Ice cream and I have long-standing love-affair. I might be devoted to trifle, but I am fanatical about ice cream. My grandmother's lemon ice cream is my most-requested birthday treat, to hell with the fact that my birthday is almost mid-winter; a quiet night in, slumped in front of a film, should be accompanied by Waitrose's ginger and dark chocolate chunk ice cream. If you want to cheer me up, feed me ice cream; if you want to impress me, feed me ice cream; if you want to turn my great day into an awesome day, feed me ice cream. It has to be good ice cream, of course. Bad ice cream is an abomination and you can only expect the culinary deity to which you subscribe to rain fire and brimstone upon you for serving it. You have been warned.
When we warmed the Pink Mansion this summer, we did it in two stages: a party on the Saturday night and a bar-be-que on the Sunday afternoon. On the Sunday, everyone brought strawberries. We had more strawberries in our house than the local supermarket. Some were made into Eton Mess and some were eaten straight, but when we finally closed the door on the last guest at around 1am Sunday night/Monday morning, there was an entire shelf in the fridge devoted to strawberries. I had to do something with them. Some were made into jam, but some were transformed into this. Even if I say so myself, it is stultifyingly good.
Ice cream is a pretty simple concept: it is frozen custard with some flavouring tossed in there. Okay, so making custard can be a little intimidating, but don't let that stop you. And don't let the lack of a sorbetière stop you, either. I'm lucky enough to have one now, but I didn't always, and I've been making ice cream for longer than I've owned it. It just takes a bit longer.
- 300g (11oz) strawberries
- squeeze of lemon juice
- 300ml (10floz) full fat milk
- 6 egg yolks (bag up the whites and freeze them)
- 120g (4oz) caster sugar
- 300ml (10floz) double cream
- 1tspn vanilla extract
- 50g (2½oz) shop-bought meringue (honestly, you want those rock solid ones from the supermarket), smashed up in large chunks using a rolling pin
Hull and chop your strawberries, then purée them in a food processor if you have one. If not, pass them through a sieve. Squeeze over the lemon juice and leave them to rest.
Half fill your sink with cold water. You might not need it, but just to be on the safe side.
Heat the milk until it is just at boiling point.
Meanwhile, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar until thick.
When the milk has reached the boil, pour it over the egg yolks and sugar in a steady stream, whisking all the time. Don't whisk too violently, though, or you'll end up with a frothy mess.
Return the milky-eggy mixture to a medium heat and stir constantly until it has thickened to a custard that coats the back of a wooden spoon. If you are at all concerned that it might be about to split, dump the pan in the sink of cold water and whisk like a person possessed until the mixture comes back together.
When the custard has thickened, remove it from the heat, stir in the vanilla extract, and pour it into a clean container and allow it to cool. (Or you can do what I do, and dunk it in the sink of cold water.)
When it has cooled, pour in the cream, fold in the strawberry purée, and then churn it in your sorbetière, according to its instructions. About half-way through the churn, tip in the meringue chunks. When the ice cream maker has done its thing, transfer the ice cream to a large, shallow freezer container, leave it to finish freezing, and devour when you're ready.
If you don't have a sorbetière, pour the mixture into a shallow freezer container and freeze for an hour. Take it out, whisk it up to incorporate the frozen and not-so-frozen bits, add the meringue chunks, and return it to the freezer for another hour. Mix it again and return it to the freezer to freeze for about six hours. Then you can devour it.
I've not felt the need to pair this with anything. The ice cream alone has been enough. It's pretty serious ice cream.
Music to cook to: Dear Catastrophe Waitress, Belle and Sebastian