Strawberry Lychee Ice Cream – something to scream about?

I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream.

As much as I love ice cream, it’s not something I tend to scream about.

I scream while riding rollercoasters. (Jump aboard the Millenium Force at Cedar Point amusement park in Sandusky, Ohio and you’ll likely agree that full-blown hysteria including top-of-the-lung screaming is perfectly acceptable behaviour before, during and after the ride! Apparently, riding the Behemoth at Canada’s Wonderland (just north of Toronto) also produces high-pitched screeching. I haven’t yet experienced this particular fear-inducing ride.)

Snakes and creepy-looking bugs also make me scream. (Did you hear about the woman in Montreal who found a python under her bed earlier this week? I had to stifle a scream just hearing the terrifying tale on the radio.)

I scream – inwardly, mind you, so as not to alarm my co-workers – when I inadvertently delete something or forget to save something on my computer and there’s no “undo” feature available to retrieve what I’ve lost.

I’d probably scream if I won the lottery. (Guess I’d have to buy lottery tickets for that to be a possibility!

Strawberry Lychee Ice Cream

But let’s talk ice cream, which according to that old familiar rhyme from childhood (I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream) is supposed to incite cries of joy!

Creamy textured homemade Strawberry Lychee Ice Cream with its sweet, perfumed flavour is definitely worth at least a loud “yahoo” or two.

If you’re the lucky owner of an ice cream maker, you’ll know that the warm days of summer are perfect for enjoying homemade ice cream.

Actually, I take that back. There’s never a bad time to savour a batch of homemade ice cream or another frozen concoction such as gelato or sorbet.

So then! Strawberry Lychee Ice Cream. Strawberries you probably know all about, but are you wondering what lychees are and whether they should be added to the list of things to scream about? Rest assured they are in no way related to leeches, although lychee is pronounced ‘LEEchee’. It can be spelled ‘litchi’.

A lychee is a small fruit with a rough, reddish shell. The flesh is creamy white, juicy and sweet, and it surrounds a seed or pit. To eat lychees, you peel them and remove the seed. Eat them as is or add them to salads or desserts.

I tend to purchase canned lychees as they’re already peeled and seeded. And, I am lazy.

This recipe calls for superfine sugar. This is a quick dissolving sugar also known as berry sugar, fruit sugar, castor sugar or instant dissolving sugar. If you wish, you can make superfine sugar by processing granulated sugar in a food processor for 15 seconds.

I have a dual canister Cuisinart yogurt-ice cream-sorbet maker. It makes one or two quarts (1 or 2 L) of ice cream. This Strawberry Lychee Ice Cream recipe makes 8 cups (2 L) of ice cream. Once the churning/freezing cycle was completed (this took about 15 minutes in my machine), the canisters were full – to the brim – with ice cream.

If your machine has a single 4 cup (1 L) canister, halve the ingredients.

Freeze homemade ice cream in a tightly-sealed container for up to a couple weeks.

Be sure to freeze homemade ice cream with a tight-fitting lid to prevent freezer burn and an ‘off’ flavour. Label the container so it’s contents don’t become mystery food.

Although this ice cream tastes great even before “ripening” in the freezer for a few hours, some time in the freezer will further improve the flavour. It’s best to enjoy homemade ice cream within a couple weeks. (Now there’s a problem. Not!)

Strawberry Lychee Ice Cream
Makes 8 cups (2 L)

2 cups (500 mL) strawberries
3/4 cup (180 mL) superfine sugar
1 can (530 mL/20 ounces) canned lychees in syrup (about 2 cups)
2 cups (500 mL) whipping cream (36% butterfat)
1-1/2 cups (375 mL) milk
6 egg yolks

Hull and roughly chop strawberries; place in a bowl along with any juices. Stir in 1 tablespoon (15 mL) of the sugar and set aside for 30 minutes.

Drain and finely chop lychees, reserving 1/2 cup (125 mL) of the syrup. Set lychees and syrup aside.

Place cream, milk and remaining sugar in a saucepan over medium heat. Stirring constantly, cook for a few minutes until sugar dissolves and mixture is just about to boil. Remove from the heat.

Whisk egg yolks in a large bowl or 8 cup (2 L) measuring cup. Whisk in 1/4 cup (60 mL) of the hot milk mixture until smooth. Whisk in remaining milk mixture, then return mixture to saucepan and stir constantly over medium-low heat until mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon, about 8 to 10 minutes. Do not allow this custard mixture to boil. (To test if the mixture coats the back of a spoon, place a spoon in the mixture. Remove and run your finger through the middle of the custard. If a clear path is left and the custard left on the spoon does not run, the mixture is ready.) Do not allow the custard mixture to boil.

