Friday, July 13, 2012

The Best Peach Ice Cream

I’ll never forget a peach ice cream – the best I’ve ever tasted – that I had while I was working in the kitchen of Chez Panisse restaurant in Berkeley, California. I was a prep cook and my work station was right next to the pastry department. Lindsey Shere, pastry chef /co-owner of the restaurant at the time, and I had almost the same work schedule – every weekday morning to mid afternoon.

She was a very quiet, gentle and beautiful woman who had superb knowledge of fresh fruits and baking ingredients. (I don’t think she went to any pastry school or worked at any pastry shop before opening the restaurant with chef/co-owner Alice Waters. Alice also had never gone to any cooking school or worked for other restaurants.)

Lindsey mostly worked quietly by herself, yet she was fast and precise about every detail. She was as professional as the best chefs, even while working almost non-stop with only a couple tea breaks. I loved working with her and being able to indulge in her daily changing seasonal dessert creations. She was very generous with tastes of everything she was making. It was heaven!

The restaurant itself does a daily changing prix-fixe menu, plus they often had special events, so we were always very busy. However, once in awhile, when we had an easy day and could have lunch together in the small garden at the back of the restaurant, Lindsey often told me stories about the best seasonal local fruits and other ingredients. Her philosophy is to achieve the best taste/flavor for everything... never just making it look pretty. Her pastry creations seem simple, but once you have tasted them you never forget the taste... ever!

Fresh Peach Ice Cream

Recipe adapted from Chez Panisse Desserts
By Lindsey Remolif Shere

Makes a generous quart

1 ½ cups organic heavy cream
¾ cup sugar
3 organic egg yolks
1 pound very ripe, good-flavored white peaches or nectarines
½  teaspoon pure vanilla extract, or to taste

Make the custard a day ahead so it can chill: Warm the cream and ½ cup sugar in a non-corroding saucepan until the sugar dissolves, stirring occasionally, then remove from heat. Whisk the egg yolks in a bowl, just enough to mix them, then stir in some of the hot cream mixture to heat them. Return cream mixture to the stove and slowly add the egg mixture, cooking over low-medium heat until it thickens enough to coat the spoon (about 2-3 minutes). Do not let it boil. Strain into a container and chill overnight.

 When you are ready to freeze the ice cream, peel and pit the peaches and cut into thin slices into a bowl. Toss them with the remaining ¼ cup sugar and let stand an hour or so until the sugar is dissolved.

Crush the peaches with a potato masher or something that will crush them fine, but don’t purée them. You don’t want large chunks of peach, which will freeze like pieces of gravel in your ice cream; you do want tiny pieces of peach. You should have about 1 ½ cups of peaches and juice. Mix this with the custard and add the vanilla to taste. Immediately freeze (by churning) according to the directions for your ice cream maker.

Note: This is delicious served with a few Lace Cookies or Langues de Chat (shaped like a cat’s tongue). These cookies are very easy to make, and you can use the leftover egg whites from making the ice cream.


Recipe adapted from Chez Panisse Desserts
By Lindsey Remolif Shere

For 30 cookies, 2½ by ½ inches each

¼ cup soft unsalted butter
1/3 cup sugar
a few drops of pure vanilla extract
a pinch of salt
2 egg whites, at room temperature
1/3 cup all-purpose flour


Cream the butter, sugar, vanilla and salt until fluffy. Beat in the egg whites just enough to blend them and then the flour only until mixed—do not over beat. Butter and flour a baking sheet.
Using a pastry bag with a plain, round 3/8-inch opening, pipe out the tongues about 1 inch apart on baking sheet. Hold the tip almost vertical to the baking sheet and very close to it so that you get a very thin layer of batter (2 ½ inches long).

Bake in a preheated 425°F oven for 4 to 5 minutes, or until the cookies have browned lightly around the edges but are paler in the center. Remove them immediately from the baking sheet to a cooling rack. If they harden before you can take them off the sheet, return the pan to the oven briefly to soften them again.

Store Langues de Chat in an airtight container until serving time.

Note: If you like crunchy cookies, add 1-2 tablespoons almond flour to the batter.

Enjoy the best peach ice cream!

1 comment:

  1. What a neat experience that you got to work with the great! This ice crem and cookie looks delectable.