Thank goodness Deepak has been nagging me about getting more and better content on this site, because it’s true – we barely covered a fraction of the adventures, sights and insights of that Italy trip. (I also realize, upon reviewing photos from Italy and looking back through the folder, that ridiculously short shrift was also given to our trip to Southeast Asia last year and our trip to Hawaii. COMING!)
Whoa, I’m so far behind. But back to the blog-in-the-moment. Today let’s explore one element of our most recent Italian culinary adventure.
The world is so shrunken by now, and Italian food so famous, that everyone already knows what the greatest hits of the Boot are. On our trip, we focused less on pasta and peasant meals (such as spaghetti alla carbonara) and more on gelato, coffee and pizza. Tons and tons of that triumvirate! The basic rule was that some purveyors of these dishes were actively researched and sought out; others we’d stumble into in our peregrinations, and hardly ever was an opportunity missed to snag an impromptu caffè or pizza (yes, the WHOLE THING! None of this al taglio business – can’t be sure it is fresh and chefs likely to scowl at you for requesting it anyway). A recap and ranking of our pizzexperience and our javadventures to come. For now, let’s talk gelato.
I’ve always been an ice cream maker. When I first graduated college and moved to L.A., one of my big “I’m an adult now!” splurges was the Aroma 4-Quart Traditional Ice Cream Maker. I spent what felt like a pretty penny on that thing, but it seemed to pay off because I made ice cream for parties, visitors and paramours and they all seemed to appreciate the effort.
And effort it was! That baby required a Costco-esque stash of salt for the freezing drum, hours and hours to chill the machine and crank it, and of course the time and expense of preparing recipes worthy of the herculean process.
Fast forward to now. My generous Permanent Paramour has sweetly furnished me with Breville’s latest high-tech helado helper – the Smart Scoop. And while it’s a much more sophisticated machine, it’s freed me up to be much less sophisticated with my recipes. That’s because each batch whip-up requires no advance warning, no procurement of gargantuan quantities of ice and salt, etc.
It is in this spirit that I began making gelato the Sicilian way – that is, by making my base by heating whole milk over the stove with corn starch. Previously, I’d gone the custard route, using either whole eggs, egg yolks, cream or a combo of the three as my base.
No more! Our myriad explorations (i.e., stuffing our insatiable faces at every turn under the guise of “cultural culinary testing”) begat hypothesizing, which begat researching, which begat a friendly wager re: gelato’s fat content (it is lower than ice cream’s!). And it all culminated in my new favorite way to make frozen treats. It’s more cost-effective, more exotic and just generally easier than dealing with the fussiness, cost and hassle of tempering eggs for a custard base.
It is: making gelato using only whole milk and corn starch as your base! Try my latest recipe for yourself in the next entry.