Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Good Chai

I was never a coffee drinker until I had my second child. Then suddenly, experiencing sleep depravation unlinke I had ever known with my first child and now a toddler in tow to boot, coffee became my new very best friend.  Every morning, after another sleepless night, my husband would lovingly make me a strong cup of coffee and offer it as a daily token of appreciation for once again sacrificing sleep for this lovely new child of ours.

Once my daughter started sleeping through the night, years later, we still continued our coffee ritual, even though I didn't need it as badly anymore.  And as much as I love a good cup of coffee with proper cream and sugar, it wasn't making me feel very well.  My tummy would get upset and I would get surprisingly irritable.  It didn't help that I was also having tea in the afternoon and some dose of chocolate to boot.  It just wasn't a good scene.

What I have always loved is a good cup of Chai.  I would often get one at the local coffee shop or even buy the mix in the tetra pack, but I always found it too sweet and syrupy.  But there was something about Chai that made me feel good.  Maybe it was the milky tea or the spices, I don't know, but it would always, without fail lift my mood out of the foggiest days.  After a while I forgot about it since I couldn't stand the sweetness of it.

Then a month ago, I had to travel to Vancouver with my mom as she was having major surgery.  When I didn't need to be at the hospital, I found myself wandering around the city.  And then one day, while I was at Granville Island, I noticed that the Granville Island tea company was making Chai tea, and I decided to buy one.  Now, this was not the Chai from a tetra pack.  They had tea steeping in one pot, and into the blender went the milk, water, spices and fresh ginger.  Honestly, this was what I had been searching for my whole caffinated life.  I returned three more times while I was in the city, it made me feel good, not sick and lifted my mood.  It was a godsend to be honest.

So when I got home, I decided to learn to make proper Chai myself.  After trying three different recipes, none of which were quite right, I found this one.  It is the Chai of your dreams, honestly.  Yes it takes a bit more effort that pouring pre-made syrup out of a carton, but it is completely worth it. I have actually given up coffee since I started making this and I am no longer irritable and my tummy is much happier.  The recipe makes enough for 4 cups.  If you can't drink it all at once,  put the rest in a jar in the fridge and re-heat what you want later.  Some people use tea bags, and that is fine.  I have been using the Ox blend from Teafarm and it has been fantastic.  I owe a big thank you to Nikiah Seeds for sharing this recipe on her blog, and for giving me permission to share it here; it has been such a gift.

Good Chai
From Redmoon Musings: Chai Tea

Chai Masala Mix

1/4 cup cinnamon pieces
1/8 cup cloves
1/4 cup green cardamom pods
1/4 cup whole black peppercorns
4-6 Star Anise
3/4 cup ginger powder
1 Tablespoon ground nutmeg

Dry roast all the spices, except for the nutmeg and ginger powder in a cast iron skillet.  Keep an eye on it as you don't want to burn the spices, just toast them.  Once you can begin to smell their oils release, remove the pan from the stove and let cool.  Once cool, grind in a spice grinder (or mortar and pestal as I did since it was all I had) until finely ground.  Add the ground ginger and nutmeg and mix.  Now you have your Masala mix.  Store in an airtight jar.  This makes a lot and will keep you going for a long while. 

Masala Chai tea

3 cups fresh water
1 cup whole milk 
3 cardamom pods, cracked
2-3 whole cloves
3 peppercorns
1 Star Anise
1/4 tsp Masala Spice mix (this really is all you need)
1-2 small sticks of cinnamon
3 slices of fresh ginger
4 tsp black tea such as Ceylon
4 tsp brown sugar

In a pot, add the water, milk and all spices and bring to a boil, keeping an eye on it, you don't want it to go over.  Once the mixture has come to a boil, lift it off the heat so it settles down and then return it to the heat to boil again.  You want to do this 3 times.  I can't say why it works, but it does, it makes the milk lovely and frothy.  After the third time, add your tea and sugar and simmer for 4 minutes.  Strain into a warmed tea pot and enjoy.  This tea will not only lift your energy, but your spirits too. 

