Kitchen Call: Ice cream a homemade treat
If summer has truly begun, ice cream is on everybody’s mind. In my little town this past weekend all three major ice cream outlets — the kind that scoop — were lines of giggling kids led by parents and grandparents, hand-in-hand young couples and teens doing their best to look cool, in spite of on-again-off-again weather. It seems that going out for ice cream, from a cone to a full-on banana split, is the ultimate summer celebration. Whether it’s a holiday weekend or a sultry weekday sunset, ice cream is the answer.
Sometimes ice cream is a great family activity — at home. As in making your own. I’m not talking about the old-fashioned cranking ice cream maker, or even the new ones that claim to take so little effort. Maybe I’m not good at following directions, but in my experience with those, the ice cream never turns out right. My home version relies on two appliances available in nearly every kitchen. A blender or food processor. And a refrigerator. Fresh fruit and a little milk or cream. That’s it. No salt. No long list of instructions.
The process is almost like making a smoothie. Freeze and forget it until ready. Once you’ve mastered the easy part, you can start adding flavorings or mix-ins. And let your imagination be your guide on that point.
If berries are not looking good this week, or not to your liking, try making your own “ice” at home, like the kind you find at carnivals or street fairs. Make it with citrus as that’s what tastes best, rather than glow-in-the-dark chemical flavorings. All it involves it making a “simple syrup” from sugar and water, bringing that syrup to room temperature and stirring in citrus juice. The recipe below for orange ice will cool a whole family plus a few friends.
BANANA ICE CREAM
Makes about 4 servings
This ice cream, made in the blender and then frozen, delights everyone from fussy kids to vegetarians and vegans and can even accommodate the lactose intolerant.
4 frozen bananas
2 to 3 tablespoons milk or half-and-half (use substitute for lactose-intolerant)
1. Place bananas in a blender or food processor and whirl. Add the milk or half-and-half or dairy substitute and whirl until as smooth as you want. Add optional swirl-ins (a tablespoon Nutella, or peanut butter or honey) or optional spices (cinnamon, vanilla extract, rum flavoring, ginger, nutmeg) here.
2. Transfer to a glass or ceramic dish and cover tightly. Optionally, remove from freezer after 2 hours to add stir-ins: nuts, chocolate or butterscotch chips, M&Ms, or whatever your flavor preferences dream up. Freeze 2 hours longer to overnight before eating
STRAWBERRY ICE CREAM
Makes 4 servings
The bananas give creaminess to the strawberries in this ice cream. Freeze both before starting the recipe. I understand that this will also accommodate lactose intolerant eaters, but I have not tried the recipe with a substitute for the cream.
1 cup frozen strawberries
2 bananas, sliced and frozen
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1. Process all the ingredients in a blender or food processor until smooth.
2. Transfer to a glass or ceramic container and cover. Freeze for 4 hours to overnight before scooping out into anything from a paper cup to a champagne glass.
Makes 8 to 10 servings
4 cups water
2 cups sugar
2 cups orange juice (fresh squeezed or pre-squeezed)
grated zest of 1 orange, optional
1. Bring the water and sugar to a boil in a saucepan. Simmer, while stirring, for 5 to 7 minutes, to dissolve the sugar.
2. Pour the mixture into a glass or ceramic dish. Set aside to cool to room temperature.
3. Stir in the orange juice and zest, if using. Freeze for 30 minutes. Remove from the freezer and stir. Do that once or twice more over the next hour. (It won’t hurt the recipe if you forget.) Leave in the freezer overnight. Longer if you want.
4. Take the dish out of the freezer. Scrape the frozen orange ice with a fork so it looks like snow. Pile it into paper cups large enough to hold the drips as it melts when eating.
— Linda Bassett is the author of “From Apple Pie to Pad Thai: Neighborhood Cooking North of Boston.” Reach her by e-mail at KitchenCall@gmail.com. Read Linda’s blog at LindABCooks.wordpress.com. Follow Linda for quick recipes on Twitter at @Kitchencall.