Moving back to Belgium from Texas, many years ago, was a huge culture shock. Although we had lived in Belgium previously, in fact two times, but after the easy going life in Texas and returning to the rather mundane life in Brussels, it was indeed difficult. With a population of about 11 million and an expat population of over 600,000. ( most of whom are in and around the capital) it is hardly surprising that the locals take to the barricades!
I found I had to make my own peanut butter ( not really a hardship) but harder was I had to make my own Ice Cream. This was not because Belgium had no Ice Cream, quite the reverse, it had plenty, but the run of the mill supermarket variety left much to be desired, at least this is what my in house tasters declared.
You see, in Texas, we lived near to the Crème de la Crème of ice cream makers, the “little creamery” in Brenham. Bluebell Ice cream, was indeed ice cream heaven. Even better, when in late summer, and only then, they made Peaches and Cream. And so the munchkins would sidle off to the creamery and return with a ( and I kid you not ) a 5 gallon of the aforementioned ice cream. This was their birthday present to Himself. And it has been known that he has been seen, late at night, patting the Great Dane and eating his special treat, straight out of the tub!
So home making of Ice Cream, requires an investment of sorts, either time or money. Time if you choose the type of ice cream machine, which either you have to crank yourself ( using special salt as the freezing agent) or the type of machine that you have to remember to freeze the container hours before hand. Or money,if you choose to splash out on the type that has its own freezer compartment and therefore requires no pre-freezing no hand cranking and no thought beforehand, I have to admit to buying the machine with its own freezer unit.
My first forays into Ice Cream making, I made use of the Ben and Jerry’s guide to making Ice Cream, ( the book is still available on Amazon, it is worthwhile the investment) ( unfortunately Ben and Jerry are no longer just two guys, but part of Unilever, and Rose and Reuben Matteus are no longer Haagen Dazs, they are owned by General Foods and Nestlé ). I still use the book as my guide to ice cream making, all of their wonderful flavours from Chocolate chip cookie dough to Cherry Garcia are in it. The basic vanilla, is very easy to make and from there on, you can be as creative as you like. My two recent additions are Popcorn with salted caramel sauce and my version of Pecan, Pralines and Cream. You have to understand, however, I am not an ice cream eater, but give me a tub of Pecan Pralines and Cream and I could eat the whole lot. Not for me, Cookies and Cream, Rocky Road, Cherry Garcia or Bubblegum, not even Double Chocolate , just the one. Mexicans really like their Ice cream and in Mexico City there are a couple of really old fashioned Ice Cream parlours, which have been family run since 1946, ( Neveria Roxy) and little has changed since. They have a long list of flavours, the staff scurry around to serve you as fast as they can as there are always customers waiting to be served and really olf fashoined bar stools and tables.
So the basic recipe for Vanilla Ice Cream is as follows.
1. 2 Eggs, 4oz ( 1/2 Cup) superfine caster sugar, 500mls double cream ( 2 Cups) , 250 mls whole milk 2 teaspoons vanilla essence.
Whisk the eggs and the sugar together until stiff, stir in the cream, the milk and the vanilla,mix well but do not beat. Pour ino your ice cream machine and follow the instructions. Altenatively, pour into a large plastic box, place in the freezer and stir well about once every half hour.
For my Pecans Praline and cream ice cream, I made salted caramel sauce.
You will need 8 oz super fine sugar, 250 mls double cream, 2 oz unsalted butter and a teaspoon of sea salt.
To make this, put the sugar into a heavy saucepan and put onto the heat.
When it is golden brown, add the butter,cut into chunks, be careful as it will splutter.
when it has melted, add the cream and a teaspoon of sea salt and cook for about five minutes. Leave to cool. Now take about 6 oz of pecans and chop roughly, put ito a saucepan about an ounce of butter, melt it and add the nuts, stirring whilst they brown. remove from heat and drain on kitchen paper., mix into the caramel sauce.
When the ice cream is more or less set, stir in the caramel mixture, but only roughly, so that there will be pockets of the caramel sauce in the vanilla ice cream.
So now I have left himself , home alone with strict instructions to devour the gallon of Ice cream that I left him ( not for nothing does he have the nickname of “Ice Cream Mouse”. Me? I am off to Neveria Roxy, with the new generation of Ice Crean Fans!