Like I said, I just got an ice cream maker for Christmas, so when Marx Foods announced its latest recipe contest -- It's Easy Being Green, making anything you like using any two of the green ingredients provided -- I naturally started thinking of ice creams.
I'd had congealed salads and other southern salads on my mind - they're in that middle ground, old school enough that your grandmother made them, but her grandmother probably didn't, since they depend on convenience food ingredients developed in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Some of them date back that far, and some are much more recent - like Watergate Salad from the early 1970s, which for some reason picked up the name of the political scandal.
Watergate Salad combines pistachio pudding and Cool Whip or whipped cream, studded with orange and pineapple.
I could find another way to do that.
And I could make it ice cream!
Two of the ingredients lent themselves very well to this profile: bamboo rice, which is a light green color from the bamboo juice with which it's infused, and green cardamom, an extremely fragrant spice that goes well with both fruit and nuts.
But here's this. I wasn't going to use Jello pistachio instant pudding for a cooking contest, nor was I going to spend $20 and shipping for nut butter, especially since a less than perfectly smooth nut butter would make for a very different texture here.
So I brought the nut element in another way.
Creme de noyaux is an old school liqueur made with the kernels of members of the prunus family - the stone fruits: apricots, almonds, peaches, plums, cherries. It's a little like amaretto - real amaretto - with a complex flavor that's sort of floral, sort of nutty, sort of like maraschino liqueur, sort of like New Orleans nectar soda. You're not likely going to find it on the shelf, and if you do, it's probably Hiram Walker or Bols, both of which are probably artificially flavored and dyed red (because of the Pink Squirrel cocktail).
It's easy to make yourself, though. Any time you have a peach, a cherry, a plum, anything in that family, take a hammer and break the pit open. The kernel is inside. Drop it in a jar of vodka, or put it in the freezer until you have enough of them. Let them steep in the vodka for a few weeks, and then add sugar syrup. ("Creme" in French and "cream of" in English both refer to heavily sweetened liqueurs, too sweet to drink on their own.)
A little goes a long way, just like with vanilla extract. So it's a lot of work, sure, but you don't have to do it very often.
Now, if you want to go about this recipe and don't want to take the time to make creme de noyaux, you could also use the kernels themselves - just steep them in the cream with the cardamom, below.
If you don't want to do ANY of that, I would recommend maraschino liqueur rather than amaretto, unless you know of some really excellent amaretto that's escaped my attention.
Onward. For a pint or so of ice cream:
1/4 cup bamboo rice
2 cups half and half
2 teaspoons creme de noyaux, divided
1/4 cup heavy cream
8 cardamom pods
1/2 cup sugar or so
2 egg yolks
1/4 cup diced pineapple (or crushed pineapple)
1 orange's worth of orange segments, supremed (remove all pith, skin, etc)
First infuse the cream with cardamom: bring 8 cardamom pods, 2 cups half and half, and 1/4 cup cream to a simmer, turn off the heat, and let cool. It ought to be good and infused by the time it cools down to room temp. Remove cardamom pods.
Now make a rice pudding: simmer bamboo rice in the infused cream, with a dash of salt and 1 teaspoon creme de noyaux, until rice is very very plump and soft. Add the 1/2 cup sugar and taste for sweetnesss - it should be sweeter than ice cream.
Beat the two egg yolks, add a little hot rice-cream mixture to them to temper them, and add the egg mixture to the pan, stirring constantly over low heat until thickened (a couple minutes, usually).
Remove from heat, stir in the remaining teaspoon of creme de noyaux and the orange and pineapple, and chill in the fridge.
When churning ice cream, it's important to make sure your mixture is fully chilled, not just room temp.
Churn according to manufacturer's directions, and freeze to harden it up if necessary.
The final result is complexly spiced from the creme de noyaux and the cardamom, with nice plump grains of bamboo rice and bits of tart fruit.