Posted in Fruit, Ice Cream on August 25, 2010|
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Thank you, Lee Bailey! (Author of Country Desserts) His cookbook continues to inspire me to make outrageously decadent treats.
I started by selecting some deliciously ripe peaches. I peeled them, this time with a paring knife, I figured I was using the skins so I didn’t mind if a little meat was clinging to the skin. I placed the skins and pits in one bowl and the shiny halves in another.
I put the peeled and pitted peach halves in my food processor, squeezed some lemon juice on them and pureed them. I poured the puree into a bowl and set it in the fridge to chill.
I poured equal parts milk and heavy cream into a heavy bottomed sauce pan and added the peach skins and pits.
I brought the mixture to a simmer and kept it there for about 20 minutes. I added some sugar and then took it off the heat. I added a little bit of the hot liquid to a couple of egg yolks to temper them before adding them to the pan. I put it back on the heat and cooked it, stirring frequently until the custard coated the back of a spoon. I transferred the hot custard to a mixing bowl and put it in the fridge. When it was nice and cool, I strained out the skins and pits and mixed it with the peach puree.
I put it back in the fridge for some serious chilling. The cooler the mixture is when you put it in the ice cream maker, the better. Once you put the mixture in the ice cream maker all you have to do is wait and watch the mixture get thicker and thicker until it climbs over the blade and onto a spoon (for quality control, of course.)
When the mixture was sufficiently chilled, I transferred the ice cream into two bowls, one for later and one for immediate use. I cut up some fresh peaches and picked some mint from the garden to finish it with.
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Last week my friend Erika came to visit from Italy. (Erika is the maker of Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena.) Her visit was centered around a Balsamic vinegar tasting that we did together at Zingerman’s Deli.
We did several food pairings with the various ages and wood types (the different woods impart different flavors.) Strawberries with 12 year cherry barrels, potatoes and tuna with 12 year juniper barrels, bruschetta with 12 year mulberry barrels, mixed greens and ricotta salad with 25 year mixed barrels, Parmigiano Reggiano with 25 year mulberry barrels, and of course vanilla gelato with 25 year cherry barrels.
Erika even brought a bottle of vinegar that came from the set of barrels that were started for her great-grandmother’s dowry in 1842. This one is so good you eat it alone! Needless to say, this was a big hit.
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About 4 years ago my sister and I went to Modena, Italy to learn about Traditional Balsamic Vinegar. We were lucky enough to stay with Erika Barbieri of Acetaia del Cristo. Erika’s family has been making Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Modena (ABTM) for generations. She and her business partner, Daniele, along with her brother Gilberto are carrying on their family tradition of making ABTM.
For those of you who don’t know the difference between ABTM and the “balsamic” vinegar you find at the grocery store, there are several. ABTM is made from cooked grape juice (the cooking stops it from turning into wine) that is aged in wooden barrels for a number of years.
As the vinegar ages there is a lot of evaporation that takes place so the vinegar becomes both thicker and sweeter (because the sugars are more concentrated). At the same time, the level of acidity is increasing making the vinegar more tart. After aging for at least 12 or 25 years, the vinegar is ready to be bottled. By this point, the vinegar is so thick and sweet it seems more like a syrup than what we think of as vinegar. Grocery store “balsamic” is almost always made from wine vinegar and many times has sweeteners and colorants added to it in an attempt to mimic the richness of ABTM.
One of my favorite ways to eat Traditional Balsamic is on vanilla ice cream and strawberries!
My sister and I were in Modena during the fall so we got to help with the grape harvest. None of our friends there could believe that we were excited to pick grapes. I suppose it is akin to detasseling corn in the Midwest. Never the less, we had fun!
At the end of the harvest, Erika’s father made a big batch of Porcini risotto with porcini that he collected up in the mountains.
Erika’s friends and neighbors help with the harvest just so they can partake in the end of harvest party and eat Eugenio’s risotto, it is that good.
After the harvest was complete and things settled down a bit, my sister and I accompanied Erika to Torino, Italy for the Salone del Gusto which is a fair highlighting producers of traditional foods from all over the world.
I highly encourage everyone to taste this vinegar if you have the opportunity!
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