Tag Archives: Ice Cream/Frozen Yogurt

Key-lime Lavender Ice Cream

lavender-key-lime-icecream-2Well, last week the fall season began, the season of change, letting go, and a reminder that nothing is permanent. For myself, as I say good-bye to summer, I am also saying good-bye to a 10 year relationship that ended on a very bad note and letting go of the pain that has accompanied it.

For those that have been in long term relationships that have ended, you know that one of the most difficult things to overcome in the first few of months is everything that reminds you of your former significant other. Now, I’m a social scientist. From my sociology anthropologylavender-key-lime-icecream-1 background I know that everything has meaning, but only because we attach that meaning to it. That said, we can also remove and change those meanings, which is why I spent most of my summer exorcising demons from the places and things I had shared with Shawn over the past decade. Of course some things are more easily taken care of (i.e. burning pictures, donating left behind clothing), while others, like places, are harder (I’m probably the only person that hates Charleston, SC). I thought I had cleared them all out of the shadows until the other week.

dessertI had joined my family in Orlando and one non-Disney day, while my nieces napped, I was able to escape for a couple of hours. I found myself a nice restaurant, buying myself a tasty, light lunch and a fun flight of wine. Being on vacation, of course I said yes to dessert. When my server brought out a tray of tall shot glasses filled with sweet delights, I asked her for her recommendation.She told me the key lime pie trifle was her absolute favorite.

I visibly cringed.

I love key lime pie, and although Shawn was not the one that introduced me to it, he is the one that made it a regular occurrence in my life. (BTW, I went for the s’mores and chocolate peanut butter trifles.)

So this post is not only about saying good-bye to this sad, sunny summer, but also about letting the past go and reclaiming key lime pie.

Let me tell you, these poor key limes! I can’t tell you how hard I glared at them before key-limestaking a deep breath and adding them to my shopping cart. Of course the limes hadn’t hurt me, Shawn had. They were just lil ol’ limes. I had to do something nice with them.

Instead of making a key lime pie, like the minis Shawn and I made for this post that recently popped up in my Facebook Memories, I decided to re-try a recipe I had written down two summers ago after Emilie and I had visited Seven Oaks Lavender Farm: a Key Lime and Lavender ice cream.

In my opinion, this is a very elegant ice cream with its lightly floral notes from the lavender and the bitter citrus of the key limes. For me, this take on key lime pie made me think of how much I have grown and changed over the past decade. After all, I made ice cream instead of slashing the tires of his brand new blue Ford F150 truck, right? Yes, I am a grown, refined woman who has no need to stoop that low. Instead I’ll keep doing what I’ve always done, and work to leave the world better than how I found it.



Key-lime Lavender Ice Cream



• 1/2 cup 2% milk
• 1/2 cup half and half
• 1/2 cup sugar, divided, plus 1 tablespoon separated
• 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
• 1 12 ounce can evaporated, low fat milk
• 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
• 2 tablespoons dried, culinary lavender buds
• 3-4 egg yolks
• 1/3 cup fresh key lime juice, about 7 key limes (substitute Persian limes if preferred as key limes have a natural bitterness)
• 1 teaspoon key lime zest
• 1/2 cup crushed graham crackers
• Pinch of sea salt


