Monday, August 17, 2009

Winter's Coming...


Saturday, August 15, 2009

Blueberry Lavender Ice Cream

Over the years I have waited tables at more restaurants than I would care to admit. My last experience, I am happy to report was nearly three years ago. I was between jobs and it was the end of the season at Lake Crescent Lodge in Olympic National Park. They needed someone to work with for a couple of months, housing was included. Perfect. The only problem was I was in the middle of a terrible relationship and the other person worked there as a server as well...
The kitchen was a totally professional operation. Jamie, the head chef really cared about the meals he was sending out from the kitchen. He was pretty tough on the wait staff, but I worked hard and actually wanted to a good job. We weren't buddies, but we didn't have any issues either. Jamie NEVER let anything leave his kitchen for free. Unlike other restaurants where the employees always had their fingers in the dessert, and free cups of soup were the norm. We got our free staff meal, but everything else we paid for.
One night while previously mentioned ex-boyfriend and I were working together on a fairly busy shift, he decided he was going to walk out. This had become a nightly occurrence. He always thought that he was being screwed over by the management. It didn't matter what section this guy got, he always thought it was the worst one, he was always most miserable on the nights when he perceived my section to be better than his. On this night when he said he was leaving, as always I ignored him until later when our hostess asked where he was. Huh? He's gone, really? He actually left? A few minutes later, Jamie came to me and asked if I was ok? Then he asked me to come into his office. Then I thought, "Is he going to fire me too"? Jamie informed me that they would like to fire this guy, but they didn't want me to quit. I almost laughed out loud.
To say the least, it was one of my best nights at the restaurant. Not only did I feel a huge weight had been lifted, but I also had the best night financially because I ended up taking a bunch of extra tables as we were then one server short!
At the end of the night Jamie brought me a dish of Blackberry Lavender ice cream. It was one of my favorite desserts at the restaurant. Making this Blueberry Lavender ice cream reminded me of that night and Jamie who inspired my own Alaska version of lavender ice cream. I made mine with local honey, lavender, and wild blueberries.

Blueberry Lavender Ice Cream
Inspired by Jamison Brandt, David Lebovitz, and Lindsey Shere

1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup fresh lavender flowers
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1/4 cup sugar
pinch of salt 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
5 large egg yolks
3/4 cup blueberry puree (recipe follows)

Warm honey and lavender flowers in a small saucepan over medium heat. Once warm and runny remove from heat and let steep for at least one hour.
Heat the milk, sugar, and salt in a medium saucepan. In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks. Slowly pour the warm milk mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly, then scrape the warmed yolks back into the saucepan. Stir the mixture constantly over medium heat with a heatproof spatula, scraping the bottom until the mixture thickens and coats the back of the spatula. Remove from heat and stir in the honey and lavender mixture.
Fill a large bowl half way with ice and about one cup of water and place (do not immerse) a medium size bowl on top. Pour the cream into the medium bowl and set a fine mesh strainer on top. Pour the milk and honey mixture through the strainer and into the cream. Stir until cool over the ice bath. Chill the mixture overnight in the refrigerator. The next day freeze in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions. After five minutes or when the mixture has just started to freeze up slowly add the blueberry puree. Finish mixing and eat right away or store in freezer for up to three days.

To Make Blueberry Puree:
Place 2 cups of blueberries and 1/2 cup of sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir until blueberries begin to release their juices and then mash with a potato masher or mix with an immersion blender. Place in refrigerator overnight.

Red Green River Regatta



Thursday, August 13, 2009

Georgeson Botanical Garden





We have been busy. For the next few days I will post the things we have done this past month in Fairbanks.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Chocolate Chip Cookies

The other day I saw a cookbook titled something like "50 best chocolate chip cookies". Who needs 50 chocolate chip cookie recipes? It seems like one good one would do the trick. Of course there is always the chocolate peanut butter, chocolate chocolate chip, monster cookies with chocolate chips. As far as the true chocolate chip cookies go, you really only need one recipe. I don't really have that one recipe that I go to for chocolate chip cookies. You can always go back to that old Toll House stand-by. After seeing that cookbook, I decided that maybe I should branch out. This morning I took a few sticks of butter out of the fridge to soften. Almost all chocolate chip cookie recipes call for creaming the butter and sugar together. It seems like I can never wait long enough for the butter to soften. Usually, when I want cookies I want them now! I have no ability to plan ahead when it comes to these sort of cravings. So, when I found this recipe that called for melted butter I couldn't wait to give them a try. Now, the next time I want chocolate chip cookies I won't be sitting around waiting for the butter to soften. Let me just say that these are much better than Toll House. The browned butter gives them almost a toffee like flavor. Just be careful not to burn the butter.
Chocolate Chip Cookies
adapted from
Cook's Illustrated

1 ¾ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
14 tablespoons unsalted butter
½ cup granulated sugar
¾ cups packed dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 ¼ cups semisweet chocolate chips
¾ cup chopped walnuts, toasted

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees. Line 2 large (18- by 12-inch) baking sheets with parchment paper. Whisk flour and baking soda together in medium bowl; set aside.

Heat 10 tablespoons butter in 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat until melted, about 2 minutes. Continue cooking, swirling pan constantly until butter is dark golden brown and has nutty aroma, 1 to 3 minutes. Remove skillet from heat and, using heatproof spatula, transfer browned butter to large heatproof bowl. Stir remaining 4 tablespoons butter into hot butter until completely melted.

Add both sugars, salt, and vanilla to bowl with butter and whisk until fully incorporated. Add egg and yolk and whisk until mixture is smooth with no sugar lumps remaining, about 30 seconds. Let mixture stand 3 minutes, then whisk for 30 seconds. Repeat process of resting and whisking 2 more times until mixture is thick, smooth, and shiny. Using rubber spatula or wooden spoon, stir in flour mixture until just combined, about 1 minute. Stir in chocolate chips and nuts, stir to distribute evenly.

Scoop dough into 1-2 tablespoons portions and roll into balls. Place dough about two inches apart on baking sheets. Makes about 20 cookies.

Bake cookies 1 tray at a time until cookies are golden brown and still puffy, and edges have begun to set but centers are still soft, 10 to 14 minutes, rotating baking sheet halfway through baking. Transfer baking sheet to wire rack to cool.
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