James Beard Award-nominated Chef Michael Schwartz
of Michael's Genuine Food & Drink brings his knowledge to your home
cooking with a new column, The Genuine Kitchen.
A guest blogger for this installment, Michael's Genuine Executive Pastry Chef Hedy Goldsmith shares a recipe and thoughts on basil, one of her favorite local ingredients for sweets. Questions or
You know when there's fresh cut basil lying around, especially in our walk-in at the restaurant. I open the door, and a pungent rush of sweet perfume wafts out, surrounding me... It's the epitome of freshness and flavor. All that without tasting being involved!
That is my inspiration for this recipe. I just love the brightness basil brings to sweets. It pairs beautifully with so many ingredients, from tropical fruits to custard-based desserts. It's the new mint! Our local basil is so bountiful this time of year, and it's very easy to get some of the local crop through a community supported agriculture program (CSA) or at your neighborhood farmers market.
I've been using basil in my deserts for years, and this basil ice cream recipe is one of my old standbys. It's very easy to make and would be something different to serve as a dessert for the holidays (with the requisite cakes and pies, too, of course...) If you have a vanilla ice cream base you like to use, experiment adding basil to it, too. I promise you'll be delighted by the result!
-- Hedy Goldsmith
Basil Ice Cream
Yields 1 quart
2 cups basil leaves
1/4 cup simple syrup
3 cups milk
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup sugar
14 egg yolks
2 vanilla beans
Pinch of salt
Blanch basil leaves in a pot of boiling water, dropping them into the water and swirling. Remove quickly with a slotted spoon, and place into a bowl with ice water. This keeps the basil green and stops the cooking.
Drain and squeeze out excess water. Puree in a blender with the simple syrup (equal parts water and sugar, boiled and chilled.) Set aside.
In a sauce pan over medium heat, add the milk, vanilla beans, cream, salt, and 1/2 a cup of the sugar. Heat to a simmer.
In a bowl, whisk egg yolks and the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar. Slowly add about a quarter of the hot milk into the yolk and sugar mixture, stirring to prevent the yolks from curdling.
Combine the warm yolks into the pot with the rest of the heated milk and cook over low heat, stirring constantly. The custard is ready when it coats the back of a wooden spoon. Remove from heat quickly and strain through a fine strainer. Cool slightly.
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Add basil puree to the custard to steep. Cool completely, about one hour in the refrigerator.
With a fine strainer, strain all the basil pieces out of the custard. You will have a beautiful, green-tinted custard.
Turn the custard according to your ice cream machine manufacturer's instructions. For best results, what comes out of the machine should set up in the freezer for at least one day.
To serve: Scoop ice cream into a small, individual bowls or ramekins with holiday spice cookies such as ginger snaps, poached pairs, or almond biscotti.