Is anyone else sick of root vegetables?
This winter I have made a concerted effort to eat more locally-grown produce, particularly in light of the astronomical prices of some imported veggies (I'm looking at you, $8 cauliflower!). But one can only have so many carrots roasted turnips before you start eyeing those California strawberries longingly. So instead of whipping up something chocolatey for Valentine's Day this year, I decided to make something fresh and fruity with those damn strawberries.
Now, just because you can get strawberries in the dead of winter, doesn't mean they're going to be good strawberries. Most of the ones you'll be able to find at this time of year will be a little too crunchy, and a little too white -- far from the sweet, deep red gems bursting with flavour you find in the summer. This is where the roasting comes in: the heat will evaporate excess water and concentrate the flavour, leaving you with jammy strawberry deliciousness. The tarragon gives an amazing extra dimension of flavour, lending an unexpected anise-like undercurrent to the finished product.
Roasted Strawberry and Tarragon Ice Cream
1 lb strawberries, rinsed, hulled, and roughly chopped
4 sprigs of tarragon (I used twice as much as appears in the photo above)
2 tbsp sugar
4 egg yolks
2/3 cup sugar
1 1/4 cup half-and-half
1 1/4 cup heavy cream
Mix together strawberries, tarragon, and sugar, and roast at 350ºF until thickened and jammy, 30-45 minutes. Remove springs of tarragon, but keep and loose leaves that remain within the strawberries. Let cool entirely, then puree with a food processor, blender, or (in my case) immersion blender. If you don't want any seeds in your finished ice cream, you can run this puree through a sieve at this point, but I don't bother.
In a medium bowl, whisk together egg yolks and sugar until well-blended. Slowly whisk in the half-and-half until combined. Meanwhile, heat heavy cream in a saucepan over medium heat. When the cream is hot and just starting to bubble at the edges, remove from heat, and slowly pour into half-and-half mixture while whisking constantly. Return entire mixture to the saucepan, and rinse and dry the now-empty medium-sized bowl. Set a sieve inside it.
Place the saucepan back over medium heat and cook, stirring constantly, until the custard reaches 170ºF (if you do not have a thermometer, heat until the mixture is thickened, and coats the back of your spoon or spatula rather than simply running off.) Pour the thickened custard through the sieve and into the bowl. Whisk the strawberry puree into the custard, and cool completely (ideally overnight) before churning in an ice cream maker, according to its directions.
Enjoy a sweet treat with your sweetie-of-choice this Valentine's Day!