Wednesday, September 15, 2010

at the farmers market: summer

For this summery post, we set out to make ice cream from ingredients in our CSA shares, local farmers markets, and gardens.

kate (brooklyn)

Ice cream was the perfect treat this summer. With temperatures in the mid to high 90s in July and August every day was meant to be an ice cream day. Unfortunately, once you start it’s very hard to stop eating and before you know it you’ve gobbled up a whole bowl of your favorite flavor. I think ice cream has to be one of my (if not my most) favorite desserts.

There are lots of great places in Brooklyn to buy ice cream and so many choices from sit-down boutiques to traveling vans. One of my favorite places in Williamsburg is Uncle Louis G on Graham Avenue, which sells both ice cream and Italian ices. The shop is very small; just a sliding storefront window where the customer places his order from the sidewalk. You can sit down and enjoy your ice cream on one of two benches on the sidewalk next to the parking meters and watch the neighborhood go by; it’s a nice neighborhood gathering of young and old and the prices are very reasonable.

Another very popular ice cream spot in the Greenpoint area is Van Leeuwen Ice Cream, located on Metropolitan Avenue. They also have vans that travel throughout Brooklyn and Manhattan and people line up in huge numbers to order their ice cream. Their ice cream is made with simple, local, and organic ingredients. I’ve tried a few of their flavors and it’s really good, however at over $5 for a single scoop the price tag is quite expensive. People gather in long lines to taste their ice cream so I guess price is not a deterrent. Coincidently (or not), there is a Baskin-Robbins directly across the street, where you can get double the amount of ice cream for the same amount of money. I think Van Leeuwen is a bit overrated.

Despite the endless possibilities of ice cream varieties, I tried my hand at making my own ice cream this summer after seeing friends create really creative flavors like sweet potato and kale. I decided to try making a seasonal fruit ice cream and left my fate up to our CSA fruit share from Montgomery Place Orchards (an orchard that is actually much closer to Kristen than me) in Red Hook, NY. We are lucky to have Montgomery Place once a week in Brooklyn as part of the East Williamsburg CSA. I absolutely love our fruit share. It is extremely generous; we usually get at least three or four varieties of seasonal fruit a week.

The past weekend’s share was full of Seckel and Bartlett pears so I decided to try a pear ice cream. I decided to use half and half to substitute for the cream. The ice cream definitely had a nice flavor and makes a refreshing and not too sweet dessert.

I’m curious to try more ice cream flavors. I'm currently waiting for David Lebovitz’s The Perfect Scoop, which should arrive any day now in the mail, so I can read up on more recipes and techniques. I’m also curious about other ice cream hot (or should I say cool) spots around and whether or not it’s worth paying the higher price for a “gourmet” ice cream.

pear ice cream
adapted from
Martha Stewart

2 cups 2% milk
2 cups 1/2 and 1/2
1 cinnamon stick
6 Seckel or Bartlett pears, peeled and cored
6 large egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons brandy (optional)

Combine milk, cream, and cinnamon stick in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Heat until small bubbles appear around the edge. Remove from heat, cover, and let steep for 30 minutes.

In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, cook pears for 45 minutes, or until they make a thick sauce. Let cool a bit, then purée in a food processor or blender.

Beat together egg yolks and sugar in a small bowl. Bring milk mixture back to a simmer, and whisk about 1 cup hot milk into egg mixture. Return to pan, and cook over low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon until thick enough to coat the spoon, about 5 minutes.

Stir puree into ice-cream base. Chill, then stir in brandy, if desired. Freeze in an ice-cream maker according to manufacturer's instructions. Store in an airtight plastic container up to 2 weeks.

(Above photo l to r: Pears from Montgomery Place Orchards; Uncle Louis G in Williamsburg)

kristen (beacon)

The last few days have felt like anything but summer: brisk mornings, downright chilly evenings, the tips of the leaves outside our bedroom window turning the slightest shade of red. Despite all of this, I am determined to hold on to every last vestige of summer I can. I will wear my Saltwater Sandals until October winds turn my feet blue. I will check the garden for ripe tomatoes until the tomato plants wither and wilt. And I will make ice cream until… well… I will always make ice cream.

I visited the Beacon Farmers Market on Labor Day Weekend in search of ingredients for my market-inspired ice cream. I didn’t have a plan, but I knew I was in good hands. Lee Davenport, whom I recently met on Flickr, was visiting me in Beacon for the day. Lee grew up in western New York but had never been to Beacon, and I think our little town (especially Homespun Foods, Zora Dora, and Electric Windows) won her over in a big way. She knows her way around a farmers market, having worked for various restaurants and farms in New York City and Madison, Wisconsin (where she currently resides) and producing her own line of preserves. She also knows her way around an ice cream maker, so I was excited to introduce her to our market and get her input on ingredients.

Before heading over to the market, I had been tossing around the idea of making tomato ice cream. But the raspberries, sparkling in the sunshine at the far end of the market that day, roped me in. They were from Honey Locust Farm House in Newburgh and tasted just like late-summer should: sweet and perfumey. I bought 2 pints and set out in search of complementary ingredients. Thank goodness Lee has an eye for all things delicious, because otherwise I would have missed the tiny sign for Ronnybrook Farm Dairy’s crème fraiche. She mentioned that the crème fraiche would help to improve the consistency of the ice cream, since I was determined to create a recipe that didn’t require eggs.

Raspberries, crème fraiche, a little sugar or honey, and… “Anise hyssop!” Lee exclaimed, since she had spotted a few pretty bundles of it next to the raspberries. “Anise nothing,” I replied. Anise is one of my least favorite flavors. I have been known to break out in a cold sweat upon getting within ten feet of licorice and fennel. But after some gentle prodding and encouragement, I reluctantly purchased one of the small bundles and assured Lee I would add it to the ice cream.

But when it came time to add it, I couldn’t bring myself to do it. I needed to replace it with something astringent, and that’s when I thought about rosemary. Something about the idea of raspberries, crème fraiche, and rosemary together sounded so lovely.

The pretty purple-flowered anise hyssop bundle went into a small vase beside the bed, and a sprig of rosemary went from our garden into the ice cream.

And it was delicious.

Ciao, summer.

raspberry, rosemary, & crème fraiche ice cream

2 cups fresh raspberries
1 sprig of rosemary
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup crème fraiche
1/3 cup sugar (plus more to taste)
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

Purée raspberries in a food processor or blender.

In a saucepan, over medium-low heat, bring cream to a simmer with the sprig of rosemary, sugar, and salt. If the raspberries are very tart, you may wish to add another tablespoon or two of sugar to the saucepan. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sugar dissolves.

Transfer the heated cream, keeping the rosemary in the mixture, to a bowl, and set in an ice bath or in the refrigerator to chill for at least one hour, but preferably more.

When thoroughly chilled, add the crème fraiche to the cream mixture and blend with a wire whisk. Add the raspberry purée and whisk until combined. Strain the entire mixture into a fresh bowl using a mesh strainer, pressing as much liquid out as possible, whisk one last time, and pour into an ice cream machine. Churn the mixture according to the manufacturer’s directions. When finished, freeze the ice cream in the freezer until solid, at least two hours, but preferably more.

Allow the ice cream to sit at room temperature for 5 to 10 minutes before serving, as it may tend to freeze a little too hard for immediate scooping.

(Above photos l to r: Organic raspberries from Honey Locust Farm House; Raspberry, Rosemary, & Crème Fraiche ice cream)

View more of our photos from this post on Flickr.