IT’S SPRING NOW, and for the first vernal weekend of 2010, the weather complied beautifully, at least in New York City. It may still be only a tease—we’re supposed to go back to rain and colder temperatures through the early part of the week—but for a few glorious days sunshine triumphed, coats and sweaters were cast off . . . and the Mister Softee trucks came out in force, making their first full assault of the season.
Would you like to experience New York at the height of irritability? (You wouldn’t? Humor me anyway.) All you need to do is take eight million people who’ve been cooped up all winter, give them a sunny day and an open window, and play them the Mister Softee jingle. You’re sure to see a fabulous display of the notorious stress levels and intolerance that plague the city. I have to admit that the jingle is annoying when repeated. Who wants to hear “the cream-i-est dream-i-est soft ice cream you get from Mis-ter Softee” on an endless loop? It’s a bit much, what with its chimes and cheap-music-box sound.
And yet, at least for this weekend, I couldn’t be bothered that one of those trucks parked itself at the foot of our apartment complex and seemed to stay there from late morning until nine o’clock at night, Saturday and Sunday. In fact, I took some small, private pleasure from it—but I was the only one. All weekend, my son complained aloud about the truck. Who ever heard of a child under ten complaining about an ice cream truck, I ask you? Especially when for the past four or five summers, said child has been one of Mister Softee’s best customers. My husband was not to be outdone. In a fit of grumpy-old-mandom, he threatened to go downstairs and tell the truck driver to beat it. So begins the annual ritual of Mister Softee bashing. It seems everyone in the city wants ice cream, but no one wants the trucks. A classic case of “Not in my backyard” . . . if only we had backyards here.
What our family does have, though, is a balcony. And an ice cream maker. So it seemed to me that the only thing to do this weekend (especially with an ice-cream truck boycott underway) was to start cracking eggs and measuring out the cream. Of course, being me, I could not content myself with vanilla or chocolate. No, sir. This weekend, I decided to make something you’d never get from Mister Softee: goat-milk feta ice cream.
It may sound odd, but I promise it’s delicious. It even soothed my husband’s ire and tempted my son away from complaints and toward a swift calculation of how-much-dinner-do-I-have-to-eat-to-get-dessert? The one prerequisite is an affinity for dairy products with a sour tang, something I adore. This plus a “creamiest, dreamiest” texture makes the recipe one of my best new ice creams. Goat-milk feta ice cream is a great base for fresh fruit toppings and the perfect candidate for scooping atop a warm apple tart, which is how we served it tonight.
Goat-Milk Feta Ice Cream
Yield: Approximately 1 quart
1/2 cup feta cheese (goat’s milk feta, if possible)
1/2 cup sour cream
2 cups plain goat’s milk
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup sugar, divided
8 egg yolks
In a blender, process the feta, sour cream, and 1/2 cup of the goat’s milk until smooth and set aside.
In a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat, bring the remaining goat’s milk, cream, and 1/2 cup sugar to a simmer. While the milk is heating, whisk together the egg yolks and the other 1/2 cup sugar.
When the milk is ready, pour a small amount into the egg mixture to temper it, whisking constantly. Add enough milk to warm the yolks and then pour the yolk mixture into the saucepan, still whisking. Cook the resulting custard over low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon until the back of the spoon is coated, 7-10 minutes.
Remove from heat and add feta mixture, whisking to incorporate. Strain into a bowl, discarding any solids. Let cool completely, then refrigerate for at least 4 hours.
Pour the chilled custard into an ice-cream maker and follow manufacturer’s instructions for making ice cream.