Tag Archives: frozen

first ice creams of the season: honey pistachio & rhubarb ripple

For someone without much of a sweet tooth, I make a fair amount of ice cream. I’ve been thinking about why that is, and I think it’s the fact that there are so many possibilities (endless, really) when it comes to flavor. Unlike baking, which requires a bit more precision, ice cream making has a lot of wiggle room when it comes to proportions. Recipes vary wildly in the amount of eggs, dairy and sugar called for, and somehow all end up yielding a fairly similar end product. As long as you understand the basics of making a custard (and many versions don’t even require that!), you can vary the other elements a great deal and still get a good result. Add to that the fact that making ice cream doesn’t require turning on the oven, and usually only dirties one bowl and one pot, and you have some pretty strong motivation for turning your creative energies in that direction.

The first ice cream I made this year was inspired by sweets of the Middle East and North Africa. Honey and pistachios play a starring role, with orange flower water as supporting cast. But unlike some pastries in which the honey can be cloyingly sweet or the overuse of rosewater brings to mind your grandmother’s perfumed soap, this ice cream strikes a delicate and, if I may say so, delightful balance. Rosewater is perhaps more commonly used in the region, but I’ve never loved the scent or taste of roses so I opt for orange flower. Orange blossom honey would be a natural partner, although any flavorful honey will work. Swirl in a generous amount of toasted pistachios, and you have a dessert worthy of an Arabian prince. In fact, according to Wikipedia’s entry on ice cream,

“As early as the 10th century, ice cream was widespread amongst many of the Arab world’s major cities, such as Baghdad, Damascus and Cairo. Their version of ice cream was produced from milk or cream and often some yoghurt similar to Ancient Greek recipes, flavoured with rosewater as well as dried fruits and nuts.”

This experiment turned out better than I could have even hoped for. Despite my non-proclivities for sweets, I found myself sneaking spoonfuls of this a bit more often than I should for someone trying to fit in a wedding dress in 3 months. Those pistachios! (I’m on a bit of a pistachio kick right now, by the way.)

The second ice cream I made, a few days after the first, was designed to use up some rhubarb I’d over-enthusiastically purchased at the farmers’ market. I made a rhubarb sorbet with St. Germaine (an elderflower liqueur) that turned out so-so, but still had a fair quantity left over. I made a basic vanilla custard, a rhubarb purée, and combined the two into an ice cream that tastes like rhubarb pie à la mode. I made the custard slightly sweeter than I normally would, to balance out the pucker-tart rhubarb, and it turned out just right. After making the ice cream, I thought of a better way to get the “ripple” effect (detailed in the recipe), but I suppose there’s always next time for that.

Meanwhile, I offer you these recipes, two of my best to date. The other half of my household, who happens to get very uncomfortable if our ice cream supply ever threatens depletion, is in full agreement.

Honey, Pistachio & Orange Flower Water Ice Cream
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2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 cup milk (doesn’t matter whether it’s skim, whole or whatever)
4 egg yolks
½ cup flavorful honey
¾ teaspoon orange flower water (available in most Middle Eastern groceries; rosewater may be substituted if that’s all you can find)
¾ cup pistachios

Heat the milk and 1 cup of the cream in a medium saucepan until steam begins to form on the surface. In a bowl, stir the egg yolks with the honey. When the milk is hot, stir it into the eggs about ¼ cup at a time; return entire mixture to the saucepan. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly with a whisk, until the custard coats the back of a spoon (a swipe with your finger should leave a clean trail). Add the orange flower water and remaining 1 cup cream. If you like, strain the custard through a fine-mesh strainer to remove any eggy bits. Put in the refrigerator to chill.

When completely chilled through, freeze the custard in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Meanwhile, toast the pistachios either in a dry skillet on the stove over low heat, shaking frequently, or spread on a tray in a low (250°) oven or toaster oven until warmed through. Either way, watch them closely, as nuts burn easily. Allow enough time for the nuts to cool before adding them to the ice cream. When the ice cream is the consistency of soft serve, stir in the pistachios. Pack into a container and place in the freezer for about 2  hours to set. Makes about 1 quart.

Rhubarb Ripple Ice Cream
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For the custard:
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup milk
4 egg yolks
½ cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract or half a vanilla bean

For the rhubarb purée:
½ pound rhubarb, washed and cut into chunks
½ cup sugar

Heat the milk and cream in a medium saucepan until steam begins to form on the surface. In a bowl, stir the egg yolks with the sugar and vanilla. When the milk/cream is hot, stir it into the eggs about ¼ cup at a time; return entire mixture to the saucepan. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly with a whisk, until the custard coats the back of a spoon (a swipe with your finger should leave a clean trail). If you like, strain the custard through a fine-mesh strainer to remove any eggy bits. Put in the refrigerator until completely chilled through.

