I am so glad that I was able to make it to BlogHer Food! The prospect of meeting friends I’d made through the food blogosphere, virtually in my backyard, was too compelling to ignore. Combine that with some extraordinarily educational and inspiring talks on everything from photography techniques to the politics of food blogging, and I definitely emerged feeling re-energized and motivated to continue my blogging adventure.
I’ve also said time and again that the people I’ve met while food blogging are some of the kindest, sweetest, and FUN people I know. It’s hard to love food and be a sourpuss, I imagine! I had the singular joy of having a fellow blogger tell me that my blog was the first one she read (*blush* I feel honored – and old). Conversely, as I shyly tried to untie my tongue in front of the big-name bloggers, they were all wonderfully gracious and down-to-earth. I feel quite lucky to have be a part of this community!
So I don’t think I’ve revealed this before, but I’m a very shy photographer. Probably because I’m still figuring this photography thing out, but I get really self-conscious with my big dSLR slung around me like an inept third eye. I don’t why I felt the same way at BlogHer, where nearly everyone wore their camera as an unofficial badge; if there’s one thing I would tell the sponsors of the conference, it would be to make darn sure you’re showing some photogenic food because you can be certain it will be photographed within an inch of its life by about 300 food lovers!
The upshot of this confession is that of course I have very few shots of the conference (I did catch an unspectacular shot or two). For some wonderful photos and a thorough recap of the weekend, I suggest you head on over to photographer (and food lover) extraordinaire use real butter.
We also seem to enjoyed the last burst of summer at BlogHer Food; by Monday morning I swear I could see summer swirling away, empty tree branches clutching and waving forlornly in suddenly-brisk air.
We were promised a longer Indian summer, and in anticipation of that I had churned a batch of ice cream with some last ripe peaches. I guess eating ice cream on a chilly evening is not the most autumnal of activities, but now it tastes like a just-formed, perfectly-encapsulated memory of summer.
The yellow peaches were so ripe they were perfuming the entire house; to capture the idea of their heady voluptuousness I made a creme anglaise, folding the peaches into a welcoming cushion of eggs, sugar, and cream. On a whim I substituted some of the sugar with brown sugar, to give it a tingle of fall (how appropriate that choice turned out to be!)
Ice cream made with a custard base always has that creamy depth of color, like an oil painting, compared to the crisp, crystalline hues of sorbets and sherbets. I loved how comforting the ice cream looked. The brown sugar gives this ice cream a warm, caramelized edge that makes me think of peach cobbler – a dash of ginger in the mix might have been a nice thing as well.
To nudge this ice cream even further along to fall (hey, it’s fall and time to accessorize with scarves and hats, right?) I whipped up some hazelnut sugar cookies. Some ground up toasted hazelnuts added to my trusty rolled sugar cookie recipe made the perfect topping for a bowl of ice cream.
I’m sitting at home with a bowl of peachy brown sugar goodness, reminiscing over the memories I made last weekend, and watching a burnished orange sunset through my window, snuggled on the couch. Sounds like a perfect way to welcome fall, doesn’t it?
Peach Brown Sugar Ice Cream
makes about 2 quarts (this may be too much for a smaller ice cream maker; you might have to do it in two batches)
4 ripe peaches (about 2 lbs)
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 1/2 cups milk
3/4 cup light brown sugar
3 large eggs
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Peel and slice the peaches into small pieces.
Place in a medium saucepan and combine with the sugar and lemon juice. Cook for about 15 minutes on medium heat. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.
Combine the milk and 1/2 cup light brown sugar in a medium saucepan and heat on medium over stove until bubbles form around the edges.
Meanwhile, whisk the eggs and remaining sugar together in a medium bowl. Place the cream in a separate large bowl.
Pour the hot milk into the eggs in a steady stream, whisking constantly to temper the eggs.
Pour the mixture back in the saucepan and place back on stove. Cook on medium-low heat, whisking constantly, until mixture thickens slightly and coats back of a spoon. Do not overcook (it will look curdled and you will have to start over).
Strain mixture into the cream and stir to combine. Add vanilla and stir to combine.
Chill in an ice bath until it reaches room temperature. Stir in the peaches and chill mixture in refrigerator overnight.
Freeze in ice cream maker per manufacturer’s instructions.
Hazelnut Sugar Cookies
Makes 36 2 ½ inch diameter cookies
1 2/3 cups all purpose flour
n style=”font-size: 13px;”>½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
½ cup (4 oz) unsalted butter, room temperature
¾ cup + 2 Tablespoons sugar
1 large egg, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup ground toasted hazelnuts
extra all purpose flour for rolling out the dough
In a bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt and set aside.
In stand mixer with paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar on medium speed until light in color and fluffy.
Scrape the bowl sides and bottom well. While mixer is on low speed, gradually add the egg and vanilla extract. Mix to combine and scrape bowl sides as needed.
Add the dry ingredients gradually while mixer is on low speed until incorporated. Add ground hazelnuts and mix until a uniform dough is formed.
Divide dough into 2 pieces and flatten into ½ inch thick discs. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours to firm up dough. At this point the dough can be double wrapped and frozen for up to 2 weeks. To defrost dough, place in refrigerator overnight.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F and grease several cookie sheet pans or line with parchment paper.
On a floured board, place on piece of the dough and dust with flour. Gently roll out the dough to a thickness of 1/8 inch. Using a cookie cutter, cut out cookies and place on sheet pan, leaving 1 inch apart between cookies.
Bake for 14-16 minutes or until edges are golden brown.
Transfer to wire racks with a spatula to cool completely.