Sunday, August 06, 2006

Every summer for the last several years, my father and I have made ice cream using the electric ice-cream machine he and my mother bought years ago. One summer they made ice cream every week from whatever fruit was in season at the moment. Their peach ice cream stands out, smooth and delicately flavored, tasting almost exactly like the scent of the fruit itself. This year, my father and I made vanilla lavender ice cream with goats' milk as the dairy base. It brought back memories of the long-ago peach ice cream with its special satisfaction of merging senses.

Vanilla Lavender Ice Cream
Lavender Milk:
1 cup goats' milk
6-8 sprigs fresh lavender

Put the milk and the lavender in a small saucepan over medium heat. Just before it starts boiling, remove from heat, cover, and allow to infuse for 20 minutes. Strain the milk into a small bowl, discard the lavender, and let milk cool for another 10 minutes.

Ice Cream:
6 egg yolks
1 cup sugar
3 cups goats' milk (or, half goats' milk/half cows' milk)
lavender milk (see above)
1 cup whipping cream
1 vanilla bean (or 2 teaspoons vanilla extract)

1) Put the egg yolks and sugar in a big saucepan. Beat with a whisk until pale yellow.
2) Put 3 cups goats' milk and lavendar milk in another saucepan. Cut the vanilla bean in half and gently split each half open and add to the milk. Slowly bring just to the boil.
3) Add about 1/2 cup of the warm milk to the egg yolk and sugar mixture, beating constantly. Stir in the remaining milk. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean into the custard. Stirring the whole time, slowly bring the mixture again just to the boil, at which point it will be smooth and custardlike. (Just under the boil is 180 degrees F, which assures the safety of eating the eggs.)
4) Pour the custard into a chilled bowl and allow to come to room temperature. If a vanilla bean was not used, stir in the vanilla extract. Then place the custard in the freezer for about 30 minutes to make for faster churning.
5) When ready to churn the custard mixture, whip the whipping cream until just under stiff-peak stage and fold into chilled mixture. (This makes for more volume.) Pour the mixture into an ice cream maker and churn according to manufacturer's directions. Chill in freezer for several hours before serving. Makes about 1 quart of ice cream.

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