Tag Archives: summer

Double Scoop Ice Cream Review: Ben and Jerry’s Cannoli and German Chocolate Gelato (with Video!)

Gentle Readers, summer is not officially here, but the mosquitoes certainly are. In an effort to balance the scales of karma, I have declared it open season on ice cream yet again. Last year, here in The Practical Cook test kitchen, we sampled a number of the controversially named Ben and Jerry’s ice creams.

Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream Pyramid: I have more selection than the corner store.

Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream Pyramid: I have more selection than the corner store.

This year, we’re expanding our reach to whatever is on sale, sounds interesting, or we’re challenged to test. Game on gentle readers. That’s not contrapuntal at all.

I digress, let’s roll the tape:

Two flavors were tried, the first being Cannoli (why is it not Holy Cannoli? Looking at you Ben.) from Ben and Jerry’s. This is mascarpone ice cream with pastry shell chunks and some chocolate. Infinitely edible, just not 100% for me. Very strong flavor in the ice cream–would have preferred a lighter touch there. If you’re a cannoli fan, though, give it a try.

This should be called Holy Cannoli because the mascarpone slaps you. (Cannoli Ice Cream from Ben and Jerry's)

This should be called Holy Cannoli because the mascarpone slaps you. (Cannoli Ice Cream from Ben and Jerry’s)

Next up was my personal favorite, German Chocolate Cake Gelato from Talenti. Lighter than ice cream, but deeply flavorful, I do love coconut. Bonus, they didn’t try to make it taste like cake, and it’s full of ingredients a 5 year old can read.

German Chocolate Cake Gelato from Talenti with the delightful screw top. It's the little things that make me happy.

German Chocolate Cake Gelato from Talenti with the delightful screw top. It’s the little things that make me happy.

TPC’s Mom says the Belgian Chocolate from this brand is even better, but I’m yet to find it in the wild. If you are a fan of the Chocolate Coconut Almond from Ben and Jerry’s, or Almond Joys, this is for you. Coconut haters, this will be to you as Nutella is to me.

Beautiful presentation, but beware, those are hazelnuts.

Beautiful presentation, but beware, those are hazelnuts. (AKA, they taste like rancid.)

That’s it for now. Summer is long, and more taste tests are coming. Let me know if you’ve found the bestest or strangest flavor, I’ll be happy to try it on air. What’s your favorite flavor right now? Post a comment, or send a Tweet my way!

Send waffle cones, flavors to try, and actual questions to practical cook at gmail dot com. Connect on Facebook: The Practical Cook Blog. (Thanks in advance for spreading The Practical Cook Blog word. Press “like” on Facebook today! Also, follow the food pictures on Instagram @amylewi.)

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Coming up Sunday, Weekly Menus, Al Fresco Edition.

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Weekly Menus: Week of 8/12/2012

Gentle Readers, it is hard to believe that summer is drawing to a close. I will fully admit that I’m reaching the end of my tomato consuming capacity, I’m done with humidity, and I look forward even to the structure the school year will bring. Perhaps that’s because this was a summer like any other for Team Practical Cook: we embraced it with both arms and squeezed.

Mango dessert at ONE Restaurant. "I'm going to eat this until it's gone." --The Youngest

Mango dessert at ONE Restaurant. “I’m going to eat this until it’s gone.” –The Youngest

I haven’t been in the kitchen as much it seems, but when I am, there has been great joy and relative simplicity. It has been about cooking with and for more people, new adventures, new places, new tastes. There’s an incredible backlog of things to try, and I look forward to working through that list this fall. Please keep your challenges and questions coming, they will be addressed as the seasons turn.

Summer adventures in the Guggenheim.

Summer adventures in the Guggenheim.

Enough waxing poetic, we still all have to eat. Here’s what’s on the menu this week:

Weekly Menus: 8/12/2012

Weekly Menus: 8/12/2012

And the Four-Square Grocery Shopping List:

The Four-Square Grocery Shopping List: 8/13/2012

The Four-Square Grocery Shopping List: 8/13/2012

The above is still so lean because we continue to get vegetable drive-bys from the family. Not complaining, just explaining how I can feed the family without ever apparently shopping for food.

Which all translates into:

Sunday: Eggplant Parm or Dine Out
I know, I know, we are dining out a lot. But the Juniors have a much richer social calendar than I do, and I have to accommodate the requests for their time. Field research has been fantastic, more on this upcoming. Otherwise, we’re making Italian food at home.

Monday: Nachos!
A family favorite. We’re taste testing different chips, and this is a good way to use them up. Our version is with black beans and sweet potatoes, cheesy without being gloppy, and no meat.