1. In a saucepan, combine whole milk, evaporated milk, 1/4 cup sugar, corn syrup, vanilla extract, lavender buds, and sea salt. Whisk to combine.
2. Add lavender buds to ice cream base. lavender-key-lime-adding-buds
3. Heat the milk mixture gently over medium heat to 180° Fahrenheit. Tiny bubbles will form around the edge, but do NOT bring to a boil. Remove from heat.
4. Set aside to cool for at least 10 minutes, allowing the lavender to steep and the ice cream base to cool.
5. While ice cream base is cooling, whisk egg yolks and remaining 1/4 cup sugar in a medium bowl. Set aside.
6. Place a mesh strainer over a large bowl.
7. Pour cooled ice cream base through the strainer, separating lavender buds from the base. Discard buds.lavender-key-lime-strain-buds
8. Very gradually add ice cream base into the egg mixture, whisking constantly to avoid cooking the eggs and causing the base to curdle. Retain strainer and bowl and set aside for later.lavender-key-lime-making-custard
9. Return entire mixture to the saucepan. Turn stove to medium heat.
10. Stirring constantly, continue cook the ice cream base until it reaches 160° Fahrenheit.
11. Strain the ice cream base again, pouring through the mesh strainer into a large bowl. Discard any remaining solids.
12. Add key lime zest to warm ice cream base and whisk together.lavender-key-lime-adding-zest
13. Cover ice cream base with plastic wrap, ensuring it touches the surface to prevent a skin forming.
14. Place covered bowl in the refrigerator and allow ice cream base to cool, about 20 minutes. lavender key lime covering.jpg
15. After ice cream base has cooled, add key lime juice and whisk to combine.lavender-key-lime-adding-lime-juice

Replace the following steps with the instructions that came with your particular ice cream maker.
1. Turn on the ice cream maker and carefully pour the ice cream base mixture into the frozen freezer bowl.lavender-key-lime-adding-base-to-churner
2. Allow the ice cream base to churn and thicken into a soft serve like, creamy texture, approximately 35-40 minutes.
3. Add crushed graham crackers to the ice cream base and churn an additional 5 minutes.lavender key lime adding graham crackers.jpg
4. Divide ice cream into freezer safe, air tight containers. Cover and freeze until ice cream is firm, about 3 hours.lavender-key-lime-finish-churn

Be sure to check out my Lighten Up the Churn recipe for other notes.


Strawberry Tarragon & Chèvre Ice Cream – Turning Old Recipes into New Recipes

strawberry tarragon chevre ice cream 3There is still snow and ice on the ground here in Virginia, yet here I am sharing an ice cream recipe with you all while I bask in the warmth of my fireplace.  I can’t believe that just a few days ago I returned from a week’s vacation exploring Hilton Head Island and Savannah.  Though not exactly bikini, sun bathing weather, the days ranged from the high 60’s and even soared into the low 80s. The nights rarely strayed below 50.  With the lovely early spring-like weather in abundance,  I spent a lot of time riding my bike and playing in the sand. I even dared a little wading into the still very cold Atlantic waters.  Between the sunshine filled dayssmall_8262 and all my activity, I definitely worked up a sweat.  Though in Savannah my favorite cool down treat was Georgia peach sangria to go, which I’d sip delightedly under the beautiful oaks of the city’s famous squares, in Hilton Head I’d ride my bike up the beach to Coligny Plaza to place myself in the giddy conundrum of choosing one ice cream  from nearly 100 different flavors.  It is no surprise that I returned home with ice cream, pretty beverages, and summer time on my brain.  Let’s get back to that ice cream now, shall we?

strawberry tarragon chevre ice cream 5Most of you know I purchased myself an ice cream machine last summer when I shared my Lighten Up the Churn Chocolate Hazelnut Ice Cream. I absolutely loved how the lightened up custard base (aka French style ice cream) turned out and so I kept experimenting with it.  You know me, I love to play with flavor.  However, I’m not much of a garlic ice-cream type girl myself, but I wanted to try something savory.  The idea made me think of my strawberry bruschetta, where I took sweet strawberries and gave them a savory twist with tarragon, black pepper, and goat cheese.  Why wouldn’t the same idea work with ice cream? So I decided to give it a go and created  a goat cheese base in which I added the remaining elements of my bruschetta dish. It worked beautifully!

The smooth base had a slight tang from the goat cheese, off-set by both strawberry tarragon chevre ice cream 2the sweet strawberry flavor as well as the fruit’s added chunky texture.  Although I couldn’t discern the black pepper as I could in the bruschetta, the tarragon gave all this creamy goodness a cleansing burst of freshness.  And what a pretty ice cream it made, too!

Now what are some of your own favorite recipes that you think would make an awesome ice cream flavor?

