If you love the tang of rhubarb and the custardy richness of ice cream, you'll swoon over this. Inspired by the lush green and red rhubarbs that brighten up the market come May and June, it is cool, refreshing, singular.
The compote that accompanies it is purposely tangy as well. Add more sugar if you like, to balance the ice cream.
For the Ice Cream
For the Strawberry-Rhubarb Compote
* To make Vanilla Sugar: Place 2 fresh vanilla beans into 8 cups sugar and store in an airtight container for at least 1 week.
1. Make the ice cream: Using the milk, creme fraiche, egg yolks, and sugar, prepare a custard according to the directions in Making a Custard.
2. After cooling the custard, refrigerate it, covered, until it is well chilled, 2 to 3 hours.
3. Cut the rhubarb in large chunks, place them in a food processor, and process until they make a chunky mixture—not quite a purée, but as close as you can get to that. Moisten a cotton tea towel, and place it in a bowl with the edges hanging over the sides. Transfer the rhubarb to the bowl, and bring the ends of the towel up and around it. Squeeze the rhubarb to extract 1 cup (250 ml) of juice. Discard the rhubarb.
4. Remove the custard from the refrigerator and whisk in the rhubarb juice. Freeze the mixture in an ice-cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions.
5. While the ice cream is freezing, prepare the compote: Place the diced rhubarb, the water, and the vanilla sugar in a medium size heavy saucepan over medium-high heat. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium so the rhubarb is cooking gently but consistently, and cook until it is completely tender, stirring once or twice, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from the heat.
6. Cut the strawberries lengthwise into thin (1/8 inch; 1/4 cm) slices, and add them to the rhubarb. Shake the pan to distribute them, and let the sauce cool to lukewarm.
7. To serve, divide the ice cream among six bowls. Spoon the compote around the ice cream, and garnish with the fennel fronds if desired.
1. Rinse out a medium-size saucepan with water, which will prevent milk from sticking to it after scalding. Add milk (plus cream or creme fraiche, and any flavoring, such as vanilla beans). Over medium heat, scald the mixture—heating it to just below a simmer, when it steams and tiny bubbles begin to form around the edges. Remove from the heat at once; steep any flavorings for as long as directed in an individual recipe.
2. Whisk or beat the egg yolks and sugar in a medium-size bowl until the mixture is pale yellow and falls from the whisk or beater in a thick ribbon. Pour the scalded milk (strained if necessary) into the yolk mixture very slowly, about 1/4 cup (60 ml) at a time, to avoid cooking the yolks, whisking all the while. When the mixture is blended, pour it back into the saucepan.
3. Have ready a fine-mesh sieve set over a clean bowl. Place the saucepan with the custard mixture over medium-low heat and cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until the custard begins to thicken. As you stir, move your spoon in a constant figure-eight pattern, which will keep the custard moving across the bottom of the pan, preventing it from getting too hot and curdling. If after 7 or 8 minutes the custard is not thickening, increase the heat slightly, continuing to stir. Once you feel a drag on the spoon near the bottom of the pan, and a finger drawn through the custard coating the back of the spoon leaves a distinct track, the custard is ready.
4. Remove the saucepan from the heat and immediately pour the custard through the sieve into the bowl. Let the custard cool at room temperature.
French Farmhouse Cookbook
by Susan Herrmann Loomis
Workman; December 1996
Paper: $14.95; ISBN: 1-56305-488-4
Cloth: $24.95; ISBN: 0-7611-0624-3 432
Recipe reprinted by permission.
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