Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Celebrating Three Years and One Hundred Posts with Star Olive Oil Ice Cream and Salted Caramel Sauce

This is a pretty special post for me. Just a hair over 3 years and 100 posts ago I started writing this blog on a whim. Remembering how much I missed recipes from home while I was living in the UK, I thought I’d adapt some new and forgotten American style recipes for those living there now and my English friends who wanted to try something new. My goal was to feature recipes that are not only accessible and delicious but something that would push readers into their kitchens and want to follow me on my cooking journey.

So here I am all this time later, still trying to find that perfect post and that perfect dish that will rock the home cooks world. Well, I may never find it, but I’m having a great time trying. I hope you’re having a good time too, because it is you and your comments that keep me cooking and writing. Over the last 3 years you have seen me laugh and cry through teenager trouble, the loss of a dear friend, anniversaries and vacations just to name a few. I can’t thank you enough for hanging in there with me.

About a week ago I was invited by fellow blogger Barb Kiebel of Creative Culinary to join her and the folks from Star Fine Foods for dinner and a tasting of their wide range of olive oils. I was quite happy to join them as I have been cooking with their products for several years now. I find the ones I have tried to be not only delicious but quite affordable as well. I most often use their light olive oil and balsamic vinegar for my everyday cooking, but also infuse their extra virgin oil with herbs and spices for dipping, and of course for making homemade salad dressings.

The evening was wonderful and our dinner was over the top delicious. The chef from Ototo restaurant here in Denver and his staff artfully designed each course incorporating Star products into every one. From the first course to the last, and each one in between (oh those pistachio encrusted lamb chops), their creative dishes garnered oohs and aahs throughout the dining room. Great ingredients skillfully prepared are a thing of beauty. Thank you Star for a wonderful evening.

As with every great party I’ve attended, the gift bags were the cherry on top of a wonderful evening. Bursting with an assortment of Star’s oils and a jar of their colossal olives known as cannonballs (my new addiction), we were warned to hold them from the bottom or suffer slippery heartbreak on the way to our cars. Thankfully mine made it all the way home without so much as a drop spilled so I now have plenty of oil to play with.

We’ve already dipped our weight in rustic bread into green pools of deliciousness, so it is time to do something a bit different. Stepping out of my box and finally having an excuse to use my new sale priced ice cream freezer, I’m going to recreate part of our dessert on this wonderful evening, Olive Oil Ice Cream with Salted Caramel Sauce. Ototo paired theirs with a hazelnut soufflĂ© but I really don’t feel like this dessert needs anything more than a little sauce for interest, if that.

 Olive Oil Ice Cream

I know that this recipe sounds a little bit strange, but I am encouraging everyone reading this who owns an ice cream freezer to make it for your next dinner party, because it is a stunner. It does have a distinct olive oil flavor that confused my senses at first, but I quickly settled into loving it. It is without a doubt the creamiest, densest, smoothest ice cream I’ve ever eaten. Pair this with some salted caramel sauce (recipe follows) and you have an incredible dessert that will impress your guests. Don’t worry; all the ingredients are very affordable and widely available.

1 cup sugar

2/3 cup heavy cream

2 cups half and half

6 egg yolks

1 teaspoon vanilla extract (I love Mexican vanilla)

2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

Place sugar, cream and half and half in a medium size heavy gauge saucepan over medium high heat. Bring mixture to a simmer.

Place eggs in a medium size bowl, beat well. Slowly add approximately 1 cup of the hot mixture to the egg yolks while whisking vigorously. Slowly add the egg mixture back to the milk mixture in the saucepan. Bring the mixture back up to a boil before reducing heat to keep at a simmer. Cook for 8 – 10 minutes or until thickened to the point that it will coat the back of a spoon.

Remove from the heat and add the vanilla and olive oil. Pour the mixture through a fine mesh strainer to remove any egg solids. Transfer to a covered jar or container with a lid. Refrigerate 12 – 24 hours.

The next day, place the ice cream mixture in the freezer bowl of an ice cream freezer. Freeze until it is creamy. If needed transfer ice cream to a freezer container and leave to freeze for a couple of hours until firm.

Makes a little less than a quart.

Salted Caramel Sauce

1 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup water

2 tablespoons light corn syrup

1/2 teaspoon instant coffee

1 teaspoon hot water

1 cup heavy cream

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 – 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt (I keep the salt on the light side so I can sprinkle more on top, but feel free to add more to taste if you like)

Place the sugar, water and corn syrup in a medium size heavy weight sauce pan set over medium high heat. Stir occasionally and bring the mixture to a boil, reduce the heat to medium. At this point stop stirring and just let the mixture boil using a wet pastry brush to brush down any crystals that accumulate around the edge of the pan. Cook until mixture is a medium brown.

In a small bowl, combine the instant coffee with the hot water; stir well and set aside.

Remove the sugar mixture from the heat and slowly whisk in the cream, butter and salt (do this step carefully as the sugar mixture will bubble up). Whisk until everything is completely combined.  Add the coffee; stir well.  Serve while warm or at room temperature.

Makes approximately 2 cups.

I love sprinkling a little Murray River Salt over the top, but Kosher salt will work too.
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