August 10, 2009

I've always thought of ice cream the way I view croissants and French fries: you can buy far superior versions than I could ever make, so why bother?

But when I saw a basket of small, perfectly sweet, ruby-red strawberries at the farmstand, my inner cook nudged me. Homemade strawberry ice cream, the voice said. Go on, try it, the voice said again.

I grabbed the strawberries and hit the phone, looking for a friend with an ice cream machine. When my sister offered up hers, it seemed like fate. I picked up the innocent looking machine, some heavy cream and milk, and was on my way.

Given my novice state of ice cream making, I decided to stick with the "quick and easy" recipe offered in the machine's how-to guide. The recipe was egg-free, which I discovered later was the "easy" part - no custard making required. I dutifully added cream, milk, sugar, vanilla, and a pinch of salt and poured it into the machine. It churned for 20 minutes and was ready to pop in the 'fridge - the strawberries would be mixed in later.

A watched pot never boils and a watched freezer never freezes; my impatience is such that I checked that ice cream at least 12 times. But three hours later, though, behold: creamy, homemade ice cream. It was definitely creamy but lacked the richness of store-bought ice cream, which I think leads back to the eggs. My next goal is to try the egg version, as well as an avocado ice cream recipe I saw in a magazine, and maybe even olive oil ice cream - stay tuned for Part 2 of what I'm calling the Ice Cream Chronicles.

STRAWBERRY ICE CREAM

2 cups heavy cream, chilled

1 cup whole milk, chilled

3/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/2 cup strawberries, hulled and cut in half (cut in quarters if large)

Place ingredients in a medium mixing bowl and combine until well-blended. Pour into freezer bowl of ice cream maker, turn the machine on, and let mix until mixture thickens, 20-30 minutes, depending on your machine. Transfer ice cream to an airtight container and place in freezer until firm, about 2 hours. About 1 hour into freezing, fold the strawberries into the ice cream.

Makes ten 1/2-cup servings; recipe from the Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker

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