Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Olive Oil Not Gelato Not Ice Cream


There are two things that happen a lot once your friends and family realize how crazy you are about food. The first is you tend to get food-related gifts for every birthday and holiday. This is a huge bonus. The second thing is that they bring every food-related question to you, assuming you must know everything there is to know about food. Truth be told, this is a huge plus as well. It’s taught me that I really do know a great deal about food because I can thoroughly answer a number of questions that come from the home cook. It also has helped me realize what I don’t know and what I want to learn more about.

The question I get asked the most, with far more frequency than anything else, is to explain the difference between gelato and ice cream. My default answer has been that it’s mainly in the churning process and that if you’re talking about a custard-based ice cream, the ingredients are generally the same.

That default answer was no longer good enough after tasting the olive oil gelato at Mozza in Los Angeles. It was so good I tracked down the recipe in one of Mario Batali’s cookbooks, because as much as I would love to eat at Mozza every time a craving for that gelato hits, my bank account cannot handle the pressure. I dutifully followed Mario’s gelato recipe, but, lacking a gelato machine, I was forced to churn the custard in my ice cream maker. I needed to know whether I could call what I made gelato or if it was ice cream.

After a quick google search I realized this question could have easily been answered a long time ago. It turns out that I was partially correct. Gelato is churned at a slower speed than ice cream which means less air is whipped into the final frozen treat, yielding a much thicker, denser product. Additionally, gelato has less fat than ice cream. What? That doesn’t make sense! Isn’t gelato the richer, creamier version of ice cream? Well, according to Alon Balshan as quoted in Jessica Harlan’s article on, the extra fat in ice cream coats your mouth and the flavors don’t come through as strongly. There’s less standing between you and that intense flavor punch in a good gelato.

Gelato vs. ice cream dilemma solved. What to call my creation? Neither really. I used a recipe for gelato which didn’t include as much fat as ice cream and I churned it in an ice cream maker that whipped in too much air to call the final product gelato. So here is a recipe for Olive Oil Not Gelato Not Ice Cream. If you have a gelato machine, by all means, follow the instructions and end up with delicious gelato. If you, like me, don’t yet possess one, follow the directions, make something quite delicious and join me in adding gelato machine to your long list of necessary kitchen products.

Olive Oil Not Gelato Not Ice Cream
Adapted from Mario Batalio

6 egg yolks
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil (I used Valderrama – my current favorite)
3 cups milk
1 cup heavy cream

Place the egg yolks and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer and use the whip attachment to beat to the ribbon stage (about five minutes on medium speed). You’ll know you’ve hit the ribbon stage when the mixture is pale yellow in color and it falls back into the bowl in a ribbon pattern. With the mixer running, drizzle in the olive oil and beat until combined. Continue mixing as you add the milk and cream. When everything is combined, freeze according to your gelato or ice cream maker’s directions.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Roasted Tomato Tart with Goat Cheese and Country Pate

This tart recipe is the product of a perfect Sunday – a day I woke up early, feeling well-rested and with nothing on the calendar aside from hours to spend in the kitchen, tinkering with leftover pate and trying to use up pounds and pounds of tomatoes from the bushes now bursting with fruit in my backyard. At least that’s my idea of a perfect Sunday. If it doesn’t sound appealing to you, you may be in the wrong place.

I planned on making a tomato tart to start using up the stockpile of tomatoes currently occupying my kitchen counter. On a whim, I sliced up the leftover pate from our Saturday night cheese plate and included it in the tart. It added an amazing richness, but if you’re not a fan of pate, by all means leave it out, just be sure to put something in its place to help boost the flavor. A slather of Dijon mustard along the base of the tart would be a welcome replacement. Additionally, use any cheese that you like or have on hand. This recipe was created from what was already in the pantry and your version should be too.

The following recipe is long enough so I won’t waste anymore of your time going on and on about how much I love the Pâté de Campagne from Monsieur Marcel or how, if you’re feeling particularly adventurous, you can make your own goat cheese for the topping. I’ll just leave you with the recipe for your own adaptation. Enjoy.
Roasted Tomato Tart with Goat Cheese and Country Pate
Dough recipe adapted from Once Upon a Tart

2 1/2 cups flour
3 T semolina
1 t salt
12 T butter (1 1/2 sticks)
3 T shortening
4 – 8 T ice water

4 large tomatoes (heirloom paste tomatoes if possible)
4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
15 thyme sprigs
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup olive oil

1/4 pound good quality country pate
2 oz goat cheese


Heat oven to 375*
Place the flour, semolina and salt in a food processor and pulse until combined. Cut the butter into small pads and add to the food processor along with the shortening. Pulse until small crumbs start to form. Pour the mixture into a bowl and drizzle in the water starting with 3 T and adding more, 1 T at a time, if needed until the dough comes together as you stir it with a wooden sppo. Divide the dough into two balls and form into discs. Wrap the discs in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes (you will only need one disc for this recipe).

While the dough is chilling, slice the tomatoes to a 1/4 inch thick and place on a rimmed baking sheet. Season liberally with salt and pepper and spread the thyme sprigs and minced garlic over the tomatoes. Drizzle with olive oil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven, discard the thyme sprigs and allow to cool.

Roll the dough out on a floured surface. Transfer to the tart pan and pierce the dough all over with a fork. Chill the dough in the tart pan for an additional 30 minutes. Line the pan with foil and place pie weights in the tart shell. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove the foil and pie weights and return to the oven for an additional 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly.
Slice the country pate very thinly and lay over the base of the tart shell (the bottom may not be completely covered). Place one layer of tomatoes over the pate, sprinkle lightly with salt and repeat with a second layer. Crumble the goat cheese and spread around the top of the tart. Return the tart to the oven and bake until the edges of the cheese are starting to brown. Let cool slightly before cutting and serving with a simple mixed greens salad.