ice cream

Panna Cotta Ice Cream

by Lisa

Most summers we go a little nuts for ice cream. I have two ice creams makers (traditional and soft serve) and it’s not been unheard of for me to whip up a batch of ice cream at least once a week.  Caroline makes more than her share of  ice cream in the summer, too.

But this year, we were gone most of the summer. We did come back with some great food memories and at least one amazing recipe, but we didn’t do a whole lot of summer cooking. In fact, I missed the farmers market this summer more times than I’ve missed it in the past ten years combined.   Thankfully, it’s warmer than ever here (which is usually the case every September where we live) and summer produce is still at its height. This has meant a lot of grilling, a lot of tomatoes, a lot of dinners outside, and, finally, finally, ice cream.

This recipe is my new addiction, and one of the best ice creams I’ve ever made. Come spring, we can’t get enough panna cotta, and this recipe is its high summer equivalent. I came to it because I had some leftover buttermilk and a lot of strawberries.   Technically, of course, panna cotta is not a flavor, but a method of cooking (it means “cooked cream”). But this ice cream is the cold, summer version of our our favorite buttermilk panna  cotta, and you do cook the cream, so panna cotta ice cream it will remain.  But it doesn’t matter what you call it as long as you make it.  This is a nearly perfect ice cream: not too sweet, perfectly creamy, and it won’t completely exhaust your egg supply.

Panna Cotta Ice Cream with Warm Strawberry Sauce

For the ice cream (makes 1 quart)

  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup bakers sugar*
  • 1 cup cold buttermilk

For the strawberry sauce (serve 4)

  • 1/2 pint fresh strawberries
  • 1-2 tablespoons water
  • 1 heaping tablespoon bakers sugar
  1. Whisk the egg yolks in a bowl until well blended.
  2. In a saucepan, gently heat the cream and sugar, whisking until the sugar is just dissolved.
  3. Transfer half of the cream to the egg yolks and whisk to lighten yolks and blend.
  4. Pour yolks and cream back into the saucepan and heat, stirring gently, until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of the spoon.
  5. Strain into a large bowl. Add the butter milk and stir to blend well.
  6. Chill the buttermilk cream mixture several hours–or preferably overnight.
  7. Freeze in your ice cream maker according to manufacturers directions.
  8. Just before serving make the Strawberry Sauce:
  • Hull and quarter the strawberries.
  • In a small saucepan, combine strawberries, water, and sugar.
  • Heat gently until a thin glaze develops and strawberries are slightly soft.
  • Remove from heat, let cool slightly, and serve warm over ice cream.

*Note: I’ve taken to using bakers sugar for my ice cream, which is a very fine grain sugar. It measures the same as regular sugar, but it dissolves much more easily. For ice cream, this means you need less heat, and therefore have less chance of scrambling the eggs.

Saying Yes

by Caroline

This past year, my 6 year-old got out of school an hour earlier than my 9 year-old, and we spent that hour in the school library or, on sunny days, in the park across the street. Once spring came, an ice cream truck parked at the entrance and as we crossed the street into the park every day, Eli would ask, automatically, “Can I have an ice cream?” And I’d say, just as automatically, “Nope,” and list the snacks I’d brought in my purse. It was a routine that caused no particular stress or bother; we didn’t need any legislation to ban the ice cream trucks, we just went on our way.

I don’t have a single good reason for my school year, week day ice cream ban (which is really too strong a word for this routine), and probably if Eli had lobbied harder I would have caved. But he didn’t, so I didn’t. We would play in the park for an hour, he would munch on an apple and a muffin and maybe some peanut butter crackers or a MoJo bar, and then we would pick up Ben and snack some more. I don’t think either of them feels at all deprived of sweets, and if you have read this blog any length of time, you also know they are not — it’s just that most of the time, I like to make them at home.

But when summer vacation comes, I feel like celebrating. Even though the weather in San Francisco isn’t so summery, I embrace the season with sandals and bright pink nail polish and home made ice cream and field trips with the kids to the latest ice cream and donut shops:

the menu at Dynamo Donuts

My friends tease me about my summer food enthusiasms, but my family is certainly not complaining. And when we travel, as we have been this last week (and as Lisa has written along the same lines) I am just a little sweeter, and even more inclined to say yes to treats. They are morale and energy boosters, they are a way to sample the local food culture, they are a break in a busy day of walking from one science museum to the next. On the ferry to San Juan Island last week, which seemed in some ways so foreign, the boys were delighted to find their favorite ballpark treat:

And after a surprisingly good lunch from the snack bar at one of Vancouver’s amazing public pools today, Eli chose from the standard ice cream menu:

While Ben bypassed that for a less typical post-swim snack:

This afternoon, flagging after a long walk from the planetarium to the Granville Public Market, we stopped for donuts, and we’re already looking forward to fudge tomorrow at the Capilano Suspension bridge, because apparently fudge is one of the things one buys to survive a walk across a sky-high suspension bridge, and because we are on vacation, and because it is fun to say yes.