Strawberry Tarragon & Chèvre Ice Cream


strawberry tarragon chevre ingredients

  • 1 cup small diced strawberries
  • ¼ cup Chèvre (goat cheese), crumbled for easier melting
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tbsp freshly chopped tarragon
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper (optional)
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar, divided in half, plus 1 tablespoon separated
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 1 12 ounce can evaporated low fat milk
  • 1 vanilla bean, halved and seeded
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 3-4 egg yolks


  1. In a medium bowl, combine diced strawberries, 1 tablespoon sugar, chopped tarragon, and ground pepper.  Toss to mix, then set aside while preparing the Chèvre ice cream base.strawberry tarragon mixture
  2. In a saucepan, combine whole milk, evaporated milk, 1/4 cup sugar, corn syrup, and sea salt. Whisk to combine
  3. Next add the vanilla seeds and pod to the milk mixture.adding vanilla bean to base
  4. Heat the milk mixture gently over medium heat to 180° Fahrenheit. You’re looking for tiny bubbles around the edge, NOT a boil. Remove from heat.
  5. Set aside for at least 10 minutes to allow milk mixture to cool.
  6. While milk mixture is cooling, whisk egg yolks and remaining 1/4 cup sugar in a medium bowl.strawberry tarragon yolks and cream base 1
  7. After milk mixture has cooled at least 10 minutes, begin to gradually add milk into the egg mixture, whisking constantly to avoid cooking the eggs.strawberry tarragon yolks and cream base 2
  8. Return entire mixture to the saucepan. Turn stove to medium heat.strawberry tarragon ice cream base reheat
  9. Stir Chèvre into warm milk, allowing cheese to melt into mixture. It will be lumpy at first, but will smooth out once the cheese melts.strawberry tarragon add chevre to base
  10. Stirring constantly, continue cook the ice cream base until it reaches 160° Fahrenheit.
  11. Place a mesh sieve over a large mixing bowl and strain ice cream base. Discard the vanilla bean pod and any other solids.strawberry tarragon straining base
  12. Fill another large bowl with ice cubes. Place the bowl containing the ice cream base over the ice.strawberry tarragon base on ice
  13. Allow ice cream base to cool, about 20 minutes.

Replace the following steps with the instructions that came with your particular ice cream maker.

  1. Turn on the ice cream maker and carefully pour the ice cream base mixture into the frozen freezer bowl.strawberry tarragon ice cream base into maker
  2. Pour strawberry mixture into the freezer bowl with the base.  NOTE: Typically, ice cream mix-ins are added in the last five minutes of the process, but I wanted the strawberry and tarragon flavors to infuse into the base.  You can wait to do this until later if you wish.strawberry tarragon fruit into maker
  3. Allow the the mixture to churn and thicken into a soft serve like, creamy texture, approximately 35-40 minutes.
    strawberry tarragon ice cream churning 1 strawberry tarragon ice cream churning 2
  4. Divide ice cream into freezer safe, air tight containers. Cover and freeze until ice cream is firm, about 3 hours.
    strawberry tarragon ice cream ready strawberry tarragon ice cream freezer containers

Be sure to check out my Lighten Up the Churn recipe for other notes.

strawberry tarragon chevre ice cream 1

Lighten Up the Churn – Creamy and Lite Chocolate Hazelnut Ice Cream

light chocolate hazelnut ice cream 1

 If you did not know, July is National Ice Cream Month.  Thought I would let you all know before the month was totally gone.  After all, what kind of person would that make me if I deprived any of you of a legitimate excuse for chasing after the ice cream truck with the neighborhood kids?  And what perfect timing to christen my brand new ice cream maker, too.  The heat index has been soaring to about 105° Fahrenheit over the past couple of weeks.  Who wouldn’t want a reprieve from the heat with a  bowl of cool and creamy chocolaty deliciousness?  Yes friends, it’s time for some homemade churn!

