This has been the strangest July ever. Maxence and I are having our bathroom renovated, and it is far more disruptive than I had — perhaps naively — imagined it would be. The dust, debris, and general lack of showering implement have made our apartment rather inhospitable, and my poor little kitchen is all tarped up, to protect her (of course it’s a she) from the ambient grime.
As you might infer, there has been little cooking going on around here lately — rubble cake, anyone? — but, by a stroke of involuntary foresight, just before the workers came in to bash the walls, I had prepared the ideal antidote: a super simple lemon ice cream, made with fermented milk.
The culinary fairy behind this recipe is my good friend Estérelle, who writes for ELLE and has a truly staggering knowledge of all things food and cosmetics. In the original version posted on her blog, she makes it with lait ribot, a fermented milk from Brittany. I *heart* lait ribot, but I have difficulty finding it in my neighborhood, so I used kefir instead; it is readily available in the fresh milk aisle of my grocery store.
The acidulated creaminess of the fermented milk is a rare complement to the acidity of the lemon, and the result is a snow-like, tangy concoction that works wonders on one’s dust-parched throat and construction-weary soul.
It is, without a doubt, the best lemon ice cream I’ve ever tasted.
The recipe can be easily adapted to use other types of fermented milk and sweeteners, and even other kinds of citrus. Lime would be perfect (with a splash of rum or cachaça rather than limoncello), as would orange, grapefruit, and, if you want to dazzle your friends with your culinary exotica, yuzu or cumbava.
But I must say that, like Estérelle herself, I am so smitten with the lemon version that I’m unlikely to try it any other way.
Lemon Kefir Ice Cream
- 400 ml (1 2/3 cups) kefir (or other fermented milk, or buttermilk, or plain yogurt)
- the zest from a large organic lemon, microplaned or very finely chopped (a Meyer lemon would be just the thing)
- 60 ml (1/4 cup) lemon juice (the large lemon listed above should yield that amount, but get a second one just in case)
- 130 grams (1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons) agave syrup (or the sweetener of your choice — maple syrup, rice syrup, honey, or a mix of honey and sugar)
- a good splash of limoncello (or rum, or cachaça) (optional)
Makes about 1/2 liter (1/2 quart).
Combine all the ingredients in a mixing bowl and whisk until blended. Cover, refrigerate for an hour until well chilled, and churn in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Serve with thin butter cookies, a handful of berries, and/or candied violets.
[Don't have an ice cream maker (yet)? You can still make this recipe on a day when you're home most of the time. Prepare the mixture in the morning. Pour it into a freezer-safe container and place in the freezer. An hour later, remove the container from the freezer, draw the sides in with a fork (the ice cream will set from the sides in), stir vigorously, and return to the freezer. Repeat every hour. The ice cream will be ready by dinnertime.]