Sweet Asparagus with Strawberries and Chickweed Ice Cream
Asparagus appears as a dessert -- highly unusual to American tastes, but delicious nonetheless. The pale green chickweed ice cream would be difficult to duplicate in the U.S., where chickweed is best known as a weed. The chef suggests using pistachio ice cream as a substitute. A charming chef’s “trick” from Meinrad Neunkirchner: in Germany, when a mixture is thickening as the ice cream base does in this recipe, rather than saying “thick enough to coat the back of a spoon” they say that a “rose” will appear when you blow gently over a spoonful.
- Chickweed Ice Cream - (alt. 1 pint pistachio ice cream)
- Chickweed - 2 bunches
- Milk - 1 cup
- Heavy (whipping) cream - 1 cup
- Egg yolks - 4
- Whole egg - 1
- Sugar - 1/2 cup
- Dry white wine - 1 cup
- Water - 1 cup
- Juice of 1/2 lemon
- Sugar - 1/2 cup
- Strawberries - 12, large, hulled and quartered
- White Asparagus - 12 spears, peeled
- Cointreau or other orange-flavored liqueur - 1/4 cup
- Confectioner’s sugar - 1 tablespoon
- Pistachio nuts - 1 cup, chopped
To make the ice cream: Process the chickweed through a juicer or puree with a small amount of water in a blender to make 1/4 cup of chickweed juice. Bring the milk and cream to a boil in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs and sugar. Stir a large spoonful of the hot milk mixture into the egg mixture, then slowly add the egg mixture to the hot milk, whisking gently as you add. Place the mixture over a pan of boiling water and cook until the mixture thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon. Strain through a fine-meshed sieve, then stir in the chickweed juice. Freeze in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s directions. Store in the freezer.
To prepare the asparagus: Bring the wine, water, lemon juice, and sugar to a boil. Lower the asparagus into the poaching liquid and cook for 3 minutes. Add half of the strawberry pieces into the poaching liquid. Continue cooking for 2 minutes, or until the poaching liquid takes on the strawberry color. Remove the asparagus spears and drain on paper towels. Drain the strawberries and puree, then strain to create a coulis. Combine the Cointreau, 1 tablespoon of sugar, and the coulis in a medium bowl. Toss the remaining strawberry pieces in the mixture and set aside to marinate for 5 minutes.
To serve: Place three hot asparagus spears on each chilled dessert plate. Spoon the marinated strawberries over the asparagus. Place a scoop of ice cream beside them. Sprinkle pistachio nuts at one side of the asparagus.