Monday, August 11, 2008

All scream for Lemon Yogurt Ice Cream!

Despite my repeated petitions, the USDA has yet to make ice cream (or scream for short) a major food group. No matter. That doesn't stop me from enjoying it in every conceivable form, whether as gelato at Boccato, or custard at Dairy Godmother, or good ol' Breyers mint chocolate chip (though its containers are shrinking in size and expanding in price ... but that's a beef for another time).

Now, "every conceivable form" includes homemade scream, thanks to Ice Cream: The Perfect Weekend Treat, a nifty little ice cream cookbook from Jacob, who obviously noted my obsession. Here's the helpful bit: The recipes can be made in a traditional ice cream maker (which I don't own) or a food processor-slash-freezer (which I DO own).

So, I tried my very first ice cream recipe a couple weeks ago when entertaining. I based my selection on a few simple premises.

1) I needed something light and refreshing for a post-BBQ meal.
2) Boiling milk scares me, so no go on that culinary requirement yet.
3) If something went horribly wrong, it wouldn't be a total waste of high-end ingredients.

Thus I settled on ...

Lemon Yogurt Ice Cream

Ingredients

2-3 lemons (I like it really lemony, so I squeezed the bejesus out of three)
scant 2.5-cup carton strained plain yogurt (I had no idea what scant meant, and didn't have an adequate strainer, so I just dumped in the full unstrained 2.5-cup carton. Nobody was the wiser.)
2/3 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup superfine sugar (Jacob later informed me that you can put regular sugar in the blender or food processor to make it extra fine. So don't spend extra money.)
finely pared lemon rind to decorate (I don't do flourishes, and this was going over a lovely berry fruit salad anyway, but feel free to go hogwild)

Squeeze the juice from the lemons, about six tablespoons total. My handy dandy roomies have introduced me to this awesome gadget, which is infinitely easier and more effective than the old one my mom has. (Sorry Mom.)

Put the juice in a bowl, and add the yogurt, cream, and sugar. Mix well together. I used a beater to excellent effect.

Now to quote the cookbook: "If using an ice-cream machine, churn the mixture in the machine following the manufacturer's instructions." The alternate: Put it in a freezerproof container, sit it uncovered in the freezer, and wait 1-2 hours (or until it sets around the edges).

When that miraculous event occurs, stir the mixture with a fork or beat it in a food processor. I chose the latter, which led to a lot of dirty appliances and what felt like an unnecessary number of bowl transfers. Next time I might just try a mixer again, or do the whole process from the start in the food processor.

Once beaten, return to the freezer for an addition 2-3 hours, or until firm or "required." I kept mine uncovered since the book didn't specify, but I don't think it will make a difference. In the long term, definitely store it with a lid. Duh.

Now the best part -- serving and consumption! Put on the "finely pared lemon rind" if you want to be sophisticated-slash-snooty, though no amount of rind will save a yucky ice cream. I served mine straight over a fresh fruit salad of blueberries, strawberries, and mango. And next time, I might add some mint, just to see what happens.

Also, the recipe says it serves 4 to 6 people, but they must mean really gluttonous people, because I served six people about two servings apiece and still had it left over for two more weeks. So plan accordingly. (Makes a great smoothie base, by the way.)

Another lesson learned is to let the ice cream defrost a bit beforehand. I tried serving it straight from the freezer and ended up with lemon yogurt ice shavings for the first few servings. After 15 minutes in the balmy summer air, however, it got a nice custardy consistency. Those of you who want real ice cream will need to use a churner -- I think custard is the best you'll get via freezer.

All my guests gave rave reviews. And I didn't even have to boil milk! Overall, a success. Let me know how it works for you, and if you have any handy tips for the next making.

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