Saturday, June 30, 2007

The Last Friday in June

Friday nights usually mean dinner with my great uncle and aunt. Now that my grandparents are in town, our recent dining expeditions to hit the best new restaurants, as named by a magazine, are on hold. Instead it means we're back to good ol' home cooking.

Yesterday I was finally able to try a batch of ice cream, since on my birthday, which my mom was going to get me an ice cream maker for, she found the old one hidden behind a cappuccino machine and some silver trays. I checked out some books from the library, and tried my hand at a hazelnut gelato. Not the easiest thing to make, but I figured, if I was going to use an ice cream maker, why not make something that is worth the effort (it was either going to be that or what sounded like it would be like eating a dark chocolate bar- but in ice cream form). Uncle Larry voted for hazelnut when I saw him yesterday for lunch, so hazelnut it was. The gelato started with hazelnut milk (whole milk that was steeped in toasted, skinned hazelnuts, pureed, and strained through cheesecloth) that was then mixed with cream, egg yolks, sugar, vanilla extract, and salt to make the custard base for the gelato. After cooling overnight in the fridge, it met the ice cream maker tonight right as we sat down for dinner. It may have been able to spend a bit longer in the ice cream maker, but I thought it was done and took it out. It was just soft at the top from all the salt falling to the bottom of the canister. Mom's considering getting one of the gel ice cream makers, but I'm not sure if it would work any better, it would just be easier since it wouldn't require ice or salt to use, though it would require thinking hours ahead (though that is sort of required anyways with a custard base to chill it thoroughly.) Unfortunately, my pictures turned out blurry, but everyone said they liked the gelato, which dad topped with some dark chocolate shavings. I kind of was regretting choosing hazelnut because it doesn't pair well with fruit (at least not in my mind), because I automatically am programmed to associate it with chocolate. I blame nutella for that. The next ice cream I make (or gelato, or maybe even a sorbet or sherbet) will be something more summery to take advantage of the abundance of fresh fruit around. Ice cream really is not all that difficult to make. It just isn't something to do on a whim.

But I had no energy to figure out dinner that would appeal to everyone. Actually, I knew what I wanted to make, but it was spicy and my grandmother doesn't like spicy food. So instead, the salmon recieved a garlic rub and the corn was just grilled by itself. Mom suggested a cucumber-tomato salad, so she made that to go along with it, and the dressing was equal parts yogurt and and spicy salsa. We also had the leftover bean salad.

I look forward to Friday nights, though next Friday I know I'll be doing something else. Maybe I'll go to the Art Institute, since Friday nights are FREE!

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