The temperature outside is a delightful 16 degrees and I couldn't be happier. I know I am in the minority when I say this (and I can practically feel Simon cringe from the other side of the room), but I am no fan of summer. I downright hate it. When I make this proclamation to Simon he points out that I say the same thing in winter (which isn't true; I love winter), and he then begins to list (in a somewhat pleading fashion) his favourite things about summer: cottages, patios, beaches, swimming, bbqs. But I know that any of those tasks performed without a beer in hand loses Simon's interest immediately. And furthermore, each and every of those tasks requires free time - something I've had none of all summer. But then, then he comes up with the one redeeming quality of summer with which no other season can compete: ice cream.
I am something of an ice cream addict. It's an unhealthy vice (as most are) that lately can only be satisfied by a dark chocolate-peanut butter concoction sold at the video store down the street.
So, it's late August. It's 36 degrees inside my apartment. On TV, Rachel freaking Ray is suggesting I make lasagna. The idea of turning the oven on, let alone cooking an entire meal, is the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard. I decide to make ice cream. For dinner. Without an ice cream maker. I may have been suffering from heatstroke.
Before you think I've gone completely insane in my absence (sorry about that, by the way), you need to know that it can be done. It only takes about 10 hours. The whole game is about stopping the formation of evil ice crystal by whatever means necessary: food processors, wooden spoons, immersion blenders. You can give yourself an advantage by making it a custard-based ice cream using the creamiest cream you can get your sticky little hands on (apparently having a rich base makes the ice crystal formation less difficult to deal with). So once you've made your base, you stick it in the freezer and let the magic happen. Only you stop the magic every hour or so pulverize the ice crystals to death. But I promise, I PROMISE, that if you dutifully and diligently make those ice crystals your enemy, you will be rewarded with deliciously rich, home made ice cream.
I started out making vanilla ice cream, but there is a small part of my brain (inherited from my father) that believes that if there isn't chocolate in it, it isn't dessert (I know it's wrong, and I try to ignore it, but sometimes it makes beautiful things happen). So when my vanilla ice cream was about a third of the way done, I melted some bittersweet chocolate, poured it over the frozen ice cream, and stuck it back in the freezer. Then when you take the immersion blender to the ice cream, the chocolate layer transforms it into delightfully Italian-sounding stracciatella.
Vanilla Ice Cream Base
4 egg yolks
1/2 pint (250ml) milk
1/2 pint (250ml) heavy cream
4 oz (100g) sugar
1 vanilla pod (scored down the middle)
Pour the milk into a saucepan and bring slowly up to boiling point without actually boiling it. Add the vanilla pod and let it infuse for 20 minutes.
In a bowl, beat and mix together the egg yolks and sugar until thick. Remove the vanilla pod and scrape the seeds into the milk.
Temper your eggs with the milk, and then slowly whisk the remaining milk into the egg mixture.
Put the mixture back on low heat, and stir constantly to avoid curdling, until thickened. Strain.
When the custard base is cold stir in the cream and pop it into the freezer.
Bludgeon/stir/process/mix to death every hour or so to keep it creamy.