Wednesday, February 07, 2007

 

Stem Ginger and Spice Ice Cream

There are many times when reading cookery books that particular ingredients keep popping up. Sometimes I do research to decide whether or not I'm interested in trying them out; other times I am fixated on them. It is when I can perfectly imagine the result of recipes that these ingredients come to the fore, as was the case with stem ginger. This was rather shocking to me at first because I didn't think I was a ginger fan, but then I started thinking of my favorite New Zealand treats: gingernut biscuits (cookies) and ginger crunch, which my fellow Kiwi, Bron, wrote about here). I was unlucky in my pursuit of the item through the conventional route (various markets: super, farmers', and those in between) before finding the product online and promptly ordering it.

Stem ginger is no more than what it sounds like - stem of ginger that has been peeled, chopped into cubes or shaped into globes, then preserved in a sweet syrup (not tooth-achingly sweet, though). I have used the product once already (in a Nigel Slater recipe for Double Ginger Cake) to great success, and now I'm ready to move onto other recipes that feature this special ingredient.

In Los Angeles, though technically Winter, we have been experiencing rather warm temperatures since the weekend (about 80 F/26.7 C), thus necessitating a double-pronged effort to: (a) use stem ginger and (b) make ice cream. Could I trust myself to create a receipe? No. I have neither the balls nor the culinary experience to yet trust my own palate and hand, and with all these cookery books around (that will soon have to be packed up into boxes and shipped to New Zealand or left in storage at my angelheart Eric's mum's house in the U.S.A.), how could I not at least peer into them (ok, let's be frank: I have my nose buried in them most of the time, and they can be found strewn, bookmarked and earmarked, throughout the sunny abode...nightstand, kitchen, dining room, bathroom...)?

Would you believe that I found a recipe that exactly answered my requests? Tamasin's Kitchen Bible by Tamasin Day-Lewis is a massive tome replete with invaluable tips (or what she calls "lowdowns") and information to improve one's cookery skills and to find recipes to suit all occasions and situations. I don't know how I didn't notice this recipe before, but the cookery book referenced is dense, people!

Stem Ginger and Spice Ice Cream
(from Tamasin Day-Lewis' Tamasin's Kitchen Bible)

16oz (450ml) milk
2 vanilla pods, split and insides scraped out
6 egg yolks
6oz (170g) unrefined caster sugar, or 2 tablespoons runny honey (I used chestnut)
20oz (600ml) double cream, or 10oz (300ml) of both double cream and creme fraiche
6-8 cubes stem ginger, starting off with 6, then tasting to see if more required
1 tablespoon ginger syrup
7 cloves and a few bits of cinnamon bark, crushed in a mortar
2 more cubes stem ginger, very finely chopped

1) Scald the milk with split vanilla pods and their seeds.
2) Whisk into egg yolks and either sugar or honey.
3) Return mixture to pan, cook over low heat, whisking as you go until it thickens. (You can also whisk madly at medium heat for approximately 10 minutes before the mixture thickens. The key is to ensure that the mixture does not boil and that the egg yolks do not curdle. If they do curdle, add a tablespoon or two of really cold cream off the heat and whisk madly to bring back together, or whisk madly to reincorporate after pot has been plunged into a sink filled with ice water.)
4) Remove from heat as soon as mixture has thickened and whisk in the cream/creams.
5) In the blender, whizz the ginger, ginger syrup, and half a teaspoon of the spice mixture. Taste to see if ginger predominates to your liking, if not, then add more cubes of ginger. Ensure that the musky backnote of spice is not lost, though.
6) Churn in ice cream according to manufacturer's directions (usually about 30 minutes), adding finely chopped stem ginger in the last few minutes. You could also put mixutre with very finely chopped stem ginger in an ice tray and freeze, remembering to stir the setting walls of the ice cream into the middle of the tray after the first hour, and then again an hour or two later in order to prevent crystals forming.
7) To further accentuate the point, I served the ice cream with preserved ginger.

This is the second time I have made ice cream with a custard base. I still find it too eggy. Next time I will use one less egg yolk to see what happens. To overcome the eggy-ness, I would actually use more of the spice mixture. There is no denying that the bones of this recipe are really great and that the result, though slightly eggy for my liking, was enjoyable spoonful after spoonful. I can always rely on Ms. Day-Lewis for an original and inspiring recipe that piques my interests.

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Comments:
Shaun, we are Tamasin obsessed, I have two of her recipes on the go in the kitchen right now!
The ice cream looks beautiful in those graceful glasses!
Love, Freya
 
Freya - I'm excited to know which two recipes you're working on. I'm sorry to say that there will not be much playing in the kitchen until next week because we are moving. I do have one or two things planned before vacating, though. I hope they pan out. Yes, they were the perfect vessels in which to serve the ice cream, but Eric and I seem to have a lot of orange and yellow things in our kitchen...
 
You are a Tamasin fan, aren't you! Sounds lovely although in Calgary today there is so much snow and cold, ice cream is the last thing we need!!
 
I can imagine the ice cream has a very nice kick to it with the ginger. Ginger lends itself in wonderful ways to desserts that even a non-ginger fans will love!
 
I just love Ginger ice cream - the taste works so well.
 
Sara - Yes, I am; I can't help it. I know - at least for the sake of the blog - that I need to really make a concerted effort to make recipes from my other cookery books, but I just find Tamasin Day-Lewis' recipes and writing very inspiring. Even when it's cold, I make sure that there is ice cream in the freezer.

Veron - It was indeed the ginger "kick" that led me to this recipe. A little stem ginger can go a long way, but it really did have to compete with the custard in this recipe. More, more, more, I say!

Scott - I will be making this again with slight alterations because I think there are great elements in this ice cream. Thanks for stopping by - I love your blog.
 
Shaun,
It's no secret that I'm a bit of an ice cream fan. Do you think it would survive a 6000 mile trip here without melting?
-Paul
 
Paul - Yes, it would survive the trip if I had an arm and a leg to dispense to pay for the shipping! Freya has "Tamasin's Kitchen Bible" from which this recipe comes (she recommended me to purchase the bookin the first place). Take into account my suggested changes should you make it. Thanks for stopping by...I'll be in touch with you and Freya once the moving is done with...Sigh.
 
How did the move go??

I love stem ginger!!! I absolutely love it. The ice cream looks so stylish; I like that kind of presentation too. Wow.

Kathryn
 
Oh, what I wouldn't give for an ice-cream maker (or the time to sit and churn some myself). These flavours sound really gorgeous. I adore stem ginger.
 
Kathryn - The move went quite smoothly. We were very well organized, though tired by the end of it all. Ice cream was a much deserved reward (I always have home made ice cream in the freezer). I'm still investigating the uses of stem ginger, as you can tell by my posts (another one was for Nigel Slater's double ginger cake, which was heavenly). Thank you for the kind words regarding the presentation. I've only just realized how much red, yellow, and orange items Eric and I have, so maybe it was a good idea to move homes, leaving behind the yellow-tiled kitchen.

Ros - I found our ice cream maker online for $30-odd. It is one of the best investments I have ever made, and should it pack it in, I would be more than happy to shell out more for a better; our lives are immeasurably better because of the ice cream maker :-)
 
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