Have you ever hand cranked ice cream?  I have not myself, but a late friend of mine (God rest) grew up on a dairy farm in Pennsylvania and hand cranking is how they did it!  It was the 60’s and 70’s after all.  Apparently, it is a lot of work!  Can you imagine churning and churning for at least half an hour if not more?light chocolate hazelnut ice cream 2  You are probably going to need more than one set of arms to get the job done!  My friend had a few siblings to assist, luckily, and it was typically a family activity as everyone would get involved with first making the base then setting up the churn with ice and rock salt, and finally taking turns churning until the ice cream had set.  Only those that helped got a taste…which is exactly how it should be, right?  Up until a couple of years before she passed, she and her sons were still hand churning ice cream with the churn her family had used growing up.  Sadly the crank mechanism broke.  She was never able to find a replacement.  Whenever I go antiquing with friends, I still keep an eye out for one.

Obviously, I did not hand churn this ice cream, as you will see, but I was still channeling my friend.  You see, when I knew her, she had a willowy figure.  Turns out she had spent most of her adult life a bit heavier.  When she showed me older pictures, she was probably in her late 30s, the transformation wowed me.  The only thing that remained the same was her radiant smile.  Needless to say,  my friend was very aware about what she put in her body.  I chose, then, to make a lighter ice cream.  Although not as low calorie as some commercial brands,  this version allows you to use natural ingredients, bypassing all those funky sounding ones.  A delicious treat,  sans the body image guilt.  I am sure my friend is looking down at me with approval. Though truth be told, though, she preferred vanilla :).

 light chocolate hazelnut ice cream 3

Creamy Light Chocolate Hazelnut Ice Cream

makes 4 cups ice cream, appx 8 servings
  • 1 cup whole milklight ice cream ingredients
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar, divided in half
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 1  12ounce can evaporated low fat milk
  • 1 vanilla bean, halved and seeded
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 3-4 egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup chopped hazelnuts
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped dark chocolate
  1. In a saucepan, combine whole milk, evaporated milk, 1/4 cup sugar, corn syrup, and sea salt.  Whisk to combine.light ice cream evaporated milk
  2. Next add the vanilla seeds and pod to the milk mixture.
  3. Heat milk mixture over medium heat until it reaches 180° Fahrenheit.  You’re looking for tiny bubbles around the edge, NOT a boil.light ice cream 180
  4. Remove from heat and set aside for at least 10 minutes.
  5. While milk mixture is cooling, whisk egg yolks and remaining 1/4 cup sugar in a medium bowl.light ice cream beating yolks
  6. Once egg yolks and sugar are combined, gradually whisk in the cocoa powder into the beaten eggs.light ice cream cocoa added
  7. After milk mixture has cooled at least 10 minutes, begin to gradually add milk into the egg mixture, whisking constantly to avoid cooking the eggs.light ice cream combing milk and egg mixtures
  8. Return entire mixture to the saucepan. Turn stove to medium heat.
  9. Stirring constantly,  cook the ice cream base until it reaches 160° Fahrenheit.light ice cream 160
  10. Fill a large bowl with ice cubes. Either place pan in the ice cubes or poor the ice cream base into another mixing bowl and set over ice.light ice cream over ice
  11. Allow ice cream base to cool, about 20 minutes.
  12. Pour the cooled ice cream base through a fine mesh sieve.  Discard the vanilla bean pod and any other solids.light ice cream sieve

Replace the following with the instructions that came with your particular ice cream maker.

  1. Turn on the ice cream maker and carefully pour the ice cream base into the frozen freezer bowl.light ice cream into maker
  2. Allow the the mixture to churn and thicken into a soft serve like, creamy texture, approximately 35-40 minutes.light ice cream starting to freeze light ice cream ready 1


  3. Add chopped hazelnuts and chocolate during the last 5 minutes of the churning.
  4. Divide ice cream into freezer safe, air tight containers. Cover and freeze until ice cream is firm, about 3 hours.light ice cream freezer ready


  • With a heavy cream based ice cream, this typically takes 15-20 minutes.  This lighter version took about 35 minutes  to get to the right consistency.
  • During the churning process, I noticed that the ice cream started tolight ice cream paddle note “stick” the the freezer bowl paddle.  You want the mixture to touch the freezer bowl surface or else it won’t freeze, so I used  a spatula to help move the ice cream away from the paddle and against the freezer bowl.
  • According to my calculations, this recipe totals out to 194 calories a serving…and one serving is 1/2 a cup! leave out the nuts and you’ll shave off another 30 calories.
  • Next time I plan on using either dark chocolate cocoa powder or melting dark chocolate to get a richer chocolate flavor. As is, this recipes produces more of a milk chocolate flavor.

