Basil Ice Cream & Roasted Strawberries
It's by no means a fair trade, makings from the kitchen in exchange for hard labor, but it's an accepted transaction in my family. What's the going price for helping insulate a sunroom, build basement shelving and scrape away decades of bathroom paint, anyway? That's beyond a few batches of cookies and a pork roast. That feels like holiday meal territory, times a few years.
We're tackling a lot of home projects these days, which is infinitely better alongside family and friends who graciously share bits of experiential wisdom from having been there and done that. It's gold to Mark and I as we tiptoe with the timidity of new home ownership.
Lately, I've passing out thank yous faster than ever, and as it goes, food, drinks and the solemn promise of future meals. We'll start with homemade ice cream, one of my favorite ways to say thank you, or really anything for that matter.
Let's talk about making basil ice cream. A few years ago, Mark and I were having tapas at Extra Virgin in Kansas City (wonderful place). "You're going to want to try the basil ice cream," our waiter told us. He was right and my oh my was it incredible. Basil ice cream has hooking power, softly herbaceous, spice-like and perfectly sweet. Better yet - fairly easy to make at home. The first place I start with any ice cream is adapting Jeni Britton Bauer's sweet cream base recipe. It really is the perfect blank canvas for developing homemade ice creams. I like to infuse the basil in the hot cream then strain before churning. I rather like that it's not green because of the surprise factor, but you can make it green, if desired, just pulse together the fresh basil and sugar in a food processor and skip the steeping and straining step.
And even more satisfying than basil ice cream is the addition of roasted strawberries. I'm ready for summer, can you tell?
Basil Ice Cream
adapted from Jeni Britton Bauer's ice cream base
Makes 1 quart
2 cups milk
1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1 1/4 cup heavy cream
2/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons corn syrup
1 cup basil, packed
Combine 2 tablespoons of the milk with the cornstarch in a small mixing bowl. Stir until smooth and set aside.
In large mixing bowl mix together salt and cream cheese using the back of a fork. Smooth it out then set aside.
Set a large saucepan on medium-high heat and add in the remaining milk, heavy cream, sugar and corn syrup. Whisk together and bring to a soft boil. Once it begins to boil, add in the basil, turn heat to medium and let it cook for 2 minutes. Immediately remove the saucepan from heat, put a lid on it and let it steep for 20 minutes.
Prepare an ice bath in a large bowl with ice and cold water.
After the basil and cream have steeped for 20 minutes, strain out the basil from the cream. Discard the basil.
Return the cream to medium-high heat and bring to a boil. When the boil begins, slowly whisk in cornstarch and milk mixture and cook for 1 minute. Turn off heat and pour the hot cream into the large mixing bowl with the cream cheese and salt, a little at a time, whisking well to remove any clumps. Pour into a large ziplock bag, seal, and submerge into the ice bath.
Let sit in the ice bath until the cream is cold, then pour into your ice cream maker and follow the manufacture's instructions from there.
Transfer the ice cream to a lidded container and store it in the coldest part of the freezer for a few hours before serving.
Makes 1 1/2 cups
2 cups strawberries, tops removed and quartered
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
dash of black pepper (optional)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees fahrenheit. Toss strawberries with sugar and balsamic vinegar then spread out onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Add a dash of black pepper if using. Roast the strawberries for 25 minutes. Let cool slightly before serving. They will keep in the refrigerator for 2-3 days.