Of Fathers, Husbands and Vanilla Ice Cream
My husband likes to joke that I married my father.
And it’s true — they are uncannily alike in many ways.
My Dad couldn’t get enough of cop shows on TV. Neither can my husband.
Both like to eat and run. I’d barely have time to swallow the last spoonful of dessert at a restaurant, before my Dad would be jingling his car keys and pushing his chair back to head home. My husband, as much as he hates to acknowledge it, has been known to do the same.
My Dad also liked nothing better than to end a meal by indulging in a scoop of ice cream. He’d go to the freezer, take out the tub and carefully fill a coffee cup, before digging a spoon in, contently. If there’s no ice cream in our house, my husband will feign wanting to go for a walk, just so he can stop by the neighborhood ice cream shop on the way home.
Their flavor of choice? Vanilla. Always.
Me? I usually zero in on the Chunky Monkey, the Sicilian Pistachio, the Basil, the Strawberry Balsamic. Anything but vanilla.
I never understood why, when faced with so many more unusual flavors, anyone would choose vanilla.
But now that I’m older, I get it.
You always hear how the tell of young chefs is that they’re prone to adding as many ingredients and techniques on one plate as they can. But as chefs mature, they pare back, realizing that simplicity is not only harder to execute, but also in the end if done well, more meaningful and memorable.
The same with vanilla ice cream.
If it’s done with expertise, it’s not boring by any means. It’s rich, pure, milky, just sweet enough, and with plenty of old-fashioned vanilla flavor to make it not only special, but hauntingly so. It’s a flavor you happily get lost in.
“Vanilla Ice Cream”Â is from a San Francisco institution that does ice cream superbly — Bi-Rite Creamery. It’s from the cookbook, “Sweet Cream and Sugar Cones: 90 Recipes for Making Your Own Ice Cream and Frozen Treats From Bi-Rite Creamery” (Ten Spped Press), of which I received a review copy. The book is by Kris Hoogerhyde and Anne Walker, founders of Bi-Rite Creamery; and food writer Dabney Gough.
It’s filled with recipes for the ice creams they’re famed for, plus cookies and cakes to pair with the ice creams. Best yet — make it at home and you don’t have to stand in the perpetual line there or get a headache from trying to find a parking space in the Mission.
The base is made of heavy cream and low-fat milk, plus sugar, five egg yolks, and a dash of salt. There’s also not only vanilla bean to add those telltale specks, but vanilla extract, too, that ups the flavor even more.
Chill the mixture well before spinning it in your ice cream machine.
The result is creamy goodness that’s a comforting taste of nostalgia. The color is off-white because of all the golden egg yolks.
Think it’s too basic for celebrating Father’s Day?
After all, fathers do know best — whether we like to admit it or not.
Vanilla Ice Cream
(Makes about 1 quart)
1 3/4 cups heavy cream
3/4 cup 1 percent or 2 percent milk
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 vanilla bean
5 large egg yolks
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Infuse the milk/cream: In a heavy nonreactive saucepan, stir together the cream, milk, half of the sugar (1/4 cup), and the salt. Split the vanilla bean lengthwise and use the knife to carefully scrape the seeds from the bean. Add the seeds and the split bean to the pan.
Put the pan over medium-high heat. When the mixture just begins to bubble around the edges, remove from the heat, cover the pan, and let steep for about 30 minutes.
Make the base: In a medium heatproof bowl, whisk the yolks just to break them up, then whisk in the remaining sugar (1/4 cup) until smooth. Set aside.
Uncover the cream mixture and put the pan over medium-high heat. When the mixture approaches a bare simmer, reduce the heat to medium.
Carefully scoop out about 1/2 cup of the hot cream mixture, and whisking the eggs constantly, add the cream to the bowl with the egg yolks. Repeat, adding another 1/2 cup of the hot cream to the bowl with the egg yolks. Using a heatproof rubber spatula, stir the cream in the saucepan as you slowly pour the egg-and-cream mixture from the bowl into the pan.
Cook the mixture carefully over medium heat, stirring constantly, until it is thickened, coats that back of a spatula or wooden spoon, and holds a clear path when you run your finger across the spatula, 1 to 2 minutes longer.
Strain the base through a fine-mesh strainer into a clean container. Set the container into an ice-water bath, wash your spatula, and stir occasionally until the base is cool. Remove from the ice-water bath, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate the base for at least 2 hours or overnight.
Freeze the ice cream: Add the vanilla extract to the base and stir until blended.
Freeze in your ice cream machine according to the manufacturer’s instructions. While the ice cream is churning, put the container you’ll use to store the ice cream into the freezer. Enjoy right away, or, for a firmer ice cream, transfer to the chilled container and freeze for at least 4 hours.
From “Sweet Cream and Sugar Cones” by Kris Hoogerhyde, Anne Walker and Dabney Gough
After You’ve Had Your Fill of Vanilla: Peach-Nectarine Buttermilk Ice Cream