Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Rosemary and Olive Oil Ice Cream

Summer is wrapping up, but there is still a variety of things alive out in the garden. Now, normally at the end of summer I see a bounty of herbs. Basil, for instance, is an easy fix as that forest you may find yourself staring at can be made into pesto and saved for those times when you need a burst of fresh flavor (in pasta, on sandwiches, maybe stirred into hummus or mayo, or as a general condiment). But I also like basil as a component in soup sometimes.

Rosemary can also be dispatched fairly easily, as it's really nice with roasted or grilled meats and vegetables.

However, I like to try to use those more savory-inspired herbs for sweet things, such as rosemary infused caramels.

While this recipe won't likely utilize all of the rosemary in your garden, it certainly offers a different purpose for the herb.

A creamy custard ice cream base takes the rosemary flavor well, and the resinous quality doesn't happen to overpower the buttery cream. In fact, the two qualities play quite nicely.

And olive oil... that's another thing that goes well with rosemary.
A good olive oil will add some green and fruity qualities to the flavor of the ice cream as well as silkiness to the finished product. I think it's one of those things that if you don't know it's there, you may not quite be able to put your finger on just exactly what it is taste-wise (especially as people don't normally expect olive oil in their ice cream). But if you do know it's there, it's pretty obvious.

So, GOOD olive oil... NOT the cheapest oil you can find, and certainly not something you'd really want to cook with. Although I wouldn't say it's overpowering, you will taste it and quality is important. You're looking for something more along the lines of a finishing oil, an oil for dressings or for dipping bread, an oil that's a pleasure in and of itself with it's own special qualities.

The finished ice cream can be eaten all by it's lonesome or alongside a nice plain cake, but I would highly recommend serving it with fresh sliced strawberries. I don't know exactly what it is about that particular pairing, but it's a great combination.

Rosemary and Olive Oil Ice Cream
4 1/2 cups (or a generous quart/generous liter) of liquid base prior to freezing

2 c (about 475 ml) whole milk
1 1/2 c (about 355 ml) heavy whipping cream
3 sprigs fresh rosemary
5 large egg yolks
2/3 c (150 g) granulated sugar
a pinch of salt
1/2 c (about 120 ml) good fruity olive oil 

In a medium saucepan, combine the milk and cream. Just bring to a simmer over medium heat, until tiny bubbles appear around the edges. Place the rosemary sprigs into the cream mixture, remove the pan from the heat, cover, and let steep about 15 minutes.

Remove the lid from the saucepan and discard the rosemary. Leave the lid off and allow the infused cream to cool about 15 minutes.

While the cream cools, in a medium bowl whisk together the egg yolks, sugar, and salt until well combined. Continue to whisk while slowly pouring a ladle of the warm cream into the egg mixture to temper it. Continue adding about half of the total cream mixture, whisking well to incorporate everything together. Pour the egg and cream mixture back into the pan with the rest of the cream, whisking to combine. Whisk the olive oil into the cream mixture.

Return the pan to the stove, and stirring constantly over low heat, cook about 15-20 minutes, until the mixture thickens slightly. Strain the ice cream base through a fine mesh strainer into a bowl, and chill the mixture in the refrigerator until cold (at least a couple hours). 

Prior to freezing, you will likely have to re-whisk the chilled base- not a problem.

Churn the ice cream in an ice cream maker per manufacturers instructions. If softly set, remove the ice cream to a container and place in the freezer to firm up (which may take a few hours).

Serve as desired.