Entrant #4: Cucumber Vanilla Ice Cream
Inspiration: I love cucumbers, especially in the summer when their clean crunch could easily nickname them "nature's ice cube." It's not surprising that spas all over Los Angeles slice cucumbers into the pitchers of water they set out to quench your thirst after a stint in the steam room. The grassy, subtly sweet flavor of the cucumber martini at The Hungry Cat, a Hollywood-cool take on an east coast crab shack, provided the inspiration for this pale green cucumber vanilla ice cream.
Quotes from people who tasted it:
"Delish. Definitely a winner" - Rachel Rose
"Mmmm. Surprisingly delicious." - Matthew Stone
"Wacky...yet wonderful." - Gloria Zimmerman
"Hmmm. That's good. Cucumbery." - Danny Watts
"Wow, that's good. Kind of like green tea...but better and not as sweet." - Simon Gornick
Click through below for the recipe.
Cucumber Vanilla Ice Cream
makes approximately 1 quart
1 cup half and half
2 cups heavy cream, plus an additional 1/4 cup
1 1/2 pounds peeled cucumbers, about seven 6-inch cucumbers, seeded if necessary. (I prefer the Persian variety for their pronounced cucumber flavor and thin, unwaxed skin.)
1/2 cup vanilla sugar (or 1/2 cup sugar plus 1 tsp. vanilla extract) (see NOTE)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoo. lemon juice
Combine the half and half and 2 cups of the heavy cream in a medium sized heavy bottom saucepan and bring to a simmer. Set aside to cool.
Beat the eggs with the sugar until well-combined. With mixer running, slowly add the milk to egg mixture in a stream. Return the egg/milk mixture to the saucepan and stir over low heat until it thickens and forms a custard. Be careful not to let it boil or the eggs will scramble. A double boiler also works well here: add the egg/milk mixture to the top of a double boiler and stir over simmering water.
Remove the custard from the heat, slick a piece of plastic wrap over the surface to prevent it from forming a skin, and let it cool. Strain the custard into a bowl through a sieve to remove any lumps. A metal bowl works well here to speed up the chilling process.
Puree the cucumbers with the lemon juice until soupy and free of lumps. Combine with the remaining heavy cream. Stir the cucumber/cream puree into the cooled custard and place in refrigerator to chill for at least 4 hours. If you're in a hurry, you may place it the freezer for one hour, but stir it every 15 minutes and be careful not to let it freeze.
Churn it in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer's directions.
This is best eaten when it is still soft but it may be kept in the freezer to harden. Allow the ice cream to soften for 15 minutes before serving.
This is wonderfully soothing after a spicy Thai or Mexican meal, served with a scattering of fresh blueberries and slivered, lightly toasted almonds.
NOTE: To make vanilla sugar: split two vanilla beans and stir into 1 pound of sugar. Cover and allow to sit for a few days. Vanilla sugar adds a subtle flavor to baked goods and rocks blacks tea, both hot and iced.