It’s officially summertime here, and with it comes the hot weather I have come to associate with Italian summers. When it’s this hot, I find it hard to eat a normal meal, and often at lunchtime I have a “meal replacement” in the form of a nice gelato or ghiacciolo (ice pop/popsicle).
I actually hesitated ordering this book, not because I live in Italy and excellent gelato is easy to come by (though it is, check out my Tour del Gelato for some favorites), but because I don’t own an ice cream maker. In fact, I’m not sure I plan to, at least, not in the next few years. As I mentioned in my last post, I am just now getting my kitchen to the point where I have most of my favorites and a few perks (PS: Be sure and add your favorite cookbook in the comments on that post, and you could get a bag of digestive sugar in the mail!). But I didn’t get the “required” wooden pasta-making block, and I’m making pasta on my own – lots of it.
So why should I let a simple thing like not having an ice cream machine stop me?
One of the first things I did with The Perfect Scoop was not to look at the table of contents, but to go directly to the credits page to see who did his food styling and photography. The same goes for the other cookbooks I ordered recently. I’m so visually stimulated with cooking, I need that visual prelude to give me a good goal and motivation. And David’s book is an excellent resource – the photos are beautiful (by Lara Hata) and I think the ratio of photos-to-recipes is also quite good – of course I would love one for every recipe – but he knows exactly when to include a photo for a recipe that’s hard to visualize or describe.
Two wonderful things about The Perfect Scoop
- the first 19 pages are a reference to clear up terminology, give you helpful hints about selecting quality ingredients, and give you step-by-step instructions to make his ice cream custard which is the base for most of the ice creams in the book.
- You can see the influence of his blogging in the layout of his cookbook – at the bottom of most recipes, he includes a “Perfect Pairings” recommendation with a reference to another recipe (mix-in, topping, other flavor) in the book. Genius! If it was a blog, it would be hyperlinked. I like how he knows that people reading his cookbook are going to take the basic recipe and run with it. Bravo!
(adapted from David Lebovitz’s The Perfect Scoop)
I feel like I am making a lot of confessions lately! But I am not really a big watermelon fan. Watermelon is known by two names here in Italy – cocomero and anguria, and it really depends on who you’re talking to (though I used cocomero more in Tuscany and Rome). I didn’t plan this, but Shelley has a post up about cocomero today, too! S is a big fan of anguria, and he’s the reason that we had a 6 kilo watermelon in our fridge over the weekend. No man can eat 6 kilos of watermelon alone (even if he wants to!) so I knew I had a good opportunity to try out The Perfect Scoop, even if I wasn’t sure I would be that excited about the results.
Well, let me say that I kept “tasting” it over and over during the freezing process. I couldn’t get enough! I thought it was great, and I think I figured out my new favorite way to eat watermelon. Yum!
A note for those of us without an ice cream maker: Do NOT make this right before you want to eat it. It will take hours to set up. Your freezer will figure out you are stalking it and just like the watched pot, it too will refuse to freeze faster.
4 1/2 c. watermelon juice (it was only 1/2 of our watermelon)
1/2 c. sugar
Big pinch of salt
2 T. freshly squeezed lime juice
Heat 1/2c. watermelon juice with sugar and salt until fully dissolved. Mix in with remaining watermelon juice and mix well. Pour directly into freezer-safe pan (I used throwaway aluminum baking pans) or flat plastic container (may take longer) and freeze. After one hour, start scraping the sides and pushing the crystals to the middle of the pan. Continue this for several hours, if you have the patience!
If the mixture gets too hard or solid, you can take it out of the freezer for 10 minutes until it starts to soften. I was so impatient, I started eating (and photographing it) while it was still freezing, and had more of a slushy granita consistency, but as it sets up, it becomes quite scoopable and sorbet-like. I wish I had had chocolate chips on hand like David’s recipe calls for, but I didn’t. In the end, I thought this was excellent on all its own.
Now I know what to do when there are only large watermelons for sale! I will definitely be making this again.
Note 2: I used about 50% more watermelon juice than called for in the book. To have a denser sorbet from the beginning, use 3 c. watermelon juice and 1 T. lime juice with the same amount of sugar, as recommended by David in the Perfect Scoop
Check out other bloggers’ experiments with The Perfect Scoop through David’s round-ups on his blog.