Monday, February 24, 2014

#PartyLikeAJournalist

Fun fact: the cool way to spend a Friday night in Roswell in the '90s was to cruise Main Street, including taking a spin through the Sonic Drive-In downtown.

Yes, I meant 1890s.

I'd taken the institution of Sonic's happy hours for granted until I moved to Utah. I think there was one in Utah County to serve 500,000+ people. Fortunately, it was in Provo, so every time I needed a fix it wasn't a huge problem. When I was in high school, I tasted my first lemon-berry slush. It was slushy and lemony and strawberry-y, and I always got so frustrated at how quickly all the liquid was gone, leaving me with fruity-tinged ice.

I was not thinking of that slush when I was shopping for ice cream ingredients on Saturday. I actually was planning to make berry ice cream, since berries were on sale everywhere. I bought lemons on a whim. I made strawberry lemon ice cream. It is solid stuff.

(Now, I know what at least some of you are thinking -- that strawberry ice cream is disgusting. This is absolutely true if you are buying it in a carton from a store. Do not waste an ice cream purchase on that. Homemade strawberry ice cream, however, is a different beast entirely. It tastes like strawberries and cream. I guarantee you, when you make your own strawberry ice cream, you will not think strawberry ice cream is anything but divine. You also may never be able to buy ice cream again because you're always comparing it to homemade. Don't say I didn't warn you.)

On an unrelated note, if I every make this ice cream into ice cream on a stick, I'm going to call them Whimsicles! (Trademark pending.)

Anyway, ice cream. I am not going to tell you how much I've eaten since I made it. I am definitely not going to tell you that I'm eating it out of the container right now, at 10:30 a.m., before I go to work.


Food does not have to be pretty to taste good, but it's really fun when it is.

This recipe is adapted from two recipes from "The Best Ice Cream Maker Cookbook Ever" by Peggy Fallon, which I can also highly recommend.

Ingredients
2 pounds (about six cups) of rinsed and hulled strawberries
1/4 cup sugar
3 large lemons
1 1/3 cup sugar
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup half and half
1 cup milk (I used skim. I suspect it doesn't matter.)
2 egg yolks
1/2 to 3/4 cups lemon juice
2 tsps vanilla

1. Put the strawberries in a bowl and mash them with 1/4 cup sugar. Get them good and juicy, although I highly recommend leaving small chunks of strawberry. I think it adds to the authenticity of the ice cream. Keep them small, though. I discovered I didn't have a potato masher and so did rather a poor job of the mashing, leaving me with large chunks of strawberry. The problem with that is when the ice cream has been in the freezer, you get large, extremely solid fruit chunks.
Set aside for an hour or so while you make the custard.

2. Thoroughly wash the lemons, because you're using that peel. Lemon zest adds great flavor. Trust me. Zest them with a paring knife or a cheese grater; just make sure you're only getting the yellow peel and not the white stuff that you find in citrus. Put the zest and 1/3 cup sugar in a food processor; process for about 30 seconds until the zest is in small pieces and the sugar is evenly mixed. Don't worry if the zest is still large enough to be noticeable. You can strain it out later if you need to.

3. Mix the cream, half and half, milk, one cup of sugar and the lemon zest and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat. You can use a different combination of milk products. You can even go healthier and not use heavy cream. However, if you want the creamiest, most delicious ice cream, you need some fat in there. If you're feeling guilty, keep in mind that ice cream is not a health food. If you want healthy, eat a carrot. If you want delicious, continue.

4. Cook for six to eight minutes or until it's hot. DO NOT BOIL IT YOU WILL NEVER GET OVER THE REGRET OF ACCIDENTALLY BOILING THE CUSTARD. Stir occasionally.
5. Put the two egg yolks in a bowl; whisk with a fork.

6. When it is hot, slowly pour a cup of the custard into the egg yolks; whisk it until it's smooth. Then slowly pour that mixture into the custard and put it back on the burner on medium-low heat. Cook and stir frequently until it's thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. (I'm pretty sure heavy cream is always thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Generally, 6-8 minutes is fine. It should be pretty hot all the way through.)

7. Strain the custard (I poured it through a large slotted spoon), pour into a bowl, cover it (not airtight) and let it cool for an hour or so. Juice the lemons.

8. When the custard is lukewarm, add the lemon juice (it should be 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup) and vanilla; whisk until smooth. Pour the custard into the strawberries and syrup; mix. Cover and put into the fridge for four hours until it's very cold.

9. Mix according to the ice cream maker's instructions. When it's done, eat a bowl, then put it in the freezer. Eat another bowl when it's set a little more. It miraculously just moved from slushy to soft-serve. If you want to replicate my eating experience, listen to the police scanner while you're eating.

I have made a lot of ice cream in the last four years. Ice cream with peanut butter, ice cream that tasted like an Almond Joy, ice cream with cookie dough, ice cream that included homemade marshmallows and homemade caramel sauce, ice cream that had goat cheese, ice cream that had Nutella. (FYI, I really love ice cream.) And this ice cream, with no chocolate, no fancy ingredients -- and fruit! -- ranks in the top five. And there really only is a top five; I can't pick a top one. (I'm not very handy at concrete decision-making.)

Now there's only one thing left to consider -- why are you still reading this? Go make ice cream!





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