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Month: February 2011

Oatmeal Praline Finale

If you look, the Internet will tell you that it’s OK to use Eggbeaters in ice cream recipes. As is so often the case, the Internet lies. I had been using Eggbeaters but I swapped to real eggs for David Lebovitz’ oatmeal raisin ice cream, without the raisins, which is more or less like this recipe. Add some oatmeal praline, put some cinnamon and brown sugar in the heavy cream, and drop the whole vanilla bean step and there you go. The custard was definitely trickier with real eggs; there was a bit of scramble in it but that’s why you strain it and all and all it was fine. And the resulting ice cream is awesome, or at least I assume it will be once it freezes up. Cause it’s pretty good right out of the ice cream maker. Putting real eggs in makes a huge difference. You can mock me now if you like.

Note for next time: even if the ice cream maker looks like it’s going to seize up around 15 minutes in, let it keep going — that’s what gets all the air in. It’ll be okay.

Oatmeal Praline

Oatmeal pralineThis is oatmeal praline, which is pretty easy to make if you pay close attention to the sugar. Came out way better than the roasted bananas. Tangentially, the problem there was that I tossed the bananas with the brown sugar in the pan, which left a lot of stray brown sugar in the pan, which was bad. I should have tossed the bananas and the sugar elsewhere. Water under the bridge. Anyhow, the oatmeal praline is going to wind up in some nice vanilla ice cream tomorrow, which will be made with real egg yolks, so we’ll see how that all works out.

Two Ice Cream Books

I got two books on making ice cream. I’m very pleased with one; I am not so pleased with the other.

Perfect Scoop is really good. David Lebovitz was a pastry chef at Chez Panisse and he cares a lot about good ice cream; his cookbook gives a nice solid grounding in ice cream theory and then rolls into a ton of recipes. There are also sections on granitas, toppings, and things to serve ice cream in. It’s a very foodie cookbook but it’s also very practical — there are not a lot of super-weird ingredients and he’s not snotty about using just the right thing.

His blog has a lot of recipes, not limited to ice cream, but you can get a feel for his techniques and style with this one. Which sounds great, but I do like white chocolate. You may note that his recipes tend towards using less sugar than the average, which is a plus for me. Not that I don’t like sweet ice cream; however, a guide to less sweet ice creams is good.

Finally, it’s a really pretty book. Lots of nice ice cream photography. Ice cream isn’t the most interesting subject in the world (look, another scoop of frozen dairy in a glass bowl!). On the other hand it gives me a good idea of desired textures.

So that’s the good. Bad: Ben & Jerry’s Homemade Ice Cream & Dessert Book. The history of the company is kind of interesting but the recipes, OK. They mostly have eggs, and there is no cooking of the eggs. It’s an entire cookbook full of raw eggs. Grrr. This tells me there’s not much thought given to the recipes, and it also tells me they weren’t that concerned with really giving away how their commercial ice creams are made, because I’m also pretty sure we’d figured out salmonella by 1987. Don’t buy this one, it’s not worth it.

Roasted Banana Ice Cream

I got this recipe from the excellent The Perfect Scoop, about which more later, so I won’t reproduce the recipe verbatim. But you roast your bananas with brown sugar and butter and then you blend with milk and vanilla and more sugar and so on. No eggs involved.

There is an attractive picture of bananas prior to roasting to your right. The sugar didn’t caramelize as much as I think it’s supposed to; I have a pan with a bunch of almost burnt sugar in the bottom. I should have read up on how that works first, but the banana mix (which is currently churning into ice cream) doesn’t smell burnt or anything, so I don’t think I’ve ruined it. We have plans to put roasted salted peanuts on top of the ice cream when we eat it.

And post-churn, we have pretty good ice cream. It’s less sweet than the others I’ve done, which I suspected would be the case, since it just uses less sugar and the bananas alone won’t make up for that. This allows the caramel and the banana flavors to shine more. I dig it. It’s almost smoky with the brown sugar and all.

The chai ice cream turned out a little chalky in the end. I didn’t like the taste, and Susan didn’t so much like the texture. I think it’s a lesson in ingredients — I’d have been better off using a purer tea rather than tea bags. Also, next time I do a custard we’re going to use real eggs; I suspect the substitutes, which are mostly egg whites, are not thickening the ice cream the way yolks would.

