Classic Ice Cream Sandwiches

“Give way to your worst impulse.”

“This is going to be an interesting day,” she muses, followed by, “what IS my worst impulse, anyway?”  She’s acted on a few impulses lately, primarily bad ones, in retrospect.  She’s uneasy imagining where her absolute worst could push her.

Created by Brian Eno and Peter Schmidt in 1975, Oblique Strategies is a technique for cultivating seeds of innovative creativity.  Originally in the form of printed cards, each strategy, like “Give way to your worst impulse,” offers a challenging constraint intended to help artists (particularly musicians) penetrate creative blocks. The cards contain a suggestion, aphorism, or remark which can be used to break dilemmas in creativity. Some are specific to music composition; others are more general, but all can be used to break through any creative dilemma. The cards are now available on an app which she recently downloaded. Strategies include:

  • Disciplined self-indulgence
  • Make a blank valuable by putting it in an exquisite frame
  • Go slowly all the way round the outside
  • What are you really thinking about just now? Incorporate

Forever struggling with her elusive impetus to write, she is on a continuous lookout for tools to ease her tortured (or non-existent) process.   Downloading the strategies onto her phone, she concluded, in addition to helping her write, would make a great tool for breaking through her quotidian life blocks as well. And so begins her dilemma on surviving a day when her directive is to give way to her worst impulse. 

She would have preferred, “Imagine the art as a set of disconnected events.”  Disconnected – yes – like this introduction and the recipe below.  That’s something she’s extremely familiar with.


Classic Ice Cream Sandwiches

  • Servings: 9 Sandwiches
  • Print

Classic chewy oatmeal cookies bookend rounds of vanilla ice cream rolled in mini-chips.


Ingredients

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 4 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¾ cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 large egg plus 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 ½ quarts ice cream in a square tub, such as Breyers
  • ½ cup mini chocolate chips

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375⁰ F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment or Silpat liners. Whisk together flour, salt and baking soda; set aside.
  2. Brown butter by melting in a small skillet over medium-high heat, stirring and scraping bottom of pan until milk solids are dark golden and butter has a nutty aroma. Stir in cinnamon.
  3. In a large bowl, combine cinnamon butter, sugars, and oil and whisk to combine. Add egg, yolk, and vanilla and whisk until mixture is smooth. Using a wooden spoon, stir in flour mixture until combined. Add oats and stir until evenly distributed.
  4. Divide dough into 18 portions (I use a small ice cream scoop). Arrange dough balls 2” apart on prepared sheets. Using damp hands, press each ball into a 2 ½-inch disk.
  5. Bake 8-10 minutes until cookie edges are set and centers are still soft, but not wet. Let cookies set on sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
  6. Cut cardboard from ice cream and slice into 1” thick slices. Using a 3 ½-inch cookie cutter, cut 2 rounds from each slice, 9 slices total. Sandwich ice cream between two cookies, and roll in mini chocolate chips. Freeze until ready to serve.

*Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated Classic Chewy Oatmeal Cookies

Pork & Potato Green Chili

I am besotted by Autumn, yet my love is unrequited. I wait at windows that darken imperceptibly earlier in the evening, willing the trees to burst into sunset hues, yearning for a chilling of the air that never comes, begging for the first crackling fire in the dusty fireplace.  Still, she does not heed my lament.  She unfurls day upon day of scorching heat, forcing tanned leaves to wither and serenely suicide without a hint of colorful fanfare.  She’ll arrive when she is ready, for her own selfish pleasure and not a moment sooner, no matter my desires. 

Despite this interminable summer weather, October in my kitchen means hearty soups and stews like this Pork and Potato Green Chili. 


Pork & Potato Green Chili

A hearty, spicy chili of tender pork and potatoes.


Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 2 fresh Anaheim chiles – seeded, stemmed and chopped
  • 1 large white onion, chopped
  • 1 ¼ pounds pork shoulder, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 ½ pounds russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 16-ounce jar salsa verde, medium heat
  • 1 Tablespoon lime juice
  • ½ cup shredded pepper jack cheese
  • ¼ cup shredded cilantro

Directions

  1. In a soup pot, heat oil over medium-high. Add the chiles and onion and cook, stirring often, until the vegetables are softened, 5 minutes. Add the pork; season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring often, until browned, 5 minutes. Add the potatoes, salsa and 2 cups water; bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium, partially cover and simmer, stirring the chili occasionally, until the pork is tender, about 40 minutes.
  2. Add lime juice, season with salt and pepper, and divide among bowls. Garnish with the cheese and cilantro.

