It goes without saying that foods bring about memories but did you ever stop to consider that they also have a duty to impart life's more simple lessons on us? Obviously I knew about the memories part for I wouldn't even have a blog if memories weren't part of most recipes. That said, I hadn't really stopped much to think about whether the cook's notes in my favorite recipes contained "life's lessons". It turns out they do. I just hadn't really stopped to listen for them before.
Then I met this particular ice cream and failure to listen was just not going to be an option. I tried to to just eat my newly minted ice cream in peace but it wouldn't stay quiet. Pistachio Ice Cream just kept screaming some of life's lessons at me without letting up. Scream-ing. Pistachio's lessons were more of the kind you might expect to learn in kindergarten than the kind you learn from a therapist. Nevertheless, I certainly didn't expect to hear them from my food.
"If you are going to do something, do it right."and finally,
"Don't look for the easy way."
"If at first you don't succeed, try, try, again."
"Patience is a virtue."
Man this was some really preachy and verbose ice cream wasn't it? I usually don't respond well to the preachy types around me but in this case I found pistachio ice cream quite hard to ignore.
"Excellence is its own reward."
Because it was right!
I had attempted pistachio ice cream before with somewhat tragic results. Essentially a plain vanilla base and using a pistachio extract. The result reminded me of that weird green stripe of ice cream found in cheap supermarket spumoni. It tasted as much like real pistachios as elementary school banana pudding tastes like real bananas.
I didn't give up and knew I had to try again. I began to feel silly for thinking I could get a good result using an extract. If you are going to do something do it right. There had to be a better way to make this but how? Pistachio paste! If you are patient you can order it online and it is well worth the wait. You can look around for a Greek or Middle Eastern market as well as as there is a lot of it found there too. Either way, trust me that it is worth the wait. Patience is a virtue and all that.
This batch was gone before I realized it! Dear husband surreptitiously packed up the unused portion and sent it home with my sister-in-law without asking me! She didn't even like nuts and yet she succumbed to its magic. She couldn't stop raving and so it was now hers. As I watched the pistachio ice cream walk off to my sister-in law's-house I thought, "fine --let it scream platitudes at her now so I can get some rest. Wise ice cream is her problem now."
As the Pistachio Ice Cream walked out the door it turned around to leave me with one more pearl of wisdom; one of my grandmother's favorites:
"Just eat your ice cream while it is on your plate."Only when she said it she wasn't talking about ice cream. Pretty smart ass ice cream that Pistachio. If you're smart you'll make this and find out what else it has to teach you!
- 4 egg yolks
- 1/2 cup + 1 Tbl granulated sugar
- 2 cups half and half (or 1 cup whole milk + 1 cup heavy cream)
- 1/4 tsp almond extract
- 3/4 cup pistachio paste
- 1/4 cup chopped pistachios
In a large bowl, whisk the egg yolks thoroughly. In a saucepan set over medium heat, stir the sugar in to the half and half and let come to a simmer without letting mixture come to a full boil. Slowly pour the hot cream over the egg yolks mixture while whisking to temper the egg yolks then return the mixture back into the saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until the cream coats the back of spoon or rubber spatula.
Let cool completely, strain and refrigerate overnight until cold. Stir in the almond extract and pistachio paste to the chilled custard. Process the custard according to your ice cream maker manufacturer's instructions. Toward the end of the churning mix in the chopped pistachios. Spoon ice cream into container and freeze until hard, at least 4 hours.