Wednesday, August 10, 2011


San Francisco. The Mission. Saison Restaurant. I had a meal that stretched my mind (pig butter), my belly (14 courses), and my tolerance (6 wines).

The early evening was a blur of Vouvray Brut, caviar, awe, cucumber foam, oysters, radishes, lemon verbena, WTFs, nasturtium honey, and Chablis.

This decadence was followed by a brief walk around the courtyard as I chatted with the babysitter about Bella's earache.

Back to the table to suck the brains out of a wild spot prawn.

Some Riesling, assorted brassicas, oh yeses, foie gras, rabbit, a brief argument with my husband, and lots of Côtes Du Rhône.

Another phone call. And a plaintive voice asking, "WHEN are you coming home? WHAT are you doing? My ear hurts SO MUCH." Tears.

"Bella, we're out of here in 20 minutes. I promise."


Triple-tiered lemon mousse, glee, rice milk ice cream, questions, milk chocolate mousse, port, port, and port.

I thought we were finally done. And then out came the popcorn ice cream.

OMFG. Popcorn ice cream.

I  got up at 6am the next morning to try to recreate this luscious confection that hit my tongue tasting like a handful of lightly salted and buttered popcorn and slid down my throat as a cold pillow of aerated cream, eggs, and sugar. 

The only info I got from the pastry chef (via our server) was that he infused the cream with popcorn. So that's where I started.

I added 2 cups of popped popcorn to the hot cream and it melted away like biodegradable packing peanuts. I added another cup. Gone. And another. I passed the thick popcorn cream through a medium strainer, allowing miniscule slivers of popcorn to slip through and add a bit of crunch.

When Bella finally rolled out of bed later that morning, she berated me for staying out so late. And then she checked out what was cooling in the ice bath.

"Bella. I made the coolest thing. Popcorn ice cream base. I'm so excited."

 "Popcorn ice cream. Huh. Cool. Okay. Great." She is not a good actress but she is always supportive.

"Mama. It needs something. Like a topping."


"Caramel corn."

Hell yeah.
Don't laugh. Here's my recipe for Caramel Corn.

3 cups freshly popped popcorn*

Drizzle warm caramel sauce over popcorn. Mix until popcorn is coated.

*Did you know that you can make popcorn in the microwave. And, no, I'm not talking about those prepackaged bags. Instead, take a brown paper lunch bag, add 1/4 cup kernels, and seal the top by folding it over a few times. Full power for 2-3 minutes. Done. RE-VE-LA-TION. I'm keeping my microwave.

If you want something a bit more refined check out yummysupper's beautiful Brown Sugar Caramel Corn.

inspired by Saison restaurant

1 1/2 cups half and half
6 egg yolks
scant 2/3 cup sugar
pinch of salt
2 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup popcorn kernels (4 cups popped popcorn), popped in a paper bag in the microwave (2-3 minutes on full power) OR in an air popper (don't add salt or oil)

Whisk together half and half, yolks, sugar, and salt. Set aside.

Prepare a water bath. Place medium strainer (not too fine) over a medium-sized bowl. Immerse bottom of bowl in a larger bowl filled with ice and water. Set aside.

Heat heavy cream in a medium-sized saucepan. Turn off heat as it starts to boil. Whisk in popcorn one cup at a time until it's mostly dissolved. Strain through a medium strainer. Rinse and dry pot and reheat infused cream until just under the boil. Take off heat and slowly whisk into half and half/egg mixture. 

Pour back into the pot and cook on low heat. Stir with a wooden spoon until it thickens slightly. It's done when you drag your finger across the back of the wooden spoon and it leaves a trail.

Pour mixture through the strainer into the bowl that's over the ice bath. Leave bowl in the ice bath until the custard is cool. Stir every 10 minutes or so. Place saran wrap on top surface of custard to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate custard for several hours. Freeze ice cream according to manufacturer's directions. Freeze for a few hours before serving. Serve with caramel corn?


  1. I am scared to even try this decadent concoction:) I don't even want to know how good it is! I can see my family loosing their minds over the deliciousness of it all.
    PS Very cool tip about microwaved popcorn...Never thought of that one!

  2. Love this one! Love how the story is woven in—such a vivid picture of an amazing dining experience, family, and cooking. And 6:00 a.m. to experiment with popcorn ice cream? You're a better woman than me.

  3. E: i think you'd like this one. quite a bit. i'll never forget eating that ice cream with you at o chame. what was it? balsamic? yoghurt? must go look it up. maybe that will be next...

    jen: 6am? ice cream? i'm not a better woman. i'm a weirder woman!

  4. Laughed out loud and then sent it to every mom I know! Will definitely give this a go as I need another excuse to use my caramel sauce that I made last week!

  5. balsamic caramel gelato @ o'chame. i stop over there once in a while to get an order to go. i can never get enough. i've tasted a few imitations, but none of them come close. we've shared a few of those in years passed if i recall...

  6. Oh looks so good! I must try it!
    I recently came upon a earache solution: vodka. A few drops of vodka alleviates and often cures an ear ache. A friend told me her doctor recommended it while they got her daughter into his office. We were camping up a mountain on a Sumday when my 3 yo woke up with an ear ache crying in pain. We were hours from a doctor. I remembered my friends suggestion so I tried it. 3 drops in the ear. She fell asleep for 4 hrs and woke up with all of her cold symptoms gone.

  7. angela:
    wow. never heard of that vodka/earache trick. love it. my mom just told me that vodka also helps in tart dough. adds moisture and then magically evaporate away. good stuff, vodka!

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