Banana Buttermilk Ice Cream

This is probably the easiest ice cream anyone could ever make – your not heating ingredients, whisking constantly, or straining anything. It’s also one of the tastiest treats you will ever have! The tang from the buttermilk, and the sweet/fruitiness from the ripe bananas.

This ice cream was inspired by the leftover buttermilk from cookies I had made over the weekend, and the sad bananas I needed to use. Muffins were out of the question since I made them last week, I didn’t have enough butter for banana cream pie…and I didn’t want to make a plain banana ice cream. So think of this ice cream after you’ve made red velvet cake and have buttermilk sitting around for a week – because it’s a wonderful new way to utilize it.

Oh! Also, the reason for the photo of the Phalaenopsis orchid – I actually purchased a few flowerless/sickly looking orchids that I have been nursing back to health, one of which was actually broken in half.  The one pictured was actually dehydrated and needed repotting – and within weeks I started to get new growth and buds – then yesterday morning this gorgeous orchid bloomed! So I just wanted to share that news!

Banana Buttermilk Ice Cream – 1 quart
5 large egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
2 cups well-shaken buttermilk
5-6 small ripe bananas

In a large bowl, combine egg yolks and sugar. Use an electric hand mixer to whisk yolks and sugar until pale and thick. On low speed, add buttermilk, and whisk until fully combined. Peel and mash the bananas until smooth, stir into buttermilk mixture.

Freeze buttermilk mixture in an ice cream maker according to instructions (about 45 minutes). Then transfer to an airtight container and place in the freezer for at least 4 hours before serving.

Enjoy this tangy sweet treat!

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Perciatelli with Veggie Ragout

Perciatelli noodles are neat looking noodles, they resemble straws, and it’s pretty rare you get to use them and really enjoy what they can offer – unless you are cooking them in a bottle of red wine! With this dish the perciatelli gets tossed into the veggie ragout, where it can take in some of the juices given off by the veggies.

But if you can’t get your hands on any – use spaghetti noodles.

Perciatelli with Veggie Ragout – 4 servings
1 pound perciatelli
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 large carrots, thinly sliced
1/2 onion, minced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup baby bella (crimini) mushrooms, sliced
1 cup chicken stock (or vegetable stock)
1 tablespoon thyme leaves
14 1/2 oz can of diced tomatoes, drained
1 cup dry white wine
2 small zucchini, sliced 1/4-inch thick
2 small summer squash, sliced 1/4-inch thick
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Handful of basil, chiffonade
1 cup ricotta, or more

Cook perciatelli according to instructions, drain and pour cold water over, drain again and set aside.

In a large saute pan, over medium heat, warm olive oil. Saute carrots until tender, add shallots and garlic. Reduce heat to medium low, cook until soft. Add the sliced mushrooms, cook to release liquids. Then add tomatoes, 1/2 the stock and thyme, and cook until stock evaporates.

In the saute pan with the veggies, add the zucchini, squash, tomatoes and wine – add the remaining stock, bring to simmer and add the basil, cover and cook until tender. Add pasta, toss to coat, remove from heat.

Divide pasta and veggies into 4 warm individual bowls, top each bowl with 1/4 cup crumbled ricotta and serve.

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Happy Cooking!

Strawberry Cupcakes

I know my niece Amira really loves strawberries so I have been working on a strawberry cupcake that she could make with my sister! Since the cupcake is red, the frosting is better off white, or according to John, it would be cuter in green, piped as leaves across the top of the cupcake.

Strawberry Cupcake – 10 large cupcakes
1 1/2 cups sifted flour
1/2 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 cup seedless strawberry jam
1 tablespoon red gel food coloring
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg
8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1/2 cup), room temperature
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 pound confectioner’s sugar, sifted
1/2 teaspoon strawberry extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare a muffin pan, with liners and set aside.

Whisk sifted flour, baking powder and Kosher salt in bowl, set aside. In another bowl whisk together milk, jam, red gel food coloring. In a larger third bowl beat together sugar, oil, vanilla extract, and the egg until the mixture is pale and smooth. Add the red mixture of ingredients into the other wet ingredients. Mix in the dry ingredients until combined. Using an ice cream scoop, scoop the batter into a muffin pan, and bake for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool cupcakes in pan.

To make the frosting, beat the butter and cream cheese until smooth. Add the confectioner’s sugar and strawberry extract (add green gel food coloring)- beat until smooth. Frost the cupcakes, and refrigerate for about an hour.

This is perfect to serve with tea after lunch.

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Rocket Pesto & Pasta Salad

The lovely thing about this pesto is that it’s not just all about the basil, it’s got a kick from fresh arugula, and tastes delicious with everything. It’s amazing on a turkey burger with provolone, with pasta and peas (below), or even spread on garlicky crostinis topped with a thin slice of tomato.

Also, I recommend storing the pesto in a glass jar, top with a little olive oil, tightly seal, and keep it refrigerated for up to 3 days.

Rocket Pesto about 1 1/2 cups pesto
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup fresh basil leaves, loosely packed
3 cups fresh arugula, loosely packed
1/2 cup grated pecorino Romano cheese
1/3 cup pine nuts (or walnuts)
2 garlic cloves, peeled
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon peel
2 tablespoons lukewarm water
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

In the bowl of a food processor pour 1/2 cup oil and next 6 ingredients in processor. Process until you have a thick paste. With the motor running, add remaining 1/4 cup oil and 2 tablespoons water to the processor, this will loosen pesto. Continue to blend until smooth. Season the pesto to taste with salt and pepper.

For Rocket Pesto Pasta:
Prepare desired amount of rotini according to box instructions, when the rotini is al dente, add handful of frozen garden peas, for each serving, into the pot. Strain the pasta and peas, cool for a few miuntes. Toss with a little pesto at a time, making sure all pasta gets coated, and serve as a side dish. Add crumbled bacon or crispy pancetta for a salty treat.