Tuesday, September 28, 2010

CSA 20: Tomato Ice Cream (aka Epic Fail)

People have made various comments to me about my cooking: “you must be a great cook!” or “wow you know so much about cooking!” Comments of that nature. The best is “you must eat so well!”

The truth is… plenty of my cooking attempts result in epic fails. I just don’t generally share the fails. Tomato ice cream for example: ick. Which is not to say I’m giving up on tomato ice cream; But my first attempt, was, well in a word: bad. Perhaps one could even say very bad. When I leave ¾ of my ice cream untouched, you know it’s pretty darn bad.

As I was making it two popular clichés were rolling around in my head: Necessity is the mother of all invention and ice cream makes everything better. I had over a dozen tomatoes and one day left until a new batch of vegetables, and surely more tomato. I needed a way to make tomato better… and I had a brand new ice cream machine just begging for experimentation.

Tomato ice cream certainly works on a basic level – it looked delicious and was a nice creamy texture. But it failed in the most important of areas – taste. The first and most major problem was entirely my fault and preventable. I should have peeled the tomatoes. And the sad thing is I knew that. I thought it through; I planned to peel the tomatoes. And then I got lazy. And you know what kids? Laziness rarely pays off. I simply de-gooked the tomato and put it in the food processor, skins and all. The skins were also the second problem, in that they only ended up chopping to about ½ centimeter bits, and therefore made for a weird texture within the otherwise smooth ice cream.

I used my recipe for strawberry ice cream, simply substituting tomato for the strawberries and omitting the vanilla. I also added an extra tablespoon of sweetener, to make up for the less sweet tomato in comparison to super sweet berries. For sweetener I used half sugar and half Xylitol, but certainly only sugar would work (or if your intestines can take it, only Xylitol would be fine. Alternately I’m sure other sugar substitutes would be fine as well). And while I keep calling it “ice cream” I actually did not use any cream, but rather skim milk* and yogurt, for a fat free treat.

I will be trying it again (why not? I still have at least 8 tomatoes, and I haven’t even seen this week’s veggie haul yet) but with some tweaks to the recipe. Certainly I’ll first and foremost peel my tomatoes. I’ll try using whole milk next time too, to add a bit of tasty creamy fat to it. And I’m thinking some apple sauce might do the trick of cutting the acid flavor better then just straight sugar/sweetener.

Strawberry Ice Cream
6-9 frozen strawberries, chopped
¾ cups (combined total) of plain fat free yogurt and skim milk
3 tablespoons sugar (or sugar substitute)
A few drops vanilla extract

Mix ingredients well so all the sweetener is dissolved. Add to ice cream machine and follow the directions for your machine. Enjoy.

*In the interest of full disclosure – I use the ultra pasteurized, extra protein skim, the stuff marketed as tasting like whole milk. Skim Plus is one brand, Hood Smart Balance is another, but I’m sure local markets vary. Extra milk solids/proteins are added to the skimmed milk making it slightly thicker and creamier tasting. It has higher calories then regular skim milk, as well as more protein, but remains fat free.

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