Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Vanilla Bean-Roasted Figs with Wildflower Honey-Vanilla Ice Cream

Am I a complete and total loser because I sang "now brrrrrring us some figgy pudding" in full operatic voice with rolling "r"s AND a British accent when I started making this? Wait. Don't answer that. [Because I did. I know. I need help.]

I also needed help because there was **GASP** an error in The French Laundry Cookbook. I KNOW. Inconceivable. The recipe for "Honey-Vanilla Ice Cream"? Had no vanilla in it. Had I made it as-directed in the book, I would've gotten honey-flavored white ice cream. Which might have been okay, but I love me some vanilla, so I had to figure out during which step to add it. Before I share with you my totes awsesome kitchen wizardy skillz on how to include the vanilla for all you hep cats out there who plan to try this dish in the future, let me show you the mise en place for the ice cream portion of our program:

Did you count the egg yolks? Oh yes, there are 10 of them. In addition to whole milk and CREAM, so you know this is gonna be rich and wonderful. I've become quite the ice cream addict these days, thanks to a relatively new book I've come to adore:

It's David Lebovitz's The Perfect Scoop, which has what I believe to be the definitive chocolate ice cream recipe. I don't want to get off-track here, but thanks to my worshipping at the altar of The Perfect Scoop all summer, I was able to figure out how best to add the vanilla to Keller's ice cream recipe to make it work.

In a saucepan, I combined the milk, cream, a few tablespoons of sugar, and a vanilla bean (which I split and scraped and included the contents of it in the pan, as well).

I brought it up to a medium heat, turned off the flame, covered the saucepan, and let it steep for 30 minutes. Next, I whisked the egg yolks with the remaining sugar and tempered it with a wee bit of the still-warm vanilla milk/cream mixture:

I poured the tempered egg yolks back into the saucepan and kept it on a low-medium flame and kept stirring until the ice cream turned into a custard-like texture and coated the back of my wooden spoon. I then poured this mixture through a strainer into a bowl that was sitting in a bowl of ice, stirred in the honey (thanks, Tony R. for reminding me to include this step) and let the mixture come to room temperature, stirring it every now and then. Once it had cooled, I put it in the refrigerator overnight to chill completely:

The next day, I put it in the ice-cream maker for 35 minutes, and then put it in a container to keep in the freezer to harden a bit more:

About 30 minutes before my friends were due to come over, I got the figs ready. Have I shown you the figs yet? I don't think I have. Here they are:

As you can see, I used a combination of Black Mission, Brown Turkey and Calimyrna figs for this dish. I split and sliced the remaining three vanilla beans into one-inch pieces and stuffed one into the top of each fig (from where I'd just cut off the stem). I melted some butter and sugar in a medium skillet and placed the figs in there:

They went into a 400-degree oven for ten minutes and I let them cool for about 15-20 minutes before serving.

Plating was easy -- one scoop of ice cream, surrounded by three figs, and a tiny drizzle of the butter/sugar melty goodness:

My tasters had mixed reactions -- mostly because they are not "fig people," which as an oyster-hater, I cannot judge them. I can only wonder what the hell is wrong with someone that they don't like figs! Ha! Of course, I am kidding.

The ice cream was a huge hit -- it was absolutely spectacular. I love vanilla ice cream, but Keller's use of wildflower honey made it so much better than any vanilla ice cream I've ever had. I love love love figs, so I was happy to eat not only my figs but also all the leftover figs (and then roll my ass onto the couch for a nap). This dish was so easy, and I will definitely make vanilla-roasted figs again. I'll also use wildflower honey as a sweetener in other ice creams and frozen yogurts just to see what kind of difference it makes, because this was gooooooood. I always recommend buying the cookbooks I write about because I think it's important to respect copyright, so in addition to buying The French Laundry Cookbook, I wholeheartedly recommend adding The Perfect Scoop to your collection (link to purchase below). You won't be sorry.

Up Next: Salad of Black Mission Figs with Roasted Sweet Peppers and Shaved Fennel

The Perfect Scoop, by David Lebovitz
Krups ice cream maker
Organic Valley milk and cream
Eggs from Smith Meadows Farms
McClure's wildflower honey
Figs from Whole Foods
Vanilla beans from TPSS Co-op
365 organic butter

Music to Cook By: Tears for Fears; Raoul and the Kings of Spain. There are very few songs that make me stop whatever it is I'm doing, and one of those songs is from this album. It's called "I Choose You." There's nothing significant about the lyrics (actually, they're kind of depressing), it's just the music, the phrasing, and Roland's voice that stop me in my tracks. This whole album is remarkable and a long-time favorite (even though, technically, it's more of a Roland Orzabal solo album, since Curt was pretty much out of the picture by then). The fact that it's been out for 12 years and I still listen to it about once a month says something, I think.


Anonymous said...

That looks divine!

I just wanted to say I LOVE your blog. Love it, love it, love it. I discovered it through the Apartment Therapy website and have spent the last few days reading it from the beginning and laughing hysterically (especially at the Celine Dion lobster dish)!

You've also inspired me to attempt some of the recipes in TFL cookbook that have intimidated me for so long.

Can't wait to read your future postings!

Anonymous said...

I tried making this recipe with basil (blanched, shredded and steeped). Tasted great, but froze rock solid after a day in the freezer. My guess was all the egg yolks since I've made it before with four yolks and it came out great.

Anthony Robinson said...

When did you add the honey?

Anonymous said...