Honey Ice Cream

by Caroline

I am learning — slowly — that while San Francisco doesn’t offer the summer weather I grew up with (and long for) when school lets out each year, there are ways to compensate for that. Here at home it may be 60 degrees, with fog swirling in the street and a wind so strong it picks up our deck umbrella and tosses it into the neighbor’s yard (we only open the umbrella a couple days in the spring and then again not until our real summer in October, so I hardly know why we bother.) But we can drive half an hour north to the swimming pool or half an hour south for a sunny oceanside hike and that gets me in the mood to make summer in the kitchen, too. So when school let out last week and we faced another foggy day, I summoned my sunniest mood and said to the boys, “It’s summertime! What kind of ice cream should we make?” Ben was first to answer: “Honey ice cream!” And Eli was the one to help. Happy summer.

The recipe is from my go-to ice cream book (everyone should have one): Bruce Weinstein’s The Ultimate Ice Cream Book.

1/2 c mild honey
6 large egg yolks*
1 1/2 c milk
1 c heavy cream
1 tsp vanilla extract

In a medium mixing bowl, beat the honey with the egg yolks until thickened and pale yellow. Set aside.

Bring the milk to a simmer in a heavy saucepan. Slowly beat the hot milk into the egg and honey mixture. Pour the entire mixture back into the pan and heat slowly, stirring constantly, until the custard thickens slightly and coats the back of the spoon. Be careful not to let the mixture boil or the eggs will scramble. Take off the heat and pour through a strainer into a large bowl. Cool slightly, then stir in the cream and vanilla. Cover and refrigerate until cold, or overnight.

Stir the chilled custard, then freeze in your ice cream machine according to its directions.

*Tune in next time for a way to use those 6 egg whites.

Korean-style Tuna

by Lisa

This should really go under the heading of really fast and easy, or things you can make with vertigo–which hit me yesterday for the 2nd time, and which I’m pretty sure is migraine-related. But this dish is so fast and easy, that you can make it if you can stand up for 15 minutes, which was about all I could manage last night. It is, however, a pretty regular dish around here, and the kids love it. Also, we can get albacore often from our fisherman, so we know it’s sustainable.

First: set the rice cooker on the timer at lunch so rice is done at dinner time.

Second: sautee 1 bunch roughly chopped Swiss Chard with 1 minced garlic clove in 1 tsp. sesame oil, a little olive oil, and few tablespoons chicken broth.

Third: pan-sear (or cook to your liking) fresh albacore tuna steaks. Remove from pan and set aside.

Fourth: in the same pan, in 1 tsp. sesame oil, sautee 3 cloves minced garlic for one minute. Add a mixture of 3 T soy sauce, 1/2 cup chicken broth, 1 tsp sugar, dash red chili flakes,  a couple of finely chopped scallions, green and white bits included.  Simmer until reduced by half. Serve alongside tuna as a dipping sauce.

The other thing you can make with vertigo:

Root Beer Float x 2

by Lisa

We have a great debate going in our house: which goes in a root beer float first, the ice cream or the soda?

This has been an ongoing experiment all summer long, since we discovered Trader Joe’s has a good bottled root beer (& a caffeine free cola that’s pretty terrific, too.) We don’t drink bottled soda as rule around here (although we do indulge in homemade kidtinis), but I’ve been making an exception lately and I keep a few bottles of this soda on hand for fun and nostalgia.  It’s great for a weekend cocktail and floats make for an easy, fun dessert in the hot weather.  Especially for guests and grandparents.  Lately, about once a week Ella will mix up a cherry coke before dinner or we’ll have root beer floats after dinner.

In our effort to settle the ice cream/soda debate, we stumbled upon Bobby Flay’s adult version, which includes bourbon and is pretty much the perfect end to a barbeque if you’re a grown-up.

To wit, our method is this, and involves floating the ice cream on the soda. But you put the ice cream in first and get a slightly creamier drink.

Fill a large frosty mug with root beer (and a little crushed ice if you like. It’s nice if it’s colder, but it also gets in the way).  Float 1 scoop vanilla ice cream on the soda.  If you’re an adult, add a up to a shot of bourbon over the ice cream. Top the ice cream with fresh whipped cream.

For adults only