I’ve been writing a lot lately about healthy living, but as I’m a firm believer in the saying, “everything in moderation,” here’s a nice, fatty post for you this week.

The best ice cream I’ve ever had was in San Francisco. Let me preface this by saying gelato is different from ice cream—in a nutshell, gelato has less fat and churns at alower speed, thus has less air incorporated into it (read the more in-depth explanation of ice cream vs. gelato from Serious Eats)—and I’ve definitely had some amazing gelato in Italy. I’m also not referring to the ice creams I can find in supermarkets across America (Lord knows I love Ben & Jerry’s). Today, I’m talking about ice cream shops I’ve discovered during my travels or even strolling around my hometown of Houston.

In my 2011 trip to SF where I ate my way through the Bay, a friend who loves food as much as I do took the hubs and me to Bi-Rite Creamery, a little ice cream counter inside the Bi-Rite Market. Who knew a bunch of grocers could produce ice cream so heavenly?

The first flavors I’d tried on my initial trip to Bi-rite were salted caramel and honey lavender. The salted caramel, which is one of their most popular flavors, was all right to me, but their honey lavender blew my mind. It was the first time I’d tasted lavender in ice cream, and it wasn’t overwhelming as I’d expected. This made me run home to Houston and immediately come up with my own honey lavender recipe, which you can find in my cookbook, Recipes from My Home Kitchen.

During our last visit to SF, it was a beautiful sunny day, and my friends and I’d just finished lunch. We decided to wash it down with some dessert, so we walked to the nearest Bi-Rite Creamery, and I had the roasted banana. Ben & Jerry’s Chunky Monkey is one of my favorites, so I knew I’d like banana flavored ice cream. We went up and down the aisles of Bi-Rite, licking our cones, when my hubster, John, exclaimed, “Bi-Rite has an ice cream cookbook!” Of course we bought it.

Breville is a sponsor of my Canadian cooking show, ”Four Senses”, and as a token of gratitude after we wrapped filming the first season, they’d sent me a lovely new Breville ice cream maker. Before this, I’d been churning my ice cream in a little Cuisinart, which worked fine, but it required me to pre-freeze the bowl which took up valuable freezer space, and if I forgot, well, I’d be SOL until tomorrow. This Breville ice cream machine, however, has a built-in compressor which means no pre-freezing necessary: just turn it on, and give it a few minutes to bring the container down to proper temperature. And then ta-da! Just pour in your custard straight from the saucepan (no cooling down with an ice bath even necessary!), and you’ve got soft-serve ice cream in less than an hour. (I freeze mine for at least four hours afterwards, though, because I like a “bite” in the consistency.)

Now with this Breville, making ice cream has never been easier. Every little bit helps when you’ve got friends coming over all the time asking if you’ve got any homemade flavors in the freezer.

We’ve made Bi-Rite’s Earl grey ice cream twice and, this past weekend, churned a quart of green tea. The best green tea ice cream I’ve had came from a 7-11 in Hakone, Japan, but maybe this is the second best. It’s better to use matcha green tea powder because it’s more concentrated in flavor due to the fine milling process, and thus translates into ice cream better than, say, simple green tea leaves. I used the matcha green tea from Costco, which I drink on a regular basis. The ice cream turned out a tad sweet for my preference, but incredibly delicious nonetheless. Below is the recipe with the sugar tweaked to my liking. I also made the amazing discovery of sprinkling the scoop with furikake–a Japanese rice seasoning made of seaweed, sesame seeds, and fish flakes–which gives the luscious, sweet, slightly bitter green tea a dose of salty umami. It was AMAZE-BALLS. But don’t take my word for it. Try it yourself. If the Blind can Cook it, you can too.

Do you make ice cream at home? Which are your favorite flavors? Which machine do you use?

Breville SmartScoop ice cream machine

Love my Breville SmartScoop ice cream machine

Recipe: Matcha Green Tea Ice Cream

Notes: Adapted from Bi-Rite Creamery’s recipe. You’ll need an ice cream machine, such as the Breville Smart Scoop. And I hate wasting, so use those leftover egg whites as a face mask or in an egg white omelette (not the tastiest, but definitely healthy, which makes up for this green tea ice cream you’re about to devour).

