Cuisinart Ice 21: A Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker Review by a Real User

January 30, 2011

homemade ice cream machine

I had been wanting to get an automatic ice cream machine for a while but wondered if it was worth the expense. I finally caved and got one that I hoped would be inexpensive, easy to use, durable, and give me freedom to make homemade ice cream, yogurt, sorbets, and other frozen delights. Here is a Cuisinart ice cream maker review, of the Cuisinart ICE-21 Frozen Yogurt-Ice Cream & Sorbet Maker machine.

Years ago we had a really cheap, hand-cranked ice cream maker. The idea is that there is a large bowl you place in your freezer. When you are ready to make ice cream or other frozen dessert, you add your mixture and the paddle and start turning.

The paddle incorporates air into the base mix and allows smaller ice crystals to form as it is freezing. The result is creamy and smooth, without ice crystals that can make your ice cream crunchy and less desirable.

The problem with that old homemade ice cream machine was that you had to constantly crank for about half an hour. And you couldn’t stop, because the stuff would freeze where it touched the sides of the bowl. The plastic mixing paddle was put under a lot of strain to move so much ice cream. There was more and more resistance as the mixture froze.

The Cuisinart Ice 21 ice cream machine kind of reverses the paddle mechanism, plus it is automated. That means you do not have to crank or turn anything, except turn on the switch!

The freezer bowl part of the equation is the same. You need a fairly large space in your freezer to keep it there. It needs to be upright; otherwise, the liquid inside will freeze unevenly, which means the ice cream will freeze unevenly.

Use the bowl immediately after you take it out of the freezer, because it starts to lose its potency every second it is out. You will only be able to make one batch, too, so purchase extra bowls if you want to do consecutive batches at a time.

This maker has a 1-1/2 quart capacity, which is just right. That’s about what a typical blender can hold, and since I do most of my base mixes in the blender, that works perfectly. It’s just enough for me to keep some to eat ourselves, and give a smaller portion away to a friend, for critiquing, or as a gift.

The base has a shaft which turns the bowl, rather than turning the paddle. The paddle is held in place by the clear plastic lid. It actually scrapes the mixture off the sides of the freezing bowl, so it freezes and immediately gets scraped off.

It’s an electric ice cream machine, so you plug it in, turn it on, add your base, and watch and wait. The amount of noise it makes isn’t much. Kind of like an electric can opener.

The clear plastic lid makes it easy to see what’s happening–it’s kind of fun to watch–and you can tell when the mixture is the right consistency to add your mix-ins. Those are the stuff like chopped nuts, chunks of fruits, cookie dough, or cookie crumbs.

I’ve even made a mint chocolate chip ice cream the way they do commercially, to create chewy chocolate bits! That’s been the most popular flavor so far.

I’ve also made grape sorbet, leftover fruit salad sherbet and watermelon sorbet with it. All have turned out great.

You should figure on freezing your ice cream for a few hours after churning, because it ends up being somewhat soft, like a thick soft serve. It takes about 25-30 minutes to get to that consistency.

And to answer my question about whether or not the consistency is much different? The answer is yes, absolutely.

I used to partially freeze my base, then put it back into the blender to break up the ice crystals, then freeze until solid. That worked quite well, although there were still some ice crystals in there, which didn’t bother me, and my best friend actually likes that iciness.

But the texture with the Cuisinart ice cream maker is definitely creamier and smoother. So if smooth texture is a huge factor to you, you will enjoy the end results.

Make sure to wash and dry the bowl thoroughly before putting it back in the freezer. If there is any water in the bottom, it will go into the hole for the paddle, and your machine won’t work. You might even break it.

And I would be careful to not drop the plastic cover, because that is crucial for the machine to work properly. I’m guessing one good fall would be enough to break it.

So other than those drawbacks, I can enthusiastically recommend the Cuisinart ICE-21 Frozen Yogurt-Ice Cream & Sorbet Maker. It’s a well-designed and made machine that allows you to make homemade ice cream and yogurt and other stuff easily. The price has dropped considerably since it has come on the market, so it’s absolutely affordable, too.

Get an extra bowl

Cuisinart 1-1/2-Quart Additional Freezer Bowl, fits ICE-20 Ice Cream Maker
–you want to make more than one batch at a time

–you want to make more than 1-1/2 quarts

–you want to use this to cool things quickly, such as pie fillings. Place a metal bowl on top this frozen bowl, and put your filling in the metal bowl. This frozen bowl chills the other one, which will cool your mixture very quickly.

–you want to use this as a makeshift wine bottle cooler. Cover it with pretty fabric, so it looks nice.

