Recipe: pandan ice cream
[Today is the last day to get the early bird registration discount of $50 for the Food and Light food photography and styling workshop in Boulder, Colorado this summer. We are so looking forward to working with you!]
P is for party! In my case, a dosa party hosted by my favorite little blogger down the road, Manisha. She has ruined me, ruined me. I dare not set foot into an Indian restaurant lest I be disappointed that it’s not as good as Manisha’s cooking. [I'm sorry, I don't have good photos of the dosas because I was too busy EATING them... Priorities, man.]
manisha tops the little papads (which i kept sneaking)
mango panna cotta with cardamom and pistachios
Did I mention that I love having friends who cook? It seems to be a problem that plagues many of my food blog friends who happen to be phenomenal cooks – none of their friends cook. Sure, people eat, but few people actually know and prepare their food at a fundamental level these days. I’m guessing this readership is in the minority when we consider our society of convenience and junk and corporate-mystery-crap-peddled-as-nourishment. But back to friends who cook… Just the other day I was having a pleasant catch-up with Lisa over breakfast and she bemoaned that all too familiar plight of the avid cook: no one invites you over for dinner. Foodies (I know some people hate that word – so call them food enthusiasts or whatever, I really don’t care) are always told “I can’t cook like you.” That’s not really the point. Both Lisa and I agreed that being invited over for take out pizza would be terrific because it’s about spending the time together, not going head to head to outdo or impress. At least, that’s not what my friendships are based on.
(from left to right) great cooks: kitt, manisha, birthday girl dana, and teri (not pictured: kathya)
I was lucky in grad school because I had two girlfriends who were great cooks and we took turns inviting each other (and partners) over for big bash meals – something to take your mind off the grind of research for an evening. I bond with people over food. My dad had a rule in our house: we all sat down to dinner together as a family and the television was turned OFF. And you know what? It was nice (except when the topic turned to SAT scores, college admissions, and why the heck I insisted on playing field hockey). It took a while, but after a couple of years in Colorado I have found a great gaggle of gal pals who love to cook and love to feed one another. We go to ethnic grocery stores together like fifth graders on a field trip. So it was a few weeks ago that Kathya and I were cruising around H-Mart in Denver.
p is also for pandan
Truth be told, I didn’t know what pandan leaves were. I just knew that southeast Asian bloggers loved the stuff and made pretty green desserts with it. I held the bag in my hand… a mere two dollars or such. “What is it?” I asked Kathya. Her face melted into a big smile and she told me she loves the stuff and it’s a little nutty, a little floral. I put the packet in my cart thinking I would enlist the help of the interwebs later to figure out what to do with the leaves.
tie into a knot for ease of retrieval
milk, sugar, cream, and a pinch of salt
steep the leaves in the hot cream
Pandan is screwpine leaf and the flavor is nutty, floral, and a tad piny, if that makes sense. It’s subtle and lovely. I was always drawn to it because it’s green and I’m a sucker for green foods. What I learned was that the green color comes from pandan extract, which I didn’t have. So I chanced a visit to my local Asian grocer and found it. I picked up a bottle for myself and another for Kathya.
This stuff is green on steroids. It is GREEN. You don’t need much of it, which may explain why the bottles are so tiny. I looked on the label and saw that it is not naturally this green, it has food coloring in it. Kathya and I had discussed this dilemma with Asian groceries when we were at H-Mart. We both prefer to purchase organic, sustainable, and locally produced foods when we can. At the same time, we both crave and make the Asian foods of our youth. If you noodle about an Asian grocery store, you’ll notice that there isn’t a whole lot of organic anything going on. I worry about food safety and quality control practices of countries like… China (you know, the country that is home to tons of copyright violators who steal your photos off the web? I guess we have those in the US too). I know the sliced beef short ribs for galbi at the Asian markets are likely harvested from different cattle than say the beef short ribs at Whole Foods which cost an order of magnitude more per unit weight. I don’t have a solution. I just try my best.
tempering with hot cream
I settled on making pandan ice cream because I had the ingredients on hand. Most of the recipes that I found online said they just converted their standard vanilla ice cream recipe by substituting the pandan leaves for vanilla bean and the pandan extract for vanilla extract. I know for a fact that my vanilla ice cream go-to recipe kicks ass because it’s The Lebovitz’s recipe and David is all kinds of awesome.
cooking the custard
strain through a sieve
a little extract (it goes a long way)
Having no idea how much extract to use, I guessed about a half a teaspoon. I couldn’t even add it to taste because I had never tasted pandan ice cream (or pandan anything) before. I judged on color. This green puts the Shamrock Shake to shame!
pour the custard into the ice cream machine
make ice cream
Luckily, Kathya came up to visit with me shortly after I made the ice cream and I asked her to try it along with some passion fruit ice cream. She gave it the nod and uttered several “mmm mmm”s along with that. The flavor is mellow and subtle, but distinctly nutty. It’s a nice way to feel tropical when we are in the depths of Colorado winter.
just a taste
Pandan Ice Cream
converted from this vanilla ice cream recipe by David Lebovitz
1 cup whole milk
3/4 cup sugar
2 cups cream
4 pandan leaves, each tied in a knot
6 egg yolks
1/2 tsp pandan extract
Heat the milk, sugar, 1 cup of the cream, and salt over medium-high flame in a medium saucepan. Stir to dissolve the sugar. When the milk begins to steam, remove from heat and place the pandan leaves in the cream. Cover and steep for 30 minutes. Place remaining cup of cream in a large bowl and set aside. Whisk the egg yolks in a medium bowl. Slowly pour the cream mixture (with the pandan leaves) into the egg yolks while whisking (to temper so the eggs don’t curdle). Scrape everything back into the saucepan and set over medium heat. Constantly stir the custard, scraping the sides and bottom until it thickens. Remove from heat and strain into the cream. Stir in the pandan extract until well-blended. Let the custard cool and then refrigerate (covered) until it is completely chilled. Churn in your ice cream machine per the manufacturer’s instructions.