Sunday, April 5, 2009

Basil Ice Cream, Strawberries, and Balsamic Reduction

Taking this picture was a lesson on patience, setting, styling, and I know I wouldn't get an A, but I have no more ice cream so this picture has to do. I don't have much of a set up yet, so I take pictures with natural light and a white foam board to reflect the light. I initially put the plate on the freezer with the quenelle of ice cream, but as soon as I took the plate out, droplets of condensation started forming, which made the balsamic reduction smear and look horrible. I didn't have more ice cream left (yes it was so good we gobbled it up pretty fast), and the sun was moving closer and closer to the plate! I quickly wiped the plate and took few more pictures before it was too late. This is the only one that made the cut, and only barely I am afraid. Everything looks nice and shiny except for the ice cream blob, the picture doesn't do any justice to the pale green ice cream unfortunately.

I made the ice cream for my husband's birthday and served it with cream biscuits. The dessert got a 10 from a man with a very discerning palate, which means it was pretty good.

The recipe comes from Pastry Chef, cookbook author extraordinaire, David Lebovitz, one of my favorite people in the pastry realm. As told in his books, David started his career in pastry while working on the savory side of the Chez Panisse kitchen. He later became Pastry Chef, and worked there for many years. Eventually David left the Bay Area and moved to Paris where he still resides (did it do it for the French macaroons?). Check out his website because he is not only funny, but extremely knowledgeable on all things pastry. His cookbooks are fun to read and a great source of inspiration. Years ago, I casually bought David first book Room for Dessert not knowing who he was, but I immediately knew it was love when I read that not only he doesn't like chocolate and raspberries together, but he is also crazy for cardamom, one of my favorite spices. When David came out with The Perfect Scoop, I knew that sooner or later I had to buy it, and I am happy I did. The book has plenty of ice cream recipes to choose from in the second chapter (Green Pea Ice Cream anyone?). In the next two chapters, you can find great sorbet and granita recipes like Cantaloupe sorbet, Leche Merengada, or Mojito Granita. He doesn't stop at the frozen part though, but also includes three more chapters: one on sauces, one on crunchies to mix in, and one on vessels you can bake to present your creations with. Are you running to your local bookstore yet?

Basil Ice Cream
adapted from the Perfect Scoop

1 cup packed basil leaves
3/4 cup sugar
2 cup heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
pinch salt
5 large eggs
zest of one lemon

Grind the basil leaves with the sugar and 1 cup of the cream until the leaves are ground as fine as possible. Pour half of the mixture into a large bowl and add the remaining 1 cup of the cream.

Warm the other half of the basil mixture with the milk and salt. While the milk is warming up break up the yolks with a whisk. When the milk start simmering, turn the heat off, and pour it slowly into the yolks whisking to temper them until they thicken into a custard. Strain the yolk custard into the reserved cream-basil mixture, mix well, add the lemon zest and chill completely. Freeze the ice cream base in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions.

Buon Appetito!


Chocolate Shavings said...

Your basil ice cream looks delicious - especially paired with those strawberries! Taking pictures of ice cream can be a little bit of a hard task - you have to be pretty quick or have a really good freezer!

Regina said...

I love using herbs in sweet concoctions. And yes taking pictures of ice cream is difficult, but it looks like you did a pretty good job here! When i photo frozen treats I freeze the plate to help increase the little bit of time I get.

Chantal said...

Intriguing combination! I still haven't tried herbs in dessert, this combo is pushing me to try it sooner than later

enza said...

detox e bellissimo.
Laura grazie per il commento.
sono sconvolta soprattutto perchè in questo paese come la metti la metti male.
non dico che si debba far qualcosa per gli edifici antichi, ma sono venuti giù palazzi di cemento armato di recente costruzione e che avrebbero dovuto essere costruiti con regole antisismiche.
è venuto giù perfino l'ospedale costruito da pochissimo e che è stato dichiarato inagibil al 90%!
in una zona classificata come sismica 12 cioè il massimo del punteggio

CM said...

I've had the basil ice cream bookmarked since I picked up my copy of The Perfect Scoop! Can't wait to try it, though I'm going to wait for local strawberries to be in season up here. This looks awesome!

natalia said...

Cara Laura grazie per i tuoi commenti l'errore della colomba era nello stampo troppo piccolo, l'ho rifatta ed è venuta bene ! mi fa tanto piacere sentire di te e vedere le meraviglie che prepari !

test it comm said...

I like the sound of basil ice cream. I am looking forward to the fresh basil.

Laura said...

Thanks to all! I can't believe the number of countries you guys visited from. That's the fun of the www.

Chantal, herbs in desserts are so much fun, they add a whole new dimension.

Y said...

What a great sounding dessert. I'm definitely getting that book.. but first I need to buy an ice cream machine :D

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Unknown said...

I just tried this recipe, and it was delicious, though I might use less basil next time for a subtler flavor. Also, what's the lemon zest for?

Laura said...

Terra, thanks for seeing the error, I just fixed it. I thought that the basil flavor was not too strong, but maybe with a plant grown in the summer, it could be too strong. I have some beautiful purple basil in my garden and I wonder what the color of the ice cream might be if I use it instead of green basil.

Anonymous said...

Gah. I need this book.

Your photo-taking process sounds a lot like mine :) I think you did really well though! Those strawberries underneath were a really nice touch!


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