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.
- 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.