We're coming to the end of strawberry season over here. But you can still get huge boxes in the shops for the equivalent of pennies.
And they still taste great. The darker the berries, the sweeter the juice.
I have some Kefir in the fridge and had heard you can use it interchangeably with buttermilk in recipes.
So I'd thought I'd try the Roasted Strawberry and Buttermilk recipe from Jenis Splendid Ice Cream at Home.
Jenis book is great and I love her ice creams but her standard base involves a lot of faffing around with cornstarch and cream cheese that sometimes I can't be bothered with.
The cornstarch and cream cheese are presumably a home cook friendly way of getting some stabilization and extra milk solids in the ice cream.
But you can achieve better results, more easily (which is important, as I'm quite lazy) with a proper ice cream stabilizer blend and skimmed milk powder.
So I used those instead.
The result was much less intense than the Strawberry Ice Cream with Balsamic Vinegar I made a couple of weeks ago.
This is a much subtler, lighter ice cream with the Kefir bringing out a tart perfume in the strawberries.
This is a Frankenstein's Monster type of recipe, bolted together clumsily with bits from two other recipes. It turned out great though!
I wanted to try the light ice cream base from the underbelly blog. But I didn't want a plain old milk flavor.
The easiest way to add a bit a flavor to a recipe without having to re-balance the mixture is through infusion. And I'd been fancying a Chai Tea ice cream for a while.
So I took the spices (unfortunately I didn't have any actual tea) from the Honey Chai Frozen Yogurt recipe in Dana Cree's "Hello, My name is Ice Cream" and mixed them into underbelly base...
And boom, I had a pretty successful Chai Spice Ice Cream.
There were a few other missing ingredients to be honest. All my individual stabilizers had gone off (!), so I used a generic, pre-mixed ice cream stabilizer. No problems there.
But I'd forgotten about the invert syrup and I didn't have time to make any so I substituted it for Karo Light Corn Syrup.
Structurally I think they're more or less the same but the Karo is much less sweet than invert sugar. And since the underbelly recipe isn't very sweet anyway, I was worried the Karo might tip it over into "flatness".
It was fine though. The spices are are gently warming. And the light base carries them well.
The kids obviously didn't like it. But that just meant there was more for me...
Believe me, this tastes a lot better than it looks in my awful photo. My photography skills are still very much lacking. All I can say is: I'm working on it!
So please give this one a go. It's really easy and it's really tasty too. Just 4 ingredients. One of which is balsamic vinegar.
In these sophisticated, globe trotting times this probably doesn't seem as strange as it might once have done. Restaurants seem to be dribbling balsamic over all sorts of desserts these days.
The original recipe is of course Italian. Gelato Di Fragole All'Aceto Balsamico originates in a book called Entertaining all'Italiana with Anna del Conte.
But I found it in my old favorite Ices: The Definitive Guide by Liddell and Weir.
Be careful with the balsamic though. It's really intense. At least mine is. And if you add too much it can be overpowering.
So I would recommend starting with a teaspoon and then increasing the dose as you taste the mixture, working up to a tablespoon, max.
We're in lock down in Barcelona. And there's no herbs growing on my terrace. In fact there's nothing growing on my terrace at the moment!
Luckily the boys in the flat above us threw down a bunch of mixed herbs from their terrace, mostly mint and lemon balm (which they recommended we make into soothing teas).
The weather's hotting up now though, so instead I knocked up a quick ice cream based on a recipe in the excellent Ices: The Definitive Guide by Liddell and Weir.
It uses a light French vanilla custard base, infused with the grassy flavors of the herbs using a vigorous muddle and a bit of a steep.
The end result was slightly chewy ice cream with a lovely, herby fresh mint flavor that's lifted by the citrusy lemon balm.
Perfect for eating on our plantless terrace, as we enjoy the last of the days sun and dream about when the garden centers will open again...