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Screme!

24 Apr

What’s your favorite flavor? ~ Me

Who do you love more, your mom or your dad? How can I answer that? ~ Screme Gelato Bar Owner

5,000 Flavors!

It’s been three days in a row that I’ve eaten at Screme Gelato Bar. (But who’s counting?)

I remember when I was a little kid my mom used to tell me that too much of a good thing was bad. Sure, that may be the case for silly childhood obsessions but it’s certainly not the case for gelato, ice cream, sorbet…you get the point!

As many of you know, I need my daily fix of sweets. Some people say they need something sweet after dinner to round out the meal.

That is not me.

I need something sweet each day to live. Seriously, I cannot remember a day in my life in which I passed up a dessert, refused something sweet, or went without ice cream or cake.  For many of you this may sound like a familiar story, and you’re sitting there reading this blog post shaking your head and thinking “Yes!  I am not alone!”

Look no further. You have found your partner in crime:  Screme Gelato Bar

My delicious passion fruit sorbet!

Today I had a lovely conversation with the owner of Screme Gelato Bar. Our meeting started out with a taste of six (I know because I couldn’t hold all those spoons at once) different sorbets and gelatos until I finally decided on passion fruit. For a chocolate lover that seemed a bit strange, but any of you who taste the passion fruit sorbet you’ll understand why. The flavor is incredible, spot on. Perfect.

I asked the owner how he got into the ice cream business. Naturally I assumed he was a frozen treat aficionado just like me.

False.

I nearly fell off my chair when he told me that he didn’t really even like ice cream (that is, until he tried Aldo gelato in Israel). I couldn’t believe my ears! Here is a man who owns two gelato bars in NYC (with more coming soon!), has created over 5,000 (yes, five thousand!) different gelato and sorbet recipes,  and he is not even that obsessed with ice cream. Something seemed wrong!

Rewind a few years. The owner of Screme told me that while living in Israel, his wife used to take his kids out for ice cream daily (I love her already!) when he finally told her that perhaps this wasn’t the most healthy habit for the kids. The wife said “don’t knock it ’till you try it”, so the owner found himself swinging by an Israeli gelato bar, Aldo, and realized that his wife was on to something. (Lesson learned:  the wife is always right!). After he tried Aldo’s gelato he was addicted and decided to bring this business to NYC in the form of Screme Gealto Bar. I promise, after visiting Screme, you’ll be addicted too!

Fast forward three years. Screme, which can be found in two locations on the UWS (Broadway between 69th and 70th AND 94th and Amsterdam) boast fresh new flavors daily. And don’t even get me started on the customer service. It’s incredible! Each employee allows you to taste as many flavors as you want. Think of it this way, everybody loves something free. Taste as many samples as you want, and Screme promises that you’ll be hooked. So, for two minutes the employees actually become your best friend, by letting you taste whatever you want, and allowing for a “screme break in your life.” It’s really perfect.

Now, if your mouth isn’t watering yet, take a look at this video. You’ll see how Screme makes their incredible creations, and you’ll find yourself running to get your very own.

A signature component of the Screme gelato is fresh ingredients and flavors. If you are eating the pistacio gelato, you’re eating real pistacios imported from Italy, not syrup. If you try the mango sorbet, you get to taste little bits of crushed mangoes, not syrup. If you’re eating the Margarita, you are tasting real tequilla, limes, and a hint of sea salt. Finally, if you’re lucky enough to have tried their Cap’n Crunch Gelato you’ll be able to close your eyes and really feel like you’re eating a creamy and delicious bowl of that favorite childhood cereal. It’s the real deal. And let me tell you, you can really taste the difference. Once you taste the magical frozen treat, you’ll never go back to the synthetic flavors, it’s impossible. You’re dealing with the Rolls Royce of Gelato here, trust me!

A full sensory experience!

And if that’s not enough, you really get a full sensory experience at Screme. First, you see these mountains of fresh gelato and sorbet that actually scream your name (ha, get it, scream!) If that’s not enough, you get unlimited tastes of the gelato and sorbet. Finally, you smell fresh, home-made waffles cooking and you’ll find yourself ordering a waffle a-la-mode. There is nothing better.

