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I grew up with large buckets of ice cream as a mainstay in the freezer. My mom would buy a few at a time when they were on sale and stick them in the deep freeze in the garage. We had an appreciation and expectation for dessert every night – why else would we finish the main course? The ice cream was there in case there was no fresh baking on hand, and also to feed my brother’s obsession with the stuff.
I recall being in elementary school when a new family moved in across the street. They had moved from the city so were automatically imbued with an air of sophistication. Their mom told us about Haagen-Dazs ice cream. It came in a small cardboard container and had very few ingredients – maybe six (which I have since confirmed to be only five: Cream, Skim Milk, Sugar, Egg Yolks, Coffee). This woman’s favourite flavour was coffee. I’m not sure what inspired my mom, but she hunted it down at Safety Mart (our town’s larger of the two grocery stores – the other was called Perry’s Place and boasted only three aisles) and brought home one of the wee containers. I took one spoonful of that divine concoction and one of the more stable relationships in my life was born.
Mention to dinner guests that you have ‘only’ Haagen Dazs coffee ice cream for dessert and their eyes will light up with delight. Last night we had friends over and I tried a new dessert recipe of sliced apples stacked with a crumble between each slice. They smelled delicious baking away in the oven and also when they came out, but when we added the coffee ice cream the angels sang and I became Hostess Extraordinaire.
Thank you Mr. and Mrs. Reuben and Rose Matteus from the Bronx for your sweet, sweet frozen creamy dessert. I happily take responsibility for burning off all 18g of fat per ½ cup serving of this accessible ambrosia located in the frozen foods aisle of my local grocer.
So, today is both National Ice Cream Pie Day and National Soft Ice Cream Day. Me, I like ice cream. Right after my dear friend Tim revealed (to my horror) that he wasn’t gay (which meant that making out with him at a pub crawl was the very definition of faux pas), Timbits made me some home-made vanilla bean ice cream. To make me feel better for being such an ass.
We should all be blessed with such friends.
Nonetheless, I don’t make ice cream. So, since Timmy isn’t here, I decided to blog about national catfish month.
Except, if you recall, Della already did.
What to do?
Well, at least I made catfish. I picked this recipe (did you know there was a Canadian catfish institute?). Jim and I have not had a lot of catfish, to be honest. I looked for basa but there wasn’t any, so catfish it was.
So we made the recipe, except in the case of the catfish marinade, I:
(a) added 1 T black vinegar (available at asian grocery stores);
(b) used fresh ginger (1 tsp);
(c) tripled the garlic.
And then I added mint to the cucumber.
We served it with coconut rice, for a bit of starch.
All in all, it was … well … ok.
To be quite honest it was a bit greasy. I’m not entirely sure I like catfish, to be completely honest. I did like the cucumber salad. Especially with the mint.
Maybe I should have just had ice cream.
Monique and Chelsea are going into their third year at McGill. They’ve been cooking together since they lived on the same floor of their university first-year residence and collaborated on weekends to make meals that had the whole floor hovering outside the teeny 5th floor kitchen.
[Monique] It started with Basil Ice Cream
[Chelsea] I made some Basil Ice Cream…it was strange, but it was delicious. We ate it with some brownies for an afternoon snack with a friend the week before exams started.
[M] Being two aspiring young foodies, with a particular taste for desserts, we got to talking about new ice cream flavors:
“Mom did a mango cardamom ice cream once and strawberry. I’ve had lavender crème brulée, maybe we can make lavender ice cream.”
“What would we pair it with? Chocolate cake would be overpower the lavender. Vanilla would be too bland… Red velvet would be just plain weird.”
“What about a spice cake?”
[M] That conversation took place maybe two months ago. Before we got to any cake and ice cream making, we both needed to get through exam period and find jobs and also some food safe lavender. This past week we found the lavender and made the ice cream but still needed to make the cake. – Cue flashback to dinner at my boyfriend’s cottage in mid March – Granny makes gingerbread for dessert. It was delicious, cakey, served-with-a-little-butter gingerbread that would become the perfect pairing for our lavender ice cream.
[C] So for June 5th, National Gingerbread Day, we present to you our greatest creation yet:
As far as how we made these scrumptious delights:
[M] When I was looking for a gingerbread recipe, I was looking specifically for a cakey-type gingerbread, like the one that granny made. But there are cookies and bars and all sorts which would have made great pairings with ice cream. The bars were even recommended with ice cream, served like an ice cream sandwich. It was agreed that for our lavender ice cream, a cake would be the more appropriate, more elegant choice over a lavender ice cream sandwich.
Gingerbread (Gourmet, March 2007)
- 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, well softened
- 2/3 cup fancy molasses (not blackstrap)
- 2/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 3 tablespoons finely grated (with a rasp) peeled fresh ginger
- 2/3 cup hot water
Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour (or use cocoa if you’d like a little coat of chocolate) a 9-inch square or round baking pan. You could also use a bundt!
Whisk together flour, baking soda, spices, and salt in a bowl.
Beat together butter, molasses, brown sugar, eggs, and ginger in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until combined. Reduce speed to low and mix in flour mixture until smooth, then add hot water and mix until combined (batter may appear curdled).
Pour batter into pan and bake until a wooden pick or skewer inserted in center of cake comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Cool to warm in pan on a rack.
I didn’t have any all spice, so I added around half a nut’s worth of nutmeg, and an 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves in its place.
I was in no way precise with the ginger. I just chopped off a generous hunk and grated it all into the recipe. Try to avoid dropping the fibers in the bowl, they don’t combine as well and leave chunks.
[C] After looking at some recipes online one looked particularly nice; that is with a few of mine own modifications and additions…
- 2 c. Heavy Cream
- 1 c. half and half
- ½ c. Granulated Sugar
- 2 Tbsp. Light Agave Nectar.
- 4 Tbsp. Dried lavender
- 4 lg. Egg Yolks
- A pinch of salt
1. Heat half-and-half, agave, lavender, salt and 1 cup of the heavy cream in a sauce pan until kitchen thermometer reads 170 – 175 degrees F. This is actually really important. It’s not that it won’t work otherwise, but it turns out way creamier if you stick to the temperature.
2. Take it off the heat, cover, and let her brew for roughly 30 minutes. Strain mixture and discard lavender. This is something we didn’t do this time around but would recommend you do. We had imagined a creamy white ice cream with pretty bits of lavender, but as it turned out, the lavender tints the cream a grayish colour so we ended up dying it purple, and the lavender bits become a bit chewy.
3. Return strained mixture to sauce pan over medium heat and again warm to 170 degrees at which point you should stir in the sugar a little bit at a time until it has dissolved.
4. Whip egg yolks in a separate container, then to temper the eggs, add the cream mixture a little bit at a time – I don’t think the effect of scrambled eggs in ice cream is usually what people are looking for so be careful! – return to medium heat.
5. Cook, stirring steadily until mixture coats the back of a spoon and a finger drawn through the back of the spoon leaves a trail about 170 – 175 degrees F. Do not boil!!!! I’ve done it. It’s not pretty and your pot will not be thanking you
6. Pour mixture into a medium bowl in large bowl surrounded by ice.
7. Stir in remaining cream, add water to ice – like you do for a wine bucket – and keep stirring until the ice cream cools. You can refrigerate it, but I’m not patient enough to wait that long.
8. Freeze mixture in ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s directions. For mine I find 35 minutes is usually ideal. Then scoop into an airtight container and put in freezer to harden.
9. Serve with ginger bread cake and let your taste buds be wow-ed.
[C] Most recipes call for honey but due to my childhood love of tea, my mother replaced honey for agave. It’s just as sweet, but it doesn’t raise your blood sugar. Fancy that.
I used 4 teaspoons of lavender even though the recipe only said two. The more the merrier. You can get lavender as some spice stores, or you can go to a florist. Just be sure that the lavender you get from your florist is actually food safe!
[M] This pairing is perfect. We knew it would be good, but were really pleasantly surprised by how yummy it was! If you want to serve your gingerbread like cake, with ice cream, try something like a lavender or a rose or a basil. And if you want a cake to serve with your lavender/rose/basil/rosemary ice cream, try the holiday favourite, even in June!
̴ Monique & Chelsea