Summertime is for celebration and relaxation. I find something inherently relaxing about a porch or deck, where you can chill out with friends, family or on your own and watch the world go by while sipping a cool drink, nibbling on delicious snacks or enjoying a frozen treat such as ice cream or gelato. By the way, do you know the difference between the two? Gelato has less fat, is denser since it has less air than ice cream, allowing the flavor to not be dominated by butterfat, and milk is the first ingredient rather than cream. If you have tried gelato, I think you will agree it has a pudding-like and smooth consistency. Traditional flavors are vanilla, cream (custard), stracciatella (vanilla gelato with crunchy chocolate pieces), chocolate, hazelnut, pistachio and tiramisu. More modern flavors are fruit- based, such as raspberry, strawberry, lemon and Amarena cherry.
Haven’t you noticed that gelato shops — aka gelateria — are popping up and the frozen treat is also sold at ice cream parlors and food markets? The frozen treat has gone mainstream, and the flavors being created are quite often unique and perhaps strange to some. I asked my Facebook “friends,” “What is the most odd gelato flavor you have tried and where was it?” Responses included: caprese at Central Market in San Antonio; gorgonzola, a flavor she made herself; cashew and sour cream in Munich; truffle (the mushroom kind) at the Berlin Gelato Fest; foie gras in Portland, Ore.; garam masala in Santa Fe; garlic in upstate New York; blue cheese in Italy; avocado at Roia in New Haven; wasabi at Forbidden City Bistro in Middletown; cigar tobacco and chocolate in Rome; sweet corn at Gramercy Tavern in NYC; Tabasco at Avery Island; bacon at Max Burger in West Hartford; basil honey and walnut in Rome; black pepper at the Mall of America; garlic and lemon at the Mystic Garlic Festival. Wow! The sky is the limit.
Since it is going mainstream in the United States, I wasn’t surprised how many gelato cookbooks have been published recently. Coincidently, last week at the Fancy Food Show in Manhattan, I spoke with Joshua Davis, one of the authors of “Gelato Fiasco: Recipes and Stories from America’s Best Gelato Makers,” by Davis, Bruno Tropeano and Cynthia Finnemore Simonds (2018, Down East Books, $26.95). He was showcasing his gelato company and, of course, providing samples to the thousands of attendees at the industry tradeshow. More to come about the show in an upcoming column.
It is intriguing to me how food companies got their start. Davis and Tropeano, two guys right out of college, felt people in Maine created some of the best of everything in the world — higher education, ships, television doctors and winter boots. But the gelato of which they dreamt could not be found in Maine, or anywhere else in the United States. The pair sensed both a responsibility and an opportunity and set off to rediscover the lost art.
They learned the techniques and practices of the old masters of gelato. Those techniques are used as a foundation for creating an even better gelato experience. They make lots of creative flavors for discerning guests, serve them in a way that invites discovery and delight, and never compromise on quality. In 2007, the doors to their first gelato store opened. When asked, “why ‘Fiasco,’” Davis said the two “named it Gelato Fiasco as a hedge against trend-pursuers, treasure hunters and impostors, for only a true food lover, guided by his or her own sense of adventure, would dare enter a store with that name. And as they loved it, they would share with their families and friends, who would share with theirs.”
In the book, you’ll find recipes for traditional flavors, as well as creative creations such as Nutty Bailey’s, Peanut Butter Sriracha, Single Malt Scotch, Torched Marshmallow S’more, Apple Pie Sorbetto, and Avocado Peach Sorbetto. Of course, the company being based in Maine, there is a recipe for Wild Maine Blueberries and Cream gelato. They share recipes for swirls, caramels, crisps and toppings. Start churning with the recipes below. For the recipe for Milk Chocolate Pretzel Gelato visit https://bit.ly/2xjK6HG.
And, if you have the craving and no time to get your hands in making gelato, head on down to the supermarket and buy a few pints of Gelato Fiasco.
The headnote says, “When we first opened, we tended to mix traditional Italian names for flavors with English names. There wasn’t a cohesive naming style for our shops yet, which would come in 2012. So, this flavor’s original name was “Fior di latte” or “flower of the milk.” It’s a beautiful, descriptive name for just the taste of fresh milk and cream. To make gelato egg-free we use guar gum, a naturally derived thickener found in the gluten-free baking area of your favorite grocery store. It is used in many products to keep baked goods, desserts and yes, gelato, thick and stable with fewer ice crystals. It’s just another way to make creamy frozen desserts without using eggs.”
Note: The authors believe the only way to get a consistent result from a recipe is by accurate measurement of ingredients. It achieved by weights rather than volume measurements, so they recommend investing in a digital kitchen scale.
In a small bowl thoroughly combine 1/3 of the sugar and guar gum powder. Or if using eggs, in a small bowl whisk the yolks and 1/3 of the sugar until the mixture is homogenous.
