Savta Fausta's Ice Cream

Gelato, originally uploaded by bokchoyboy.
One of the joys resulting from the bond of marriage is the sharing celebrations between the families and exchanging recipes that might have been a family secret otherwise. On Thursday, September 18th, was a big day: the wedding of my oldest brother and his lovely bride. Their marriage marriage that is sure to bring happiness not only to the young couple but also to all those who surround them in the past, present or future.

My new sister-in-law is from an Italian-descend, and so in the short time I spent meeting the new addition to the family, I had the pleasure to try many interesting Italian dishes, including thinly sliced white eggplants from Sicily, prepared with zucchinis and mint, eggplants parmigiano and the fabulous ice cream from Savta Fausta's kitchen.

Savta Fausta, a grandmother from the bride's family, has passed on to my brother a recipe for a homemade Italian ice cream that judging by the simplicity of the ingredients, process and tools must be a very old recipe. It requires no churning of the ice cream during the freezing process, and results in an ice cream that is light and fluffy as snow, with myriads of tiny dreamy air bubbles captured within the foam of fresh cream and egg whites.

The following simple recipe may or may not be prepared with the addition of flavouring essences - such as pure vanilla extract, cocoa, fresh crushed strawberries or flavourful liquors (i.e.: Kaluah). My brother and I prepared it plain with no flavouring and it's fantastic. I also prepared it myself with the addition of 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (added to the whipped cream) and it was incredibly mouthwatering.

The ingredients:

2 Eggs

250ml Heavy Cream

4 Tbs. Sugar

1 tsp. Pure Vanilla Extract

- Separate the eggs and let them sit in separate dished until they reach room temperature.
- With a hand mixer, beat the heavy cream until it turns into a whipped cream (add vanilla extract if desired at this stage)
- Beat the egg whites until foamy and add the sugar, by sprinkling one tablespoon at a time and beating between additions.
- Continue beating until a meringue forms and it will not spill from the bowl if flipped upside down.
- Add the egg yolks to the meringue, one at a time, and continue beating with the mixer.
- Fold the whipped cream into the meringue.
- Place in a deep container, covered with a lid, and freeze for 2 hours.
- Before serving, leave the ice cream out of the freezer for 5-10 minutes to make sure it's nice and fluffy and there are no ice inside.

Lavender Out of Context

La casa Gelato, originally uploaded by 芋姫のたび.

Aromatic landmark of the day is La Casa Gelato (1033 Venables Street, just off Glen Drive).
From the 508 flavours, I picked two scoops: chocolate-basil and lavender. The lavender was surprisingly green. Rather than being flavoured by the dry buds, it is flavoured by fresh green lavender leaves. So does the chocolate-basil, where one can spot green pesto-size specks of basil leaves.

The combination was everything but ordinary and oddly comforting. Which reminds me of how well basil and lavender might just do together. Maybe not with a violet - but perhaps with tarragon absolute, to bring out even more the licorice like nuances found in some varieties of basil.

Mental Notes: Praise for Basil

Basil leaves, originally uploaded by xxxrmt.

Basil in all its glory does not necessarily involve tomatoes. I had it in an ice cream last Saturday (La Casa Gelato on Clark & Venables), a Basil & Pernot ice cream, to be precise. It was just wonderful. Even when paired with a fig-almond scoop it was still marvelous: interestingly refreshing, delicious and original without being too spicy or weird. Despite its complexity of flavour it was very elegant.
And in perfume, nothing could make me feel happier than smelling basil with jasmine and citrus, as in Le Parfum de Thérèse, and ArbitRary, the latter being the scent I spent the most of yesterday with. The sense of euphoria this combination of notes gives off could be explained by the aromatherapeutic effects of cheerful happiness that they give off - both citrus notes and basil. A beautiful smelling anti-depressant if you will...

Recipe: Lavender Ice Cream

Lavender, originally uploaded by kathyv.
All the lavender talk reminded me that lavender can be used in cooking and baking. It is particularly wonderful in desserts, where its herbal aroma balances out the sweetness.
In the lavender ice cream recipe, the lavender buds lend a warm, almost spicy aroma to the ice cream, almost like a pumpkin pie (because they need to be cooked with the sugar in order to release their aroma, the aroma changes a bit). The cream, milk and vanilla accentuate lavender’s sweet qualities. I think spices like allspice, nutmeg, cloves and even cinnamon would be a good addition to this recipe, and also would be interested in trying to turn it into a Crème Brulee.
I would be curious to try a similar recipe, only flavoured with essential oils of lavender and lemon. I will keep you informed about my experiments with that.

Lavender Ice Cream
1 Cup Sugar
2 Tbs. Lavender Buds, Fresh or Dry
½ Cup Water
1 ½ Cups Milk
3 Large Egg Yolks
2 cup Whipping Cream
1 tsp. Pure Vanilla Extract

1. Cook the sugar, water and lavender in a medium sauce-pan over a medium-low heat, and let simmer for 5 minutes.
2. Strain the lavender flowers, and cool down a bit (for 3-5 minutes).
3. Add the egg yolks, and whisk well.
4. Add the milk, and continue to cook while stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens to cover the spoon (about 10 minutes).
5. Cool down, add the vanilla and the whipping cream, and refrigerate over night (or at least for 6 hours).
6. Whip the mixture until it becomes very frothy (beating the air into the mixture will ensure that the ice cream will be light in texture, and will also help the freezing process).
7. Freeze in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions.

For more delicious lavender recipes and ideas, visit this site.
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