Saturday, March 10, 2012

Curry and Coconut... and How to Make Ice Cream without an Ice Cream Maker...

It was ironic that the night after I made a no-ice-cream-maker-required ice cream, a friend messaged me on Facebook to ask if my recipe for Lemon Cream Pie Ice Cream could be made without an ice cream maker.  Now, with only having owned one for 3 months, and only having made a handful of batches of ice cream since then, I'm no expert, but I am starting to learn what does and doesn't work, or at least what will result in a creamier texture.  (Oh, and by the way, the lemon ice cream would also work great following the below tips for freezing, although I'd recommend using a higher fat content for the milk and yogurt...)

I've tried quite a few methods of making low fat or fat free ice cream, and while the flavor of those are still great, they're really not true ice cream, but more like ice milk.  I've learned that a little fat in an ice cream recipe, whether from heavy cream or even reduced fat cream cheese, goes a long way towards creating that creamy mouth feel that you want in an ice cream, and I've had great results with the addition of alcohol as well, since that lowers the freezing point of the mixture, helping to prevent it from becoming icy.

I'm still not willing to make ice cream from full cream, but a combination of a few ingredients can have fantastic results.  This particular recipe, made from cream, coconut milk and low-fat cream cheese (with a healthy dose of Captain Morgan Rum) is so thick and rich that my ice cream maker actually couldn't handle it for longer than 3 minutes, which is how I ended up discovering that it was a perfect candidate for freezing without an ice cream maker.  I also made a chocolate peanut butter ice cream that froze beautifully without an ice cream maker, but that one was a little too rich, so I might tweak it some more before sharing the recipe.

The advice the experts give for making ice cream without an ice cream maker is to first make sure the ingredients are chilled very cold in the refrigerator.  Then, it should be poured into a glass baking dish with a lid (I've heard that freezing in a glass dish as opposed to plastic also helps).  Lastly, you have to take it out of the freezer every 30 minutes or so to beat down the stiff edges with fork, in order to break up any ice crystals forming, and stir them into the softer center.  Continue doing this every 30 minutes for about 6 hours until it's firm enough throughout to eat.

If you try this freezing method with a very low-fat recipe, I won't guarantee it will work as well, and you'll probably get a much icier texture.  But with some fat and alcohol (if you're not making this for your kids) in your ice cream base, you're on your way to making something really delicious!

We made curry for dinner last Friday night (since we couldn't just eat coconut ice cream for dinner), and I loved the Massaman Chicken Curry we tried before so much that I made a smaller version of it this time, as well as a Red Curry with Shrimp that was also delicious.

But what I really wanted to master once and for all, was to make my own Naan.  The first time I ate naan was at a Muslim restaurant down the road from where I lived in China.  We'd walk there on cold nights for steaming bowls of vegetable soup with a rich broth, skewers of spicy lamb or beef, and stacks of naan to dip in our soup.  On the meat skewers, there was a large chunk of grilled fat for every piece of meat, and after our 3rd or 4th meal there, the owners noticed that we always piled the fat up on a plate instead of eating it.  After that, they always remembered to make ours with meat only, and no fat.  It's so nice when people take notice of what you like!

Having made curry a few times at home, I've made naan at least three times, using various recipes that all claimed to be the best ever, but I've been so disappointed in them.  They've been too tough to chew, too greasy, too complicated to make, or just plain wrong.  So many recipes out there say to add butter, and I don't understand that - I've never been served naan in an Indian restaurant that was dripping with butter, or even the slightest bit oily.  Naan is supposed to be flat and chewy, a little dry to the touch but soft, which makes it just right for dipping.

So I started my search again, and came across a recipe that didn't have a single negative review, which had to mean something.  I was also intrigued by the fact that it called for yogurt to be mixed with the flour.  I made a few changes - adding some un-proofed yeast for chewiness but not to make it rise, some salt, and a little chopped garlic directly in the dough.  I also found that less dough went further than what the recipe indicated, or it could be that I made mine smaller.

