Lemon Basil Ice Cream

[Welcome to July AKA National Ice Cream Month! To celebrate, each Friday I will be posting a new delicious ice cream flavor alongside my regularly scheduled posts. Hope you enjoy the series!]

Once again we have arrived at the final week of National Ice Cream Month. It’s been a whirlwind of a month (at least for me) and hard to believe August is nearly upon us. With three weddings and two extremely intense races ahead of me, the next five weeks are set to be pretty crazy. Here’s hoping I make it out alive and unbroken. In the meantime, we can enjoy one more ice cream recipe together.

This one is easily my favorite of this year’s ensemble. Although I’ve really enjoyed the other three, this is the one that really struck home for me. Light and refreshing lemon with the herbal notes of basil, it’s a concoction more often found in a savory entrée than sweet desserts, but I assure you it works extremely well in both situations. I originally tasted this pairing at a gelato shop in Boulder, Colorado last summer, during a work trip. I loved how the basil added a different note to the whole experience, without being overpowering.

This year I attempted to create my own version to share with all of you. Although it took a few tries to get right, it was worth those mediocre batches to get to the final product. The superbly creamy texture is brightened with a pronounced lemon flavor without it tasting sour. The basil comes as a surprise since there’s no indication in the pale yellow coloring (unless you miss a few leaves when you strain it…which I did), so I recommend warning consumers ahead of time. The two are a flawless pairing and perfect on a hot summer day, but might be shocking if you aren’t expecting it.

Like the blueberry lavender from a few weeks ago, this ice cream tastes much lighter than it actually is, but I assure you it’s as high in fat and sugar as ever. I portioned mine into small 4-6oz servings as it’s very easy to get carried away, and then I can just grab them straight from the freezer. This makes it easier to serve, and to make sure it’s a reasonable amount – it’s also much faster to serve to guests! I will admit the containers I use have a tendency to fall over, but I’ve yet to find stable ones that are both small enough and not crazy expensive. The search continues.

This ice cream is delightful all on its own, but I think it’d also be lovely with a scoop of blueberry crisp. Lemon and blueberry are always a sure bet, and I think the basil would blend wonderfully into the whole shebang. The next time I make crisp or cobbler I will definitely make a batch of this to pair with it.

I hope you have enjoyed this month’s series and have some fun new flavors to try, or at least drool over. We will now resume our regularly scheduled programming, with plenty of deliciousness ahead!

Lemon Basil Ice Cream 

Makes ~6 cups

Ingredients

1 1/4 cups whole or 2% milk
1 oz fresh basil leaves (a large handful), chopped
zest of 2 lemons

3/4 cup sugar
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup egg substitute
juice of 2 lemons

Directions

  1. In a small saucepan, lightly muddle basil and lemon zest. Add milk and heat to a light simmer.
  2. Remove milk from heat and let steep at least 15 minutes.
  3. In medium bowl, whisk together remaining ingredients until completely combined.
  4. Slowly stream in milk with the basil and zest, whisking constantly.
  5. Cover bowl and chill in the refrigerator at least 4 hours, or overnight. (Mixture will likely be rather thicker than normal – this is expected!)
  6. Using a fine-mesh sieve, strain mixture to remove leaves and zest.
  7. Freeze according to your ice cream maker’s directions, then place in a cold freezer-safe bowl to freeze overnight, or until firm.
Advertisements

Roasted Red Pepper and Bacon Salad

I’ve written about my favorite Italian restaurant in Bozeman, Fresco Cafe, as the inspiration for one of my grilled cheese concoctions from April. This is probably the place I go to with the most regularity, both for team lunches with work and with out-of-town visitors. It has delicious pastas and paninis, several delightful salads, and the specials are always on point. Although a semi-expensive place to dine, it is worth every single dollar to have amazing food and service every time. (As an aside, it’s also one of the few places that serves plain water rather than ice water, which is always worth a lot of points in my book.)

A couple of weeks ago during team lunch, the special salad was basically the combination of all my favorite things: bacon, bell peppers, goat cheese, and balsamic vinaigrette. Served atop a bed of mixed spinach and arugula, it was one of the best salads I’ve ever had, in addition to being the perfect size for lunch. I expressed my ecstatic review, as well as requested they put it on the regular menu, which is something I’ve never actually bothered to do at a restaurant before. Since they haven’t heeded my advice yet, I set out to recreate a similar experience in my own kitchen.

