By Kathryn Gordon — Chef-Instructor, Pastry & Baking Arts

I have always loved chai. My favorite approach is, of course, to make it myself, rather than use one of the premixed packages that proliferate at coffee bars and are available at grocery stores (which often contain ingredients that do not belong in traditional chai). Surprisingly, it’s not difficult to make, and you can personalize the spice blend to your liking. In India, the mixture of spices in chai varies by region. Some chai blends contain various amounts cardamom — and some none at all. The same goes for ginger and black pepper; it all depends on regional tastes. During my travels throughout India, my favorite chai was a milky cup in Rajasthan, where the chai was ladled into a single-use clay pot, which was thrown onto the parched clay earth after using.

Chai Langues-de-Chat

Chai Langues-de-Chat with Blueberry Cream Filling (photo credit: Evan Sung)

When you’re ready to try your hand at homemade chai, feel free to experiment — you can try flavored honeys, non-dairy milks, or even steep the spices in water if you don’t like milk in your tea. If you want a spicier chai, just increase the amounts of spices or add the spices back into the chai to continue steeping after the tea is strained out. But don’t let the tea leaves steep for too long or you will get tannic after-tastes.

Once you conquer homemade chai, you should try baking with chai, too. Below is the recipe for Chai Langues-de-Chat with Blueberry Cream Filling from my book Les Petits Sweets. Langues-de-chat (French for “cat tongue”) are delicate cookies that break easily and absorb humidity — I’d recommend eating them the same day you fill them. These langues-de-chat cookies are filled with chai spices, which are balanced by a decadent, blueberry cream filling — it’s the perfect cookie for chai lovers.

Chai Langues-de-Chat with Blueberry Cream Filling

Yield: Makes about 50 (3-inch/7.5-centimeter-long) cookies or 25 sandwiches

For the Cookies:

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons (36 grams) honey
1 teaspoon (1 gram) finely ground black tea
6 tablespoons (84 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup (90 grams) confectioners’ sugar
3 large egg whites
1/2 cup (68 grams) all-purpose flour
1/4 cup (28 grams) cake flour
1/2 teaspoon (1.5 grams) ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon (2 grams) ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon (1 gram) ground cardamom
1/8 teaspoon (2 pinches) ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon (2 pinches) freshly ground black pepper

Preparation:

  • Preheat the oven to 400°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Heat the honey and tea in a small saucepan over medium heat until the honey begins to boil, then remove from the heat and let the mixture cool completely.
  • In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on medium speed until the mixture is pale and fluffy, 5 to 10 minutes. Stir the egg whites into the honey mixture.
  • In a medium bowl, stir together the all-purpose and cake flours, ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves and pepper. Alternating between the flour and the honey mixtures, add the dry and wet ingredients to the mixer a little at a time, only mixing until just combined before adding more. Begin and end with the dry ingredients.
  • Spoon the batter into a piping bag fitted with a ½-inch (1.25-centimeter) round tip (alternatively, cut a ½-inch opening in the bag). Pipe the batter into 3-inch (7.5-centimeter) long ovals (cat tongues) on the baking sheet, 1 inch (2.5 centimeters) apart, until the batter is used up. If not all cookies fit on the prepared baking sheet, keep the batter in the bag until the first batch has baked, or use a second lined baking sheet.
  • Bake for 7 minutes, until the cookies are golden around the edges. Remove from the oven and let cool on the baking sheet. The baked cookies, without filling, can keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days.

 

For the Filling:

Ingredients:

1/2 cup (120 grams) blueberry purée or fresh blueberries (boil for 1 minute and purée with an immersion blender)
1/4 teaspoon (1 gram) ground cinnamon
8.8 ounces (250 grams or 1 2/3 cups) white chocolate (preferably Opalys), finely chopped

Preparation:

  • Heat the blueberry purée and cinnamon in a small saucepan over medium-high heat and bring to a rapid boil. Boil for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat, pour in the chopped chocolate, and shake the pot so that the chocolate is submerged. Let sit for 1 minute, then whisk rapidly from the center of the pot outward in a spiral shape until the chocolate is fully melted. Pour the mixture into a shallow pan and refrigerate to let it set, about 1 hour.

To assemble:

  • When the mixture is firm, spoon the filling into a piping bag fitted with a ¼-inch (6-millimeter) round tip (alternatively, cut a ¼-inch opening in the bag). Pipe a strip of filling over the length of one cookie, and top it with another, slightly pressing the top cookie so that the sandwich is tight.
  • Once filled, eat cookies the same day.

Tips:

  • You can use a neutral honey, such as clover, but the spices can also take something stronger if you prefer baking with a more assertive honey.
  • To grind the tea, pulse your favorite black tea in a spice or coffee grinder until it reaches a fine texture. If necessary, first clean the grinder by pulsing a bit of white rice, which will get rid of any lingering coffee flavor. You can also use a mortar and pestle.
  • To cut down the sweetness of white chocolate, which can be sometimes overwhelming, I like using Opalys, a low-sugar-added variety made by Valrhona.
  • These cookies are great on their own, but you can also sandwich them with your favorite ganache recipe, or as suggested here, with a blueberry cream filling.

This recipe has been reprinted with permission from Les Petits Sweets © 2016 by Kathryn Gordon and Anne E. McBride, Running Press, a member of the Perseus Books Group.

