Homemade Pistachio Ice Cream

When our new kitchen is installed this fall, organization will be priority one. My husband, Les, and I are not doing all this planning and spending only to fall into the same jumbled mess of stuff we started with. To that point, every gadget we own is going to be catching a little side eye, as we make some hard, overdue decisions about what deserves to stay in our beautiful new prime real estate and what must go.

One small electric that has already passed muster in my mind is my Cuisinart ice cream maker. This device gets plenty of action at our house, and I have no complaints about it whatsoever. It’s easy to use, requires no hand-cranking effort or rock salt, and it quickly churns out up to two quarts of ice cream at a time. I purchased it several years ago (when I lived in a different kitchen) and it was one of the first things I laid claim to when I struck out on my own. I have made some delicious, memorable ice creams with this machine, and it technically does not fall into the single-purpose category because I can also use it to make sorbets and fruity wine slushies. How could I not love that, especially during summer?

Check out these fun ice cream flavors I churned out in summer of 2020:

July is one of my favorite months, not only because I will celebrate my birthday in the late part of the month, but also because it happens to be National Ice Cream Month! For your summer refreshment pleasure, I’ll be sharing several delicious ice cream recipes in the coming weeks. If you enjoy ice cream (especially if you like unexpected flavor combinations), I urge you to make a small, one-time investment in an ice cream machine. Sure, there are about a million “no-churn” recipes for ice cream on Pinterest and other internet sites, but if you look closely at some of those recipes, they often depend on numerous extra steps to produce the texture you expect in an ice cream, including setting a timer to pull it out of the freezer every couple of hours to stir it up. I’d rather just use an ice cream maker and be done with it.

The first ice cream for 2021 is pistachio, and though this was my first time making this particular flavor, it was simple because it begins with my “basic” formula for custard-based ice cream, which is as follows:

  • 1 1/2 cups each of heavy cream and whole milk
  • 3/4 cup organic cane sugar
  • 3 free-range egg yolks

The cream and milk are heated together with half of the sugar, and the egg yolks are whipped with the rest of it. When the cream mixture is hot enough, I whisk it into the whipped yolks to temper them, then it all goes back into the pot to cook until custardy. From that point, you can flavor it up as you like, chill it and then churn it in the ice cream machine. Homemade ice cream has a somewhat shorter shelf life than store-bought because it doesn’t have any weird, chemistry-lab ingredients. But here’s the fun flip side—you don’t need homemade ice cream to have a long shelf life because it’s usually gobbled up within a few days anyway!


To infuse this ice cream with the unique flavor of pistachio, I toasted the pistachios briefly, pulsed them in the food processor, and then infused their flavor into the cream mixture. I double-strained the mixture to remove the gritty bits of pistachio before tempering the eggs, but next time I will use cheesecloth to simplify that step. At the end of the freeze-churn stage, I added roasted pieces of pistachio for extra flavor and texture. A little touch of amaretto churned in during the final minute gave the ice cream a perfectly scoopable consistency for serving, straight from the freezer.