Frozen Yogurt Recipes for Your Ice Cream Maker

Although the recipes used soy yogurt, they will work equally well with regular dairy yogurt.
Chocolate Soy Frozen Yogurt, with a nice chocolate, tangy flavor.

If you live in Hawaii and get stuck for ways to use those mangoes before they get overripe, here’s a delicious recipe for Mango Frozen Soy Yogurt.

Crowd-Pleasing Vegan Broccoli Salad With Cranberries

January 11, 2011
vegan broccoli cranberry salad

Easy, Crowd-Pleasing, Vegan Broccoli-Cranberry Salad

Here is another one of those easy, basically dump-and-mix salad recipes. It’s a broccoli salad with cranberries or raisins, that you can make vegan very easily. I started with a popular recipe by Paula Deen, famous food celebrity.

Then I read some of the many comments and tried some of them out. All the variations I tried seemed to come out well.

The salad is a lovely mix of crunchy, creamy, salty, sour and sweet. You can substitute other dried fruits, such as dates or raisins, for the cranberries. You can use different nuts. We used pecans in some batches and almonds in others, when we made food for a memorial service and started with 24 pounds of broccoli florets.

We made some with the carrots, and some without, when we thought we had run out of carrots. I had brought liquid smoke, intending to add it in place of the bacon bits or vegetarian, fake bacon bits, but I forgot to add it. So it’s quite a versatile salad.

It has been very well received whenever I’ve served it, too. Even a friend, who doesn’t care for raw onions, ate it and didn’t complain.

You can make it vegan by using vegan mayonnaise and vegetarian bacon bits. With the combination of vegetables, nuts and fruits, the salad packs a nice wallop of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber, too.

You could go through the trouble of blanching the broccoli if you find it too hard. But I prefer the less-work method, and it’s not necessary. Hey, you burn more calories when you chew more!

Here’s the recipe.

Crowd-Pleasing Vegan Broccoli Salad

4 cups broccoli florets (about 2 stalks)
1 cup minced sweet onion
2 carrots, grated
1/3 cup chopped nuts
1/2 cup dried cranberries or raisins
1/4 cup vegetarian bacon bits
1 cup mayonnaise
2 Tablespoons white vinegar
1/4 cup sugar

Mix all ingredients together.

The only complaints about this broccoli salad I heard were from those who were making it. We were using warehouse club bags of already cut broccoli florets, and dumped and mixed them with the other ingredients.

“This broccoli is too big!” and “How are they going to eat it–with their hands?” is what I heard them saying. “Aren’t we going to cut it smaller?” “Aren’t we blanching it?”

“NO!” I said. “We don’t have time.” We had hundreds of pounds of food to make, and no time to waste cutting or blanching broccoli.

“If anyone has a problem with the food, they can come talk to me,” I said.

Of course, I couldn’t help teasing them when we ate some for dinner that night. “Where is the quality control around here? WHO is in charge of this food? Look at this broccoli tree on my plate! Don’t choke on it!”

I guess you can’t please everyone.

But they had a point. The floret I had was the size of my palm. I cut it with a knife before eating it. So if you cut the florets yourself, be as meticulous as you so desire.

I hope you enjoy this Crowd-Pleasing Vegan Broccoli Salad With Cranberries recipe. Let me know if you try other variations and how they turn out.

Vegan Tofu-Spinach Dip

January 11, 2011

vegan appetizer tofu spinach dip

Vegan Tofu Spinach Dip

This recipe was developed as a vegan appetizer version of that onion and spinach dip that probably everyone has had at some potluck or party some time in their life. You know the one–I think you mix sour cream, onion soup mix, mayonnaise, water chestnuts, and spinach.

This has no dairy, no cholesterol, no unpronounceable chemicals or flavorings, and is almost as easy to make.

Recently I made a version for a memorial service, and I didn’t have gobs of dehydrated onions or powders to throw in. So I used minced onions and minced garlic for one batch, and sauteed onions and garlic for the second batch, for less of a strong onion bite.

Someone has already asked for the recipe, so it obviously tasted okay. I cannot post the exact recipe I used for the large batches, because I was making hundreds of pounds of food and had no time to measure or write anything down. Instead of 2 cups of tofu per batch, I used 2 blocks! I’ll give you some approximate amounts, though, to help you out.

Here is the original, normal-sized recipe I developed:

Vegan Tofu-Spinach Dip

2 cups tofu
1 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1 Tablespoon dried onion flakes
5 Tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 cup oil
1/2 cup chopped water chestnuts (half of an 8-ounce can)
1 cup cooked, chopped spinach* (this is probably about equal to one box of frozen spinach, thawed)

Blend all ingredients EXCEPT water chestnuts and spinach. Add water if necessary. Blend until it is smooth.