It might sound plain and possibly too light, but with a slice of bread and a latte (I always get a latte at Fresco) it was properly filling without leaving me feeling overstuffed and heavy for the rest of the afternoon. Roasted red peppers are something I could eat with every meal, and you’ve probably already noticed I have a slight obsession with goat cheese (blame Costco.) Bacon and walnuts bring a little salt and a lot of protein to the dish, and a bed of leafy greens rounds out the meal nicely.

The original uses their house-made balsamic vinaigrette, but I opted to dress mine with plain balsamic vinegar from my local oil and vinegar spot. This was mostly out of laziness but also because it’s one of my favorite ways to top any savory salad. In any case, you can substitute your favorite balsamic vinaigrette or reduction in its place for a more traditional pairing.

I served mine with the bacon and peppers still warm (which will be extra great in the winter), but you could absolutely let them cool to room temperature during these excessive heatwaves everyone is having. I made myself all four servings and then each day assembled the leftovers for lunches this week. If you do the same, you could either serve it all cold or briefly reheat the bacon and peppers in the microwave before stirring it all together, as I’ve done for the past three days. Goes perfectly with a side of focaccia fresh from the Co-op.

Roasted Red Pepper and Bacon Salad

Inspired by Fresco Cafe
Serves 4

Ingredients

8 slices bacon
2 large red bell peppers, thinly sliced

1 cup walnuts, halved

~8 cups fresh spinach & arugula (10-12 oz)
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar (or your favorite vinaigrette or reduction)

4 oz goat cheese, crumbled

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a rimmed cookie sheet (or two quarter sheets, if you have them) with foil. If you’re using one sheet, create an edge of foil in the middle of the pan.
  2. Arrange bacon in one half of the pan; lightly coat the other half with olive oil and arrange the peppers on top.
  3. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or to desired doneness. Remove bacon to paper towels to drain and set aside bell peppers.
  4. Spread walnuts on the bare pan and return to the oven to toast for 3-5 minutes.
  5. In a large bowl, gently toss greens and balsamic vinegar (or dressing.)
  6. Divide greens into four bowls or plates – don’t scrape the mixing bowl.
  7. Gently toss bell peppers in the large bowl with leftover vinegar/dressing, then arrange on top of the greens.
  8. Slice bacon on an angle into bite-size pieces and arrange in the bowls.
  9. Top each with walnuts, goat cheese, and freshly ground pepper.
  10. Enjoy immediately, optionally garnished with a slice of bread.

London Fog Ice Cream

[Welcome to July AKA National Ice Cream Month! To celebrate, each Friday I will be posting a new delicious ice cream flavor alongside my regularly scheduled posts. Hope you enjoy the series!]

Ten years ago (wow time flies) whilst gallivanting around London with a few high school friends, one of them introduced me to what has remained a favorite of mine ever since. Called a London Fog, it’s comprised of steamed milk, vanilla, and Earl Gray tea. Warm and caffeinated without being overly sweet, it’s one of my go-to treat beverages during the winter months.

It’s not even vaguely chilly outside, but I bribed a friend into watering my garden during a recent vacation with promises of homemade ice cream and she requested I attempt an Earl Gray version (as well as maple chipotle). Given my love of the London Fog I had no qualms about doing so and set off to make it happen. After a stop at our local Townshend’s Tea House for some loose leaf tea, I was pretty much set to give it a whirl. I chose to use loose leaf tea because it is not only typically much better quality, but it infuses into thicker liquids (i.e. milk) much better than bags do. You can certainly try a bagged tea if you really want, but I highly recommend splurging here if you can.

This is one of those flavors that worked beautifully the first time I tried, basically following my usual method for infused ice creams, like the coffee and lavender from years past. The wonderful and cozy flavor of Earl Gray works just as well in chilled dessert as it does in a warm beverage, and makes it much easier to enjoy during this 90*F nonsense we’ve been having. A dash of vanilla adds a mellow touch and, in my opinion, balances the tea nicely with the cream.

