Berry Good Ice Cream

Berry Good Ice Cream

Strawberries are so sweet and perfect on their own, I hate to mess with them.  Unless there’s an ice cream maker handy, in which case I don’t hesitate to pulverize them beyond recognition for a greater cause: strawberry ice cream.

If you’ve never made homemade ice cream, you’re missing out on one of summer’s greatest indulgences. An electric ice cream maker makes the job a pleasure and once you’re hooked, there’s no end to discovering what goes well with chilled cream.

Strawberry ice cream is just the beginning.

makes about 4 cups

Plan ahead: It takes about 24 hours to freeze an ice cream canister. The custard also takes time to chill in the refrigerator before it is turned in the pre-frozen canister.

3/4 cup  whole milk
3/4 cup 35% cream
4 large or 5 small egg yolks
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar — if your strawberries are especially tart, add a tablespoon, or two, more sugar
2 1⁄2 cups of strawberry puree, thoroughly chilled, about 3 1⁄2 cups of fresh strawberries or 4 cups frozen strawberries

You’ll also need a fine-mesh strainer placed over a bowl or pitcher.

Pour the milk and cream into a medium-sized saucepan until the mixture just begins to boil. Remove from heat.
In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the sugar. Add about half of the warm milk and cream mixture to the egg yolks and whisk until well combined. Slowly pour the yolk mixture into the saucepan with the remaining milk and cream mixture and bring to a bare simmer, whisking continuously, being careful not to bring to a boil.

The custard will slowly thicken — be patient, it takes time. The custard is ready when the mixture thickens enough to lightly coat the back of a spoon.

Pour the mixture through a strainer into a bowl or pitcher.

To cool the mixture quickly, place the bowl or pitcher into a larger bowl filled with ice. Cover the custard with plastic wrap and place in the fridge until well chilled.

Combine the chilled strawberry puree and the custard and pour into a frozen canister.  Freeze according to manufacturer’s instructions.


Lemon Sorbet

For special occasions, I’ll serve these refreshing sorbets in their lemony containers. More often though, I’ll make a jugful of sorbet and serve it in clunky glasses with big straws.  Depending on the crowd, I’ll add a splash of vodka.

Lemon Sorbet

Sorbets are made in an ice cream maker but if you don’t have one, you can always make a granita instead by freezing the mixture in a shallow container and stirring it now and then with a fork.  Sorbets are smooth, granitas are granular; both offer sweet frosty relief on a warm summer’s day.

3 cups fresh lemon juice from small lemons, about a dozen
2 ½ cups water
2 cups  white sugar
fresh mint

I’ve used small sherry glasses to hold the lemons in place; wide shot glasses also work.  If you do not have suitably sized containers, you can cut a small slice from the bottom of each lemon so that it sits upright on a small plate  without tipping over.

The lemons will be used as containers, so it is important not to manhandle them while you’re extracting their juice. If you have a lemon reamer on hand, use it.  Once the juice has been squeezed, strain and refrigerate it until well chilled.  Carefully scrape and discard all the pulp from the lemon rind “containers” and clean them with a damp cloth.  Set aside in the refrigerator until ready to fill.

In a small, heavy saucepan, combine the water and sugar.  Bring the mixture to a gentle boil and cook for a minute or two until the sugar dissolves and the syrup is clear.  Set aside to cool at room temperature then cover and refrigerate until well chilled.

Add the lemon juice to the syrup and stir to combine.  Pour into an ice-cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions.  Transfer the sorbet to a freezer-safe container.

Gently pack the sorbet into the lemon “cups” with an ice cream scoop or a rounded spoon. The sorbet melts quickly; once you’ve finished one, cover it with plastic and place it in the freezer before starting the next one.

The sorbet should be taken from the freezer a few minutes before serving.  Remove the plastic wrap and garnish with fresh mint.


Coffee Ice Cream

Coffee Ice Cream

I  don’t like cream in my coffee but I love coffee in my ice cream. Whether or not you enjoy a cuppa, this ice cream transcends coffee by taming its bitter edge.

Start with a basic ice cream recipe and then add a potent coffee syrup.  I’ve tried a rich concentrate of freshly ground expresso beans but my best results have come from less exotic means: instant coffee crystals mixed with a bit of water.

If you enjoy chocolate with your coffee, feel free to toss a handful of roughly chopped semi-sweet chocolate to the chilled custard.

1⁄2 cup of instant coffee crystals
3 1/2 cups homemade vanilla ice cream 

Moisten the coffee with 1 tablespoon of hot water, adding more water as necessary to create a syrup consistency. Strain and cool the mixture.

Prepare and chill the ice cream custard as directed in the homemade ice cream recipe.

