Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Lemony-Herb Ice Cream

I read a recipe for lemongrass ice cream in my Vietnamese cookbook, and it reminded me of my favorite lemon verbena ice cream (from The Herbfarm Cookbook by Jerry Traunfeld). I had some lemongrass in the fridge and a couple small lemon verbena plants in the garden, so I thought I would try out a combination of these herbs in ice cream. To round it out with even more citrusy herbs, I added some lime basil in as well.

Instead of a custard base, I used sour cream (which thickens the ice cream base and adds a pleasant tartness) and cornstarch (which thickens and smooths the ice cream). I prefer to keep the ice cream a little lighter by using milk instead of cream--2% or whole milk both work fine.

Start making the base at least 6 hours before you plan to serve, because it needs to be chilled, frozen in an ice cream machine, and then frozen in the freezer for a few more hours to set. It is delicious served in a brand snap basket, as shown in the picture. I will get that recipe up soon too! Also, I think the lemon flavor would be a fantastic complement to fresh berries or all sorts of fruit desserts.

Lemony-Herb Ice Cream
3 cups milk, whole or 2%
2 or 3 stalks lemongrass, coarsely chopped
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 to 1 cup mixed soft leafed lemony or citrusy herb leaves, such as lemon verbena, lime basil, lemon basil, or lemon balm (I used about half and half lemon verbena and lime basil and it was delicious)
1 cup sour cream

In a small saucepan, heat 2 1/2 cups of the milk to almost boiling. Stir in the lemongrass, cover, and remove from the heat. Let this steep for 30 minutes, then strain out the lemongrass and chill the infused milk.

Combine the sugar, cornstarch, and herbs in a food processor. Process for 15 to 30 seconds, or until the herbs are finely ground and the sugar is green. Scrape the sugar into a large mixing bowl with the sour cream and the remaining 1/2 cup milk. Stir the mixture together, and then add the chilled infused milk. Refrigerate the mixture until it is thoroughly chilled.

Freeze in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions. Transfer to a covered container and place in the freezer. Five or ten minutes before serving, remove the ice cream from the freezer to soften it slightly.

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