Friday, August 16, 2019

Chocolate Ricotta Sandwiches

The only thing I've made out of the Chocolate cookbook my friend gave me is the honeycomb.  I went through and tabbed recipes.  Not as many made the cut as I would have expected from a book devoted to chocolate.  The biggest hindrance to making most of them was that I didn't feel like buying the ingredients.  There are a lot of specialty one-offs in most of the recipes.  Then there was the reason that I already have a version of whatever recipe on this blog and did not feel the need to make it.

These cookies are mostly made with stuff I already had.  I even had just 1/4 C almond flour left.  I'm going to post the ricotta filling, but as you can see from the photo I used marshmallow fluff out of the jar.  The ricotta filling is a standard cannoli filling, and probably tastes great, but I was making these to freeze the cookie part and pull out as needed.  The filling cannot be frozen, and lasts maybe a week in the fridge, but fluff in a jar can hang out in the pantry almost indefinitely.  If I make these to take to a Christmas party or something, I'll definitely do the filling.

I was expecting these to spread out and be crisp because of the high ratio of butter and sugar to flour, but this got a bit excessive.  The first sheet ran together into almost a solid mass.  I was very glad I had decided to bake that sheet while the rest of the dough firmed back up.  The recipe didn't need that much help to look like the photo in the book, so I'm adding half a cup of flour (because I like a fluffy cookie; use 1-1/4 C for thin), a wee bit more baking powder, and the recommendation to re-chill them once shaped.

1-1/2 C flour
*1/4 C almond flour
1/2 C unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1-1/2 C sugar
3/4 C unsalted butter (or margarine and omit the salt above)
1 egg

1/2 C ricotta cheese
4 oz (1/2 brick) cream cheese
1 Tb sugar
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp vanilla

1.  Place flour, almond flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, salt (if using) and sugar in food processor.  Pulse to combine.  Add butter in chunks and the egg.  Process until mixture comes together as a soft dough.
2.  Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes (or freeze up to 1 month).

3.  When ready to bake, preheat oven to 375º.  Line two cookie sheets with parchment or Silpat.

4.  Roll level tablespoons of dough into balls and place on prepared sheets about 2" apart.  Yes, they're small, but they spread out and you get two per sandwich.  Flatten sightly.  Chill tray for 10 minutes.  Bake 8-10 minutes, until not quite firm in the middle.  You can't go by color with a chocolate cookie.  Rotate baking sheets halfway through for even baking.
5.  Let the cookies cool for 2-3 minutes, until firm enough to move.  Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
6.  While they're cooling, make the filling.  Beat together both cheeses, sugar, lemon juice, and vanilla with a spoon until smooth.

7.  Place a dollop of filling between two cookies and lightly press together.  Serve immediately.  Naked cookies can be stored in a sealed container for several days or freezer for a month.  Filling can be refrigerated up to a week; you'll need to beat it again into a spreadable consistency.  Once filled, cookies last no more than 4 hours at room temperature and should not be refrigerated.  (If you go the marshmallow fluff route, you can keep them out a full day.)

Makes about  18-20 filled cookies

Difficulty rating  π

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Exotic on a Dime

Now that I'm experimenting with new cuisines and ingredients, my grocery bills have gone up.  There can be entire recipes that I don't have a single ingredient on hand and have to start from scratch.  At some point, it will even out.  Until then, I'm getting creative and trying to be a smart shopper.

Some ingredients are universal, or close enough.  Flour, rice, most vegetables, chicken...stuff like that.  There will sometimes be a type of fish or cut of meat that's a little harder to find, but even supermarkets now carry international fruits and veggies.  You do have to be willing to pay a little extra for the imported stuff.  I make it up in something simple, like eggs or beans.  What really makes an international dish unique is the combination of herbs and spices in that area's cuisine.
When it comes to spices, I have three economical sources.  The brand It's Delish! is California local and less expensive per ounce.  They also sell in larger quantities, so I generally only buy something that I know I'll use a lot, like cinnamon or paprika.  The best part about this brand is that they do KLP spices at that time of year.  I'm not super strict about my spices being KLP, but if it's something that lasts me roughly a year, I might as well buy it then.
The second source is the spice rack at Sprouts, where I can experiment with small quantities of something new or that I may never use again.  If the checkout scale can't weigh it because I bought so little, the cashier often gives it to me for free.  (I always suggest they weigh all my spices together and use the most expensive one as a basis, but no one has taken me up on that yet.)  It's also where I get my loose leaf tea.  They carry the hard-to-find Darjeeling and even a masala chai-flavored blend.