 

I like my flavors quite strong so I used a full half-cup of tea and let it infuse in the fridge overnight. It is critical to heat the milk before adding the tea, as the cold-brew method doesn’t quite work here, but it doesn’t take too long to heat some milk on the stove. If you prefer a milder flavor, you can use less tea or steep it for less time (or both). However, keep in mind it will be a bit more mild after churning than straight out of the fridge, since the volume of the ice cream is much larger.

This ice cream is a perfect way to bring a favorite cold-weather beverage into a warm-weather dessert. I enjoyed it plain, but for a little flair it’d be delightful with a shortbread cookie topping.

 

London Fog Ice Cream 

Makes ~6 cups

Ingredients

2 cups heavy whipping cream
1/2 cups egg substitute (optional)
3/4 cup sugar

1 1/2 cups whole or 2% milk
1/3 – 1/2 cup loose-leaf Earl Grey tea

1 tsp vanilla

Directions

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together cream, egg substitute (if using) and sugar. Set aside.
  2. In a small saucepan, heat milk on medium until it just starts to simmer, then remove from heat. Add tea to the milk and allow it to steep for about 30 minutes.
  3. Slowly stream into cream mixture, whisking constantly (leave the tea in!)
  4. Cover and chill in the refrigerator completely, or overnight.
  5. Whisk in vanilla, then strain mixture with a fine mesh sieve, pressing on the tea to extract as much milk as possible.
  6. Freeze according to your ice cream maker’s directions
  7. Place in a cold freezer-safe bowl to freeze until firm, or overnight.

Chocolate Merlot Ice Cream

[Welcome to July AKA National Ice Cream Month! To celebrate, each Friday I will be posting a new delicious ice cream flavor alongside my regularly scheduled posts. Hope you enjoy the series!]

Despite not regularly imbibing in day-to-day life, alcoholic ice creams are typically some of my favorite concoctions. Having experimented with Baileys, Kahlúa, beer, and champagne, this year seemed like a red wine was in order. Although for drinking purposes I don’t stray far from the sweet white delight of a Riesling or Pinot Grigio, I enjoy reds for adding complexity to desserts and entrées alike.

Several years ago I tasted a dark chocolate red wine fudge that was just fantastic. Rich and chocolatey with just the right balance of red wine flavor, it didn’t slam you in the face with the alcohol, but just enhanced the whole chocolate experience. I kept this in mind as my flavor goal and set off to create the chocolate wine dessert of my dreams.

For Christmas my mom gave me Molly Moon’s ice cream recipe book, with the idea that even if I didn’t use exact recipes it would likely spark ideas and give guidance to my own creations. It is a delightful book even just to read, equally filled with traditional flavors as it is more exotic combinations. Their melted chocolate ice cream seemed like the perfect starting point for my newest creation, and it does not disappoint.

High quality dark chocolate bars melted into a pretty standard cream base results in a velvety smooth and rich chocolate experience. It’s worth it to splurge for the fancy chocolate bars instead of the standard Hershey’s. The chocolate will not only have a more decadent flavor, but it will be easier to find a truly dark chocolate with 70-75% cacao. Quality chocolate also has fewer additives and will melt much more smoothly, for a creamier texture in the final product. As an added bonus, you’ll likely be supporting a smaller Fair Trade farm which is always a good idea in my book.

To supplement the chocolate, I chose a Barefoot Merlot. Since I know approximately nothing about red wine, and don’t care for it in its standalone form, it can be challenging to choose a product. If you have a favorite red, go with that. If, like me, you’re not a red wine aficionado, go with one that describes a chocolate note or pairing on the back. After being reduced on the stove and mixed in with a quality chocolate, even a fairly inexpensive red wine will do just fine here.

Velvety smooth and with a light alcoholic bite, this flavor is sure to please any chocolate or wine lover. The wine flavor is not overpowering, and doesn’t slam you in the taste buds, but somewhat slowly grows with each bite. A small serving would be the perfect end to a dinner party, be it anywhere from casual to cocktail.

