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►  Summer’s corniest treat makes a pretty cool ice cream sandwich, too

Lolling in front of the air conditioner and wishing for Snowmageddon is one way to beat the heat. For me, the only sensible response is ice cream – specifically and most recently, the corn ice cream I had at New York’s Empellon restaurant.

It filled a taco-shaped waffle and had me imagining a way to bring this quintessential double dose of summer flavor to a backyard get-together. With chef Alex Stupak’s recipe in hand, I sought further advice from ice cream maker Susan Soorenko, owner of Moorenko’s Ice Cream in Silver Spring, Maryland. She is a neighbor, so admittedly the search wasn’t difficult. Moorenko’s has made a sweet corn ice cream since 2009, finished with a pinch of salt.

I shared the Empellon ingredient list with her, which included dextrose and guar gum – both of which I chose to omit from my version. “When you’re producing for sale,“ she said, “you have to stabilize the ice cream with something to overcome the iciness that happens on Day 2 or 3.“

The Empellon ice cream does not contain eggs, which accounts in part for its light and refreshing texture. It’s more ice milk than ice cream, with corn-infused flavor so intense it reverberates. It also is slightly grainy and salt-forward on the tongue; Susan explained the graininess as expected. Corn is a grain, after all.

But salty-sweet corn ice cream is a bit unexpected, and that strong salt finish is delightful. I would serve it on its own anytime. Sandwiching it between two small crispy corn waffles takes the sweet treat over the top.

Stupak’s waffle-as-taco-shell is thin and crisp, with pockets sufficient to cradle every bit of ice cream as it softens. After I smoothed a thick batter across my waffle iron, indentations were already forming. My iron, a classic American waffler, divides round waffles into five slim and crackly heart-shaped sections. If your waffle maker doesn’t create convenient shapes, use kitchen scissors or a 2 1/2- to 3-inch cookie cutter to make small ice cream sandwich bookends.

Homemade ice cream and the waffles to put it on might seem like a lot of fuss, but it’s easy to break down the recipes into discrete tasks over a couple of days. The waffles can be made a day ahead, and the ice cream can be frozen for a day or two before assembling the sandwiches. When you make this dessert in one fell swoop, cook the waffles while the ice cream churns, assembling the sandwiches with soft ice cream straight from the machine. Or if you have frozen the ice cream in advance, allow it to soften only to the point where a round, firm ball can be scooped, about 15 minutes in my kitchen.

Then again, if you aren’t up to making the waffles, sandwich the ice cream between your favorite crisp cookies.

Homebound by the heat or not, the best response to a weather event may be a neighborhood get-together. This ice cream, with or without the sandwiches made with it, would be a cool way to break the ice.


SALTY SWEET CORN ICE CREAM

8 servings (makes 1 quart)

MAKE AHEAD: The corn cobs and kernels steep in the milk for an hour before making the base. The base mixture needs to be refrigerated for at least 2 hours and up to overnight.

Adapted from chef Alex Stupak of Empellon in New York, by cookbook author and columnist Cathy Barrow.

2 cups whole milk

3 cups fresh corn kernels sliced from 3 ears, cobs reserved

1 cup heavy cream

1/3 cup sugar

1 tablespoon kosher salt

Combine the milk, corn kernels and cobs in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Once bubbles appear at the edges of the pan, cook for 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from the heat, cover and let the corn steep in the milk for 1 hour.

Stand the cooled cobs up in the pan. Scrape a blunt knife against each one to release any remaining liquid, then discard the cobs. Transfer the milk and corn kernels to a blender; puree for 3 to 5 minutes, until smooth.

Wipe out the saucepan, then add the heavy cream, sugar and salt, stirring to incorporate.

Pour the pureed corn mixture through a fine-mesh strainer directly into the saucepan’s cream mixture, discarding any solids. Place over medium heat; cook for 7 to 9 minutes, making sure the sugar has dissolved.

Strain through the fine-mesh strainer (again), into a storage container. Cover and refrigerate until well chilled, about 2 hours or, preferably, overnight. This is your ice cream base.

Whisk the chilled base, then pour into the container of an ice cream machine. Churn according to manufacturer’s directions. For a soft consistency, the ice cream can be served right away. Or transfer the ice cream to a freezer-safe container, cover and freeze for 2 to 3 hours.

Nutrition per serving: 220 calories, 4 g protein, 22 g carbohydrates, 14 g fat, 8 g saturated fat, 45 mg cholesterol, 470 mg sodium, 1 g dietary fiber, 16 g sugar

SALTY SWEET CORN ICE CREAM SANDWICHES

12 small servings

You’ll need an ice cream machine and a regular (not Belgian) waffle iron. It’s best to fill the sandwiches while the ice cream is somewhat soft. Wrap and freeze the assembled sandwiches for at least 1 hour and up to 1 day.

MAKE AHEAD: The waffles can be made and held, tightly wrapped, for several hours before assembling the sandwiches. The sandwiches should be frozen for 1 hour before serving. They may be assembled, wrapped and frozen a day in advance.

Adapted from chef Alex Stupak by Cathy Barrow.

3 large eggs

1 cup sugar

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

1½ cups masa harina, such as Maseca brand

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1½ teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon kosher salt

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted

About 3 cups Salty Sweet Corn Ice Cream, or more as needed (see related recipe)

Preheat a waffle iron.