Yet More Apple/Kindle

Apple’s released its new subscription/purchase rules. Interesting commentary here. He drills in on the one sentence in the press release which refers to anything other than subscriptions: “In addition, publishers may no longer provide links in their apps (to a web site, for example) which allow the customer to purchase content or subscriptions outside of the app.” If Apple hadn’t rejected the Sony Reader app, I’d assume that “content” referred to subscriptions, but since Apple clearly does care in some unspecified way about non-subscription content I can’t feel confident there.

30% is a huge cut. If you’re getting something for it, such as payment processing, it’s not unreasonable. If you’re a small content provider and this frees you from having to worry about PCI compliance, processor gateways, and so on? Sure! But if you’re a big content provider or aggregator (hi, Amazon), you are not getting value for that money.

Best Movie Marathon

Hey, that’s cool. AMC is running a two-day/one-day marathon of the 10 Best Picture nominees. 15 cities get the one-day marathon, and everyone else gets the two-day marathon. Probably the two-day marathon is saner. Sixty bucks a ticket for ten movies plus a $20 food card, so it’s four dollars a movie, which is not bad at all.

More Apple/Kindle, Still Some ?

Apple said something somewhat confusing that nonetheless implies that the way in which they enforce the rules has changed. Gruber summarizes. If Apple means what they seem to mean, that’s alarming. Also difficult to enforce. If Amazon removes the store button from the Kindle app, but still sells Kindle books pushed to the iPad via their Web site, is the Kindle app still offering the customers the ability to purchase books outside the app? I can buy ePub books from various sources without involving Stanza, and then download ’em to Stanza. Does this violate anything?

This wouldn’t have happened when Jobs was around.

That’s a joke.

Mostly.

Kindle/Apple?

Sony says Apple rejected their Sony Reader app on the grounds that all purchases on the iPad must go through the App Store. I don’t care that much about Sony on a practical level, but the implication is that the Kindle app is likewise in trouble, since it allows me to buy a book via the Amazon web site and download it to my iPad. If that’s no longer allowed, I’d be fairly annoyed.

On the other hand, the Kindle app pushes you over to Safari to make the purchase. It isn’t clear if the Sony Reader app did the same thing. The Sony Bookstore is not available on the Web; if you click on the “Want this eBook?” link on a Sony Bookstore page you’re instructed to download the Reader. I’m guessing that Sony didn’t implement a secret Web purchase page for the sake of the iPad.

The New York Times is not citing Apple sources in their reporting. There’s one troublesome line: “The company has told some applications developers, including Sony, that they can no longer sell content, like e-books, within their apps, or let customers have access to purchases they have made outside the App Store.” At face value, that would imply that the Kindle likewise violates the rules. But Sony has an interest in making Apple look like they’re being unreasonable, and we don’t even know if Sony was the source for that information.

Clause 11.2 of the current App Store guidelines (PDF) says “Apps utilizing a system other than the In App Purchase API (IAP) to purchase content, functionality, or services in an app will be rejected.” Key words are “in an app.” Safari is an app; I think a strict reading of those terms would rule out the way Amazon’s doing it as well. On the other hand, a strict reading of those terms would rule out any ecommerce. It could be better written. Possibly the intent is that it be read as “for an app.” Either way, there’s room for rejecting the Kindle app, and of course Apple reserves the right to do whatever for whatever reason.

Given the upcoming subscription feature launch, it wouldn’t surprise me if Apple’s reevaluating its stance on paid content for iPad apps. It would surprise me somewhat if they decided to tighten the screws on Amazon, and it would disappoint me, but it’s certainly possible. Check back in a month or so, I guess.

Oh, and a side note: the reason Kindle beats the crap out of the Apple iBookstore? Authors can’t link to the Apple iBookstore on their Web pages. I can’t buy while I’m sitting at my computer and push the book to my iPad. I gotta drag out the iPad, search, blah blah blah. Surprisingly bad design decision on Apple’s part. Killing the Kindle app (and presumably other ebook apps like the Nook app and perhaps Stanza) would really hurt the iPad as a book reader.