Monday, September 27, 2010

One Ingredient Ice Cream

It's hot out.  Oakland hit 96 today...phew!  (before you say your city was hotter, do you have air conditioning?  On days like today, I'm so thankful for my big box fan.)

When it's hot, I don't want to cook.  I don't want to turn on my stove or oven and add heat to my top floor apartment.  I just want ice cream!  And I learned a recipe earlier this summer for a very surprising, one ingredient ice cream.  This recipe has changed my life -- be prepared: all you need is a banana!

Seriously...just one banana, a freezer and a blender or food processor.  (And if you want, peanut butter, nutella, chocolate chips, or whatever else you want to add...but then it becomes more than one ingredient, and I'm going to keep it simple for you right now...)

Honestly, when I first read this recipe, I couldn't believe it.  Ice cream out of a banana?  There is no milk!  There is no cream!  Heck, there is no ice!!  No messy rock salt, no bulky ice cream maker.  Just. A. Banana. Believe it!

And believe me, this "ice cream" is so incredibly thick and creamy, you have no idea that it's just a banana!  This recipe is the best secret weapon for ice cream that is actually guilt-free.  You're just eating a banana!

Ok, onto the recipe.  This will be very informal because there aren't any complex directions here.  Take one banana (or more, depending on how many people you want to serve).  I like bananas that are starting to get spotty, but aren't yet at banana bread ripeness.  I've also made this with plain yellow bananas and it's been good every time.

Slice the banana into slices like you would to top your cereal (about 1/4 inch thick, but really there's no precision here).  Put the slices onto a plate and then stick the whole plate into the freezer for at least an hour.  (I like to leave it in for about 2 hours, but on nights like tonight, 1 hour can't go by fast enough!!)

After the pieces are nice and frozen, take a knife and scrape them off the plate and into your blender or food processor.

Turn on your blender or food processor and blend until creamy.

Scrape the "ice cream" out and into a bowl.  At this point, you can stir in additional ingredients if you want (in addition to the list above, you could add blueberries, honey, granola...use your imagination!)

Enjoy your delicious, homemade "ice cream" mmmmmmm!

p.s. my very good friend Traci has been very active in her kitchen lately, and has agreed to share with you some of her recent cooking adventures.  She will be posting soon on Pacific Thyme, so look forward to that!

Thursday, September 9, 2010


When you read as many food blogs as I do, you have been overwhelmed by everyone making macarons.  You've read horror stories (they didn't have feet! they cracked! they stuck to the pan!), you've been wowed by a rainbow of colors, and you have been seriously tempted to try making them yourself, but you are intimidated by how finicky they seem to be, and you also don't have a kitchen scale.  (Ok, so that last part is probably just me, but luckily I was able to borrow one quite easily).  But if you aren't totally wrapped up in the food blog community, you are probably thinking (as EVERYONE i gave these cookies to did) what the heck are macarons??

No, they are not macaroons. There is only one "o," and yes, it makes a difference :P

Macarons are a French cookie, known for their hard shells, merengue-like interiors, and of course, their variety of colors and flavors.  So, in a totally boring (yet totally delicious!) fashion, I picked chocolate for my first attempt at macarons.  They definitely didn't turn out perfectly, but I was really happy with the results anyway, and everyone thought they were delicious.  I took lots of pictures of the process so that you can follow along at home :)

Chocolate Macarons with Chocolate Ganache
recipe from Annie's Eats

For the macarons:
  • 110 gm blanched slivered almonds
  • 200 gm minus 2 tbsp. confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 tbsp. cocoa powder
  • 100 gm egg whites (from about 3 eggs), aged at room temperature for 12-24 hours (I aged mine for 3 hours, because I am super lazy and forgot to put them out earlier!....but they still turned out really well!)
  • 50 gm granulated sugar
For the chocolate ganache:
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 1 tbsp. granulated sugar
  • 4 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • (you can add 1 1/2 tsp espresso powder if you are a coffee lover.  i omitted this ingredient)
1. Weigh the almonds, then pulse them in the bowl of a food processor until finely ground. Then add the confectioner's sugar and cocoa

2. In a large bowl, whip the egg whites on medium-high speed until foamy.

3.Gradually add the granulated sugar and continue beating until a smooth, shiny meringue with stiff peaks forms.