Ingredients

1 1/2 cups whole milk

1 1/2 cups heavy cream

3/4 cup organic cane sugar, divided

3 egg yolks

1 cup raw, unsalted pistachio meats, divided

1/2 tsp. real vanilla extract

1/2 tsp. pure almond extract

1 Tbsp. amaretto liqueur (optional at the end of churning, for improved texture)


Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Toast the pistachio meats on a parchment-lined baking sheet for about 7 minutes, or until fragrant and toasty. Remove from oven and cool. Divide pistachios evenly, transferring half of them to a food processor bowl. Pulse a few times until the nuts are reduced to small bits, but not to the point of powder. Use a sharp knife to gently chop the remaining pistachios. Set them aside for mixing into the ice cream during freezing.
  2. Combine milk and cream in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add half the amount of sugar and whisk gently until sugar is dissolved. Add the pulverized pistachios to the milk mixture and simmer until the mixture is hot but not quite boiling. Remove from heat and let this stand for about 10 minutes. This will steep the pistachio flavor into the cream mixture.
  3. When steeping is finished (you will know because the cream mixture will have taken on a slightly chartreuse green color), pour the mixture through a mesh strainer lined with cheesecloth to remove the nut solids. Clean out the saucepan and dry it. Return the strained cream mixture to the pan and heat over medium until it returns to the not-quite-boiling stage.
  4. While the cream mixture is heating, use a hand or stand mixer to whip the egg yolks until silky. Add the sugar, a little bit at a time, mixing well and stopping a couple of times to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Whip until the mixture is soft, light and lemon-colored.
  5. Measure out about 2 cups of the milk-cream mixture. Slowly pour it into the egg mixture, whisking or beating with electric mixer the entire time. This step will temper the eggs, gradually cooking them without scrambling or breaking them.
  6. Pour the egg mixture back into the remaining milk-cream mixture and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the custard begins to slightly thicken and coats the back of your spoon.
  7. Remove from heat immediately. Stir in vanilla and almond extracts. Lay a film of plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the custard to prevent condensation from forming. Cover the entire bowl with a lid or additional plastic wrap. Refrigerate several hours or overnight until fully chilled.
  8. When you’re ready to freeze the ice cream, give the cream mixture a good stirring to minimize any settling that has occurred in the fridge. Freeze according to manufacturer’s instructions. My Cuisinart takes about 20 minutes. Sift the reserved pistachio nuts in a mesh strainer to remove any powdery crumbs from chopping them. Add them to the ice cream machine only for the last few minutes. Add amaretto (optional, but recommended) for the final minute of mixing. You will not taste the alcohol, but its addition ensures easy scooping of the ice cream straight from the freezer. If you avoid alcohol, or if you will be serving children, skip it and simply remove the ice cream from the freezer about 15 minutes ahead of serving.

Great way to start the summer!


You may be wondering if I’m a paid endorser for the brands and products I spotlight on Comfort du Jour, and the answer is “no.” I do not receive money or merchandise for my recommendations, and what that means for you is that you can count on me to give an honest opinion. If something changes, I will update my disclosures. Either way, you can still count on me to be honest in my recommendations, as I will only stand behind services and products I believe in. Fair enough? 😀

Terrie


Cut Like a Pro: Knife Care 101

I get very excited about Thanksgiving, which has long been my favorite holiday. And though it’s a little early to start on the favorite (and new) dishes we will enjoy this year, it definitely is not too early to plan! I can drive myself a little batty with ideas for the table, and even if I set the menu today, the odds are good that I’ll change my mind a dozen times in a dozen days. So today, rather than continuing to wrestle myself over the food, I’m turning my attention to the other things in my kitchen that need some prep. That begins with my knives.

Of all these knives, I have two favorites, but it’s great to have all of them spiffed up for the holidays!

There’s something therapeutic for me in having my favorite knives professionally sharpened. It makes me feel—how shall I say it—like a real adult. It took me a while to get serious about choosing quality knives, so treating them as an investment feels like the right thing. Today, I’m pleased to introduce you to the guy who’s been helping me (or at least my knives) stay sharp in the kitchen, and he offers a simple tip about the importance of good knife care.

Your knives are your tools. Take care of them and respect them. You wouldn’t run your car 20,000 miles without oil changes or service, so why expect your knives to keep working well without regular care?

Chef Larry McFadden,
owner of Chef Sharp Mobile Sharpening

Larry McFadden knows his stuff. He spent more than two decades in service to our country, and after he left the U.S. Air Force, he followed his heart to pursue a passion for cooking, attending culinary school on the GI bill and then working in professional kitchens by way of Marriott International.

By the time he moved his family to North Carolina, Larry had come to recognize a demand for a knife sharpening service that wasn’t aimed only toward institutions and big restaurant chains, but for independent food businesses and home cooks.

Today, he runs a mobile sharpening service and was kind to let me interview him enough to shed light on what it takes to keep your edge in the kitchen. If you have noticed your own knives are smashing or crushing food more than slicing through them, you probably want to know what Larry has to say.