Tuesday, 7 April 2015


I have an almost childlike love of meatballs. There is something nostalgic about them as though the sound of them along with spaghetti meant that dinner was going to be a treat.  I still feel like that.  I don't make them very often, although why exactly, I'm not sure.  But when I do, everyone gets excited.  These meatballs are not the cardboard, tasteless memories of your childhood.  They are flavorful, delicious and moist.  You have the option to either fry them before you put them in the sauce, as is traditionally done, or you can just lay them in the sauce and let them cook which will give you the most delicious pasta sauce ever.  I would also encourage you to be a little adventurous with them.  Traditionally they are served with spaghetti, but recently we also had them with pasta sheets (lasagna noodles).  I made just a few noodles and placed them on the bottom of a pasta bowl and served them with a few meatballs and pasta sauce poured over top.  It was lovely.  They are also delicious on their own with some crusty bread and a salad.  You can reserve these for a special supper, but you really don't have to.  And yes, every time I make them the kids start singing "On top of Old Smoky" Just try to get that out of your head now : )

Mama's Meatballs
Adapted From David Rocco's Dolce Vita

1 lb lean ground beef 
1/2 lb lean ground beef and 1/2 lb ground pork
handful of bread crumbs
1 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano
1/4-1/2 cup chopped pine nuts (optional)
1 egg (beaten)
1 handful of fresh chopped flat leaf parsley
5-6 big basil leaves chopped
salt and pepper to taste

In a big bowl, combine all ingredients.  Get your hands in there and make sure that all of the ingredients are incorporated with the meat.   Take a small amount of meat, about the size of a golf ball and roll between your hands to make little balls.  Place on a plate until you are ready to put them in the sauce.  If you are making these ahead of time, just cover with Saran wrap and place in the fridge up to one day ahead of cooking.   

 Many people like to fry their meatballs before putting them in the sauce.  To do this, heat up your skillet to medium/high heat and add a little olive oil.  Take each meatball and place in the pan, flattening it slightly so that it cooks evenly.  Cook on each side a few minutes until nicely browned.  Now add to your sauce.

I like to add my meatballs to the sauce raw.  This way they flavor the sauce and make everything super delicious.  

Simple Sauce

Extra virgin olive oil a good glug or two
1 medium to large onion diced
2 cloves garlic minced
1 bottle of Passata (strained tomatoes)
1 can whole tomatoes, blended or crushed with your hands (depending on how chunky you like your sauce).
Salt to taste.

Heat the olive oil in a large sauce pan or dutch oven on medium heat.  Once the oil shimmers, add the onions and saute slowly until they are a golden colour, but not dark.  Add the garlic, salt and tomatoes.  Bring to a simmer and add the meatballs.  Allow this to cook for 1 hour and serve with your favorite pasta and freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano on top.  I realize that the first picture has way too much parsley on top, I don't know what happened there.  I am a cook more than a food stylist so I guess I was just hungry and ready to eat. You don't need to use that much, but it is really nice with the meatballs.

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Rescue Cake

It was my son's 11th birthday this past weekend and to mark the occasion he didn't want a cake, he wanted Grasshopper Pie.  When I bought my copy of Kitchen by Nigella Lawson years ago, he flipped through the pages and found a recipe for this pie.  For years he has asked me to make it and for years I have avoided it.  I can't really say why, it is after all mint and chocolate come together in my favorite desert form.  But you know how there are some recipes that intimidate you?  Well this was one of them.

However, 11 is a big number and really, it was kind of a sweet request.  I mean how many 11 year old boys do you know would ask for Grasshopper pie for their birthday?  So I set out to make it, bought all of the ingredients (more on that later) and had it all organized with the crust chilling in the fridge.  I went to make the filling later that day, following the directions exactly and then the cream started separating into a curdled, disgusting, green mess.  My husband lovingly said, "just whip it a bit more"  but that only made it worse. I painfully had to dump it down the sink.  The thing with this pie is that it has to chill in the fridge overnight and the party was the next day.  It was 4:30 in the afternoon, the dream of this pie was over and I was up s*&it creek without a whisk.  I sat on the stairs in my kitchen, head in hands cursing birthday parties all together wondering what on earth I was going to do now.  I didn't have enough whipping cream to try the filling again and I was in no mood to go to the store...again.  I was just about to go to Dairy Queen and get an ice cream cake but honestly I was too exhausted from the day and too defeated to even do that.