4. Add the ground almond mixture to the bowl with the meringue and quickly but gently fold together using a rubber spatula until no streaks remain.  You want to achieve a thick batter that ribbons or flows from the spatula when lifted. You may feel like you are over-mixing, but keep going until the batter really flows.

5. Line two baking sheets with silicone baking mats (if you have them...I have only one baking sheet and one silpat, so I employed the technique: "squeeze as many macarons as possible onto one silpat!" Then I put the remaining batter onto a small baking sheet lined with parchment paper).  Transfer the batter to a piping bag fitted with a plain wide round tip.  Pipe into small rounds on the prepared baking sheets (each round should be about 1-1½ inches in diameter), spaced about 1 inch apart (unless you use my squeeze technique, then really these macarons are about 1/4 inch apart, if that!).

6. Let sit at room temperature for about an hour to develop a hard shell.  During the hour of sitting, make the ganache: put the heavy cream, butter and sugar in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Place the chopped chocolate in a small heatproof bowl. Bring the cream mixture to a simmer, remove from the heat and pour over the chocolate. Let stand 2 minutes, then whisk gently in small circular motions until the ganache forms. Let the mixture cool until it is thick.  (To speed chilling, transfer the bowl to the freezer or refrigerator and let cool, stirring every 10 minutes, until thickened.)

7. Preheat the oven to 300˚F. Bake for 8-10 minutes, depending on size [NOTE! I actually baked mine for 15 minutes, and wish I had baked them for 20, but some were starting to crack...  don't be afraid of baking them for longer than 10 minutes]. Transfer the pans to a wire cooling rack and let cool completely before moving the cookies. (get excited if your cookies have "feet" like the ones shown below!)

8. GENTLY remove the cookies from the pans. THIS IS A DIFFICULT PROCESS. Be prepared to lose a lot of cookies :( Mine stuck a LOT to the parchment paper, and many even stuck to the silpat. Here is a picture of the casualties:

Conversely, here are the cookies that were perfectly removed from the silpat (MUCH fewer! haha)

9. With a knife, spread the ganache onto one side of a cookie, and sandwich with another matching size cookie.

And guess what...those cookies with less-than-perfect bottoms...totally hidden under the layer of ganache!! Look at all of the cookies I salvaged! :)


Sunday, September 5, 2010

The Return of Pacific Thyme (and Roasted Garbanzo Beans)

Wow, it has been a while since the last post on Pacific Thyme.  So long, in fact, that my browser doesn't auto-complete the address when I start to type it.... sad days.  I have had several people ask me lately if this blog was totally dead, enough people where I thought, geez, I really need to do a post if I actually want to keep this up!  So here we are.  This is Labor Day weekend, I have moved into a new apartment (with a kitchen I love to cook in!) and I am spending this Sunday evening getting a little carried away :)

What does that mean, exactly?  Well, it means that I am making several things that have been on my "make this asap!" list, and asap turned into....never.  These things include Garlic Knot Dinner RollsBanana 'Ice Cream', chocolate chip cookies (...because I have all necessary ingredients and am on a roll, ok?) and the thing I am most excited about: Roasted Garbanzo Beans!

I don't know if I mentioned this before, but garbanzo beans are, hands down, one of my favorite foods.  I tried a recipe for roasted garbanzo beans once before, but the recipe called for dried beans soaked overnight in water, then roasting them, but that was a lot of pre-planning (which I rarely do when I cook) so I wasn't keen on making that dish over and over again. But then I found this recipe, using canned garbanzo beans (which I ALWAYS have on hand), and knew I had to try it.  And it was so unbelievably simple, I can't make any excuses _not_ to share it with you.  If you have a can of garbanzo beans, some olive oil, salt and spices, then you are 45 minutes away from a very tasty and addicting snack :)

Roasted Garbanzo Beans
from Steamy Kitchen

  • 1 Can of Garbanzo Beans
  • A drizzle of olive oil
  • Salt
  • Spice of your choice (I used chili powder)
1. Preheat the oven to 400 deg F.
2. Empty the can of garbanzo beans into a colander and rinse them.

3. Pour the beans onto a baking sheet lined with a paper towel.  With another paper towel on top, gently rub with circular motions to dry the beans and remove any skins.

4. Once the beans are dry, remove the paper towels and drizzle a small amount of olive oil over them, and spread it around so that they are evenly coated.
5. Bake in the oven for 30-40 minutes, until golden brown and crispy.

6. Sprinkle salt and spice(s) on the beans
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