And I'm happy to say that my search for a naan recipe is over.  This is THE ONE!  It was unbelievably easy, and the finished result was just the right combination of soft and chewy flat bread that was perfect for dipping in curry sauce.  And who knew that naan could also be good for you when it's packed with protein-rich non-fat Greek yogurt?  The addition of some chopped onion and fresh dill would be amazing, too!

Coconut Cream Chocolate Chip Ice Cream
printable recipe

  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 can (13.66 ounces) unsweetened, premium full-fat coconut milk 
  •  8 ounces low-fat cream cheese, softened 
  • 1 cup sweetened shredded coconut, ground slightly finer with a food processor
  • 1/4 cup Captain Morgan Rum 
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla 
  •  2/3 cup bittersweet chocolate, chopped, or chocolate chips (optional)

In a medium saucepan, heat the cream and sugar over medium low heat, whisking occasionally, just until the sugar dissolves.  Remove from heat.

In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the coconut milk and cream cheese on low until blended, then on medium for 3 minutes until smooth and creamy.  Add the shredded coconut, rum, vanilla, cream and sugar, and whip until well combined.  Stir in the chocolate chips.  Pour mixture into a glass baking dish with a lid and refrigerate until very cold.

Transfer container to the freezer and freeze until firm, about 6 hours.  Every 30 minutes, you will need to use a fork to mash the firmer edges around the dish and stir them into the softer center.  Continue this every 30 minutes until firm enough to eat.

Once mixture freezes very firm, let sit out at room temperature for 15-20 minutes to soften up enough to scoop.

Yields about 1 quart.
WW Points Plus Value:  9 points per 1/2 cup

Recipe from Curly Girl Kitchen

printable recipe

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry active yeast
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup plain non-fat Greek yogurt
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

In a bowl, whisk together 2 cups of flour, baking powder, yeast and salt.  Stir in the yogurt with a spoon until moistened.  Turn mixture out onto a floured surface.  Sprinkle the garlic over the dough, then knead the dough for 5 minutes, adding the additional 1/2 cup of flour as needed, until the dough is smooth and elastic.  Shape dough into a ball, then place in a lightly oiled bowl, covered with a towel, to rest for about an hour.

Note: because the yeast is not proofed with warm water, the dough doesn't rise (this is a flat bread, after all).  The yeast simply adds a nice chewiness to the naan.

Heat a large non-stick skillet or enameled cast-iron skillet over medium heat for 5 minutes.  Divide the dough into 8 equal pieces.  Shape each piece into a ball, then roll out on a lightly floured surface into a thin disk, about 8 inches in diameter.  Place one disk of dough on the dry skillet.  Cook for about 2 minutes, until the underside is golden and large bubbles rise to the surface of the dough.  Flip over and cook the other side for 1-2 minutes until golden.  Set on a plate and cover with a towel to keep warm while you cook the rest of the dough.

Serve the naan immediately with your favorite curry dish.

Yields 8 servings.
WW Points Plus Value: 4 points per serving

Recipe adapted from

Red Shrimp Curry
printable recipe

  • 2 tablespoons peanut oil
  • 1/2 sweet yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 4 teaspoons red curry paste
  • 1 can (14.5 ounces) diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 can (14 ounces) coconut milk (you can use the whole can, but I only used half to lighten the recipe up)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 pound peeled and cleaned raw shrimp

In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat.  Add the onion and cook for 5 minutes, until softened.  Add all the remaining ingredients, except for the shrimp.  Bring to a boil over medium heat, then reduce to a simmer and cook until thickened and reduced slightly, about 20 minutes; you may need to add some water if the sauce reduces too much.  Add the shrimp and simmer for 4-5 minutes, until the shrimp are cooked through.

Serve with naan and hot jasmine rice.

Yields 4 servings.
WW Points Plus Value:  7 points per serving

Recipe slightly adapted from All Recipes.