Family and Fried Ice Cream

As I mentioned earlier I spent recently spent the long Thanksgiving weekend with my family in Minnesota eating a lot of great food, playing with my nephews and niece, and just goofing around with my siblings and their significant others – although I did not go Black Friday shopping with my sisters, everyone has their limits. Whenever I go up for the holidays, whether at Thanksgiving or Christmas, it can be really hard for us to get together. With 2 sisters, a step-brother & step-sister, and all of the significant others’ families, people have way too many commitments to actually meet up on on the official holidays, so we usually plan our own “holiday” a few days later devoted to spending time together just the 14 of us.

This year we chose the Saturday after Thanksgiving for our big family day. Of course, by Saturday we were all turkey-ed out, and the very idea of creating another traditional Thanksgiving feast was something none of us wanted to do. Thanks, to my sister Lindsey’s brilliance, we were spared more turkey and planned a Mexican themed meal with steak and shrimp fajitas and chicken and beef tacos, complete with all the fixings. It was an impressive spread that needed just the right dessert to end it. My step-mom and I spent most of the evening Thursday brainstorming Mexican and Latin American themed ideas from baked churros to homemade tres leches cake. It was during this brainstorming session that my step-mom casually mentioned she had thought about doing fried ice cream, and I, of course, immediately became enamored with the idea. Seriously, at what other time in my life will I ever have the chance to try to fry something that is served frozen?!

A quick internet search revealed that, other than Emeril, not many people have tried their hand at fried ice cream. As I looked over the recipe, I knew I wasn’t going to be allowed to add coconut or nuts to the mix, and simply telling me to add crushed cookies wasn’t very helpful, so I decided to keep it simple and just use frosted flakes. I used leftover egg wash from our french toast feast earlier in the week instead of new eggs, so I “added” a bit of milk, cinnamon, and vanilla to the recipe. Below is a doubled the recipe using half a gallon vanilla ice cream and half a gallon chocolate ice cream – both flavors were a big hit. So, while everyone except my brother-in-law Joe seemed to have a favorite (he just liked them all),  I’m not sure I can really recommend one flavor over the other.

My dad trying his hand at fried ice cream!!

Fried Ice Cream

10-15 servings (two ice cream balls per serving)

1 gallon ice cream
approximately 14 cups frosted flakes, more as needed
3  eggs
1/2 cup 2% milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1.5 teaspoons cinnamon
vegetable oil, for frying

1)     Using an ice cream scoop form medium sized balls of the ice cream, about 10 balls per half gallon of ice cream. Place these in a single layer on a cookie sheet or in a large flat Tupperware container. Freeze for approximately 2 hours.

2)     Place about 6 cups of frosted flakes into a gallon zipper bag, seal, and use a rolling plane to crush the frosted flakes, pour into a medium sized bowl. You may need to repeat this step if you run low on frosted flakes crumbs.

3)     Remove ice cream balls from the freezer, I had mine on 3 separate trays which I worked with one at a time. Working quickly, roll the ice cream in the frosted flake crumbs, using your hands to slightly form the ice cream into more uniform balls.

4)     Return ice cream to the freezer and freeze for at least 4 hours, although overnight is better.

5)     Whisk together eggs, milk, vanilla, and cinnamon in a medium sized bowl. Crush more frosted flakes, using the gallon bag/rolling pin method.

6)      Remove ice cream balls from the freezer. Working quickly, roll the ice cream in the egg mixture and then the frosted flake crumbs. Make sure the balls are completely covered in frosted flake crumbs. Return to the freezer for a minimum of one hour. You can also store them in an airtight container at this point and use at a later date.

7)     In a deep, large pot add enough oil to cover the ice cream balls. Heat to 400°F.

