Basil, Lemon and Passionfruit Ice Cream
Basil, Lemon and Passionfruit Ice Cream
'Versatile sweet basil, with its heady clove and anise perfume, sends cooks into raptures and brings Summer to mind'.
- Ian 'Herbie' Hemphill, Herbaceous.
My summer holidays are quickly drawing to an end and next Monday marks the beginning of my working year for 2012. The scent of fresh basil lingers on my fingers as I write this snippet and I know the thing I will miss most about being at home (other than Peter's company, of course, and our daily cycling by the duck ponds) is the freedom to spend hours pottering in the kitchen garden.
Last night Peter stood for ages, simply admiring the progress of the garden. 'It is growing like a jungle this year,' he remarked, genuinely surprised by the rate at which our vegetables, strawberries and herbs are growing. The rich compost and worm farm that we dug in before our Sydney trip have indeed made a difference. And while everything seems to be flourishing, the strawberries and basil have been the most productive so far. Our taste buds and tummies are delighted.
With such an abundance of basil, I have been exploring numerous recipes and have to say that this one for Basil and Lemon Ice Cream is amazing. The receipt in question is from Diana Henry's gorgeous Crazy Water, Pickled Lemons (Octopus 2002). Henry says she first tasted basil ice cream made from a recipe in Joyce Molyneaux and Sophie Grigson's Carved Angel Cookery Book and she 'loved its haunting perfumedness'. This description is so apt, this ice cream offers a sublime combination of flavours, but to my palate sweet basil is the star ingredient, so I have changed the recipe title to give basil first billing. Next batch, I plan to add a hint of passionfruit and have my ice cream a la my favourite Zumbo macaron... passionfruit and basil. I think that flavour combo would be even more superb! UPDATE: since first writing this post, I have made a double batch and added passionfruit. The ice cream is DIVINE, even better than a Zumbo macaron!
Before we launch into the recipe, a few basil facts and a little trivia. Food history tells us that basil originated in India and was considered by the Greeks to be a sacred herb. At one time only the sovereign was allowed to eat basil (hence Basilikos, meaning Royal) and its harvest was a special ritual. The priest who officiated had to 'purify' his right hand with splashes from an oak sprig that had been dipped in water from three different springs. Such a palaver over a humble herb, and just think, women were not allowed to pick it!
There are several varieties of basil now available, including Lemon Basil, Purple Basil, Thai Basil and Lime Basil, among others. To grow basil successfully, choose a warm sunny spot and pinch out the flower buds regularly to encourage denser foliage. Water the plant to keep the soil damp, but not wet, as it will quickly rot and die. In Morocco, basil is planted among other plants in the garden to ward off insects. However, basil is hugely popular with snails and can be devoured in a sitting, so make sure you take suitable precautions on this note.
Basil and tomatoes are seen as the perfect culinary partnership and the herb is also excellent with eggplant, zucchini, cheese, pasta, potatoes, chicken, some seafoods and lamb. Basil's best (almost) solo performance is, of course, in pesto. If you would like to know how to make pesto like an Italian grandmother, Heidi Swanson of 101 Cookbooks fame explains it here. And on that subject, I have included a link to one of my favourite poems, Pesto by Fiona Johnston here. Basil is versatile and the leaves can be used in so many other ways; including basil butter, scattered onto pizza, in salads, mixed into stuffings and tossed into sauces and soups. Fellow blogger, wine maker, gardener and cook, 'Vineyard Paul' from Tasmania, has investigated whether it is best to tear or to chop basil. His findings are here. Interesting, no!?
Harvest the leaves of the plant during the Summer growing period and pick all of the leaves before the weather cools down and the plant dies back. Drawing on Ian 'Herbie' Hemphill's expertise, to preserve basil for drying, 'cut long leafy stalks and spread them on wire mesh in a shady place'. Sophie Grigson recommends making a big batch of pesto and covering it with an extra layer of olive oil then freezing it for up to three months. Grigson also suggests that you puree the leaves with olive oil or water and freeze them in ice cube trays. Basil is expensive to buy, so I think I will try this.
Do you enjoy the flavour of basil and what is your favourite basil recipe? What are your secrets to preserving it for the cooler months? Do please pop in and let me and your fellow readers know.
I hope that you managed to take a break, your holidays were relaxed and your return to the workplace is off to a great start. I've given a wrap up of what I will miss about Summer holidays at the tail end of this post. Ciao!
