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Ginger lemon ice cream

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For a few nights now I’ve been turning over what to do with my excess Christmas shopping. At the supermarket on December 23rd I went into cornucopia mode, loading the cart with boxes of confectioner’s sugar, whipping cream, dark chocolate and other special-occasion treats. Since then, a bottle of cream has been languishing in the fridge, and the lemons on the kitchen counter have begun to take on the puckered look that marks tired fruit.

Writing a letter to Katherine at the kitchen table, I sketched the problem and rhetorically suggested ginger lemon ice cream, then was so taken by the idea I stood to suit the action to the word. (Sorry to scoop my letter, Katherine!) I’d discovered Shona Crawford Poole’s recipe for lemon ice cream via Nigella Lawson a few winters ago, where a bright burst of citrus seemed just the thing to counteract gray skies, and on this dull January afternoon it was just as appealing.

This time I wanted to try a few variations that had occurred to me the first time around. What if I were to add ginger, for instance? And let everything sit around for much longer than the suggested 30 minutes, to help the flavours intensify? And strained the sugar mixture so the ice cream itself was immaculate and pale, unspeckled by zest? Here’s what I did.

Ginger ice cream (after Nigella Lawson & Shona Crawford Poole)

Makes six medium scoops.

  • 1 C (240 g) lemon juice (I needed four lemons) plus lemon zest
  • .35 oz (10 g) fresh ginger (about a one-inch piece)
  • 1 C (130 g) confectioner's sugar
  • 1 C + 2 T (280 g) whipping cream

Mix the lemon juice and zest in a smallish bowl. Grate the ginger directly into the bowl to avoid squandering precious ginger juice. Add the sugar and stir with a fork. Leave the fragrant mixture to sit at room temperature for about six hours. Strain into another bowl, preferably one with a spout, pressing on the zest and ginger gunge with the back of a spoon to extract as much liquid as possible.

Whip the cream with 2 tablespoons cold water until stiff (I used the magic wand, or immersion blender, that David bought off a friend who was moving to Sacramento, and it took only seconds). Still blending, slowly pour in the juice mixture and mix until completely amalgamated. Transfer to a shallow container (I used a Tupperware with a snap-on lid) and freeze for at least four hours (though Nigella counsels two - perhaps my small German fridge isn't as heavy-duty as hers?). Nigella says no inter-beating is necessary, but I gave the mixture a whirl after about an hour, just because the Zauberstab was still out and I felt like it. I didn't bother the last time I made it though and I don't remember it being particularly ice-crystal-y.

About twenty minutes before serving, dish out the ice cream into, say, fetching ramekins and leave in the fridge to soften a tad. Again, I think my fridge must not be as cold as Nigella's because she recommends letting the ice cream soften for forty minutes, but mine would have been too liquidy by then. (Alternatively, just check on the ice cream while it's freezing, catch it when it's creamy and not rock-hard, and serve it then - after about 3 hours, for me, but perhaps sooner for you if your freezer is very cold.)

Obviously this is a dish that lends itself to further variation. Next on my list to try are a blend of lime and lemon juice, and I want to see what happens too if I add mint to the initial maceration. Do let me know if you hit upon a good formula!

PS:Note that the ice cream itself is a pale lemon-yellow - the bluish cast above is due to the morning light in which I photographed it; even after winter solstice, it's still hardly light at eight o'clock...

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