Thursday, April 30, 2009

vanilla sky

Mmmm, vanilla! It's funny that a lot of people have no idea what a vanilla bean even is (including yours truly, I admit, up until not too long ago), forget about how to use it. Then a dear friend of ours from Bologna who loves good cooking came to visit. He wanted to make his homemade vanilla ice cream and was aghast to hear that it's nearly impossible to find a vanilla bean in Naples. Finally a few months later I found vanilla beans in a supermarket, but they cost a small fortune. So in the end I turned to the ever-faithful and ordered a big bag of organic vanilla beans for what it would've cost to buy just a couple of those non-organic ones at the supermarket. I went off to work.

First with "Vanilla Ice Cream alla moda di Villiam":
1 liter of whole milk
1 vanilla bean
100 g. (3.5 oz.) sugar

First cut the vanilla bean lengthwise with scissors or a knife. Boil the milk with the cut bean and sugar. Simmer until it evaporates down to half what it had been before. Let it cool down a whole day in the fridge so at to mature the cream and make the final ice cream creamier. Then put it in the freezer and blend it every 1 or 2 hours with an immersion blender (or whatever it's called, I can't remember right now!) or a fork so it doesn't form one block. When it looks like ice cream, it's ready. And gobble it up! But be sure not to forget it out of the freezer for too long because it starts melting pretty quickly.
In the USA we use vanilla extract to make desserts, not that powdered "vanillina" that Italians use. In the past I've had to buy it in the States and bring it over here. Then one happy day I saw Angry Chicken's post mentioning giving away homemade vanilla extract. So I checked out her link to and I followed their recipe. I made it up in December and just today filtered and bottled it (even though I had already used it before filtering). And it's soooo good! And now I have a life time's supply of vanilla extract! Yum! At some point I'll put up some recipes I use it with, be patient!

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