If you asked me what Henry does for a living, I’d be hard-pressed to give you an answer. He has re-invented himself more times than I can count and he’s done a good job of it. In my opinion, the world would be a better place if more people had his resilience, brains and compassion. Of course, I’m slightly biased.
I watched the “Oprah” finale (oh no … Oprah, what will we do without you?) and listened one final time to her mantra about how we should all find our inner passion and incorporate it into our lives. I have managed to do that, more or less, as I am all about feeding people. But what about Henry?
If you asked him what he REALLY wanted to do, he would likely admit that he would be a butcher. Yep. He loves carving, breaking down meat and I wish you could have been there when we took a sausage-making class recently at the Pine Street Market here in the ATL. He was like a little pig in you-know-what. His sausage turned out pretty well, too.
In his current reality, however, he deals with the dark side of our troubled economy. He is part of a consulting firm which takes on bankrupt companies and struggling real estate. He’s good at it, but sometimes it’s a total downer, so at the end of the day, a little levity is in order.
Enter the failing company that produces “sprays” of non-sugar hits. I am not kidding. Henry brought home a box of these assorted sprays. Stuff like Sinfully Delicious Chocolate Dessert Spray, Milk Chocolate Turtle Spray, Banana Split Melted Ice Cream Spray and Key Lime Pie Dessert Spray.
I need an air sickness bag.
Are we really so debased as a society that we have to resort to this kind of garbage? I don’t mean to climb on my soapbox, but REALLY? There is something seriously wrong here if we have to rely on sugar-free, flavored sprays like this to satiate us.
Strawberry Melted Ice Cream Spray? I don’t think so! I cast my vote for a spoonful or two of the real thing, even if it means I only get to eat it occasionally and in limited portions. There is no way a quick burst of chemically flavored aerosol could ever take the place of a cool, creamy and soul-satisfying mouthful of homemade strawberry ice cream!
Here’s my recipe for the real stuff. No spraying involved. There is a batch of it in my freezer right now, just waiting for our Memorial Day cookout. I’m also thinking those “Reverse" Chocolate Chunk Cookies will be a good accompaniment...
THE REAL DEAL STRAWBERRY ICE CREAM
2 cups heavy (whipping) cream
2 cups half-and-half or whole milk
1 cup granulated sugar, divided
Pinch of salt
7 egg yolks
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 lb. fresh strawberries (about 18 large), stemmed and hulled
Combine cream and half-and-half in a large saucepan over medium heat. Stir in ¾ cup of the sugar and the salt. Heat until sugar is dissolved and mixture is just warm but not simmering.
Whisk egg yolks and vanilla extract together in a separate bowl. Whisk in 1 cup of the warm cream mixture to bring up the temperature. Pour this into the remaining cream in the pan and stir well. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until mixture thickens and temperature reaches 165-degrees on an instant-read thermometer. Remove from heat immediately and strain into a heatproof bowl. Let cool slightly, then place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate until well-chilled, preferably overnight.
Divide berries in half. Place half in a mixing bowl along with the remaining ¼ cup of granulated sugar. Use a potato masher or fork to mash into a wet paste. Quarter the rest of the berries and slice thinly. Combine with the mashed berries. Stir this into the chilled custard.
Place into an ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer’s directions.
Yield: approximately 1 quart
* I like this recipe because it isn't too sweet, allowing the flavor of the strawberries to shine. You may need to adjust the amount of sugar, depending upon the sweetness of your berries.
* I subscribe to the theory that if you're going to indulge, it should be in the best thing possible. That's why I use half-and-half along with the cream in the custard mixture. If you absolutely must, you can substitute whole milk for the half-and-half, but your finished product won't be as good.
* Be careful not to overcook the cream/egg mixture. Eggs will cook at 180-degrees so it is wise to invest in an instant-read thermometer to avoid ending up with a mess of sweetened scrambled eggs. Also, don't skip the step of straining the cooked custard. Even if you take it off the heat at exactly 165-degrees, it is still likely to contain some pieces of cooked egg.
I rest my case.
* If you are in a big hurry and want to chill the custard mixture quickly, place the bowl into a larger bowl filled with ice cubes. Put the whole thing in the refrigerator without placing the plastic wrap over the top and stir with a spatula, scraping sides, every 15 minutes or so. It should be ready for the ice cream freezer in about 2 hours.
* After you have stemmed your strawberries, please take the time to hull them as well. That means running a small knife around the top to remove the flavorless white part just below. This gives more flavor and intensity to your strawberry ice cream.
* Lastly, I have to give myself a pat on the back. After I scooped some of the ice cream into a bowl for that final beauty shot, I PUT IT BACK IN THE CONTAINER WITHOUT EATING ANY OF IT! Way to go, Liz! Here's the proof:
See? I took a hit of the spray instead!