The third spice source is the Tampico brand.  They carry spices common in Mexican cuisine and farther south.  I finally found the star anise for my masala chai at 1/10 the price of the standard brand.  Perhaps the quality is a touch less, but probably not.  The last bag of dried parsley I opened smelled perfectly fresh.
Then, of course, there's my fennel seed farm out back.  That stuff needs to be so much cheaper in the market than it is.  I let one single plant go to seed, and I'm going to end up with at least a pound.  I have a few heads drying in a bag now, and a few more to cut this week.  Even the 99¢ that Tampico charges for 3 ounces sounds like a ripoff.  I guess you're paying for the 6-8 months that it takes for the plant to go through the maturation process.  The plant also attracts tons of bees, so it's good for pollinating everything in your garden as a bonus.  I'm also going to end up with a full year's worth of coriander seed, but only because I had the best year yet of cilantro.  Can't wait for my pickling cucumbers to mature!

For unusual produce and cuts of meat, you just have to shop the sales and know your markets.  Ethnic grocery stores are often havens for items you would not necessarily consider part of that cuisine.  You never know until you visit one.  I feel like 99 Ranch carries every type of cabbage that exists.  They also tend to have game meats that you don't think of as Asian, like venison and rabbit.

Don't be afraid to try a recipe because you don't recognize an ingredient.  That's what the internet is for.  The "near me" addendum to a search can be very useful.  It may send you to Whole Foods, but at least they have it.  Or, you may discover a new market nearby, down a street you never use, that opens a whole new world of cooking opportunities at a reasonable price.  You never know.

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Fennel and Tomato Tart

My Roma tomatoes this year are my largest yet, though not quite as big as the ones in the market.  Close, and there's a lot of them.  I expect too many to ripen at once, so I can do a batch of oven-dried tomatoes.

The first few tomatoes combined with the last fennel bulb as the main ingredients of this very summery tart.
The tomatoes can go onto this raw if they're thinly sliced, but you have to cook the fennel first.  Caramelized with the shallot, this whole tart turns into the sweetest vegetable pie you've ever had, no sugar added.

There's also a decent amount of cheese involved.  I put the powdered parmesan stuff in the crust with chopped fennel frond, then sprinkled shredded mozzarella on the pie itself.  This isn't a pizza, and I didn't add the eggs needed for a quiche, but you get something richer than a bruschetta.

Room temperature or slightly warm, this can be a light lunch by itself.  Pair it with a bit of fish, chicken, or a salad, and you have dinner.

1 tsp sugar
2 Tb water
*1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 C flour, chilled
*1/4 C grated parmesan
*2 Tb fennel fronds
2 Tb shortening, chilled and in cubes
1/4 C butter, chilled and in cubes
1/2 tsp salt
a few turns of cracked pepper
more chilled water as necessary

1.  Stir together sugar, water, and vinegar until sugar dissolves.  Chill.

2.  In bowl of food processor, pulse together flour, parmesan, salt, pepper, and fennel.  I subbed 1/4 C whole wheat flour, which darkens my crust slightly.
3.  Pulse in shortening until mixture is sandy.  Pulse in butter until about halfway broken down.  Add water mixture and pulse until it comes together.  If still too crumbly to form into a ball, pulse in cold water a couple of teaspoons at a time.  Crust can go from dry to soggy very quickly.

4.  Wrap dough in plastic and refrigerate for 30 minutes.  This rests the dough and allows all the flour to hydrate evenly.
5.  Roll out dough and place in a tart pan with removable bottom.  Mine happens to be a 10" round.  You can use whatever shape you have.  Chill until ready to use.  I made mine a day ahead and put it in the freezer.  As for the scraps, roll them out thinly, cut into squares, and bake as crackers.  They make excellent parmesan crisps!

