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Recipes, Culinary Insights & Humor Spooned Up Fresh Every Week…………………(Now in its Ice Cream Phase)
Meryl-ly We Roll Along: Lavender Ice Cream
Categories: Dairy, Ice Cream, Lavender

Throwing Flowers at the Stage

You might say that this week’s ice cream is very exotic or very French and you’d be right. But the best way to describe it is very Meryl Streep.

I don’t know precisely how long I’ve been following Streep’s career, but I do remember watching her in a TV version of Wendy Wasserstein’s first play “Uncommon Women and Others” back when I was in grade school. I also remember reading about her exploits at the Yale Drama School in an issue of Newsweek that was either laying around my parents house or in a doctor’s office.

I can’t say I ever fell in love with her or anything. (I’m not really into blondes.) Besides you never really feel like you’re really seeing her anyway, you’re seeing the character she’s playing.  But I’ve never seen a movie of hers that she didn’t make better. And she’s been in a lot of movies.

Recently there’s been “Julie and Julia” where she was an amazing Julia Child. And “The Devil Wore Prada” where she played an Anna Wintour-esque fashion editor. Then there was “The Hours,” “Adaptation,” “Music of the Heart,” “One True Thing,” “Dancing at Lughnasa,” “Defending Your Life,” “Ironweed,” “Heartburn,” “Out of Africa,” “Sophie’s Choice,” “The French Lieutenant’s Woman,” “Kramer vs. Kramer” … It just goes on and on. And those are just the one’s I’ve seen, and just the films on top of that.

Once I was listening to a reading of The Velveteen Rabbit with my kids, and there she was again. How does she keep doing it?

The answer, clearly, is ice cream.

How do I know?

I just do.

A few months ago, my wife and I were watching a DVD in which Streep plays a Santa Barbara baker or some other successful foodie entangled in an affair with her ex-husband. The relevant scene in this case was one in which Streep’s character soothes her aching heart by making lavender ice cream. (Sounds interesting, right?) There were other more interesting and sensuous and sensual scenes, including one involving making chocolate croissants but I’ll save that for the year I blog about pastries.

Anyway the movie was “It’s Complicated” (I was going to say I forgot the name, but with the ubiquity of Smartphone’s, that doesn’t cut it anymore.) and it got the idea of lavender ice cream stuck in my head.

My experience with lavender as an herb only goes as far as herbes de Provence, the French herb blend which includes thyme, basil, fennel, etc., etc. and lavender. I had used it in a menu I worked up for my colleagues at the LA Times once where I rubbed the herbs onto filets of sole and baked them off. The food was good and earned me both praise and a few bucks when it ran.

But ice cream?

I had to try.

I found dried lavender blossoms at Whole Foods and then infused their flavor into a cup and a half of cream. The flavor was very strong, which I suppose has to do with using dried herbs instead of fresh. My wife and daughter both liked it a lot. It was smooth and rich and very potent. They described it alternately as eating a bouquet of flowers and perfume.

Not exactly appealing images.

Still, it was easily the most adventurous recipe I’ve made to date, a real leap into the unknown.

Perhaps Meryl would be proud.

Lavender Ice Cream
(about 1½ quarts)
1 ½ cup milk
¾ cup sugar
2 T flour
A few grains salt
2 eggs or 3 yolks (pasteurized, if possible, see note)
1 ½ cup cream
3 T dried lavender blossoms

  1. Heat milk to 180-190ºF with sugar, flour and salt, stirring until thick, cover for 10 minutes.
  2. Beat eggs and add ½ cup of mixture while beating, then add eggs to mixture
    HEALTH NOTE:     Since you’re dealing with eggs here, you need to take care when cooking the custard. Too much cooking and the custard gets lumpy, too little and you risk salmonella.  Another alternative is to use pasteurized eggs.
  3. Heat the mixture for one minute over medium heat, then cool with plastic wrap or wax paper pressed onto the top of the mixture to keep it from developing a skin. Cool for several hours or overnight.
  4. At the same time, combine the cream with the lavender blossoms in a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Once the cream begins to bubble, cover the pot, remove it from the heat and chill in the refrigerator.
  5. The next day, strain the cream to remove the blossoms and combine it with the custard mixture.
  6. Freeze in an ice cream freezer for about 35 minutes.
  1. Put the now frozen ice cream into the freezer for a couple of hours to give it a chance to firm up.

NOTE:     When freezing ice cream, you need to use an ice cream freezer to ensure that a certain amount of air is mixed into the frozen cream. This gives it a lighter, less icy consistency. When freezing sorbet, you may also freeze it in a popsicle mold, a bowl or on a sheet pan. Be sure to stir the mixture occasionally to limit the size of the ice particles. Larger chunks of ice make for granita, miniscule chunks make for a nice smooth sorbet (an ice cream freezer is ideal).

Photo Credit: “Lavender Streep” used without permission and I will take it down immediately when Ms. Streep asks me, but I’m hoping she won’t.

What are your favorite Meryl Streep movies, or do you have some other movie star obsession? George Clooney perhaps? Kevin Spacey? Kathy Bates? It may not have anything to do with ice cream, but the way this crazy world turns, it just might. Let me know in a comment.



1 Comment to “Meryl-ly We Roll Along: Lavender Ice Cream”

  1. Jane says:

    This is a great post. All of it. Can you make some of this ice cream and invite me over. I’ll bring the Streep movies.

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