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By Chef James Briscione — Director of Culinary Research

The role of a chef goes far beyond preparing food. Be it in a restaurant, culinary school, test kitchen or anywhere else, great chefs find a way to educate, inspire and create connections. They may seem secondary to the job of cooking, but these duties of a chef can often be more important than the meals themselves. As Director of Culinary Research here at ICE, I find myself spending more time in these roles than I do behind the stove. Not that I’m complaining — it’s this part of the job that has taken me around the world, and recently brought me back home.

Chef James Briscione

Since its inception four years ago, my wife Brooke and I have hosted The Wharf Uncorked, an end-of-summer food and wine festival on the Alabama Gulf Coast, right next door to our hometown of Pensacola, Florida. It has become a very important weekend to us for multiple reasons. First and foremost, it’s an amazing event that raises money for local charities. Secondly, it’s a fun day at the beach with a talented group of chefs. Finally, it’s a celebration of Gulf seafood — the food that both my wife and I grew up eating. Ever since an oil spill devastated the fisherman of this area, it has become increasingly important to let the world know that the Gulf of Mexico is open for business. Gulf seafood — shrimp, oysters and fish of all varieties — is both clean and delicious. In fact, the seafood from this region is some of the best I’ve ever tasted. But nothing is more tasty and unique than royal red shrimp, a lesser-known species that’s very popular with local chefs.

royal red shrimp riceRoyal red shrimp hit their peak, in terms of flavor, from the end of summer through fall. Unlike brown and pink species of shrimp, royal reds prefer the cool deeper water far from shore. They can be found up to 60 miles off the coast and their flavor is reminiscent of a fellow cold-water crustacean: the lobster. At this year’s festival, royal red shrimp were not only a secret ingredient in the Chef Showdown — a live one-hour cook off between four of the area’s top chefs (luckily, I have retired my competition apron and get to play host, judge and taste-tester for the evening), they were also a feature ingredient for my main stage cooking demo. Below is the recipe that I prepared so you can taste for yourself (sadly, you won’t get to experience all the terrible dad jokes that accompany my live cooking). Don’t worry if you don’t have royal red shrimp at your local seafood market — this dish is delicious with any variety of shrimp. I hope you are inspired to try this Gulf Coast favorite, and if you do, tell us in the comments how it turned out!

Bacon-Basted Royal Red Shrimp with Low Country Rice
Yield: Serves 4

Ingredients:

2 cups long grain rice (like Carolina Gold)
24 pieces royal red shrimp
12 bamboo skewers
Barbecue rub, as needed
2 tablespoons water
8 strips thick cut bacon, sliced into lardons (small strips)
1 yellow onion, minced
2 red bell peppers, small dice
2 jalapeños peppers, ribs and seeds removed, small dice
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
2 cups canned tomatoes, chopped
2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
2 tablespoons butter
Juice of ½ lemon
Hot sauce, to taste

Preparation:

  • Preheat a grill or broiler.
  • Start by cooking the rice. Bring a large pot of salted water to a rapid boil. Add the rice and stir once to make sure rice doesn’t stick.
  • When the rice is just tender, pour it through a colander and quickly rinse with cold water — this prevents overcooking and separates the grains of rice.
  • Peel and devein the shrimp, leaving the heads on 12 if possible. With these 12, make three small (about ¼-inch deep) incisions on the under side of each shrimp tail. This will allow you to straighten the tail and thread each shrimp onto a skewer so that the tail is completely straight and in line with the head. Lightly dust the shrimp with your barbecue rub of choice and set aside or refrigerate until ready to use.
  • Remove the heads from the remaining 12 shrimp. Chop the tail meat and reserve.
  • To prepare the rice, heat a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the bacon and water, and cook until the water evaporates and bacon is browned and crisp, about 12 minutes. (Note: cooking bacon in water may sound surprising, but the liquid helps to render the fat and the result is crispier bacon.)
  • Keeping the bacon in the pan, drain all but one tablespoon of the bacon fat from the pan and reserve.
  • Add the onions to the bacon pieces and fat in the pan. Sauté onions until just tender, about three minutes. Add bell peppers and jalapeño and cook two minutes more.
  • When the peppers are slightly tender and fragrant, add the garlic and cook until lightly toasted, about one minute. Add the chopped shrimp meat and cook one minute more, so the shrimp has just turned white on the exterior.
  • Stir in the chopped tomatoes, bring to a boil and cook two minutes. Add the rice and cook, stirring constantly, to desired consistency. Finish with the cilantro, butter, lemon and hot sauce to taste. Cover the rice to keep it warm while you prepare the shrimp.
  • Brush the shrimp skewers with the reserved bacon fat and place on a grill over high heat. Cook for two minutes on one side. Just before flipping, brush the shrimp with more bacon fat, then turn and cook for two minutes on the second side. Brush again with bacon fat before removing from the grill. Rest on a rack for a few minutes after grilling.
  • Divide the rice between bowls and top with grilled shrimp skewers (three per bowl). Serve immediately.

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Recipe by Jenny McCoy — Chef Instructor, School of Pastry & Baking Arts

Apples aren’t the only fruit we’re excited for this fall — it’s also cranberry season. If you’re looking for delicious ways to mix cranberries into your baking repertoire, Chef Jenny has an irresistible idea for you: a flaky double-crust apple-cranberry pie that’s the perfect mix of tart and sweet — the best of both worlds. Serve warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or a spoonful of crème fraîche, and let the compliments roll in.

