Rescue Remedy for an Ice Cream Heat Allergy

If this blistering heat in the Zambezi Valley forces Mikey, our leonine Mastif/St.Bernard, to take refuge in our cool concrete bath at 7.30 in the morning, imagine what it does in the kitchen? The kitchen without windows, or a fan. The kitchen where we have to clothe our old deep freeze in a soaking wet towel to assist it with evaporative cooling.

Mikey taking refuge from the heat in our cool concrete bath.
Mikey taking refuge from the heat in our cool concrete bath.

Imagine, then, what it does to fresh cream and milk? Or ice cream? I found out firsthand when I was prepping a Sunday lunch for 19 visitors last weekend. Our garden is loaded with strawberries right now, therefore turning them into ice cream–a dessert our taste buds and hot bodies cry out for in search of momentary reprieve–seemed a perfect ending to a Moroccan-inspired menu. I settled upon making a strawberry, rosemary and black pepper ice cream, crafted out of a highly concentrated coulis using a technique I learned in my recent tutorial at Tongabezi Lodge. I planned to serve the ice cream with fresh strawberries and meringues.

Sugar-crusted strawberries, rosemary & black pepper about to be transformed into coulis.
Sugar-crusted strawberries, rosemary & black pepper about to be transformed into coulis.

As it turned out, making the coulis for the first time ever was a cakewalk compared to making the custard base for the ice cream, something I’d made many times before. I started by separating the whites and yolks of a vast quantity of eggs, the latter of which I hoped to whisk into a vast quantity of cream and milk. But while warming up what-I-thought-was “fresh” creamy milk, it suddenly curdled. The heat had got to one of the bottles somewhere between the store and our fridge in just over a day.

I was unaware of this until I started whisking the milk into the beaten egg yolks. Instead of thickening the mixture it turned it into chalky water. [Expletive … EXPLETIVE!] I was loathe to throw it out because I hated to waste so much, but in truth I had used up most of the ingredients. I had neither an accessible vehicle nor the inclination to drive into steamy Livingstone, so I had to find a way to fix it.

“Just make a plan,” that overused southern African truism, is what I did. It’s what I’ve done since I arrived here early last year. Picture this: the first time I tried to use Chris’s electric hand mixer, buried in a dust-covered basket under a kitchen counter, mud wasps had turned the holes for the beater paddles into two towers of high-rise condos. The squatters had left by the time I wanted to use the mixer, so we poked the mud out of each hole with a stick, and it worked again like new. It still does.

Mud wasps, like these, turned our electric hand mixer into two towers of condos. © Natasha Mhatre
Mud wasps turned our electric hand mixer into two towers of high-rise condos. © Natasha Mhatre

Back to the chalky water that never improved, even after I added my thick and sticky strawberry coulis. The mixture kept slopping over the sides of the ice cream tub, pleading with me to turn it into a smoothie and start over. Furious, I shoved it into the freezer and went for a swim.

It was in the pool (not the bathtub, sorry Archimedes but Mikey’s in it) that I had my epiphany: freeze the mixture overnight; in the morning remove and allow it to melt a little before pushing a whizzer stick (or fork) through the container to break down the (iceberg-size) crystals; whiz as many fresh strawberries into the ice cream mixture as will fit without spilling; refreeze until solid.

Eureka! It worked. In fact, it was one of the tastiest ice creams I’ve ever made. Whizzing in fresh strawberries halfway through the freezing process made the ice cream less sweet than usual, which really lifted the sugary meringue’s role in the dessert.  Keep a look out for the recipe for Strawberry, Rosemary & Black Pepper Ice Cream with Meringues in a future blog post.

Strawberry, Rosemary & Cracked Pepper Ice Cream with Meringues.
Strawberry, Rosemary & Black Pepper Ice Cream with Meringues.

Annabel Hughes Aston is a writer and an award-winning chef in Livingstone, Zambia. She is the creator of "bush gourmet" cuisine.

0 Comments

  • I would say this proves you resourceful and intelligent but I had already concluded that. Nice story. I hope you enjoyed your guests.

    Reply
    • Thank you very much, Jim. Great to hear from you again. I did enjoy our guests, and the (fast-melting) ice cream seemed to go down well!

      Reply
  • Well done, Bella, for solving the problem! It sounds absolutely delicious!

    Reply
    • Thank you, Catherine! Hopefully when you are here the milk and cream won’t curdle. 🙂 You can be sure of one thing: you’ll be wanting a (freezing) cold dessert. The heat, the heat … swoon. xo

      Reply
  • Agree on the resourceful and intelligent – but perhaps put some water in the tub for the poor hot dog!! Another great blog! xx

    Reply
    • Ha, Louise! Mikey would be furious if I turned a tap on! It’s where he goes to meditate … to get away from the heat, the flies, and his four-legged and two-legged families. He’s a Bodhisattva after all. Thank you for your support and interest! xo

      Reply
  • Only in Africa! It looks delicious. And BTW what are the spots on Mikeys flank? Do give him a cuddle from me! xx

    Reply
    • Louise! How lovely to hear from you. I will be delighted to give Mikey a cuddle all the way from Perth. The spots on his flank are resin gobs from the teak trees. For some reason resin is dripping off every branch this year. It’s a major irritation because it glues itself to everything. I look forward to feeding you an uncurdled version of this ice cream one of these days, although it looks like you’ll be feeding us first. Roll on February … woohoo! Lots of love to you. xo

      Reply
  • Love the picture of Mikey and cannot imagine how you cook in that heat! Being in Naples heat now understand the success of the indestructible parmigiana and the sensibleness of spaghetti. The strawberry gelati sounds like it could take its place with pride here …

    Reply
    • Hello Georgie … I am sure the strawberry gelati makers in Naples would frown upon my makeshift version! But thank you anyway. Cooking in this heat is challenging, to be sure, which is why I usually choose menus that are derived from places that are hotter than here … like the Sahara Desert! (The ice cream, ahem, was an aberration.)

      Reply
  • Great save!

    Reply
    • Thank you, Michelle. Amazing how resourceful one becomes when long distances, limited supplies, and melted body parts prohibit you from nipping down to the store!

      Reply

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