I was in Baltimore on business, and we had dinner at Taverna, a Lebanese restaurant in downtown Baltimore. It was my second time there, and I love it. The food is fresh, well-made, and you can order tasting portions so you get to try a few bites of a lot of different things. (Which I wish every restaurant would do.) For dessert they served 3 small scoops of ice cream--honey, pistachio and cardamom. I found myself mixing the three and thought the flavors worked really well together.
I tend to make a lot of ice cream in the summer, and one of my favorite techniques comes from David Lebovitz in The Perfect Scoop. The ice cream is called Fleur de Lait, and it uses cornstarch instead of eggs in the base. While I love a good custard-based ice cream, this technique really allows the flavors to shine through. So here’s my version of Taverna’s ice cream, adapted from David Leibovitz’s Fleur de Lait.
about 1 quart
2 cups heavy cream
2/3 cup mildly flavored honey
1 pinch kosher salt (I use Diamond Crystal)
2-3 green cardamom pods, lightly crushed, or 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 cup whole milk
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 cup pistachios, toasted, chopped and chilled
3 tablespoons light rum or vodka (optional; helps maintain soft consistency)
Heat the heavy cream over medium heat with the honey, salt and cardamom. Whisk the cornstarch into the milk until dissolved. Stir the milk into the cream and heat, stirring constantly till it comes to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly. The mixture will thicken and coat the back of a spoon. Strain it into a bowl and chill in the refrigerator or an ice bath till very cold. (I put mine in an ice bath in the refrigerator.)
Process in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s directions. Add the rum or vodka as the ice cream starts to freeze, and the chopped pistachios just before it is completely frozen. (You will hear the machine straining, and the ice cream will come away from the walls of the freezer.) Serve right away, or store in the freezer and let soften for about 10 minutes before serving.