Happy Summer! I am so ready for hot summer days and nights. How about you? We got back from Peru last week and while it was fantastic, it was winter and chilly. I am long for sitting on the patio, putting up my feelings and enjoying a luscious bowl of this creamy Strawberry Verbena Ice Cream, which we were enjoying as soon as strawberries appeared at the markets.
I have this old Verbena plant in my kitchen herb garden that I have had for some twenty years. It has moved with me from apartment to apartment and it keeps on making me happy. There are times that the leaves turn crispy and brown, and I silently weep as I am afraid it is the last time for this precious herb. I cut back the old foliage and once again it produces a bounty of leaves within no time. I use the tender leaves to make tea, cocktail syrups as well as with savory marinades for fish and chicken. If you are not familiar with Verbena it has a slightly lemony aroma and flavors. Not tart just pleasant.
Recently, about the same time strawberries started showing up at the farmer’s market it produced a bounty of leaves and I decided to combine the two into something sweet this smooth and creamy icy treat. Perfect for a hot summer day.
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Strawberry Verbena Ice Cream
1 cup of sugar
1/4 cup water
3 medium-sized sprigs of verbena
2 pounds strawberries, hulled and cut in half
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
2 cups heavy cream
2 cups half and half
5 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla
Place 1/2 cup of sugar along with the water and verbena into a small saucepan. Over medium-low heat cook until the sugar is melted. Set aside and let the flavors mingle until cooled. Once cooled remove the sprig of verbena. Sometimes I do this step the day before making.
Place the strawberries, lemon juice and 1/2 cup of sugar into a mixing bowl. Stir, and set aside until macerated; about 30 minutes.
Heat the cream and half and half in a medium saucepan over low heat, just until boiling. Remove from the heat.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk the egg yolks until lemony in color; then add the verbena sugar mixture and mix well.
Slowly add the milk, whisking the entire time to prevent scrambling. This is VERY IMPORTANT.
Pour the mixture back into the saucepan.
Over low heat, stirring continuously, cook the egg/cream mixture until it coats the back of a spoon. Do not stop stirring or you will have scrambled eggs.
Remove from the heat.
Pour the mixture into a medium-sized bowl that is sitting in a larger bowl of ice. Let cool.
Stir the strawberries to lightly break up.
Add to the custard mixture.
Stir in the vanilla.
Cover with plastic wrap and let sit in the refrigerator overnight.
Process the ice cream according to your ice cream maker directions.
Place into a container or containers, and then freeze until ready to eat.