Double-Crust Cranberry Apple Pie

Double-Crust Apple-Cranberry Pie

For the Flaky Pie Dough
Yield: Makes 1 double-crust pie or 2 (9-inch) pie crusts

Ingredients:

3¼ cups (450 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
1¼ teaspoons (6 grams) granulated sugar
1¼ teaspoons (8 grams) salt
2¼ sticks (252 grams) cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
¾ cup (175 grams) ice-cold water, plus more if needed

Preparation:

  • In a large mixing bowl, whisk the flour, sugar and salt together for a few seconds. Add the butter all at once, and rub into the dry ingredients to mix until the butter is reduced to small pieces about the size of peas. Slowly add the water and stir until the dough just comes together, yet lumps of butter remain in the dough.
  • Divide the dough in half, and flatten each piece into a 1-inch thick disk. Wrap dough tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, one to two hours.

 

For the Sauteed Apple-Cranberry Pie Filling
Yield: Makes 6 cups

Ingredients:

8 medium Gala or Pink Lady apples
¼ cup (50 grams) light brown sugar
¼ cup (50 grams) granulated sugar
Ground cinnamon, to taste
¼ teaspoon (1 gram) salt
4 to 6 tablespoons (56 to 84 grams) unsalted butter
¼ cup (56 grams) brandy (optional)
1 cup (130 grams) cranberries

Preparation:

  • Peel, core and slice apples into ¾-inch slices. Gently toss sliced fruit, brown sugar, sugar, cinnamon and salt in a large bowl.
  • In a large saute pan, melt half of the butter over medium-high heat. Add half of the sliced fruit and sauté until light golden and caramelized, turning fruit as needed. Add half of the brandy and cook until alcohol has reduced, tossing fruit in pan to coat.
  • Spread the cooked fruit in a shallow baking dish or on a baking sheet and repeat with remaining butter, fruit and brandy. Add the cranberries, stir and let cool to room temperature.

 

For The Double-Crust Apple-Cranberry Pie
Yield: Makes 1 (9-inch) pie

Ingredients:

Unbleached all-purpose flour, for rolling
1 recipe Flaky Pie Dough
1 recipe Sautéed Apple-Cranberry Pie Filling
1 large (50 grams) egg, lightly beaten

Preparation:

  • Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350°F. Lightly coat a 9-inch pie plate with nonstick cooking spray. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • On a lightly floured surface, roll one disk of dough into a circle about 12 inches in diameter by starting at the center of the disk and rolling away from you. Use additional flour and give the dough a quarter turn between each roll to prevent it from sticking to the table. Continue rolling until the dough is an even ⅛ inch thick. Repeat with the second disk of dough.
  • Carefully roll one circle of the dough around the rolling pin and unroll over the pie plate. Fit the dough into the plate by gently pressing it into the corners and against the base and sides of the plate. Trim the excess dough, leaving about a 1-inch overhang. Place the lined pie plate in the freezer for about 15 minutes to chill slightly. Roll the second piece of dough onto the rolling pin and unroll onto the parchment paper-lined baking sheet and place in refrigerator until ready to use.
  • Spread the Sauteed Apple-Cranberry Pie Filling into the prepared pie shell. Remove the sheet of rolled pie dough from the refrigerator and lay over the pie filling (if the sheet is stiff, just give it a few minutes to soften), reserving the parchment-lined baking sheet for later use. Trim the excess from the top sheet of dough to line up with the overhang of the shell. Fold the overhang in half, tucking the cut edge between the shell and the pie plate. Using your fingertips, decoratively crimp the edges together to seal. Cut a few decorative slits in the top of the pie crust to allow for steam from the fruit to vent. Place the pie in the freezer for 10 minutes to chill the dough slightly.
  • Lightly brush the entire surface of the dough with the beaten egg. Place the pie on the baking sheet and bake for one hour to one hour and 15 minutes, or until the crust is deep golden brown, the filling bubbles and the liquid has just thickened.
  • Cool on a wire rack until just warm before serving.
  • This recipe is for a regular crust pie — to do a lattice crust, as pictured, check out this step-by-step guide.

Double-Crust Cranberry Apple Pie

Want to learn pro-level baking with Chef Jenny? Click here for information on ICE’s Pastry & Baking Arts program.

By Robert Ramsey ­— Culinary Arts Chef-Instructor 

With the heat of August ushering in peak tomato harvest, I came up with a few recipes to get creative with summer’s favorite fruit, beginning with a rich, creamy cold soup from the Andalusia region of Spain called salmorejo. Everyone has heard of Spain’s most famous soup — the cold, refreshing gazpacho. Think of salmorejo as gazpacho’s velvety cousin: it’s rich with tasty Spanish olive oil, thickened with a bit of bread and as smooth as a perfect flan.

salmorejo

Ingredients:

2 pounds tomatoes, quartered (look for the best you can find at the market)
1 medium red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
3 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
1 stalk celery, chopped
5 large basil leaves, torn into pieces
1 Serrano chili, seeded and chopped
12 ounces (1 small can) low-sodium tomato juice
½ teaspoon dry chili flakes
4 ounces white bread, torn or cubed and crust removed
⅓ cup good quality red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon kosher salt
¾ cup good quality Spanish olive oil
Serrano ham, hard-boiled egg and chives for garnish (optional)

salmorejo soup

Preparation:

  • In a large, non-reactive vessel, combine all ingredients except the olive oil. Mix well and marinate in the refrigerator for at least four hours, or preferably overnight for maximum flavor.
  • Working in batches, place the mixture in a Vitamix blender and slowly adjust the speed from the lowest to the highest setting. While the blender is running, slowly stream in the olive oil to emulsify. The color will change to a beautiful orange and the texture will become smooth and creamy. Repeat with remaining mixture.
  • Return mixture to the refrigerator for at least two hours before serving in chilled bowls. Top with chopped hard-boiled egg, chopped Serrano ham, a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a pinch of freshly chopped chives (if desired).

tomato Vitamix

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Vitamix is now offering our readers special discounts on their popular Vitamix models: C- and G- Series, Certified Reconditioned S30, and Certified Reconditioned Standard Programs Machine. Use the URL and discount code below and find your culinary voice with Vitamix. 

www.vitamix.com/CSP
Promotion Code: ICEVitamix21216
Expires: December 31, 2017

By Jenny McCoy — Chef Instructor, School of Baking & Pastry Arts

If you are not familiar with clafoutis, please make yourself acquainted. It is one of the easiest desserts to make, not to mention an absolute showstopper.

Like a soufflé, this dessert puffs to great heights and begins to deflate moments after being removed from the oven. However, unlike a soufflé, clafoutis batter is super simple to make — just whisk the ingredients together and voila! There is no need to fret over under-whipped egg whites or over-folded batter. Clafoutis is made with whole eggs and yolks, plus some flour to bind the batter, making it foolproof to execute.

summer fruit clafoutis

Summer is the perfect season for tucking into a freshly baked clafoutis. Many clafoutis recipes, particularly at this time of year, highlight cherries. This is because the clafoutis was first created in Limousin, France, a region celebrated for its black cherries. While I do love the classic cherry clafoutis, I find that clafoutis is even better suited for fruits with more tart and acidic qualities, like raspberries, blackberries, plums and apricots. I also enjoy topping it with chopped nuts and turbinado sugar, to give it a crunch to contrast its soft and delicate texture.

And don’t desert this fruity dessert after summer passes — it’s glorious at any time of year, particularly in the autumn when baked with thinly sliced Granny Smith apples or cranberries. 

Summer Fruit Clafoutis
Makes 8 servings

Ingredients:

Softened unsalted butter and sugar (for the ramekins)
½ cup unbleached all-purpose flour
¼ cup granulated sugar
2 pinches salt
3 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
¾ cup heavy cream
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 cups fresh fruit, such as berries or sliced stone fruit
2 tablespoons turbinado sugar
¼ cup chopped pistachios, optional

summer fruit clafoutis

Preparation:

  • Place a rack in center of oven and preheat to 350° F. Lightly butter and sugar eight ramekins.
  • In a large bowl, whisk the flour, sugar and salt together. Add the eggs, yolks, cream and lemon zest and continue to whisk until smooth. Slowly whisk in the melted butter.
  • Divide the batter evenly among the ramekins, evenly scatter the fruit over the top of the batter, and sprinkle with turbinado sugar and pistachios.
  • Place the ramekins on a baking sheet and bake until puffed, set in the center and light golden brown (about 15 to 20 minutes). Serve warm, and with ice cream if desired.

Want to master seasonal desserts and more with Chef Jenny? Click here for more information on ICE’s Pastry & Baking Arts program.

By Kelly Newsome — Student, School of Culinary Arts

cobb salad

An entire class on salad, seriously? That was the topic of conversation one Tuesday evening in the women’s locker room at ICE. We hemmed and hawed, convinced that there was nothing to learn about salads that we didn’t already know. Salads, at least in the American culinary tradition, have been relegated to the depths of diet food, a punishment rather than a pleasure. But, as I would soon learn, salads can be unabashedly delicious, and the classics are classics for a reason — when executed correctly, they are irresistible. My assignment that Tuesday night was Cobb salad — a classic American recipe that gave me a newfound respect for the humble art of salad creation.

I always thought that Cobb salad was named after the famous baseball player, Ty Cobb. Not true. The Cobb salad was born in the wee hours of a Hollywood, California, morning in 1937 at the Brown Derby restaurant. The owner, Bob Cobb, was ruffling through the kitchen’s refrigerator, pulling out various remnants including lettuce, hard-boiled eggs, cheese, tomatoes, chives and avocado. Smelling bacon being cooked nearby, he grabbed a few slices to add to his dish. Bob tossed the ingredients together and shared the outcome with his friend Sid Grauman (of Grauman’s Chinese Theatre fame). Mr. Grauman was so impressed that he asked for a “Cobb salad” at the restaurant the very next day, and a classic was born. The legend seems familiar to the story of the famous chicken wings of Buffalo. Perhaps the common thread is American ingenuity and resourcefulness on a plate?

cobb salad

A really great Cobb salad is not only a thing of beauty but an absolute pleasure to eat. Each bite brings a symphony of flavors and textures — the crispy bacon meets the creamy blue cheese, the crunchy and fresh salad greens mingle with pungent herbs and luscious chicken, the eggs provide a soft and satisfying backdrop, and the piquant vinaigrette delicately envelops each morsel and acts as an essential bridge that transforms the dish from many things to one. Each component, when perfectly cooked and assembled, offers a culinary experience that is far greater in combination than any one ingredient alone. This is the key to understanding the true beauty of a perfectly composed salad. Like any other dish, it’s all about the balance.