Ingredients

  1. 5 egg yolks
  2. matcha green tea powder of 4 tea bags from Costco or 1 tbsp matcha green tea powder
  3. 5/8 c granulated sugar, divided
  4. 1.75 c heavy cream
  5. 3/4 c 1% or 2% milk
  6. 1 pinch kosher salt
  7. furikake for garnish

Instructions

  1. In a stand mixer with whisk attachment, mix together egg yolks, 1/4 c granulated sugar, and the matcha green tea powder. Whisk until well combined.
  2. In a small saucepan over medium heat, stir together cream, milk, salt, and remaining 3/8 c sugar until sugar is dissolved. Be careful not to boil the mixture or it will curdle, make a mess, and possibly burn.
  3. While mixer is on medium speed, very slowly add 1/2 c of the warm cream mixture into the egg mixture. It’s important to go slow to “temper the eggs,” or bringing the eggs timidly up to the same temp as the cream so as to mix without cooking (unless you like chunks of scrambled eggs in your ice cream). Slowly pour another 1/2 c of the warm cream mixture into the stand mixing bowl, and whisk until just incorporated. Turn off mixer and pour the contents back into the saucepan while stirring with a heatproof rubber spatula.
  4. Heat custard over medium heat, stirring frequently, until it thickens and coats the back of the spatula, approx 1 to 2 min more. Remove from heat, strain through a chinois or fine mesh sieve into a container. Now if you have the Breville Smart Scoop like me, pre-cool the machine according to manufacturer’s directions, and get straight to churning. But if you have a machine that won’t cool the base automatically, cool the container in an ice bath. Once fully cooled, cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hrs or overnight.
  5. When ready to churn, first put the container in which you’re going to store the ice cream into the freezer. Then churn the ice cream base in the ice cream machine according to manufacturer’s directions.
  6. Once done churning, you can enjoy it right away if you like the soft-serve consistency. But if you’re like me and prefer a more al dente texture, transfer the ice cream to the pre-frozen container, leaving 1/2” room from the top for expansion. Cover and freeze for at least 4 hrs. When serving, sprinkle some furikake on top of the scoop. YUMMY.

Preparation time: 5 minute(s)

Cooking time: 10 minute(s)

Number of servings (yield): 1 qt

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9 Discussion to this post

  1. Hi Christine, I do make icecream at home in a bowl with a big clumb of frozen wet salt at the bottom (Phillips). The clumb takes less space in the fridge, but still has to freeze overnight. My favorite icecream at the moment is lime-vanillabean icecream, with a coconut-milk / condesed milk (for less icy christals) base which I can make realy sour with the lime juice without splitting. I am very eager to try the green tea recipe! What are the green bits in the garnish? Green tea?

    • Christine Ha says:

      Your favorite ice cream sounds similar to the sorbet I'd made on my “MasterChef” finale.And the garnish on my green tea ice cream is furikake, as explained in my post: the green bits are dried seaweed.

      • Joost Hekkens says:

        Amazing recipe! This is the first time that I “cooked’ the icecream mixture, and the results are surprising. It's tasting light, as oposed to buttery (when you slightly whip the cream to make a thickish mixture). The furikake is a beautiful garnish, with the darker seaweed glittering, so festive! And the taste is awesome!

        The lime vanilla icecream is 100% inspired by your ‘finale’ icecream, but I have to say that I honestly do not know a kafir lime leaf tastes like. Making my world bigger is one step at the time.

        Thanks a million!

  2. @JeffD503 says:

    It's a little freaky. You say you used one of those Cuisinart ice cream makers, and that's the same ice cream maker I currently use. It really is a pain in the butt to find freezer space for it. But so far, it's worked pretty well for testing, and it was mostly a matter of economics when I bought the thing.

    Anyway, that ice cream sounds fantastic. I've heard of green tea ice cream, and I think a few restaurants around here serve it (I've always been too full to get it). Now, I can give it a try without paying for a full meal. I'm not sure if I can find the furikake. There's not much in the way of Asian markets up where I am, and the stuff I can get in regular stores is pretty limited, but I think the ice cream will be good as is.