Then I remembered this cake recipe.  I have made it many times before, it is easy to put together and has that nostalgic smell of boxed cake batter without all the garbage that goes into those mixes.  It is that cake of your childhood when you think "Birthday Cake"  It is also the kind of cake that uses basic pantry ingredients so no special shopping required.  I pulled out the milk, eggs, butter and flour and got to work.  This cake comes together so quickly that even my son was amazed.  So from now on I don't call it Yellow Cake, it has been reborn as Rescue Cake.

So the next time you have a birthday party to bake a cake for, I highly recommend this one. It is fool proof, so much better than the boxed batter and very gratifying to make. I did end up making the Grasshopper Pie the day after, I'll post about that later.  But in the meantime, the cake was a delicious hit.

Rescue Cake
Adapted from Wilton Basic Yellow Cake

3 cups sifted all-purpose flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2/3 cup butter, softened
2 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups milk, at least 2% don't use skim here

Preheat the oven to 350℉.  Grease 2 8-inch round cake pans and line with parchment paper.  You can also use a rectangular cake pan if you want to make a sheet cake or 12 cupcake liners if you prefer cupcakes. If you do use this recipe for cupcakes you will need to adjust the cooking time as they will bake faster.

Sift flour, baking powder and salt together into a small bowl and set aside.  In your stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  If you don't have a stand mixer use your hand beaters or you can also do this with a wooden spoon and some elbow grease. Add the eggs, one at a time and the vanilla until combined. Now add your flour and milk alternating between the two until everything has come together into a lovely yellow, creamy batter.  Pour into your cake pans and bake for 30 minutes.  Test with a toothpick to make sure it is done and let cool before removing from the pans.  You can make this the night before, just cover with a tea towel and frost the next day if you want to take the pressure off yourself.

The Best Chocolate Frosting Ever. 
Adapted from Chocolate Butter Cream Frosting from Add a Pinch

1 1/2 cups unsalted butter softened
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
3/12-4 cups icing sugar, sifted
1/2 cup milk, at least 2%
1-2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract 

I like to buy butter in sticks to make this easier but you can certainly buy it by the pound. Cut your butter into large cubes and put in a large bowl.  This will make it easier to cream.  Sift the cocoa powder into the bowl (DO NOT skip this step, it will ensure that you don't have lumpy frosting).  Cream the butter and the cocoa together with a wooden spoon.  You can do this with your stand mixer or hand beaters, but I seem to get better results with just a spoon and a bit of effort.  Once combined, add the sifted (again to eliminate lumps) icing sugar one cup at a time, alternating with one tablespoon of milk to the mixture until it comes together into creamy, chocolaty goodness.  I prefer my frosting a little less sweet which is why I have suggested 3 1/2 - 4 cups of sugar.  Taste as you go and see what you like.  Add the vanilla one teaspoon at a time, again to taste.  I guarantee you, this is worlds better than the junk you buy in a can at the store.  

To frost the cake

Take the cakes out of the pans.  Turn one cake upside down, spread a modest layer of frosting on top.  Now place the second cake right side up on top of the first one.  This way you should have two flat layers against each other with the rounded side up.  Now frost with a palate knife if you have one or a small spatula or even a butter knife.  This frosting recipe makes loads so you will have plenty to generously frost this cake.  Decorate with sprinkles, fruit, whatever you like.  This will make anyone's birthday a happy one. 

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Potato Leek Soup

This can be a crazy time of year.  School is in full swing, everyone seems to be in some kind of after school activity and don't even get me started on how Christmas is around the corner.  We used to be a very low key family and in many ways we still are.  But now that both kids and my husband are in activities and I have taken a part time job, suddenly life has gotten exponentially busier.  There are nights of the week that I need simple recipes that are easy and quick to cook but don't compromise on quality.  Soup is always the winner.   

Back in 1997 I spent the summer living in Smithers BC working on a sheep farm as a nanny, cook and gardener.  The family that I worked for had one of the most beautiful kitchens that I have ever seen complete with a catering fridge.  The mum of the house had been a caterer and was passionate about food.  Being able to cook was part of the job requirement and while I was only 22 years old at the time I was already in love with food and cooking.  That summer I learned how to make all kinds of wonderful things, and I got paid to do it which was the best part.  But of all the things I cooked that summer, it was this potato leek soup that I am most grateful that I learned how to make.  It has always been my fall back when I need something quick and cheap to make; good food doesn't need to cost a fortune.  My kids love it and if you make a bit extra you can put it in their Thermos for lunches the next day.  It is full of flavor and with a green salad and some bread and cheese it is the perfect fall supper.

