Monday, July 7, 2008

Ice Cream Treats

As many of you may recall, I recently returned from a few short days at the beach. There is something about the beach and vacation that just says ice cream to me, particularly soft serve. I had scheduled this post some time ago to promote this post that featured the best ice cream shops in Washington DC. In the interim, this other post appeared in my reader for Pistachio Gelato, so I include that recipe below to satisfy the requirements for Recipe Mondays.

Now, if I may digress for a few moments on the topic of ice cream. Just last week, on my Teddy Roosevelt post, my friend Lana left me one of the most thoughtful comments I have ever received, reminding me of a time when I would go to a local beach and then on the way home stop at the Bonanza Ices stand for a homemade lemon ice (with pits!).

I am an unabashed ice cream-aholic. When I went to school in Albany there was a soft ice cream place that I would frequent. On at least one occasion I even traveled from my home in Poughkeepsie (a two-hour drive) for what was referred to as the "Capital City food trifecta" - Sovrana's pizza, Krause's Chocolate, and Kurver Kreme. The stuff is that good.

When I was just on vacation, the soft serve that was available to me was from Dairy Queen. I know, I know, it's a chain, but it was what was there. It did allow me to relive another portion of my childhood, when we would vacation in Maine and invariably, these would appear in the freezer for after-dinner treats. I had to get a box for my son and niece and nephews to enjoy.
In addition to the Dairy Queen runs, there were a number of really good ice cream parlors that our family would make an appearance at during our many summers spent "Down East." Unfortunately, most, if not all of them are gone now.

At home, my sweet tooth came to me genetically. There was usually ice cream in the freezer, most likely whatever half gallon was on sale that week. I could list all of my favorites here, but we'd be here a whole lot longer than you might be already. Pin me down and tell me to pick one? Quite possibly Breyer's Heavenly Hash.

I wrote here last May when I was on Long Island, about the Ice Cream Man. There is something about getting ice cream from a truck that makes it all taste better. I miss the days of cocking my head and listening for the tinkle of the bells of the ice cream man. Occasionally, the poorly named "Mister Softee" made the rare appearance in the neighborhood, giving me the opportunity to enjoy the soft serve that I love so much.

Finally, for those of you on or from Long Island, there is/was a place where you could order something called the kitchen sink(?) where several people would dig into this mammoth serving of ice cream and toppings. But for the life of me, I can't remember the name of the place. I also expect at least one of my readers to recount for us her experiences working at an ice cream shop. I already like her, it just reminds me to stay on her good side. She has a connection to my frozen weakness.

I could go on and on about the joys of ice cream. But I know there are those of you out there who, for one reason or another, don't "do" ice cream. I won't hold that against you. It also won't stop me from getting it when I have the opportunity. Hey, it's summer, ice cream should be enjoyed often. So go make some gelato and cool off.

Pistachio Gelato

  • 150 grams (1 1/4 cup) raw (= untoasted, unsalted) shelled pistachios
  • 65 grams (1/3 cup) unrefined cane sugar
  • 1/2 liter (2 cups) whole milk
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 30 grams (1 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons) agave syrup (substitute 2 tablespoons honey or rice syrup or corn syrup)
  • 1 tablespoon limoncello (or amaretto, or other fruit or nut liqueur) (optional)

In the bowl of a food processor (or blender, or mini-chopper), combine the pistachios and sugar, and process in short pulses until the mixture is reduced to a fine powder. Set aside.

In a small bowl, combine 60 ml (1/4 cup) of the milk with the cornstarch, and stir with a spoon to dissolve. Set aside.

Combine the rest of the milk (440 ml or 1 3/4 cups) with the pistachio mixture in a medium saucepan. Set over medium heat and bring just to a simmer, stirring regularly with a wooden spoon. Add the cornstarch mixture and cook for 3 more minutes, stirring continuously as the mixture thickens. The custard is ready when it coats the wooden spoon, and you can trace a neat path on the back of said spoon with your finger.

Remove from the heat and let cool for a few minutes. (At this point, you can opt to strain the custard through a fine-mesh sieve if you'd prefer a smooth texture; I myself like the tiny chunks of pistachio.)

Stir in the syrup and limoncello and whisk to blend. Let cool to room temperature on the counter, whisking from time to time to prevent the formation of a skin, then cover and refrigerate until completely chilled (I usually prepare the custard the day before and refrigerate it overnight).

Whisk the chilled mixture, and churn in your ice cream maker following the manufacturer's instructions. Serve on its own or with a few raspberries.


Stinkypaw said...

To this day I still enjoy Dairy Queen Peanut Buster... I love ice cream, soft and hard, I just love it!

Too bad I don't have an ice-cream maker 'cause that recipe reads yummy!

njm said...

It is patently obvious that you have never worked in an ice cream parlor of any kind. If you had, this post would reflect a love hate relationship with the stuff, and, depending on where you were employed, an utter distain for the soft stuff.

Why, yes, I have been employed as a scooper and a soda jerk. How ever did you guess?

Anna van Schurman said...

I'm not sure you really can claim to be an ice cream aholic if you eat soft serve. That's milk. My favorite place in the whole world (yes, even Italy) is Kimball Farm in Westford, MA, the one my family always gets lost driving to. The Chester Springs Creamery at Milky Way Farm keeps me in ice cream at home. (I'm not as big a fan of Handel's as other people--and yes, I drive by Coldstone and Baskin Robin to get there.) Fortunately, my mom lives just down the road from The Scoop Deck which is good for a fix when I am visiting her in Wells. And I'm only a few blocks from Capogiro at work. It's almost like I planned it.

Anna van Schurman said...

I forgot to say, the dude makes THE BEST ice cream. The best. And you know, his love is better than ice cream.

