The wonderment with which Anne of Green Gables imagines what ice cream might taste like has always made me feel slightly guilty….
I don’t feel that I could endure the disappointment if anything happened to prevent me from getting to the picnic. I suppose I’d live through it, but I’m certain it would be a lifelong sorrow. It wouldn’t matter if I got to a hundred picnics in after years; they wouldn’t make up for missing this one. They’re going to have boats on the Lake of Shining Waters—and ice cream, as I told you. I have never tasted ice cream. Diana tried to explain what it was like, but I guess ice cream is one of those things that are beyond imagination.
We lost our sense of wonder about the majesty of ice cream a long time ago. The glorious alchemical effect of combining eggs, cream and a deep-freeze has become as routine as a walk to the bus stop. Which is why I was so pleased to be sent Ben Vear’s new ice cream book, Make Your Own Organic Ice Cream, published by Spring Hill.
I tasted Ben’s ice cream at a wonderful lunch to celebrate the online food magazine The Foodie Bugle. After the exquisite feast cooked by the Bugle’s founder Silvana de Soissons, we ate ice cream made by Winstones Ice Cream, the business created by Ben’s great grandfather Albert Winstone in 1925. Albert used to drive around the Cotswolds on his motorbike, selling home-made ice cream from the sidecar.
Ben’s book is simple, charming and inventive. It’s not a hugely elaborate affair crammed with lavish photographs, but an honest and above all inspiring paean to the marvels of ice cream. I’ve already made his recipe for coffee and cream, a rich, aromatic creation with crushed coffee beans, and I’m planning to make mulled wine ice cream next. But this morning I made Ben’s wasabi ice cream. Wasabi is also known as Japanese horseradish. It is, of course, ferociously hot which, much to my satisfaction, makes this a hot cold ice cream.
BEN VEAR’S WASABI ICE CREAM
- 250ml organic double cream
- 200ml organic full-fat milk
- 150g Fairtrade caster sugar
- 1 large organic egg
- 50g wasabi paste, also known as Japanese horseradish (adjust to taste)
Pour the cream and milk into a saucepan. Tip in half of the sugar and place over a low heat, stirring at regular intervals and not allowing the mixture to boil.
Whisk the egg yolk and the remaining sugar in a mixing bowl, beating with an electric whisk for about 2 minutes, or until the mixture has become a smooth, pale paste.
Combine both mixtures and return the pan to a low heat. Cook, stirring all the time, for approximately 10 minutes, until the mixture has a thick, custard-like consistency. Add the wasabi paste and continue to stir.
Set aside to cool, then pour into your ice cream maker, follow the manufacturer’s instructions and leave to churn. (Alternatively, pour the mixture into a freezer-proof container, seal it firmly with a lid and place in the freezer. Whisk after 1 hour to prevent ice crystals from forming; repeat 3 times before leaving it to set.)
Ben suggests serving wasabi ice cream with chicken, red meat or game. But I combined this elegant eau de nil-coloured creation with hot-smoked trout, rocket leaves dressed with olive oil, lemon juice and zest, and red onion pickles. Make sure that you add plenty of lemon juice and zest when you dress the leaves, to counterbalance the slight sweetness of the ice cream. The astringency of the red onion pickles adds an extra balance to the dish too.
I suspect the nose-twanging properties of wasabi ice cream would have been several steps too far for Anne of Green Gables. But she would have approved of my face when I ate it, because my expression was as full of wonder as hers.