Stout ice cream in the works

Trader Joe’s stout cooks on my stove for one of my favorite homemade ice cream recipes. I reduce beer, usually Bell’s porter, and mix in chocolate covered pretzels and peanuts. It’s inspired by and ice cream I had a few years back made by Treat Dreams in Ferndale. That one used the Porter from Woodward Avenue Brewery. I’ve kind of made up my own over the course of a few batches.

Bell’s Porter ice cream

20110927-220344.jpgAt the DIY Street Fair in Ferndale earlier this month, Mrs. Blocletters and I had a wonderful bit of ice cream. It was based on a porter from Woodward Avenue Brewers, and had peanuts and chocolate covered pretzels in it. It tasted awesome, and my first thought was to attempt to duplicate it.

Here’s the recipe I came up with. I opted for Bell’s Porter because, well, why wouldn’t you?


1 bottle Bell’s Porter
2 cups heavy cream
2 cups milk
3/4 cup sugar
4 egg yolks
3/4 cup roughly crushed chocolate covered pretzels
3/4 cup peanuts


Heat and reduce the porter in a saucepan to about 3/4 the original amount.

In a separate saucepan add cream, milk, and sugar. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Remove from the heat.

Beat egg yolks in large measuring cup. Whisk a cup of the hot cream mixture into the egg yolks, and then slowly add the egg mixture to the remaining hot cream. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until the mixture thickens slightly. Remove from the heat and strain through a fine mesh strainer into bowl to chill. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing down against the surface to keep a skin from forming. Chill thoroughly.

Remove from refrigerator and add the porter reduction, whisking until well blended. Pour in an ice cream machine and freeze, adding pretzels and peanuts toward the end.

It ended up being a big batch. I put the first half through the ice cream maker before work today, and plan to put the rest through as I sample some this evening. Can’t wait.

Mexican cocoa/coconut ice cream

I’m quite happy with how this one turned out, so I though I’d share. It was Mrs. Blocletters’ idea to use the coconut cream, and it makes for a rich finished product. I think the rum made it softer (that is, not frozen solid); I may cut back to 1 T. next time.

.5 C. coconut milk
1 C. coconut cream
1.5 C. half and half
.5 C. sugar
1 T. vanilla
2 T. light rum
.5 C. fine grated Mexican cocoa (used Abuelito)
.5 C. grated coconut

Combine all ingredients but cocoa and coconut in large bowl and whisk until sugar dissolves. Transfer to ice cream maker. Spin for 20 minutes, until it begins to solidify, then add cocoa and coconut. Process for another 5 to 10 minutes. Transfer to freezer container and freeze to firm up.

Quiche made easy


Lump quiche in the easy-to-make category. Eggs, milk, cheese and filling — that’s it. Of course, you can use a pie shell if you want, but that just complicates things. I worked for a while at a cafe that featured a daily quiche and, having hundreds of them under my belt, this is pretty much my template.

3 eggs

1.5 C. milk (I use soy milk)

6-8 oz. grated cheese

1.5-2 C. cooked filling (veggies, meats, a combo)

Dash of salt, pepper, cayenne and nutmeg

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Start with the filling. For today’s quick, I used leftover carrot and yellow pepper from another recipe, onion, turkey bacon, mushrooms and rosemary. Saute filling until done. After cooking, you should have 1.5-2 cups, though this is a forgiving recipe so the exact amount doesn’t matter. Set aside.

Spray a 9-inch pie pan. Transfer the filling into the pan, add the cheese and mix thoroughly. Spread evenly over the bottom of the pan.

Whisk the eggs and milk. Like I said, I use soy milk, but you can use cow’s milk or even half and half. Add the salt, pepper, cayenne and nutmeg to taste, I’d say up to a half teaspoon of each (except the nutmeg), and whisk again. Nutmeg’s powerful stuff, so you only need a little bit, maybe a quarter teaspoon. Again, really forgiving recipe, so if you end up with too much cayenne or nutmeg this time out, cut back next time.