Stir in water chestnuts and spinach.

Serve with crudite or chips, or as a spread on bread, crostini, or crackers.

I’ve also served it inside a round loaf of sweet bread. Cut off a thin slice from the top. Pull the center out in chunks, leaving a bowl-like shell. Put the dip into the bread bowl and serve the bread chunks for dipping.

That makes a nice mix of sweet, sour, crunchy, salty, and creamy, and the dry bread soaks up the dip very nicely.

To make it with fresh onion and garlic,

use the same recipe, with the following changes:

Omit garlic and onion powders
Omit dehyrated onion flakes
Add 2 cloves minced garlic
Add 1/2 cup minced onion (I used sweet onions)

Taste and see if you need to add more onion and/or garlic. Keep in mind that the flavors will meld nicely if you let it sit.

I recommend you refrigerate this several hours, or overnight, before serving, but it’s not necessary.

*Note about the spinach: I’ve used regular spinach and cholesterol spinach, and both worked well. You could probably substitute other cooked greens instead, such as kale or collard greens, to get a similar flavor.

Frozen Pea Salad, With or Without Feta Cheese

January 11, 2011

pea salad with feta cheese

Frozen Pea Salad with Feta Cheese

In planning for the recent memorial service for my best friend’s husband, I needed some really easy, dump-and-mix recipes that tasted delicious. They also had to be made by people who don’t cook very much. And the ingredients would ideally be found at the local warehouse club, since we were cooking for 150 (that number grew to 215 by the day of the service!!)

Oh yeah, there were more variables. They had to be okay made ahead of time. They had to be okay sitting out on the buffet table for an hour or two, in case the speakers went on and on forever (there would be an open mic at the end, so anyone who wanted could say something. We had only guesses as to how long the service would last.)

Food safety was a concern for me. Food cannot sit for more than two hours at temperatures warmer than refrigerated or cooler than hot. Bacteria start to grow that can make people sick, and I wasn’t about to make anyone sick on MY watch!

They had to not need to be heated. We only had a few hotel pans and warming trays, not enough for this large a crowd.

But if we could refrigerate it as we made it, then put some of it out before the service, keep the rest at a safe temperature, and refill as necessary, that would work fine. (We ended up borrowing our own, my neighbors, and other friend’s refrigerator spaces, plus a huge cooler with ice, to keep things properly chilled.)

I found this recipe online, which used frozen peas, feta cheese, and balsamic vinegar. I altered it a bit and came up with the versions we used.

One version was close to the original, with feta cheese. The other could be for vegans, although I opted to use commercial mayonnaise, which has eggs in it. I wasn’t about to prepare gallons of vegan mayonnaise, and we couldn’t afford to buy commercial vegan mayonnaise substitute.

But I am sure you could use a vegan mayonnaise instead. Depending on your product, it might get a bit watery if the mayonnaise breaks down. But the mayo with eggs holds up fine.

Also, I developed a version made with white vinegar, in case we couldn’t get the balsamic. (I’ve planned enough dinner parties based on warehouse club ingredients, only to be shocked to find them not in stock. Then I needed to to change the menu at the last minute. I wanted to avoid that possibility this time!)

The flavor of balsamic vinegar is sweeter than white, so you will need to add some sweetener to balance the flavors.

Frozen Pea Salad With Feta

1 pound frozen peas, thawed
1/2 cup chopped almonds
1/2 cup minced sweet onion
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 TBS vinegar (white or balsamic)
1/2 cup feta cheese crumbles
sugar or other sweetener, optional*

If your peas are still a bit frozen, they will freeze the ingredients as you mix them, so they need to be mostly or fully thawed.

If you are in a rush, microwave them one or two minutes, to thaw them out enough to use.

Mix all ingredients together. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

*If you are using white vinegar, add a small amount of sugar or other sweetener, to balance the flavors.

pea salad vegan

Pea Salad (without feta cheese)

Vegan Frozen Pea Salad Without Feta

1 pound frozen peas, thawed
1/2 cup chopped almonds
1/2 cup minced sweet onion
1/2 cup vegan mayonnaise
2 TBS vinegar (white or balsamic)
salt, to taste
sugar or other sweetener, optional*

If your peas are still a bit frozen, they will freeze the ingredients as you mix them, so they need to be mostly or fully thawed.

If you are in a rush, microwave them one or two minutes, to thaw them out enough to use.

Mix all ingredients together. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

*If you are using white vinegar, add a small amount of sugar or other sweetener, to balance the flavors.