There is no season for ice-cream. Or rather I should say: it is always the season for ice-cream. And in winter we make ice-cream from frozen fruit (poached and pureed, and then mixed into the ice-cream base) or more often using spices.
Ginger ice-cream is a favorite of mine. No surprise there for those who read this blog, even occasionally. My liberal use of ginger is after all rooted in childhood. The ice-cream gets a double dose of ginger: first the cream is infused with fresh ginger (which will also color it a pale yellow), and then chopped crystallized ginger is folded into the finished ice-cream. Good by itself or in combination with sautéed or baked fruit.
Fresh ginger by the way is a model spice to keep around – it will remain fresh for weeks. Choose plump firm roots at the market. Don’t buy a small knob because that’s only what you need for a dish. Buy a big whole healthy root. Don’t keep it in the fridge where it will not only shrivel but mold (yuk!). Break off what you need when you need it. If your root is drying out too fast (sometimes it happens no matter what you do), you can salvage what you have by pickling it (slices or chunks in vinegar or vodka), or by grating it and freezing it (my preferred way).
My ginger ice-cream recipe was published in Flavor Magazine Seasonal Table column (Jan/Feb 2011) – along with other simple, flavorful and seasonal recipes of mine. I am delighted to provide them and look forward to more columns for the next few issues. Flavor Magazine covers the Capital Foodshed area with articles on food & wine, restaurants, farms, wineries and cideries, small food-oriented shops and the people and stories behind them – with occasional articles on foraging and gardening. And of course, all in season – which it very appealing to me. It’s a fun magazine and a great resource for anybody interested in local mid-Atlantic food.
And for giggles, do compare photographer Molly Peterson’s photo of the ginger ice-cream with mine. Amazing what a real photographer can do…
Ginger Ice-Cream With Sautéed Asian Pears
For the ice cream
- 1 knob ginger, about 1 inch long
- 2 cups half-and-half
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 cups heavy or whipping cream
- 2 tablespoons of finely chopped candied ginger
- Slice fresh ginger very thinly. In a small saucepan, add to 1 cup half-and-half and heat until small bubbles appear at the edge (175-190F). Turn heat off. Cover and let steep for 30 minutes.
- Add sugar and stir to dissolve completely. If necessary, heat the mixture slightly again just until sugar is dissolved. Add remaining cream and half-and-half and then chill (do not use an aluminum pan) for several hours or overnight.
- Pass the mixture through a sieve, pressing hard on the ginger to extract as much juice as possible.
- Process in your ice cream maker following the manufacturer’s instructions. Transfer to a freezer-safe container for firming up, mixing in chopped candied ginger as you go. Freeze for at least 2 hours.
For the pears: (count 1/2 a pear per person)
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 large Asian pear, peeled, cored, and sliced
- 1 tablespoon of sugar
- 1 tablespoon of lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons water
- To prepare the fruit, heat a thick-bottom skillet large enough to hold pear slices in one layer. Melt butter in the pan. When butter is foaming, add pear slices, and sauté them about 2 to 3 minutes on each side, until they start to brown.
- Sprinkle with sugar, immediately add lemon juice and water, lower heat, and simmer 3 to 5 minutes until the sauce is syrupy. Remove from heat.
- With the pears still warm, fan out a few slices on each dessert plate, arrange one scoop of ice cream on top, and drizzle pear sauce on top. Serve immediately.
(if you really like ginger you can stick a few slices of crystallized ginger in there…)