spinach and ice cream

Oh yeah, two completely unrelated topics. 

First spinach.  I was wholly gratified to see "frost kissed" spinach at our first outdoor market today for 8 dollars a pound!  We've been eating spinach all week, it seems like.  Spinach in soup, on pizza, in scrambled eggs, and one of our personal favorites:  spinach triangles.

spinach, feta, garlic, onions, oregano, in phyllo dough (folded just like those paper footballs)
We really only have about a 2 x 4 patch of overwintered spinach, with a few more rows scattered about elsewhere, but boy is it producing.  One good thing about a long cold spring, I guess, and we can at least feel rich in one kind of green stuff!

As for the ice cream, it's another one of those do-it-yourself tasks that have become routine around here, another item we can't imagine buying any more (joining yogurt, jam, salsa, among others).  One mainstay recipe, especially in winter when there are less seasonal ingredients to choose from, is caramel.  I love that this recipe uses one bowl and one pan, and a mere 5 ingredients that are almost always on hand, and three of which are easy to find locally!

Caramel Ice Cream, adapted from Ice Cream! by Pippa Cuthbert & Lindsay Cameron Wilson

1 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
6 large egg yolks
1-2 teaspoons vanilla extract

In a heavy sauce pan, carmelize the sugar by adding just enough water to dissolve, and bringing to a boil over high heat.  This isn't really very tricky, the only tips I have are to have a clean pan, don't stir once the sugar is dissolved and boiling, and wash down the sides of the pan with a little water at the start if you have any bits of sugar on the edges.  Let boil away until it starts to turn a color, then watch closely and let it get as dark as you dare before burning.  At this point you can turn the heat down a little and give the pan a swirl to slow things down a bit.  The darker you can get it the more flavor it will have. 

There is a magic to turning sugar into gold...

At this point add the cream slowly, it will cool the sugar syrup rapidly and boil over if you're not careful.  If the cream is cold, it may solidify the sugar, but don't worry, just let it sit on a medium heat until the caramel dissolves, stirring once in a while.  Then, add the milk, and bring to almost a simmer.

In the meantime, whisk the egg yolks until light and creamy (I just do this by hand, but you can use a mixer).  Temper in about half of the milk gradually while whisking (so as not to curdle them), and add the mixture back into the sauce pan.  With a whisk or heat-proof spatula, stir over medium heat until the mixture thickens.  It doesn't take very long, maybe 5 minutes.  Pour the mixture out through a strainer (just in case you cooked the eggs a bit this will catch any bits), stir in the vanilla, and chill the custard until cold.

Churn in your ice cream maker of choice for about 25-30 minutes.  We often add toasted pecans to this, or in today's case, some dark chocolate, during the last five minutes.  Freeze until firm, and try to make it last more than 2 or 3 days, I dare you.

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  1. Well, Sara, a really unappetizing title turned into a delicious post here! We've been enjoying that good Wisconsin spinach, too--it showed up at our co-op last week. Your little pies look fantastic; I'd love those for lunch, followed by some ice cream. And you know, I have never made ice cream. We have an ice cream maker, electric even, and Mary used to make a batch from time to time, but not for ages. I really should get on to that. But I did come up with a ridiculously simple and tasty topping recently--reduce maple syrup by a third (watch the whole time, it's desperate to boil over). Drizzle over vanilla ice cream, add a few grains of very coarse gray sea salt, or some chopped salted pecans or walnuts. Way good.

    Cheers~ Brett

    p.s.~ How much snow down your way? We've got a fluffy inch or snow and still drifting down (in Saint Paul).

  2. I had never made it either, but someone gave us an ice cream maker. There was rolling of eyes, and then we tried it out, and now we're hooked! Having an abundance of eggs helps a lot too, using six for one recipe is a bonus when you are swimming in eggs.

    Also El was my homemade yogurt enabler, which led to having milk on hand more often than I used to, despite being Wisconsinites I don't actually drink that much milk! (Not that we don't consume it, it's just mostly in the form of yogurt and cheese.)

    We got an inch or so of snow, but it STUCK, which is depressing this morning. Our high yesterday was a record low of 36! I am so ready for spring...


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