Veggies stake claims in 2019, even in ice cream

As taste-makers tempt diners to expand their horizons in 2019 with globally inspired breakfast, they’ll likely offer more meat alternatives with it.

“Plant-based sausages and burgers” grabbed 64 percent of the vote in the National Restaurant Association’s “What’s Hot” survey. That trend comes in second to the 69 percent of survey respondents who agreed that Middle Eastern, Asian, Latin and other cuisines would influence American breakfast menus, explained in this blog’s previous post.

Veggies, as a whole, were indicated so widely across marketing reports and industry questionnaires that 2019 may well be the year of plant-based eating. Vegan and raw dishes are still gaining popularity; cauliflower and watercress are having a moment; and sea veggies (think kelp) are making the leap from Japanese, Korean and health-food fare into the mainstream.

Even sweets aren’t safe from infiltration by vegetables, if predictions hold true. Consumers can expect to see such flavors as hummus, tahini, avocado and other nontraditional flavors in their frozen treats.

But as previously acknowledged, this year’s food-trend forecast is hardly earth-shattering. Just as globally inspired breakfast is easily five years in the making, ice-cream makers have been slowly churning out vegetable-based flavors. And we’re not just talking vegan desserts.

Artisan ice-cream makers have been experimenting with vegetable flavors as long as “artisan” ice cream, itself, has been a notion. That was before Haagen-Dazs in 2014 introduced its Spoon Veg lines of vegetable ice cream in Japan with a Tomato Cherry flavor (a combination of cherry juice and tomato paste) and Carrot Orange (a blend of concentrated carrot juice, orange juice concentrate, orange pulp, and orange peel).

The trend warranted a 2016 story by Tribune News Service that emphasized vegetable ice creams as deliciously different, not “weird for weird’s sake.” Ingredients must work well with cream and have flavors that meld together.

Also, homemade ice cream is not a whim dessert. A home ice cream machine makes this treat possible. But a little planning is required. Both the liquid base and freezer container have to be extremely cold for the best results (chill at least four hours for the base, 24 hours for the container). It’s also key to start with the freshest ingredients.

A good blender or immersion mixer creates a smooth, velvety base. And because home machines have a limited cooling ability, make sure any add-ins are completely cool, and wait until the very end to fold them in so that they don’t stick to the bottom and get evenly distributed.

Fresh out of the churning step, ice cream has a Dairy Queen consistency; it needs several hours in the freezer to harden into something that scoops well but still is creamy. Lastly, once ice cream is spun, quickly get it out of the bowl and into a freezer-safe container to keep it from turning crunchy. Never freeze it in the container — it could end up damaging it when it sticks to the sides. Plus, it needs to be clean and properly chilled for the next time.

If you don’t have an ice cream maker, try this low-tech technique. Place the chilled ice-cream base in a quart-size, zip-top bag, add four cups of ice and 1/2 cup of salt to a gallon-size bag, place the base bag inside and shake, shake, shake. You’ll need oven mitts or a dish towel to keep your hands from freezing, but it works.

While winter isn’t peak season for ice cream, it is the season for eating beets. Once they’ve almost worn out their welcome in soups, salads, side dishes and other recipes, try them in this ice cream with goat cheese. Recipe testers for Tribune News Service say it’s just the right balance of sweet and earthy, plus the color can’t be beat!

Tribune News Service

Beet Ice Cream

1 cup beets

1 cup sugar

1 tablespoon olive oil

6 ounces goat cheese

2 cups full-fat yogurt

Cut the beets in half and roast, face down, covered in foil, in a 450-degree oven until very soft, for about 1 hour. It should be easy to remove beet’s outer skin with your hands at this point.

Cool slightly, then blend beets with the sugar and olive oil. You want a very fine beet-smoothie consistency; if you feel you have too much water at this point, just cook it off in a sauce pan.

Incorporate the goat cheese into warm beet syrup. When it reaches room temperature, add the yogurt.

Let cool, and then run through your home ice cream machine as directed.

If you like, add orange or lemon zest at end of churning, or steep beet juice with rosemary or sage for more of an earthy flavor.

Makes 6 servings.

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