While living in the centre of Rome has plenty of advantages (my walk to work takes me down the Spanish steps and my weekend long runs are are built on an ever increasing number of laps around the Circo Massimo), there are plenty of downsides too. Parking is a nightmare – if I leave the house too late both weekend runs and my morning walk to work are made all the more difficult by having to zigzag around the hordes of tourists descending on Rome in increasing numbers now that the temperatures are rising. But my main gripe is really our minuscule kitchen, in particular our freezer compartment that is about the size of a shoebox. While I know from friends who have lived in Paris that most inner-city flats there don’t have fully stocked kitchens (the assumption being that most people won’t cook), I somehow did not think this would apply to other cities. Yet here I am with a freezer that just about fits a single tray of icecubes, a bag of frozen porcini mushrooms, some frozen herbs and is only just about tall enough to fit the double-walled bowl of my icecream maker.
Back in London me and my flatmates had a pretty big fridge and a freezer with 4 or 5 drawers – perfect for always having some of my mum’s sourdough bread on hand, frozen berries for smoothies, frozen bananas for banana soft serve, leftovers for easy dinners and the odd pint of icecream. No such luck in Rome. In fact, it’s taking me this long to get round to making icecream in Rome as there was simply no room in our freezer to store it. But, this weekend there was finally a big enough gap in the freezer to freeze the bowl of my icecream maker and to fit in the ready icecream.
I have mentioned this before, but thanks to easy access to extra virgin olive oil through friends and family of Alessandro, and a wish to make decadent desserts just a tad healthier, olive oil has appeared as an ingredient in more and more of what I whip up in our tiny kitchen – whether it is a chocolate olive oil pate a tartiner (perfect spread on a toasted slice of this brioche methinks), brownies, or in a ganache drizzled over these mini mocha bundt cakes or indeed, drizzled over Herve This’ 2 ingredient chocolate mousse. So although this recipe isn’t exactly healthy as the olive oil is simply used as a flavouring, I don’t think icecream needs to be healthy. I mean, the idea of icecream is indulgence, no? Besides, the flavour of this icecream is wonderful, reminiscent of old fashioned Italian Gelato alla Crema thanks to all those egg yolks, but with a slight grassy note from the olive oil.
Olive oil gelato
Ingredients minimally adapted from http://megan-deliciousdishings.blogspot.co.uk/2013/03/re-creating-olive-oil-coppetta-at-otto.html?spref=tw, technique adapted loosely from F. Migoya
280ml whipping cream
6 egg yolks
160ml olive oil
Pinch of sea salt
1. Whisk 25g of the sugar into the 6 egg yolks until combined (this is not about beating air into the egg yolks so this should only take a few seconds and can be done by hand).
2. Gently heat the milk and cream in a saucepan.
3. When the mixture reaches 35 degrees celsius, add the remaining 225g of sugar and the egg yolk mixture. Stir to combine.
4. Stirring continuously slowly bring the mixture up to 85 degrees celsius. Once it reaches 85 degrees, take it off the heat and continue stirring for 2 minutes – this will help to pasteurise and homogenise the mixture.
5. Stir in the olive oil.
6. Pour the mixture through a sieve into a bowl sitting in an ice water bath and leave the mixture to cool for at least 4 hours before churning/freezing.
7. Churn in your icecream maker according to the manufacturers’ instructions before pouring the icecream into a container with a lid and putting it into the freezer.
While this icecream is incredible as it is, I loved it even more when I turned it into a grown-up version of an icecream sundae (which I think would be perfect for a summery after dinner treat) following these simple steps (which makes enough for 2 people):
First cut of thin strips of the peel of an unwaxes orange (trying to catch none of the white and bitter pith), slice the strips of peel into match-stick size strips.
Next, cut off thin slices off the top and bottom of the orange (so the orange can stand on a cutting board). Now carefully cut off the remaining pith and the thin skin covering the orange segments. Using a sharp small knife and holding the orange over a bowl to catch the orange juice, carefully cut out the orange segments. Pour the orange juice over the orange zest.
Place 2-3 small scoops of the icecream per person in two bowls. Divide the orange segments and orange zest between the two bowls, drizzle with a little bit of extra olive oil and scatter a small pinch of sea salt flakes on top.