I received The Sprouted Kitchen Bowl + Spoon cookbook in the mail not long before we moved to our new house, and I remember lying in bed and bookmarking pages I was excited to try but also feeling overwhelmed with where to start: the truth is that this summer has been a relatively low-inspiration / low energy time in the kitchen for me. I’d been chalking it up to pregnancy but when I think back and if I’m honest with myself, my cooking style tends to be very easy and produce-driven during these warmer months. I rarely break out complicated recipes, instead relying on fresh tomatoes and corn or zucchini and homemade pesto to guide me. But last night I cracked open Sara’s book and pulled out a few peaches I’ve had sitting on the counter, fearing their season may be nearing its end. This morning as I was making coffee, I sliced up the peaches, toasted the pecans and churned away — having a bite (or maybe two) before getting it into the freezer to firm up.
If you haven’t yet peeked at The Sprouted Kitchen Bowl + Spoon, it is all “bowl food” which is really, instinctually, my kind of eating and cooking. In other words, it’s filled with salads and grain bowls, noodles, oatmeal and fruit crisps. It’s food that is meant to be eaten simply, out of a bowl — you won’t find constructed courses here or fancy staggered meals. I’d go out on a limb to guess that this is the way many of us eat anyway if left to our own whims, and Sara’s recipes are always fresh, healthy and inspired. I have a few pages bookmarked to make and freeze for us to have after Sprout is born: Smoky Black Bean Chili and Turkey Meatballs in Tomato Sauce. But first, this ice cream.
This summer has been a special one for peaches in Seattle. Collins Farm is a local farm that sells pears and apples in the fall and stone fruits in the summer (among other things). This year in particular, their peaches have been outstanding and I’ll often make a special trip out to one of the markets now just to pick up a bag. I find myself hoarding them and hiding them from Sam; they’re that good. I’m slowly starting to sense the season coming to a close and because we have a few busy weekends coming up I have a feeling this may be our last batch of homemade summery ice cream. That being said, with this one in the freezer, I think we’ve really gone out with a bang.
Sara mentions in her notes that she wavers between having the peaches in the ice cream or serving them on top, so ultimately she opts to do both. The peach flavor is much more subtle when the fruit is frozen, so serving a handful on top is a really nice touch. Peaches aside though, the ice cream base itself is worth making all on its own: it has a quiet tanginess from the buttermilk, the perfect amount of sweetness, and a subtle warmth from the cinnamon. In fact, it occurred to me that this is the perfect “bridge dessert” as we slowly look towards fall: the fragrant cinnamon in the custard is a slow tease as to what’s to come yet the juicy, bold peaches remind us of where we stand right now.
Megan’s Note: I made a few tweaks to this recipe based on what we had in our cupboard which I’ll mention here so you can make some choices based on what you have at home. Sara calls for brown rice syrup which is nice because it has a really mild, subtle sweetness; we were out so I used honey instead. I opted not to use the 2 tablespoons bourbon Sara calls for and it was delicious as is; I imagine it’s even more so with a splash so do as you like. Last, I used cream cheese instead of the mascarpone because we had some leftover from another recipe. If you’d prefer the slightly more decadent flavor of mascarpone, just substitute it in for the same amount of cream cheese. My small changes are reflected in the recipe below.
The only thing I’ll do differently next time is dice the peaches smaller than I did. Big hunks of fruit can feel kind of hard and icy in ice cream whereas little bites are bright and add flavor and texture, so do take the time to do a nice fine dice. If your cream cheese is very firm, you may want to whisk in a quick splash of milk to loosen it up a bit — I ended up doing this just to help it incorporate more easily.
Lightly adapted from: The Sprouted Kitchen Bowl + Spoon
Mix the 2 tablespoons of the milk with the cornstarch in a small bowl to make a smooth slurry.
Combine the remaining milk, the cream, honey, sugar and salt in a large saucepan or pot (at least 4 quarts). Bring the mixture to a very gentle simmer over low heat and cook, stirring occasionally to dissolve the sugar, about 3-4 minutes. Remove from the heat and whisk in the cornstarch mixture.
Bring the mixture back to a simmer and cook, stirring constantly, another minute.
