Oh hi! It’s been over a YEAR! I know what you’re thinking, so what’s up, she can’t handle full-time motherhood AND doing like, one post a month? And the answer to that, is no, I cannot. I’ve also recently joined Instagram (biggest mistake of my life after giving away all my maternity jeans), so along with feeling inadequate about not getting my shit together in the #momswhowrite category, I’m now painfully aware that I’m not taking my kid camping/hiking/swimming enough, I lie awake at night because I never offered him one single bath in rose petals when he was an infant, and WTF, I didn’t even pose for a pic with Jude strapped to me in a fashionable wrap, wearing skinny jeans, high heels and a fedora two weeks after giving birth (one hundred percent laziness on my part). I’m not gardening/pickling/fermenting enough, I’m not eating well-lit smoothie bowls on a windowsill, the list goes on and on and on. My sister is a cop who can break you in half with her bare hands and she posts some pretty kick ass pics of herself under #momswholift, and to follow suit I’m going to start my own support group on Instagram: #momswholifticecreamintotheirfaceholes. I think it’s a pretty succinct hashtag, and it’s weird that when I typed it in, not one single post exists. Until now, chickens!
Which brings me to today’s lesson in how not to eat seasonally. Ice cream! I know, I know, I should have written this months ago when we were in the middle of that terrifyingly warm summer. That was the plan, but plans schmlans. Here we are on the precipice of what is sure to be a brutal winter (if you live in NL you’ll immediately understand that this is #payback), so fuck it! Ice cream can be a year-round kind of treat. Calm down y’all, I’m not asking you to take it snowshoeing and eat it outside in February. I’m talking about coming home after that hike in the woods, putting on the kettle and your favourite softpants, and spooning homemade vanilla bean ice cream over warm homemade brownies, a bread pudding, an apple crisp, or any of those desserts we gravitate to in winter. Not that I won’t pound the face off a good apple crisp in July, mind you. Sometimes it’s five degrees and you can do that (I’m looking at you, summer of 2015). I try to eat seasonally, but…it’s Newfoundland, man. If we tried to eat seasonally year round, we’d all get scurvy. So yes, I’m doing an ice cream blog in December. First off, because the weather in St. John’s during “the MOST wonderful TIME of the year” historically sucks and we could use some cold comfort (but like, good cold comfort). Second, because Newfoundland is being run by drunk toddlers and we’re going to turn into a giant oil slick covered in Sobeys bags. Third, there’s a racist, sexist, lunatic president next door, a drunk, rapey frat boy on the Supreme Court, and the earth is going to melt in 2040. So from now on I’m just going to eat and write whatever the fuck I want.
There is NO TIME for shit ice cream, so put the kettle on, pour yourself a vat of wine, and we’ll get to it.
Justin gave me an ice cream maker about five years ago for my birthday which I took as a sign of true love because I was about to go up a few pant sizes. I’m only kidding! A little bit! In all seriousness though, homemade ice cream can be pretty decadent. Recently, a pal posted a pic on Instagram of his brand new ice cream maker and I was ecstatic for him and told him so. But because Instagram ruins everything, another follower of his commented that it was a fat machine and should only be used by endurance athletes. What the WHAT? Dude was a mountain biker, so I guess he gets to eat all the ice cream he wants, but don’t ruin it for the rest of us by telling us we’re going to get fat! Come ON, endurance athlete-man! Sometimes, when your toddler eats too many blueberries and then shits them all out in the middle of bath time, you don’t FEEL like going to a spin class afterwards, you just wanna shove ice cream into your facehole in front of Netflix, ok? Jesus Christ. The whole point is though, it doesn’t have to be decadent unless you want it to be (and that is goddamn ok). There are frozen yogurts if you want something lighter and healthy-ish, sorbets if you’re vegan, and eggless ice creams if you’re in a hurry or have an allergy. There is literally something for everyone, no matter what their preference or dietary restrictions.
So now that we have all the formalities out of the way, ok well, those weren’t formalities, that was just me shooting my mouth off. Anyways, sorbets and yogurts aside, there are pretty much two classic methods to make ice cream. There’s Philadelphia-style, which is basically mixing milk, cream and sugar together before churning. And then there’s the ever-so-slightly more involved French-style; this is the one that scares people because you have to temper egg yolks and make a custard. This used to terrify me, but I can do it now with my eyes closed while a toddler screams at me from across the room. Philly is great for beginners, and you still get a really lovely, light ice cream that is miles beyond anything you’ll buy at the grocery store (and will still impress the hell out of people when you give it as a gift or serve with dessert at a dinner party). But when you get your ice cream legs, you’ll never look back after your first perfect bowl of French-style vanilla ice cream. This recipe‘s a classic and has a great set of instructions for beginners. I made it a couple of days ago, except I only used 1 cup of cream and tossed in a half of cup of sour cream after I took the custard off the stove and it was so dreamy I almost passed out.