To make the rhubarb purée, combine the rhubarb and sugar in a medium saucepan and cook over medium heat until the rhubarb is falling apart. You’ll need to stir at the beginning so the sugar doesn’t burn, but the rhubarb will quickly begin to render its juices. If you have an immersion/ wand blender, use that to purée the rhubarb; otherwise, you can use a regular blender, but don’t over-mix as it adds too much air to the purée. Transfer to a zip-loc bag and chill thoroughly.

When completely chilled through, freeze the custard in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Snip the tip off one corner of the bag containing the rhubarb. Layer the ice cream in your chosen container,  squiggling the rhubarb over it as you go. Place in the freezer for about 2 hours to set. Makes about 1 quart.

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candied kumquat & coconut sorbet

Oh my poor little neglected blog! I haven’t really been any busier than usual; maybe I’m just going through a little slump.  I’ve still been cooking, but it’s been pretty utilitarian- soup and chili to get me through the week; a roasted chicken with some veg and risotto over the weekend.  I did make one “superfluous” thing, though- this really quick kumquat and coconut sorbet.  In my effort to try to take advantage of seasonal items while they’re around, I picked up a pint of kumquats at Trader Joe’s, without any clear idea what I was going to do with them.  I decided to candy them, which I’d done before and knew was a breeze… but then what?  Ice cream was an obvious answer; ever since I got my ice cream maker I’ve been using it whenever I have fruit I’m not sure what else to do with (see my posts on blood orange sorbet and Meyer lemon sherbet…).  I just wanted something quick and easy, so instead of making a custard as you would for ice cream, I just used coconut cream and the sugar syrup from candying the kumquats to make a sorbet.  The bonus is that it was vegan so I could serve it to a couple vegan friends who came by.

So, without further ado, here’s the recipe.  Grab a pint of kumquats while they’re still in season and whip up a batch this weekend!

Candied Kumquat & Coconut Sorbet
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1 pint kumquats (about 12 oz)
1 can coconut cream (14.5-oz size)
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups water
2 tbs coconut rum (you can sub a plain or orange-flavored rum or vodka)
optional: 1/2 cup sweetened shredded coconut

Note: for non-vegans, you can add a teaspoon of gelatin for a smoother, less icy texture; just dissolve it in 2 Tbs water in a small saucepan over low heat; when fully dissolved (no visible graininess), add it to the sorbet base before putting it in the refrigerator.

Wash the kumquats and slice into 1/8″ slices, removing the seeds.  Put the sugar and water in a small saucepan over low heat.  When the sugar has dissolved,  add the kumquats and bring to a very gentle simmer for about 10 minutes or until kumquats are tender.

Put the coconut cream and rum in a bowl.  Strain the kumquats over the bowl, pressing down with the back of a spoon. Stir the coconut cream and syrup to combine and place in the fridge until cool.  Chop the kumquats and set aside.  If you wish, you can reserve some of the kumquat rings for garnish.

Remove the coconut cream/ syrup mixture from the fridge, giving it a whisk to combine and stir out any solidified bits of coconut cream.  Freeze according to your ice cream maker’s directions. When the base is frozen but still semisoft, stir in the kumquats and coconut, if using, and transfer to a container.  Place in the freezer until firm.  Makes about 1 quart.

pucker up: moroccan preserved lemons, meyer lemon marmalade, meyer lemon sherbet, and candied lemon slices

candied-lemons-on-plate

lemons-in-sinkThe last couple weekends A few weeks ago, I went just a little nuts with the citrus.   I wanted to make sure to take advantage of it before the season is over, so I made no less than four different things out of lemons.  I’m calling it my “Midwest citrusfest”.  It’s finally starting to warm up here, but the lemons were a much-needed burst of sunshine while we wait for the real thing.

