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in the kitchen with: lara ferroni

by Kristina Gill

lara ferroni of cook & eat and still life with is another WOW food stylist and photographer for me. i love photography that keeps me staring, saying to myself that i want to know more about who took the photo, i want to know more about the dish that’s featured, i want to know everything! (and i want to taste what’s in the picture! i can say that some pictures she took of the process of making udon were so amazing, i went straight to amazon and ordered the book). today lara has offered us a great toasted sesame and vanilla ice cream recipe that’s perfect for ending a warm winter meal. click here for the full recipe (and more gorgeous photos) or click “read more” below. enjoy! –kristina

about lara: unlike many folks in the food media (ie, photographers, stylists, writers), lara didn’t start out with much interest in cooking. for years, she worked as a software developer and designer where her only food inspiration was deciding which restaurant to eat at that night. when she left microsoft, she started blogging as a hobby and was quickly introduced to a whole new world of food. she enjoyed writing about food, but the moment she picked up her camera and started snapping shots of freshly baked scones or big bowls of pasta, she knew she was in love. she spent just about every waking moment thinking about what she could cook to take photos of and started on a massive binge of collecting cool props. that was a few years ago, and she’s still kind of in shock that she gets to do this for a job.

Toasted Sesame and Vanilla Ice Cream

Sesame oil is fairly fragile, so if you are storing it at room temperature, make sure it hasn’t gone rancid before using it. If it has been in your cupboard more than a month, it is time to get a new bottle. Also, make sure you use toasted sesame oil for this, and not sesame stir-fry oil which often contains chile.

If you can’t find black sesame seeds, you can use white ones… just toast them first until they are a golden brown. You can toast the black ones too, which gives even more sesame flavor to the ice cream. Just be careful not to burn them which is easy to do since you won’t see a color change.

1 cup heavy cream
1 1/3 cup whole milk
1/2 c upcaster sugar
pinch of salt
6 egg yolks
1 T vanilla extract
1/3 cup toasted sesame oil
1/3 cup black sesame seeds

Place the cold cream in a large bowl and place a fine mesh strainer on top. Set aside.

Warm the milk, sugar and salt in a medium saucepan over medium heat being careful not to bring the mixture to a boil. While the milk mixture is heating, whisk the egg yolks in a medium bowl until they are smooth but not frothy. Slowly pour the milk mixture into the eggs, whisking gently the entire time. Once all the milk mixture is blended in, pour the whole mixture back into the saucepan.

Using a heat proof spatula, stir the mixture over medium heat until it starts to thicken. Pour the warm custard through the strainer (to remove any eggy clumps that may have formed) and stir well. Whisk in the vanilla, sesame oil and sesame seeds. Place the metal bowl into an ice bath (careful not to get any water into the cream mixture) and stir gently until the mixture is cool. Cover and refrigerate until the mixture is thoroughly chilled.

Freeze it in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s directions.

I like to scoop the ice cream into a plastic wrapped lined bread tin. The metal helps the ice cream get evenly cold, and the shape aids in making great scoops.

Why I chose this recipe:

There’s a cake in Alice Medrich’s Pure Dessert cookbook that first introduced me to the extraordinary flavor combination of toasted sesame and vanilla. It’s incredibly unusual, but somehow incredibly familiar from the first bite. I’ve been playing around with ideas of other desserts to make with this same flavor combination, and then it dawned on me that ice cream would be the perfect fit. Using the David Lebovitz’s olive oil ice cream recipe as a guide, the recipe came together quite quickly. It’s as easy to make as vanilla, once you find the black sesame seeds and toasted sesame oil.




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  • Sounds so delicious…I’m very intrigued by the vanilla-sesame combo. Too bad I don’t have an ice cream maker :( Does anyone know any tricks to making ice cream w/ out one?

  • I totally agree about food styling photography. She really does an amazing job of making her subjects leap out of the page and into my belly :)

  • Lara does a very informative website about her food photography work called Still Life With (it’s hotlinked in the intro to this post) where you can read about the equipment she uses for food photography.

  • After about a year of reading, I must finally post a huge THANK YOU for being so inspiring. Your site makes me want to redesign my home and fill my life with beautifully designed art!

    And another huge thank you for talking directly to what’s most near and dear to me: food and food blogging!

  • What an unexpected, but absolutely appealing, flavour combination! I look forward to trying it. Lara is a fantastic talent, and I am a huge fan of her aesthetic; thank you for featuring her!

  • i worked with lara a few years ago on a web project and she was amazing back then…and she’s only gotten better since.

  • It always amazes me when simple things and ingredients come together and are so delectable and beautiful at the same time. These are always the things of pleasure. Bon Apetite

  • What’s upcastor sugar?

    And in response to Leigh’s question of making ice cream, yes, you can… you just need 2 cans and rock salt. check out The Prairie Girl’s Guide to Life by Jennifer Worrick.

  • Yum! Anyone know how long sesame oil keeps when kept in the fridge? I have some that’s been in there for quite a while…

  • Wow, the ice-cream looks so inviting – it makes me want to grab a spoon and dig in! The fact that this was created using both Alice Medrich and David Lebovitz’s recipe is a sure sign that this will be DELICIOUS!

  • I finally made this ice cream recipe and it was delicious. But it did look different than the photos, (when you use 1/3 c sesame seeds they take over the ice cream so I’m guessing the photos are of an ice cream made with 1/8 c sesame seeds. also, I would add less than the recommended amount of sesame oil too, again it takes over!)

  • I went to a party last night where this ice cream was served. It was A-Mazing!! It’s absolutely beautiful as well. A real show stopper.