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Vanilla Ice Cream

vanilla ice cream by The Culinary ChaseHello 2014!

I don’t know about you, but I’m really glad to see the back of 2013.  It was an unsettling year for us and things can only get better.  As I write this post it’s -18c (windchill lowering it to -26c)…bitterly cold!  It would seem a bit odd that I am writing about homemade ice cream but for me, ice cream knows no season.  Making your own ice cream is easier than you think and ice cream makers cost as little as $29 and go from there making the initial investment doable even if you’re on a budget.  The first batch of homemade ice cream I ever made was with strawberries.  The result was so delicious I felt confident I could move up the ice cream making ladder and attempt more recipes using a custard base.

Makes one quart

adapted from David Lebovitz

1 cup whole milk
pinch of salt
3/4 cup sugar
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
2 cups heavy cream
5 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

vanilla bean by The Culinary Chase1. Heat the milk, salt, and sugar in a saucepan. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean into the milk with a paring knife, then add the bean pod to the milk. Cover, remove from heat, and infuse for one hour.

2. To make the ice cream, set up an ice bath by placing a 2-quart bowl in a larger bowl partially filled with ice and water. Set a strainer over the top of the smaller bowl and pour the cream into the bowl.

eggs by The Culinary Chase3. In a separate bowl, stir together the egg yolks. Rewarm the milk then gradually pour some of the milk into the yolks, whisking constantly as you pour. Scrape the warmed yolks and milk back into the saucepan.

4. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly and scraping the bottom with a heat-resistant spatula, until the custard thickens enough to coat the spatula.

5. Strain the custard into the heavy cream. Stir over the ice until cool, add the vanilla extract, then refrigerate to chill thoroughly. Preferably overnight.

6. Remove the vanilla bean and freeze the custard in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

The Culinary Chase’s Note: Exquisite! Rich, lovely flavors with hints of vanilla…this is a recipe to spoil your family with! Don’t throw out the vanilla bean. Let it air dry and then plop it into a jar of white sugar (give it a shake and let rest for a few days to allow the vanilla to scent the sugar).  If you like lemons, then I highly recommend my lemon ice cream…you won’t be disappointed. Enjoy!

Homemade Vanilla Extract

homemade vanilla extractI had been meaning to stop by the historic farmers’ market. I told my husband that I wanted to go there for a specific reason but when I arrived that reason escaped me until I spotted a table across the way decked out in spices. Yes! Now it’s coming back to me. Costas Halavrezos, former host of Maritime Noon, sells spices at the market and recently unveiled his book, Seasoned. I wanted to drop by to say hello as Costas interviewed me years ago when I was living in Hong Kong. I also wanted to grab a copy of his new book.  I introduced myself and immediately the connection was made.  This time the tables were turned as I was asking him questions about his spice venture and how he started.  Costas has a nurturing demeanor and I can’t imagine anyone not getting the spice bug once you speak to him.  He’s so passionate about the spices he sells and it’s not a hard sell either.  I always feel elevated when I speak to another enthusiastic person especially when it comes to food.

vanilla beans by The Culinary Chase2 to 3 Madagascar vanilla beans (pods)
1 cup vodka (you can also try rum or bourbon)

You can find vanilla beans in most grocery stores or from your favorite spice shop. Look for dark, supple, oily beans. Make sure the jar you use is super clean…you don’t want other flavors latching on. Using a sharp knife, score half-inch from the top to half-inch from the bottom of the vanilla bean but do not cut through. Place scored beans into a jar and top with vodka making sure beans are submersed. Place in a cool, dark place for one month, shaking it once a week. When you use it, just remember to top it off with more vodka.

vanilla collage by The Culinary ChaseThe Culinary Chase’s Note: The extract can be stored for up to one year but replace the vanilla beans 3 to 6 months as they tend to lose their flavor. Don’t discard the old beans. Use them to flavor sugar.  As the holidays are just around the corner, wrap this up and give it to your baking buddies. Enjoy!