I am always utterly charmed by Diana Henry’s cookbooks.
She’s one of the few UK-based “cookery” authors whose flavor profiles and recipes are just as appealing on this side of the pond — Yotam Ottolenghi is another — and her latest book, “How to Eat a Peach: Menus, Stories and Places” (Mitchell Beazley, $34.99), is a classic example of why.
In the new book, Henry compiles menus inspired by places she’s visited and meals she’s enjoyed over the years, and this pink grapefruit and basil ice cream was inspired by her time in San Francisco, first as a diner at Chez Panisse and then later as a friend of chef and author Alice Waters, whose of fresh ingredients and nouveau flavor combinations left an indelible impact on Henry.
In the recipe introduction, Henry explains that this version was inspired by her tried-and-true lemon and basil ice cream, which she had been making for years. But swapping out the lemon for grapefruit created a floral, dreamy ice cream that she says is “possibly the best ice cream I’ve ever made.”
Having made it this weekend, I have to agree. I saved half of the custard to make during my Facebook livestream today at Facebook.com/austin360. Check out the video to hear why this ice cream tastes like the Flintstones Push Ups I used to love as a kid and why I’ll be making “frosecco” for 100-percent work-only purposes later today.
One coworker said he thought the ice cream tastes like “a more refreshing summertime treat than any mixed cocktail” and would be something he could imagine feeding guests at a party. Another ice cream lover in the newsroom said the grapefruit flavor was a little too bitter for his taste, but that it was “refreshing on a hot Austin day.” Served in a cocktail tumbler with ice cold Topo Chico would make a lovely Austin affogato.
Grapefruit and Basil Ice Cream
Zest and juice of 1 grapefruit
1/4 plus 1/3 cup granulated sugar, divided
1 1/4 cups whole milk
35 basil leaves
4 large egg yolks
2/3 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Place the zest and 1/4 cup granulated sugar in a mortar and pestle. (Reserve the grapefruit juice for later in the recipe.) Grind until the mixture forms a citrus sugar paste. In a heavy saucepan over medium heat, place the milk and the citrus zest mixture. Heat to almost a boil and then remove from heat. Tear the basil leaves and add them to the pan. Cover and let rest for at least an hour on the stovetop so that the flavors can infuse.
In a medium bowl, use a hand mixer to combine the yolks and remaining 1/3 cup cream until the yolks have turned pale and creamy. Strain the flavored milk and then add to the bowl, stirring to combine. Place the custard mixture into a heavy saucepan over low heat. Stirring often, heat the mixture until it thickens slightly and coats the back of a spoon. (Do not boil the mixture or heat it above 180 degrees or else the eggs will curdle or scramble.)
While the custard heats, place a bowl over ice in the sink. When the custard has thickened, pour it into the cool bowl to help stop the cooking. Let the custard come to room temperature.
Meanwhile, use a handheld or stand mixer to whip the heavy cream to soft peaks. Fold the whipped cream into the cooled custard, and then add the grapefruit juice and lemon juice. Gently stir to combine and then either refrigerate the mixture or add it to your ice cream maker. (You can also place the mixture in a shallow container and put it in the freezer. To make the ice cream manually, remove the custard mixture from the freezer three times during the freezing process to churn with a handheld mixer, once after an hour and then in two-hour intervals.)
If using an electric ice cream machine, churn according to manufacturer’s directions. Store in the freezer and then serve. Serves 6.
— Adapted from “How to Eat a Peach: Menus, Stories and Places” by Diana Henry (Mitchell Beazley, $34.99)