Gradually whisk in the cream cheese until smooth. Stir in the buttermilk, vanilla, cinnamon and bourbon (if using). Chill the mixture in the refrigerator for two hours or until cold. If it chills too long, a fat layer will separate to the top. Remove this piece before churning* (see note below).
Churn the ice cream according to the manufacturer’s directions. In the last minutes, add the toasted pecans and half the peaches. Spoon the mixture into the storage container and freeze until firm.
*Just a note on chilling: I chilled my mixture overnight and it was absolutely fine. Mascarpone has a higher fat content than cream cheese, so if you go the mascarpone route, Sara’s suggestion on not chilling too long will likely apply. But the recipe as written here can be chilled overnight.
On Monday our little family of three is headed to the airport at 6 am to board our first with-baby cross-country trip. We'll be visiting Sam's family in New Jersey for a few days, then renting a car and driving over to meet up with my family at my mom's lake house in the Adirondacks. Sam's younger sister and her kids have yet to meet Oliver; my grandpa has yet to meet him, and Oliver has yet to take a dunk in a lake, see a firefly, or spend quality time with energetic dogs -- of which there will be three. A lot of firsts. This week my family has been madly texting, volunteering to make certain meals or sweets on assigned days while we're at the cabin and it got me thinking about really simple, effortless summer desserts -- in particular, ones that you can make while staying in a house with an unfamiliar kitchen and unfamiliar equipment and still do a pretty bang-up job. I think fruit crisp is just that thing.
Somehow, in what seems to have been a blink of an eye, we have a six month old baby. In some ways I can't remember a time we didn't have an Oliver, and in other ways it's all a blur broken up by a few holidays (a Thanksgiving thanks to grocery store takeout, and our very first Christmas in Seattle), a few family visits, a one-day road trip to Portland, a birthday dinner out, a birthday cake, weekend drives to nowhere in particular, swimming at the pool with Oliver, weekly get-togethers with our parent's group, doctor's visits, hundreds of walks around the neighborhood, hundreds of cups of coffee, dozens (or more?) of scoops of ice cream. Most of the worrying about keeping a baby alive has made way for other concerns, and Oliver's need for constant stimulation or soothing walks and car rides has been traded for stretches of time playing with a new toy or checking out his surroundings. In truth, it's thanks to that tiny bit of baby independence that this humble, summery cake came to be in the first place. So we've all got an Oliver to thank for that. Or, really, we have a Yossi Arefi to thank, as it's from her beautiful new cookbook that I've bookmarked heavily and am eager to continue exploring.
We walked to the library last week and I had a strange realization standing in line watching Sam check out his usual massive stack of books: Will I ever have the time to read stacks of books again? I used to be much more of a reader than I am today -- a fact I'm not at all proud of. But when evening rolls around and the more formal workday ends, I find emails and other odds and ends creep in. Walking home from the library, I began obsessing over free time for reading, asking Sam if we'd ever be those two old people who study bird manuals and can recognize birds on walks. I want to have the time to read bird manuals someday. For now though, we're young and we're working a lot. We did sneak away on that one-night camping trip I told you about, and cooked some interesting, haphazard meals which I hope to share with you soon. For now though, for summer: a strawberry dessert recipe.
Much like friends, types of Sunday mornings, or books -- there are many different kinds of desserts. Sometimes you may be in the mood for a light French cake piled high with summer fruit. Other days, a thick slice of fragrant pound cake will do. And then there are those days when you crave a rich chocolate mousse that you share after a night of good conversation and a little too much wine. But let's be honest. When it comes right down to it, the most basic and unassuming dessert of all is sometimes the only one that will do. A good and simple affair. Vanilla ice cream. So I want to talk about that today--about a dessert that withstands the test of time, that will always be there for you. A dessert that is far from trendy, that doesn't play favorites or trick you into thinking it's something that it's not. It's a good foundation. A solid beginning.
[ Pie. if you've been around here much in the last few months, you know that I make pie. A lot of pie. And I'm particularly excited to share this pie with you today because it helped me break out of a rut. A pie rut. A baking rut. A Marge inspiration rut.