Sunday, September 6, 2009

Ice cream, not just a summertime treat

I mentioned the horrible Chicago summer, right? Well, today, mid-Labor Day Weekend, it is going to rain. And I was going to paint my front stairs!

Instead, I will be installed in my kitchen. I'm making salsa verde (roasting tomatillos and various peppers harvested from my neighbor's CSA delivery) and cinnamon ice cream to bring to a rainy BBQ. Both are going to be supergood. I made David Lebovitz's wonderful Chocolate Sherbet the other day, and the mood strikes to make use of my ice cream freezer again. If you choose to make the chocolate sherbet I recommend only doing so with the finest cocoa and chocolate on hand. Oh, and I used nonfat milk since it was an option and was very pleased with the result.

But back to today...Cinnamon happens to be my daughters' favorite ice cream flavor and generally available only from the Pinch kitchen. And it's a lovely accompaniment on the fall dessert plate (thinking about fall fruits and tarts - apples, pears, still available stone fruits - all very cinnamon friendly). Ice cream, despite its frozen state, is not often refreshing enough on a hot summer day; sorbet is preferred for that purpose. As long as it's not too sweet.

Ice creams are so season-inspired. Summertime features Mint, Peach and Strawberry as my favorite flavors. In the fall I always think about Caramel, Espresso and Cinnamon. Mid-winter I'm thinking Coconut (alongside all those tropical fruits) and Prune Armagnac, if only because I once spent a dreary Seattle winter making loads of Prune Armagnac ice cream for a French restaurant.

To be sure, summer has left the building. Cinnamon it is.

Cinnamon Ice Cream


* 1 cup sugar
* 2 cups milk
* 2 strips orange peel (just take a veggie peeler to an orange and carefully peel JUST THE ORANGE part off the top - try not to get ANY of the white pith on the peel)
* 2 cinnamon sticks
* 1 t ground cinnamon
* 5 egg yolks
* 2 cups cream


1. Whisk together egg yolks in a medium/large mixing bowl.

2. Set a heavy medium saucepan over moderately low heat and add milk, sugar, orange zest, cinnamon stick and ground spice. Heat until steaming but not boiling, lower heat and stir until sugar is dissolved (about 2-3 minutes). Remove from heat, cover, and let steep for 20-30 minutes.

3. Reheat the mixture to steaming. Ladle about 1/2 cup hot milk mixture into egg yolks, whisking constantly. This is called TEMPERING. Whisk a few more ladles into the eggs and keep whisking. Slowly pour the egg mixture back into the hot milk, still whisking away. Set over low heat, and cook, stirring constantly (I like to use a heat resistant spatula at this point, or an odor-free wooden spoon), until mixture thickens enough to coat back of spoon (finger drawn across spoon will leave clear path) - it should take about 5 to 6 minutes. Strain into large bowl and stir in heavy cream. Chill until cold, either in an ice bath or overnight in the refrigerator.

Note: If your heat was too high and the eggs curdled or cooked, just toss the whole thing and start over. There’s no way to save it.

4. When ready to freeze, strain the mixture once more. Process cold cream base in ice cream maker according to manufacturer's instructions. When it's done spinning, transfer to airtight container, cover well and freeze until hard, about 3 hours.

Got more time to kill?

For a detailed analysis of the myriad reasons the Summer of 2009 was worse than you might have previously perceived, read this from yesterday's WSJ:

The Summer of Our Discontent
Town-hall brawls. Tomato blight. Woodstock nostalgia. Rain. Not hiking the Appalachian Trail. Joe Queenan says good riddance to the summer of '09.


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