I didn’t want to open my first post here with a sentimental superlative but this is the thing about living in Red Hook: I have the most wonderful neighbors in the world. They bring over chicken and dumplings, patiently teach me to parallel park, babysit for my dog, give me cuttings of their hard-to-kill houseplants, lend me comic books and tell great stories.
Christina, who bakes consistently formidable pies using Crisco, put together a super tangy peach pie for the Fourth of July. Since there was a rack of ribs in her oven (it was too hot to grill), she came over to use my empty oven. We set a timer. My whole apartment smelled like browning pie crust, which is great but also completely unbearable when you have to wait an hour or so before you can start eating the pie.
So Christina lined a tray to catch the pie filling as it bubbled out of the crust. Then she walked around the room offering everyone caramelized pie goop and some of the extra crust, which she baked with a little salt, sugar and cinnamon to hold us over. See? Amazing neighbors.
I made hyssop ice cream to go with Christina’s peach pie. It has a lovely licorice and mint flavor that would go nicely with most summery desserts. We ate it in the courtyard with a bunch of purple-flowering hyssop in the middle of the table. It was so lovely, I forgot to take photographs.
Hyssop ice cream
2 cups milk
1 cup cream
1 bunch hyssop leaves, washed and torn
3/4 cup sugar
1 generous pinch salt
4 egg yolks
- Heat the milk and cream until just before it boils, then add the hyssop leaves and turn down the heat.
- In a separate bowl, whisk the sugar, salt and egg yolks until smooth then pour in about a half cup of the hot milk, whisking it well.
- Pour back the milky egg mixture into the hot milk and stir constantly on low heat until the custard thickens enough to stick to a wooden spoon.
- Allow to cool (if you have the time and the ice for it, pour into a metal bowl over an ice bath and cool down properly).
- Keep in the fridge overnight then strain the cold custard through a sieve (to get rid of the leaves and any egg clumps) into an ice cream machine to spin.
It’ll keep in the freezer for a few days but it won’t taste as good, or have this silky soft serve thing going on, after today. So try and eat it all! If you don’t have an ice cream machine, you could always have some cold hyssop custard drizzled on a slice of cake. Also, you can replace the hyssop in the recipe with any tasty herb, like a bunch of thyme or a handful of lemon verbena. —Tejal