The growing season is upon us. Even though it has been too wet to till the garden and put out our usually crop of veggies, I do have heirloom lettuces growing in patio pots and tomato plants hanging out in gallon cans until I can get them in the ground.
Since we had such a mild winter here and no late frosts to speak of, the fruit trees are laden with peaches and apples.
And I am picking a few strawberries everyday.
The thyme and sage have busted out in bloom in my herb garden.
I was trying to snap a picture of this crazy small bee in the bottom right corner. I referred to The Bee-Friendly Garden in an attempt to identify it. I don’t think it’s a sweat bee but I can’t definitively find a matching picture. Any help would be appreciated.
Obvious, I love this time of year. I especially love it because the growing season brings many great recipes that use all of the fresh bounty. I requested Sweeter Off the Vine by Yossy Arefi from Blogging for Books because of the collection of homey and locavore recipes. (Arefi is a food photographer and the creator of the blog, Apt. 2B Baking Co. She writes a regular column for Food52 and her work has been featured in many prestigious magazines as well.)
A cozy collection of heirloom-quality recipes for pies, cakes, tarts, ice cream, preserves, and other sweet treats that cherishes the fruit of every season.
Celebrate the luscious fruits of every season with this stunning collection of heirloom-quality recipes for pies, cakes, tarts, ice cream, preserves, and other sweet treats. Summer’s wild raspberries become Raspberry Pink Peppercorn Sorbet, ruby red rhubarb is roasted to adorn a pavlova, juicy apricots and berries are baked into galettes with saffron sugar, and winter’s bright citrus fruits shine in Blood Orange Donuts and Tangerine Cream Pie. Yossy Arefi’s recipes showcase what’s fresh and vibrant any time of year by enhancing the enticing sweetness of fruits with bold flavors like rose and orange flower water inspired by her Iranian heritage, bittersweet chocolate and cacao nibs, and whole-grain flours like rye and spelt. Accompanied by gorgeous, evocative photography, Sweeter off the Vine is a must-have for aspiring bakers and home cooks of all abilities.
The book is divided into seasonal sections featuring produce from each. The “Spring” section starts out with herbs, rhubarb, strawberry and cherries. “Summer” contains recipes for stone fruit and berries; “Fall” includes grapes, apples, pears, and pumpkin; and “Winter” rounds out the collection with cranberries, citrus, and dates.
Sweeter Off the Vine is a beautiful cooking collection. Although it did not have the plethora of preserving recipes I was hoping for, it was chock full of delicious and seasonal-inspired dishes.
The recipe I am highlighting is a delectable “Fresh Mint Ice Cream with Cocao Nibs.” Mint leaves steep in the ice cream custard for a fresh tasting treat. No artificial green coloring or flavoring in this ice cream; only the freshly harvested mint flavor comes through for a most satisfying spring treat.
Fresh Mint Ice Cream with Cacao Nibs
from Sweeter Off the Vine by Yossy Arefi
1 c. loosely packed fresh mint leaves, coarsely chopped
4 large egg yokes
2 c. heavy cream
1 c. milk
2/3 c. sugar
2 T. Crème Fraîche
1/4 t. fine sea salt*
1/4 c. cocoa nibs
Whisk the egg yolks together in a glass or stainless steel bowl; set aside.
Combine the cream, milk, sugar and salt in a medium saucepan. Heat over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the mixture begins to bubble around the edges, about 5 minutes. Ladle about 1 cup of the cream mixture into the egg yolks and whisk vigorously to temper. Pour the egg and cream mixture back into the pot and whisk well to combine.
Cook the mixture on medium low heat, stirring constantly with a rubber spatula and being careful not to let it boil, until the mixture thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 7 minutes. Remove from the heat and whisk in the crème fraîche, then the mint leaves. Allow the mixture to cool completely, at least 4 hours and up to overnight. The longer the mint steeps, the stronger the mint flavor will be.
Just before churning, strain the custard through a fine-mesh sieve and press gently on the mint leaves to extract all of the liquid. Freeze in an ice cream machine according to the manufacturer’s instructions, adding the cacao nibs in the last minute of churning. Transfer the ice cream to a freezer-safe container, cover and freeze until firm, about 4 hours or overnight. Keeps for four days.*The recipe ingredients did not list salt but the instructions did. I just guesstimated and landed on adding 1/4 t.
Can’t find crème fraîche in your local market, Arefi includes directions for simply making your own with 1 cup of heavy cream and 2 T. buttermilk. Since this ice cream recipe only uses 2 T. of crème fraîche, there is also a recipe for Crème Fraîche Caramel Sauce to drizzle on pies (or just eat with a spoon).
I have been baking with cacao nibs a lot recently and I love the slightly-bitter crunch they add. Arefi suggests using chocolate mint or pineapple mint for a bit of extra flavor. I used a spearmint variety.
I hope you pick up a copy of this lovely hardback cookbook as you make your way through this year’s growing season.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from Blogging for Books for this review. All opinions, exclamations, gushing and rants are my own.