On the California Coast, blackberry season begins when summer is already in full swing. The berries are slow to ripen as even on warm days the evenings are cool, so there aren’t evening hours to help turn the berries from red to black. When they’re finally ripe, it’s easy to forget the long wait for the reward of their sweet burst of flavors. And, the additional reward is when other summer fruits wind down, there are still blackberries into early autumn.
Ice Cream, Sorbets, etc
Homemade frozen yogurt has become one of my passions this summer. I’ve especially enjoyed using freestone peaches and strawberries. You can use berries, nectarines, mangoes, and even poached apples or pears with most of the juices drained. Simply follow the basic recipe and adjust sweetener (use sugar if you prefer) to taste. I add a little sugar to the fruits to get the juices running; you can skip that step if the fruit is already juicy.
Just about everyone has a summertime ice cream memory. We didn’t have the Good Humor Man where we lived, but when I was eight and my brother was four we visited our Connecticut cousins and discovered the joy of the arrival of the Good Humor Man in the neighborhood and the art of begging for a popsicle or ice cream bar.
One of the delightful things about granitas is that you can switch out the flavors and add herbs or spices without screwing things up. This is not baking where everything must be precise. Switch out the lemons for limes or pomegranate juice or watermelon or whatever comes up. With lemon granita you can easily add rum and have a Daquiri Granita or tequila and salt for a Margarita Granita. If you switch from lemons, to limes, add lots of mint to the lime zest/sugar syrup, remove it before freezing, add a little rum and, voila, you have Mojita Granita. Don’t add more than 2 – 3 tablespoons of alcohol to the granita mixture as it might not fully freeze, but you can serve the granita in glasses and pour a little more rum over the top.
My all-time favorite plums are Santa Rosa plums, created by none other than the famous Luther Burbank, who lived in the Santa Rosa Valley at the turn of the twentieth century. The flesh is yellow and red, super juicy and sweet, and the skins are tart purple. They have a heavenly flavor whether you eat, cook or bake with them. I planted a Santa Rosa plum at my home and have missed both the plum and the Blenheim apricot tree since moving.
When David Sterling’s book, Yucatan: Recipes from a Culinary Expedition, arrived at my door, my jaw literally dropped. As I removed the packaging to reveal this 564 page (6-1/2 pound) gem, I could barely believe my eyes. It is absolutely stunningly beautiful!
Helado de chocolate mexicano
From Yucatan: Recipes from a Culinary Expedition, by Chef David Sterling
David says, “When I eat this memorable and rich ice cream, I am always reminded of what the Mayas must have experienced when they were spiritually transported by chocolate. Since there are no recipes for chocolate desserts in regional cookbooks, I based my formula for this ice cream on what we know of the Maya and, later, Aztec recipes for the chocolate beverage
My grandsons were asking my daughter for stories about her childhood and she told them about the box freezer her grandparents kept in their basement filled with ice cream. Wide eyed, they wanted to know what her favorite flavor was. She told them Tin Roof Sundae. Despite it’s popular surge in the early 80’s, Tin Roof Sundae has since declined both in popularity and availability, but when the boys heard it was made with peanuts, chocolate sauce and vanilla ice cream they knew they had to try it.
Who doesn’t love the divine, inimitable flavor of pure vanilla ice cream? While it goes with everything – pies, cakes, tarts, cobblers and more – it’s perfect just by itself or with a lovely caramel or fudge sauce. Yummm!
I Scream Sandwiches by Jennie Schacht (Stewart, Tabori & Chang; May, 2013)
Nothing screams SUMMER! louder to any kid than the ice cream truck bell or a trip to an ice cream shop. For kids lucky enough to have a mom who makes homemade ice cream, it’s summer heaven, but even a dive into a store freezer for an ice cream sandwich will do in a pinch. You may remember, however, that unless you score an “It’s It,” most ice cream sandwiches have soggy cookies and artificially flavored ice cream. We tolerated them — and kids still do — because they are cold and sweet.
Jennie says: With rich caramel echoed at every level, this one is all about extravagance. You could use store-bought dulce de leche to flavor the ice cream or make it using sweetened condensed milk, but making it yourself from fresh milk, while it takes a bit of patience, is easy and fun and immensely more complex and flavorful.
Fresh off the press, Jennie Schacht’s latest book, I Scream Sandwich is out in time for summer. Here’s what she says about the following recipe:
The It’s-It company began selling scoops of vanilla ice cream sandwiched between old-fashioned oatmeal cookies, all cloaked in chocolate, at San Francisco’s Playland at the Beach in 1928. By the time I moved to the area in 1978, the It’s-It was a well-established local phenomenon. I’ve filled my version of the novelty with a not-overly-sweet vanilla frozen custard.
Courtesy of Alice Medrich, Sinfully Easy Delicious Desserts
This is a selection from Alice’s book that directs readers to different recipes she has in the book. You will need to read the book for the recipes that are highlighted, but this will give you good ideas for adorning vanilla — or other– ice creams. First, how about a recipe for Vanilla Ice Cream? And if you’re not up for making your own, buy the best quality vanilla ice cream you can afford as many don’t actually contain pure vanilla extract!
You can use this recipe to make nectarine, apricot or plum or mango ice cream. All of the stone fruits are so delicious freshly cranked. Top with lightly sweetened peaches or berries for a fruit festival!
Courtesy of David Lebovitz, The Perfect Scoop
Courtesy of David Lebovitz: The Sweet Life in Paris
I should mention before the recipe that David was so taken by the name “Shakerato” posted on the café board for this iced coffee drink, that he ordered it. Turns out he also liked it.
Double Ginger Ice Cream From Bite Size Desserts
Courtesy of Carole Bloom, www.carolebloom.com
This recipe uses candied ginger puree, available from the Ginger People: www.gingerpeople.com
While I was writing VANILLA, I discovered that before Thomas Jefferson brought vanilla beans to the United States, the ice cream flavor of the moment was lemon. The idea of lemon ice cream sounded intriguing, but when I looked for recipes, all I could find were lemon sorbet and sherbet. I experimented and came up with a real winner. This recipe is ideal as a light dessert and “palate cleanser.” As it’s also lower in calories than regular ice cream, it avoids the category of “guilty pleasure.”
Courtesy of Chef Bev Shaffer