Sunday, July 8, 2012

A Little Philanthropy

A little known fact about me is that I went to school in Colorado for two years.  I don’t talk about it much.  And it’s not because it’s a big secret or I’m embarrassed by it.  I just didn’t have a very good time there and therefore I don’t have much to say on the subject.  I didn’t have a very good time in kindergarten and you won’t hear me talking about that place much either.  I will say it was a stunning location for a college, at the base of Pikes Peak, and the campus is lovely too.  I had fantastic teachers, people who inspired me and I got to go do and see things I had never, ever experienced on the East Coast.  The experience made me a better person.  However, I had nothing in common with the other students, which made me feel like an alien. Sort of like wearing someone else’s clothes for two years. 
I was living away from Baltimore for the very first time and suddenly aware that not everyone ate steamed crabs or Mary Sue easter eggs. How odd.  To compensate, I had a large can of Old Bay sent to me from home, which I dutifully carried with me to the dining hall everyday.  You also couldn’t find a bagel to save your life, except for the frozen ones, so I had those shipped in too.
Colorado is not known for its regional culinary delights, or perhaps I just can’t think of anything that screams Colorado.  Tex-Mex? Or is it Co-Mex? I met my first chimichanga in Colorado Springs at the gas station and we became fast friends. Maybe chicken fried steak?  The first time I saw a chicken fried steak was in the college cafeteria.  I didn’t understand why you would want to chicken fry a steak and why couldn’t you just call it fried steak or even steak fried steak?  Anyhow, the point was lost on me.  But I have since learned that Texas also lays claim to the invention of the chicken fried steak and may well have rights to that claim.  Someone recently pointed out to me that Rocky Mountain Oysters are uniquely Colorado. I never managed to have one of those.  If that was my regional delicacy I’m not so sure I would brag about it. 
Another great thing about the college, besides the view, was the ice cream.  It was served at every meal.  Yes, every meal.  The campus lore goes like this:  Old Lady Bemis (I believe of the toilet empire) graduated from the college in the 1800s when it was an all women’s college.  She gave the school a large gift and in return, they did what most colleges do; they named a building for her.  Her gift, however, came with a caveat:  ice cream must be served at every meal, even breakfast.  I thanked Old Lady Bemis everyday when I helped myself to those ice cream buckets.  When I finally transferred to another school I was sadly made aware that not every school serves ice cream everyday, in fact, you are lucky to get it once a month.  I checked the Colorado College website to see whether they were still serving ice cream at every meal but it was extremely unclear.  Kids, if you go to CC and you aren’t getting your daily ice cream allowance I’d take it to the top.
So for Old Lady Bemis and her generous gift, I give you grown up cherry ice cream.  I have tried numerous ice cream bases and Thomas Keller’s is hands down the best, and there’s a reason for that.  I have changed it slightly to use 8 egg yolks, because while 8 yolks is obscene the recommended number of 10 is pornographic.
Grown Up Cherry Ice Cream - Serves 6-8
2 cups milk 
2 cups cream
3/4 cup sugar
8 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla
1.5 ounces Cointreau 
2 cups cherries - pitted and roughly chopped
1/2 teaspoon of orange zest
Combine the milk and the cream and 1/2 of the sugar and bring to a boil.  Meanwhile whisk together the egg yolks and the remaining sugar until thick.  Temper the eggs with 1/3 the hot milk mixture, whisking until combined.  Return the mixture to the milk mixture and continue to heat while stirring until it can coat the back of a wooden spoon, add in vanilla.  Remove from the heat and strain the mixture in to a bowl over an ice bath.  Let cool and store in the fridge for several hours or overnight.  Pit 2 cups of cherries and roughly chop them, reserving the residual juices.  When the custard is ready place it, the Cointreau, and the orange zest in an ice cream maker and process per the instructions.  Just prior to finishing, add in the cherries and any juices they produced when chopped, process until blended, place in a container and freeze.

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