Lemon-Lavender Frozen Yogurt

Lemon-Lavender Frozen Yogurt

Lemon-Lavender Frozen Yogurt

The sun peaked out a bit and the temperature neared 70°F (gasp) today signaling that it was time for me to break out the ice cream maker. The poor thing has been patiently waiting in the freezer since last October.

By now it’s well-known that I have dairy issues and try to stay away from dairy-laden recipes (see Mint Chocolate Chip Soy Ice Cream). But every once in a while I throw caution to the wind, pop a few Lactaid, and live on the edge.

That brings us to today’s successful (and Friday’s failed) experiment of making a refreshingly tart frozen yogurt. My goal was to create a very simple recipe where you wouldn’t need to cook, puree, infuse, strain or chill anything.

Fresh lemon juice Infuse lavender in lemon juice Strain lemon-lavender juice

Well, let’s just say I came close and the cooking, straining and chilling are optional. Basically, I just couldn’t get the idea of light and refreshing lemon-lavender frozen yogurt out of my head.

I first tried making this with fat-free yogurt into which I mixed in mint extract, lemon juice, minced dried lavender and honey. It was a big fat failure. The mint overpowered all other flavors and the texture of the dried lavender was awful.

Today’s attempt was much better and still very simple. If you want to avoid those few extra steps then simply omit the lavender, but I think it adds a nice, fragrant touch and makes this frozen yogurt a bit more special.

Flavor yogurt with honey Pour yogurt mixture into ice cream maker Yogurt after 30 minutes churning

Also don’t be afraid to play with the flavors and sweeteners to fit your mood. Amounts don’t have to be exact either so long as you’re careful not to add too much liquid. Taste the mixture before pouring it into the ice cream maker and adjust the seasonings, just remember that cold subdues flavor so make the batter a bit stronger than you’d ideally like.

Here’s the recipe:

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Garlic Scapes Abound: Parisienne Gnocchi with Garlic Scape Pesto

Parisienne Gnocchi with Garlic Scape Almond Pesto

Parisienne Gnocchi with Garlic Scape Pesto

About six months ago I began compiling a list of recipes I wanted to make that I thought the blog readers (as in YOU) would enjoy. Some I’d made before, some were inspired by dishes I’d tried in restaurants, and some were simply recipes I’d come across in magazines.

This recipe for Parisienne gnocchi was at the top of the list. I had only made it once before in culinary school but it stuck with me because of how simple it was to prepare and how great and versatile the flavors were.

Parisienne gnocchi: boil water and butter Parisienne gnocchi: mix in flour Parisienne gnocchi: pâte à choux dough

Parisienne gnocchi: blend in eggs Parisienne gnocchi: add herbs and cheese Parisienne gnocchi: blend all ingredients

I remember being surprised when I first read the recipe years ago. “This isn’t gnocchi,” was my reaction, seeing as it wasn’t made from potatoes like traditional Italian gnocchi is. I later learned that Parisienne gnocchi is made from a pâte à choux dough, similar to one used in profiteroles or cream puffs, and yields light and fluffy dumplings that are just delicious.

Today I finally got the courage to tackle my shelf of overstuffed  binders leftover from my culinary schools days and found the recipe. I didn’t change it aside from substituting minced garlic scapes and basil for tarragon and chives, but basically you can use any combination of fresh herbs (I’m thinking rosemary and mint next time).

Parisienne gnocchi: pipe gnocchi into simmering water Parisienne gnocchi: drain gnocchi Parisienne gnocchi: dry

Parisienne gnocchi: saute with mushrooms Parisienne gnocchi: deglaze with cooking liquid Parisienne gnocchi: mix in pesto

In case you’re not familiar with them, garlic scapes are green curly stalks that grow from the garlic bulb. Farmer’s cut them off so that the garlic bulbs can continue to grow and become plump. They’re only available for a short time in the Spring and have a strong garlic flavor that isn’t as potent as the bulbs.

This really is a terrific recipe. I served it with Dorie Greenspan’s Garlic Scape and Almond Pesto (I’d bought a big bag of garlic scapes at the farmer’s market), but feel free to use any type of light sauce (i.e. white wine, butter, etc.). However, I really liked the gnocchi with the pesto, especially because I used garlic scapes in both. The garlic flavor of Dorie’s pesto was strong but not harsh, and it helped to thin out the pesto with equal parts gnocchi cooking liquid.

Garlic Scapes Parisienne gnocchi: minced garlic scapes Basil plant

Garlic scape pesto: blend dry ingredients Garlic scape pesto: process all ingredients Garlic Scape Pesto

And the best part is most of the work can be done in advance, making Parisienne Gnocchi with Garlic Scape Pesto ideal for entertaining! The gnocchi even freezes well.

Here are the recipes:

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Chive Blossom & Lemon Pasta

Chive Blossom & Lemon Pasta

Chive Blossom & Lemon Pasta

Here’s something I don’t see everyday in the grocery store: chive blossoms. I discovered these edible lavender flowers that grow on chive stalks during a recent visit to the farmers market. Maybe they’re nothing new to you, but I’ve never used them before.

