Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Strawberry fields for a few weeks

What a cold and rainy early summer we've had here in the District, eh? I thought strawberry season might never happen. About three weeks ago, I finally started seeing strawberries at the farmers' market. Sadly, they were pretty bland. All that water. Meh. Two weeks ago, I tried again. Bah. Disappointing. And then I tasted a berry at the Twin Springs stand at the Dupont farmers' market last Sunday. I walked away with a whole quart for myself. Then I foolishly stopped to pick up a few more things on my way out of the market, and found myself with yet another quart of strawberries from Spring Valley's farmstand. Darn my lack of resistance. But I'm supporting local farmers, right? Right??


I ate probably about a pint of berries while I was rinsing and storing them Sunday afternoon. (What's that? Yes, I learned a new berry keeping trick from my gentleman friend, Harlan, recently. You rinse the berries in a solution that's 1 cup white vinegar and 2 cups cool water, blot the berries dry, and store them in a tupperware with a clean towel at the bottom. Rinse them with plain water just before you eat them. They last for a week. If you don't eat them all before then. My record since learning this trick is four days. So, about that lack of resistance....) I decided I would share this berry bounty with friends, so set to making some strawberry ice cream for a Monday night dinner party.

When mom called me on Sunday evening, mid-icecream-project, the following conversation ensued:
Me: I'm making a custard base for a roasted strawberry balsamic ice cream.
Mom: Sounds weird. I'm sure you'll love it.
True story. And I do love it. Mom's so smart.

At the request of my lovely interns, who tasted a bit of the creamy berry bounty on Tuesday afternoon, and my dear friend Kathryn, with whom I enjoyed the remainder of the quart of ice cream after dinner last night, I offer you the recipe here. It's based partly on a Driscoll's recipe, but then my teeth started to pre-hurt when I dumped in all of the sugar in that recipe so I switched recipes to one on the Serious Eats website mid-stream. And then I strained out and cooked down the post-roasting balsamic-strawberry liquid, stirred in some chocolate, and made a sauce. Okay, well, it started with actual recipes....

Roasted Strawberry Balsamic Ice Cream

  • 1 3/4 cups heavy cream
  • 3/4 cup whole milk
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 1 pint fresh strawberries, hulls removed
  • 2/3 cup + 2 TBSP sugar
  • 1 generous drizzle of aged balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 350F.

Chop strawberries into bite-sized chunks, then toss with 2/3 cup sugar. Spread in a pie dish, drizzle with balsamic, and roast for 8-10 minutes until berries are soft and fragrant. Let cool slightly, then strain liquid. (Save this liquid for later use in a reduction sauce OR an amazing salad dressing base. Trust me.)

Puree half of the roasted berries in a food processor or blender , then store in the fridge. Store the chunky remaining roasted berries in another container in the fridge. (I am NOT just creating dishes here, there is a reason for separate storage, that you will discover later.)

In a medium saucepan, simmer cream, milk, and remaining sugar until sugar completely dissolves, about 5 minutes. Remove saucepan from heat.

In a separate bowl, whisk yolks. Whisking constantly, slowly whisk about a third of the hot cream mixture into the yolks, then whisk the yolk mixture back into the saucepan with the cream. Return saucepan to medium-low heat and gently cook until mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.

Strain your custard through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl. Cool mixture to room temperature -- I like to set my custard bowl inside a larger bowl that has ice water in it.

Cover and chill overnight. The ice cream base, too. ;)

The next day, start churning your ice cream base in the pre-frozen bowl of your ice cream maker.

With the motor running, drizzle in your roasted strawberry puree, then the buttermilk.

When the ice cream is frozen to a soft-serve consistency, with the motor still running, add your roasted strawberry chunks. Allow the ice cream machine to continue until the ice cream has reached the proper consistency.

Transfer your irresistible ice cream to a container with a tight-fitting lid and place in the freezer until it is firm (at least 4 hours). Devour.

Oh, that balsamic sauce? I just had the balsamic-strawberry liquid simmering in a small saucepan on low for a few hours while I worked on lesson plans -- Memorial Day doesn't mean I'm not working, people -- then stirred in a handful of chocolate chips during the last 20 minutes and whisked it every few minutes. Delish.

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