DG, I'm loving this one! LOVE the figs - although my 5-year-old is currenty one of those fig-haters. I'm reading this blog religiously now that DG is on hiatus and I can't get pdxblogmommy to blog for all the "hints" in teh thank you, 'cuz a girl's gotta read SOMETHING!

Anonymous said...

I tracked down a clip of the "I choose you" song and liked it very well. Do you perhaps like Joni Mitchell also? Her CD "Blue" is one I like to cook or drive to :)

bookwoman said...

As an avid ice cream maker (my favorite kitchen appliance, hands down), I just went and ordered copies of both French Laundry and The Perfect Scoop from the library. Can't wait to get my hands on them.

Meg said...

I always use wildflower honey as a topping on vanilla ice cream, instead of chocolate sauce or caramel or whatever. I've never tried putting it in the ice cream, though. I will next time I make some!

I'm also in love with The Perfect Scoop. So far, I've made the apricot and strawberry sorbets and the toasted coconut ice cream. Next up is peach ice cream, and the first cold day of the year I'm making the roquefort-honey one. We'll have it with roasted pears and port. Yum!

Great blog! I've never commented before, but I read it every week!

Kevin said...

I've just started following your blog, and want to compliment you on your good work. Today you said

"I always recommend buying the cookbooks I write about because I think it's important to respect copyright"

I'm sensitive to this issue because I'm running a similar Julie/Julia cook-a-whole-cookbook blog with The Gourmet Cookbook. While I certainly think buying these books is a good idea, and we should support these authors, respecting copyright has nothing to do with it.

Recipes aren't protected by copyright, as they're a list of procedures and instructions. The only part of a cookbook that is protected by copyright is the descriptions of the recipes. Beyond that, citing a book's recommendation for when to add vanilla would be fair use even if it were part of a copyrighted text.

We should support cookbook authors because their work enriches our lives, not because of a misunderstood legal threat.

Keep up the good work, I really appreciate what you're doing.

Jim said...

Now I'm humming We Wish You A Merry Christmas, and all of my coworkers are gonna stare at me. You're turning me into a social pariah, madam, but the ice cream looks so good I'll give you a pass.

One question: how long should the stove be on for the mixture to reach "medium heat"? Are we looking for a light simmer or what, or does that count as information from the cookbook?

Second question, actually: do you think I could find whole vanilla beans like that at, say, Whole Foods?

michael, claudia and sierra said...

i just posted about david's salt recommendation. guerande is the stuff man! i'm buying the 'perfect scoop' this weekeend. in the meantime - i am making my first batch of ice cream EVER - his recipe from his blog - caramel fleur de sel. the custard is in the fridge. tomorrow i am getting a friend's ice cream maker to borrow... i am sooooo very proud of myself !!!

as always LOVE your post. totally fabulous!!!

Anonymous said...

Since yours and David's blogs are my two favorite to read, I thought I'd post the link to his blog for those who didn't know about it. You can visit him here:

You have a great voice for writing and I will be sad when you make it all the way through the book. I hope you have plans to start in on another one! Your posts have inspired me to try dishes more complicated than anything I've attempted be for with results that haven't been half bad!

David said...

Am humbled to be mentioned in the same breath (ok...same blog post) at Thomas Keller.

Glad to be able to save the day...I mean, save the ice cream!


Anonymous said...

Awesome, got the ice cream attachment for the KitchenAid mixer and will try this out. And now I MUST buy "The Perfect Scoop."

(TFF was my first concert, ever -- "Bawldimore," 1986. OMD opened!)

TasteTV said...

That looks really good, even though I stay away from ice cream, creams, and such

Carol Blymire said...

Jim - yes, I think you can find vanilla beans at Whole Foods. I don't buy them at the Whole Foods near my house because I did once and they ended up being hard and old, even though the expiration date was a month away. So phooey on them.

Kevin -- I know recipes aren't copyrighted, but I tend to enjoy cookbooks that have more than recipes in them; TFL Cookbook and Perfect Scoop include more extensive writing and storytelling by their respective authors that, to me, add to the actual recipes and preparations, and that is what I mean about respecting copyrighted material on the whole. And, it may not be a viable legal threat, but I don't want to be in any gray areas on this issue... so I don't reprint recipes and I don't sell ads because I would feel bad profiting from someone else's work. It's a personal decision for me.

Traca Savadogo said...

I'm with you...I have really enjoyed cooking with David Lebovit's "The Perfect Scoop" this summer. Do definitely try the Vietnamese Coffee ice cream and the Chocolate Sorbet. Mmm.....

I just found your blog today and I can't wait to peruse the rest of the posts.


Anonymous said...

I absolutley love honey ice cream. For New Years Eve last year we made honey ice cream which we were going to use between layers of puff pastry and then scattered with pistachios, as a sort of decontructed baklava. But as the night wore on it got to be a bit much, so we just had simple bowls of the ice cream and it was beautiful.

Unknown said...

Great post as always. The ice cream sounds delish:) I got an ice cream maker as a gift from a friend, but it is sadly not at my house yet...I still have 3 weeks to go before it makes it's way down here, this could be the first recipe I try on it!!

mary grimm said...

I'm a big Perfect Scoop fan, too--it's made this summer a lot tastier.

Anonymous said...

Very entertaining site. Looking forward to "head to toe". With your example to inspire me, maybe I'll be able to screw up my courage...

David, you are too modest. All your books are fantastic and your website is wonderful too. Great find for travelers who love to eat.

Anonymous said...

I dearly love Tears for Fears, but I haven't listened to that album in years. I'll have to break it out again this weekend.