When you're facing a whole season of ice cream making ahead of you, it's good to review the basics. There are two kinds of ice cream, as far as the home-cook is concerned: those made custard-style, and those not. I find that knowing the custard-method down pat is important, and a great springboard for other flavors. So as you gear up for a warm summer weekend, I hereby arm you with a Basic Vanilla Ice Cream recipe.
Basic Vanilla Ice Cream
1 1/2 cups whole milk
2 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped, or 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
Beat milk and eggs together in a large saucepan. Add sugar and vanilla bean or vanilla extract, and cook over medium-low heat. Stir constantly with a wooden spoon until slightly thickened and registering 170° F on a thermometer. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Remove hull of the vanilla bean, if using, and stir in cream. Pour mixture through a fine sieve into a bowl and cover surface directly with plastic wrap to prevent skin from forming. Refrigerate at least 3 hours or up to 12 hours.
Freeze mixture in ice cream maker according to manufacturer's instructions. (I have a Donvier 1 quart manual crank for small jobs and a White Mountain 1 1/2 gallon electric for big jobs) The mixture will not be completely hard. To finish freezing, put mixture into a lidded container, cover and allow to harden in the freezer at least 1 hour before serving.