Slightly adapted from Rachel Ray

Slow Cooker Beef and Farro Soup

A bowl of Slow Cooker Beef and Farro Soup

Have friends over for dinner this weekend without all the work.  “Soup Sundays” is the low-key, fuss-free version of a full-blown dinner party.  For my inaugural Soup Sunday, I made two soups a few days ahead and, for dessert, baked a simple apple crostata with the booty from my apple-picking adventures on Saturday.  Friends brought bread and salad, we opened a few bottles of wine, and celebrated the first Sunday of October. 

I’ve decided to make it a weekly standing date.  Next Sunday, we’re making it even more casual with the “Pajama Party” edition. 


Slow Cooker Beef and Farro Soup

A low and slow simmer results in tender beef and chewy farro in this comforting and hearty soup. Just let time do its thing.


Ingredients

  • 8 cups unsalted beef stock
  • 1 ½ cups chopped onion
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 1 cup uncooked farro
  • 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 large thyme sprigs
  • 3 bay leaves
  • ¼ cup unsalted tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 2 pounds beef stew meat, divided
  • 2 ½ cups chopped carrots

Directions

  1. In a 6-quart slow cooker, stir together beef stock, onion, celery, farro, salt, pepper, garlic, thyme, and bay leaves. Dollop tomato paste on top.
  2. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add half of beef and cook until well browned, about 6 minutes. Add beef to slow cooker. Repeat with remaining 1 tablespoon oil and beef. Scatter carrots over beef. Cover and cook on LOW until meat is tender, about 8 hours. Discard thyme sprigs and bay leaves. Adjust salt and pepper. Ladle into bowls.

Blackberry Slab Pie

“I will forgive you; the words are so small, but there is a universe hidden in them. When I forgive you, all those cords of resentment, pain and sadness that wrapped themselves around my heart will be gone. When I forgive you, you will no longer define me. You measured me and assessed me and decided that you could hurt me. That I didn’t count. But I will forgive you, because I do count. I do matter. I am bigger than the image you have of me. I am stronger. I am more beautiful. And I am infinitely more precious than you thought me. I will forgive you. My forgiveness is not a gift that I am giving to you. When I forgive you, my forgiveness will be a gift that I give myself.”

– Desmond Tutu

I’ve been focusing on forgiveness in my daily meditation practice these last two weeks.  Forgiving myself; forgiving others.  If you had asked me last week how my forgiveness practice was going, I would have said, “Great – like a weight has been lifted.”  Rarely is anything a straight path, though.  I was struggling with my forgiveness this morning, until I read Tutu’s quote above, which now resides in a place of prominence next to my desk.

There’s a Taoist parable about how collecting various betrayals and hurts is like collecting potatoes in a sack.  One potato may not weigh heavy on us, but if we continue to collect these potatoes, allow them to rot in the sack, never forgiving, never letting any go, soon the sack becomes burdensome, fetid with rotting tubers, and so heavy we cannot move forward. We carry this ever-growing weight of negativity with us everywhere, day after day.  Forgiveness is not about the person who wronged us; forgiveness is not about letting the other person off the hook or lightening their load; forgiveness is not about being weak.  It’s about lessening our own heart’s burden.  It doesn’t matter if the other person is aware of our forgiveness.  Forgiveness is saying, “I will no longer be hindered by the betrayals you’ve placed upon me.”  Once we are able to set the sack down, we are free to walk forward, unencumbered by another’s misdeeds.

You are probably expecting some sort of potato recipe at this point. Forgive me.


Blackberry Slab Pie

No fork or plate needed – just cut slices and serve hand-pie style with a napkin for the flaky crust.


Ingredients

    Crust
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, cut into chunks
  • 1 cup Crisco
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 5 Tablespoons cold water
  • 1 Tablespoon white vinegar
  • 3 cups All-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Filling
  • 8 cups fresh or frozen blackberries, unthawed
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon lemon zest
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup Panko bread crumbs
  • Finish & Glaze
  • 1 large egg, beaten with 1 tablespoon of water
  • 3 tablespoons sugar, preferably turbinado, like Sugar in the Raw
  • ½ cup confectioner’s sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon water