The Verdict:  Run, don’t walk to Screme. They’re open now (and kosher for Passover!). And if that’s not enough, it’s the first nice day here in NYC since 2010, so get yourself a treat from Screme and you’ll be on cloud nine!

Succulent Strawberry Sorbet

24 Apr

Strawberry fields forever. ~ The Beatles

The Strawberries

Literally.

I purchased and hulled so many strawberries for this sorbet that I felt like I personally depleted an entire strawberry field.

Here’s the story. I try very much to only buy organic fruits and vegetables, especially if they are on the “dirty dozen” list. Living in NYC we have access to lots of moderately priced (I know, shocking) organic options. Trader Joe’s carries many items as does Whole Foods, and of course the plethora of farmers markets in NYC makes it even easier to find great produce. When making this sorbet I went on a hunt for good priced organic berries and after 3 places I found myself, yet again, at Trader Joe’s. They really are a savior here in NYC.

Then came measuring the ingredients.

Honestly, it was embarrassing.

My recipe called for 2 quarts of strawberries, yet the only box of berries available at Trader Joe’s was 2 pounds. “How do you measure quarts in dry goods and how does that relate to pounds?”, you ask. Well, I was wondering the same damn thing myself. I whipped out the iPhone and kept googling every possible combination of “quart + strawberry+ measurement” and found myself on this totally unreliable message board that, funny enough, seemed to have a relatively legitimate post. Two quarts of strawberries, it said, was the equivalent of 8 cups of berries. In other words, one pound of berries was approximately 4ish cups. I wasn’t entirely sold (and neither was my very nice salesman at Trader Joe’s) so he took the box of berries in the back and systematically measured the box for me. He concluded that one pound of berries was indeed approximately four cups. Lifesaver! So, I bought 2 quarts of strawberries and went on my merry way.

The Simple Syrup

Next came making the simple syrup.

Simple syrup gets its name because, well, it’s extremely simple. Though the classic simple syrup recipe is 1 part water to 1 part sugar, this sorbet recipe was slightly altered. In fact, it had less sugar (which is a good thing because these berries were SO sweet on their own they barely needed sugar!).

I used organic raw sugar (which has a brown hue) to make the simple syrup. Two cups water, 1.5 cups of sugar. When it was done boiling and mixing it looked like a cup of rusty water. Ew. I thought maybe I burnt it, and was rather annoyed because I didn’t want to waste it and make it again. Then it dawned on me that it was brown because of the raw sugar! I tasted it for good measure, and sure enough, it was exactly right! Phew.

If you thought the above seemed complicated, just wait until I regale you with the trials and tribulations of hulling strawberries. You should know that I have never hulled a strawberry before. I know, it’s a cooking faux pas. But honestly, I can’t really taste the difference between hulled strawberries and those with their tops cut off. Uh oh, am I starting to sound like The Husband with my unrefined palette? Eek.

Anyhow, for those of you who don’t know how to hull strawberries here’s a great video. I watched it, practiced a few times, and voilà, I was hulling strawberries ad nauseum. But, “to hull” with this – it’s time for the actual recipe!

The pile of hulled strawberries

Succulent Strawberry Sorbet

Straight from Ciao Bella

Ingredients

2 quarts strawberries, hulled

2 cups water

1 1/2 cups sugar

1 tbs lemon juice

Methods

Hull the heck out of those strawberries!

Make the simple syrup by heating the water and sugar, whisking or mixing vigorously so the sugar dissolves but the water does not boil. The mixture is ready when small bubbles appear around the edges of the liquid. Let it cool completely at least 4 hours or if possible, refrigerate overnight.

Mix half the strawberries with half the simple syrup and 1/2 tbs of lemon juice in a blender until smooth.  Pour it into an ice cream maker and repeat with the second batch of strawberries, simple syrup and lemon juice.