BASIL, LEMON AND PASSIONFRUIT ICE CREAM*
30 large basil leaves, roughly torn
zest of a lemon, removed in thin strips, no pith
juice of a lemon
seeds and juice of 3-4 passionfruit
150g caster sugar
4 egg yolks (make meringue with the whites)
Heat the milk just to boiling point, then turn off the heat and add the basil leaves and lemon zest. Allow this to infuse for an hour. Note, the delicate basil leaves will blacken.
Beat the sugar and egg yolks together in a pyrex bowl until pale and creamy. Strain the milk into a jug through a sieve or colander and press out as much of the flavour from the zest and basil leaves as possible. Stir the milk into the egg and sugar mixture.
Pop the bowl on top of a saucepan of simmering water and stir the mixture constantly until it begins to thicken to a custard. Test on the back of a wooden spoon. If the custard coats the back of the spoon and leaves a trail if you run your finger through, it is ready. Transfer it immediately to a large pouring jug and allow it to cool.
Beat the cream lightly until it begins to thicken. Add the lemon juice and passionfruit to the custard, then stir in the cream. Churn the custard in an ice cream machine and then freeze until in a container until you are ready to serve it. Serves 4. *I have amended the wording of the recipe with my interpretation of the preparation process.
Summer holidays are drawing to an end. I will miss... pottering in the kitchen garden for hours
I will miss cycling in natural surrounds every morning...
Before I return to the kitchen to make another batch of the Basil and Lemon ice cream, I thought I would ask how you spent your Summer holidays. Did you travel? What was the most enjoyable activity (or non activity) and what will you miss most upon returning to the daily grind?
26/1/2012 07:13:45 pm
Oh, this sounds so intriguing and refreshing. Good to know you have been enjoying your summer. I haven't really had a break from the daily grind, but I'm looking forward to some time off in February. :)
26/1/2012 07:34:29 pm
Why thank you! I hope you enjoy your time off in Feb and the weather is kind!
There are holidays in Australia? I would LOVE to have one. I will as soon as the world economy improves and the Aussie dollar doesn't. :)
26/1/2012 10:04:28 pm
Hiya Maureen... oh I hope you can take a break! Thank you for your kind words. Swans and dogs don't mix, LOL!
NOW someone tells me! We had a boat down in Paynesville and I'd take the dog for the weekend. He didn't mind seagulls but let a black swan paddle by the boat and it was all woof woof woof. Pain in the ass to be honest (that's American ass btw lol - sometimes I can't speak Australian)
26/1/2012 09:56:08 pm
This ice cream sounds absolutely amazing - what a brilliant flavour combo! Love that peeler too! Thanks for sharing your summer holiday adventures.
26/1/2012 10:05:45 pm
JJ, hi. It absolutely is! I am going to add a hint of passionfruit next batch... a la Zumbo macarons (passionfruit and basil, my fave). Thanks for stopping in! What did you do on your holidays?
26/1/2012 10:19:51 pm
Thank you, Barbara! Keep well, lovely!
26/1/2012 10:29:57 pm
Loving the sound and look of this ice cream. I made a basil sorbet once and, yes those leave blacken. The recipe called for them to be left in and blitzed, a very dark sorbet with almost a liquorice taste.
26/1/2012 10:40:54 pm
Oh Sara, that basil sorbet sounds lovely! Do you have the recipe by any chance? Actually, I should have torn the leaves in this one, but almost forgot at the last minute... I also wasn't quite sure about how intense the flavour would be if the leaves were torn, so left them whole. To be honest, the flavour is heavenly, I will tear the leaves next time... and add some passionfruit! Thanks for popping in!
26/1/2012 10:39:06 pm
LOL, Maureen, that is too funny! Swans used to scare my border collie, Libby. Her photo is in my gallery... she was wearing reindeer ears for xmas. Sadly, she is dead now. She used to want to 'herd' the swans, until they reared up and hissed at her. LOL. God love her!