Chocolate Merlot Ice Cream 

Adapted from Molly Moon
Makes ~6 cups

Ingredients

1 bottle (3-4 cups) dry red wine (I used a Merlot)

1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 cup half and half
3/4 cup sugar

6 oz dark (~70%) chocolate, coarsely chopped

1 tsp vanilla

Directions

  1. Place chopped chocolate in a medium bowl. Set aside.
  2. In a small saucepan, gently heat wine at a light simmer until reduced to 1/4 the original amount (3/4 – 1 cup). Let cool on the counter or chill in the fridge at least 10 minutes or until ready to use. (This is a slow process; set aside at least 30 minutes and feel free to do it ahead of time.)
  3. Meanwhile in a medium saucepan, heat half and half, whipping cream, and sugar until sugar is dissolved and mixture is just coming to a simmer.
  4. Pour over chocolate and whisk vigorously until smooth.
  5. Slowly stream in wine reduction (especially if it’s still a bit warm), whisking constantly.
  6. Cover bowl and chill in the refrigerator completely, or overnight.
  7. Freeze according to your ice cream maker’s directions, then place in a cold freezer-safe bowl to freeze for an additional three hours, or overnight.
  8. Enjoy solo or with a fudgy dark chocolate brownie for an extra decadent dessert.

Sriracha Blackberry Salad

Despite what looks like an excessive ice cream intake, during hot weather I also eat a lot of chilled salads and smoothies as a healthy way to keep cooler. With no stove or oven required, it doesn’t add heat to either me or the house, and they are quick to throw together. My fridge is always filled with an array of fresh produce, but during the summertime I make extra sure to have plenty of salad ingredients on hand.

Spinach is my go to base since I use it in everything from soups to scrambled eggs to smoothies, and there’s always a hefty bag of it from Costco. I don’t usually have a specific flavor palate in mind, but throw on whichever veggies or fruits I have lying around. I often add some raw nuts, cooked quinoa, or canned beans for extra calories and a protein boost. Tossed with a flavored vinegar or a simple dressing, it’s a delicious and filling meal and easy to throw together for a quick lunch or dinner.

Last year I concocted a lemon and berry combination that is still one of my favorites, especially with raspberries fresh from the garden. In these months before the berries have ripened, I sometimes splurge on a tray of blackberries from Costco to eat throughout the week. Delicious on yogurt or ice cream, in a smoothie, or just by the handful, it’s never a challenge to get through them on my own.

Since I love the berry and spinach combination, I decided to combine some blackberries with my newest favorite Olivelle discovery: Sriracha White Balsamic Vinegar. Still fairly sweet but with the slight kick of Sriracha flavoring, this is a more savory experience. It’s superb as a dressing all on its own, excellent as a condiment for wraps, and delightful mixed in with scrambled eggs. I’m already halfway through my rather hefty bottle, and I know I’ll be back promptly when I need a refill.

I started with my standard spinach based, and topped with fresh blackberries and sliced almonds. As I usually have goat cheese in the fridge as well (how do people live without Costco?), I added that for some creaminess and a little tang. The sweet and spicy Sriracha vinegar pulls everything together with a little kick, but not so much that it overwhelms all the other delicious flavors. This salad is great as a light meal with a side of tasty sourdough bread, but works just as well alongside a chicken or fish entrée.

For those of you that are perhaps not keen on buying specialty vinegar, I’ve included a recipe for a copycat version. It’s not a perfect match but it’s still delicious, and a bit more accessible than mail-order vinegar.

Sriracha Summer Salad
Servings: 1 entrée, or 2 sides

Ingredients

2 cups baby spinach, washed and dried
1 Tbsp Sriracha white balsamic vinegar

3/4 cup blackberries, washed and dried (and maybe halved, if you want)
2 Tbsp goat cheese, crumbled
1 Tbsp sliced almonds

Directions

  1. In a medium bowl, gently stir together spinach and Sriracha vinegar until well coated. Transfer spinach to serving dish(es).
  2. Arrange berries, goat cheese, and almonds on top, optionally drizzling with extra vinegar.
  3. Enjoy immediately as a spicy-sweet entrée for one, or as side dishes for two.

Copycat Sriracha Vinegar
Makes about 1/3 cup

Ingredients

1/2 cup high quality white balsamic vinegar
1 tsp Sriracha, to taste

Directions

  1. In a small saucepan, gently heat vinegar and Sriracha to a simmer, and let simmer until liquid is reduced to about 1/3 cup.
  2. Whisk vigorously to mix in Sriracha (there may still be speckles.) Add more Sriracha to taste, if desired.
  3. Store in a sealed container in the refrigerator, shaking or whisking before each use if spices have settled.