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    Whidbey Island, WA
  1. I've found a lot of variety in cardamom strength and flavor, and the strength fades quickly as it ages. The seeds and pods I used in India were amazingly strong smelling and tasting -- I totally overpowered my chai, using the same amount as at home. It's one of the spices I now refresh every few months, throwing the old stuff away (or into the mulling spices bag).
  2. I've tried using several different fresh mints from my herb garden, and a package of fresh (ish) mint from the grocery. All of them were steeped at 100F for an hour, then leaves strained out. This gave a subtle, more "earthy" mint flavor than commercial green or pink mint ice cream -- I liked the earthiness, but was overruled by the critics, who preferred the batch made with bottled peppermint extract added to a cooling 4-egg custard. They also liked straciatella better than choc chips in the mint. Bartenders use a "muddler", or a wooden pestle, to lightly mash mint in a julep cup. "Bruisi
  3. I had 1/4lb of leftover milk chocolate last week, after making pastries and ice cream while visiting family on vacation (having schlepped two big boxes of cooking tools, paella gear, and ice cream maker 800 miles). I poured a hot unflavored batch of DL's "Fleur de Lait" cornstarch ice cream over the chopped chocolate, whisking to melt & combine. I also made a normal unflavored batch as control, to see how the mouthfeel changed. It wasn't as strongly flavored and rich as DL's standard milk chocolate recipe (4-egg custard + 8oz milk chocolate), but had similar mouthfeel to the unflavored -
  4. I didn't find any notes anywhere about chocolate cornstarch ice cream, so you might be a pioneer! Adding fat as cocoa butter will change the mouthfeel -- might make it better, who knows. To keep the texture the same, use cocoa solids (powder) only. "Dutch Process" cocoa powder is less acidic than regular, and brings a milder flavor. First I'd try thoroughly whisking 4T (1/4c) quality dutch-process cocoa powder into the milk/sugar, then adding the cream/cornstarch as normal. Then a second batch melting 1/3c bittersweet or semi-sweet chips into the milk/sugar. A third batch with 3T chips a
  5. Not baking, but ice cream. The low-priced ingredient matcha was preferred over good drinking matcha and really expensive ritual matcha. The recipe calls for 4tsp matcha for a quart of ice cream, which was suitable strong. As hot tea, the cheap matcha was unpalatable. -jon-
  6. After a similar discussion with friends last fall, I bought some *really* expensive matcha powder, some really cheap stuff, and the moderately expensive stuff I've always used. In ice cream, they all tasted nearly the same -- the cheaper stuff was a little better, having a stronger "green grass" flavor. In hot tea, totally the opposite -- the cheap stuff was unpalatable, the top-shelf stuff was tastiest. On a different note, the parallel saffron "experiment" showed higher quality saffron made way better ice cream, where quality didn't relate to price. The supermarket stuff was mediocre, and
  7. For steeping vanilla or other flavors, I bring the soup to 120F and let it sit (covered) for an hour or two -- the whole time slightly concerned this is smack in the middle of the "danger zone" for food holding. Then I remove the vanilla pod, add egg yolks, and raise to custard temp (155-160F, 170F if I'm serving immune-compromised guests). I use a non-contact infrared thermometer ($35 at the local industrial supply shop) to measure stovetop liquids. I'm not sure what "less creamy" means. Less richness means less fat, by using lighter fat content cream or replacing some cream with milk. Yo
  8. Try it with the salted nuts, it might suit your less-sweet taste. If not, the salt is nearly all on the surface, so a quick rinse under the tap should remove it. I don't remember whether the nuts I bought were salted or not -- just grabbed a bag from the grocer's shelf, and shelled them at home, trying to not nibble what I needed for the recipe. If your grocer has root beer extract (probably on the shelf near the vanilla), stir a teaspoon into your basic 1qt custard recipe. Tastes much like a root beer float. -jon-
  9. Some of the recipes are definitely sweeter, and some are almost savory. I've made nearly all the recipes in the book, with notes in the margins refining many of them to my taste. And I've found a lot of variety in folks' sweet tooths -- some really like the mouth puckering super-lemon, others really like the malted milk and cheesecake. My favorite is the black pepper ice cream, made with some bright tellicherri peppercorns. I use really good quality slow-pasteurized whole milk (4%) and heavy cream (36%) from a local dairy, and modified the basic custard to use 2c milk and 1c cream, as we fo
  10. Actually, current NEC only requires countertop outlets in a residential kitchen to be GFCI protected. Commonly, the same circuit will service the dishwasher and garbage disposal, neither of which are countertop outlets, even if the control switch is countertop. A disposal was one of the first things I added to our new home -- knowing that this means more attention to the septic system and perhaps more frequent pumpouts. I've lived in several homes with disposal and septic, and never had any issue. But we don't put meats, fats, or anything unchewable through it. -jon-
  11. My local woodworking store sells 36" long 1-1/2" hardwood (oak, maple, cherry, walnut) dowels for $10. 2-1/2" diameter dowels are $25 for a 30" length. Any decent (non-warehouse) hardware store sells them. They'll probably cut it to the length you want, free. -jon-
  12. I also follow DL's recipe, but with 2c milk & 1c cream, and one less yolk -- we apparently like our dessert a little less rich than he does, where it's not coating the spoon with butterfat. After a lot of experimenting, I've settled on taking the custard to 160F (IR non-contact thermometer), strain, then rapidly cooling (soup chiller) before mixing into the chilled cream + flavoring. Might want to cook to a higher temp for serving to the infant and infirm, or use pasteurized egg whites. -jon-
  13. I thought blast chillers operated at a significantly lower temperature than reach-in freezers. Would adding fans to the inside of a reach-in cause things to freeze faster, assuming they could move enough air? I think I have some experiments to perform with my ice cream holding freezer. -jon-
  14. For that kinda budget, you could put a small reach-in in the kitchen and the den, then have walk-ins next to where the wife parks. It might be a little more costly to operate, but EnergyStar ratings probably aren't of high import for the higher-end shoppers. I'd certainly be more impressed with a walk-in than some shiny kitchen cooler.
  15. Several of us at work went in on a few ounces from them this winter, along with some packs of vanilla beans. Good product at a good price -- and I like having a pint jar of saffron in the cupboard for experimenting. (Saffron gelato? Sure!) A good friend, visiting for dinner, said she loves saffron rice, but the grocery store prices make her cringe. We sent her home with a little half-cup mason jar of threads -- along with a warning to use a gentle hand, it's much stronger than the tired stuff she might be used to. -jon-
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