Tuesday: Salad Surprise
The other trick of this summer has been lots of salad. Great way to use up leftovers. Always evolving, and make it according to your own personal style.

Wednesday: Pancake Courses
We’ve been challenged to create a 3-course pancake meal. This will either be the test run or the live edition, if the guest of honor (aka, the challenger) is available. It will be appetizer pancakes (small cornmeal ones), savory crepes, then a dessert pancake (like an apple fritter).

Thursday: Beef and Veg
We really have to use up the cow in the freezer. It’s becoming a friend at this point.

Friday: Soup and Sammie
The heat has broken enough that soup (not just gazpacho) is on my mind again.

What is your summer food memory for this year? Share your comment below! It’s wide open there, like the beach first thing in the morning.

Send all challenges, strokes of brilliance, and gold medals to practical cook at gmail dot com. Connect on Facebook: The Practical Cook Blog. (Thanks in advance for spreading The Practical Cook Blog word. Press “like” on Facebook today!)

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Coming up Wednesday: Simply Herb Pasta Recipe.

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Mayo Controversy: Duke’s vs. Hellmann’s (Miracle Whip Need Not Apply)

Gentle Readers, tomato season is upon us, and every year, with it comes controversy. First, we have the mayo haters. They can excuse themselves at this point. For the rest of us, there is the question of brand. Most people agree the proper tomato sandwich consists of white bread, tomatoes, mayo, and salt and pepper.

My first tomato sandwich of the season. Southern bliss.

My first tomato sandwich of the season. Southern bliss.

But is it Duke’s or Hellmann’s? Please say it isn’t Miracle Whip. I have never met a single person who actually enjoyed that stuff. If you do or did, please post a comment and let us all know why. Seriously, I want to know this.

Sliced Tomatoes with a Dab of Mayo

Sliced Tomatoes with a Dab of Mayo

Back to the topic at hand. First, know that every professional foodie (chefs and everyone else) I’ve ever asked has an opinion and a love of the tomato sandwich. I find Duke’s a bit eggier, which is not a negative. I like both to be honest, but somehow Duke’s seems more appropriate in a Southern context.

Sliced Tomatoes with Sea Salt and Mayo

Sliced Tomatoes with Sea Salt and Mayo

However, right now I have Hellmann’s in the fridge! And the first sammie of the season was still delish. Alas, it will require a lot more field research. Vote today, post a comment or Tweet my way! Duke’s vs. Hellmann’s!

Send your vine-ripened tomatoes, white bread, and actual questions to practical cook at gmail dot com. Connect on Facebook: The Practical Cook Blog. (Thanks in advance for spreading The Practical Cook Blog word. Press “like” on Facebook today!)

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Up next on Sunday, Weekly Menus, Picnic Edition.

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Weekly Menus: Week of 7/17/2011

This Sunday, I have been met with a vegetable drive-by. If you don’t know anyone with a garden, let me show you what it looks like.

Vegetable Abundance

Vegetable Abundance

So I’ll be producing a full-out Sunday dinner later, and sharing as well (looking at you Complicated Veggie). It’s great to be back in the kitchen, even if I still feel hungry for dinner at 10 pm EST, courtesy of my jet lag.

Weekly Menus this week:

Weekly Menus 7/17/2011

Weekly Menus 7/17/2011

Four-Square Grocery List (which I’ve already shopped for, efficient!):

Four-Square Grocery List 7/17/11

Four-Square Grocery List 7/17/11

CSA from Brinkley Farms:

1 lb tomatillos $3.00
2 lbs regular eggplant $3.00
2 pablano peppers $1.00
1 red seedless watermelons $5.00

Which means:

Sunday: Sunday Dinner
Still pondering the main, but the go-withs include black-eyed peas, cukes and onions, sliced tomatoes, corn on the cob, squash in some format, fried okra, possibly potatoes. The table may beg for mercy, and I may send out invites.

Monday: Fish and Veg
Salmon Cakes and more okra.

Tuesday: Mexican
May switch this with Thursday so I can make another Mexican Squash Casserole. Otherwise, burritos.

Wednesday: Sammies
With cukes on the side, probably tomato sandwiches.

Thursday: Pasta Bake
Great way to lower the veg count.

Friday: Steak and Potatoes or Casserole
This may also be a leftover day, we shall see.

Saturday: Dine out!
I’m feeling either the picnic platter at Crook’s Corner, or a Food Truck Rodeo.

Have you experienced the veggie drive-by? Post a comment or send a Tweet.

