If someday I pack up all my bags and transport them 3,000 miles across the country without even a hint of warning and definitely without anything resembling two weeks' notice.
I need you to know that it has nothing to do with the fact that staring at adipocytes (fat cells) under a microscope for hours at a time makes my head hurt. Or that instead of trying to figure out which plasmids (circular pieces of DNA that we electrify into aforementioned fat cells so that they'll express whatever gene we've engineered into them) I need to order to so that I can move forward with this whole "PhD thing"...I spent my time in lab yesterday impulse-procrastination-buying 32 oz bottles of vanilla extract online. (How can one be expected to think about science when there is not even a tbsp of vanilla left in her household?!?!? Seriously.)
And instead. It has everything to do.
With ice cream.
Bi-Rite Creamery ice cream, to be precise.
It's pretty much the stuff that dreams are made of.
(Or the stuff that you wish your dreams were made of because your subconscious likes to torture you by making you dream about DNA and glowing green cells. Um, you know. Hypothetically.)
I once walked approximately eight miles in a day with this girl on a healing stress fracture just so that we could justify eating it for lunch. Oh yes, my priorities are screwed on right.
Unfortunately, trying to explain to my mother that I've abandoned both my future career as an MD/PhD and the east coast for a frozen dessert is not something I feel like doing anytime soon. I have a feeling she just wouldn't understand.
So when my best friend (who is, coincidentally enough the other reason why you'll find me on a plane headed to SF at a moment's notice, ready and willing to abandon my life in NYC) emailed me the recipe for Bi-Rite's strawberry balsamic ice cream, I (a) squealed, (b) screamed, and (c) thanked the powers that be that I did, in fact, have exactly five egg yolks sitting in my refrigerator just waiting to be churned into strawberry balsamic heaven.
It was kismet. And totally meant-to-be.
This ice cream tastes unmistakably like strawberries but then there's this hint. This twinge, if you will, of something else. Something...addictive. And while I'm not necessarily sure that you can pinpoint it as balsamic just on taste alone.
You can definitely tell that whatever it is makes it extra delicious.
So while I can't exactly go to Bi-Rite whenever I want, I can at least have it sitting in my freezer at all times, ready and waiting for me to sneak spoonfuls of it every time I feel that compulsion to get on an airplane and never look back. Which may or may not be everysecondallthetime. But who's counting.
Strawberry Balsamic Ice Cream
Makes about 1 quart, adapted from Serious Eats
For the strawberry puree:
- 1 1/2 pints strawberries (3 cups), hulled and halved or quartered
- 2 1/2 tbsp sugar
- 2 tsp good balsamic vinegar
For the base:
- 5 egg yolks
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 3/4 cup heavy cream
- 3/4 cups 1% or 2% milk
- 1/4 tsp kosher salt
- 2 tsp good balsamic vinegar
- In a large skillet, combine the berries with the 2 1/2 tbsp sugar and 2 tsp balsamic vinegar. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the strawberries are soft and the liquid they release has reduced somewhat, 6-8 minutes.
- Let cool slightly, then transfer to the blender and puree. Refrigerate until chilled.
- In a medium heatproof bowl, whisk the egg yolks to break them up. Whisk in 1/4 cup of the sugar. Set aside.
- In a heavy, stainless steel pan, stir together the cream, milk, salt, and the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar. Put the pan over medium-high heat. When the mixture reaches a bare simmer, reduce the heat to medium.
- Carefully add about 1/2 cup of the hot cream mixture to the eggs while whisking constantly. Repeat with another half cup. ow that the eggs are tempered, slowly pour the egg/cream mix into the cream on the stove, stirring constantly.
- Continue to cook, stirringly constantly, until the mixture has thickened enough to coat the back of a spatula, 1 to 2 minutes longer.
- Remove from the heat and strain into a clean container. Set the container into an ice bath (or the fridge) and stir occasionally until it is cool. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 2 hours or overnight.
- Whisk the strawberry puree and the 2 tsp vinegar into the cream mix. Freeze in ice cream machine following the manufacturer's instructions. Eat right away or, if firmer ice cream is desired, freeze for 4 hours.