(A quick note on tempering eggs…pick whatever works for you and stick with it. You might feel more comfortable with a thermometer, but I go by feel, and nothing beats the old-fashioned coats-the-back-of-a-wooden-spoon method. And every recipe will tell you something different when it comes to how to mix the dairy and eggs. In the ice cream bible The Perfect Scoop, David Lebovitz is a fan of pouring the hot milk and sugar mixture into the egg yolks. Others recommend whisking all the sugar into the yolks before tempering. And still others will instruct you to put most of sugar in the eggs, and a little in the milk mixture. I’m not sure of the science behind it, and maybe some expert will read this and give me a blast of shit, but I’ve tried each method and ended up with good results each time. My favourite is one third of the sugar in the dairy and the rest in with the eggs. Because I’m a dork and there is nothing prettier than the pale yellow of egg yolks whisked together with sugar. And it somehow makes me feel more secure about pouring hot milk into the eggs, like they’re sturdier with the sugar mixed in. I don’t know. Also, pretty.)
After experimenting with a sorbet or two, and mastering that whole tempering egg business, you’ll be ready to get a little crazy. Poke around online and you’ll find endless recipes that have the same vanilla-ish base, that will blow your mind after a few tweaks and additions. Imagine having friends over for dinner and when they ask what’s for dessert you get to say, “Guinness milk chocolate ice cream.” Like, that’s pretty fun. And with a bit more work you’ll end up with other gorgeous creations that are so worth the effort. Two favourites from this past summer, sour cream ice cream with strawberries and brown sugar, and mint chip straciatella, were a bit dependent on available produce and had a few extra steps, but when they were done, were up there with some of the best ice creams I’ve had anywhere, in any restaurant, in any country. Anywhere. And not to brag, which means I’m totally going to brag, but I’ve eaten ice cream in lots of places, in every flavour, shape and size. See Exhibit A.
So here’s my very own original-ish recipe, with help from all the recipes I’ve made and played around with over the past five years. It’s not too sweet (up the sugar to one cup if you like), creamy but not too heavy (go nuts and toss in an extra egg yolk), a little bit tangy, so it’s the perfect ice cream to go with a chocolate lava cake, or on its own drizzled in hot fudge sauce and candied peanuts. Depending on the size of the berry, you’ll need 5-6 cups of raspberries to get the cup and a half of puree (zing them up in a blender and push through a fine mesh strainer with a spatula to get the seeds out). Local and fresh is always best, but wow are raspberries ever a huge pain in the ass to pick, and so expensive to buy. It’s fine to use frozen raspberries; they’re much cheaper, and you can buy big bags of nice organic ones that will get the job done. I used homemade vanilla extract made with vodka, but feel free to use the regular stuff, or even some vanilla flavoured vodka. When you’re making fruity ice creams things can get a bit icy, and the booze helps it not to freeze too hard.
Raspberry Sour Cream Ice Cream
1 cup full-fat milk
1 cup whipping cream
1/2 cup sour cream
3/4 cup sugar
Pinch of kosher salt
3 large egg yolks
1 1/2 cups strained raspberry puree
1 tbsp vanilla extract or vanilla vodka
In a medium size bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and 1/2 cup of the sugar until the mixture is thick and a lovely pale yellow colour. Set aside on a damp dishcloth or towel (this will help the bowl to stay put when you’re with whisking later). Combine milk, whipping cream, the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar, and pinch of salt in a medium size heavy-bottomed saucepan. Bring just to the boil over medium-high heat. Slowly, starting as just a trickle at first, pour the warmed milk mixture into the eggs, whisking constantly. Pour the combined milk and egg mixture back into the saucepan, and over low to medium heat, stir the mixture constantly until it’s thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon (be patient with this, and don’t crank the heat to speed things up; the mixture must not boil or you’ll end up with scrambled eggs).
Pour the custard through a fine mesh strainer into a large bowl. Stir in raspberry puree, vanilla extract/vodka) and sour cream. Let it cool slightly before placing it in the refrigerator to chill completely. Ideally overnight, but a few hours will do. (if you’re really pressed for time, stir over an ice bath in a larger bowl before placing in fridge). Churn in your ice cream maker according to the instructions, and store in your freezer in a good airtight container.
Chickens, that was fun. I’m hoping to spend a bit more time on the blog over the holidays. The goal is to to get it up and running with a new look so I can fool people into thinking I’m a tech-savvy, Instagram-friendly millennial with long blond layered hair and not a forty-something mom with the computer skills of a squirrel monkey who, to be honest, has a bit of a Keith Urban mullet happening at the moment, after a year and a half of trying to grow out a bleach blond pixie cut I got last summer in a fit of rage at my hair falling out after childbirth. Anyhoo, hopefully, we’ll see you before too long. And remember, we’re all going to melt in 2040, so get off your mountain bikes and get on some ice cream. xo