Sunday, February 26, 2012

Lack of Range

I knew I had a lot of things to get up and get going, and that they needed to be done at particular times so I'd have dinner. I started - of course - with dessert. Life is uncertain: make it first. In this case, because it was ice cream that needed to freeze.

I was a bit dubious about this recipe, as it was the first ice cream I'd encountered in a while where you simply mix the ingredient upfront, rather than warming the dairy, tempering the eggs, and then mixing them in. I decided to go with it as written on the possibility that the use of cake batter might change the consistency rules. Still not sure whether that was the right choice or not, as I did get a few pieces of cooked egg - which didn't affect the product in the slightest.

Final verdict (ice cream): Reviewers who said this really does rival Coldstone Creamery's take aren't kidding. For something so simple, this is amazingly good - and unlike other ice creams I've made, the ingredient proportions were perfect. Highly recommended.

Next, started on the muffins - which, ironically, is the first recipe I'm making from my cupcake calendar. I had high hopes for this, with lots of buttermilk, coffee, and pine nuts ... what could go wrong? This recipe starts with a quick preparation of a tiny bit of coffee with milk, which is added to beaten eggs and buttermilk and ... guess what? The recipe gives no clue as to where the butter is supposed to go. So I took my best stab that it would probably go in with these ingredients.

Failure of quantity: the recipe claimed a dozen muffins, but by the time I had filled my waiting pan (I had chosen to use cupcake liners rather than grease the pan), I still had a good third of the mixture left. Dug out a second cupcake pan, had no more liners, and decided to go for greasing these. Interestingly, while the taste was identical, the ones done in the greased pan were a good half inch shorter. I know my liners weren't that thick.

Final verdict (muffins): These were just so-so. They are moist and mild flavored, but they just didn't grab me. Toasting the pine nuts might have improved it, but not that much.

Dual mise en place for the bow ties and minestrone - a small amount of chopping, grating and gathering of ingredients so I didn't have to go flying about the kitchen. Unfortunately, I missed one crucial step: I forgot to count the number of burners needed. When you need a dutch oven, a pasta pot, and a large skillet at the time ... something's got to give. In this case, what "gave" is that I finished the pasta entire and did the skillet step - which was really fairly fast - on the same burner ... but before that, I had to squeeze a smaller skillet onto the burner behind the pasta pot. Dangerous actions.

Set myself behind schedule-wise because I turned on the wrong burner for the dutch oven, but once I got it going, it cooked up quite fast. I found that, with the exception of the vegetables (for obvious reasons), the other steps went faster than advertised. I flipped the burner down to low and left the soup for a bit longer.

The pasta could not have been simpler, either: aforementioned mini-skillet for the shallots and thyme, and then the large skillet to heat the milk, melt the cheese, and meld it all together.

Final verdict (soup): Rich, hearty, not overpowering on the tomato, with just enough broth to be soupy and enough flavor to satisfy. I can still count on one hand the number of Giada's recipes that have left me wanting, honestly!

Final verdict (bow ties): Sharp and tangy, this is a great recipe for a side dish. For a main dish, I would want a protein. Recommended - chicken.

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