So how does one approach the Cobb salad? According Chef Charles Granquist, my instructor for salad night, “execute each ingredient perfectly, dress each component separately and arrange the salad organically — don’t overthink it.” When the night was through and the salads were delightfully devoured, visions of Cobb salad parties danced in my head: the classics I thought, can’t be beat.

cobb salad

Cobb Salad
Yield: makes about 10 servings

Ingredients:

5 chicken breasts, bone-in
Salt as needed
Ground black pepper as needed
20 slices bacon, cooked
1 pound, 4 ounces Romaine lettuce, washed, dried and torn into pieces
8 fluid ounces red wine vinaigrette (recipe below)
10 ounces tomatoes, medium-dice
10 ounces blue cheese, crumbled
3 avocados, peeled, pitted and cut into medium-dice
5 scallions, bias-cut (at a roughly 45-degree angle), thinly sliced

Preparation:

  • Season chicken breasts with salt and pepper, and roast until internal temperature is 165°F. Cool, remove the breasts from the bone, cut into ½” dice.
  • Cook the bacon slices until crisp. Drain on absorbent paper towels and keep warm.

To assemble the salad:

  • For each serving, toss two ounces romaine with two tablespoons of vinaigrette. Mound on a plate, and top with four ounces chicken, 1¼ ounce diced tomato, one ounce blue cheese, two ounces avocado, ¼ ounce green onions and two bacon strips, crumbled.

Red Wine Vinaigrette
Yield: 8 fluid ounces

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon shallots, minced
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 fluid ounces red wine vinegar
6 fluid ounces canola oil
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste

Preparation:

  • In a small bowl, combine the shallot, mustard and vinegar.
  • Add the canola oil gradually, whisking constantly.
  • Add additional flavorings and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper. Taste and adjust acid/oil balance.

A few tips from the chef in training:

  1. Make sure that your bacon is crispy! If it isn’t, you’ll lose that essential crunchy bite.
  2. Cook the chicken on the bone if possible — this delivers a more succulent and satisfying result.
  3. Make sure that you dress (don’t overdress) and season each component individually. This is the key to creating a cohesive and balanced dish.
  4. Use a long, oval platter rather than a bowl. This creates a more even spread for serving and presentation.

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By Chef James Distefano

Is there anything better than corn in the summertime? To me, corn is one of the highlights of the season’s produce. As a kid spending summers at the Jersey shore, the last thing I wanted to do was leave the beach early and shuck corn for dinner (but I did love eating it!). Now, it’s one of my favorite summer ingredients to work with, its subtle sweetness giving it the versatility to work in many dishes. What’s more: whether you’re using it in a soup, salad or simply grilled and buttered, corn is an ingredient that doesn’t need a lot of gussying up.

When thinking about fresh ways to eat corn, I wanted to highlight its sweetness by combining it with another summertime staple: ice cream. You may not believe corn and dessert go together, but consider this: while we commonly think of corn as a part of a savory dish, it’s also in plenty of your favorite breakfast cereals.

The inspiration for this homemade corn ice cream comes from a former boss of mine, Richard Leach. Rich has an amazing talent for creating and pairing desserts with uncommon ingredients. When I was a young kid working for him in the mid-90s, putting corn in a dessert was a mind-expanding notion. One day when we were talking about food, he calmly asked me if I’d ever had a bowl of corn cereal with peaches in it. “Of course, I have,” I said quickly—and then realized what he was getting at. My mind melted. Corn: it wasn’t just for dinner anymore!

The best part about this recipe is that you can make it without an ice cream maker. If I haven’t convinced you of corn’s delicious virtues as a dessert, you can try adding different flavors (see my tip below) or keep it easy by just adding the vanilla extract to the cream for a simple ice cream. Here are some pro tips to help you out:

  1. The scoop on the scoop: To get picture-perfect scoops of ice cream, dip your scoop into a tall container of warm water. The water will warm the scoop enough to enable you to dig into the ice cream and shape it into a nice round ball without the ice cream sticking to the surface. Just make sure to tap any excess water off of the scoop before digging in to avoid any messy dripping.
  2. Flavor-ific: If you’d like to add another flavor, such as a spice, you can whip it with your egg yolks. If you’re keen on adding something else such as chocolate chips, candy or nuts, replace the amount of roasted corn kernels with the ingredient of your choosing. If you’d like to try adding fresh herbs, mint, cilantro or tarragon would all taste delicious with the corn! Add any of the above to the batter at the end when you’re folding in the whipped cream. For this recipe, two to three tablespoons of chopped herbs should be enough.
  3. End results: To get the best from your eggs, let them come to room temperature because they will whip up more quickly and easily and hold more air (volume). To get the best results from your heavy cream, the cream and the bowl you will be using to whip in should be as cold as possible to whip up more quickly and easily and hold more volume. When you maximize the volume of both, your ice cream will be lighter and creamier!
  4. Bowled over: Since most of us only have one KitchenAid bowl to work with at home, I’d recommend whipping the cream first and storing it in your refrigerator while you whip up the egg yolks, followed by the egg whites. Whipped cream tends to hold its volume (the air trapped during the whipping process) longer than either whipped yolks or whites.
  5. Whip it good: To get the most out of your whipping cream, set the speed on your mixer between seven and eight or medium-high. At this speed, as the cream is whipping, the whisk will “cut” more evenly sized air bubbles into the cream. This is important because uniform air bubbles will “pop” closer to the same rate, whereas if you whip your cream on high speed, you will have irregular sized air bubbles—some large, some small—meaning your whipped cream will deflate more quickly than you want…and nobody wants to feel deflated!

