Wednesday, August 8, 2012

OMG a Recipe (Book): Cool Ice Cream Books and Not a Fetal Kitten to be Found

Aside from over 12 years of unwedded bliss, the Mister has gifted me with things like a food processor (two, actually, after I killed the motor on the first one trying to grind meat - oopsie), a standing mixer, a vacuum cleaner and a DVD player back when I was still trying to rub sticks together to make fire. Lest ye think he's Homer Simpson giving Marge a bowling ball with "Homer" printed on it, I really did want and appreciate all those things, however pragmatic some of them may be. He surprises me now and then with things I didn't ask for, but am very glad to receive, such as a copy of the Humphry Slocombe Ice Cream Book. Dish up, it's time for Northern California hipster ice cream!

Ice cream and beer float with Humphry - Photo by Wasabi Prime
It's finally feeling like the perfect time to be making ice cream from scratch. Not that it's inappropriate to be making it smack-dab in the middle of winter -- I do it -- but when the sun is out and the pale Seattleites are crawling out like albino moles from their cubicles, hissing at the burning orb in the sky, the season is right for ice cream. And the good stuff, because we need an excuse to skitter back indoors after standing out in 75 degree heat for fifteen minutes and deciding it's too hot. So why not make some unusual flavors of ice cream like Cinnamon Brittle or White Miso with pear or apple? Or better yet, an excuse to make ice cream called Elvis (The Fat Years), Here's Your Damn Chocolate Ice Cream, or Government Cheese? Enter Humphry Slocombe.

I've never actually had the ice cream from Humphry Slocombe, given the fact that I live in Washington and they are located in California (it's a bit of a drive), but they're a widely celebrated ice creamery that creates innovative flavors utilizing both sweet and savory ingredients incorporating farm-fresh goods from local growers. They turn the notion of a "cute" ice cream shop on its head, drag it out into the middle of the road and kick it a few times before cracking a few Yo Mama jokes as it whimpers off to the land of 31 Flavors. Yes, it's Hipster Ice Cream taken to Eleven. Which just means it's flavor-smart, pop culture-rich and an intelligent sense of humor to go with some dope-ass tasty scoopz. The Humphry Slocombe shop is based out of the Mission District in San Francisco, a sign of eternal coolness, started up by manager Sean Vahey and chef Jake Godby. And no, not a Humphry to be seen among the lot of them. So why is this book the hotness? It pretty much shares all their signature ice cream flavor recipes, but more importantly, it's a damn funny read. I particularly like the Day in the Life of Sean/Jake, where there's mentions of Native American prostitutes, counting condoms on the walk to work, trading cookies for cocktails and boiling wieners in a coffee maker, all in a day of running a popular ice cream shop in the Mission.

And what's with the Fetal Kitten? It's written on a Warhol-like set of soup can art on the shop wall and it's the de facto response when a person asks, "What's your next kooky flavor?" There's a reason behind this somewhat beguilingly disgusting response, which is that their ice cream flavors aren't weird, they're innovating beyond what we've come to accept as traditional ice cream, and I appreciate that. I also appreciate the part of the story where they write "Fetal Kitten" on the menu, then cross it out, which gets responses ranging from shock to disappointment that someone bogarted all the Fetal Kitten Ice Cream.

Just don't call the ice cream flavors "weird" - Photos by Wasabi Prime
I did not, in fact, make ice cream made from baby cats, much to Indy's disappointment. I went a little more middle-of-the-road and tried their Roasted White Chocolate and Lavender ice cream. The roasting of white chocolate is genius because to be honest, I kind of hate white chocolate and I couldn't say why I had a half bag of leftover white chocolate chips in the pantry. But I have a new appreciation for it when it's roasted in the oven at 300 degrees -- it doesn't melt, it just toasts and the flavor caramelizes into something better, stronger, faster, more Bionic and Six Million Dollar Manly. It also gets dry, crumbly and something resembling the crud you'd scrape off your shoe, so steeping its toasty rich flavor in cream and straining out the ugly bits makes it ideal for ice cream.

A beautiful ice cream made with two ingredients Jake Godby hates - brilliant! - Photos by Wasabi Prime

I also had quite a bit of dried lavender, leftover from a friend's considerable home garden harvest a few seasons ago -- the stuff lasts forever if it's sealed up tight and stored well. The lavender almost acts like vanilla, adding a floral roundness of flavor to the sweet, smoky white chocolate roast. There's also a fair bit of salt in their recipe, two teaspoons, which to be honest, I will probably cut back a little of it when making this again. It gives the ice cream a salted caramel familiarity, but the savory aspect was a little overwhelming, but that's just my taste and customizing is just one of the benefits of making your own ice cream. Another thing I noticed is their custard is very, very rich. As in, the fat from the heavy cream forms a hard disk on the surface after it's been refrigerated and despite trying to bust it up before churning, you may get some fat hunks in your dessert because most home ice cream makers probably don't have the moxy to break that stuff down. I know, this sounds like a rage on the book, and it's totally not, I think if you want a real ice cream book, this is the one to get, hands-down. It's just some personal observations and home-kitchen notes I want to add so you're prepared to push and pull things a little as you try the recipes, like any cookbook. Because the savoriness of the ice cream was a little strong for my taste, I just churned a batch of vanilla ice cream and swirled it with what was left of the white chocolate/lavender. It made for a very creamy treat, and one heck of a beer float. The flavor is strong and rich enough to where it stands up against a hoppy IPA, if you can believe it. The sweetness of the toasted white chocolate really comes through to balance out the citrus-bitterness of a hop-heavy beer. So even though I monkey-ed around with Humphry Slocombe's recipe a little, it's still a fantastic book and enjoying their ice cream with an IPA was a fitting combination of California and Washingtonia. No fetal kittens were harmed in the writing of this post.     

1 comment:

  1. I've only made one ice cream from the book so far, and I can't wait to try more. The roasted white chocolate and lavender sounds fantastic!


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