Potato Leek Soup

1 Tbsp unsalted butter
Drizzle of olive oil
2 Leeks sliced
1 onion diced
1 garlic clove diced
2 carrots peeled diced
2 stalks celery diced
2 potatoes diced
pinch of fresh or dried thyme if you have it
Salt and pepper to taste
1 liter chicken or vegetable stock 
1/4 cup milk

Wash and trim your leeks.  To do this, cut the very end of the leek off as well as the dark green ends.  Split the leek in half and make sure that there isn't any sand in between the layers.  Slice into half-moons.  Dice the onion, garlic and celery.  Heat up a soup pot on medium head and melt the butter and oil. Add the leeks, onions and garlic and saute until soft.  Add the celery and carrots and saute for another 5 minutes.  Finally add the potatoes, thyme, salt and pepper.  Add enough stock so that you cover the vegetables, you don't want this drowning in liquid.  Cook partially covered until the vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes.  Take the pot off the heat and blend with an immersion blender.  If you don't have one of these (please get one, it will save you a lot of grief in the kitchen) transfer in batches to a blender and blend until smooth.  Bring the pot back to a low heat and stir in the milk.  Serve with some crusty bread, cheese and a salad.  

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Delicious Roasted Yam and Ricotta Tart

Fall is by far my favorite season.  It is that time of year when the rain feels like a welcome relief to the beating sun of summer, the salmon start spawning in the river at the end of our street and the yellow leaves of the big leaf maple trees look like little lanterns against the grey sky.  We light the fire, pull out the blankets and make pots of tea.  It is also the time of year for cozy, warming food.

If there is one thing I have learned as a home cook, it is to buy what is in season and to buy it locally, as best you can.  This may sound like Eco-snobbery, but it is no such thing, it is practical.  My dad grew up in Hungary in the 1930's and 40's.  He had wonderful stories to tell about the seasons and how each one brought with it a special treat that they waited for all year long.  Summertime was the time for watermelons, juicy and ripe, perfect on hot days.  Fall was harvest time with grapes, fresh bacon and mushrooms.  He could never understand why we would buy strawberries in January or watermelon in March.  It didn't make sense to him because when he was young having out of season fruits and vegetables was unheard of.  They ate what was grown locally, not shipped from far away lands. 

Buying in season means that we get our food when it is fresh and at its peak. That is why those strawberries taste so good in June and why the yams in this tart taste so good now in October. Buying in season often means that we can also buy locally which in turn reduces the distance that your food has to travel to get to your plate.  It also supports your local economy and the farmers in your area that are growing the food that you depend on to eat. It is a win-win situation for everyone.

Now that autumn has arrived, this roasted yam tart is perfect for a cold, rainy night.  I have a love affair with tarts for many reasons.  One, they always look impressive thanks to the pan doing all the work for you with its fluted edges (I like having beautiful food to look at).  Two, they are not difficult to make but taste delicious.  And three, the possibilities of what you can put in them is endless.  I discovered this tart from the  Hollyhock Garden to Table cookbook  and it is delicious.  I have used a different crust recipe than suggested because I have another one that I prefer.

This tart is great with a salad for supper, take it to a potluck or have it for brunch.  The kids loved it and it is an easy way to get both protein and vegetables into one dish.  While I won't lie and say that this takes only minutes to make, the extra effort is well worth it.