In a medium pot, combine cream, milk, skim milk powder, remaining 2/3 of the sugar, and salt over low heat. Slowly whisk the sugar and guar gum into the milk while it’s still cool. (If you prefer to use eggs to thicken the base, while constantly whisking (so that the eggs don’t cook), slowly pour about a third of the hot cream mixture into the yolks and sugar mixture. Then, carefully but quickly, whisk the yolk mixture back into the pot with the remaining cream.) Gently bring the mixture up to a simmer, whisking often to incorporate all of the ingredients. Cook until the sugar and skim milk powder dissolve completely. This should take about 5 minutes. Turn the burner to medium-low. Keep an eye on the mixture and continue to stir with a spoon instead of the whisk (no need to be too vigorous — you are just trying to keep the mixture moving). Once the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon—which will be about 180 degrees on an instant-read thermometer — you will be ready to strain it.
Pour the mixture through a fine mesh strainer into a bowl. Cool to room temperature as fast as possible and then cover and chill in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours or overnight.
If you just can’t wait, you can pour the warm mixture into a zip-top freezer bag. Carefully seal the bag and removing as much air as you can. With the bag securely sealed, submerge the liquid into a large bowl filled with ice water. Manipulate the liquid (squish it around) so it cools quickly. Pour out some of the water and add more ice to the bowl as the water bath warms. For us, this took about 25 minutes.
Once the base has chilled, churn it in your home ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Makes about 3 pints.
The headnote says, “This is probably our most popular pint flavor and it was based on a customer suggestion at the Brunswick shop. It reminds us of the filling of a Sicilian cannoli. It’s got the right amount of pistachio pieces and globs of salty caramel sauce juxtaposed against the creamy mascarpone cheese background.”
In a large bowl, whisk together the warm Classic White Gelato Base, mascarpone cheese, brown sugar and vanilla bean seeds until mixture is smooth and uniform in color. Place in a covered container and refrigerate until cold, 4 hours or overnight. Pour the chopped pistachios into a zip-top plastic bag and place it along with a 2-quart metal bowl in the freezer.
Once the base has chilled, churn it in your home ice cream maker. When the gelato is finished churning, scoop it into the cold bowl and fold in the smooth caramel and chopped pistachios until they are thoroughly incorporated. Cover and return it to the freezer.
In a large bowl, whisk together the Classic White Gelato Base and Goya coconut cream until mixture is smooth and uniform in color. Place in a covered container and refrigerate until cold, 4 hours or overnight. Place the toasted coconut flakes in a zip-top plastic bag and put it and a 2-quart metal bowl in the freezer to chill. Once the base has chilled, churn it in your home ice cream maker. When the gelato has finished churning, fold in the toasted coconut flakes. Once combined, put a lid on the stainless steel bowl and return it to the freezer. Makes about 3 pints.
DESPERATELY SEEKING: Rose De Matteo of New Haven wrote, could you request the recipe for the cheese filling used in the danish at Marjolaine Pastry Shop on State Street in New Haven?
Rose, I will check to see if the baker will share the recipe.
Lobster bake menu, July 4, 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saybrook Point Inn, 2 Bridge St., Old Saybrook, 860-395-2000, $32.95 meal includes a 11/4-lb. lobster, clams, mussels, Andouille sausage, potatoes, corn and drawn butter. Other menu items will be available saybrook.com.
Kids Culinary Camp — Ciao Italiano (ages 5-11), July 8-12, 10 a.m.-noon; Teens Camp (12 and older) is 1-3 p.m., Chef’s Emporium, 449 Boston Post Road, Orange. Reservations 203-799-2665, $250. During this five-day camp experience, your young chef will participate in hands-on classes under the guidance of expert chef instructors. They will be creating and eating recipes each day that focus on Italian foods. For the week’s agenda and tickets, visit https://bit.ly/2LostyO or https://bit.ly/2XdKPtm.
Coastal Italian cooking class, July 12, 6:30 p.m., Chef’s Emporium, 449 Boston Post Road, Orange, $55. Reservations 203-799-2665, $65. Learn how to properly select and prepare seafood to pair with a perfectly creamy and delicious risotto. Finish with a blueberry puff pastry and fresh vanilla whipped cream. Bring your favorite bottle of wine or beverage to enjoy during this class. Tickets at https://bit.ly/2X5dBaR.
Consiglio’s Murder Mystery Dinner: “Deadlier Games” July 12, 7 p.m. (doors open at 6 p.m.), Consiglio’s Restaurant, 165 Wooster St., New Haven, reservations at 203-865-4489 https://bit.ly/2O3TQzQ, $65 includes dinner and show (beverages, tax and gratuity not included). An interactive comedy show that goes on throughout the evening during a three-course meal. Cast mingles table to table, dropping clues for a mystery only you can solve. Wear your most outrageous hat to compete for prizes.
Worth tasting: July 20, 10:45 a.m. Guided 31/2-hour culinary walking tour of downtown New Haven, reservations required, 203-415-3519, 203-777-8550, $65. Tickets at https://bit.ly/2FjiwMP. Enjoy tasty samplings from several of New Haven’s favorites. You won’t be hungry after this tour. I will lead this one.