Strawberry Balsamic Ice Cream

Strawberry season might be over and done with in New England. Some farms might have strawberry fields ready later in the summer, but there is no guarantee especially when conflicting weather occurs. Other parts of the US might have strawberries at markets - if so, snatch them up and make this ice cream.

What makes this ice cream extra special is the strawberry puree.  Berries cook until they release their sugars and bubble in a not too thick syrup. Use "good" balsamic vinegar, the thick kind that costs a bit more at the grocery or specialty stores. A little goes a long way, and the extra money is worth the spend. Blend the berries and vinegar into a smooth puree and add to the ice cream base once everything is cooled. The rosy, light pink color looks like summer.

PS: if you want to extend this recipe to include ice cream sandwiches, the full cookie recipe is here. Promise its worth the extra effort.
Strawberry Balsamic Ice Cream
inspired/adapted from Food52 & Bi-Rite Creamery
yield: one quart of ice cream

1 1/2 pints strawberries, hulled (stem removed) and halved
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
5 large egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1 3/4 cups heavy cream
3/4 cup whole or 2% milk
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

for the strawberry balsamic puree:

Add the strawberries and first round of 2 teaspoons vinegar to a medium size sauce pot. Put the pot over medium heat and cook for about 8 minutes until the strawberries are soft and a lot of the berry juices are released. This step takes close to 7-8 minutes.

Let fruit cool slightly, then transfer the berries and their juices to a blender or food processor. A hand-held immersion blender could also work. Purée until smooth and hold the puree in the refrigerator until the ice cream base is very cold.

for the ice cream base:

In a medium heatproof bowl, whisk the egg yolks and a 1⁄4 cup of sugar.

In a heavy nonreactive saucepan, stir together the heavy cream, milk, salt, and the remaining 1⁄4 cup of sugar and put the pan over medium-high heat. When the mixture has tiny bubbles on the surface (a slight simmer), reduce the heat to medium.

Carefully pour 1⁄2 cup of the hot cream mixture (a ladle works well here) and, while whisking the eggs constantly, add the cream to the bowl with the egg yolks. Repeat, adding another 1⁄2 cup of the hot cream to the yolks. This tempering process gets the egg yolks ready to go into the pan with the rest of the hot cream mixture. Not going this would result in creamy scrambled eggs. Using a heatproof rubber spatula, stir the cream in the saucepan as you slowly pour the egg-and-cream mixture from the bowl into the pan. A kitchen helper helping stir would also be a good idea, if you are a first time ice cream maker.

Cook the egg and cream mixture carefully over medium heat, stirring constantly, until it is thickened. You will know the base is done when it coats the back of a spatula and holds a clear path when you run your finger across the spatula.

Strain the base through a fine-mesh strainer into a clean container and cover with a top or place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the egg mixture. Refrigerate the base for at least 2 hours or overnight. You want this mixture to be very cold.

Whisk the strawberry purée and the remaining 2 teaspoons vinegar into the chilled base.

Freeze in your ice cream machine according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Eat immediately or transfer to a container and freeze for at least 4 hours for a more solid ice cream.

Farmer's Market Produce

Moving from Chicago to Boston meant an adjustment in many things including weather, accents, lack of taquerias, and timing of produce.

Working as a farmer's market assistant for Stillman's meant a weekly peek at the lastest and greatest produce offerings. 

Each week new vegetables and fruits would appear. Some berries arrived in limited quantities one week yet the following week tables would be overflowing. 

Colorful beets

Squash, beans and peas by the bushel.

Tomatoes and blueberries await a new home.

Cute boxes of sun gold tomatoes mean summer.

Rhubarb Strawberry Cobbler + Cornmeal Biscuits

This is part 2 of the "what to do with 2 gallons of strawberries" series.  In part 1, I made jam with chiles and black peppercorns.  I had this recipe filed away for about two years and finally finally! decided to make it with some slight changes: swap the raspberries for strawberries and use two types of sugar.  The dessert is delicious hot from the oven or straight-from-the-refrigerator cold. 

