Monday, January 26, 2009

Long ice cream post for Lisa's birthday!

Today is Lisa's birthday! Or maybe it was yesterday? I'm bad with birthdays. And she's in the UK, so it is tomorrow there already even if her birthday is today over here. In any case, she is special and this is her special day!

Here's me and Lisa in Des Moines, Iowa two and a half years ago -- this is the last time I saw Lisa, I think. Which is shocking considering the amount of time we used to spend/waste together. She has created an entire new person since then (see Gillian!), and I can't wait to meet her.

Lisa has specifically requested ice cream recipes to use with her new ice cream machine. We have had several conversations about the glories of ice cream makers. I love mine, even if it is in the cabinet now because I have no room for the bowl in the freezer. But as an incentive to make vs. buy, we were just informed by QFC that some peanut butter cup ice cream we bought was recalled for the salmonella scare. Yuck.

So I'm no expert, but here are some ice cream recipes for Lisa. The ones I've tried and liked so far are:

Berry and vodka sorbet
Pumpkin rum-raisin ice cream

I also direct you to the chocolate cashew ice cream I posted a few weeks ago.

And then by request, Plain Vanilla. I have not actually made them but I'll pass them to you and you can tell me how they go.

First, here are some rambling things I picked up by trial and error:

There are a couple of approaches to ice cream. First, the slightly challenging custard base with tons of eggs and time on the stove, then time chilling, before it can go in the freezer. So delayed gratification but richer and fattier and creamier and probably a crowd-pleaser. Second, the completely idiot-proof all milk and cream no-cooking involved kind (unless you steep something in the cream, which is always a good idea). It's quicker and easier, but doesn't keep well and can be kind of icy. There's apparently an additive (pectin? gelatin? Rennet?) that you can use to cut the icy/crystalline quality, but I haven't tried yet. Too lazy. And then there is the skimp-on-fat frozen yogurt or low fat kind. The texture changes with frozen yogurt--particularly if you use no milk at all, or no fat at all. Nonfat frozen yogurt sticks to the ice cream maker bowl, but ice cream does not. And the frozen yogurt doesn't freeze as smoothly. If I'm making it for me, I use plain non- or lowfat yogurt. If it's for anyone else, I use the full fat kind or add cream or whole milk.

For all recipes, it's a good idea to chill the mix in the fridge before you freeze it, so that the flavors come together. They can sit for a couple of hours to a couple of days and be fine. A tiny bit of booze is also really nice in ice cream (like, a tablespoon or two) -- particularly in sorbet. It keeps it from getting too hard, and helps it be creamy. But not too much or it won't freeze right. Finally, all machine instructions and recipes seem to say that you should churn it in the maker and then transfer it to a bowl and let it sit in the freezer for a while to firm up. I sometimes do this and sometimes I can't wait. Seems like the custard ones need it while the yogurt really doesn't. Lower fat kinds are better fresher and softer, I think.

So here goes:

1. Pumpkin Rum Raisin (adapted from Peggy Fallon's Ice Cream and Frozen Desserts)

I made this one for my neighbors and they liked it. But it got kind of grainy from the pumpkin after a day or two in the freezer, so is best eaten pretty fast.

1/2 cup dark rum
1 cup dark raisins
2 cups sugar
2 cups heavy cream
3/4 can pumpkin (unsweetened -- not pie filling)
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cloves
pinch of salt

Bring the rum and raisins to a boil, remove from the heat, and let soak for an hour.

Whisk the sugar and the creams and salt together to dissolve the sugar, then whisk in the pumpkin and spices. Taste it to see if you like it sweeter, but I can't imagine you do. Chill it for a couple of hours. Follow your machines instructions -- adding the raisins and the rum when you are in the final few minutes.

