Bake for 10 minutes until they are slightly darker around the edges. They will look undercooked, but will be the perfect texture once cooled. Leave on the baking sheet for 10 minutes as they are quite fragile when first coming out of the oven. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. This takes another 10 minutes. Nigella says, "I tend to cave in after 5"; we did, as well!

Our son, Justin and his new wife, Alison were just here for a lovely visit. We stayed pretty close to home, but did take some nice long, drives. Here they are in front of a very cool pub, just west of us in Beal an Daingean. In Ireland a hooker may not be what you think.

In this case it is a pub. Galway Hooker is also the third oldest brewery in Ireland making a variety of great quality craft beers, ales, and stouts. An artisan brewery nestled in the stunning surrounds of the Wild Atlantic Way, which is where our house is located. 

The original Galway Hooker is a traditional fishing boat, designed for its sturdiness in rugged seas. 

We have only a few weeks left in Ireland 
and it's with tears in our eyes 
that we are getting ready to leave 
this beautiful country!

But lots more food, fun, and cooking ahead!

Until next time...
Justin, Jerry, and me overlooking the back 40 and Galway Bay.

www.cookwithcindy.com