The fragrant flavour of cucumber mixed with ginger liqueur and lemon is exquisite. The recipe features in Sybil Kapoor’s Simply Veg Cookbook and comes from one of her favourite books, The Book of Ices (1885) by Mrs Marshall. Mrs M. uses ginger brandy, but since Sybil didn’t have any to hand, she replaced it with King’s ginger liqueur, first made for King George IV in 1901 by Berry Bros.
½ large cucumber, peeled and seeded
170g/6oz caster sugar
85ml/3fl oz King’s ginger liqueur
juice of 1 lemon
285ml/½ pint double cream
4 medium egg yolks
Roughly slice the cucumber. Place it in a small saucepan with 55g/2oz sugar and 150ml/5fl oz water. Set over a medium heat, bring up to a boil and simmer for 15 minutes, or until tender. Tip into a food processor and liquidize to a purée. Add the ginger liqueur and lemon juice and whizz once more.
Pour the cream into a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan. Bring up to the boil and remove from the heat immediately. Place the egg yolks in a mixing bowl, add the remaining sugar and whisk until thick and pale. Add the hot cream in a thin stream, whisking quickly to mix it into the egg yolks, then return to the pan.
Set over a low heat and, using a wooden spoon, stir continuously in a figure-of-eight motion until the cream thickens enough to coat the back of the spoon. This will take 10–20 minutes, depending on your confidence. Don’t let it boil or the custard will split. If it feels as though it’s getting too hot, just lift the pan off the heat and keep stirring. As soon as it is ready, strain the custard through a sieve into the cucumber purée. Process to mix, then transfer to a bowl. Once cool, cover and chill.
Churn the cold custard, according to the instructions for your ice cream machine, until it reaches a soft set. Transfer to a covered container and store in the freezer. Alternatively, pour into a shallow plastic container, cover and freeze. Beat with a fork every 40 minutes until you have a smooth, soft-set ice cream.
The featured recipe is from Simply Veg: A Modern Guide to Everyday Eating by Sybil Kapoor