Friday, July 22, 2011

Summertime's perfect dessert....

On a hot summer day, does chocolate fudge cake come to mind as a perfect dessert?  Probably not. How about Apple Pie with Cheddar Cheese? No?  How about Ice Cream?  Icy cold, creamy smooth, rich, flavor packed homemade ice cream?  Yep....that does it!
As you know, I love to make ice cream, gelato, sorbet....whatever you want to call it, I love it.
It used to be part of every summer holiday celebration. The ice cream freezer, maker, machine....whatever you called it, was set up out on the backyard, ice and rock salt were waiting . The freezer can was filled with the ice cream mixture and set in place. The ice was packed around it, salt was added; the lid was tightened down and the crank was attached. All that was left was turning that crank,  over....and over....and over again!  Finally, after a long was ice cream time!
Homemade ice cream was part of every summer holiday. Of course, there probably was that chocolate cake and apple pie too....but it was the ice cream that was the big hit.

The history of ice cream is sketchy in the beginning. Nero supposedly sent slaves running on foot to the mountains to scoop up snow and then high tail it back to the palace so he could have a frozen treat, something like a snowcone with fresh fruit on top. I can't help but wonder what happened to the poor runners who arrived back at Nero's pad with a bucket of water......
Ice cream as a dairy delight was probably “discovered” in the 1600’s. The concept of flavored ices evolved, but no one is sure how. We do know that Charles I of England, or rather, his chef (either French or Italian), made ice cream a staple of the royal table. Depending on which version you read, either the chef had a secret recipe for ice cream and the king paid him a handsome reward to keep it a secret, or the chef was threatened with death if he divulged the recipe. Either way, once Chuck-One was beheaded in 1649, the chef blabbed. Soon nobility in Europe knew of, and enjoyed, “crème ice.”

The still-for-the-rich “iced creams” were widely known in the 18th century on both sides of the Atlantic. Several recipes appear in a 1700 French cookbook, “L’Art de Faire des Glaces”, and here in the soon-to-be United States, ice cream was also known. The first newspaper ad for ice cream appeared in the 1770s, as did the first actual ice cream shop (no one called them parlors then) in New York City in 1777. George Washington paid almost $200 (a chunk of money then) for ice cream equipment and recipes in 1790. Thomas Jefferson had a special recipe for his Vanilla ice cream (he was the first to serve it in the White House in 1802), and James and Dolley Madison served ice cream at their second inaugural ball in 1813. Still, ice cream was limited in quantity and popularity, due to the enormous effort needed to make it (think two large bowls, lots of ice and salt, and 40 minutes of shaking one bowl while stirring the other – whew!).

If You Want Something Done Right, Ask A Woman

Give credit to Nancy Johnson. In 1843 she developed the first hand-crank ice cream maker, and despite what you might read elsewhere, received a patent for it. Much of the confusion (and lack of credit) to Ms. Johnson comes from the fact that she sold her rights to William Young for just $200 (still a pretty good sum in those days). He at least had the courtesy to call the machine the “Johnson Patent Ice-Cream Freezer.”
Thanks to for the history lesson.

Today, many of us have electric ice cream need for ice and salt, and no turning the crank!
So where am I going wiith this? I ran into Louisberg Cider Mill for a few things yesterday and they had fresh peaches!  Is there anything better than homemade fresh peach ice cream? I doubt it! There is nothing that compares to homemade ice cream. It has an amazingly fresh taste, and it is so simple. There are basically 3 ingredients:  peaches, sugar, and cream.  It is cold, creamy and perfect for a hot summer day.

Fresh Peach Ice Cream
2 1/2 cups heavy cream

1 cup half and half
1 cup granulated cane sugar
4 medium peaches, seed and skins removed, then roughly chopped
Juice from one lemon (roughly two tablespoons)

In a medium sauce pan over a med-low heat, pour in heavy cream and sugar. Just heat it up until it gets luke warm (Just enough to dissolve the sugar). Pour cream and sugar into a mixing bowl and set aside. Meanwhile, chop up all of your peaches and toss into a food processor. Blend until roughly pureed (about the size of peas, smaller or larger). Squeeze one whole lemon into your peach puree (about 2 tablespoons). Mix lightly with a spoon, then pour peaches into cream and sugar. Add 1 cup of half and half (Cream and sugar mixture should be cold enough at this point with all of the add ins). Next, pour peaches and cream into your ice cream maker and turn that baby on! (depending on ice cream maker, it should be done in roughly 25-30 minutes). Serve semi-soft or for harder ice cream, freeze for a couple of hours. Enjoy!
If your ice cream maker will not hold the entire recipe, divide and store half in sealed container in refrigerator until you are ready to use it.

I suppose my second favorite ice cream is pure vanilla! This recipe uses honey as the sweetner rather than sugar.

Honey Vanilla Ice Cream
2 vanilla beans

2 cups heavy cream (whipping cream)
1 cup whole or 2% milk
1/2 cup honey
Cut the vanilla beans in half lengthwise, and scrape out the seeds. Add both the seeds and the vanilla beans to a saucepan, along with the heavy cream, milk, and honey. Stirring occasionally, bring the vanilla cream mixture to steaming over low-medium heat.

Check to see that the honey is completely dissolved and then remove the pan from the heat. Remove the vanilla beans (pods) from the cream and discard them. Chill the mixture for 2 hours and then freeze it in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions.
 This honey vanilla ice cream recipe makes 6 to 8 servings.

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