6th Floor blog said...

I could write a whole book on this. (Or at least a post..)

As for Long Island, I'm not sure what specific place you mean. I know there are a couple, but the one I can think of is at International Delight Cafe where you can order "the World" which is..I think 30 scoops. They've got some great ice cream and flavors there.

I miss Frozen Custard, which you can't really get in NYC. They have a good one up in Buffalo, and one out on the island.

There is a delicious place I found in Jersey City where they have some good ice cream.

There is a place in Brooklyn (Queens?) That I've been dying to get everyone to come out to with me. It's a jewish place(so they're closed Saturdays) that specializes in weird flavors, like Beer and nuts.

There is a place in chinatown, and in flushing, called the Chinatown Ice Cream factory, that has a lot of flavors (Lycee, Durien, etc) and some more exotic ones (chocolate, vanilla, etc). Exotic because it's chinatown..ahah..funny right? ;-)

The brooklyn Ice cream factory has good ice cream, and know what? If i don't stop here I'm just going to spend all afternoon listing ice cream places that rock.

Eryl Shields said...

Your pistachio sounds delicious, I'll have to try making it, I do hope it comes out green.

My son is addicted to ice-cream so I make quite a lot of it, my best invention so far has been 'Dime Bar' ice-cream which I made with boiled condensed milk and crushed dime bars. I love plain vanilla made with egg custard though.

J in PA said...

I do like ice cream, but I'm not an "aholic". And my tastes are relatively simple. I don't like lots of different flavors going on at one time, or lots of different textures.

For me, ice cream and my childhood years equals Carvel. There was a Carvel within easy walking distance of our house. We would often stop there on a warm summer evening. I would invariably order a strawberry cone (though I seldom ever eat strawberry today). My brother and sister often preferred the Lollapaloozas (I think that's what they were called) - a shell of chocolate and nuts covering vanilla ice cream on a stick. We would stand in the parking lot behind the Carvel looking out over the town, pointing out our house and other landmarks in the neighborhood.

It was a sad day when that Carvel closed. The best I can do today is purchase a Carvel ice cream cake at the local supermarket. (But none of the classics, like Fudgy the Whale or Cookie-Puss - just a standard sheet or round ice cream cake.)

But just listen how I've prattled on. I think it's time or retire for the evening. Thanks for the stroll down ice cream memory lane.

Anna van Schurman said...

I've decided you are an ice cream aholic. Because, like the drunk with his rotgut or the desperate man drinking vanilla, you'll eat soft serve and ice cream from a truck. I'm from the region that consumes the most ice cream. And it's true ice cream. So I'm an ice cream snob. Perhaps a gourmand.

Amy said...

We go to Pav's Creamery a lot, although the gold standard in Akron is supposedly Strickland's.

Strickland's is good, don't get me wrong, but Pav's is closer.

Too bad my sister doesn't live near Albany anymore — We could have checked out the trifecta you mentioned on my next visit.

Lana Gramlich said...

People who don't "like" ice cream are flat out nuts. It's the only explanation!
My fave? Breyer's all natural chocolate (although Breyer's all natural ANYTHING is a safe bet with me, really!) I'd bought a half gallon at one point when I lived in Toronto & forgot about it. About a week later I finally remembered & got it out of the freezer, only to find the carton totally empty. It appears that my roommate was an ice-cream-oholic, as well, but to put the empty container BACK, to cover his tracks? Brilliant...for a while.
Last time I went to visit Randy & his family we all went out to Carvel (which brought back memories, as well.) I don't even remember what I had, but it was great & drippy & fully of sprinkly deliciousness!
Certain moments almost require a vanilla soft serve cone. To this day I will never forget the delicious vanilla cone my Dad bought me on the Circle Line during a happy day in NYC. Memories like that make me understand the term "simpler days."
I don't know about the kitchen sink, but I used to get the Friendly's Reese's pieces sundae, which was $2.70 w/tax for 5 scoops of ice cream (your choice of flavors,) topped with chocolate & peanut butter syrups, whipped cream, chocolate sprinkles, Reese's pieces & a cherry on top. I couldn't see over it, but I could darned well tear through it!
Ironically I was just bemoaning our current lack of ice cream to Charles last night...
All the Blessings of the Multiverse to whoever invented ice cream!
...and your post on Taft was good, too. ;) *LOL*

Brave Astronaut said...

Paw - An ice cream maker is one of those investments you make and never regret.

njm - As discussed, so glad you commented, I fully expected it.

Anna - I've long thought of writing a "food travel book" - basically just going from place to place stopping to eat. Places to stay would have to be near a reputable food establishment.

While I admit to being an ice cream-aholic, isn't that the first step? Admitting you have a problem?
6th Floor - I remember a place in Penn Station that was a popular destination after Ranger games while waiting for the LIRR. Soft serve or a hot pretzel. Nothing better.

Eryl - Thanks for coming by! You can make me ice cream anytime.

J - I'm sad right along with you. Now that I am a father, I shall never receive one of the famous Tie Ice Cream Cakes. And LBA or SoBA shall never enjoy a Fudgie the Whale cake for a birthday. There are a few Carvels around, but you really have to go looking for them. And it's just not the same anymore.

Amy - When I come for the Presidential Tour, we will have to hit all the high ice cream points in the Buckeye State.

Lana - Ah, the Friendly Fribble. My sister worked at the Friendly's in Syosset. Boy the perks were good for that job.

Amy said...

If you come in late May, you can hit Utica (in Licking County; a bit NE of Columbus) for the Velvet Ice Cream festival. Or come anytime, and check out what claims to be Ohio's only ice cream museum.

I went to the festival in 1995 or 1996 — a friend of mine from college grew up in Utica and was very proud of it. I still have my commemorative glass!