*1 fennel bulb
1 shallot
1 Tb butter (the real stuff works better for this)
1/2 tsp sugar
salt and pepper
*1/2 C shredded mozzarella
*1/2 lb Roma tomatoes
1.  Thinly slice fennel and shallot in "rings".  Reserve a bit of chopped fennel frond for later.  The fennel will break into celery-like slices as you go.  Melt butter in a skillet over medium heat and add vegetables.  Sauté until they start to soften, stirring frequently.  Add sugar, salt, and pepper and cook until very soft and caramelized.  Set aside.

2.  Thinly slice tomatoes crosswise.  Preheat oven to 375º and get your crust out of the freezer.
3.  Layer on the shredded cheese first, to prevent it from burning and to provide a moisture shield for the crust.  Spread on cooked fennel mixture, then arrange tomato slices.  Sprinkle top with reserved fennel fronds.  Bake until crust is done, about 30 minutes.

4.  Allow to cool until crust is set, then remove tart from pan.  Slice and serve.

Serves about 6

Difficulty rating  :-0

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Cashew Chicken

I used to make recipes out of the Sunset Oriental Cook Book quite a bit when I was in college.  Not so much lately, and I'm realizing it's because I tend to cook leaner nowadays.  Asian food is pretty good for you, especially if you're lactose or gluten intolerant, but there can be quite a bit of oil and fat in there.  I don't stir-fry nearly as much as when I was in my 20s and had no idea how to cook meat safely.

The time commitment in most Asian dishes is in the prep, and this recipe is no different.  It's designed to be cooked table-side in an electric wok.  You can do it just as easily in the kitchen in a skillet over any kind of stove.  The ingredients don't have to be plated as artfully when you do that.
If you can find "chicken breasts for stir fry", go for it.  The extra dollar per pound over standard boneless/skinless is worth it.  I bought the stage before that, thin-cut boneless/skinless breasts, because it was the closest to the weight I wanted.  Cutting that into strips and squares only took a couple of minutes.  Anything that low fat and pumped full of saline will get freezer burn easily, so I only bought what I wanted to use.

You'll note that the recipe calls for Chinese peas in the pod.  That's so you can pick them up with chopsticks.  There weren't any in the frozen section, the fresh ones cost almost as much as the chicken, and I had already sunk a lot of money into this recipe, so I made the executive decision to use regular frozen peas and a fork.

1 lb boneless/skinless chicken breasts
1/2 lb Chinese peas in the pod or 1 C regular frozen peas
1/2 lb mushrooms
4 green onions
1 can sliced bamboo shoots
1 C reduced sodium chicken stock
1/4 C soy sauce
2 Tb cornstarch
1/2 tsp sugar
salt to taste
1/4 C vegetable oil
4 oz whole cashew nuts

1.  Slice chicken 1/8" thick, then cut in 1" squares.  If using fresh peas, remove the ends and strings.  Wash and slice mushrooms (or buy sliced).  Slice white parts of onions 1/4" thick; cut greens 1" long.  Drain bamboo shoots.  Mix together soy sauce, cornstarch, and sugar into a slurry.
2.  Heat 1 Tb oil over medium in a large skillet with a lid (or a wok).  Add nuts and cook, shaking pan, until lightly toasted.  Remove from pan and set aside.
3.  Add remaining oil and the chicken.  Cook, stirring frequently, until opaque on all sides.  Add peas, mushrooms, and bamboo shoots.  Pour in the broth, cover, and simmer until the mushrooms are as done as you like them.  For me, that was about 10 minutes, but I don't like any hint of raw mushroom.
4.  Stir the soy sauce slurry again, then add to the liquid in the skillet.  Stir and cook until thickened.  The sauce will be a little gelatinous.  Taste and add salt if necessary.  Add the green onions and nuts.  Serve hot, maybe with rice or other Chinese side dishes.

Difficulty rating  :)

Sunday, August 4, 2019

Blueberry-Cherry Jam

I have gotten into having English muffins for breakfast.  They're tearing through my jam supplies, and I'm still determined to have my tea party before the Autumnal Equinox.  So, when that magical week hit that the 18oz packs of blueberries were $1.88 and cherries were $1.49/lb, I snapped up a package of each. All that was left was to decide what flavors to combine with them.