My grandma taught me early on that a dull knife is the most dangerous item in the kitchen. Would you say that’s true?

I think it is, because you have to put so much more pressure on whatever you’re cutting. If the blade is dull, it’s easier to have it slip off whatever you’re cutting. That puts you at greater risk of cutting yourself, and if do, it isn’t going to be a clean cut, so you’ll do more damage and you could really get hurt.

How do our knives get so dull in the first place?

When your knife is sharp, the blade edge has a bevel that comes to a perfect apex or peak, and it’s perfectly straight. With regular use over time, that edge starts to curl over in spots. The edge may feel dull, but it may just be that it is no longer straight.  

What can we do at home to keep our knives in shape?

I don’t recommend the pull-through type of sharpener. They can do more harm than good. But you can use a “steel” to help keep the blade straight every time you use your knife. Some people are intimidated by the steel, but if you learn how to use it, you can double the time between sharpening visits and extend the life of your knives.

These have been lurking in the back of a drawer for as long as I can remember. I never understood how they were supposed to work anyway!

Moment of truth: I’m one of those people intimidated by the steel, which is the long pointy thing that probably came with your knife set. But I learned a cool trick during my chat with Larry. Check the base of the steel, to see if it has a flat side with a slight angle. The angle is meant to help you position your knife properly for re-aligning your blade edge. Confused? Have a look:

My apologies for the low audio. Larry and I were outside amid some parking lot noise, but his demonstration tells the real story.

Do our cutting boards make a difference in the care of our knives?

Yes, and as a general rule, if the surface is too hard to cut, it’s too hard on your knives. Glass cutting boards are a definite no-no. Very hard plastics are also not good for your knives. Natural wood cutting boards are good, but bamboo is very hard and can be a little tough on knives.

End grain cutting boards are usually in a higher price range, and they are very good.

I guess I’ll be replacing my bamboo cutting board, too. I’ve wanted an end grain cutting board for a long time. They tend to be expensive, but they last a long time, and now that I know what’s better for my knives, I have good excuse to take the plunge!

Speaking of price range, we know that knives run the gamut in terms of quality and price point, and you should invest in the best quality you can afford, then take care of them with regular use of a steel and periodic professional sharpening. As for routine care, Chef Larry says you should wash your good knives in warm soapy water, then rinse and dry immediately before storing in a knife block or drawer insert. The dishwasher is not friendly to good knives.


It won’t be easy for some of my blog followers to catch up with you personally. What advice would you offer faraway friends for choosing a knife sharpening professional?

Try to find a provider who uses a whetstone rather than a belt grinder, and be sure you’re choosing someone who is established in their service. Look at their online reviews, and ask questions to find out how they learned what they’re doing, so you feel confident that they’re well-qualified.

Larry’s whetstone is made of aluminum oxide, the same material used to make sandpaper. That’s the surface he uses to sharpen the knives. Then he straightens and smooths the blades on a hard leather wheel. It’s mesmerizing to watch him work!

Larry sharpens both sides of the blade before checking for burrs.

The hard leather wheel smooths tiny burrs or nicks, even if you can’t see them.

Any wisdom to share on the importance of getting knives sharpened before the holidays?

There’s nothing worse at the holidays than not being able to carve your turkey into nice thin slices.

‘Nuff said. I’m glad to have this part of Thanksgiving prep in the “done” column! For more info about Larry, or to check out his local sharpening schedule, visit his website, ChefSharpTriad.com. Please let me know in the comments section if you learned anything new about good knife care, and also what steps you’re taking to get ready for the holidays. Thanksgiving will be here before we know it! Next week, I’ll be cooking up a storm, so get ready for a stack of fun, new ideas. 🙂


Oh, and…

You may be wondering if I’m a paid endorser for the products I spotlight on Comfort du Jour, and the answer is “no.” I do not receive money or products for my recommendations, and what that means for you is that you can count on me to give an honest opinion. If something changes, I will update my disclosures. Either way, you can still count on me to be honest in my recommendations, as I will only stand behind services and products I believe in. Fair enough? 😀