OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMAYBE ITS BECAUSE I DON’T BAKE–too much measuring–but one of my favorite dishes to serve for dessert is homemade ice cream. Flavor combinations are endless–especially if you grow herbs, and it is so simple to make. I bought this ice cream maker from a friend who lives down the street when she posted on Facebook that she was selling it for $20. It had never been used!

I think most people love home-made ice cream, because yes it’s delicious, but also because it’s so unexpected. Though it isn’t difficult to make, guests seem to think lots of effort went into its creation.  I wonder if they picture me in the backyard in the stifling heat cranking an antique ice cream maker. For some reason in this little fantasy I picture myself hanging sheets on a clothesline to dry. And I have lots of children running around. And I’m wearing a kerchief.

Ice cream can be an elegant desert when served in a short martini glass or bowled champagne flute with a tiny demitasse spoon on the side. The ones pictured were a gift from a friend, but these from Pier 1 are colorful and fun.

One of my all time favorite movies is called It’s Complicated, with Meryl Streep, Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin. It is a favorite for many reasons, but I especially love Meryl Streep’s character makes Lavender Honey ice cream when she can’t sleep at night. I myself am often up during the night, and though I don’t typically cook, I may just decide to make ice cream next time sleep alludes me.

This recipe for Lavender Honey Ice Cream is one of my favorites! I used the lavender honey I bought at the lavender festival in May, but if you don’t have any on hand, you can use dried lavender and just strain it after cooking. I have also made this recipe using rosemary instead of lavender. AMAZE.

To top it off, I made a cinnamon red wine reduction syrup. Last year I visited my friend Christina, who is the head culinary teacher at Hipcooks San Diego. I took a mediterranean tapas class while there, and she taught us to make this syrup to put over cream cheese ice cream, which is also AMAZE.

Next time you have a dinner party, or are tapped to bring dessert to a potluck, put away the cake pans and cookie sheets and haul out that ice cream maker you got as a wedding gift. Trust me, the complements are worth it.

Ciao for now-Lauren

INGREDIENTS Lavender Honey Ice Cream Cinnamon Red Wine Syrup
Whole milk 2 cups
Lavender honey 1/3 cup
Egg yolks 5
Sugar 1/4 cup 1/2 cup
Heavy cream 1 cup
Red wine 1/2 750 ml bottle
Cinnamon sticks 2

 

For Ice Cream:

1. In a medium saucepan, combine honey and milk, and bring to a gentle boil. Cover and remove from heat. Let steep for 5 minutes. **If using dried lavender as opposed to lavender honey, include 1/4 cup of dried lavender to the milk and 1/3 cup of regular honey. After bringing to a gentle boil and allowing to steep for 5 minutes, use a mesh strainer to separate milk/honey mixture from dried lavender. Discard lavender and return milk/honey mixture to pot.

2. Combine egg yolks and sugar in bowl of Kitchen Aid mixer. If you don’t have a stand mixer, just use an electric hand held one. Beat on medium-high until very thick and pale yellow, approximately 3-5 minutes. While eggs and sugar are mixing, bring milk/honey mixture back to a gentle boil. **I separated my eggs this way, and it really worked!!

3. Add half the milk/honey mixture to egg yolk/sugar mixture, and whisk gently until blended. Pour that mixture into the sauce pan with remaining milk/honey mixture and cook over low-medium heat. Stir constantly and cook until mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon. **What does this mean? If a trail is left after dragging your finger across the back of a wooden spoon, and the mixture stays separated on either side, the mixture is thick enough. If it runs back together, it is not thick enough yet. Keep cooking.

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4.Remove from heat and immediately stir in very cold cream. Strain mixture into a medium size mixing bowl set in an ice water bath. You can use a rubber spatula to press liquid through the mesh. Let stand until chilled and stir occasionally. Pour into ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer’s instructions. Mine was 25-30 minutes.

 

For Red Wine Cinnamon Syrup:

1. Combine red wine, sugar and cinnamon sticks in a small sauce pan. Bring to a boil. Turn down heat to a soft simmer.

2. Let reduce, stirring occasionally until sugar is dissolved and one cup of liquid remains.

3. Let cool completely, and remove cinnamon sticks.

4. Using a funnel, pour into an empty squeeze bottle for serving.

 

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