Rosemary Ice Cream

To the little girl who unabashedly hopped onto my lap while I was on the train to work: You’re beautifully fearless.

To the mom taking her son across the city to perform his rap songs: You’re beyond cool.

To the barista saving up her tips for a plane ticket to Hawaii: I hope you make it.

Strangers inspire me. One-time encounters are the ones I remember most. Like the first time I tried a double chocolate torte and had to sit down before finishing the first bite. That night you opened your convertible up and we let the rain come in. Or that time when we stumbled upon a break dancing party in the middle of the slums of college town. Oh yeah. We danced.

Everything I am is the summation of all of you.

So thanks, you little nuggets. Now let’s have some ice cream!

The first and only time I’ve ever had rosemary ice cream was at Hungry Mother, where gourmet French food met the Southern comforts of Creole cuisine. We had cocktails in mason jars and crostini made from bread I had shaped the day before. Just when we though our bellies couldn’t take any more battered catfish, the dessert menu screamed at us to have rosemary ice cream. And oh how delicious it was.

Six ingredients. That’s all.

Despite the simplicity of the ingredients, ice cream is a bit finicky. You have to turn it into a semi-custard before letting it cool in the fridge for several hours or overnight before even thinking about pouring it into an ice cream maker. Here is the first step in action: dissolving the sugar and honey into the milk and heavy cream as the rosemary infuses.

The next step is slightly nerve-wracking. You don’t want to whisk the yolks and cream mixture too much or else froth and bubbles will form, ruining the texture of the ice cream. You also have to add the warm cream slowly enough so that the eggs don’t set, but still manage to thicken.

I know. I was sweating. I’m even sweating now.

Once you’re done whisking the yolks with the cream, throw it back into a big saucepan (for even heat distribution) and stir constantly until it begins to thicken. If you run your finger along the back of the spoon and it doesn’t run, then it’s ready.

Lick your finger.

When it’s 80 degrees out, ice cream melts. Eat it fast. Take yourself down memory lane.

Rosemary Ice Cream.

9 egg yolks
3 cups heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
3-4 sprigs fresh rosemary, washed, drained and leaves removed from the stem
1/4 cup granulated or raw sugar
1/3 cup honey
pinch of salt

Prepare your ice cream maker – typically, this means freezing a big metal container for at least 8 hours.

In a large saucepan, heat the milk, cream, sugar, honey and rosemary to just below simmering. Stir continuously to prevent burning. Steam will escape from the surface. Let the mixture cool just slightly before adding to the eggs.

In a large bowl, lightly whisk the egg yolks until just incorporated. Using a ladle, slowly spoon in the cream mixture while whisking continuously. This will ensure that the eggs do not begin to curdle. If they do begin to solidify, you’ll have to start over. Make some French Toast.

Once all of the ingredients are mixed, add a pinch of salt and return to the saucepan. Heat on low until the custard begins to thicken. This is a crucial step – make sure you keep an eye on the consistency. It shouldn’t run and it shouldn’t solidify. It should have the same thickness as maple syrup.

As soon as the custard is set, pour it through a fine sieve into a metal bowl. Place the bowl into a large ice bath and stir until evenly cooled. Put the mixture into the fridge and let it chill for at least two hours or overnight before turning into ice cream.

Depending on your machine, it should take 25-30 minutes for the ice cream to form.

Makes about 2 pints.

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Peanut Butter Blondies with Chocolate Chips

I’m a major creep on the train. I sit in the first cart, every day, at 8:06am and sit like a hunchback while perusing through the day’s news. I’m a train hermit. I don’t look up at the other bozos going to their respective daily grinds.

Unless.

Unless there’s a mini family on the train. Not necessarily strollers and bibs, but toddlers and daycare kids. Moms in suits asking their daughters if they remembered to bring their show-and-tell doll. Dads finding juice boxes. Sons sleeping on laps.

I totally stand near those families. I totally creep.

They’re snippets of happiness. And I’m far too young to even think about families and yadda yadda yadda (don’t worry, Mom), but watching them is more energizing than a fat cup of coffee, more news-worthy than the latest hoopla on the internet.

And as I age yet another year, I’m glad that I’m not in a rush to get anywhere.

Why fast-forward through life, right? Right.

It’s my birthday. Time to make my own snippets.

Scoops of peanut butter in my face.

When chocolate marries peanut butter, they make beautiful babies. And when they experiment with butter, whoa.

Served best with ice cream and board games on the porch.

Peanut Butter Blondies with Chocolate Chips.

1/2 cup peanut butter (creamy, chunky, natural, Skippy, anything)
1 cup flour
5 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a 9×9 baking pan or line with parchment paper.

In a sauce pan, melt the butter and brown sugar until the crystals are gone. Cool to about room temperature (you don’t want the egg to cook!) before adding the egg, vanilla and peanut butter. Swiftly mix until smooth.

Sift the flour, salt and baking powder in a medium bowl. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix until fully incorporated.

Add the chocolate chips and fold until they’re evenly distributed.

Pour into the pan and bake for about 25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean from the center.

Makes 8-12-16 brownies, depending how big you want them.