My husband teases me that I am like a nervous vicar when I cook, always slightly fearful that something is about to go horribly wrong ("The organist is ill! The vestry roof is leaking!"). He's right. When I take out my mixing bowls, a twinge of dread looms up. "Can I do this? Is it beyond my abilities? Should I just go out and buy dessert instead?"
But this wasn't difficult, I promise.
Five were coming for dinner on Friday. Piero had planned the main menu days before, done all his food shopping, and was sitting at the kitchen table lazily nursing a double espresso.
Piero: It's Thursday. Any idea what you're going to make for dessert yet?
Me: Could you please just go for a really long bike ride?
I picked up Very Fond of Food: A Year in Recipes, Sophie's latest cookbook. Just like her first one, it's food and lifestyle porn at its best -- on page after page, she putters around her kitchen in floaty frocks like a Persephone Books heroine and beams out at you with the most reassuring of smiles. When I spotted her making rose petal ice cream, I was determined to add another notch to my wooden spoon.
Marbled Rose Petal Ice Cream
For the rose petal jam:
2 cups sparkling rosé
1/4 cup superfine sugar
3/4 oz. fragrant rose petals, washed
For the ice cream:
1/2 cup superfine sugar
8 egg yolks
2 cups milk
2 cups heavy cream
I did a quick Google search to make sure I could use the ones growing up the side of the house (quick answer: yes) and went out to pick some.
It really is quite a glamorous recipe -- I've never made an ice cream that called for two cups of sparkling rosé before.
Per Sophie's directions:Pour the sparkling rosé and sugar in a saucepan on a low heat. Add the rose petals and keep on stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Using a slotted spoon, remove 3/4 of the rose petals and set aside. Carry on reducing the sugar syrup on a medium heat until thick and syrupy. Allow the mix to cool.
(The rose petal jelly)
Per Sophie's directions:In a separate mixing bowl, cream the sugar and egg yolks until pale in color, and keep to the side. In a saucepan, heat the milk and cream until they reach boiling point. Remove from the stove. Whisking the whole time, temper the egg mixture and bring it up to the same temperature as the cream by adding the milk and cream mixture slowly. Add the remaining rose petals. Before churning, keep to one side to cool and then remove the petals.
It was delicious. The ice cream was rich and custardy and smooth and was a perfect foil for the tingly thrill of the jam.
I served it with fresh raspberries, blueberries and blackberries and Gwyneth's vegan chocolate brownies (they taste just as good as regular ones) because it's Los Angeles and when you serve people ice cream with eight egg yolks and two cups of cream in it, you need to balance it out a little.
(All photos by Lisa Borgnes Giramonti)