2. Berry Vodka Sorbet

I used frozen mixed berries (blueberries, raspberries and blackberries) for this, and it was great. Straining the stuff to get rid of the seeds and skins is a pain, though. I bet you could do this with other fruit -- I've been meaning to try pureed canned peaches (without adding sugar if they are packed in syrup), and fresh ripe mango might be nice. The zest makes a big difference, and I bet other citrus juice or zest swapped in would work well. If you don't have juice or cider of any kind (maybe a berry juice might be good) you probably want to add some sugar.

1 to 1.5 pounds mixed berries, fresh or frozen.
3/4 cup apple cider or juice
3/4 cup maple syrup or sugar
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
pinch of salt
grated lemon zest (about one lemon)
1-2 tablespoons vodka

Blend the berries with the apple juice in a blender or use an immersion blender in a big bowl. Strain the mixture through a sieve to remove the seeds and skins. Stir in the maple syrup, lemon juice, salt, lemon zest, and vodka. Freeze according to the machine's instructions.

Long post! Here's a picture to break it up: This (really scary) monkey stole a cookie from me in Gilbraltar, on a trip that Amy and I took a couple of years ago. She tried to get me to pose with the monkey but I would not. Lisa REALLY LIKES monkeys, and also likes the Pixies quite a bit. She once made me promise to do an interpretive dance to the Pixies song This Monkey's Gone to Heaven at her funeral -- wearing a flesh-colored body suit. Clearly both the request and promise were made after a few too many drinks. I have never understood what made her come up with the body suit.

3. Vanilla, two ways (cooked and no cooking, both from the Ice Cream book noted above)

A. Cooked Fancy vanilla

1 vanilla bean
3 cups heavy cream
1 cup milk
3/4 cup sugar
pinch of salt
4 egg yolks
1 tablespoon good vanilla extract

Split the vanilla bean in half and scrape the seeds out into a saucepan with the milk, cream and the vanilla bean itself. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Remove the pan from the heat, cover, and let it sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes.

Add the sugar and salt, and return the pan to medium heat for about 5 minutes, until it is hot.

In a separate bowl, beat the egg yolks. Gradually and slowly whisk in about a cup of the hot milk mixture -- slowly enough to heat the eggs without cooking them. Add the egg and milk mixture to the pan with the rest of the cream and cook slowly, on low heat, until it starts to thicken into a custard. It should coat the back of a spoon. Don't let it boil.

Strain the custard through a sieve and remove the vanilla bean. Cover and refrigerate the mixture for at least 6 hours. When you are ready to make it, stir in the vanilla, and freeze according to the machine's directions. Transfer to a freezer container and let it firm up for another couple of hours.

B. No Cook Plain Vanilla

1.5 cups whole milk
1.5 cups heavy cream
pinch of salt
2/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Mix all, dissolving the sugar. Let sit and chill for as long as you can, and then freeze according to the machine's directions. The recipe says freeze for three hours after you have churned it.

But in a pinch this past summer, I'd take whatever yogurt I had in the fridge -- generally vanilla or plain -- and add some milk or cream (1/2 cup? a cup?), a touch of vanilla, and some maple syrup or sugar to taste. You can add some berries at the end if you want -- or cook down some frozen or fresh berries with some sugar and/or a touch of lemon juice and put it in or on top. Easy and quick and good when Gilly is too cranky to let you deal with custard.

Finally, I have a cup of coconut milk in the fridge, some full fat yogurt, and a couple of almost over-ripe bananas. I think I will put them together with some sugar and vanilla and see what happens and then let you know next year.

I hope this helps! Happy birthday Lisa! And congrats on the new job. I hope you had a great day, and have many more great ones this year. I hope we even get to have a couple together. Much love.


  1. I have a Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream book - you will need to check it out next time you are here - bet there are some goodies in it.

  2. omg this is the best post eva! Shout outs to Des Moines, Monkeys and the Pixies - I wouldn't have thought it was possible. My bowl is poised and I will be making one of these recipes tomorrow (probably vanilla but just until I think I have the hang of things then I will branch out) you're the best! Lisa xx