 

Sweet Corn Ice Cream
Yield: 3 quarts

For the Roasted Corn Kernels:

Ingredients:

3 ears corn (approximately 1 ½ cups kernels), shucked, silks and husks reserved for corn-infused heavy cream (recipe below)
1 tablespoon canola oil
2-3 tablespoon sugar
Pinch of salt

Preparation:

  • Heat the oven to 350 F°.
  • Remove kernels from the cob and set aside. Cut cobs in quarters and reserve for corn-infused heavy cream (recipe below).
  • Spread kernels on a parchment paper-lined baking tray.
  • Drizzle with 1 tablespoon of canola oil.
  • Sprinkle with the sugar and season with a pinch of salt.
  • Roast in the oven at 350 F° for 15 minutes or until the corn begins to color.
  • Remove from the oven and allow it to cool to room temperature.
  • Can be stored in an airtight container for up to two days.

For the Corn-Infused Heavy Cream:

Ingredients:

3 cups heavy cream
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
2 cups reserved husks, silks and cobs

Preparation:

  • Combine all of the ingredients in one large pot.
  • Bring to a boil over medium heat.
  • Turn the heat off and steep for 15 minutes, covered with a lid.
  • After 15 minutes remove the lid and cool to room temperature.
  • Store corn-infused heavy cream in an airtight container for at least 24 hours or up to two days in the refrigerator.
  • The following day, strain the infused cream through a colander to make the corn ice cream base (recipe below). You need to make sure you wind up with three cups. Add fresh cream to make up the difference if needed.

For the Corn Ice Cream Base:

Ingredients:

4 eggs, separated
Salt
1 ½ cups sugar
3 cups corn-infused heavy cream, strained
1 ½ cups roasted corn kernels

Preparation:

  • Combine the egg yolks, ½ cup sugar and a pinch of salt in the bowl fitted for the electric mixer with a whisk attachment.
  • Whip on high speed until pale, thick and ribbony, make sure all of the sugar has dissolved. This should take three to four minutes. Remove whipped yolk base from the bowl and set aside in a large mixing bowl. Keep cold. Wash the mixing bowl and whip for the mixer because you will need it to whip the egg whites.
  • Place egg whites and a pinch of salt in the bowl fitted for the electric mixer and begin whipping on medium speed until medium peak.
  • Once egg whites are at medium peak, slowly add in the remaining one cup of sugar. Once all of the sugar is in, turn the machine up to high speed and continue to whip until the meringue looks like shaving cream. It will be light, fluffy and glossy looking.
  • In three separate stages, gently fold the meringue (egg white mixture) into the egg yolk base, only folding about three quarters of the way. This will help prevent over mixing. After the third addition of meringue has been folded in, place back into the refrigerator to keep cold.
  • Wash the mixing bowl and whip for the mixer because you will need it to whip the corn-infused heavy cream.
  • Whip the corn-infused heavy cream to medium peaks in an electric mixer with the whisk attachment.
  • Fold one quarter of the whipped corn-infused heavy cream into the ice cream base and mix three quarters of the way.
  • Add the last three quarters of the whipped corn-infused heavy cream along the with the roasted corn kernels to the ice cream base.
  • Gently fold everything together until no visible streaks of whipped cream remain.
  • Pour corn ice cream into an airtight container with a tight lid and freeze immediately.
  • Allow to freeze for 24 hours before serving.

*Ice cream will last for up to four days in the freezer.

Want more delicious dessert ideas from ICE’s expert chefs? Click here to learn more about ICE’s professional pastry program.

By Robert Ramsey — Chef Instructor, School of Culinary Arts

Joseph Day is the director of horticulture at Agecroft Hall, a museum in Richmond, Virginia. Previously he ran the historic gardens at George Washington’s estate, Mount Vernon, worked in the gardens of Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello and studied roses at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. Joseph Day and ICE Chef Instructor Robert Ramsey are lifelong friends who have been wilderness adventuring together for years. In this blog post, Chef Robert interviews Joseph about one of their favorite shared pastimes.

eggs and foraged ramps

Drifting slowly downstream, Joseph suddenly yelled out, “Pull over to the right bank — to that small island over there!” We were floating down the meandering, bucolic south fork of the Shenandoah River, not far from the nation’s capital. It was an unseasonably warm April day, and the dark storm clouds rolling over the Alleghany highlands made it feel even more like summer.

As we veered our canoe toward the starboard side, my buddy Scott wondered aloud why we were stopping. It turns out Joe had spotted a large crop of garlic mustard, an edible, leafy green plant. While it may have felt like summer on this particular day, these tasty, wild edibles reminded us that it really was April, after all.

foraging

tent view

To the untrained eye, it may have looked like just another grove of weeds growing on the forest floor, but for Joseph Day, Scott Parker and myself, it was dinner (and tomorrow’s breakfast to boot). The aptly named bitter greens have strong flavors of horseradish, pepper and, of course, garlic and mustard. As the storm clouds rolled in and the rain began to fall, we decided to stay put, harvest some greens and remain under the still-thin leaf cover of the early spring forest. By the time the storm cleared, we had gathered two hefty grocery bags of freshly picked greens, removed of their grit and sand by the rain. We were satisfied.

