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Kirk's Traveling Kitchen News and Blog


Christmas Comes Early.

Every once in a while a food person gets the opportunity to work with some of the best kitchen ingredients out there. Whether it's from cooking at a foodie friend's house who stocked their pantry just for your cooking pleasure or working with a gourmet gift basket of culinary goodies presented to you as congratulatory gesture, when you get to cook with the GOOD stuff it's a real treat. I recently received a varied order of food exquisites (really amazing food) as part of my job up here in Michigan. This culinary teasure came from my friends at Great Ciao in Minneapolis, where they must take those long, cold winters to think hard about great food and what goes into it. This order had some really special items: Ames Farm Honey, Blu del Moncenisio cheese from Italy, Pastificio Marella pastas, Wild Tuscan Pine Nuts, Etc.. As a cook it's not every day you get to work with as varied and unique a pantry as this when cooking, so you appreciate it when the opportunity presents itself. The key is to not lose what makes these ingredients so special (and often-times expensive): the people who make these products are perfectionists about their craft. And their ingredients typically have a complexity and nuance that are best appreciated when they're used in dishes that allow them to shine. This is the perfect time of year to be working with these food jewels, when local produce is in full-swing and at its best. So for the time being I can do without the candycanes and chestnuts, but bring on the sea salt flavored with flecks of white truffle sprinkled over perfect creamer potatoes.

As a recipe for the season (when delicious berries and fruits are prevalent), and with an emphasis on simple recipes to accompany great ingredients, here's my Vanilla Bean Ice Cream recipe:

Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

Milk 1 1/2Cups
Vanilla Bean (split) 1
Sugar 1/2Cup + 1 Tablespoon

Egg Yolks 5
Heavy Cream 3/4Cup

Preparation: Scald milk, split/scraped vanilla bean and half of the sugar. Steep for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, cream remaining sugar and egg yolks. Boil milk and temper egg mixture, combine in double boiler while whisking steadily, cook for 10-20 minutes until thickens to custard-like consistency.

Refrigerate immediately with vanilla bean (preferably over night). Before mixing in ice cream maker, remove bean and add cream. Follow manufacturers instructions on churning. Makes approximately 4 cups.