What do you cook when a friend gives you a large bunch of fresh sage which she grew in her Louisiana garden? Why, let’s make “Sage Ice Cream.” The unexpected gift of fresh sage sent me scurrying for recipes since I wanted to use the sage while it was still fresh. Several years ago, we ate lunch at a trendy restaurant/bar in the Warehouse District of New Orleans. The dessert consisted of Sage Ice Cream and Pumpkin Empanadas. I have long since forgotten the name of the restaurant, but not the dessert. Both the ice cream and empanadas were unique and memorable. I recalled the delicious sage ice cream and decided to make my own. To accompany my ice cream, I quickly baked some tasty sugar cookies using Bisquick (since I am on a Bisquick “kick”). Enjoy!
With a very distinctive flavor, sage is one of those herbs which you either like or don’t care about. In my opinion, sage can become a little overpowering in recipes. Other than adding it to traditional turkey dressing at Thanksgiving or adding it to sausages, I rarely see recipes with sage as an ingredient. But, I like a challenge and am ready to search out recipes incorporating sage. By the time I had a chance to try the sage, it had already dried out. So, let’s change gears to cooking with dried sage.
Sage, Salvia officinalis, is an ancient herb and is native to the Mediterranean region. Botanically, it is a member of the mint family. Sage was known to the Roman empire who named it the Latin word “salvere,” meaning “to be saved” or “to be in good health.” At one point, Chinese traded Chinese tea to the French for sage tea. In 812 AD, Charlemagne ordered it planted on German Imperial farms both for its medicinal popularity and trade potential. In addition to the culinary uses of this herb, sage has medicinal qualities and has been used to treat ailments ranging from mental disorders to gastrointestinal discomfort to mensural cramps.
Sage Ice Cream
I decided to make a cooked-custard type of ice cream using the sage. Custard-type ice creams are delicious — they just can’t be beat and I figured that the neutral ice cream flavor would accent the dominant sage flavor.
Adapting a Custard-Type Ice Cream Recipe
I adapted my “standard” custard-type recipe just a bit to make it more healthy. Rather than using five egg yolks in the recipe — as I did with my Lime Agava Gelato recipe in an August blot post — I decided to cut down on the egg yolks and use just two whole eggs instead. My goal was to reduce the the cholesterol in the ice cream since cholesterol in eggs is found entirely in the yolk. I further reduced the fat content by using both whole milk and half-and-half cream rather than heavy whipping cream. This custard-type of reduced-fat ice cream (gelato or ice milk) is delicious when first churned; but can quickly become hard, dense and icy. It is best used the day that it is churned. In any case, never melt and refreeze this ice cream — it will be a hard block of ice.
Making the Recipe
To make this ice cream, scald the milk and let sage leaves steep in the in hot milk for an hour to extract the flavor of the sage. Then strain off the sage leaves. How many sage leaves do you use? I tried 15 dried leaves. Next time, I will increase that amount to 18 dried leaves.
Making this egg custard ice cream mix is similar to other recipes which I have posted. I have made many batches of ice cream this summer and have the process down to a precision. Practice makes perfect and the recipe works every time!
I always use my electric mixer to blend the eggs until they are pale and creamy. Then I mix in the sugar.
Next temper the sage flavored-scalded milk into this mixture. Return to the pot and cook on low heat for several minutes — stirring constantly — until the milk thickens slightly. It should coat the back of a metal soon. Remove from stove and stir in the half-and-half cream. Transfer to a bowl, cover and refrigerate until chilled.
Process in ice cream maker. My Cuisinart maker gets another work-out.
The ice cream is still soft when it is finished; let it harden for an hour or two in the freezer — but not too, too long — before serving it.
Bisquick Sugar Cookies
I especially love ice cream when served with cookies. However, I forgot to purchase cookies the last time that I went grocery shopping. Is it possible to make sugar cookies in a hurry? Yes, you can do it! I remembered the box of Bisquick which was purchased for another recipe. The box seemed get in the way as I frequently moved it around my kitchen counter. A Google search for, “cookies made with Bisquick,” came up with many results. Can you believe it? No need for cookbooks in this day and age. I found a basic recipe for a tiny batch of Bisquick cookies which looked perfect. These cookies were simple to make (they did need an hour to set in the refrigerator prior to shaping) ; I added a few of my own touches. This recipe will become an “ice cream” standard and I will share it in an upcoming blog post.
The sage flavor in this ice cream recipe is very subtle; However, that was my intention. This is another delicious ice cream recipe. Perfect for autumn! I hope you like this recipe, too.
Sage Ice Cream
- 1 cup whole milk
- 15 fresh or dried whole sage leaves
- 2 large eggs
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 cups (1 pint) half-and-half cream
- Shortbread or sugar cookies, for serving, if desired
Method and Steps:
- In a heavy pot, heat milk on low heat until steam escapes, to scald milk. Do not boil.
- Remove from stove, stir in 15 fresh or dried, whole sage leaves. Cover and let set on counter for one hour to infuse flavor of sage into milk.
- Strain off sage leaves and set warm milk aside.
- In medium-sized bowl of electric mixer, beat eggs until blended and pale yellow.
- Beat in sugar. Remove bowl from mixer.
- Very slowly, add a small amount of warm milk to egg/sugar mixture, stirring constantly so that eggs do not clump and cook. Then add remainder of milk.
- Return ice cream mixture to heavy pot. Heat over low heat on stove, stirring constantly. Cook until mixture thickens and coats back of metal spoon.
- Remove from heat. Stir in half-and-half cream.
- Transfer to clean bowl, cover and refrigerate for several hours until chilled.
- Process in ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions.
- Ice cream will be soft, transfer to freezer-proof container and freeze until firm.
- Serve with shortbread or sugar cookies, if desired.
- This lower-fat ice cream is best when served the day it is made; or used within a day or two.