There are a lot of advantages to having enough land to grow pretty much whatever you want to eat. We have tons of fresh veggies all spring, summer and fall, and now we’re even starting to get some fresh fruit.
We have room for a nice little flock of chickens who not only give us fresh eggs every day, but help keep some of the bugs and pests cleared out of the veggies. They have been running loose a few hours every day, till this weekend, when they discovered that there are some tasty little baby tomatoes in the garden, so now they have to be [literally!] cooped up till fall.
And, I have an herb garden full of all the fresh flavors anyone could want. Especially if what you want is mint. Lots and lots of mint.
I knew better than to just plant that little pot of mint a few years ago, but I got in a hurry, and did it anyway. Mint is very invasive, which means it spreads far and fast. The last time I planted it, I wisely cut the bottom off a 5 gallon pail, sank it in the spot where I wanted the mint to be, and planted my one little plant in there. The pail contains the mint and keep the roots from finding places to come up all over the place and make more mint. But I had to move it, and let myself forget how very very very far and fast mint will spread.
In the fall, I will cover it all with black plastic till next summer, taking care to just plant a small amount in a buried 5 gallon pail. For now though, I see a lot of minty things going on. I am drying some for tea, and I’m planning a mojito recipe [currently in daily “development”] for a few weeks from now, and it’s good in lots of veggies, along with the other fresh herbs.
And then there is this Fresh Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream.Forget that store bought Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream. That other-worldly bright green color, the medicinal overly-minty flavor, the cheap waxy chocolate. Forget it all I say, and make this instead!
Only then, will you get to experience the custardy texture, the naturally herbaceous quality of the mint flavor, and of course the richness of really good dark chocolate. And it’s pretty to boot – a natural light green color, not scary neon. So – go get some mint!
- 2 packed cups fresh mint leaves
- 2 cups heavy cream, divided
- 1½ cup half & half
- ¾ cup sugar
- 3 egg yolks
- 3 ounces good quality, dark chocolate [Like Trader Joe's Belgian]
- Place the mint leaves in a medium bowl.
- Heat 1 cup of the heavy cream in a 3 quart saucepan, just till bubbles form around the edge.
- Pour cream over the mint, and stir to make sure all of the mint is submerged. The mint will wilt down as it sits - stir again a few times to redistribute it. Steep for an hour or so.
- In the meantime, begin heating the remaining cream and the half and half in the same saucepan.
- In a medium bowl, whisk the sugar and egg yolks together, until pale and creamy.
- When the cream is just starting to form bubbles around the edge of the pan, temper the eggs with it, by dribbling the hot cream into them a small amount at a time, whisking all the while, until you have incorporated about a cup and half or so.
- Pour the tempered egg mixture back into the remaining cream in the sauce pan, whisking as you do so.
- Heat, whisking constantly, until the custard thickens slightly - about 3 or 4 minutes.
- Pour in the cream with the mint in it through a mesh strainer, squeezing the leaves to get all the cream. Stir the infused cream into the rest of the mixture.
- Empty the strainer, and pour the custard mixture back through it, into a bowl.
- Chill the custard completely, then process in your ice cream maker, following the manufacturer's instructions.
- Chop the chocolate [a serrated bread knife works well for this] into pieces roughly half the size of a standard chocolate chip - some will smaller, some larger, but go for the bulk of it to be that size. You can also grate it if you prefer.
- In the last 2 minutes of processing the ice cream, add the chopped chocolate a little at a time to distribute evenly.
- Store the ice cream in a covered container, pressing a piece of parchment paper directly on the surface to prevent ice crystals. It will be best if you can stand to wait 24 hours to eat it, but let it "ripen" at least a couple hours before serving.
- Store in the freezer, keeping parchment paper on the surface, for up to two weeks.
I like this Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker, but there are plenty of others available. I keep the bowl in the freezer all the time, ready to be used whenever I have the urge to make ice cream. Wrap it up in a plastic grocery bag to keep the surface frost free, and keep it clean. Once it’s frozen, you can’t rinse it out, because the water will instantly freeze to the surface and then the parts might not fit together well. And this is a good serrated knife for chopping chocolate.
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