Turn on the ice cream maker and churn according to the manufacturer’s instructions. For me, this took 25-30 minutes, slightly longer than usual, and that’s because I think the ice cream maker was over crowded.

Blending...

It’s worth noting here that my ice cream maker has a 1.5 quart bowl and this was way too much liquid for the bowl. Actually, this makes 2 batches of the sorbet, in other words nearly 3 quarts. So, either cut the recipe in half to make only one batch OR refrigerate one batch overnight and repeat the process the next day.

I actually did something rather outlandish (and delish!), and I used the other half of the mixture to make drinks for friends. We mixed the fresh strawberry puree with some vodka and a splash of orange juice, served them in martini glasses and they were a HUGE hit. I highly recommend this option because everybody wins with sorbet and cocktails! What’s not to love?

The sorbet is churning...

The sorbet is really creamy and “melty” when it comes out of the machine so like usual you should freeze it for a few hours before serving.

When I served this sorbet I created a trifle-like presentation by layering last week’s lemon sorbet with the strawberry sorbet. It was a perfect marriage of tart and sweet. If you recall, I felt that this lemon sorbet was way too tart, but the strawberry sorbet really cut that tartness and it was a really refreshing end to our, drum-roll please… pizza dinner!

Remember, this is an excellent summer recipe. It’s sure to quench your thirst (especially when mixed with vodka!) and is a real crowd pleaser (thus said our crowd of friends!)

Oh, and one more thing: this sorbet was so good, I didn’t manage to get a photo of the finished product. You’ll just have to imagine. Or better yet, make your own and try it!

Chocolate Ganache

18 Apr

The 12-step chocoholics program: Never be more than 12 steps away from chocolate! ~Terry Moore

Well, lucky for me we live in a 628 square foot apartment in NYC and there probably are not even 12 steps in my kitchen. Ergo, I am NEVER more than 12 steps away from chocolate. Phew!

This week I am on a mission to make ice cream sauces because it’s Passover and I am limited in my ability to make ice creams with mix-ins. In the absence of these mix-ins my ice creams feel naked. Now, you should all know that I am a girl who almost never eats ice cream plain. To me, part of the experience of eating ice cream is to see how many outrageous toppings I can cram on top, without completely losing the essence of the actual ice cream flavor. The only exception to this rule is when I eat an ice cream that is chock full of mix-ins, in which case adding a topping would be like bringing jewels to the queen!

Simply put, I think toppings are to ice cream as accessories are to women. No woman deserves to be void of accessories, and so by the same logic, no ice cream deserves to be void of toppings.

Enter chocolate ganache.

This recipe is extremely easy (are you sensing a trend?). My goal here is to provide simple, inexpensive recipes for ice cream toppings so that if you wanted to create your own ice cream sundae bar you’d have pretty much every topping at your finger tips. So far we have dulce de leche, and now chocolate ganache!

Here’s my recipe for today:

Chocolate Ganache

Copied exactly from Ciao Bella

Ingredients

8oz semisweet, bittersweet or white chocolate (I used semi-sweet from Trader Joe’s – in my humblest of opinions they are the best bang for your buck)

2tbs butter

3/4 cup heavy cream

Method

Melting the butter into the cream

Melt the cream and the butter in a saucepan on low. Whisk or stir continuously so that the butter melts into the cream. Do not boil the liquid; keep it on the stove top only until small bubbles form around the edges and the butter is fully mixed in.

Pour the chocolate into a heat proof bowl.

Pour the cream mixture on top of the chocolate mixture and stir gently until it all mixes together.

Let the mixture cool slightly. If it cools and hardens, rewarm it by soaking the bowl of ganache in warm water. Stir for about 5-7 minutes and the ganache will warm up.

Cream mixture poured over the chocolate

The ganache can be stored in the refrigerator for approximately 5 days.

The Verdict: Excellent. Rich. Yummy!

The Ganache!

This is a wonderful topping to drizzle over ice cream or sorbet, as well as a perfect coating to use for gelato or ice cream truffles.