Got questions? Email practical cook at gmail dot com. Connect on Facebook: The Practical Cook Blog. (Thanks in advance for spreading the Practical Cook Blog word. Press “like” on Facebook today!)

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Up next, Hazelnuts, Why Do You Mock Me?

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Creating the Perfect Summer Picnic Platter

Gentle readers, this just in, summer is here in humidity, even if the calendar hasn’t caught up. The Practical Cook adores a picnic, and her picnic ideas are very much an homage to Bill Smith of Crook’s Corner. Perhaps it’s because he really loves, and has perfected cold fried chicken. Yes, open the confessional booth, the Practical Cook prefers cold chicken over hot.

For the vegetarian readers, fear not, a swap will be suggested. The key elements here are “fried” and “cold.”

And because I am practical above all things, I bought the fried chicken at the store. Yes, it’s not that this is a no-fried zone, it’s just I’ve never found the effort to be worth the mess and clean-up. Not when respectable cold fried chicken is available elsewhere.

So here is the composition of the Perfect Summer Picnic Platter (in Spring):

Summer Picnic Platter Featuring Cold Fried Chicken

Summer Picnic Platter Featuring Cold Fried Chicken

1. Cold Fried Chicken. Make your own, buy it, up to you. For the veggies, consider a nice fried corn fritter (or try one of the Dr. Praeger’s items made crisp and then at room temp). But seriously, if you’ve only had your fried chicken hot, now is the time to cross over.

2. Potato Salad. Again, make it, buy it, I won’t tell. This is deli potato salad, because Sunday had Punt! written all over it.

3. Green Veg. I was raised to eat a green veg at all meals, and the veg will change with the season. We had fresh green peas from the Brinkley Farms CSA, and they were served simply and worked nicely here. Later in the season, cukes and onions would be my recommendation. Also consider celery sticks, or a side salad.

4. Watermelon. Shy of an allergy, I don’t consider this optional. I recommend a pinch of salt on it early in the season, before it’s truly ripe in the heat of the summer.

Of course, this is meant to be eaten outside. There will be bits of fried and drips of watermelon juice everywhere, no matter the age of the diners.

What’s on your picnic platter? Comment or Tweet!

Send pictures of your hot-weather meals and ideas to  practical cook at gmail dot com. Connect on Facebook: The Practical Cook Blog. (Like, like, like! Press “like” on Facebook today!)

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We’re keeping things cool tomorrow with Summer Rolls Recipe.

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Weekly Menus: Week of 5/22/2011

Forgive the delay of game, gentle readers, the Practical Cook is returning from a top-secret research trip. Okay, fine, she went one town over, but still. Additionally, she has discovered that making a grocery list after a run in what is turning out to be almost summer weather leads to a list of water-filled fruits and veggies. Plus ice cream.

Enough banter, here’s what you came for. On tap this week:

Weekly Menus: Week of 5/22/2011

Weekly Menus: Week of 5/22/2011

Four-square Grocery List: 5/22/2011

Four-square Grocery List: 5/22/2011

From the Brinkley Farms CSA:

1 pt sugar snaps
1 lb cucumbers
1 bag arugula
1 bundle swiss chard
1 lbs zucchini

And that means:

Sunday: Cold Fried Chicken, Potato Salad, and Peas
There will probably be some watermelon involved here as well. Inspired by Crook’s Corner’s picnic platter.

Monday: Stir-Fry
Still swimming in veggies, and this will be light and adaptable.

Tuesday: Salmon Cakes, orzo, greens
Must grow the small brains to their maximum at the end of school

Wednesday: Pizza
Time to make homemade pizza and put little hands to work.

Thursday: Steak and sweet potato fries, plus green something
Didn’t make this last week, so now I shall finally dust some oven-baked sweet potato fries with garam masala.

Friday: Leftover Surprise!
Chances are, I’ll be as surprised by what I put on the table as you are.

Saturday: Dine Out

Now I must dash and serve as the support staff for one very bouncy ballerina. It’s showtime people, and those bobby pins won’t pin themselves!

I’m looking forward to a week of dining al fresco, eating ice cream on the back deck, punting with vegetables, and bumming rides in convertibles. What does this season mean to you? Post a comment, send a note, join me on Twitter!

What are you eating this week? Send your menus to practical cook at gmail dot com. Or post a comment here, or connect on Facebook: The Practical Cook Blog. (Like, like, like! Press “like” on Facebook today!)

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Coming up tomorrow, One Ingredient, Three Ways: Rosemary Edition.

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