There is wild food all around us — we just have to stop, look and know what to look for. Foraged foods are pure, fresh, delicious and almost always rewarding. Guided by Joseph, the more experienced forager in the group, we were able to find fresh herbs and produce, full of nutrients and free for the taking, without ever leaving our campsites. Following this particular adventure, I reminisced with Joseph about our many exploits in nature. We started thinking about ways to share the joys of finding your own food with others. In this Q&A, we tackle some of the key questions that a novice forager might have, and developed a recipe using some of the best wild spring crops that the East Coast has to offer.

Robert: A lot of outdoor enthusiasts are interested in, but afraid of, foraging. Do you have any advice to help people feel at ease eating what they find?

Joseph: My first piece of foraging advice would be: learn the forest. Like fruits and vegetables, foraged foods are ripe only certain times of the year. The rest of the year, the plant is doing something else. Learn the whole life cycle of the plant, from early basal foliage to fruit and seed production. This will give you more confidence in what you are searching for.

R: How can someone who has never tried foraging get started?

J: In an ideal world, I would make contact with a local expert who can take the time to explain the life cycle of the best foraging plants. Otherwise, I would start with foraging flowers. The bright colors are easy to spot from your commute or your daily stroll. An example of this would be Cercis canandensis, commonly called eastern redbud. The bright purplish-red flowers are unmistakable and easy to find when quickly scanning the wood line.

R: Are certain times of the year best for foraging? Can you forage during all seasons?

J: I forage in all seasons, if not directly for the kitchen then just with my eyes. The dead of winter can be tricky, but if you keep your eyes open you can still find a decent crop. I would recommend early spring for the unguided novice forager. The early spring brings you the simple but flavorful greens and spring tonics that you missed during the winter. Late summer/early fall is when you find big fruit and nut crops which can be a much more substantial meal.

R: There is a common perception that foraging comes with the risk of food poisoning. What can people do to minimize this risk?

J: Information is key. I have been foraging since my early teens and have never had anything but a delightful meal of the local harvest. I also don’t take risks when it comes to foraging, I am certain in my identification before I harvest. If I am harvesting for a plant that has medicinal value, I consult an expert before I start using it. 

R: What are you favorite foods to find? This can include plants, nuts, seeds, fungus, animals… anything.

J: I enjoy garlic mustard, passionflower for tea, verbascom for smoking, a good persimmon, pawpaws and the black walnut.

R: Are there foods/plants that people should avoid — either because they are dangerous, unhealthy or just plain unpleasant to eat?

J: Like everything else in the produce world, when it comes to harvesting it’s all about timing. Plants become less palatable and lose their freshness and taste profile as they go through their life cycle. For example, dandelions lose their tenderness as they mature, persimmons are almost inedible before the frost and pawpaws have a shelf life of about a day before they become too mushy.

R: Mushroom hunting is its own specialty. Do foragers need different skills or experience to take on this task?  

J: Mushroom hunting requires much more research and knowledge: it can be dangerous. I would recommend a novice mushroom hunter to do their reading and forage with an expert at first. I also recommend using a mesh bag, like a leftover citrus or onion bag from the grocery store. Using a bag like this when harvesting fungus allows for dispersing spores for the next season.

R: Hardcore foragers are known for being secretive about the location of their finds. Do you know of any lore or anecdotes about the adventures of a forager?

J: Near my grandmother’s farm in Sperryville, Virginia, morel hunting was a major pastime in the spring months. There lives a professional morel hunter who searches and sells to local restaurants for top dollar — he starts out before dawn and doubles back to make sure he isn’t followed. These clandestine foragers were envied for their skill set and often accused of trespass. As a boy, I recall being jealous of their ability to find the best crop and of their knowledge of the land. Most morel hunters are gathering for their own table and are usually happy to share the harvest, but will never tell you where they found the crop. I’ve seen fights and rifts between families.

Another anecdote about morel hunting: Very often in Rappahannock County, Virginia they call morels “miracles.” This is because it’s a miracle to find one.

R: What can an amateur forager expect to find in the New York region this time of year?

J: Dandelion greens, flowers from the eastern redbud, crest, ramps, violet flowers, garlic mustard.

Sunnyside Eggs Over Sautéed Wild Greens With Morels and Ramps
Yield: serves 4 

This recipe is simple and made with plants that are ready to harvest…RIGHT NOW! It’s so easy you can make it on your next camping trip — all you have to bring is the eggs and a little butter.

dish with foraged ingredients

Ingredients:

8 high-quality fresh chicken eggs
1 pound mixed wild greens (like mustards, chicory, dandelion or watercress)
1 small bunch ramps (about 5 or 6)
1 pound morel mushrooms (can be purchased, only forage if you are an expert)
4 ounces (1 stick) butter
¼ cup salt
Salt and pepper to taste

foraged ingredients

Preparation:

  • Mix the salt with approximately one gallon of water, mix thoroughly and add the morels to soak for one hour.
  • While the morels are soaking, carefully wash and dry the wild greens and ramps (in a salad spinner if you have one).
  • Cut the greens and the ramp tops (the green, leafy part of the ramps) into a chiffonade, or long, thin strips. Mix together in a large mixing bowl. Reserve the ramp bulbs (the white and pink part at the bottom).
  • Remove the morels from the water and use paper towels to gently dry them.
  • Returning to the ramp bottoms, remove the furry looking roots, and then mince the rest of the ramp.
  • In a large sauté pan, melt half the butter over medium heat. When it begins to bubble and brown, add the morels, a pinch of salt and sauté. If the morels are too wet, they will cool down the pan and you won’t hear any sizzling. If this happens increase the heat of your pan until it sizzles again. Sauté until browned and wilted, about five minutes.
  • Add the minced ramp bulbs to the pan. Cook, constantly stirring, until the ramp bulbs turn translucent, about one minute. Add the mixed greens to the pan, another pinch of salt and pepper, and sauté until wilted, another three to four minutes.
  • Remove the mixture from the pan and reserve (outside of the refrigerator).
  • Reduce heat to medium low and melt the other half of the butter. Crack the eggs into the pan and cook sunny side up to desired doneness, remembering to sprinkle each one with a little salt and pepper. Work in batches if your pan is not large enough to fit all eggs.
  • To serve, divide the mushroom and greens mixture between four plates, or just one platter if you’re eating family style. Top with a sunny side up egg and enjoy nature’s bounty!

Want to study the culinary arts with Chef Robert? Click here for more information on ICE’s Culinary Arts program.

 

Chef Cara Tannenbaum’s first childhood memory of eating real chopped liver (on fresh rye bread, of course) goes back to the day her family moved to their new home on Long Island. As the years passed, healthy eating became a way of life in the Tannenbaum household and they replaced the traditional schmaltz-filled chopped liver with a vegetarian version loaded with caramelized onions, mushrooms, peas and walnuts — to add plenty of savory yumminess. As sometimes happens, the progeny eclipsed the original and vegetarian “chopped liver” has become a Passover staple in Chef Cara’s home. Try her recipe for yourself and you’ll see why.

mock chopped liver

Vegetarian Chopped Liver
Servings: makes 2 cups

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons canola oil
1 large onion, cut in half and thinly sliced
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 cup sliced button mushrooms
1 cup fresh or frozen peas
1 cup (3 ½ ounces) walnut pieces
2 large eggs, hard-boiled
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Matzoh crackers or sliced rye bread (for serving)

Preparation:

  • Heat the oil in a medium skillet over low heat. Add the onion, season with one teaspoon of salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes. It will take that long to caramelize the onion and cook it to a deep color that reveals its characteristic flavor. Keep the heat low, move the slices occasionally in the pan and have patience.
  • Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms soften and release their liquid, about five minutes. Add the peas, cover the skillet and cook the mixture for an additional five minutes, or until the peas are cooked through. Overcooking the peas won’t hurt here; a dull green color will help duplicate the look of liver. Remove from the heat and cool.
  • Roughly chop the walnuts in the work bowl of a food processor. Add the cooled vegetables and process until a thick paste forms, about 45 seconds. Remove the mixture from the bowl and set it aside. Without cleaning the bowl, process the eggs until they are roughly chopped, about 10 seconds. Fold them into the vegetable mixture.
  • Season with the remaining teaspoon of salt and the pepper and chill for at least three hours or up to three days in a well-sealed container. Bring to room temperature 30 minutes before serving. Serve with matzoh crackers or freshly sliced rye bread.

Learn how to make all of our chefs’ holiday favorites — click here to browse ICE’s recreational cooking and baking courses.

“Once you’ve tasted this Irish soda bread, you’ll never buy a loaf from the bakery again,” says ICE Chef Instructor Sarah Chaminade. Members of the ICE team, who had the chance to sample the goods, would happily concur — that this is truly the best Irish soda bread recipe. But what exactly is soda bread? According to Chef Sarah, “Some say it resembles more of a scone than bread since it doesn’t contain any yeast. You can find hundreds of different recipes — some include caraway seeds and others even add eggs. If you ask true Irish lads or lasses, they’ll tell you soda bread must have only four ingredients: flour, salt, baking soda and buttermilk.” Baked with caraway seeds, currants and even a shot of whiskey, Chef Sarah’s recipe departs from the original yet still captures the essence of this classic Irish goody. With St. Patrick’s Day around the corner, there’s no better time to master Irish soda bread. 

Irish Soda Bread

Irish Soda Bread

Ingredients:

4 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 1/2 teaspoons caraway seeds
1 cup dried currants
2 teaspoons finely grated orange zest
1/3 cup honey
1 1/2 cups buttermilk, or combine 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice for every cup of milk
1/4 cup Irish whiskey
Flour for kneading

Preparation:

  • Preheat oven to 350° F.
  • In the bowl of an electric mixer with the paddle attachment, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Mix on low speed to combine. Raise the speed to medium low and add the butter, a piece or two at a time, until all of the butter has been incorporated and the mixture is crumbly. This will take 4-5 minutes.
  • Add the caraway seeds, honey, orange zest, currants and, finally, the buttermilk and whiskey. Mix until just combined.
  • Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and knead a few times to smooth the mixture into a round loaf and transfer to a nonstick baking sheet. Make a cross hatch design (just breaking the skin of the dough) on top of the loaf with a knife and sprinkle with a bit of flour.
  • Bake for about 45 minutes, or until the loaf is set and sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom. Let the bread cool on a rack and serve warm or at room temperature.

Learn to bake like a pro with Chef Sarah — click here for information on ICE’s Pastry & Baking Arts program.