I’ve been very accident prone for the past few weeks. First, I had a bad cold and then I fell into a bush and managed to sprain the tendons on one leg and smash the other on to a rock. Except for the sprain and my ego, nothing was fractured or damaged. And I am so thankful for that as I’m in the last few weeks of working on my book manuscript before I submit it. Gah, all these things are happening now when I really don’t need it.
Meyer lemons are not exactly in season right now but the blooms are and every where you walk in Oakland, you can pick up the sweet scent of these gorgeous flowers so I tried to do something different. I’ve been reading Diana Henry’s Salt, Sugar and Smoke and she’s got me curious about smoking everything. [This is also one of my favorite books by Diana and it also made me fall in love with everything she writes.] Then I came across this Meyer lemon ice cream basic recipe from other favorite chef, Lindsey Shere’s Chez Panisse Desserts and this smoked lemon ice cream was born.
To get the most out of the burning and smoking, I charred the lemons first while smoking them and then stuck them directly into the hot wood chips. The rest of the flavors involve steeping and infusion into the hot milk and cream. Ahh, yes, the Tellicherry peppercorns. I didn’t forget about them. They not really there to make things spicy but rather to give a mild hint of the essentials oils inside the peppercorns. Just crack them once gently, don’t try to pound them again and again and if all of them don’t crack it’s okay. You’re looking for a very mild flavor.
Off I got to avoid future mishaps and back to writing. Have a lovely week.
smoked meyer lemon ice cream with tellicherry black pepper
[ice cream base adapted from the Chez Panisse Desserts cookbook by Lindsey Shere]
Makes about 1 2/3 quarts
1 cup wood chips /saw dust for smoking [I used cherry wood]
3 Meyer lemons [about 3/4 lb]
zest of 2 Meyer lemons
1 cup [120g] sugar
3/4 cup whole milk
3 1/4 cups heavy cream
1 Tbsp Tellicherry black peppercorns
6 egg yolks
Fill a small aluminum pan with the wood chips or saw dust. Place it on a hot grill, cover and set the heat to high. Slice the lemons in half and place them cut side on the hot grates and cover for about 8 to 12 minutes until the surface starts to char. Remove and flip them and place them cut side up in the pan containing the wood chips. Cover and allow to smoke for another 6 minutes. Remove the lemons from the grill and extract the juice. Strain the juice and zest two of the lemons. Keep aside.
Add the smoked and fresh lemon zest to a medium-size non-reactive saucepan. Add the milk and 1/4 cup heavy cream along with the sugar. Gently crack the peppercorns once and add them to the milk in a tea ball infuser. Heat the mixture on medium-high till it just starts to boil. Remove from the heat and then let it steep covered for about 10 to 15 minutes. In a separate bowl, whisk the yolks and add then whisk in 1/4 cup of the warm steeped milk to temper. Transfer the yolk mixture to the saucepan and cook on medium-low heat, stirring constantly until the mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon. Remove the tea ball infuser with the peppercorns and discard the peppercorns. Let this mixture stand for another 10 minutes. Then whisk the remaining cream and 9 to 10 Tbsp of the extracted lemon juice. Taste and adjust with more lemon juice if needed. Chill completely before adding to your ice cream maker and proceed as per the manufacturer’s instructions. Store the prepared ice cream in the freezer.
[Note: Avoid adding too much lemon juice or you might end up with an ice cream that’s too hard, if that happens let it sit out for 5 to 6 minutes before serving]