Chocolate Ice Cream with Marshmallow Fluff and Fudge Chunks (for Passover!)

12 Apr

I never met a chocolate I didn’t like. ~ Deanna Troi, Star Trek: The Next Generation

I think that pretty much sums up my feelings about chocolate.

I. Cannot. Live. Without. It.

Ask anyone who knows me.

Since Passover chocolates are often gross, and the desserts are never up to par, I am attempting to make a Passover chocolate ice cream that hits the spot. The funny thing about ice cream is that it is the only dessert (except for fruit, but remember, that doesn’t count as a dessert in my book!) that does not need to be altered much, if at all, to make it kosher for Passover. So, all I had to do was go out and buy dairy products that are kosher for Passover and special marshmallow fluff and blend away. No big deal.

Chocolate ice cream is, simply put, delicious. There’s a reason that it’s the second most popular ice cream flavor. Just see this site . So if chocolate ice cream is that good, imagine how yummy it could be with fluff and fudge chunks? Pretty damn amazing.

The Piece de Resistance: Marshmallow Fluff

I set out on a quest to find kosher for passover fluff and managed to pay a whopping $5.29 at an over priced store (regular fluff is $2.39, ugg). I figured that the ice cream wouldn’t be the same without it, and despite the price, took the plunge. It was very easy to find all the kosher for passover milks, sugars, and chocolate. Armed with the goodies I headed home to whip up this treat.

When I first got the ice cream maker (insert romantic music here), I knew it was love at first sight! I could hardly wait to open the box and see the shiny new, beautifully blue machine, but since I had to schlep it home on the cross town bus first, I decided to read the instruction manual and recipe booklet while on the bus. The very first recipe I saw was S’mores Ice Cream. I knew this would have to be one of my first concoctions. I dog-eared the page in hopes of coming back to it very soon.

Well, today was that very day. I made a few adaptations to make this recipe kosher for passover (i.e. no graham cracker crumbs) and slightly less fat (used half-and-half instead of heavy cream) but everything else remained the same. Here is the recipe, I hope you enjoy it as much as we did.

Chocolate Ice Cream with Marshmallow Fluff and Fudge (Passover!)

Adapted from the Cuisinart Recipe Booklet

Ingredients

1/2 cup cocoa powder, sifted (Hershey’s is kosher for passover, I used this one)

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup packed brown sugar

pinch salt

2/3 cup whole milk

1/2 cup cream

1 cup half-and-half

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/2 cup marshmallow fluff (note: the passover one MUST be stirred vigorously first, it’s super creamy and “looser” than normal fluff)

1/3 cup semisweet chocolate melted and reserved at room temperature

Method

In a medium bowl, whisk together the cocoa, sugars and salt (it’s slightly hard to mix at first since the chocolate doesn’t dissolve so quickly).

Dry Ingredients

Add the milk and, using a hand mixer on low speed (caution: the chocolate powder flew everywhere!), beat to combine until the cocoa and sugars are dissolved. Stir in the heavy cream and vanilla. Cover and refrigerate 2 hours.

Turn on the ice cream maker, pour the mixture into the frozen freezer bowl and let mix until thicketed, about 20-22 minutes. Approximately 2 minutes before mixing is completed, gradually add the marshmallow cream, one spoonful at a time. Once mixed (mine mixed in almost entirely, so next time I will drizzle fluff into the chocolate ice cream once its done churning so it does not get completely absorbed into the ice cream) add the melted chocolate one spoonful at a time. The chocolate will freeze as soon as it hits the machine and turn into various sized fudge chips.

Once finished the ice cream will have a soft, creamy texture. This one was particularly soft and creamy due to the passover marshmallow fluff so I would certainly recommend freezing it in an air tight container for a few hours or overnight.

Drum roll please...the ice cream (and the fancy pants containers!)

Here’s the verdict:

Me: Deliciously creamy, perfectly chocolate-y, all around good!

The Husband: “Yum! I thought you were making Passover ice cream.”

Ka-ching! Mission Accomplished.

