Monday, March 31, 2014

Pistachio Ice Cream

Pistachios are awesome. Raise your hand if you agree. Woohoo! (You may lower your hand now, if you like)

I am by no means obsessed with pistachios. In fact, I rarely eat them, but they have popped up in my life in special ways so that I think of them as an indulgence rather than a mere common snack.

I remember pistachios being a perpetual snack at most family gatherings when I was a small girl. Though it could be frustrating to remove the shells, there was always an uncle around to help me out. And even if I couldn't get a shell opened, the roasted, salty shell tasted good enough to suck on for a minute anyway (just be sure to put the slobbery shell in the bowl of shells, not the bowl of uneaten pistachios). Win, win! Snacks that take the most work to eat always seem to taste the best, don’t they?

Another popular pistachio-ed treat among my family was Watergate Salad, whose ingredients include cool whip, pineapple, marshmallows, and pistachio pudding. It wasn't present at every family party, but when it was, boy was I excited! I remember taking leftovers to school in my lunch only to hear my friends ask suspiciously, "What is that?!" The salad's green coloring always intrigued me and it was just ridiculously delicious.

It should have come as no surprise, then, that my first taste of pistazien-eis (translation: pistachio ice) outside of a gelateria in Salzburg, Austria would be a resounding success. I fell in love with the pistachio gelato and although I did commit myself to trying a handful of other flavors while I was there, I often ordered a scoop of one flavor along with a scoop of pistazien to make sure I got enough of it before the end of my six week study abroad session.
Can you guess what this store sells?
Fast-forward several years later and I met the man who would become my husband. Early on in our dating relationship, Drew moved to Miami and mentioned that the city life at twilight reminded him of evening strolls to get gelato when he lived in Italy. I asked him his favorite flavor (one of the few questions that I am proud to say I actually initiated) and told him mine was pistachio. Here was his response: “Holy cow! pistachio!? I have met NO ONE that shares my love of pistachio gelato.” As you can see, the two of us were meant to be. We even ended up naming one of the tables at our wedding reception “pistachio,” so this particular nut is obviously special to us. I know you’re thinking, “Wow. They are weird.” You are right, and we have no qualms about admitting it.

Now it is time for me to tell you why I have been a little nutty today. I made Pistachio Ice Cream yesterday evening and it was PERFECT. Not too sweet and just pistachio-y enough. The recipe is almost exactly like the Strawberry Ice Cream I wrote about a few days ago, but with one key ingredient changed. You guessed it – replace strawberries with pistachios.

Here are the details:

1 can of regular coconut milk
2 cups half and half (or whipping cream)
1½ tablespoons vanilla extract
½ cup granulated sugar
12 oz bag of pistachios with shells on
Liquid Stevia to taste

First, shell the pistachios. I suppose you could buy them pre-shelled, but I don’t know how much you would need. Maybe a cup? I bought the kind with the shell on because they were less expensive. Pour the coconut milk, half and half, vanilla extract, sugar, and pistachios into a blender to mix the ingredients and break down the pistachios. Next, I added about 20 drops of liquid stevia to mine, but you can add stevia or sugar or another sweetener according to your taste. Then, follow the directions for your ice cream maker and freeze it in a sealed container until you are ready to eat it.

We have eaten ours with chocolate syrup and whipped cream, but I think next time I will also add fresh strawberries and banana. Yummers!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Strawberry Ice Cream Recipe

I have been a slacker. It has been more than a month since I last posted, and I am sorry. A lot has been going on around here, but I will fill you in on that in some future posts. (No, I am not pregnant, in case you got excited for a second). :)

Also, as part of my chosen Lenten penance I have not been getting on the computer until after noon, and since I usually worked on blog posts in the morning, my groove has been disrupted. Being disconnected for a few hours is actually nice and I have enjoyed these quiet computer-less and television-free mornings.

Anyway, I HAD to get my act together, because spring is here! Sort of. Well, the calendar says it is here but the real thing is still working on being here in practice. Soon we’ll get off of this weathery roller coaster and take a walk in some sunshine. One of the only ways I know it is springtime is that I can go to the grocery store and not feel guilty about buying strawberries. Everyone and their mother in Florida is going to strawberry festivals and since I am out here in Texas, I will instead enjoy the fruits of the strawberry farmers' labor by eating strawberry ice cream!

One of the best gifts Drew and I received for our wedding was a Cuisinart ice cream maker. I absolutely love it. I haven’t bought ice cream since we unpacked it in August. Cost-wise, I don’t think making your own ice cream is less expensive than purchasing it. I didn’t do the math, but I am pretty sure it would be cheaper (ounce for ounce) to buy a half gallon of ice cream at the store. HOWEVER, pints of the good stuff – Ben & Jerry’s, Starbucks, SO Delicious – you know what I am talking about – can cost you five or six dollars, and the homemade goods are definitely less expensive and oftentimes way more scrumptious!

I have had some misses in my ice cream experimentation thus far, but I think I have now found an ice cream base that works for me, a combination of coconut and cream. I just add different ingredients to change the overall flavor. I plan to share many of these creations with you, but for now I will start with my most recent recipe: Strawberry Ice Cream


1 can of regular coconut milk
2 cups whipping cream
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/3 – ½ cup granulated sugar
2 cups sliced strawberries
Add liquid Stevia to taste

Put the first five ingredients into a blender to mix all the liquids and to break down the strawberries. My strawberries were frozen, which shouldn't really matter, but it helps to make ice cream with cold ingredients. Taste the blended mixture and add liquid stevia or more sugar until your desired sweetness is reached (I personally do not like sweets that are too sweet). Follow the instructions on your ice cream maker to finish up.

For me, it took about 15 minutes in the ice cream maker. I actually had too much in the blender to fit in the 1.5 quart machine, so I poured the extra into a cup and popped it in the freezer before we ate it for dessert, and it was delicious. The real point of the ice cream maker is to add air into the mixture to give it that light, ice-creamy texture.

Blend it up!

Let the ice cream maker do its thing. (Shh! Don't tell, but I always think at this point that it looks like a butt . . . )
The machine adds air to the ice cream and practically pushes it up and out of the machine.
Top your Strawberry Sundae with fresh chopped strawberries and chocolate sauce and then enjoy your homemade treat!