Make it. Eat it. Love it.
The desert landscape of brown rugged earth disappeared in the rear view mirror as we drove north. Rolling hills of tall green trees, sunflower fields and fruit orchids whizzed by out the car window. I gave my husbands knee a squeeze as he drove.
While back home in NY our friends and families were gearing up to celebrate Memorial Day with trips to the beach, backyard BBQ’s and boat rides, we were getting ready for our own long holiday weekend in Israel. A last minute trip had us driving to the north to Afula to visit our dear friend and spend the holiday of Shavuot with his family.
Shavuot is a holiday that commemorates the receiving of the ten commandments by the Jewish people and it is customary on Shavuot to eat a dairy meal. We eat dairy because in the ten commandments the laws of kashrut came into existence and upon receiving these new laws, people didn’t have the means to cook kosher meat yet and so the first meal after receiving the commandants, was a dairy one. In keeping with the tradition of the holiday it has become pretty much required to eat things like cheesecake, ice cream, blintzes and anything else you could want as long as its covered in cheese. The greatest holiday ever? Possibly.
I packed up a freezer bag with ice and carefully packed in it a wonderful mascarpone cheesecake topped with fresh passion fruit. My husband and I only worried that by the time we made it to Afula it would be a melted mess. Luckily it was just as perfect and delicious as the first time I made it with pomegranates. (If you haven’t checked it out, do. I promise it is one of the greatest cheesecakes you could eat, hands down.) It was the perfect touch to the holiday dairy meal.
We spent the weekend lounging around Afula, eating cheesecake for breakfast, practicing our endurance as parents while endlessly playing with our friends nephews and niece, eating a huge dairy meal of delicious foods all cooked with cheese, visiting a local kibbutz and taking in the sights atop Mount Tabor. Our weekend ended with a huge family BBQ, we said our goodbyes and headed back down south to Be’er Sheva. A perfect little weekend away.
Even though Shavuot has come and gone and I made a cheesecake to celebrate it, I personally think that we should keep this tradition of eating delicious dairy foods all the time. Especially when those foods include ice cream. As we enter June here in the Negev temperatures soar, the sun makes you feel like you may melt into a puddle and ice cream may be the only way to combate the heat (as long as you eat it fast enough-the heat will melt it within minutes)!
Homemade ice cream is always wonderful because you can control what goes in it and what flavor profile you want it to have. I love easy home made ice creams that I can make without a machine being that mine is back in NY. As I discovered last summer when I made mascarpone ice cream with caramelized figs, you dont need any fancy ice cream maker to make creamy delicious ice cream. After all, there were no ice cream machines back in the day and people were still able to enjoy this yummy summer staple.
This ice cream has four ingredients. FOUR. Thats it. I have been wanting to try ricotta ice cream out for awhile after seeing it pop up all over the blogosphere. I combined it with buttermilk instead of whole milk or cream to tone down the sweetness and the flavors work amazing together. Creamy and delicious this is a perfect ice cream to top onto pies, (which I did on a nice cherry pie- recipe coming soon,) eat with fresh fruit or on its own and works as the perfect base for add ins. Dark chocolate chips and a honey swirl anyone?
8 ounces ricotta cheese
1/2 cup buttermilk
3/4 cup simple syrup (recipe below)
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
In a metal mixing bowl whisk together ricotta cheese and buttermilk until smooth.
Add the simple syrup and vanilla to the ricotta mixture and mix until combined and place bowl in freezer.
After 35 minutes, mix ice cream mixture and return back to freezer.
Continue mixing at 30 minute intervals for 2 hours. Make sure to scrape down sides of bowl and break up any crystals that may form, you dont want little bits of ice in your ice cream.
Cover and freeze completely.
For Simple Syrup:
In a small saucepan combine 1/2 cup water and 1 cup sugar. Heat until boiling and sugar has disolved, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat and let simmer for 3 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool completely.