Directions

  1. Make pie crust: Chill butter and Crisco until very cold by placing both in the freezer for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, combine egg, water, and vinegar in a small bowl and set aside. Place flour and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Add butter and Crisco to flour and pulse on/off until mixture resembles coarse meal (you can also combine the flour and fats using a pastry blender if you don’t want to drag out your processor – more effort, less clean-up). Scrape mixture into a large bowl, add egg mixture, and stir until combined. Don’t overwork dough. Separate the dough in half and roll into disks. Wrap each disk in plastic wrap and freeze for about 30 minutes to chill.
  2. Prepare filling: In a large bowl, toss together all filling ingredients except Panko bread crumbs.
  3. Assemble pie: Preheat oven to 375⁰. Line bottom of baking sheet or jellyroll pan with parchment paper. Lightly sprinkle one dough disk with a bit of flour and, in between two sheets of parchment paper, roll into a rectangle about 10 x 15. Transfer to your prepared baking sheet and peel off parchment. Sprinkle with Panko breadcrumbs, spread filling evenly over bottom crust and freeze while you roll out second crust. Roll the second dough disk into a similar sized rectangle, sprinkling with flour and using parchment. Drape over filling and fold the bottom crust overhang over the edges, sealing them together, and crimping. Cut small slits to act as vents all over top crust. Brush top crust with 1 egg beaten with 1 Tablespoon water and sprinkle with 3 Tablespoons sugar. Bake pie on lower rack of oven until crust is golden and filling is bubbling, about 50 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and cool until just warm to the touch, about 45 minutes.
  4. In a medium bowl, stir together confectioner’s sugar and water until a pourable glaze consistency is reached. Drizzle glaze over top. Serve slab pie in squares or rectangles, warm or at room temperature. Will keep at room temperature for 3-4 days.

Almond Orange Mini Gateaux Bretons

A plate of mini gateaux bretons

I came across the following post today, written 12 years ago, on September 2, 2008. What surprises me is that very little, really, has changed.  My fundamental characteristics, it seems, remain…well…fundamental:

N said something at dinner tonight that surprised me.  He said that he didn’t know anything about my fundamental characteristics; my foundational principles.  N and I have known each other for almost 15 years.  Admittedly, we haven’t had a long growing season for our friendship – we’ve always been in and out of touch – mostly out.  It’s been seven years since our last dinner together.  Still, I thought that my life’s philosophy was evident to those around me.  I’m discovering that I was wrong.  So, here’s the five things my friends should know about me – in no particular order:

1. I am a sensualist. I delight in the sensations I experience in the world around me: super-saturated colors, the scent and patter of rain, the graininess of aged cheese, the creaminess of Lindor Milk Chocolate Truffles, the smoky, crackling warmth of a fire, the sounds of the forest, the softness of cashmere, the simplicity and contrast of B&W photos, the tingle and bite of Fleur de Sel on my tongue, and the sweet scent of a narcissus blossoms, to name just a few.  My pleasure is found through the senses.

2. I’m fiercely loyal to those close to me and I expect it in return.  If you’ve betrayed me, it is difficult to regain my trust. Betrayal cuts me deeply. Trust, respect and loyalty are essential. [Editor’s note: Something I’ve been painfully reminded of recently.]

3. I strive for balance; I’m always looking for the Yin/Yang in my life, my work, my spirituality passions, my relationships.  When I’m balanced, I feel the most in tune with life’s pulse.  Yoga, meditation, cooking baking and playing in the dirt help me to balance.

4. I’m an introvert. I spend large chunks of my free time by myself and I like it – need it – that way.  I enjoy my time with others, but need down time alone to “recharge”.  I’m shy and usually uncomfortable around those I don’t know. [Editor’s note: This last year, I’ve been in a phase of more interpersonal connections, but I’m still an introvert at heart. This often surprises new friends.]

5. Contentment is not the same as complacency.  I detest complacency and seek contentment.

My Favorite quote right now:  “There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground” – Rumi  “You can’t change those around you, but you can change those around you.”

Only slightly updated, September 2020


Almond Orange Mini Gateaux Bretons


Ingredients

    Orange Cookies
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup almond flour, toasted
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 9 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
  • ¼ cup plus 2 Tablespoons sugar
  • 2 large egg yolks, room temperature
  • 1 Tablespoon orange flower water
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest
  • Almond Cream
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter, softened
  • ⅓ cup confectioner’s sugar
  • 1 egg
  • ¾ cup almond flour
  • 1 Tablespoons cornstarch
  • sliced almonds

Directions

  1. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, toasted almond flour and salt. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together butter and sugar. Add egg yolks, one at a time, combining between each addition.  Mix in orange flower water and zest.  With the mixer on low,  add flour mixture in 3 additions mixing just until blended (don’t over-mix).
  2. Scrape dough into a piece of plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes or until firm. Preheat oven to 325⁰ F. With floured hands, roll dough into 10 gram balls.  Press dough into the bottom of mini muffin tins.  Dollop with a rounded teaspoon of almond cream and sprinkle with 3 sliced almonds.  Refrigerate again for 10 minutes.
  3. Bake for 18 – 20 minutes until tops are golden. Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes and then release from pan using the tip of a very sharp knife.