Tag Archives: Italy

Prickly Pear Sorbet

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This recipe is quite simple. You will need an icecream maker of some kind, but even the very inexpensive ones work well for this. You will also need a fine sieve.

8 Prickly Pears (they call these Tuna) in Mexican markets. They come in yellow, orange and pink. My favorite is pink.

1 cup of simple syrup (half water/half sugar till sugar melts) or light agave syrup. Sometimes I put fresh mint in the syrup too.

Juice of three limes

1/4 cup raspberry liqueur  such as Framboise. This step can be eliminated if you do not want the liquor.

Often times you can find these pears growing wild and in gardens. In Mexico they also candy them. In Italy they are used to make gelato ad sorbet in the fall.

When making your simple syrup, you can add spices, in this case I used one cardamom pod, mint, a cinnamon stick and 3 star anise. These just flavor the syrup slightly.

Using a fork, cut off the ends of the prickly pear. Commercial pears like you would find in a hispanic grocery will have the little prickles removed. If you harvest them your self, you will need to be more careful. Hold the fork on one end, stand the pear on the other end and using a sharp knife cut just the skin from the pear. Then cut into large chunks and place in a food processor. Pour in the simple syrup, lime and liqueur. Pulse until the mixture is smooth.

Strain carefully, there are a lot of seeds inside. Cool the mixture.

Process as you would in any ice cream or gelato machine. Pack tightly in freezer containers. It will be ready to eat within a couple of hours.

Lavender Gelato

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Gelato is ice cream’s smoother more flavorful Italian cousin. In Italy there are gelaterie shops everywhere. The trend came to the US several years ago, but there are still many people I meet that are not familiar with gelato. It is best made in small batches. It has less butterfat than most ice cream and there are a few secrets to making it smoother. Most recipes for gelato use only egg yolks, no whites. The yolk works as a stabilizer in the process. The other secret is to cook the custard and then after straining let it sit for for several hours after pasteurization is complete for the milk proteins to hydrate, or bind. This hydration reduces the size of the ice crystals, making a smoother texture in the final product.

I have an Italian gelato machine. But you do not have to have one to make good gelato. It does help if you have a machine which stirs while refrigerating, but you can still get good results with an old fashioned ice cream machine. My machine is made by Lusso and I call her Lucille.Image

Here is the recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1/3 cup dried culinary lavender flowers
  • Zest of one lemon in large strips (use a vegetable peeler not a zester)
  • 7 egg yolks
  • 1 cup sugar
  • dash salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • Purple food coloring paste (buy this in cake decorating section of a craft store) optional
Method: 
  1. Bring milk, lemon zest and lavender almost to a boil
  2. Turn off heat and allow to sit for 1 hour
  3. Strain and discard lavender & lemon peel
  4. Add cream with a whisk
  5. Reheat strained milk & cream until bubbles form around edge of the pan
  6. Beat the egg yolks with with sugar and a pinch of salt in a stainless steel bowl that will fit over a saucepan of water. Beat vigorously until the mixture is yellow and creamy (about 3 minutes)
  7. Add a ladle of the hot milk/cream to the egg/sugar mixture and continue to whisk, then add the remaining milk/cream mixture very slowly
  8. Maintain a simmer in the bottom of the double boiler, do not allow it to come to a rolling boil
  9. Beat by hand or with a mixer while cooking for about 15 minutes, do not allow it to boil
  10. When the back of a wooden spoon is coated with the mixture and you can draw a line with your finger it is ready.
  11. Stir in the vanilla and pour through a strainer into another bowl that will fit into a larger bowl fitted with ice
  12. Whisk in the coloring if you want to use it
  13. Place plastic wrap over the entire top of the mixture, touching it all the way around. This creates a seal and will not allow a skin to form.
  14. Place the bowl with the mixture in it into the bowl of ice and allow to rest until all of the ice melts.
  15. At this point you can place it in the refrigerator to chill further, as long as over night.
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Process according to your machine’s directions. Put into plastic containers and freeze or serve immediately
 You might want to try one of my other favorite gelato recipes: Salted Caramel Gelato  pictured below: