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As American as Apple Pie. Or Baseball. July 22, 2010

Posted by Toy Lady in Cooking, Food, Information, random stuff.
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Do you realize that July is officially National Ice Cream Month?

Yup.  Back in 1984, President Ronald Reagan recognized that 90% of Americans enjoyed ice cream, so he said “make it so,” and it was.  He also declared that the month, as well as National Ice Cream Day (third Sunday in July) should be observed with “appropriate ceremonies and activities.”

Now THAT is an executive order I can get behind.

Heh.

PhotobucketYou know, whatever you may or may not think about old Ronnie, you’ve got to admit, he had a somewhat puckish sense of humor, didn’t he?  Appropriate ceremonies and activities, indeed.

In addition to ice cream season, summer is the time to fill up on all the beautiful fresh produce – the fruits and vegetables that just aren’t as good out of season – the fresh peas, delightfully sweet strawberries, sun-ripened tomatoes.

And figs.  Fresh figs aren’t something we see too often around here – unless you happen to know someone with a fig tree.  So it only made sense to (carefully!) grab those delicate little fruits when I saw them at the public market, didn’t it?

I suspect that it’s human nature – please tell me it’s not just me!  When something starts coming into season, I get all excited about it and come very close to “going overboard” (A whole case of figs?  Really?),  but by the time I’m almost thoroughly sick of it, well, it’s time to bid it adieu and move on to the next new and exciting thing!

PhotobucketThe biggest problem I have with those sort of off-beat things like fresh figs is . . .what to do?  I mean, take into account the fact that there isn’t a real glut of fresh-fig recipes out there.  Add to it the notion that Peeps is not a huge fan of fruit in general.  Then there’s the added pressure of that ticking clock – figs give new meaning to the word “perishable.”

And then I found the answer – fig ice cream!  This recipe is from the world’s ice cream guru, David Lebovitz.

You remember him, right?  His pork mole was Out Of This World!

So.  Onward and upward.

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This was, as ice creams go, actually pretty simple.

(Read:  no custard.)

I used my entire case of figs, chopping each individual fruit into eighths, tossing them into a medium stainless saucepan (with a lid) as I went along.

I added to that 1 tablespoon of water (the recipe actually said 1/2 cup, but I, um, misread it, I guess. ) and the zest of one lemon.

Cover and cook gently until the figs are softened – maybe 10 minutes over medium to medium-low heat.

They’re ripe figs – this won’t take long!

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Remove the lid (which, obviously, you’ve already done if you’re going to check and see how tender the figs are!), then add about 3/4 cup of sugar – you don’t need much, because figs are SWEET!   (Or at least they’re supposed to be, anyway.)

Next time, I’d also add just a pinch of salt at this point – salt has a way of kind of punching up the flavors a little – not too much, just a pinch.

Now you’re just going to want to simmer (again, gently!) until the liquid reduces and the fruit has a “jam-like consistency.”

You know, when I think of jam, I think of the stuff you spread on your toast.

That’s not really what we’re looking for here.  (I hope.)  I went for something somewhere between a jam and a syrup.

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This is going to take a while – after all, there’s nothing but a couple of ounces of sugar in there to thicken it!  Basically, though, your beautiful figs are going to turn to mush, and eventually (maybe 20 minutes?  half an hour?) the liquid will be reduced enough to be able to say “yeah, that could pass for ‘jam-like.’ “

I’m not the most precise of people, am I?  This is why I passed on the chemistry in college and went with geology.  I like approximations.

PhotobucketNow we get to the “cream” part of the ice cream.

We got so hung up on the “jam” that I almost for got the cream!  Perish the thought!

We simply need 1 cup of heavy cream (which happens to come in the handy-dandy little “half pint” size – no need to keep any extra around!) and the juice from that naked lemon that we zested earlier.

Now here’s the thing with cream – there are evidently different “sorts” of cream available in most supermarkets.  There’s “heavy cream” (which we want) and “whipping cream” (which has “stuff” added to it to “enhance” whipping).

PhotobucketWhat our supermarket had was “heavy whipping cream.”

Sigh.

So just look at your ingredient label – there should be a grand total of ONE ingredient – cream.

OK, I’m gonna admit here – I doubt it would be the end of the world if you ended up with “whipping” cream or even “ultra-pasteurized” cream.  But really, why?

So.  Where was I?

Let your fig jam cool a bit, then dump in the cream, and squeeze in a bit of lemon juice – 1/2 teaspoon, more or less (depending, I assume, on how sweet your figs are), and blend them all together.

You DO have a stick blender now, don’t you?

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And there you have it.  Well, almost.  Blend the fig stuff and the cream together well, and let the mixture cool (I left it in the fridge until the next evening).  After that, it’s just your basic ice cream – dump it in the ice cream freezer of your choice, and follow the directions.

This makes just under 1 quart of ice cream – and it’s much better once it’s had a chance to freeze solid.  That’s not to say you can’t taste it – by all means, please do – it’s absolutely wonderful!  I’m just saying – it’ll be EVEN BETTER the next day, that’s all!

So much better, in fact, that I keep forgetting to get a picture of it, but, honestly, it looks just like it did before it was churned, only colder.

Now I would say this is an “appropriate ceremony or activity” to celebrate National Ice Cream Month, wouldn’t you?

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Comments

1. mazco34 - July 22, 2010

When I first made sorbet, the recipe said to watch for the first signs of freezing, then take out the mixture and give it a hard stir. Put it back in the freezer, then repeat in an hour. It made the sorbet smooth and not like a block of fruit flavored ice.

Would that work with the stick blender and ice cream? Could an additional whip or two help to make it smoother?

I don’t know – it might. Also, with sorbet, more sugar and/or some alcohol helps keep if from freezing too solid.

As for ice cream – maybe. Also, try looking up semifreddos – from what I understand, they’re basically frozen flavored whipped cream – I’ve seen some just use cream, and others with a combination of whipped cream and beaten egg whites. And remember my beloved cantaloupe ice cream from last summer? That recipe was originally for a semifreddo.

2. Ivy. ( Ivyfoodsleuth at Zaar) - July 22, 2010

Kris, I followed the link from RecipeZaar (Food.com) to check out your variation of ravioli with chestnut honey. Maybe I’ll just buy the ravioli, lol!

You mention French Green lentils on your latest blog entry. I have some in a net bag in my pantry for, well, years. Dried of course. Could they still be good?

Hi, Ivy! I’m pretty sure dried lentils are good for a while – though if you read further back in the archives, you’ll see that we’re pretty new at the French green lentils! I’d go ahead and cook them, but make sure to give them plenty of time – I’ve seen recipes that say to cook them for anywhere from 20 to 45 minutes. I’d go more towards the 45-minutes, especially if they’re old (I do know that older beans take longer – it may be the same with lentils. I don’t know for sure, though.)

And as for the corn ravioli – the filling was absolutely delicious – and I do plan to make it again, only this time, maybe, with already-made pasta!


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