Root Beer Floats with Malted Milk Ice Cream

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I grew up spending summers at my family’s cottage in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, where the little ice cream store in town had a sundae topped with a big spoonful of malted milk powder. Nights were chilly but never too cold to go out for ice cream after dinner, and since then anything malt flavored always makes me nostalgic for the first warm days of summer.

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These Root Beer Floats with Malted Milk Ice Cream are my little homage to those sundaes, and are also inspired by a dessert I had in a restaurant recently, a homemade malted milk ice cream with a splash of bitter Fernet-Branca liqueur. The combination of sweet and bitter immediately reminded me of a root beer float, and I realized I’d totally forgotten how good root beer floats are. Why doesn’t anyone eat them anymore? They are really good. 

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Most ice cream recipes require making a custard with egg yolks and cream, cooling that mixture, and then freezing it in an electric ice cream machine. But by whipping together sweetened condensed milk and heavy cream, you can make ice cream that is just as creamy and rich as traditional custard-based recipes, but way easier. This recipe has only four ingredients and the only piece of special equipment you need is a hand mixer. (Technically, you can even make it with a whisk if you have the patience to whip cream by hand. I don’t.)

You might have some leftover ice cream -as if that’s ever a problem- but I can guarantee it’s just as good straight from the container or with some hot fudge on top.

Root Beer Floats with Malted Milk Ice Cream

Ingredients

  • 1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 1/3 cups heavy cream
  • 8 tbs malted milk powder, such as Carnation
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 (12 oz) bottles root beer, such as Stewart’s or Boylan’s

Directions

  1. In a large bowl, combine the sweetened condensed milk, heavy cream, malted milk powder and vanilla extract. Using a whisk or hand-mixer, beat until the mixture has thickened and forms soft peaks (about 3 minutes with a mixer.)
  2. Transfer the mixture plastic containers or a loaf pan and freeze until firm, at least 6 hours or overnight.
  3. When ready to serve, scoop ice cream into 6 tall glasses, and fill to the top with root beer. Serve immediately with straws and spoons.

Farro with Shaved Asparagus, Peas and Pecorino

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There’s a limit to how many stalks of limp, soggy, brown-green asparagus I can eat before I start to feel like one myself. And there’s really no reason to overcook green spring vegetables, when they have such a great crisp crunch that lots of them can eaten raw or just barely cooked.  Raw asparagus stalks might be a little too “raw” for most people, but when peeled into slivers, they are tender and absolutely delicious. The thin ribbons absorb the lemon vinaigrette beautifully in this salad, and continue to marinate as the salad sits.

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Similarly, shelled English peas have a great crunch and while you could make this salad with frozen peas (I would recommend defrosting, and blanching them for 30 seconds in boiling water first) what makes it especially good is the combination of different textures and fresh, bright flavor- the chewy farro, the crunchy peas and pistachios, the lemony asparagus ribbons, and the salty flakes of Pecorino. This is a recipe to celebrate Spring’s greatest hits, and the better your veggies are, the better the salad will be.

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This  is a great grain-and-vegetable-in-one side dish, but having now eaten for it a week as I’ve worked on the recipe, I can say it makes a pretty good dinner on its own, with a soft boiled egg on top.

Farro with Shaved Asparagus, Peas and Pecorino

Ingredients

  • 1 cup pearled farro, rinsed and drained
  • 3 tbs freshly squeezed lemon juice (1 lemon)
  • 3 tbs extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 10 stalks of asparagus, trimmed
  • 1/2 cup shelled fresh peas
  • 2 tbs chopped Fresh mint
  • 1/3 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
  • 1/3 cup shelled pistachios, roughly chopped

Directions

  1. Combine the farro with 3 cups of water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook for 20-25 minutes, until just tender.
  2. 2, Meanwhile, whisk together the lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper in a large bowl.
  3. Using a vegetable peeler, peel the asparagus stalks into thin ribbons. (I found this is easiest if you lay the asparagus flat on a cutting board.)
  4. When the farro is cooked, drain and add to the bowl with the dressing. Add the peas, asparagus and mint, and toss to combine. Let the salad cool completely, then add the Pecorino and pistachios, and mix well.
  5. Serve at room temperature.