Roasted Yam, Onion and Ricotta Tart
Adapted from Hollyhock Garden to Table by Moreka Jolar, Heidi Scheifley and the HollyHock Cooks

For the Pastry
Adapted from French Food at Home by Laura Calder
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
7 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter
About 4 tablespoons of ice cold water

4 cups onion, sliced into thin half-moons
2 Tbsp Olive oil
2 cups yams (or sweet potatoes if you prefer to call them that), cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 cup milk or cream
3 eggs
1/4 cup chopped mixed chives and parsley
1 Tbsp fresh minced thyme
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 cup ricotta

Preheat the oven to 450℉. Measure the flour into a bowl and add the salt.  Cube the butter and toss it in the flour.  With your fingers crumble the butter into the flour until you get a crumbly texture.  Now add the water, one tablespoon at a time until you get a nice dough that is neither sticky nor dry, it should just come together.  Gather it into a ball and put it onto a floured surface.  Gently roll it out until you get it big enough to fit into your tart pan.  Press it into the pan making sure to cover all surfaces.  Bake in the oven for 10 min until the crust is starting to turn golden.  Many people suggest that you blind bake your crust.  To do this, you would either use pie weights or cover the pastry with parchment and then fill the pan with uncooked beans.  This will ensure that your pastry won't puff up and lose it's shape.  I find that you can get away without blind baking this crust but if you are enthusiastic, then please do.  Remove from the oven and let cool. 

Turn the oven down to 350℉. Toss the yams with 1 Tbsp olive oil and bake on a baking sheet in the hot oven until they are fork tender.  Remove from oven.  In a large skillet, saute the onions in the remaining olive oil until they are tender and caramelized.  The trick is not to cook them too high, you don't want to scorch them.

In a small bowl, whisk the eggs, milk or cream (which ever you choose), fresh herbs, salt and pepper.  Place the cooked onions and yams evenly into the tart shell and then add small scoops of the ricotta over top of the vegetables.  Next pour over the lovely egg and cream mixture, making sure that all the corners are filled.

Bake in the oven for 30-40 minutes or until the tart has set (no longer jiggles when you tap it).  Remove from the oven and let it sit for 5-10 minutes.  To remove from the tart pan, you can either set the bottom on a jar (the bottom will balance on the jar while you remove the outer ring) or you can just put your hand underneath.  This last technique requires a bit of acrobatics as you will have to hold onto the tart and slip the ring off your arm.  You might want some assistance.  Your family will think you are amazing, because well, you are. 

Monday, 2 June 2014

Lemony Lentil Soup

Now that spring is here and summer is peeking around the corner, I find that I am craving lighter, vegetable rich foods.  Don't get me wrong, I still love a comforting bowl of pasta or a good Shepard's Pie once in a while.  But with all the beautiful vegetables finally waking up in the gardens and farmer's markets, I love seeing the colors of spring reflected in my supper.  Rich yellows, deep greens and the taste of earthy and satisfying lentils. The first time I had this soup, a mentor of mine, who also happened to be the mother of the Hollyhock chef who wrote the book, made it for me on a cloudy west coast afternoon.  I loved the combinations of the earthy lentils with the bright lemon and the satisfying greens.

This soup is super easy to make, delicious and kid approved.  It calls for a vegetable stock and I find that is this preferable to chicken.  If you have the time to make your own, I have also included the recipe below.  The thing I love about vegetable stock is how quick it is to make and that it will taste a thousand times better than the stuff in the store. 

 Lemony Lentil Soup
Adapted from Hollyhock Cooks by Linda Solomon and Moreka Jolar

3 Tbsp Olive oil
2 cups onion, diced
2 Tbsp garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups (about 4) carrots, diced
1 cup potato, diced
2 bay leaves, fresh or dried
1 cup red lentils
1 cup celery, diced
6 cups vegetable stock
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
2 Tbs fresh dill, chopped
two good handfuls of chopped kale
salt and pepper to taste

 In a large soup pot with the olive oil, saute the onion, garlic, carrots, potatoes and bay leaves until onion is translucent and potato softens.

Rinse the lentils and add to the pot with the celery and the stock to cover.  Cook until lentils have softened, about 15-20 minutes.  Add the lemon juice, dill, salt and pepper. Stir in the kale and serve!  This is a wonderful meal with a good salad and crusty bread.

Easy Vegetable Stock

2 carrots, chopped
2 onions, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 cloves garlic, whole
10 pepper corns
2-3 springs thyme
5  parsley stalks
2 bay leaves

Put all the ingredients into a large stock pot and cover with water.  Bring to a boil and then turn down and simmer for 1 hour.  Strain and put into containers for later use.  Easy!

