"The Lena Headey" Ice Cream
A while back, I decided to reach out to celebrities and ask them what their dream flavor of ice cream would be so that I could make it. Granted, I wouldn't be able to send it to them for obvious reasons, but the least I could do was make it and turn it into a social media post for to everyone to see, including them. It started out with the cast from True Blood, but then I branched out to other shows and films, like Game of Thrones.
One of the biggest challenges I have in the kitchen is working with ingredients that I don't like. It's hard for me to judge if something is good if I can't stand the main ingredient. A few examples are: anise, berries with chocolate, okra, Szechuan peppercorns, and don't even get me started on "almond extract" unless you want me to throw up. When I reached out to the wonderful Lena Headey who portrayed Cersei Lannister on the ridiculously popular Game of Thrones series on HBO, I immediately broke out into a sweat when she uttered the word...pistachio. That soft little, green-tinted nut and I have always had a rocky relationship. My father was obsessed with them, especially the disturbingly bold red and green colored ones that would show up around Christmas. He would eat them by the bagful, sometimes in one sitting, leaving his fingertips stained a tobacco-like brown from shelling nuts of both colors. He also loved pistachio pudding, another food that tasted nothing like what it was supposed to and looked dreadfully artificial. As I've gotten older, I've learned to appreciate the subtle flavor of the pistachio in its natural or toasted form, but other than that, I still don't really like it all that much. Alas, I had no choice. I asked Lena what her dream flavor would be, and it wasn't about what I wanted, it was about what she wanted.
Hmmm...pistachio and lemon. I suppose I could work with that. Additionally, if I were to make a pistachio ice cream that I actually enjoyed, well, that would be nothing other than a miracle. When I was at the restaurant and I made nut-flavored ice creams, I would often toast the nuts first, then steep them in milk and cream to extract as much of the natural nutty flavor into the base and then discard the nuts. Sometimes the chef would get angry and say I was wasting product, but she was the one coming in 3 hours late and taking naps on my 50-pound bags of flour to sleep off her hangover, so I didn't really care. As for my approach to the pistachio-based flavor, I had a few options, I could do the roast and steep method, or I could use a high-quality pistachio paste, and add some inclusions like pistachio cake and lemon cream. I chose to do the latter.
I make a lot of mistakes in the kitchen, and when I ask for feedback on something, I often like to tell people that I don't want any criticisms, I only want compliments. Think of Claire Saffitz from Bon Appétit. What an Aries, even I roll my eyes at myself sometimes. However, when I made a pistachio genoise cake, and it collapsed...I 100% pretended like that was my intention because it actually worked well! The cake turned out really chewy and sticky in a way that would be absolutely perfect in an ice cream. The lemon element was quick, fun and simple. I really hate artificial food coloring and I think it's awful, so I stay away from it whenever I can, and opt for something more natural for coloring or just let it look how it wants to look.
The lemon cream was a mixture of heavy cream, sugar, salt, lemon zest, turmeric and citric acid. That was my first time making a loose cream like that and I have to say, that it turned out...in the words of Lena Headey herself, "fucking delicious."