Cooking with Jason

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Ice Cream, Take Three

Last time out I used the following:
8 oz mascarpone
2 C whole milk
1 C sugar
1 ea vanilla bean

I personally don't like it as much as the initial batch of mascarpone ice cream, but it's still pretty good. Texture is just a slight step down (it's still creamy and spoonable, but with a few small ice crystals here and there) from the original, and light years ahead of the first (non-mascarpone) stuff I made. Flavor is good, slightly less mascarpone-y as you might imagine. It also wasn't as rich, an added bonus as the first batch was doing a number on Luke's diapers, if you catch my drift. Moving on.

If I were making mascarpone ice cream for a restaurant, a dinner party, or just for myself, I'd definitely go with the 8 oz mascarpone, 1 C whole milk version. Given that my goal in this was to create a product for Luke, however, I think the version with two cups of milk is a better choice, and it's also more cost-effective.

Next up -- flavors! Woo! I'll probably start with some sort of berry.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

This stuff rocks!

The mascarpone ice cream is incredible (well, it *was* incredible -- we ate it all). I do think it'd be a bit of a misnomer to call it vanilla ice cream, however, because it does have a very strong mascarpone taste. That's not a bad thing -- personally I think it tastes better than vanilla ice cream. Most impressive, though, is the texture. Despite lacking eggs, the texture is nearly identical to that of traditional ice cream. Even after several days in the freezer, it's still creamy and spoonable rather than hard as a rock.

Next up, I'm going to increase the quantity of milk (to two cups) while keeping the same amount of mascarpone, hopefully cutting down on the mascarpone flavor a bit. It's not that I don't like the mascarpone flavor, but I'd like it to taste more like vanilla. Assuming that works out, we can move on to the wonderful world of flavors. Woo.

Also, a quick note -- I'm back at Canlis through the end of August, back on the old veg station. The restaurant is waaay busier than it was on extern. Gone are the days of 75 or 80 covers on Tuesday and Wednesday... I worked last week, Tuesday through Saturday, and we pushed 200 Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, topped it on Friday, and pushed 300 on Saturday. Wow.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Ice Cream, Take Two


I thought I was soooo smart, coming up with the idea of using mascarpone in my eggless ice cream. But a quick Google search revealed all sorts of recipes for mascarpone ice cream, some with eggs and some without. In any event, I guess I'm not all that smart... but I stand by the fact that I did come up with the idea on my own, even if it's not some wonderful innovation.

The first hit that got my attention was here, at a site called The Cheese Diaries. This mix of mascarpone, simple syrup, and lemon juice comes to us from Alain Ducasse, via the great Thomas Keller. I decided not to go with this recipe (seems weird to reject a Keller recipe, I know) for a few reasons. First, 2.5 cups of simple syrup seems like an awful lot for one pound of mascarpone. Second, I don't like the idea of using water instead of milk, because it seems like the rock-hard texture would be an even bigger issue than with cream (or even milk). Finally, I had already decided that mascarpone, whole milk, sugar, and a vanilla bean were the way to go. But how much of each?

Fortunately, I came across this recipe, complete with picture. Eight ounces mascarpone, one cup milk, three-quarters cup sugar. And of course my prized vanilla bean. (Yes, if this one bombs I'll happily defer to Keller.)

Into a small saucepot went the milk, sugar (I'm using plain old granulated, not superfine, but the heat should eliminate any graininess), and scraped vanilla bean (pod too). That steeped over very low heat for about half an hour, then went into the fridge to cool. Tomorrow, that'll be blended with the mascarpone (minus the pod, of course) and then transferred to the ice cream maker. Stay tuned!

Ice Cream Report

The final product was pretty good for a first attempt, but far from great. After freezing the ice cream in the machine, it went into the freezer. I stirred it every hour to help with even freezing. We ate it after about four hours, which turned out to be a good thing, as it was still relatively creamy (if a bit soft). The flavor was surprisingly good for vanilla extract as opposed to a real vanilla bean, and it didn't have the "coat your mouth with fat" problem I've read about with eggless ice cream.

The big problem with this ice cream comes when you try to eat it the next day and it's hard as a rock. I also found that the flavor diminished over time -- it was OK on day 2, so-so on day 3, and non-existant by day 4.

Final verdict: This particular recipe is pretty good, and best if you eat it the same day. Luke, who isn't nearly as particular as I am about these sorts of things, loved the ice cream each time he ate it as you can see from the pictures below.

Next up: Luke and I will make another batch this weekend. I'm going to try mascarpone as my secret ingredient... it's rich and creamy while being essentially flavor neutral. I think mascarpone coupled with a real vanilla bean will make a big difference in both texture and flavor. Given mascarpone's fat content, I'm thinking mascarpone, whole milk (as opposed to heavy cream or half-and-half), sugar, and the vanilla bean -- nice and simple. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Jason on TV

This isn't cooking related, and if you know me you probably already know about this, but I was on local TV here in Seattle over the weekend on a sports show called "Q It Up Sports." Two other guys I write with over at the good ship USS Mariner and I were on for a pair of five-minute segments, talking about the Mariners. You can check it out over on YouTube.