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Homemade Ice Cream Sandwiches

Life is a funny thing.  Just when you think you think things can't get any harder, they sometimes do.  Last summer my husband lost his job and had to reinvent himself in short order.  As we were dealing with that my dad went on his annual fishing trip with his best friend.  Just after they cast off, the boat tipped and they fell in the cold water.  My dad had a sudden heart attack and died.  He was 84 years old, living on his own, doing all the things he loved, there was no sign or warning that he was going to go anytime soon.  The beautiful thing in his death is that he was doing what he loved to do, right to the very last second.  While that doesn't make me miss him any less, is it inspiring.  Wouldn't we all love to depart from this physical world like that?  Needless to say, keeping my blog going has been low on the priority list as I sift though this foreign land of grief.  It has been so touching though how many of you have asked if I am going to keep this food loving blog going.  I love hearing your stories about how you try the recipes and love them. So now that summer is here, or just about, it seems like it is time to start returning to the things I love, including writing.  My dad's passing over reminds me that we need to savor every moment of every day.  Cliche I know, but it is true.  The beauty and essence of life is made up of small, wonderful, magical moments.  Seeing the thousand shades of green in the spring leaves, the sun sparkling on the river, the sound of a child laughing until their stomach hurts, these are the things that make life so precious and worth celebrating.  I am learning to start looking up from all the troubles and really allow these beautiful moments to absorb into my being.  Food is a part of that beauty and ice cream sandwiches are no exception.

When I was a kid, this was my go-to treat.  I used to walk to the corner store with my friends, change jingling in my pocket to get one of these beauties.  We would sit on the curb eating them in the hot sun, licking the melting ice cream as it dripped down our arms.  That was summer.  Then I discovered how to make my own and I never looked back.  These take a small amount of effort, but it is worth it, believe me.  I recommend that you let them sit out for a minute after you pull them out of the freezer so that everything gets a bit soft.  They are best eaten outside with a good friend, on a back step, savoring every beautiful moment. 

Homemade Ice Cream Sandwiches
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen Classic Ice Cream Sandwiches

First, the Cookies

2 2/3 cups of all-purpose flour
2/3 cup plus 1/4 cup Dutch-process unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/4 cups unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 tsp sea salt
2 large egg yolks
1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract

Preheat your oven to 350℉ and line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.  Sift the flour and cocoa together in a small bowl and set aside.  Do not skip this step otherwise you will have lumps of cocoa in your dough.

In the bowl of a standing mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, sugar and salt until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the yolks one at a time along with the vanilla and mix until combined.  Scrape the sides down if necessary and beat again.  Add the flour mixture in thirds until everything is combined into a lovely chocolatey dough.

Transfer your cookie dough onto a lightly floured surface and divide into two pieces.  If the dough is too soft to handle, wrap it in cling film and put it in the fridge for a few minutes to harden up.  Roll each batch into a rectangle.  This is when you pull out your cookie cutter of choice.  I used a biscuit cutter and the bottom of my cheese grater.  The cheese grater will give you the traditional rectangle shape and the biscuit cutter shape is what you see in the picture.  Cut out as may equal pieces as you can get.  Keep re-rolling and cutting until you have used up all of your dough. Now transfer to your cookie sheet with about an inch between them. With the end of a chop stick you can put little holes in your cookies to make them look just like store-bought.  Bake one sheet at a time for 16-18 minutes or until they are firm when touched in the center. Let cool on the sheet for 5 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Now the good stuff...Ice Cream!

To make this step as simple as possible, I bought a box of ice cream.  You know, the kind that comes in a rectangle cardboard box that you can just open up on all sides? I used vanilla, but you could use any flavor you want.  I think chocolate chip mint would be yummy too.  Get out your cookie cutter that you used for the cookies.  Cut one slice of ice cream at a time and then with your cookie cutter, cut out your ice cream and place on the first cookie, it will match perfectly.  Then add the second cookie on top and Viola! You have an ice cream sandwich.  Continue doing this until all of your cookies are used up.  Wrap them in cling film or parchment and store them in the freezer.  I do highly recommend that you eat one right away though : )

Note: The cookie in this recipe is a bit crunchy, unlike the corner store variety that sticks to the roof of your mouth.  But I have to say that it is a wonderful combination with the ice cream.  My kids actually like them better.