    I'm definitely going to add this to my to-eat list, right up there with your honey lavender ice cream. Knowing your food, I expect to have my taste buds blown.

    • Christine Ha says:

      Furikake is an awesome add-on, but not necessary as the ice cream is pretty fantastic on its own. And yes, I agree the Cuisinart is economical and a great beginner machine. The up side is the Cuisinart may have taken up more space in the freezer, but this Breville takes up more space in the pantry.Let me know if/when you try the ice cream recipes.

  3. Cecelia says:

    Sounds delicious. I haven't tried making ice cream at home since my mother tried to make it when I was a kid back in the 1940s. She used some kind of powdered stuff and froze it in little ice trays in the tiny freezer in the fridge. It was awful! Tasted powdery! AT various times, I've had wonderful homemade ice cream, in those old crank freezers, especially fresh peach ice cream. But just bought mine at the drugstore soda fountain, and, later in the grocery store.
    Being in Texas, through, we think that Blue Bell Is wonderful! We live not far from Brenham.
    I loved Country Vanilla , but haven't found it in a while. I don't care for a strong vanilla flavor, and that was very light. Lately, I've gone more toward Milk Chocolate. Again, I don't care for the bitter chocolate flavor in Dutch Chocolate. Chocolate Almond Marshmallow is wonderful as is Peaches and Cream, etc.
    I used to love Banana ice Cream. Now they are making Banana Pudding ice cream.
    My mother used to make a fresh banana cake forme. Have not idea of the recipe, as she just put a pinch of this and a handful of that in her cooking.
    I used to love to cook, but my family doesn't like what I cook, now that they are older. So I just let my daughter cook and stay out of her way! She loves to do it, and her sons are only happy with fast food, these days. I do make simple things for myself, at times.
    I have to add that you are such an inspiration! I am amazed at all that you do! Watched you on "Master Chef", and on "Arts Insight".
    I'm a retired Art Teacher/ Creative Writing and Journalism Teacher, artist/writer. I looked forward to having time to do my art work and writing. But, then one eye "went", then the other, with cataracts, then Macular Degeneration. Got one cataract removed, but it didn't help. I got so frustrated that I started recording what I actually see in watercolors and drawings, and a blog. I finaly got approved for help with the Texas Commission for the Blind and yesterday got a few little aidds like a magnifying glass, talking book machine, talking clock, large print calendar and paper. I also got a set of measuring cups and a little beeper thing that keeps me from pouring too much into a glass or cup.
    I guess that is a hint that I need to cook something!
    The hard drive went out on my computer and final got that fixed, but I am having a hard time reading the computer. The lady from the Texas Commission for the Blind said that she will try to find someone to help me with my computer and art work. I know that there are things I can do.
    For many years, I worked with students who had all kinds of problems, so I should be able to figure out things to do for myself! So far, I just keep trying different things.
    Many artists have had this same thing and did some of their best work after their vision loss.
    I do keep sketchbooks with me and draw every time I have to sit and wait. I use a grease pencil and do mostly gesture drawings or people, or record what I see and experience. Really handy when I have to go tot he doctor or be in the hospital! I still can't see what I put down, very well and it's far from where I want to be. When I was scared and started seeing all these weird things, I told myself, "Sit back and enjoy the abstract art show!" And I've been sort of going along with that.
    I'm so impressed with all you do.
    Thanks so much for sharing!

    • Christine Ha says:

      Thanks for sharing your story. And Blue Bell homemade vanilla is the best.

      • Cecelia says:

        I've been making a chocolate soda at night while watching "Perry Mason" on tv! I put some chocolate ice cream in a glass, then pouring in some Sprite or 7Up. Use a straw and spoon to eat it. Nice in hot weather, but I think that the foam, especially sort of helps to settle my stomach. Might just be comfort food and relaxing! That is very much like the old=fashioned sodas that we used to get at drugstore soda fountains. Before they closed, we enjoyed going to Swenson's for old fashioned treats. Wish they would come back!

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