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Wednesday, June 02, 2004

I got an ice cream maker for my birthday, something I've wanted for some time. We used to have a wooden bucket machine with an electric motor-- the kind that uses ice and rock salt, but it was really more of a novelty than anything else: it was loud, and messy, and it didn't make that much ice cream. In the end the salt got to it, and that was the end of that. I'd still like one with a hand crank, just for fun: a big one, for parties.

My new ice cream machine, though, is a beautiful thing, and like a good appliance should, it frees the mind from preparation, and allows you to think about the different sorts of things it might allow you to do. The KitchenAid is like that, too: when you have that much power, and that kind of capacity, all of a sudden a lot of things that seemed like too much hassle become so simple you almost feel like going into the catering business. With the KitchenAid, for example, making a souffle for supper is so simple that it is only the fact that my offspring are tired of souffles that keeps me from doing it once a week. Fifteen minutes of prep, into the oven, read the Sports, toss a salad, dinner.

Homemade ice cream is now like that. Macerate some strawberries in lemon juice and sugar, mix sugar, milk, cream and vanilla extract, pour into the device, and let it spin for a half hour. It is quiet enough so that I don't really even have to turn the music up. Add the berries towards the end. Thing is, I'm not that big a desert person, so now I'm thinking about what savory ice creams might be fun. When nouvelle cuisine was still controversial, one of the signature dishes that had people buzzing was lobster with vanilla sauce. What about a lobster ice cream? Guinness is good for you , and it has a delightful creamy texture: mightn't stout make a an interesting ice cream? I'm not the first to think of it, or the second, and I don't see that it is all that far off from the green tea ice cream that I already like.... In a way, the main barrier here is the name, "ice cream". If we think of it as something else, the potential as a savory dish, or perhaps as a condiment opens up. Why not Wild mushroom souffle tart with savory Roquefort-Sauternes ice cream? I'll let you know-- although that one sounds like kind of a Fall dish.

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