Friday, August 17, 2012

"Mia and Jeni" doesn't really have a good ring to it, but...

...I think I have a new culinary idol, a bit like Julie Powell's admiration for Julia Child:

Jeni Britton Bauer of Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams.

Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams scoop shop in Chagrin Falls, Ohio
photo by my brother Carlo

photo by my brother Carlo

I am not much of a cookbook hoarder. I remember browsing through Half-Price Books and purchasing a few cheap, not-that-great cookbooks that ended up gathering dust (and ended up being either donated or sold back to Half-Price Books). Apart from cookbook "classics" like Julia Child and Marcella Hazan, I am more inclined to get books on the fundamentals, such as Ratio by Michael Ruhlman (I want to get this one as well, also by Ruhlman.). And by the way, whoever said Cleveland is the "Mistake By The Lake" is so wrong - we have an acclaimed food writer, and a food scene that can rival any other city here in the US. We have amazing restaurants, excellent pastries and French macarons that I'm certain can hold their own against Ladurée in Paris (not that I've been there, but...) and community-supported agriculture. And we have an Iron Chef.

(I'm not even a born-and-bred Clevelander nor Ohioan, let alone a born-and-bred American. Still, I always think it's good to appreciate the gifts of any city/state I live in. But let's not get into the Cleveland winters.)

Ok, I deviate. Back to the original topic.

When I saw that Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams at Home cost just $14 on Amazon, I decided to go for it.

Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams at Home

It is a lovely, lovely book. I've tried two recipes so far (just simple ones for now - vanilla frozen yogurt, roasted strawberry buttermilk) and they are spot on - just like the ice cream you would get at her scoop shop or her website. I personally think that it is in the simplest concoctions, with relatively few ingredients, that you can see the value of a really good, fundamental recipe - that when all these ingredients are mixed together in the right proportions and work together in perfect chemistry, the flavor of each ingredient truly shines. So yes, maybe it's a little premature because I've only tried a few recipes - but ice cream calls for the same custard/ice cream base to which flavors, fruits, nuts, etc are added. And I already know, this basic recipe is a winner.

And the thing about really good ice cream is - when you use quality ingredients (no nonfat or other shortcuts here!), the fresh flavor and lingering, creamy mouthfeel is just so exceptional that it doesn't take a whole lot of ice cream to feel satisfied*. So our freezer is filling up! Help?

My next project though is Scarlet and Earl Grey ice cream, because I love anything Earl Grey. Yup, I've been bonding with my ice cream maker.

But more than the recipes, Jeni also wrote about the backstory of business, her commitment to local farmers, artisans, and suppliers or vendors at her nearby North Market in Columbus. She included stories, pictures, and descriptions of the farmers themselves. I think what the book highlights, aside from the recipes, is that "it takes a village" to make these splendid ice creams.

It's something I've been thinking about as well for my little cookie venture. I contacted a family-run dairy farm for butter - as shortbread calls for the best butter you can find.

So yes, I kind of feel like Julie in the book/movie "Julie and Julia", wanting to cook my way through a great cookbook. Though I won't try to do what Julie Powell did and cook a new recipe every day for a year, I know this is a cookbook I will thoroughly enjoy.

Homemade vanilla frozen yogurt with strawberries. Take that, Pinkberry!

Roasted Strawberry Buttermilk ice cream. It's not the perfectly sculpted, rounded scoop, but it was SOOO good.

* I have to admit to enjoying my homemade version of Jeni's ice cream at 11 am. That counts as lunch, right?

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Anne said...

what? you need help clearing your freezer of ice cream? i’ll volunteer ;-)

Mia (Savor Everyday) said...

Come visit!!! :)

Carlo G said...

Salty Caramel from Jeni's is by far the best ice cream i've tried. I'm salivating just thinking about it.

We have the same cookbook. It was nice to read that she sources her Cacao from farmers at Davao, Philippines.

-- Carlo.

Mia (Savor Everyday) said...

Hi Carlo! Yes, I saw that too... and I have actually tried chocolate from that company (Askinosie). The Philippines-sourced chocolate is really good!

Let me know which Jeni's recipe you end up trying!

krishwala said...

It's too bad we're so far away or I'd be over now for the ice cream.

Anonymous said...

Have you tried the earl grey yet?! Make some and ship it to me!

Mia (Savor Everyday) said...

Krishna: I know...... (sniff)

Sarah: Wish it were that easy! It will be Earl Grey "cream" by the time it gets to you...

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