After a day in Kent with family yesterday and deciding to go to the opening of Ruben’s Refettorio with Jonathan and Lyndsey for pizza in the evening, I thought I’d make a quick ice cream for us to have after. I assumed – wrongly as it turned out – that as Igor was opening the refettorio with a basic menu of four pizzas there’d be no dessert on offer and on a hot July day after pizza, then ice cream would be just the thing. But what can you make in the space of just an hour? I remembered that when my kids were little I used to make a good yogurt ice cream with frozen concentrated orange juice. How about trying to do something similar with strawberries. It must be all that Wimbledon watching that was making me think, I must have strawberries. I didn’t have time to make a custard and ‘proper’ strawberry ice cream, but I could make a yogurt version quickly.
Such ‘instant’ cooking requires flexibility. A quick stop of my nearby Tesco Express yielded proper Greek yogurt – i.e. Total yogurt – but only the 0% fat variety. Normally I’d not bother to buy it; people have a misunderstanding about fat in food. Sure, you don’t want too much but you need some. Having a totally fat-free diet is very unhealthy; some fat is essential. More importantly in my search for ice cream ingredients, the 0% variety just doesn’t taste as good, but improvisation was the name of the game and I wanted real Greek yogurt, not a supermarket Greek-style. I picked up a 500g pack of strawberries for £2, slightly uncertain it must be said about how good they’d be (I’d had a bad experience with cherry tomatoes from the Tesco Express that looked nice but were completely tasteless). It turned out the strawberries were good; sweet and tasty. Now I was ready to go. First thing, I hulled the strawberries. I never wash them as it makes them watery. I whisked them with a hand blender and added 2 heaped dessertspoons of caster sugar. I was going to have to guess the amount of sugar needed. It would depend on the sweetness of my strawberries but also on the 0% fat yogurt that wouldn’t have the natural ‘sweetness’ of the full fat kind. I strained the strawberry puree through a sieve to remove the seeds which would spoil the texture of the ice cream.
Then I tipped in the large tub of yogurt and added a teaspoon of vanilla extract paste. I blended it all and tasted. A little more sugar was needed, so I added 2 more dessertspoons. I tasted again. I still felt a little more kick was required so I added a dessertspoon of creme de cassis. I removed the base of the ice-cream maker from the freezer (where it lives, ever at the ready, in the summer). In went the yogurt and strawberry mixture and about 20 minutes later, a nice soft ice cream (or ice yogurt!) was ready.
I transferred it into a freezer container and it went into the freezer, ready for later. As it turned out, Igor offered us a gorgeous dessert of bread pudding with strawberries and cream at the refettorio, but we shared just one between the three of us. Back at my house, Jonathan said he definitely wanted to try my ice cream so we each had a scoop. It was good. It perhaps needed a bit more sugar – the freezing process dulls the sweet flavour and you need a little extra – but I don’t like things too sweet. This is a recipe to easily adjust to your own taste. We all liked it though; we all like yogurt ice cream and I often choose them in gelaterias. Their slightly sour taste is very refreshing on a hot day. So I may experiment with some more flavours, but meanwhile, my almost instant yogurt & strawberry ice cream had been a hit.
This evening I added a little extra by macerating some sliced strawberries in a little rose wine for about half an hour and then spooned them over a scoop of the iced yogurt. This gave it an extra little kick and made it a little more special … well, I was eating after Andy Murray won Wimbledon … so a celebration of a kind was in order!