String Bean, Arugula and Pasta Salad

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Back at work after baby has unfortunately led to a decrease in cooking.  When you only get to make something blogworthy about once a week, it is hard to find time to take pictures, edit, and write the post.  With a lot more to juggle now, cooking has taken a turn toward simpler recipes.  Recipes that can be put on the table quickly or prepared ahead of time are key now.  With a teacher husband who has an early lunch period and an almost two year old who wants dinner by 5:30pm, it’s all about fast or they get crabby!

This salad does require a few steps, BUT they can be done in advance.  You could easily cook the pasta an the beans the day before.  The cheese can be grated and shredded ahead of time, and even the dressing could be mixed the day before.  Leaving you only to compose the salad before you’re ready to eat!  This salad is hearty enough for meal in my opinion, but it will pair well with any meat you throw on the grill.

String Bean, Arugula and Pasta Salad, adapted from Martha Stewart

String Bean, Arugula and Pasta Salad

Ingredients

  • 4 ounces green beans, trimmed
  • 4 ounces yellow wax beans, trimmed
  • Coarse salt
  • 1 pound curved, dried pasta, such as conchiglie, orecchiette, or other medium curved shapes
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (from about 2 lemons)
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 ounce pine nuts, toasted and coarsely chopped (1/4 cup)
  • 1 1/2 ounces Parmesan cheese, 1/2 ounce finely grated (1/2 cup), 1 ounce shaved with a vegetable peeler (1/2 cup)
  • about 2 ounces (2 cups) baby arugula

Instructions

Prepare an ice-water bath.

Cook green and wax beans in a large pot of boiling salted water until tender, about 4 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer beans to ice-water bath until cool, reserving water in pot. Drain beans, and cut into 2-inch-long pieces.

Add pasta to the reserved boiling water, and cook until al dente. Drain and spread on a rimmed baking sheet. Refrigerate for 10 minutes. Transfer chilled pasta to a large serving dish.

Whisk lemon zest and juice and 3/4 teaspoon salt. Season with pepper. Add oil in a slow, steady stream, whisking until emulsified. Drizzle over pasta, and toss until well coated.

Add beans, pine nuts, and grated Parmesan. Toss until evenly distributed. Just before serving, fold in arugula, and top with shaved Parmesan.

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Double Vanilla Ice Cream

double vanilla ice cream

National Ice Cream month may be coming to an end, but that does not mean that ice cream season is over by any means.  We have a good month (maybe two) left of warm, ice cream-loving weather!  (Unless you’re like me and make ice cream all year long.)

One of my favorite products is Nielsen Massey vanilla bean paste.  It’s all the goodness and look of vanilla beans, but without the work!  For this recipe, I decided to double up on the vanilla using the paste and the Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla extract.  It gave this ice cream a great vanilla kick by combining the two.  I’m a big fan of cream base for ice cream.  This base recipe is my new go-to, and it’s a perfect place to start with any flavor you want to make.  It’s hard to beat a perfect vanilla though!

Double Vanilla Ice Cream, adapted from Sweet Cream and Sugar Cones

Double Vanilla Ice Cream

Ingredients

  • 5 large egg yolks
  • 1 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 3/4 cup 1% or 2% milk
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon Nielsen Massey vanilla bean paste
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions

In a medium heatproof bowl, whisk the yolks just to break them up, then whisk in the 1/4 cup of the sugar. Set aside.

In a heavy nonreactive saucepan, stir together the cream, milk, other 1/4 cup of sugar, and salt and put the pan over medium-high heat. When the mixture approaches a bare simmer, reduce the heat to medium.

Carefully scoop out about 1/2 cup of the hot cream mixture and, whisking the eggs constantly, add the cream to the bowl with the egg yolks. Repeat, adding another 1/2 cup of the hot cream to the bowl with the yolks. Using a heatproof rubber spatula, stir the cream in the saucepan as you slowly pour the egg-and-cream mixture from the bowl into the pan.

Cook the mixture carefully over medium heat, stirring constantly, until it is thickened, coats the back of a spatula, and holds a clear path when you run your finger across the spatula, 1 to 2 minutes longer.

Strain the base through a fine-mesh strainer into a clean container. Set the container into an ice-water bath, wash your spatula, and use it to stir the base occasionally until it is cool. Remove the container from the ice-water bath, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate the base for at least 2 hours or overnight.

Add the vanilla to the chilled base and stir until blended.

Freeze in your ice cream machine according to the manufacturer's instructions.

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Jeni’s Backyard Mint Ice Cream

jenis backyard mintEven though I missed posting this recipe for National Ice Cream Day on Sunday, doesn’t mean you should miss making this ice cream.  It has a nice, subtle mint flavor that is perfectly refreshing for a hot summer day.  And since it’s expected to go upwards of 90 degrees in Chicago today, I see no reason why you shouldn’t make yourself some!  If you don’t have time to make this though, go get yourself a couple of scoops at Jeni’s newest outpost in Chicago on Southport and Roscoe.  I had the pleasure of going there a couple of weeks ago.  I tried the Roasted Cherry and Goat Cheese, and a Browned Butter with Almond Brittle.  Seriously, “browned butter” – how could you not order that?!  Both were fantastic, and I have definitely put them on my list to make because both recipes are in her cookbook!

It’s a great way to use up some of that mint you have growing out of control in your backyard right now.  By the way, it is always a good idea to grow that mint in a container, because it WILL take over your garden if you do not.  This ice cream actually had such a subtle mint flavor, I might increase the amount I use the next time.  I let mine steep in the milk/cream mixture overnight, but feel free to adjust that to your own personal preferences or time constraints.  This ice cream would also be great with some dark chocolate thrown into it!  I have found that there is nothing wrong with adding chocolate to most ice cream flavors. :)

Jeni’s Backyard Mint, from Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home

Jeni’s Backyard Mint Ice Cream

Ingredients

  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1 1/2 ounces cream cheese, softened (about 3 tablespoons)
  • 1 1/4 cups heavy cream
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped mint leaves (or more, depending on your minty preference)
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

Instructions

Fill a large bowl with ice water. In a small bowl, mix 2 tablespoons of the milk with the cornstarch. In another large bowl, whisk the cream cheese until smooth.

In a large saucepan, combine the remaining milk with the heavy cream, sugar and corn syrup. Bring the milk mixture to a boil and cook over moderate heat until the sugar dissolves, about 4 minutes. Off the heat, gradually whisk in the cornstarch mixture. Return to a boil and cook over moderately high heat until the mixture is slightly thickened, about 1 minute.

Gradually whisk the hot milk mixture into the cream cheese until smooth. Add the chopped mint. Whisk in the salt. Set the bowl in the ice water bath and let stand, stirring occasionally, until cold, about 20 minutes. (or refrigerate overnight)

Strain the ice cream base into an ice cream maker, pressing the mint leaves with the back of a spoon to extract all of the flavor, and freeze according to the manufacturer's instructions. Pack the ice cream into a plastic container.

Press a sheet of plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the ice cream and close with an airtight lid. Freeze the mint ice cream until firm, about 4 hours.

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