Add the coffee concentrate to the the chilled custard, a teaspoon at at time until you are satisfied with the taste. Pour the mixture into a frozen canister of an ice cream maker and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

 


Honeydew & Lime Sorbet

Honeydew & Lime Sorbet

As soon as it’s sandal-wearing weather, I dust off my ice cream machine and start tinkering with sorbet (and ice cream) recipes. I’ve made sorbets with everything from grapefruit to cucumbers. Any sweetened fruit (or vegetable) juice works nicely, and it’s fun coming up with your own tasty variations.  Sorbets make refreshing desserts, welcome interludes between courses, and creative cocktails laced with gin or vodka.

Even if you don’t have an ice cream machine, you can still make a frosty honeydew granita using this recipe. (I’ve provided instructions below.) Sorbets are smooth-textured, whereas granitas are more granular.

You’ll need to plan ahead – if using an electric or hand-cranked ice cream machine, you’ll need to freeze the canister insert 24 hours before using.

makes about 3 cups

Ingredients

1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1 large honeydew melon, approximately 4 pounds
3 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice (approximately 1 lime), plus more as needed.

 In a small saucepan, dissolve the sugar in the water over medium-low heat. Cool the syrup, then transfer to the refrigerator until completely chilled. (You will not need all the syrup; leftover syrup can be stored in the refrigerator until the next time you make sorbet.)

 Cut the melon in half and remove the seeds. Scoop the flesh from the melon and chop it coarsely. Place the chopped melon in a food processor and puree. Strain the pulp from the liquid; you should have about 2 cups of strained melon juice. Add the lime juice and 1 cup of syrup. Taste the sweetened juice.  Depending on the ripeness of your melon, you made need to add a bit more lime or sugar syrup. Place the sweetened juice in the refrigerator until chilled thoroughly.

When the juice is well chilled, pour the mixture into a frozen ice cream canister and freeze according to manufacturer’s instructions.

To make a granita – Pour the mixture into a wide shallow container and place in the freezer. When the liquid starts to form ice crystals, drag a fork along the bottom of the container to agitate and turn the mixture. You’ll need to repeat this every half hour or so until the mixture is icy and fairly uniform.


Salmon Pot Pies

Salmon, leeks and fennel melt together in a silky sauce flecked with herbs and sweet peas. Topped with a flaky pastry crust, Salmon Pot Pies are the ultimate comfort dish.

Image by Caroline West

Salmon & Leek Pot Pie
Serves 4 – 5

You’ll need four 10 oz, or five 8 oz ovenproof containers

3/4 pound of chilled puff pastry or flaky pastry dough, preferably homemade
1/4 cup unsalted  butter
3 Tbsp all-purpose flour
2 cups milk, whole or 2%
kosher salt
1 pound fresh salmon, skin and pin bones removed
2 Tbsp oil
3 cups sliced leeks, white and light green parts only, about 3 large stalks
2 1/2 cups finely diced fennel, about 1 large or two small fennel bulbs, stalks and cores removed
2 celery stalks, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/3 cup shelled peas, thawed if frozen
2 Tbsp plus 1 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1  Tbsp freshly chopped herbs
1 egg, lightly beaten

Preheat oven to 425

Roll the pastry about 1/4” thick and cut into 4 or 5 circles about 1/2” larger than the containers’ rim.  Score the pastry with a knife, cover and refrigerate.

In a medium-sized saucepan, melt the butter then add the flour and cook on medium heat for about 3-5 minutes or until the mixture turns golden and smells nutty. Add the milk and whisk continuously until the mixture has thickened, about 5 minutes.  Season with 1 tsp salt, stir and remove from heat.

Cut the salmon in 1 1/2 inch chunks, cover, and bring to room temperature.

Heat the oil in a large saucepan, add the leeks and 1/2 tsp salt, stirring to coat the leeks with oil. Cook on medium to medium-low heat, partially covered, for about 8 -10 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent browning.

Add the fennel, celery and 1/2 tsp salt, stir, and continue cooking, partially covered for another 10 minutes or until the vegetables are soft and sweet, stirring occasionally to prevent browning. Don’t rush the cooking of the vegetables; they need time to coax their full flavour potential.

Add the garlic, and stir until aromatic, about half a minute, then add the wine and reduce until no liquid remains.

Transfer the leek and fennel mixture to the white sauce. Add the peas, lemon juice, and tarragon and stir. Check the seasoning, adding more salt or lemon, if necessary.

Season the cubed salmon with 1/2 tsp salt, and pepper if desired, and gently fold the raw fish into the sauce.

Portion into containers and top with a disk of chilled pre-cut pastry, pressing the pastry to the container’s edge. Brush with beaten egg and place on a baking tray.

Bake in a preheated oven for about 15-20 minutes, rotating the pan during baking until the pastry is puffed and golden.