There are many things I love about our new home. Friendly neighbors, an attic, packages delivered to my front door. A real dining room. Stairs! The neighborhood is wonderful; we’re in walking distance to downtown as well as a beautiful trail for nature walks. After years of living next to a fire station, we now enjoy quiet evenings (and as the world’s lightest sleeper, I really appreciate this). I’m excited about having a real Halloween in the fall where costumed children come to my door for treats (I promise not to give them boxed raisins even though I hate keeping candy around). I have to say, though, my favorite thing about home ownership so far is our large back deck. I finally have a garden! I still squeal with excitement every time I see a new veggie:
I’ve been growing three types of tomatoes: heirloom, cherry and grape. I’m also growing strawberries, zucchini, squash, cucumbers, jalapenos, bell peppers, and pretty much every herb I can get my hands on. The herbs have been an interesting experience. For the first time ever, I actually have MORE herbs than I know what to do with as opposed to in the past when I’d have to pay way too much and then struggle to finish them all in time. Suddenly I find myself making quite a bit of pesto, herb marinades and my guilty summer pleasure: fresh herb ice cream. I’ve been making basil ice cream for years and now my mind is brimming with possibilities. Rosemary citrus ice cream. Lavender honey ice cream. Have you tried any combinations worth recommending?
Basil mint is my favorite combination at the moment. It’s a real crowd pleaser! I’ve used a LOT of herbs in this recipe. You can get away with using less, but the flavor will be more subtle. The jury is still out for me on whether blanching the herbs makes a noticeable difference. My culinary school instructors insisted this is the way to go so I continue to blanch the herbs. It apparently brings out the flavor, and the wilting certainly makes managing such a large quantity of herbs easier. You can adjust the ratio of cream and milk as long as you use two cups total. For an incredibly rich ice cream, use all cream. If you prefer the ice cream a bit lighter, use a mixture of half cream and half milk.
Yields 1 quart
- 2 ounces basil
- 1 ounce mint
- 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- 6 egg yolks
- 5 ounces sugar
- vanilla extract
- optional: 2-3 drops green food coloring
- Quickly blanch the basil and mint in boiling water and then transfer the herbs to an ice bath to halt the cooking process. Drain and set aside.
- Add cream, milk and a splash of vanilla to a saucepan on medium heat. Bring the liquid to a gentle simmer.
- While the cream is warming up, whisk egg yolks and sugar together in a bowl. Make sure they’re well combined.
- When the cream is just starting to simmer (don’t boil it), slowly temper it into the yolks while whisking.
- Pour the mixture back into the saucepan and turn the heat down to medium low. Stir in a figure 8 motion for several minutes until the mixture coats the back of a wood spoon or rubber spatula. Remove from the heat and add the herbs.
- Puree the basil, mint and cream in a blender. Allow the mixture to infuse for at least an hour for best flavor. Strain the cream through a fine mesh strainer and allow to chill thoroughly in the refrigerator.
- If using, stir in a few drops of green food coloring.
- Make ice cream according to the manufacturer’s instructions.