Rhubarb Strawberry Cobbler + Cornmeal Biscuits

adapted from the New York Times
yield: 8 servings

filling:
2 cups rhubarb, trimmed and cut into 1/4-inch pieces (about 5-6 stalks)
2 pounds fresh strawberries, washing, hulled, and cut in half
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon white sugar
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon raw sugar
2 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch

biscuits:
1 cup all-purpose flour, more as necessary
2/3 cup fine cornmeal
1/4 cup white sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2/3 cup heavy cream, plus more for brushing.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

To make the filling, toss together rhubarb, strawberries, sugars and cornstarch in a large bowl. Allow mixture to stand while preparing biscuit dough.

To prepare biscuits, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder and salt in a large bowl.  Add butter and use two knives to cut butter into flour mixture. Pour in cream and continue stirring until dough starts to come together, scraping down sides of bowl if necessary.

Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface and gently pat it together. Divide it equally into 8 balls, then flatten them slightly into thick rounds.

Pour filling and accumulated juices into a 2 1/2-quart gratin or a 9 by 12 inche baking dish. Arrange biscuits on top of filling and brush with cream. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until filling is bubbling and biscuits are golden.

Strawberry Jam + Chiles

What to do with two gallons of strawberries? 

This is a redux recipe from last year.  I've been looking forward to making this strawberry jam again because there is nothing quite like fresh, ripe strawberries fresh off the vine.  This version of jam uses two kinds of sugar with the addition of a few whole black peppercorns for an extra kick.  No special canning required as this jam doesn't last very long in the refrigerator due to it's popularity.

Strawberry Jam with Chiles
adapted from Food52
yield: 2 to 2 1/2 cups

2 pounds sweet, ripe strawberries, hulled and halved (or quartered if large)
2 New Mexico chiles (or more) to taste
4 whole black peppercorns, optional
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup raw (demerara) sugar
Juice of 1/4 lemon

Place the strawberries in a heavy, medium-size pot. Remove the stems and seeds from the chiles (no soaking is required) and discard. Roughly chop the remaining dried chile flesh, and add it to the strawberries. Add the sugars and black peppercorns (if using).

Set the pot over medium heat and bring to a boil -- as the fruit begins to juice, the sugar will melt. Reduce the heat to a steady simmer and cook for about 1 hour. Gently stir every 10 minutes. Taste it every now and then to make sure there's enough chile heat and flavor.

As the jam cooks, use a spoon to lift off any scum that rises to the surface. The jam is ready when the strawberries are shrunken and lightly candied, and the syrup has slightly thickened.  Stir in the lemon juice and remove the pot from the heat.

Serve on toast, scones, ice cream, cakes or biscuits. Refrigerate any leftover jam.  Smile...you just made jam.

Preserved Strawberries with Chiles

Strawberry season means smoothies, short-cakes, scones, pies (with rhubarb), and preserves.  Having never tasted strawberries with chiles, I thought I would test out my curiosity only to discover that this pairing is addictively good.  Even better on toast with goat cheese.  Or toast with butter.  The small batch size means no canning or any complicated steps.   

Preserved Strawberries with Chiles
Makes about 1/2 to 3/4 cup

Adapted (only change was serving size) from Food52 

8 ounces ripe strawberries, hulled and halved (or quartered if larger)
1 New Mexico chile (or ancho), or more to taste
1/2 cup sugar
Juice of 1/4 lemon

1. Place the strawberries in a heavy, medium-size pot. Remove the stems and seeds from the chile (no soaking is required) and discard. Roughly chop or tear the remaining dried chile flesh, and add it to the strawberries. Add the sugar.

2. Set the pot over medium heat and bring to a boil -- as the fruit begins to juice, the sugar will melt. Reduce the heat to a steady simmer and cook for about 1 hour. Stir every 10 minutes or so.  Taste it every now and then to make sure there's enough chile heat-- if not, add another!

3. As the preserves cook, use a spoon to lift off any scum that rises to the surface. The preserve is ready when the strawberries are shrunken and lightly candied, and the syrup has thickened but is not so thick that it's like jelly. Stir in the lemon juice and remove the pot from the heat.

4. Serve on toast or scones with butter, over ice cream and on cakes or biscuits. Refrigerate any leftover preserves.