preserved-lemon-prep1There’s a condiment I’d been wanting to make for a couple years now and never got around to, but I have no idea why, because the “recipe” is simplicity itself: just lemons and salt.  I’m referring, of course, to Moroccan preserved lemons.  I looked at several sets of instructions, and they were virtually identical: cut the lemon in quarters, but don’t cut all the way through; stuff the lemon with as much salt as it will hold (measurements were given, but unnecessarily so, in my opinion); reshape the lemons and stuff them in a jar.  Some of the recipes said to add additional lemon juice to cover, but others said it was fine to wait a few days; by then, the lemons should release enough of lemons-in-jar-top-view2their own juice.  So now I have a big jar of lemons in some liquid that is starting to take on a slightly viscous, mucus-like appearance.  I’m hoping this is normal.  I have to wait another 2 weeks or so before they’re ready, at which time I plan to make the classic tagine of chicken with preserved lemons and green olives.  Hopefully I will not perish due to botulism or some other form of food poisoning.  Although I cannot imagine any living thing surviving the amount of salt I used.

lemons-on-sill1

My second lemon experiment was Meyer lemon marmalade.  Again, I looked at a couple different recipes, mostly following this one.  Don’t you love it when a recipe says “reduce to 2 tbs” or “reduce by half”… like, how do I know what that looks like? Am I supposed to eyeball what 4 cups looks like?  Or interrupt the cooking marmalade-jarsprocess while I take the the hot liquid out of the pan to measure it?  For this recipe, I actually did just that, since you’re supposed to add an amount of sugar that is equal to your boiled lemon-water mixture.  I followed the cooking instructions but my marmalade never got close to 230º, and after cooking it for 30 minutes, I decided I was done.  I think it could have gone even less time, because my yield was a full 2 jars short of what the recipe said it would be, and the marmalade was very thick.  But, I thought it wasn’t bad for a first effort.  The flavor was a little too sweet for my taste due to being cooked down so much, but I think spread on something like a scone or toast that isn’t sweetened, it’ll be just fine.  The marmalade was also incorporated in my April Daring Bakers challenge, which I can’t reveal until the end of the month for a few more days, but I can tell you was delish. [Update: I am now convinced the thermometer I was using was broken, which explains why my marmalade was overcooked even though it “never got to 230º”.]

lemon-sherbet1

Ever since my sister gave me the Cuisinart ice cream maker for Christmas, I’ve been whipping up lots of frozen treats.  Fruit ices and sorbets are the easiest because you don’t have to do a custard base.   I still had lemons left, so next up was a batch of Meyer lemon sherbet.  I have to pause here and question all the foodie love for Meyer lemons.  I honestly was hard-pressed to taste a difference between the sherbet I made with Meyers, and any other standard lemon ice.  With the marmalade I get it, because regular lemons would have too thick a skin for marmalade.  And the Meyers are pretty juicy, but for the difference in price, I’m just not sold.  Perhaps I need to taste them in a lemonade, or a lemon curd, to fully appreciate their superiority… Anyone else with me on this one, or are my taste buds just not that sophisticated?  Supposedly they’re sweeter than regular lemons, but if you’re adding a bunch of sugar to a recipe, what’s the difference?  In any event, the sherbet tasted like lemons, so I was happy.  I used a recipe out of Chez Panisse Fruit and adapted it a bit- see recipe below.

candied-lemon-crop

candied-lemons-in-pot

lemon-syrup-in-handThe last thing I made with my remaining lemons was candied lemon slices.  These were also utilised in my Daring Bakers challenge.  I used the instructions found here; the only variation I made was to strain and save the syrup in which the lemons are cooked, rather than discarding it.  You can use this syrup in cocktails where simple syrup is called for (as long as the lemon flavor won’t clash), or to sweeten iced tea, or to make lemonade.  Or muddle some mint, add the syrup and some club soda for a nice refreshing bevvie for your teetotaler friends.  I’ve already used mine to drizzle over some berries, to sweeten a smoothie, and for a couple other things including the sherbet recipe below.

I enjoyed my midwest citrusfest, but am definitely looking forward to the fruits of summer!

Meyer Lemon Sherbet (adapted from Chez Panisse Fruit)
(printer-friendly version)
3 cups lemon syrup from the candied lemons you just made (or 1 1/2 cups each sugar & water, heated gently to dissolve sugar)
1 cup freshly squeezed Meyer lemon juice
1 tbs Microplaned or finely chopped zest
3/4 cup whole milk
1 tsp gelatin in 2 tbs water*

Directions: Combine syrup, juice, zest and milk. (Don’t worry if milk looks a little curdly; it will be fine once frozen.) Gently heat gelatin mixture until fully dissolved and no longer grainy. Add to other ingredients and refrigerate until cold; then freeze according to the directions of your ice cream maker.

*Note: for those not wanting to use gelatin, you could add a tbs or two of some sort of alcohol (vodka or limoncello, perhaps?) as an anti-freezing agent, or try using half-and-half instead of milk.