Strain through a fine sieve and set custard aside to cool, stirring occasionally. (If desired, cover and refrigerate overnight.)

Gently stir strawberries and strawberry juice, lychees, and lychee syrup into custard. Transfer to an ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer’s instructions. (Alternately, transfer to a shallow metal tray and freeze, whisking every couple hours until frozen and creamy.)

Pack ice cream into container(s). Cover tightly, label and freeze for at least 5 hours or overnight before serving.

Allow ice cream to soften at room temperature for about 15 minutes before serving.

Recipe Source: Adapted from Iced – 180 very cool concoctions by Jane Lawson, Thunder Bay Press, 2006

Celebrating with red and white foods on Canada Day

Tomorrow is Canada Day, a celebration of the nation’s 141st birthday. There will be much flag-waving and expressions of patriotic sentiments. The colours de jour will be red and white.

If you want to inject some patriotic zeal into your July 1st menu, consider the colour palate of the foods you plan to serve. It’s not too difficult to include some red and white foods. If you’re a little more adventurous, try creating an entire meal of just red and white foods. Think tomatoes, red peppers, watermelon, strawberries, raspberries, rhubarb, spaghetti and meat sauce, bruschetta, barbecued ribs, strawberry shortcake, whipped cream, sour cream, cream cheese, red potatoes, mozzarella cheese, angel food cake, and on and on.

A simple red and white appetizer or snack can be made quickly by creating tiny kabobs of pesto-marinated mini-mini bocconcini and grape or cherry tomatoes. Mini-mini bocconcini are small balls of buffalo mozzarella. They can be found in tubs in the deli area of most major grocery stores. If you can’t find the mini-mini variety, purchase mini bocconcini and slice them into quarters or cut large balls of bocconcini into small pieces.

To make the kebabs, marinate the bocconcini in a couple spoonfuls of homemade or prepared pesto for at least 15 minutes, then poke a toothpick into a bocconcini and a grape or cherry tomato. If you use halved grape or cherry tomatoes, the kabobs will be able to stand and you can arrange them upright on a plate. These little mouthfuls are colourful, flavourful and make up very quickly, leaving you lots of time to enjoy Canada Day festivities and fireworks.

Ontario strawberries!

I was finally able to get my hands on some good-looking, sweet-smelling, fresh-tasting Ontario strawberries, so they’ll be on the menu in our house tomorrow. We’ll enjoy some berries fresh, then maybe in the strawberry-rhubarb sauce that follows, served over cake or ice cream. I’ve also bought ingredients to make strawberry ice cream, which would be served, of course, with fresh sliced strawberries.

Hmmmm…..since strawberry season is so short, we just might have to have both desserts!

Angel Food Cake with Strawberry-Rhubarb Sauce
(Makes 12 servings)

Twelve individual mini angel food cake rounds, sponge cake flans or shortcakes can be used instead of the angel food cake slices.

3 cups (750 mL) sliced fresh or frozen rhubarb (cut in 1/2-inch/1 cm slices)
3/4 cup (175 mL) sugar
1/4 cup (50 mL) water
2 cups (500 mL) strawberries, hulled and sliced
1 angel food cake (cut into 12 slices)
Vanilla ice cream or whipped cream

In a medium saucepan, combine rhubarb, sugar and water. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until mixture just comes to a boil (about 7 or 8 minutes). Reduce heat to low; continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until rhubarb is tender (6 to 8 minutes). Let cool.

Just before serving, stir in strawberries. Top each slice of cake with a scoop of ice cream or whipped cream and about 1/4 cup (50 mL) strawberry rhubarb sauce.

Berry disappointed!

After waiting patiently for Ontario strawberry season to arrive…..enjoying two quarts of berries over the weekend (no, I didn’t eat them all myself!)…..then going back to the grocery store tonight to pick up more, I was very disappointed to find fruit flies buzzing about the baskets of berries and moldy berries in every basket I looked at. I had my heart set on enjoying a slice of angel food cake topped with strawberries and ice cream this evening, but alas, it was not to be.

Too bad, so sad!

The local strawberry season is so short, every day one is not able to enjoy fresh Ontario berries (or something made with them) is so berry disappointing.

I’m no berry specialist, but the moldy condition of the fruit I saw tonight may have been due to the wet weather we’ve experienced in southwestern Ontario for the past while. As much as I love the look of our lush green lawn, gimme strawberries over a perfect yard any day!

I’m sure there are good Ontario berries out there somewhere. Since I’m not one to give up easily when food is involved, I’ll be out foraging for local berries again tomorrow.