I've been kind of obsessed with cardamom since my first adventures into Indian cuisine.  It has that lovely tea-like aroma and an umami depth, even in pastries.  I decided that was just the right thing to add to this jam.  Feel free to change it up for ginger, cloves, cinnamon, or even a savory herb or orange peel.

I suggest wearing red or purple, or at least an apron, when you make this.  If you're stupid enough to wear a white skirt, OxyClean laundry spray does a remarkable job of getting out the stain.  I wasn't expecting it to.  I don't get anything from them for saying this; it just worked.

18 oz blueberries
8 oz cherries, weighed after pitting
2 C sugar
*1 Tb pectin
*3 Tb lemon juice
*1 tsp grated lemon zest
1/2 tsp ground cardamom (optional)

1.  Wash the blueberries and mash them in a bowl with a fork or potato masher.  Chop the cherries into halves or smaller.

2.  In a wide-bottomed pot, combine the sugar and pectin.  Add the fruit and stir to mix.  Allow to sit and macerate until the sugar has dissolved, 5-10 minutes.
3.  If canning, prepare jars for a yield of just under two pints.  I did three half-pint jars and had two 4oz jars ready.  Only needed one.  Start a boiling water bath and warm lids in simmering water.

4.  Bring fruit mixture to a boil over medium heat.  Boil about 15 minutes, skimming foam as necessary, until candy-looking bubbles start to break about 1/4" across.  There are more scientific ways of determining set, like temperature or the frozen-plate test, but I've learned how to eyeball it based on the bubbles.  Add lemon juice, zest, and cardamom and return to a boil until jam is glossy, bubbles are about 1/2" diameter, and the mixture sheets off the spoon.
5.  Ladle mixture into hot jars.  Wipe rims clean, center warm lids, and screw on bands finger-tight.  Process in boiling water bath for 15 minutes.  Remove from pot and allow to cool to room temperature.  Any jars with failed seals can be refrigerated or frozen.  When cool, remove rims, wipe jars clean, and store away from heat and sunlight for up to 1 year.

Makes about 3-1/2 cups

Difficulty rating  π for refrigeration/freezing, :) for canned

Thursday, August 1, 2019

Steak Medici

I haven't made steak in a long time.  Being a part-time vegetarian, I didn't realize how much a nice cut of meat costs.  Most of the beef I buy is either ground or some kind of roast/stew meat.  Once I got over the sticker shock of $10.99/lb for boneless top sirloin, I had to face up to $16 for the port.  At least the latter will last for quite some time, or until I ever get around to this year's tea party.  That's on hold while I remodel a room.  The tea should be its grand reveal.

I was actually doing comparisons on a different recipe from a couple of the cookbooks, when I turned to a page in the Bible I had never used.  Going online for variations, this seems to be the prevailing one and possibly an invention of GH.  As far as I'm concerned, that counts for this blog topic.  I'll do the roast I was originally researching when I have a full day to commit to it.

4 Tb butter or margarine
4 beef top loin steaks, boneless, 3/4" thick (about 24 oz)
1/2 lb sliced mushrooms
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 C ruby port wine
chopped parsley for garnish (or, if you forgot to put parsley on your shopping list, whatever fresh herb you have around)

1.  In 12" skillet over medium-high heat, melt 2 Tb butter.  Brown steaks on both sides, about 3 minutes per side for rare.  I'm on the medium end of the spectrum and went for 5.  Remove steaks to a serving platter and keep warm.
2.  In same skillet, lower heat to medium and melt the remaining butter.  Add the mushrooms and salt.  Cook, stirring frequently, until the mushrooms are tender.  They will give off a lot of water.  If you want a thicker sauce, turn up the heat and let it reduce.
3.  Add the wine, scraping the bottom to loosen any browned bits.  That's called deglazing.  It also gives most of the alcohol a moment to burn off.

4.  Pour mushroom and wine mixture over steaks.  Garnish with chopped fresh parsley and serve hot.

Difficulty rating  π

Monday, July 29, 2019

Chickpea and Spinach Dip

This is inspired by the palak paneer, but way less effort.  For one thing, I decided not to be snobby and buy frozen spinach.

I'm calling it a dip, but it's more like a creamy side dish.  Think chunky mashed potato texture.  I wasn't exactly in the mood for hummus, but something close to it.