Pour the egg mixture over the cheese and filling mixture. Garnish the top if you like. For today’s quiche, I used six thin slices of tomato arranged around the top.

Bake at 400 degrees for about 10 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 325 degrees and cook until a toothpick comes out clean from the center of the pie, maybe another 25-30 minutes or so. Oh, if you use a shallow pie pan, you’ll want a cookie sheet underneath to catch spillover.

Allow the quiche to rest until it’s room temperature or so before cutting, or you’ll have a runny mess. If you can’t wait, that’s fine too, but know the consequences. Enjoy with salad, perhaps mixed greens in a light lemon vinaigrette, or a fist-sized hunk of bread.

Albacore ceviche

Raw fish scares a lot of people, but it shouldn’t. People eat a lot creepier things* all the time and live to tell their tales. Plus, the tuna here isn’t technically raw, since it “cooks” in the acid of the lime juice.

This recipe is versatile and delicious. Sorry, no picture with this one.

1 lb. raw tuna steak

1 roma tomato

half a red pepper

1-2 green onions

3 sprigs of rosemary

Juice of 2-3 limes

Splash of olive oil

Salt & pepper to taste

Rinse the tuna in cool water with a dash of lime or lemon juice, and slice into half-inch cubes. Set aside. Remove seeds and protoplasm (that’s a technical term, right?) from tomato and chop into small pieces. I sliced it, then bisected the slices so I had thin, bite-sized pieces. Cut the red pepper into similar pieces, and slice the green onion. Throw the veggies in with the tuna.

Next, the marinade. Juice the limes into a food processor. Remove the rosemary leaves from the stems, and add to the lime juice. (I think cilantro is traditional for ceviche, and I’ve used that too. I bet basil is nice as well. About a handful.) Drop in a jigger of olive oil and a bit of salt and pepper. Puree for a moment, then pour the mixture over the fish and veggies. Stir to coat, cover and refrigerate.

Now is a good time to chill a few nice glass dishes. I once used martini glasses for this, and it made for a handsome presentation.

After 15 minutes or so in the fridge, stir the fish. Return to the fridge for another 15 minutes or so. Maybe half an hour. Whatever. Remove from fridge, adjust salt & pepper if necessary, and serve in the chilled dishes. Makes three or four servings. Homemade bread sticks make a nice foil to the acidity of this dish, but that’s another post.

Of course, management assumes no responsibility for illness that might result from raw or undercooked fish consumed after following this recipe. Enjoy at your own risk.

* Mrs. Blocletters and I were in Paris a few summers back. A man seated next to us at a cafe ordered beef tartare. Ew, we winced. But he dug in with gusto.

Almond brittle

Almond brittle. Forgive the bluriness; a steady shot I'm not.

Almond brittle. Forgive the bluriness; a steady shot I'm not.

This is a really easy recipe I made for a recent work potluck. I cribbed it from a website, and tweaked it for my own nefarious ends.

2 C. sugar (I used raw cane sugar)

1 C. honey

1 C. water

2 t. vanilla

Shot of Kahlua

1 T. butter

2 C. toasted whole almonds

Combine sugar, honey and water in a deep, heavy sauce pan over low heat. Still until sugar is dissolved, and bring to a boil. Boil until it reaches 300 degrees on a candy thermometer*. Remove from heat. Toss in vanilla, Kahlua, butter and almonds. Stir just enough to mix and pour out onto a pre-greased cookie sheet. Spread mixture evenly, so the nuts aren’t all bunched up, with a rubber spatula. Cool for a few hours, break up with your hands, a hammer or other blunt instrument, and enjoy.

Yield: a lot (it filled about three-quarters of a large cookie sheet).

* I admit I don’t own a candy thermometer. Here’s the cheat: Once the sugar starts coating a spoon dipped in it, check every 30 seconds or so by dropping a tiny bit in a glass of cool water. Once that drop holds tight and doesn’t dissolve, you’ve got candy. Remove from heat and proceed.