Lizzy - it sounds so delicious. The idea of tangy lemon icecream is making my mouth water so I'm sure the basil would be a great addition. My Basil continues to grow wildly also, there is just so much of it! Another tip: shred half a cup of basil, place in mortar with 1 cup of sugar and then pound until fully combined and the sugar takes on a green tinge. Store in airtight container - use to rim cocktail glasses, sprinkle a little over pineapple or melon for breakfast, add a spoon when you are cooking tomatos
27/1/2012 12:00:08 pm
Oh Fiona, that is such a wonderful hint for using basil. I am going to save that. Readers, are you taking note!! Fiona, if you have any other tips, please don't hesitate to drop me a line. Thanks!
27/1/2012 12:31:38 pm
I love your beautiful clear photos Lizzy and the ice cream looks very good! Upon returning to the daily grind I will miss having the days (mostly) to myself and making my on schedules! All good things must come to an end I guess :)
27/1/2012 01:56:59 pm
Jane, thanks so much! The ice cream is divine. All good things come to an end eventually. Thanks for popping in!
27/1/2012 01:57:34 pm
Liz, my friend, thank you! Have a lovely weekend also xo
27/1/2012 02:33:32 pm
Sadly, i did not have a break! I put my hand up to work in the office. However, Mr Pickled Cumquat and I are going to Tasmaina in 2 weeks for 2 weeks!
27/1/2012 03:02:23 pm
Melinda, that is sooooo exciting! I wish you happy travels and a wonderful time.
27/1/2012 05:36:33 pm
It would have been a welcome relief for you to escape the high 30s in Summer here, I'm sure Amanda. Enjoy LA. Cannot wait to hear all about it. Work will be fine, I love my job, but after four or five weeks at home, I relish the day when I can retire! Bring it on baby!
27/1/2012 05:02:59 pm
I love this post, Lizzy! I grow basil each summer in my herb garden. Tho it's still winter here, I can almost taste this ice cream! Plan to make it. Beautiful photos, too.
27/1/2012 05:37:35 pm
Hi Vickie... oh, I would love to hear back from you when you do make it, let me know please what you think. I hope to make a second batch tomorrow... and, as I said earlier, will add a hint of passionfruit. Hope you are keeping warm! Regards.
27/1/2012 09:06:23 pm
Thanks... it's so yummy.
28/1/2012 12:16:34 pm
That's a very different combination of flavours and I bet it's very refreshing.
28/1/2012 12:20:37 pm
Hey there Claire.... that's a good hint, thanks!
28/1/2012 06:25:16 pm
28/1/2012 06:43:09 pm
Chopinand... pop over and get some basil... you can try my second batch with passionfruit! I agree, it is yummy with EVOO and tomatoes... but one needs to experiment from time to time! Envy your coast trip BTW!!!!
28/1/2012 08:00:52 pm
Hi Jen... Oh, I made sure I put down some snail bait... sick of losing basil and other herbs so quickly! Thanks for popping in!
28/1/2012 07:14:57 pm
Sounds delicious!!! Looks beautiful around your place too! I'm tempted to move closer to the country, well, to the country but for the small problem of a liveable income. Maybe in time, my dream might come true.
28/1/2012 08:02:14 pm
Hiya VM... thank you! We are in suburbia in Canberra actually. The ACT Govt has put the duck ponds in all over the city... a great idea. That homestead has been redeveloped into a community centre, but it was a farm about two years ago!!!
28/1/2012 07:15:25 pm
Oh my this recipe sounds beautiful, Lizzy. I can't wait to try it.
28/1/2012 08:03:02 pm
Hi Erin, oh please do try and let me know what you think. Your basil salad sounds lovely, I am going to try that tomorrow! Thanks for calling in.
28/1/2012 08:40:56 pm
I will for sure, I got an ice cream maker for my birthday and have been making all sorts of combinations, it's so much better than anything you can buy at the supermarket. :)
28/1/2012 08:59:45 pm
Ah, excellent! Home made ice cream beats anything you can possibly buy in the stores. Let me know what you think of this. Oh, and do try my choc mint one too! The recipe is on the blog. I am going back to work tomorrow, so salad is on the menu for lunch : )
15/1/2014 08:26:09 am
Beautiful photos Liz, I showed my husband and as always he states that next time we visit the capital we are taking our bikes down!!! Onto a more basil note, I have some in my garden as well as lemons, think I know what I will be making today as we face another hot day! Thank you for the inspiration! X
19/9/2014 10:04:38 pm
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Cooking and writing have been a lifelong passion.
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- Liz Posmyk
NB: I use Australian standard measuring cups and spoons in my recipes.