8)     Drop frozen ice cream balls one or two at a time into the hot oil. Fry for 30 seconds to 1 minute, until the crunchy coating is golden brown.  Carefully remove from the oil letting extra oil drip back into the bowl.

9)     Serve the fried ice cream immediately, with an offering of condiments such as honey, chocolate sauce, and cinnamon sugar.

10)    Continue to fry the ice cream balls, skimming the oil frequently to avoid smoking and burning pieces. Also, you may notice that the frosted flake coating fall off some of your ice cream balls, this is a sign that the ice cream is melted too much and should be returned to the freezer for 30 minutes before frying.

Humpday Happy Hour: Strawberry Bourbon Milkshake

It is the height of strawberry season in Virginia. The little strawberry bed we have in my mom’s backyard is producing nearly a pound of strawberries every other day, and I have a feeling it won’t stop until sometime next week.

“What are you complaining about!?” you mutter frustratedly at me through your computer screen.

I am not complaining, I swear, but we are certainly nearing the too much of a good thing point. I have nomed delicious strawberries for breakfast, lunch, and dessert for a week. My mom has filled her freezer to the top with tupperware containers of freezer-jam and there is no more room. So, last night, as I picked yet another couple of pints of the juicy red berries, I wondered how I might use up those berries that were already just past the point of rip. Then it hit me – puree them for a milkshake! Then add bourbon. Then sit on the patio and drink it! Sometimes I am too brilliant for my own good.

Strawberry Bourbon Milkshake

makes 2
1 cup halved/quartered strawberries
2-3 ounces bourbon
3.5 cups vanilla ice cream

Place strawberries and bourbon in the blender and puree. Add ice cream and blend together. Add more ice cream or bourbon to achieve desired thickness.

Butterfinger Dessert

Summer is right around the corner and as the mercury slowly creeps up on thermometers across the northern hemisphere, the idea of preheating the oven to bake several batches of cookies or a cake for your next party is nearly as oppressive living in District 12 of Panem (yes that was a pop culture reference to Hunger Games, don’t be ashamed that you got it.).  The best way to avoid turning on the oven unnecessarily is to make an icebox dessert – a dessert that, instead of being baked at all, only needs to sit in your fridge for several hours before serving.

My favorite of these refrigerator desserts is recipe that made a frequent appearance during my childhood. Rich, creamy, and cool, with a delightful crunch, Butterfinger dessert was included in every family get together for as long as I can remember.  This recipe is for a 13×9-inch pan, so it is the perfect size for your next summer party. It can easily be halved, as I did in these photos, and made in an 8×8-inch pan (although I did go ahead and use all 8 mini-candybars, instead of just 4).

Butterfinger Dessert

2 sleeves graham crackers, crushed (about 2 cups)
30 Saltine crackers, crushed (about 1 cup)
1/2 cup butter (melted), plus extra for greasing pan
2 cups cold milk
2 packages (3.4 ounces each) instant vanilla pudding mix
4 cups vanilla ice cream, softened
8 ounces Cool Whip, thawed
8 snack size Butterfingers, chopped

1)      Grease a 13×9 inch pan.

2)      Combine butter and both types of crushed crackers and press 3/4 of the mixture onto the bottom of the pan. Place in refrigerator until you need it again.

3)      In a large bowl mix cold milk and pudding together until thickened. Fold in softened ice cream.

4)      Spread ice cream-pudding mixture over the prepared crust. Spread thawed whipped cream over the pudding-ice cream mixture.

5)      Chop up butterfinger candy bar and mix with the remaining cracker mix. Sprinkle over whipped cream.

6)      Chill in refrigerator for overnight. It can also be stored for up to a month in the freezer if it is well wrapped and protected from freezer burn.

Book Review – 400 Recipes: Three & Four Ingredients

Like many people, I’m a sucker for cookbooks and the pretty, pretty pictures in them. I can spend hours in cooking section of the bookstore, and I have already checked out all of the food related books from the library.  While I love being inspired by Bobby Flay or Ina Garten’s creativity, I hold out on buying these books because I can find plenty of recipes – from Ina and Bobby even – on the web. Money’s tight and I’d rather spend it on a bottle of wine or a basket of fresh produce. I recently caved though, while walking through Border’s going-out-of-business sale (it felt a little morbid, but I tried not to think of it). Sitting there, in front of me was a book that claimed to contain 400 recipes, all of which require only 3 or 4 ingredients – and it was less than $5! There is something very appealing about the simplicity of a recipe with a tiny ingredient list, so I snatched the last copy, and put it in my stack.

