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adapted from Gale Gand's Applesauce Cake 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened to room temperature 2 cups brown sugar (dark or light), ...

Monday, July 26, 2010

the best homemade frozen yogurt

this will be easiest with an ice cream freezer (I have a small Cuisinart that's ideal, but for the life of me, I can't locate the freezer bowl, darn it!), but can still be made without too much work using a food processor and, of course, a freezer. the following recipe is for the flavor I happen to like best (lemon), but feel free to vary it by leaving out the lemon zest/juice and adding vanilla or any other flavor you desire. I occasionally reduce the amount of lemon, and add 2 pints of washed, hulled, pureed strawberries -- use/add whatever sounds good to you.

1 quart (give or take -- this isn't exact science) greek-style yogurt
zest and juice of 3 lemons (again, more or less is fine)
1/2-2/3 cup sugar (you know the drill here by now)
(optional: 1-1/2 - 2 cups pureed fruit, lemon and sugar adjusted as desired)

combine the yogurt, zest, juice and sugar (and optional fruit) in a food processor fitted with an s-blade and check for flavor. remember, freezing will reduce the flavor levels somewhat, so make it just a little too lemony and a tiny bit too sweet -- when frozen, it will be PERFECT.
1. if you have an ice cream maker, dump it in and freeze according to the manufacturer's directions.
2. if you don't, scrape the yogurt mixture into a plastic container that's large enough to leave plenty of room for expansion, and also for you to get in there and stir it around a lot as it freezes (to break up ice crystals as they form). stir it with a heavy spoon or a sturdy whisk every 30 - 60 minutes, until well frozen. beat it well, then leave it to freeze for several hours. when you come back to check it, it will be frozen a bit too hard, so break it into chunks and puree it in the food processor until creamy and smooth (you can add a little extra un-frozen yogurt to facilitate this; it's also the ideal time to adjust the flavors). re-freeze for a few hours and it's done.

it's hard to think of anything more refreshing than creamy, tart, lemony frozen yogurt. I hope you all enjoy it!

p.s. it's also really good with NO flavoring other than sugar, and maybe a tiny pinch of salt. Japanese matcha tea powder is another fantastic addition -- have fun with it!

best greek yogurt ever

this is so easy it's ridiculous! this method makes rich, creamy yogurt that you'll want to consume in outrageous quantities. when I was a kid, my dad went through a yogurt-making phase, but we never knew to strain it to make this wonderful greek-style yogurt. I happen to think my method's a bit easier (the hubris of a child!). here it is:

1 gallon whole milk (or other, depending on your needs/taste; this is just what I prefer)
1 cup fresh, unadulterated yogurt (when I first started making my own yogurt, I used my favorite brand of greek-style yogurt, but now I just save a cup of each batch I make to innoculate the subsequent batch of yogurt)

heat the gallon of whole milk to 175-185 F (***do as I SAY, not as I do: I find that milk tastes too "cooked" for my taste at 185 F, so I heat to about 150 F without problems***) -- use a food thermometer for this -- DON'T GUESS! heat it slowly, so it won't get scorched on the bottom
fill your sink with ice water and plunge the pot into it to cool the milk to 110 F (again, use the thermometer for accuracy), making sure the water level is appoximately equal to the level of yogurt in the pot
add the cup of yogurt to the cooled milk, whisking thoroughly
cover up the pot and place it where it will maintain its temperature for 6-8 hours (I use my gas oven, off, but with the pilot light on, and it works perfectly)

after the time is up, check the yogurt: it should be thickened and somewhat tart (leave it another hour or two if you want it thicker and/or more tart). it will be NOWHERE near as thick as the final product we're making, though; first we have to drain off about half of the whey. to do that:

sterilize ALL the following equipment, including the cheesecloth (or other fabric used to strain the yogurt): colander, cheesecloth, large glass bowl, large plate
line a metal colander with a large cheesecloth or other fine, smooth fabric (I use a pillowcase that I wash with detergent and bleach each time before use), and place that lined colander in a larger glass bowl. pour the yogurt into this contraption, fold the fabric over loosely over the top of the yogurt, and cover it all with a large plate, then place this in the refrigerator. drain the yogurt for 1-3 hours, until thickened to your preference. SAVE THE WHEY! it has many many uses (my friend Charles says "SAVE THE WHEY!" would make a great bumper sticker).

scrape the thickened yogurt into sterile containers, label with the date and refrigerate. this IS the same as the yummy, thick greek-style yogurt you can buy at the store -- but now, you can control how tart it is (longer fermentation = more tart yogurt), the fat content (obviously, by choosing skim, lowfat, reduced fat or whole milk) and the thickness. it's good stuff, PERFECT for my favorite frozen yogurt recipe (that's next)!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

strawberry/greek yogurt granita

1 quart best, ripest, reddest organic strawberries, washed, dried and hulled (green tops removed)
juice and zest of 1 lemon
3/4 cup greek yogurt
1/2 cup or more sugar, to taste (I like it pretty tart, so use a little less)
tiny pinch of salt

blend it all together in a food processor fitted with an s-blade. freeze it, taking it out every 45 minutes or so to beat it smooth (I use a flat whisk for this). eat it up. heavenly.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

out-of-town prep cooking for the next few days

I’m out of town for a few days and am notoriously finicky about my food (wow, what a surprise), so went shopping late this evening and have been cooking up what I (and the folks I’m staying with) will be noshing on the next few days. at some point tonight (when the chicken’s done roasting), I’ll take a break and go to sleep so I can finish up tomorrow. so far I’ve made:

homemade ranch-style beans (SO good)
roasted chicken, pretty simply done with olive oil, salt and pepper
crème fraîche (may use part of it to make a simple ice cream/sorbetto with puréed strawberries)

still need to make:

potato salad
chicken-noodle soup out of the chicken remainders

what else should I be making? I’m only here for a few days, but it’s always nice to leave one’s hosts with food.