It’s hot in Adelaide at the moment. Like, really hot. The next week will see the mercury sit above forty degrees (about 104 for my US friends), bringing us our first unpleasant heatwave for 2014. This kind of weather is the worst. The air is thick and inescapable, everything you do causes you to break out into a sweat. We retreat to our air-conditioned houses (if we’re blessed enough to have it), and flock to the beach as the sun slips down below the horizon to capture a deep breath of cool sea air.
My plants always suffer through this heat, there is nothing you can really do about it, other than to ensure they are watered and protected from the worst of the blazing heat. I’ve taken to erecting sun umbrellas around the yard, and watering pretty much daily to keep things going. Still, there is definitely damage, a nice little smattering of tomatoes managed to evade my shade attempts, their skins scalded beyond recognition. Some can be saved – we’ll just cut off the ugly bits, but others sadly had to go into the compost. I guess the only thing to do in this kind of weather is to wait for it to pass. And also make ice cream.
I was actually lucky enough to get a head start on the heat, making this last weekend when the weather was still lovely. I spotted a couple of kilos of ripe summer strawberries at the farmers market and decided to make a batch of strawberry jam. With the leftover fruit I made this ice cream. I first dressed it in a little lemon juice and sugar, and then popped it in a hot oven for about ten minutes. The berries softened ever so slightly, stripping away any lingering tartness. Then I infused some milk with some gorgeous chocolate mint I’ve had growing in the garden for an age now. If you don’t have some of this stuff you simply must go out and find it (or just use regular old garden variety mint). It is heavenly and smells just like an after dinner mint – without any of the calories. To this I added cream, sugar and a couple of scraped vanilla beans. Once chilled I churned it until it was creamy and luscious, adding a generous splash of limoncello to prevent the ice cream from firming up too much in the freezer.
You can certainly skip the roasting bit if you can’t bear to turn the oven on. I’d strongly recommend heating your strawbs (with a dash of lemon and sugar) in a saucepan instead though, the flavour matures just that little bit more.
- 450g hulled strawberries
- Juice of half a lemon
- 3 tbspns brown sugar
- 1 cup milk
- 2 cups fresh mint (choc mint if you can get it)
- 1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
- ¾ cups caster sugar
- 2 cups thickened cream
- 1 shot of Limoncello* (optional)
- Heat oven to 180 degrees centigrade (or heat on the stove top if it’s too hot for the oven).
- Add the strawberries, lemon juice and sugar to a medium-large sized ceramic oven dish.
- Roast for 10-12 minutes, until soft. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
- Meanwhile, add the milk to a small saucepan and bring just to the boil – watch it doesn’t scald.
- Immediately remove from the heat and add the fresh mint and vanilla bean pod and scrapings.
- Allow to infuse for 15-20 minutes.
- Pour the milk through a strainer into a large mixing bowl.
- Add the sugar and whisk on a medium-high heat until the sugar has dissolved – about 5 minutes.
- Meanwhile, blitz the strawberries in a blender and add to the milk, along with the cream.
- Mix well.
- Transfer contents to a glass container and refrigerate for a minimum of 2 hours – overnight if you can.
- Once chilled, stir the mixture and then churn in your ice cream maker until set.
- Add the limoncello (if using) and churn for another couple of minutes.
- Transfer to a lined baking dish or ice cream container and chill until firm.