The book, by Jenny White and Joanna Farrow, is called 400 Recipes: Three & Four Ingredients and appears to be a part of a series of cookbooks by Jenny White that contain 3 and 4 ingredient recipes. The book is split into 22 sections, with the first, and longest at 54 pages, being and introduction that includes information about equipment you may need and different types of food you will be using, such as a breakdown of different types of hard cheese or leafy greens. I didn’t spend much time in this section, but what I did read was interesting and informative. The next 21 sections are chapters of recipes like breakfast recipes, appetizers, meat, breads. The types of recipes is extensive, but the breakdown in categories at times seems a bit much – do we really need to breakdown desserts into “hot desserts,” “cold desserts,” “ice creams and frozen desserts,” and “cookies and sweet treats”? At the very back of the book, the nutritional information for all of the recipes is listed, which I greatly appreciate, even if I rarely look at it.

The recipe layouts are lovely and elegant in their simplicity with half of the page taken up with a well staged photo of the finished product. The main ingredient list is never more than 3 of 4 recipes (duh!) although on many of the recipes there is a second ingredient list titled “from the storecupboard” which is usually salt & pepper or some type of oil or butter. Although some of the oils aren’t something many people keep on hand, like lemon-flavored oil, the storecupboard ingredients are basic ingredients that I can imagine most people keep in their pantry. The recipe instructions are always simple, usually 2-3 steps, never more than 5, and a few small pictures of the recipe being made.

The end result is a cookbook I’m happy I bought and I’ve marked over 2 dozen recipes to try. Since I  won’t be able to make all 400 recipes for you, I would definitely recommend picking up the book.  It was a bit difficult to find the exact cookbook I bought, but I would imagine any of the three & four ingredient cookbooks would be just as great a buy. To hold you over until you can buy your own copy, here is my first dish from 400 Recipes: Three & Four Ingredients.

Summer Berry Frozen Yogurt

3 cups frozen berry mix, left to defrost just a little (about 5-10 minutes)
1 cup Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons lavender simple syrup (The cookbook lists 1oz/1tblspn powdered sugar, if you don’t want to make simple syrup.  See below for instructions on making simple syrup.*)

1)      Put all of the ingredients into a food processor or blender and process until well combined, but the fruit is still chunky. Spoon the mixture into 6 small (2/3 cup) ramekin dishes. (I chose 4 one cup Tupperware dishes, so I would have a lid for the freezer).

2)      Cover the dishes with a well fitting lid or plastic wrap and freeze for 2 hours or until firm.

3)      To serve: dip the ramekins very briefly in hot water, invert them on to serving plate and garnish with leftover frozen berries and fresh lavender sprigs (if available).

* Lavender Simple Syrup

2/3 cup water
2/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons dried lavender flowers (these can be found at specialty stores or World Market)

A)     In a small sauce pan heat water over medium-high heat. Just as it begins to boil, add sugar and stir until fully dissolved.  Add 2 tablespoons lavender flowers, simmer for another 2 minutes on low.

B)      Remove from heat and allow to steep until the syrup is cool.

C)      Strain syrup through a cheese cloth or fine mesh strainer.  Store in airtight container in the refrigerator.

I really enjoyed the flavors of the final product, especially with the hint of lavender in every bite. However, the frozen yogurt was still a bit sour, so I might add a an extra ½ – 1 tablespoon of the simple syrup next time a I make it. I also left it in the freezer for most of the day, so it was frozen solid when I took it out. If you are serving this for a dinner party, try to stick to the 2 hour chill time or take them out and put them in the fridge for 10 minutes to let it soften a touch. I’m also thinking I might try this with other fruits and flavors – peaches and ginger simple syrup sound delicious right now.