Pineapple Ice Cream, Steaming Bread.


All severe budgeting aside, I insist upon many things in my daily food life. Bulk foods are a deal, but seem to add up quickly when every cent is a factor, and fresh, organic fruits and vegetables all of a sudden feel overpriced and usually from Mexico or California. I usually feel this way in late Spring, just before planting time in my own garden, and just before the onset of near-daily farm markets scattered across our city.

Not everything is feels expensive and dim however. Fortunately, when I start seeing reliably good, whole pineapples consistently on sale, I figure they must be in season in tropical locals - and they have been so ridiculously sweet that they indeed seem worth their weight in gold. Earlier in the week, my nose told me that I had to break into the stately bromeliad in residence on my counter, when I still had some juicy triangles of yellow fruit at home in a quart jar in the fridge. I originally was thinking of cake, but in continuing attempts at curbing my sugar-tooth, I settled on ice cream sweetened only with honey (and an obligatory 2 T. of sugar just in case).

(I chopped up the scraps seen in the photo above for easier introduction to the compost pile, and then realized I should have tried my hand at pineapple vinegar. Good thing the pineapples are still on sale...)

pineapple ice cream

Here in Wisconsin, everyone - or nearly everyone - is crazy for frozen custard. I'm not saying anything bad about custard, other than that eating it feels to me more like a meal replacement than a dessert. I have always preferred ice creams to dessert, in fact I actually would rather have "ice milk", which is hard to find commercially, but crystalline and easy melting (if not initially hard as a rock) when it emerges homemade from your freezer.

pineapple ice cream, toasted topped

And so I made a pineapple ice milk, a moniker I feel this frozen dessert deserves due to its texture if not its fat content. It's definitely a recipe I will make again. Toast some unsweetened coconut in a dry, cast iron skillet - and then use the residual heat to bring some cacao nibs gently back to life for a most excellent topping.

Pineapple Ice Milk (adapted from Gourmet)
  • 12 oz. fresh pineapple, pulsed in a blender or food processor to "crushed" consistency, then drained - juice reserved
  • 6 T. honey
  • 2 T. sugar (I used raw cane sugar)
  • 2 t. cornstarch
  • 1 1/4 c. whole milk
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1/2 t. vanilla
  • 1 c. heavy cream
  • pinch of salt if you deem it needs it

Reserve 1 T. of the pineapple juice to mix with the cornstarch, and combine the rest of the juice, the crushed pineapple, and honey in a medium pan. Heat over medium high heat, stirring to dissolve sugar, and reducing heat after the pineapple comes to a simmer. Simmer until softened a little, about 5 minutes. Stir the 1 T. pineapple juice with the cornstarch in a little cup and then add to the simmering crushed pineapple, stirring constantly until it thickens a little, about 1 minute.

In a small bowl, whisk egg yolks with sugar to combine. In a smaller pan, heat the milk until little bubbles start to form around the edges, but the milk isn't boiling. Add a bit of milk to the egg yolks to temper them, then add them to the hot milk. Stir constantly to prevent cooking the eggs, and continue to heat over medium heat until the mixture thickens (about 170 degrees). Remove from heat.

Set a sieve over the pan with the thickened pineapple in it. Pour the thickened milk through the sieve and into the pineapple and discard any eggy bits left behind. Stir in the vanilla and heavy cream, transfer to a clean bowl or jar, and let rest in the fridge until completely chilled (at least 4 hours and up to overnight). Freeze in ice cream maker according to directions.

steamed date bread, in tin

Maybe my inner being was crying out for "cake and ice cream", or maybe I was just trying to be a good steward of the leftover cup of heavy cream that remained after making the ice milk. I originally added the cream to some milk, and made a high-fat yogurt. Well, tried to make a high-fat yogurt, since it never really set. I suspect I didn't let it culture long enough, but it tasted good and was the thickness of buttermilk. Multiple factors led me to making another steamed bread.

I only made steamed bread once before, which seems to differ from steamed pudding (the only one I've ever made was for a Daring Baker Challenge) in that it is extremely lean and devoid of sugar. The first recipe I made was Hungry Tigress's, and it was just perfect according to me. Not sweet, very earthy, close-crumbed and moist yet dense, it was one of the nicest little breads, one that I actually considered a cake due to shape and how I ate it copiously slathered in rhubarb-ginger jam.

I altered a recipe in a 1940's cookbook that was very similar to Tigress's recipe. I made a half recipe, since the full one was very large (with 4 cups of flour), and because Tigress's blend of rye and whole wheat flours with cornmeal made such an intriguing flavor, I could bear to use plain all purpose for the whole recipe. I also subbed in my "cream yogurt/buttermilk" to feel, which led to a recipe really not worth recording. I will say it was not unlike the bread I first made, so go immediately to Hungry Tigress and make yourself a steamed walnut bread, substitute some pitted dates for the walnuts, and you will basically have the delicious version that came off of my stove top yesterday afternoon.

steamed date bread
steamed date bread

And, yes, I did eat that wedge above with a little scoop of pineapple ice cream after dinner last night - and it was delicious.

Steaming bread is a technique I want to explore more, and one that if the weather holds in a cool, damp pattern makes my kitchen laboratory feel comfortable and old-fashioned. Meanwhile, when basic home economics have me feeling blue, I remember my wealth in quality foods and can't stay sad for long. Before long, my yard (along with local markets) will sprout vigorously with all the inspiration and sustenance I need for a healthy life, and that is such a comforting thought these cloudy days.