Chive blossoms

Minced chives Fresh squeezed lemon juice

And it turns out they’re a great find. In addition to adding color, like regular chives they have a mild onion flavor and are best served raw as a garnish to a hot dish or sprinkled on a salad.

My goal was to create a recipe that would showcase the chives in both aesthetics and flavor, which was accomplished with chive blossom and lemon pasta. The pasta provided a neutral backdrop while the lemon complimented the subtle onion flavor of the chives, and the whole dish was rounded out by the savory Parmesan cheese.

Pasta & chive blossoms Closeup: chive blossom & lemon pasta

I also made this crispy roast chicken to eat with the pasta, and this time used minced chives as the herb that is mixed in at the end.

Here’s the recipe:

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Recipe: Seared Sea Scallops & Purple Asparagus

Seared Sea Scallops with Purple Asparagus, White Wine Sauce & Balsamic Glaze

Seared Sea Scallops with Purple Asparagus, White Wine Sauce & Balsamic Glaze

When cooking for myself I rarely go to the grocery store with a specific list of ingredients. Yes, of course I have an idea of what I want, like if I’m out of yogurt or my favorite dark chocolate raisins. But I usually try to buy what looks good, and hopefully what’s on special.

Purple asparagus stalks

Blanch purple asparagus Shock and drain purple asparagus Reduce balsamic vinegar

Yesterday I went to Whole Foods just to see what was new. I’m happy I did because I discovered large dry-packed scallops, something I don’t see too often, at least not at an affordable price. I purchased eight scallops (about 5 ounces) with no plan on how I would prepare them. But I knew the farmer’s market was coming up so I decided to wait and see what I’d find, then decide what to do.

Pat sea scallops dry Heat the olive oil and butter Sear the scallops

Luckily I discovered some beautiful purple asparagus, a great match for scallops. Purple asparagus is a little sweeter and slightly more tender than traditional green asparagus but turns brilliant green once cooked.

I gave a lot of thought to this meal: I wanted it to be fairly healthy. I wanted to highlight the natural sweetness of the asparagus and scallops. And I wanted the dish to be special but not too complicated.

Check. Check. Check.

Please don’t be intimidated by the plating; the whole dish takes just 20 minutes but presents and tastes like it came from a high-end restaurant. Here’s the recipe:

Reheat asparagus with garlic and shallots Make sauce with white wine and butter Asparagus shavings

Shave thick asparagus stalks

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A Plate of Cauliflower for Dinner

cauliflower

Surprise! I like cauliflower!

This is a relatively new statement for me, but I love vegetables. I didn’t always, and mainly I think that was because I was exposed to so few of them as a child and the ones I did eat were either steamed and mushy (AKA: nasty) or served raw with dip.

I love my parents and they sometimes reads this blog, so please understand that I’m not writing this to hurt or embarass them. But the truth is that thier idea of a vegetable with dinner was either a baked potato or boxed mashed potatoes with frozen peas or corn, or maybe broccoli once in a while. Not bad, just not exciting and no real variety.

Raw cauliflower

Raw cauliflower

And the vegetables we were given at school were worse: the mushed up steamed medley of carrots, cauliflower and broccoli. Gag! (Sadly, I was served this “medley” just last week at a restaurant; I can’t believe “chefs” are still able to get away with this). I can’t stand cooked carrots to this day unless pureed into a soup and I almost never eat cauliflower.

As an adult and culinary explorer I’ve greatly expanded my repetoire of vegetables, usually buying whatever looks best. I eat spinach, asparagus, bell peppers, bok choy, kale, Swiss chard, eggplant (still a bit sparingly), mushrooms, zucchini, etc… Heck, I even tried bitter melon last summer!

Chopped cauliflower in the skillet (kind of looks like popcorn, doesn't it?)

Chopped cauliflower in the skillet (looks like popcorn, right?)

But one vegetable I still shy away from is cauliflower. I successfully experimented with it a bit last winter (see Almond-Cauliflower Soup), but to be honest I’ll like anything if it’s pureed into a soup – yes, I have a tremendous weakness for soup!

So you can imagine my surprise last week when I started drooling – yes, drooling – over a photo of “Simple Cauliflower” on the blog 101 Cookbooks (check out the original post for more flavor ideas). I couldn’t get it out of my head for days, so I finally gave in and decided to make it. Luckily the recipe wasn’t much of an investment as the only ingredient I didn’t have on hand was the cauliflower, and I wasn’t expecting to like it.

Mix chives and lemon zest with cooked cauliflower

Mix chives and lemon zest with cooked cauliflower

Surprise again! I liked it, so much so that I ate the entire dish as an entree for dinner! I won’t go so far as to say this is my new favorite meal or anything, but it was enjoyable.

Now I can confidentally add cauliflower to the list of vegetables I like. I doubt it’ll ever be my favorite, but at least now know I can cook it and enjoy the results.

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