Blueberry pie & honey ice cream with smoked sea salt

Honey ice cream

Honey is lovely! Sweet, amber-colored, the product of all the busyness of the buzzing golden bees – it’s like the distillation of summer light. The promised land will be flowing with milk and honey; it’s a symbol of the new year and of hope; it’s one of the Hindu elixirs of immortality. It soothes a sore throat better than any medicine I know. It’s so strange to think about where it comes from, and to imagine people discovering that it was edible, and tasty, and salubrious. I find it humbling to think about the mysterious process of honey-making and pollination, the complicated, social, important life of bees, so vulnerable to our clumsily destructive way of life. There’s been a decline in honeybee populations lately. To quote wikipedia, “In early 2007, abnormally high die-offs (30-70% of hives) of European honey bee colonies occurred in North America; such a decline seems unprecedented in recent history. This has been dubbed “Colony collapse disorder” (CCD); it is unclear whether this is simply an accelerated phase of the general decline due to stochastically more adverse conditions in 2006, or a novel phenomenon. Research has so far failed to determine what causes it…” I remember reading about it at the time! I had recently finished War and Peace. Leo Tolstoy was a beekeeper (that’s totally going to be the name of my next album!), and there’s a succinct, remarkable chapter towards the end of the book in which Tolstoy compares war-torn Moscow to a decaying bee colony without a queen.

“…he sees the skillful complex structures of the combs, but no longer in their former state of purity. All is neglected and foul. Black robber bees are swiftly and stealthily prowling about the combs, and the short home bees, shriveled and listless as if they were old, creep slowly about without trying to hinder the robbers, having lost all motive and all sense of life…In place of the former close dark circles formed by thousands of bees sitting back to back and guarding the high mystery of generation, he sees hundreds of dull, listless, and sleepy shells of bees.”

It all seemed mysteriously connected, at the time, to our own country at war. We’d been in this hideously complicated conflict for years. It seemed as if it would go on forever – for as long as people would profit from it. It felt as though we were numb – we’d grown capable of tuning out the news until the news stopped being reported. A strange connection that only the honeybees might understand!

Blueberry pie

Well, I’m rambling on about Leo Tolstoy’s bees. I blame the heat, it’s really hot here! Let’s return to honey as a hopeful symbol and an endearment! And as the main ingredient in a recipe for honey refrigerator ice cream I found in my mennonite cook book. I knew I had to try it! I used one cup of vanilla-maple pastry cream and one cup of heavy cream, instead of 2 cups of cream, as the recipe suggested. And I decided to add some smoked sea salt that I’d bought at the lovely Savory Spice Shop on my birthday. I like the saltiness with the sweetness of the honey. If you can’t find smoked salt, you can use regular salt. The smoky flavor is very odd and distinctive. I love it, but it might not be for everybody!! On the way to Cape May, we drove through the blueberry capitol of the world! Rows and rows of lovely short shrubby bushes laden with beautiful blue berries. David said he had a craving for blueberry pie, so I made one. I made it as simple and traditional as I could muster. I used a sweetish shortbread-type of crust, because I like that with fruit pies, but you could use a more traditional and easier to work with butter crust. I made a lattice top! Fun!

Here’s Muddy Waters with Honey Bee.

THE PIE

2 cups flour
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 t salt
6 oz cold butter, cut into small cubes
1 egg
ice water

Combine the flour, sugar and salt in a bowl. Work the butter in with your fingers till you have a crumb-like consistency. Stir in the egg. Add just enough water to make a workable dough. Pull it into a ball, knead for a minute. Wrap and set in the fridge to chill.

3 cups blueberries
1/3 cup flour
1/3 cup sugar
zest of 1/2 a lemon
pinch of cinnamon
pinch of salt

Combine everything in a bowl and mix well.

Butter and flour a pie plate.

Pull off about 3/4 of the dough on a well-floured surface. Roll it into a round just a bit bigger than your pie plate. I find this sweetish dough hard to roll and pick up in one piece. It broke as I tried to lift it off the counter. So I put it in the pie plate in smaller pieces, and re-connected them, Frankenstein style, and that worked out fine!

Pour the blueberry mixture into the pie plate. Roll the remaining 1/4 of dough into a long rectangle about 1/8th inch thick. Cut strips about 1/2 inch wide. Stretch these across the pie about 1 inch apart. Starting in the middle, weave strips of dough going the other way. Sprinkle sugar over everything – I used raw sugar, cause it’s nice and coarse.

Put the pie in the fridge to chill as you preheat the oven to 400.

Bake at 400 for about 10 minutes, till the crust starts to brown on the edges. Turn the heat down to 325, and cook for about another 25 minutes, till the blueberries are soft and jammy and bubbly when you poke a knife into them.

let the pie cool before you cut it.

THE HONEY ICE CREAM

3/4 cup honey
3 eggs
1 T flour
3 t vanilla powder or essence
1 t smoked sea salt
1 cup milk
2 T maple syrup
1 cup heavy cream

In a small saucepan heat the honey till it starts to boil.

In another small saucepan over medium heat, combine the milk, vanilla and maple syrup. Heat till little bubbles from on the edges.

In a medium-sized bowl, whisk the eggs with the flour and salt till they’re light and frothy. Whisking all the time, pour the honey in in a thin stream. Then whisk the milk in in a thin stream. Return the mixture to the pan the milk was in. Whisk whisk whisk, while you heat it, until everything starts to bubble. A few minutes later it will start to thicken. You should be able to tilt the pan and see small patches of clean pan. Take the mixture off the heat and pour it into a clean bowl, whisking the whole time. I like to whisk if for a minute or two to let off some more steam.

Cover the mixture and put it in the fridge till completely chilled. Preferably overnight. I actually left the bowl in the freezer for a while, because I couldn’t wait till the next day to try it!!

When you’re ready to freeze it, mix in the heavy cream (unwhipped) and freeze according to your ice cream maker’s instructions.

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3 thoughts on “Blueberry pie & honey ice cream with smoked sea salt

  1. I love that the ice cream recipe uses whole eggs instead of thousands of egg yolks. Leave it to the thrifty Mennonites! I don’t have enough energy to make both ice cream and meringues.

  2. Pingback: Spicy honey ice cream and almond coconut ice cream | Out of the Ordinary

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