Whisk together the eggs, sugar and vanilla extract in a large liquid measuring cup, until thick and glossy.

Combine the masa harina, all-purpose flour, baking powder and salt in a mixing bowl, then whisk in the egg mixture. While whisking, drizzle in the melted butter to create a batter that is velvety smooth.

Grease the waffle iron lightly with cooking oil spray, as needed.

To make each waffle, scoop about a half cup of the batter onto the heated waffle iron, using an offset spatula to spread it evenly. Close the lid and cook for about 3 minutes, or until the waffle is lightly golden and releases easily. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Repeat with the remaining batter. Do not worry if any waffles break along their section lines, as that is the next step.

To make the ice cream sandwiches, break the waffles apart into a total of 24 pieces. Place a small, round scoop of the Salty Sweet Corn Ice Cream on top of 12 of them. (The amount of ice cream you need to fill the sandwiches will depend upon how big your waffle sections are.) Top with the remaining 12 waffle pieces and press lightly so the sandwiches hold together. Smooth the filling edges with an offset spatula. Wrap each sandwich in plastic wrap and freeze for 1 hour before serving.

Nutrition per serving: 320 calories, 6 g protein, 40 g carbohydrates, 16 g fat, 9 g saturated fat, 90 mg cholesterol, 350 mg sodium, 2 g dietary fiber, 25 g sugar


►  This pasta dish, starring summer leeks and shrimp, tastes good at any temperature

I advocate this week on behalf of summer leeks, which tend to get overlooked at the farmers market. They are milder in flavor than their winter-harvest ilk and saute easily into the kind of savory, slip-sliding mix-in that makes this pasta dish such a happy jumble.

Even with its thinner profile, the summer leek still needs the same care and attention to rid its many layers of grit. Because we’re slicing them into thin rounds, it’s best to drop them into a bowl of cold water with ice cubes and let them sit for a few minutes, during which time the grit will fall to the bottom. Then, use slotted spoon to lift them out of the water – don’t tip the bowl and drain or the grit will be reintroduced. If a few ice cubes go into the pan, that’s OK.

For this recipe, be sure to look for dried fettuccine packaged in cello bags – the noodles will be eggy and delicate-looking, not the straight and wider dried fettuccine in a box. They will cook quicker and insinuate themselves so well with the saucy leeks, shrimp and almonds.

The dish is light-tasting. Even though it’s pegged at four to six servings, if you don’t have that many plates to fill, I recommend making the batch as is for leftovers the next day. Just add a handful of chopped fresh tomato or avocado cubes, a splash of white wine vinegar and/or olive oil for Round Two, served cool or at room temperature.


FETTUCCINE WITH LEEKS, SHRIMP AND TOASTED ALMONDS

4 to 6 servings, Healthy

Serve with a salad of shaved fennel.

The dried fettuccine that works best here is the crinkly kind that’s available in most supermarkets, typically packaged in a cellophane bag. The Al Dente brand is a good example. It cooks faster than most dried pastas.

Adapted from “In a Nutshell: Cooking and Baking With Nuts and Seeds,“ by Cara Tannenbaum and Andrea Tutunjian (W.W. Norton, 2014).

3 medium or 4 thin leeks

1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more as needed

8 ounces dried fettuccine, preferably Al Dente brand (see headnote)

2 cloves garlic

Leaves from 4 stems flat-leaf parsley

½ cup sliced almonds

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 pound large peeled/deveined shrimp (no tail shells)

¾ cup dry white wine

¾ cup no-salt-added chicken broth

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or more as needed

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

½ lemon

Bring a pot of water to a boil over medium-high heat. Fill a mixing bowl with water and ice cubes.

Trim the leeks (discarding dark greens and root ends) and split them in half lengthwise. Cut crosswise into thin slices, then transfer to the ice water bath and let soak for 10 minutes.

Add a good pinch of the salt to the boiling water, then add the pasta. Cook for about 3 minutes, or just until al dente. Drain the pasta in a colander in the sink.

Meanwhile, mince the garlic. Chop the parsley leaves.

Heat a large skillet over medium-low heat; add the almonds and toast for a few minutes, until fragrant and lightly browned. Transfer to a paper towel to cool.

Add the oil to the skillet; increase the heat to medium. Once the oil shimmers, use a slotted spatula to lift the leeks out of their ice-water bath and transfer them to the skillet; do not tip and drain the leeks, to avoid re-introducing any grit.

Add the garlic to the skillet, stirring to coat. Cook for about 5 minutes, until the leeks are fragrant and beginning to soften.

Toss in the shrimp and cook for about 2 minutes, then pour in the wine and broth. Season with the salt and pepper, then cook for about 5 more minutes. Add the butter and parsley, stirring until the butter has melted. Squeeze in the juice from the lemon half.

Transfer the fettuccine to the skillet and turn off the heat; toss to coat and incorporate the sauce and shrimp. Taste and add salt and/or pepper, as needed.

Serve warm.

Nutrition per serving (based on 6): 320 calories, 23 g protein, 33 g carbohydrates, 9 g fat, 3 g saturated fat, 150 mg cholesterol, 340 mg sodium, 3 g dietary fiber, 2 g sugar

--> Thursday, August 10, 2017
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