Tag Archives: mint

Flavor #7: Cucumber Mint Ice Cream

14 Jul

After college, I became fascinated with Boston. A few good friends moved there for school and work. To me, a Californian, Boston was the smaller version of New York. It had everything of an East Coast city—the excitement, the winter, the changing color of the leaves, the easy public transit. Most importantly though, it had J.P. Licks.

I can’t remember the exact moment of having cucumber ice cream. Most likely, it was during a summer break from graduate school in Pittsburgh. I must have been walking from Cambridge across the bridge to Newbury Street. I was dying from the humidity (I prefer dry summers or better yet summers of San Francisco). J.P. Licks must have risen out like an oasis welcoming a friend and me. My friend had never been there and the sight of ice cream called to me… I rushed over lured by the many colors inside.

The word “cucumba” amused me on the list of flavors. And that’s what I had the first time. I only remember the surprise of the flavor—perhaps it was on a sample spoon or cone. The sweetness contrasted with the refreshing taste of cucumber like an ice cube sliding down your throat after having walked half a mile on summer asphalt in flip flops. Since then, when I visit Boston, I must always stop by J.P. Licks.

Adapted from Food 52:

1 large English cucumber, peeled, seeded, and roughly chopped
2/3 cups packed mint leaves (remove the stems)
3/4 cups granulated sugar
2 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
5 large egg yolks
1 generous pinch kosher salt
1 small lime

Puree the cucumber in a blender or food processor. The result will consist of a liquid and some solids. To my surprise, this is how one would juice a cucumber! Set aside.

Either in a mini food processor or mortar and pestle, combine mint and sugar. Process until the result is a fine mint sugar.

In a medium pot, combine milk and heavy cream over medium heat until steaming. Remove from heat.

In a separate large bowl, whisk the egg yolks together. Add the mint sugar. Then whisk thoroughly until combined.

Temper the egg/mint sugar mixture by pouring one cup at a time of the warmed mixture. Whisk after every cup. Return the contents into the pot. Then at medium heat while constantly stirring, put the pot at medium heat. The custard will thicken. Remove from heat when the mixture coats the back of a spoon.

Strain out the cucumber solids with a strainer. Mix in lime juice. Stir in the vanilla extract.

Chill completely overnight in the refrigerator. Churn in an ice cream maker based on the manufacturer’s instructions.

Flavor #4: Watermelon Mint with Tequila Sorbet

10 Jul

“Ok, we can slice it up!” I said eyeing the two halves of the watermelon.

“No!” he declared. “I show you!”

As we were about to start the movie, he put one half of the watermelon on a single plate with a spoon. He held the spoon downward and moved it around in circles ending with scooping motions.

“That is how I eat it.”

For years afterwards, we would cut up the watermelon into two halves. One half would be his. One half would be mine. If we did not finish, we put the halves back into the refrigerator. Then we would eat the watermelon until all that was left was a bowl made out of rind.

(I did learn that there was another method to eat watermelon.)

And so that was the word when I woke up and declared that it was watermelon sorbet to be made! I had read online that alcohol made the sorbet texture less icy. Yet alcohol is typically not in my cupboard—so I snuck some of the Mezcal from my roommate. It was the only alcohol in my kitchen that was clear.

To my surprise although there was so little alcohol, I could taste it with every lick of the sorbet. I don’t like the taste of alcohol so this was my least favorite so far. However, to the 10+ smiling faces I served in the next week, they loved this one the most. Lesson learned: a little alcohol goes a long way.

Watermelon! Mint! Alcohol! They all cried in delight.

Adapted from Cookie and Kate:

4 pounds of watermelon, seeded and scooped into big chunks
1 tablespoons sugar
3 limes, juiced
1 tablespoon of tequila
1 cup of packed mint
pinch sea salt

Blend the watermelon chunks, sugar, lime juice, and tequila in a blender. If the watermelon cannot fit at once, blend in parts. Pureé the watermelon until there are no solid chunks left. Add mint to the mixture. Blend until the mint is thoroughly chopped.

Stir in a bowl if not everything can fit into the blender at once. At a pinch of sea salt and mix to combine.

Chill in refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.

Freeze in an ice cream machine according to the manufacturer’s instructions. The sorbet will be very soft in the machine so let harden in the freezer for a few hours before serving.