**Note: I tried this ice cream again for breakfast (can you blame me?) after it had frozen entirely over night. It was very creamy and delicious, tasted even better the next day. But, worth noting that the marshmallow was almost mixed entirely into the dessert, and even though you could taste the fluff, it was hard to see.  The Passover fluff made the ice cream so uber-creamy that it can’t stay out of the freezer for very long before consumption.

The finished product!!

Bottom line: eat it ASAP!

Oh, did I mention that my much anticipated containers came in? Ah, to feel slightly professional…

Happy Eating.

Simple Lemon Sorbet

8 Apr

When life hands you lemons, make lemonade (or lemon sorbet!). ~ Unknown

Lemon Sorbet!

Life has by no means handed me lemons, but I felt this quote was appropriate for the upcoming recipe.

I am headed to Miami this weekend to soak up the sun for one of my closest friend’s bachelorette weekend. I don’t have time to pack, get organized and make a complicated ice cream. Besides, those of us with tummy issues are having trouble enduring the past 3 days of all dairy. Help is on the way in the form of simple lemon sorbet. Truth be told, I also happen to have all the ingredients for lemon sorbet in the apartment, so why not save a few buckaroos and use what I have to make a yummy frozen treat.

Living in a small NYC apartment its slightly hard to stock a kitchen with every last cooking utensil. I have accumulated quite a collection over the past few years, but still don’t have a microplane. So when zesting lemons I use, drumroll please, a cheese grater. (Thank you to my sweet coworker for the brilliant suggestion!) Seems sort of tacky, but wow, it does the trick!

The magical lemon squeezer in action.

There is one kitchen utensil that I do have and cannot live without. I recently purchased this squeezer in Israel and it was a total impulse buy (but at $2 it didn’t really matter). At first I thought it was a real gimmick and piece of junk. Then I tried it, and it was truly a lemon juicer miracle machine. Measuring a whopping 2 inches, it’s about the weight of a few paper clips and looks a little bit like a screw. The magic is that it screws into the lemon and enables you to squeeze juice out of the spout without having seeds end up into your lemon juice. It’s extremely easy to use. Now here is where I would love to insert a link to this treasure, but I have spent the past 20 minutes searching google and have yielded nothing. Next time you’re in the market in Tel Aviv, pick one up for yourself.

On to the recipe…To be perfectly honest, I had an idea of how to make lemon sorbet – I figured I could make lemonade and then put it through the ice cream maker. Duh. But I wanted to make sure someone else (hopefully a trained chef) had tested a recipe first before I put it out to you all. I googled lemon sorbet and literally 1,000 different recipes came up, but I decided to go with Emeril’s Lemon Sorbet.

After making (and tasting) this recipe, it seemed more like an intermezzo or palette cleanser to me.  In other words, it was so tart the way I made it that it would be better eaten in a small portion to cleanse the palette between, say, a salad course and a fish course. Nonetheless, if you follow the recipe below (and not the exact recipe I used) I think you’ll enjoy it.

It’s safe to say that if you like lemons, lemon zest and tartness, you will like this. If not, add a little extra sugar, add a few raspberries on top, and you’ll love it.

Simple (Tart) Lemon Sorbet

Edited slightly from Emerli Lagasse’s original recipe

Ingredients

1 cup water

1 cup of sugar (I used 3/4 of a cup for a MUCH more tangy and tart recipe – frankly though, it was too sour)

1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (for me, that was 7-8 lemons; though the recipe said 3-4!)

2 teaspoons of lemon zest

Method

Bring the water and sugar to a boil in a small saucepan, remove from the heat, and cool completely in the refrigerator.

Combine the syrup with the lemon juice and zest and pour into the bowl of an ice cream machine.

Freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions (which in my case was 22 minutes in the ice cream maker). The sorbet was very soft when complete. After the sorbet is made, transfer to an airtight container, cover tightly and freeze until ready to serve.

**Note this recipe is perfect for vegans, Passover, and those following a gluten free diet. **

Simple Lemon Sorbet (AKA Intermezzo)

Enjoy!