2/3 C dry chickpeas or 1 can, rinsed
2 C frozen spinach
*1/4 C diced red onion
*1 clove garlic, minced
salt and white pepper
1/4 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp paprika
2 Tb olive oil
Greek yogurt for garnish

1.  The day before, soak chickpeas in 3 C water for a minimum of 12 hours.  Drain.  Refill pot with water and simmer beans for at least 2 hours.  Drain.

2.  Cook spinach in a saucepan with a few tablespoons of water until wilted and warm.  In a skillet, heat oil over medium heat.  Sautée onion until soft, about 5 minutes.  Add garlic, cumin, paprika, salt, and pepper and heat until fragrant.
3.  Place spinach and onion mix in food processor.  Run until smooth.  Add drained cooked chickpeas and pulse.  Add more olive oil for a thinner consistency.

4.  Serve hot, with yogurt for garnish.

Difficulty rating  :)

Friday, July 26, 2019

Rolled Fish Fillets with Dill Sauce

The second cookbook I flipped through, Sunset magazine's Easy Basics for Good Cooking (1982), wasn't the recipe bonanza the first had been.  It's very basic, and compiled by someone obsessed with sherry, tarragon, and bacon.  This person had no idea what to do with vegetables and gave beans a passing glance.  It kind of looks like something a guy might use to impress his girlfriend with rudimentary culinary skills.  Yes, that sounds sexist, but think 1982.

I did find a few things worth trying.  This fish recipe came off as elegant and is broken down into easy steps, as the book's title suggests.  None of the recipes are particularly complex.  With the weather settling into a normal summer pattern, it's a stretch for me to make hot dinners at all.  Pretty impressed that I could make this in a single skillet in less than an hour.  I was also impressed that it called for half&half instead of full cream.  It doesn't lighten the calories all that much, but it's a start.

The original recipe called for sole, but the market only had tilapia or cod for their white fillet options.  I'm not fond of tilapia and got the cod.  Kind of broke the grocery budget, but this recipe makes a lot. Two pounds of fish means you can have this at a dinner party for six and a couple of people get seconds.

2 lbs white fish fillets (8 small fillets like sole or tilapia, or cut up larger ones like halibut or cod)
1/4 C butter, divided
1 small carrot
1 stalk celery
1 small leek
salt, pepper, and dill weed to taste
1/2 C dry white wine
2 Tb flour
1/2 C half-and-half
1/2 tsp Dijon mustard

1.  To prepare the veggies, cut carrot and celery in julienne strips about 2" long.  Cut the whites of the leek into similar 2" strips.  Discard the greens or save for stock.
2.  Melt 2 Tb butter in a large skillet with a lid.  Stir in vegetables and cook over medium 2 minutes.  Cover pan, reduce heat to low, and cook until veggies are soft, about 10 minutes.  Set aside to cool a bit.
3.  Working in batches, set fillets on a work surface.  If needed, cut into smaller pieces and/or slice laterally to make no thicker than 1/2".  Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and dill.  I put too much pepper on mine.  By the time you can see it, there's at least enough.  Place a small bundle of the steamed vegetables on one end and roll up fish.  Place seam-side down in the skillet (off the heat).  Repeat until all fillets are filled and arrange in the skillet.
4.  Add the wine and enough water to come up at least 1/2".  Bring to just below a boil over medium-high heat, then lower to a simmer and cover.  Cook until fish is opaque, never allowing the water to come to a full boil, about 10-15 minutes.  Remove rolls to a platter and keep warm while you prepare the sauce.
5.  Strain out 1 cup of poaching liquid and discard the rest.  Combine it with the half-and-half.  Make a roux with the remaining 2 Tb butter and the flour.  Cook in the skillet until no longer floury, then add the cream mixture.  Bring to a boil, stirring, until thickened.  Taste and add salt, pepper, and dill as desired.  Spoon over fish.

Serves 6-8

Difficulty rating  :)

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Masala Chai

My recent adventures into Indian cooking led me to a chai recipe.  Plus, I had bought more green cardamom pods than I needed for the palak paneer.

The first result of my research was a language lesson.  Chai means tea.  Saying "Chai Tea" is like saying "La Brea Tar Pits".  Bit of redundancy.  What a person really means is "Masala Chai", or "Spiced Tea".

