Sunday, August 30, 2009

Plain Jane Vanilla Ice Cream Days

I'm in a serious slump.
Despite all the bounty at the farmer's market (and the great food we seem to bring home each week), we've both been working pretty hard and haven't had a whole lot of time for cooking. When we do cook, it's been "nothing to blog about"... or at least that's what I've been telling myself. We throw together salads. And sammiches. And odd assortments of veggies. And we call them dinner.

I haven't even been all that inspired to take pictures of what's out in the garden... although I did get a great shot of this lovely mutant cherry tomato. He's a twin... but (as you can see) he's also not very modest.
Fortunately, David Lebovitz knows just what I'm talking about.
And I know this because he included a recipe just for me in The Perfect Scoop.
Now, I'm from Milwaukee, so I'm a custard girl.
Lebovitz would probably say that I'm really a French custard girl, but I'm going to be true to my local side and stand on principle here. I'm a Milwaukee Custard Girl. And that's final.

If you've never been to Kopp's Frozen Custard (home of the most heavenly frozen treats imaginable), then you might not know what I mean. But, I'll be the first to tell you that you've really been depriving yourself... and it's such a shame... and that you really ought to come out here for a visit... and soon.

Considering all that, I could be a complete snob about things and claim that there's simply NOTHING LIKE a good custard. At that point, I could stand on principle (again) and refuse to make things like Philidelphia style ice cream. But, that would be downright silly. Because, my friends, there is a place and a time for Plain Jane Vanilla Ice Cream that doesn't take hours of effort or complicated recipes. And that time is now.

You will need a bit of stove time for this recipe - but I promise you the effort will be minimal. Just a bit of cream, some sugar, and a split and scraped vanilla bean and you're good to go. Warm the mixture just until the sugar is melted.
Then add some additional cream, a splash of vanilla, and a bit of whole milk.
Technically, that cools things down almost to the point where you could toss the mixture right into your ice cream maker. But, leaving it in the fridge for a while is a good thing. First -- it gives that vanilla bean a bit more time to swim around in the cream and impart his delicious goodness. Secondly, it gives you time for an afternoon nap -- which, as far as I'm concerned, is never a bad thing.
So, pour it into a bowl (with a cover), give it a good stir, and leave it sit in the fridge for a while. We forgot about ours for two whole days (that's how inspired we were) before it ever saw the inside of our ice cream maker.
It could be that the extra-long brew time was the secret to this creamy, dreamy, ultra-vanilla ice cream. But, I doubt it. I'm pretty sure that a couple of hours would do. So, you needn't make up excuses for not trying this.

After all, it makes an excellent root beer float (especially with a locally brewed rootbeer, like the one from Sprecher Brewing Company).
Vanilla Ice Cream, Philadelphia Style
adapted from David Lebovitz, The Perfect Scoop

2 cups heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
3/4 cup sugar
pinch of salt
1 vanilla bean, split in half lengthwise
3/4 tsp vanilla extract

Place cream, sugar, and salt into a medium saucepan. Carefully scrape seeds from the vanilla bean into the saucepan and add the pod to the pot. Warm over medium heat, stirring, until the cream is warm and the sugar is dissolved.

Remove from the heat and add the remaining cream, milk, and vanilla extract.

Chill the ice cream base thoroughly. Before churning, remove the vanilla bean (you can rinse it and reserve it for another use, if desired) and then freeze the mixture in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions.

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  1. Oh man, does that look awesome. I don't have an ice cream maker, which is probably for the best. Heh.

  2. OMG that would hit the spot right now, wow!

  3. I usually hate root beer, but I have to admit your float looks great. Vanilla ice cream has become my favorite flavor as of late-I love to top it with chocolate crumbs or fruit jam (cherry jam & splash of whisky, mmm).

  4. I can't remember the last time I had a root beer float. I have no idea, it's probably back a couple of decades by now. Your summer treat looks amazing. I've got an ice cream maker, I might have to give this recipe a try.

    Happy slurping!

  5. I'm loving the Milwaukee love in this post.

    Every time (okay both times) I've made vanilla ice cream in my ice cream maker it has tasted like whipped cream. It looks like this recipe should solve that.

  6. I've been using the hell out of my ice cream maker since I got it in November. I've never tried vanilla bean, but I do love a good vanilla ice cream - and a good nap.

  7. Truly good vanilla ice cream is hardly 'vanilla,' there are plenty of subtle flavor layers.
    Kopp's Custard! I live for the one day a year when they have Palermo Lemon!
    And Sprecher Root Beer...the NYTimes named it the best in a national taste-test they did last year.

  8. I love a good root beer float!

    That tomato was hilarious. That was worthy of Donna's blog!

    I know what you mean about not having blog-worthy recipes. I made out like a bandit at the farmer's market this weekend, but all I made was a roast chicken, roasted potatoes, and a tomato-cucumber salad. It was delicious, but hardly seemed worth writing the praises of!

  9. Yummie! Nice float! Lovely pictures...soooo tempting!

  10. It's hard not to be enticed by the frothy goodness of a Sprecher root beer float.

  11. excuse me but did you just say 'root beer float'? because i love love them. LOVE them.

    my only fast food is from sonic - diet dr. pepper root beer float. not proud but hey...

  12. Claudia - Maybe not proud, but not altogether crazy either. They just put a Sonic in around the corner from us -- first ever in Milwaukee. I'm now wondering if we need to stop by for floats...

  13. Oh how I would love a bowl of ice cream and a nap! I'm so jealous.

  14. Sonic is great, and they have a dollar menu and drink specials from 2 to 4 p.m. daily (maybe just weekdays?). I'm not sure if the root beer float is included in the specials, though.


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