Wednesday, April 06, 2005

(Not) just desserts

I had some tart pie cherries and their juice left over from making a clafoutis this weekend, so I decided to make cherry ice cream. Besides being spectacularly pink, it is perhaps the best ice cream yet. Here's what you do. But first, a caveat:

I get my cherries fresh from a fruit farm and freeze them in pie-sized amounts (5 cups of cherries to 1 cup of sugar). The sugar helps them keep their bright-red color and their fresh texture while they're in the deep freeze. So the "juice" that comes with my cherries is actually more of a light syrup. If you use canned pie cherries, you'll want to add a little bit of sugar.

2/3 c. sweetened condensed milk
1 c. sweetened pie cherry juice
1/2 c. pie cherries, chopped
1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
1 c. heavy cream

Whisk together the condensed milk, cherry juice, cherries, and lemon juice. Freeze in a shallow container until the outermost half-inch of the mixture is frozen.
Whip the cream until it holds soft peaks. Scrape the frozen parts away from the edges of the cherry mixture, then carefully fold in the cream, retaining as much fluffiness as possible, until the mixture is no longer streaky.
Continue to freeze until firm. While it is freezing, take it out every hour or so and carefully fold the frozen edges toward the middle. The goal is to break up the ice crystals but, again, retain the fluffiness.


Now, I should hasten to add that we do eat healthy entrees and don't subsist wholly on ice cream. I made a perfectly good quasi-Indian meal today! I keep trying to make myself into Iron Chef Indian, and someday I swear I'll get there. It definitely comes a lot more naturally to me than it used to. Once upon a time I used to go out for Indian food, but now that I live in a place with exactly zero Punjabi-run* restaurants, I have been forced to take matters into my own hands. I think it's for the best.**

The veg was something called "Carrots with Fresh Spinach Ribbons" from Neelam Batra's 1,000 Indian Recipes. It was really interesting and different; it called for whole cumin seeds that were toasted in oil, which gave the whole dish a nice nutty flavor.

We had some leftover unsauced tubini pasta, so for the main dish, I immediately thought of something called Keema Macaroni that Bakerina reprinted on her blog many months ago. I had tried and liked her version, but I craved a soupier sauce. Plus, in my mind, keema = lamb. So I took Neelam Batra's recipe for Moist Ground Lamb Pilaf, cut down the yogurt a bit, left out the almond slivers, and substituted pasta for the steamed basmati rice. Perfection! Bakerina, you are an inspiration as usual. I never would have thought of doing such a "fusion-y" thing as putting pasta in Indian food if it weren't for you, but it works big time.

And now I am approaching another writing deadline, but I refuse to think about it. My brain is focused on vegetable gardening, laundry, and the imminent American Idol results show***.

* Northern Indian is my hands-down favorite unless the chef is really out of this world. There's a vegetarian south Indian restaurant in Athens and it's not bad, but it doesn't scratch that itch.

** I can still utterly destroy an Indian restaurant's lunch buffet, though. "Destroy the Buffet" was a phrase coined by an ex-co-worker to describe his lunchtime activities at India Palace, and I think it fits. The image we're going for is sort of like Godzilla in Tokyo.

*** Addendum: I was wrong about the results. Unfortunately, that horrible Anthony kid is still on the show, and we've lost Nikko Smith just when I was really beginning to enjoy his voice and arrangements. Miraculously, baby-mama-beating Scott Savol hangs by a thread.