I also learned that, like any recipe based on a spice mix, the ingredients are a personal choice.  The majority are what one would consider sweet spices, but there are hints of savory and "spicy" in there too.  Kind of like putting cayenne in Mexican hot chocolate.  I admit that I'm sticking closer to the sweet spice side, but I'm also not putting in as much sugar as most of the recipes.  I couldn't find star anise and didn't feel like going to another market, so I'm subbing in whole allspice.  You can do things like that with a malleable, spice-driven recipe.

I'm also putting in the tea later.  Chai recipes generally have you boil the spices and tea leaves together for five minutes.  That sounds far too bitter to me, so I'm boiling the spices for five and adding the tea after all the other ingredients for another ten off the heat.  There's still a strong tea flavor because of the quantity used, but the bitterness of brewing too long is removed.

As for the tea, I did not find any recommendations on what blend to use, other than it should be loose leaf.  It must be a personal choice.  I would stay away from a scented one like Earl Grey.  Plain varieties include Orange Pekoe (Lipton), Assam, English Breakfast, and Ceylon.  Darjeeling has a more delicate flavor, if you want less "tea" in your chai.

1 whole star anise or *4 whole allspice
*4 whole cloves
4 cardamom pods
4 whole peppercorns
1/2 tsp ground ginger
2" cinnamon stick, broken in a few pieces
2 C water
*2C milk
2 Tb sugar
2 Tb loose leaf black tea

1.  Crack open cardamom pods and star anise.  Add to a saucepan with remaining spices and the water.  Bring to a boil and cook for about 5 minutes, until the mixture smells like the finished chai.
2.  Add milk and sugar and bring back up to a low boil.  Be careful not to scorch the milk by stirring frequently.  Remove from heat, stir in tea leaves, and cover.  Steep 5-10 minutes, depending how strong you like your tea.
Action shot
3.  Strain mixture into cups.  If you can find them, drop a cardamom skin into each mug.

4.  Chai can be served hot or over ice.  Store any leftovers in the fridge for up to 3 days.

Makes 1 quart: 4 mug servings or 8-12 Indian servings.

Difficulty rating  π

Saturday, July 20, 2019

Boysenberry Ice Cream

The next time I had an accumulation of boysenberries, it was starting to get warm.  Time for homemade ice cream!

My personal ice cream affection is for something in the chocolate and/or mint family, but it's hard to pass up an ice cream made from something I picked myself.  (See Beet Ice Cream)

I went with an eggless, non-custard recipe for this one.  I'm also going light on the cream and more into ice-milk territory.  None of the recipes I researched included sugar.  Either the developers have a fondness for a tart berry, or I'm picking these far too early.  I chose to cook mine down with some of the simple syrup from the one jar of preserved berries that didn't seal.  Not a huge amount of sugar, but enough to reduce the sting.

You can substitute blackberries or raspberries in the same volume.  I made this recipe roughly equal to three 5-6oz packages.  Not everyone has a berry bush in their yard.

This recipe does rely on the possession of an ice cream maker.  If you don't have one, you can pour the mixture into a loaf pan and rake a fork through it every 30 minutes in the freezer until firm.  I vote for spending $50 on an ice cream maker.

*3 C boysenberries
1/2 C sugar or 2/3 C boysenberry simple syrup
1 tsp vanilla
1 C heavy whipping cream
*1 C half-and-half

1.  Rinse berries.  Combine in a pot with the sugar or simple syrup and bring to a low boil.  Skim off foam as necessary, like you were making jam, but don't let the mixture get to any setting temperature.  Reduce by about half, which will take longer if you're using the added water of simple syrup.  Allow to cool until no longer steaming.
2.  This step is optional.  If you want a seedless, smooth product, run the cooked berries through a food mill or sieve.  For an ice cream with a bit of texture, proceed to the next step.  I just smashed the berries while they were cooking.  I like chunky ice cream.

3.  Stir in cream, half-and-half, and vanilla.  Cool in the fridge for several hours or overnight.
4.  Process in ice cream maker to a soft-serve consistency.  Place in final container and freeze for at least 2 hours before serving, to firm up.

5.  If necessary, let sit on the counter to soften before scooping.

Makes about 1 quart

Difficulty rating  :)