Try This: Fresh Mint & Chip Ice Cream

 Fresh Mint & Chip Ice Cream
1 cup (250 ml) whole milk
3/4 cup (150 gr) sugar
2 cups (500 ml) heavy cream
pinch of salt
2 cups packed (80 gr) fresh mint leaves
6 large egg yolks
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
5 ounces (140 gr) semisweet or milk chocolate, chopped
In a medium saucepan, warm the milk, sugar, 1 cup (250 ml) heavy cream, salt, vanilla and mint.
Once the mixture is hot and steaming, remove from heat, cover, and let stand for an hour to infuse the mint flavor.
Remove the mint and vanilla bean with a strainer, then press down with a spatula firmly to extract as much mint flavor and color as possible. Once the flavor is squeezed out, discard.
Pour the remaining heavy cream into a large bowl and set the strainer over the top.
Rewarm the infused milk. In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, then slowly pour some of the warm mint mixture into the yolks, whisking constantly, then scrape the warmed yolks back into the saucepan.
Cook the custard, stirring constantly with a heatproof spatula, until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula. If using an instant read thermometer, it should read around 170ºF.
Immediately strain the mixture into the cream, then stir the mixture over an ice bath until cool.
When mixture is thoroughly cold, churn using your method of choice. Add chocolate chips to the ice cream when there are about 5 minutes left in the churning process. Transfer to a freezer safer container and freeze for several hours before serving.

Beef and Guinness Stew

Still no word from Anca about the recipe but I feel I’ve got it in the bag!  I even decided to make things easier on her by asking permission to cook for her family.  By asking I mean, waving my arms and saying each word 50 times before we finally understood each other.  She accepted giving me a curious look and went on her way.

I dug out an old recipe called Beef and Guinness Stew.  It’s exactly what it sounds like but with vegetables as well. If seasoned right, the flavors are quite brilliant.

It was pretty amazing cooking without a microwave or stove. The iron grates they cook on outside heat up quickly and dare I say, make the food taste better?  Maybe it only tasted better because I was sore and tired from cooking for 19 people. Yes…19.

I hope you enjoy this as much as they did.


2 tablespoons neutral oil, like grapeseed or corn, or extra virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, lightly crushed, plus 1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 to 2 ½ pounds boneless beef chuck or round, trimmed of surface fat and cut into 1- to 1 ½-inch cubes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 large or 3 medium onions, cut into eighths
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 cups chicken, beef, or vegetable stock, water, wine, or a combination, or more as needed*
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves or ½ teaspoon dried thyme
4 medium to large waxy or all-purpose potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
4 large carrots, cut into 1-inch chunks
1 cup fresh or thawed frozen peas
Chopped fresh parsley leaves for garnish 
Heat a large pot with a lid or a Dutch oven over medium-high heat for 2 to 3 minutes; add the oil and the crushed garlic clove; cook, stirring, for 1 minute, then remove and discard the garlic.
Add the meat to the skillet a few minutes at a time, turning to brown well on all sides, about 10 minutes total. Do not crowd or the cubes will not brown properly; cook in batches if necessary. Sprinkle the meat with salt and pepper as it cooks.
2. When the meat is brown, remove it with a slotted spoon. Pour or spoon off most of the fat and turn the heat down to medium. Add the onions. Cook, stirring until softened, about 10 minutes.
Add the flour and cook, stirring, for about 2 minutes. Add the stock, bay leaf, thyme, and meat and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down to low and cover. Cook, undisturbed, for 30 minutes.
3. Uncover the pot; the mixture should be wet (if not, add a little more liquid). Add the potatoes and carrots, turn the heat up for a minute or so to bring the liquid back to a boil, then lower the heat and cover again. Cook for 30 to 60 minutes, until the meat and vegetables are tender. Taste and adjust the seasoning.
(At this point, you may remove the meat and vegetables with a slotted spoon and refrigerate them and the stock separately. Skim the fat from the stock before combining it with the meat and vegetables, reheating, and proceeding with the recipe from this point.)
4. Add the minced garlic and the peas; if you’re pleased with the stew’s consistency, continue to cook, covered, over low heat. If it’s too soupy, remve the cover and raise the heat to high.
In either case, cook for an additional 5 minutes or so, until the peas have heated through and the garlic has flavored the stew. Garnish with parsley and serve.
*Beef and Guinness Stew. In Step 2, omit the flour. Use 2 cups Guinness and 1- to 1 ½-cups beef broth for the liquid (add more beer, broth or water as needed during the cooking process).


Real Homemade


Imagine waking up after a long journey and seeing a sword of bright light piercing through white cotton curtains flowing gently from the wind.  As you sit up, stretching your tired muscles, you hear singing and laughter coming from outside.

Upon parting those curtains and letting the coolest of breezes kiss your face, you behold fog engulfed mountain peaks, dew covered green grass and the sun’s achingly beautiful attempt to shine through the trees.

There are men and woman dressed in colorful garb laughing, talking, singing and getting ready for a long day of work. Little Roma children chase goats and dogs around the tiny village nestled between two mountains and hidden deep within the woods. You smile and inhale deeply as total contentment rests your weary bones and replenish your spirit.

It’s at that moment you notice the most amazing aroma and walk from your room in search of the source.  On your way, you pass by another room filled with the tangled, tanned limbs of the Romanian men women and children who gave up their sleeping quarters to make you more comfortable.

You’re heart aches at their hospitality and you smile while venturing onward in search of the aromas source.  You walk outside and a large fire pit with iron rods stretched across the expanse of heat and on top of the iron rods are pots and pans. There is a small iron dome heated by the fire as well that served as their oven. This was their kitchen.

Two tiny woman, one old the other young, were busily kneading dough with their fists and taking the finished product from the oven.  You notice other food and hug your stomach as it growls.

The two woman notice you and smile cheerfully.  The young girls name is Anca and the older woman is Catina.  They speak broken English but manage to ask how I slept and if I was hungry.  I told them I’d slept perfectly and that I was indeed very hungry.

Anca offers you a piece of bread that you call Lady Fists. You know of Lady Fists. Your mother and law makes it every Christmas but refuses to give you the recipe.  You take a bite and sink into bliss. You must have this recipe.

Once finished, you look up at Anca and Catina’s smiling faces and ask.

“That was absolutely delicious, how did you make it?” The tenor changes slightly as Anca’s eyes widen and turn to look at her mother who stands perplexed.

“It is family secret,” Catina says in a deep throaty accent smiling gently.

“Oh, of course it is my apologies.  Is…is there any way I could maybe work for it?  You see I’m a traveler…”

“No,” says Catina her smile tightening.  Not wanting to anger her and be thrown out, you nod politely.

“I completely understand.  I just wanted to show the world what a talented cook you are.  But, I respect you decision, just know that if you change you’re mind, I’m willing to do whatever you ask…whatever you ask.” You emphasize and before leaving, thank them again for the food.

You smile as you walk back to your room knowing by the pondering look upon on their faces, that you’ve peaked their interest.