What's with the Heat!

Ice cream

Ummm.. I am really curious.. What IS happening to the climate around the world. As bizzare as it sounds, the East coast seems to be caught rather scorchingly flatfooted between the surrealistic chill of the West Coast and Europe! I cannot help but wonder if this is not some kind of cosmic vengeance for the dithering politics of Washington?!

Nevertheless, it is always the poor souls who bear the brunt of any tirade. For about 350 days of the year, I love my cute, little 1800's apartment with it's original fixtures, huge windows that let in a lot of natural sun light, old coil radiators, seperate kitchen and no air conditioning. Yes.. NO built in air conditioning!

Blackberry icecream sandwich in plate

For the rest of the 15 days I debate weather all that charm and, yes, even that one NYC luxury of an independent kitchen, is really worth the blistering heat that those lovely, large windows, and being on the top floor, let in. Forgive my rants, but I am currently ensconced in one of the 2 rooms that has an a/c and dreading stepping out of the cool haven even to pee!

Ofcourse, the heat translates to much cool consumption and ice cream beats the boat by a mile lead! :) With the season's abundance of refreshing fruits, the possibilities are endless and it's only a matter of pick and play and you have delectable delights that offer glimmers of happiness in the midst of heat-ridden lethargy...

Blackberries and Sage

Sometime back, I was in the mood of combining sweet and savory. I find herbs add a flavor element to sweets that elevates the simplest creations to a new experience for the palate. Besides, as our palate grows, it becomes ever more persnickety and such experiences are no longer coveted but indeed essential, like this Peach and Thyme Icecream I made last year.

So became this Blackberry and Sage Icecream! I love blackberries.. they are naturaly sweet (perhaps the sweetest of all the berries) and combining them with the earthy sage creates the perfect symphony on your tongue. It's a play and a whimsical one at it! :)

Blackberry and Sage Icecream

1-1.5 cups ripe blackberries
2 tsp sugar
7-8 fresh sage leaves

For the custard:
3 egg yolks
1-1/4 cup half and half
3 thyme stalks
1/4 cup sugar

Blackberries and Sage icecream sandwiches

Over low heat, cook the blackberries and sugar until the juices start releasing. Cook for about 5-7 minutes until they are just soft but stil retain some shape. Set aside to cool.

With a hand whisk, cream the yolks and sugar together until light yellow in color. Meanwhile, heat the half and half with the sage leaves until just barely simmering. Remove the pan from heat and discard the sage. Slowly, and while continuously whisking the mixture, incorporate the hot milk into the yolk mixture.

To prepare the custard, pour the mixture back in to the pan and over medium heat, gently heat the mixture, stirring often. The mixture will start to thicken. Continue heating until the mixture coats the back of a wooden spoon (about 8 - 10 minutes) and if you run your finger along the back of the spoon, the streak remains without the cream running down through the streak.

Remove from heat immediately. Do not over heat as the eggs will curdle (done that before!). Whisk the mixture for a minute to stop the custard from cooking further. Strain through a fine sieve to remove any lumps or scrambles. Stir in the blackberry sauce till fully incorporated. Cool the mixture to room temperature.

Cover the custard with plastic wrap and refrigerate for atleast two hours until completely chilled. At this point, you can process the mixture in an ice cream machine according to manufacturer's instructions.

If you don't have an ice cream machine, once the custard mixture is cold, move it to the freezer. After about 45 minutes, check on the mixture. If it has started freezing on the edges, remove and whip up the mixture with a hand-held mixer to break the ice crystals and incorporate some air to create the fluffiness.

Return to the freezer and repeat the whisking every hour, three more times. By this time, volume of the ice cream would have doubled. If it hasn't, then you are not whisking enough each time. After the final repetition, freeze the mixture for atleast 6 hours or overnight.