Monday, July 30, 2012

I'Scream, U'Scream

When the jingling bells of the Ice Cream Truck were  heard in our neighborhood all of the kids would start running with nickels and dimes clutched in their hands.  We were panicked we would miss it. Luckily there was usually a crowd so I would get in line until my brother Bobby returned with money from my Mom. Our younger sister, Nancy and baby brother Jimmy would be running after him. I already knew what flavor Popsicle they wanted. My favorite was Creamsicle, orange sherbet with vanilla ice cream over the top, Bobby's was Fudgesicle. I think my sister's favs were ice cream sandwiches and all of us liked "drumsticks", the nut covered cones.Those were a little more money so we usually had to settle for fruit-flavored Popsicles which had two sticks so my Mom could split them in half lengthwise.  There were the blue ones ( my other fav), strawberry, orange, root beer, cherry and banana.  The Popsicle sticks provided entertainment after we ate all of the fruit ice off. We would sharpen them on the sidewalk and pretend they were knives. Most often we used them to dig in the dirt or as markers for little plants and flowers in the garden. I miss the Ice Cream Man!

Our house did not have an ice cream maker. I do not remember ever seeing family members or friends make homemade ice cream.  As far as I knew it came in a square box, with the "Sealtest Dairy" logo in limited flavors, strawberry, chocolate, vanilla or the striped Neapolitan.

Later, when I got married and acquired a Kitchen Aid stand mixer I started buying or being gifted the attachments, most of which I still have. One attachment that I coveted was the ice cream maker.  When Steve and I moved from Chicago to Mill Valley, CA I started making just about everything from scratch (the "DIY" movement happens to be back in vogue these days in case you hadn't noticed). I finally purchased the ice cream attachment to the Kitchen Aid mixer.  It is a rather bulky contraption, with the turquoise bucket for the ice, cylinder for the mixture, square drive shaft, Groov-Pin, hub assembly, stop pin, overflow spout and a base to set it on. You have to be a mechanic to get this thing together!  After finally setting it up, the next hardest part was getting the ice. No one had ice makers in their refrigerators, just those lame ice cube trays. Ice sold in grocery stores tended to be large cubes which were hard to feed into the bucket when the churn was set up.  We had the salt and subsequently used a mallet to chop up the ice.  A booklet of recipes came with the machine.  I set the whole thing up on our deck, plugged it in and let 'er rip. The cat freaked out and disappeared.  That was 20 or so years ago. Luckily I didn't burn out the motor as the mixer got quite warm. The ice cream was pretty good as I recall, just a pain to set the whole thing up and clean it afterwards. Honestly, I probably used it less than 10 times. Now it sits in a storage unit with other "stuff".

Fast forward to my current home.  Haagen Daz and Ben & Jerry's were our go to ice creams when we indulged. When Steve started having his throat problems he really wanted ice cream.  I saw a very cool machine on sale at Williams-Sonoma while we were visiting Mill Valley just before his birthday.  It was a Cuisinart that came with two bowls so you could always have one frozen and ready to go. I bought it thinking I would make ice cream that day.  Wrong! You have to freeze the bowl overnight and also chill the ice cream mixture at least 8 hrs. No worries. I just waited until we got home and got the whole thing set in motion.  The booklet that came with the Cuisinart had some pretty good recipes and the sugar was cut way back, which I liked. I was off and churning, experimenting with different flavors and additions which are the fun part. During the last 30 seconds of churning you can add all sorts of things, nuts, praline, brownie bits and more. I have to say I haven't bothered with the "custard style" as I am not usually crazy about the eggy flavor. I found out that fresh fruit freezes into Popsicle-like chunks so I either briefly cook it, chop it finer or puree it.  Also, I didn't have enough heavy cream one time and substituted 1/2 cup of Greek Yogurt, which is the most I would do as the texture would change. It was a bit tangier but if you like yogurt then it is fine.
Once I saved mocha chocolate cookie dough scraps, baked them and folded them the basic vanilla base.  Another very successful combo was blending my girlfriend Sharon's killer cheesecake in with the mocha chocolate cookie crumbs. Very yummy!!! I have used this machine more than 10 times in the two years I have had it.
Cream-peach puree base, mashed peaches

I had a bag of ripe peaches that needed to be used up. Peach ice cream is sublime when homemade. It can be overly sweet which masks the peach flavor so the reduced sugar in this recipe is just the ticket.

Peachy Peach Ice Cream

Ice Cream base:
1 1/2 c. heavy cream
3/4 c. whole milk
2/3 c. sugar
pinch of salt
1/2 tsp. vanilla (opt.)
  Combine and mix until sugar is dissolved. Chill.
Peel and dice 3 large peaches*.  Toss into a saucepan with the juice of 1/2 lemon and 1/2 c. water.
Heat for 10 min.  Chill. 
Drain peaches and add juice to ice cream base.  Take 1 cup of the peaches and puree either in a blender or with a hand blender.  Mash the rest of the peaches with a potato masher or fork.
Add the puree to the ice cream base. Pour into the frozen bowl and start churning.  About 30 seconds before it is done add the mashed peaches.
Store in plastic containers ( I like empty qt. yogurt containers).  This made about 5 cups. 
Dasher full of ice cream
 The Cuisinart Ice Cream machine Recipe booklet's recipe for Strawberry Ice Cream was the inspiration for this.
The "fifth cup"

*to easily get the peel off of peaches, bring a saucepan 3/4 full with water to a boil. Drop the peaches into it and let sit for 30-40 seconds. Take out with a slotted spoon and dip into very cold water or ice water. The peel slips right off.
Come to think of it I have 2 pieces of cherry pie hanging around. How about Cherry Pie ice cream?! This is the tip of the iceberg methinks.