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Food and Drink

Weird, wacky, wonderful. Fun ice cream flavors



Making ice cream is a lot like painting or writing. You start with a blank slate — canvas, paper, or a basic ice cream mixture of cream, sugar, and maybe eggs. Then you decide where to go from there.


The ice cream possibilities are limitless. Smooth or crunchy? Fruit-flavors or spices? How about mixing crushed chocolate-covered coffee beans into coffee ice cream? Or a swirl of pureed banana in chocolate? What about green tea? Or the Japanese spice blend called togarashi? In summer, nothing’s better than fresh fruit ice creams like peach or strawberry. In winter, orange marmalade is a delight. And then there are nuts. Pistachio, walnut, almond, peanuts, crushed peanut brittle.


In 1778, Vincenzo Corrado, an Italian monk and cookbook author, wrote that there was no vegetable that confectioners couldn’t turn into an ice cream worthy of the name. Corrado was using the word vegetable loosely to mean pretty much any ingredient, from pomegranate to cinnamon. Ever since, ice cream makers have taken up his challenge.Whether the ice creams they created in response were good enough to eat more than once is another issue.


                A dish of ube ice cream

I’ve had fennel, corn, Parmesan, Azuki (red bean paste) and ube (purple yam) ice creams. All were good, and I’d have any of them again. These were either from home cooks or scoop shops. But corporate ice cream manufacturers are also following Corrado’s footsteps. Häagen-Dazs came out with carrot-orange and tomato-cherry ice creams in Japan a while back, though they don’t seem to have hit the states yet. In the U. S., Peekaboo ice cream’s claim to fame is its “hidden veggies.” Think cotton candy with hidden beets, mint chocolate chip with hidden spinach, strawberry with hidden carrots, and so on. They stress the healthy veg angle. I haven’t tried any yet, though I don’t think hiding the vegetables was what Corrado had in mind.


Experimentation is wonderful. Sometimes, however, ice creams are so truly weird that you have to wonder what the maker was thinking. Even if I could afford to mix truffles (the fungi, not the chocolates) into my ice cream as the 18th century confectioner M. Emy did, I wouldn’t. Nor would I add foie gras to ice cream as the prominent 19th-century English culinary entrepreneur, Mrs. Agnes B. Marshall, did. 

Mary Randolph’s 1824 book, The Virginia House-Wife, has lots of excellent recipes. But I doubt whether anyone made her oyster ice cream more than once. Crassostrea_gigas_p1040848




Nor can I imagine that this asparagus ice cream from Janet MacKenzie Hill was a big hit. Many sweet ice creams have been flavored with asparagus, often with just enough of the vegetable to add color. Many more have been molded into asparagus shapes, even though the ice cream was pistachio or vanilla.                                      DownloadAsparagus ice cream molds

But Hill’s was a savory frozen asparagus. An early 20th-century author of several cookbooks, she had the following recipe in The Book of Entrées, published in 1911 by Little, Brown, and Company in Boston.  Granted, it doesn’t call for any sugar, and she served it as an entrée not as a dessert. It sounds to me like a perfectly nice recipe for hot creamed asparagus soup (if you use fresh rather than canned asparagus) but she froze it.


             Asparagus ice cream


Here’s her recipe, if you’d like to try it. I think I’ll pass.


Asparagus Cream, Glace



2 slices of onion

2 cloves

2 slices of carrot

2 branches of parsley

1/2 teaspoonful of sweet herbs and spices

1/2 cup of water

1/2 teaspoonful of salt

1/2 teaspoonful of paprika

1 teaspoonful of lemon juice

1 cup of double cream


This dish may be made of either fresh or canned asparagus. If canned asparagus tips be used, pour the “tips” into a colander and turn over cold water to rinse thoroughly. Reserve about a cup of the choicest “tips” to serve, seasoned with French dressing, around the dish when unfolded. To three cups of the cooked asparagus (more of the uncooked asparagus will be needed) add the onion into which the cloves have been pressed, the carrot, with the parsley, sweet herbs, etc., tied in a bit of cheesecloth, and the water; cover and let simmer fifteen or twenty minutes. Remove all but the asparagus; press this through a fine sieve. There should be one cup of purée. Add the seasonings and set aside to become cold. Beat the cream till firm throughout, then fold into the chilled asparagus purée. Turn into a mold lined with paper. Pack in equal measure of rock salt and crushed ice to stand until frozen throughout. Unmold upon a chilled plate, surround with lettuce and the tips, seasoned with French dressing. Serve, as a course by itself, with rolls or sandwiches, or serve, as an entrée, with chicken.








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