It must be all those trips to Italy that got me thinking ice cream (it certainly wasn’t the awful English weather!) … Rome in March, Venice in April … and it’s really hard to beat the Italians when it comes to ice cream. The fabulous Fassi in Rome; Gelateria San Stae in Venice. However, The Single Gourmet Traveller thought she’d give it a try. And to be honest, even coming close to Italian ice cream was going to be a winner.
Tuesday evening’s meal started off as Italian in my mind with the focaccia and antipasti starter, so ice cream made in my sparkling new ice-cream maker (the old one suffered a sad death) and some biscotti seemed the obvious way to go. The Italian theme lost its way a bit in between, but then Italian + barbecue doesn’t have quite the same ring as Moro (North African and Spanish) + barbecue. I think I’ve become so addicted to my Moro books when it comes to summer barbecuing I’m actually incapable of heating the coals and putting on anything but a Moro recipe to cook. So it was Moro classic chicken marinade for the farmers’ market chicken, expertly butterflied by Jonathan and the most gorgeous lamb koftas, both from Moro East. But my Moro love affair didn’t end there … because after searching a huge number of my cookery books (and I have over 200), it was a Moro East recipe for chocolate ice cream that won my attention …
Moro’s recipe: a chocolate custard made from mixing 50g cocoa powder with 500ml whole milk – add the milk gradually at first to form a paste so that the mixture isn’t lumpy. Slowly bring it to a boil in a saucepan with 1 cinnamon stick. Take from heat and let infuse for 10 minutes. Beat 4 large egg yolks with 125g caster sugar till they go light coloured and thick. Slowly add the milk mixture, whisking as you go to prevent curdling. Return to the pan and cook over medium heat, stirring all the time, till it starts to thicken and coats the back of the spoon. Strain into a bowl and add 150g best quality dark chocolate, broken into pieces. Leave for a few minutes for chocolate to melt then stir it all together. Lay a piece of cling film over the top to prevent a skin forming and leave to cool. Then put into your ice-cream maker and churn according to maker’s instructions (about 20 minutes). If you don’t have a machine you can freeze in a tray and take it out a few times and stir well with a fork – it will still taste good but lack the nice smooth texture the machine gives.
It was Giorgio Locatelli (via an internet search) who came up trumps with a good raspberry sorbet recipe. Make a syrup by dissolving 100g caster sugar in 100ml water in a pan with 2 teaspoons glucose syrup without stirring and then simmering briskly for 5-7 minutes till the bubbles become nice and syrupy. Put 500g raspberries in another pan with a good squeeze of lemon juice and cook for just a couple of minutes so they start to soften but don’t fall apart. Put them in a blender to puree then push through a fine sieve to remove all the seeds. Mix the raspberry puree with the syrup and another 100ml water and whisk together. Once cool, pour into the ice-cream maker.
Now for the biscotti. I found a lovely recipe in Ottolenghi the Cookbook. I’d never made biscotti before – well, I did say yesterday that I’m not much of a baker. But I do love biscotti and it seemed a nice idea to have some to go with the ice cream.
Cream 80g unsalted butter with 110g caster sugar till light in colour and thick. Gradually add 2 eggs, lightly beaten, beating well after each addition. Stir in 1 tablespoon brandy, zest from 2 oranges and then fold in 150g plain flour, 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Then add 80g shelled pistachio nuts, which I roughly chopped. (Ottolenghi also adds 60g stem ginger in syrup, drained and chopped – but I left this out.)
OK. Now for the ‘technique’ bits. Spread the mixture onto a baking tray lined with baking parchment and dusted with flour, and put in the fridge for 30 minutes to firm a little. Then, with floured hands, shape into a log shape, 25cm long. Bake for 20 minutes in a 170C oven till partially cooked. When it’s cooled a little, cut into ‘biscotti’ shapes, on a slant, with a serrated knife. Lay on baking tray and crisp in a cooler oven (130C) for about 40 minutes. Cool on a rack and they can be stored (if you resist eating them immediately) in an airtight container.
They turned out pretty well. I did notice – the novice biscotti maker that I am – that the thicker part of my log shape was almost uncooked in the middle when I cut it into ‘biscotti’. Giorgio had said not to worry too much about the shape of the log as it will collapse a bit when cooking but next time I’ll try to get it a bit more uniform because the biscotti from the end, so almost cooked through but still a little soft at the cutting stage, worked better. However, when it comes to homemade biscotti, what’s the problem really with a little chewiness. They still tasted absolutely fabulous – as did the ice cream. Oh wow! I’m hooked. I’ve already got some cookbooks out and am thinking about what ice cream to make next …