In moving from California, the Land of Abundant Produce, to Georgia, the Land of Humidity and Red Dirt, I was convinced on our arrival that I would take at least a year to cultivate a garden or find other green thumbs from whom to gather any windfall. Serendipity followed me unexpectedly, when I met K. Her children also attend the same school Peach does. She cheerfully welcomed me into her home with Sky-Girl at my hip for a fresh raspberry galette and tea one morning. Over conversation as her non-school aged son and Sky-Girl studied each other quietly, we found our common love of cooking, our connection to health care, our interest in gardening, and both families recently living in Northern California in neighboring towns with time overlap. I may have seen her at the grocery store. Or the farmers’ market. Or the park. What a small world this is, and how connected we are in so many ways.
So when K offered me some of her fresh abundance of herbs, I immediately accepted. Lemongrass. Lemon verbena. Nasturtiums. Rosemary. Yes! Just hand it over. I will figure out something to make and certainly share it. Even before I received these gifts, I knew that ice cream and simple syrups would be in the future. Even though it’s cold outside. The leaves are brown and orange. It’s not ice cream season. At all. Yet I do this without second thought. Those in the house thinking the ambient temperature too cold, well, they don’t have to have any. I’ll be happy to eat it. All.
I set to work without delay, making the base for the lemongrass-basil sherbet first, and simultaneously making a lemongrass simple syrup and a lemon verbena simple syrup (that post coming up later). This sherbet is a rich one, essentially a non-custard based ice cream, almost an ice milk. The lemongrass and basil work beautifully here, giving just enough flavor to the mix. It’s a great endpiece to a rich meal, served in small bowls.
As such, I had to share. While my kids poo-pooed the “green ice cream” in favor of chain store frozen yogurt while complaining of the cold, K was more than willing to sample. And we are connected there too, loving the flavor and wanting more. I think my winter ice cream making will be busy this year.
One year ago: creamy lime oatmeal bars
Two years ago: baked polenta
Three years ago: sparkling cranberries with cardamom and lemon pudding
From Bon Appetit.
- 3 cups whole milk
- 1 cup chopped lemongrass (from about 2 stalks, the original recipe says)
- 1 cup heavy cream
- ¾ cup (packed) fresh basil (leave the stems on until after you blanch -- it makes it easier to remove basil from the hot water)
- ⅔ cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
- ½ teaspoon salt
- Heat milk, lemongrass, and cream in a large saucepan over medium heat until mixture almost comes to a boil. Remove from heat and let steep with the saucepan cover on for 20 minutes.
- Blanch basil leaves in a small pot of boiling water until just wilted, about 10 seconds; immediately transfer to ice water or rinse well with very cold water. Squeeze basil to release excess water. Pick basil leaves from thick stems if not already done.
- Strain cream mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a blender. Add basil leaves, sugar, corn syrup, and salt to blender. Purée on high speed until well blended, about 1 minute. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a medium bowl, pressing gently on solids.
- Cover and chill until cold, about 4 hours.
- DO AHEAD: Base for sherbet can be made 1 day ahead (this is what I usually default to, to make sure the base is very cold). Keep chilled.
- Process sherbet in ice cream maker according to manufacturer's instructions (this took about 15 minutes for me). Transfer to an airtight container, cover, and freeze. DO AHEAD: Sherbet can be made 1 week ahead. Keep frozen.
- This freezes to a very hard sherbet when left overnight. Allow to sit at room temperature for a bit before scooping and serving. This makes 1 quart. You don't need a lot to be satisfied with the rich, grassy flavor and cream. But, if you are like me, you may just end up eating it standing up at the counter, sneaking in more bites than anyone else got after dinner.