Sunday, June 24, 2007

Blueberry Ice Cream

Years from now we will remember this summer as the summer of ice cream. I started collecting ice cream recipes last summer, determined to try to make my own. Ice cream is very serious business to a New Englander. Growing up in Connecticut I remember ice cream socials and consuming gallons of ice cream over the course of the summer. Everyone has their favorite ice crceam shop. Mine was Dr. Mike's. Their strawberry ice cream was so fantastic. It was full of fat, but airy and just really fabulous. I just can't find that same flavor in California ice cream. So this summer I started by making strawberry ice cream. It was the best so far. I started with a basic recipe from Lindsey Shere (Chez Panisse) that I got at a cooking class a couple of years ago. By the way- the cooking class was really fun, but was cancelled for lack of interest. It was a collection of mothers who would go to the class every other month, prepare a meal, then eat what we prepared. Unfortunately, many of the other mothers didn't have much interest in cooking. One night while we were eating the women around me at the table discussed the lack of variety in take-out food, lamenting that they had to have pizza two nights in a row. I thought this was odd considering this was a COOKING CLASS. Anyway, one of the things we prepared was this ice cream, and it was very good. So I started with the basic recipe, but I didn't have vanilla beans at home. I priced them at Berkeley Bowl- 1 bean was $8.25. The recipe called for 4 inches of vanilla bean, about half of one. So I thought I would just use regular good vanilla instead. After all, this was going to be strawberry ice cream. For the strawberry flavor, I made some of Rose Levy Beranbaum's (Cake Bible) Strawberry Sauce. It was really good. I wanted to take pictures, but we ate it all before I could.
Next I made plain Vanilla ice cream. I found vanilla beans at Williams Sonoma for less- 2 in a jar for $8.50. I followed the recipe, and it was a little too vanilla-y.
The blueberry is good, and I love the color, although it doesn't really knock you over with blueberry flavor. I went back to using good vanilla for this batch.
Why did the strawberry come out best? I still really don't know. I think it's because the eggs in the custard were at room temperature when I started making the base. That, and the strawberry sauce that I used was really great. So here's the basic recipe that I used for the ice cream, and the directions for the strawberry sauce and the blueberry sauce. There will be many more batches of ice cream this summer. I'll keep you posted. Note in the recipe the liquid used. Most recipes call for a combination of cream and whole milk. This uses half and half and whipping cream, substantially raising the fat content.

Vanilla Ice Cream

4 inch piece of a vanilla bean (or 1 tsp. good vanilla)
1 cup half and half
2 cups whipping cream
2/3 cup sugar
6 egg yolks (at room temperature)

If using a vanilla bean-Split the vanilla bean in half lengthwise and scrape the fine black seeds into a saucepan. Add the vanilla bean pod, half and half, cream, and sugar, and warm the mixture, stirring occasionally, until the sugar has dissolved.

If using good vanilla- Combine good vanilla, half and half, cream, and sugar in a saucepan. Warm the mixture stirring occasionally, until the sugar is dissolved.

Whisk the egg yolks just enough to mix them and whisk in some of the hot misture. Return to the pan and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until the custard coats the back of the spoon. (Drag your finger down the back of your wooden spoon. It should leave a clear trail.)

If using a vanilla bean-Strain through a medium-fine strainer to remove any lumps that may have formed, scraping as much of the vanilla through the strainer as you can. Return the bean pod to the mixture, put in a container, seal and store in the refrigerator until completely chilled.

If using good vanilla-Strain through a medium-fine strainer to remove any lumps that may have formed. Add fruit sauce. Put in a container, seal and store in the refrigerator until completely chilled.

Freeze according to instructions on your ice cream maker, (removing vanilla bean first). Store the ice cream in a plastic container.

Blueberry Sauce

2 cups fresh blueberries
3 tbs. sugar
1/4 tsp. lemon juice

Combine berries, sugar and lemon juice in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil, and cook down berries about 5-10 minutes. Strain berries, pushing juice out with the back of a wooden spoon. You should have about 1/2 cup of sauce. Cool before adding to base mixture.
(I added the whole 1/2 cup to the base mixture.)

Strawberry Sauce

20 ounces fresh strawberries
2 tsp. lemon juice
1/4 cup sugar

Freeze the berries. Thaw them in a collander or strainer suspended over a bowl. (This could take several hours.) Pres them to force out their juice. There shoould be close to 1 1/4 cups of juice.
In a small saucepan, boil the juice until reduced to 1/4 cup. Pour it into a glass measuring cup.
In a food precessor, puree the strawberries. You should have 1 full liquid cup of puree. Stir in the strawberry syrup and lemon juice. Add the sugar and stir until dissolved.
(I added 1/4 cup of this to the base mixture.)

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