Gelato al torrone

It’s been so long since my last post. I don’t know where all this time went but I really missed this space. I was quite busy with university and work last autumn and winter and when I finally had more time to spend in the kitchen, all I wanted to do was to just enjoy cooking and not think about taking pictures and writing. I didn’t seem to get in the mood again.

gelato

But then my exams were over and I so felt the urge to get creative, cook, take out my camera and write. So here I am.  I have been wanting to make gelato al torrone since I came home from Sicily last spring. I still daydream about Sicily a lot, it was everything I’d expected and more. I went on a round trip with my family and each place we visited left me overwhelmed by its beauty in some way, be it the citrus groves, a little garden in Palermo, the people, the ruines and of course the food. We ate the most incredible food on our journey, fresh fish, great pasta (“spaghetti con le sarde” was my favourite), refreshing salads (fennel with orange, tomato with olives, …) and amazing gelato. If you plan on going to Sicily, the Turntable Kitchen and deliciousdays have great guides on their blogs. And if you are GF definitely go there, they have GF pasta in every restaurant, immediately bring you GF crackers/bread and are well aware of what you can/can’t eat. It’s pretty much a GF’s paradise. 🙂

But back to the gelato. We bought lots of torrone at mercato Ballarò in Palermo and I knew I wanted to make ice cream with it. Then we went to Sestri Levante a few weeks ago, a town in northern Italy I have been to many times. I enjoyed my fair share of gelatos there and came home with the urge to finally make my own again.

This gelato is creamy and I like the sweetness it gets from the honey. I am usually not one for too many pieces in my gelato, I love gelato for its creaminess but the almonds and pistachios in this one made for a nice crunch that I didn’t mind one bit, in fact I enjoyed it not despite but because of the occasional chunks.

gelato

On another note, I am currently reading “Yes, Chef” by Marcus Samuelsson and enjoy reading it a lot. I am very impressed by his work ethic and quite in love with the way he describes food, beginning with his first food related memories to the foods he encounters and the scents he inhales in New York. His passion for food is infectious! Have you read it? Do you like it?

Gelato al torrone (adapted from Ices Italia by Linda Tubby, a great book with drop-dead gorgeous photographie)

  • 0.5 l (2 cups) milk
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 100 g acacia (or other liquid) honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla powder (or 2 tsp vanilla extract)
  • 250 g mascarpone
  • 150 g torrone morbido, cut into pieces (almond or pistachio, mine had both; use nougat if you cannot find torrone)

Prepare an ice bath. Add the mascaprone to a bowl that you will later set over the ice bath and set aside. Heat milk slowly in a saucepan until it starts to cook. In the meantime beat egg yolks, honey and vanilla in a large, heat-proof bowl until the mixture turns pale. I used my kitchenaid for this but you can use any electric mixer.  Add in the hot milk slowly and whisk continuously (!) to prevent any lumps from forming. Add the mixture back to the saucepan and place on low heat.  Stir with a wooden spoon and scrape sides and bottom. This is very important, otherwise you will end up with scrambled eggs. Heat the mixture until it thickens quite a bit, this should take around 10 minutes. It should cover the back of your wooden spoon. Remove from heat and pour into the bowl with the mascarpone. Whisk well. It doesn’t matter if there are still a few mascarpone lumps. Set the bowl over the ice bath. Leave to cool to room temp, then put in the fridge for at least an hour, preferably overnight. Freeze in your ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions. Mix in the torrone pieces (I like to add the torrone to the container that I later put the ice cream in and then mix it up with a spoon).

PS: I have just realised that this is the first time that I include mint in one of my pictures. I guess it was about time, considering the name of my blog, hooray!

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Ovomaltine

Do you know Ovomaltine (or Ovaltine UK/USA)? Well, if you are Swiss you certainly do, since Ovomaltine could probably be called one of our national beverages. According to Ovomaltine  99% of the Swiss know Ovomaltine and it is among the 20 most popular brands in Switzerland. Ovomaltine was originally developed in 1904 by a pharmacist as a nurturing product for children and sick people. It is an instant powder with barley malt as a main ingredient designed to be dissolved in warm or cold milk and has a unique malty taste. The original Ovomaltine contains no refined sugar and is only available in Switzerland. The reason why Ovomaltine is called Ovaltine in many other countries is a misselling in the trademark registration when Ovomaltine was exported to Britain in 1909. Ovomaltine/ Ovaltine is now available in more than 100 countries.

Nowadays a lot of Swiss children still have a cup of Ovomaltine for breakfast because children like it and so do their parents, many of them particularly for the fact that it provides their kids with energy while not containing any refined sugars. But not only children but also adults drink Ovomaltine and love it for its unique malty taste. Back when I went to primary school, I was known to love Ovomaltine as I always had my Ovomaltine with me on school trips. My love for Ovomaltine continued with the years and when Ovomaltine was searching for “Ovomaltine ambassadors” (for one year) almost a year ago, I simply had to apply. In December 2011 I received a letter saying that I was one of the 20 lucky ones and I was jumping for joy! 🙂

My year as an Ovomaltine ambassador has been a blast so far! We are provided with a lot of products for ourselves and to share with friends and family. Needless to say that my popularity status has risen significantly over the course of this years. 😉 One of the highlights was certainly the skiing weekend in March at the Swiss Skiing Championships where we met Didier Cuche, a Swiss skiing legend and Ovomaltine ambassador for a long time. We even went skiing with him for a day which felt quite unreal. This past weekend all of us Ovomaltine ambassdors were invited to the restaurant Uto Kulm for an Ovomaltine Brunch. The restaurant is located on top of the “Üetliberg”, the local mountain of Zürich and a great lookout point, especially when the weather is as beautiful as it was on Sunday. We had a really good time together, the variety on the brunch buffet was pretty impressive and the food delicious. And again we were introduced to a member of the Swiss Skiing Team and Ovomaltine ambassador, Patrick Küng. The Ovomaltine team really spares no effort to spoil us (temporary) Ovomaltine ambassadors. A huge thank you to everyone from Ovomaltine!

*Throughout this year I have been and will be provided with Ovomaltine products and have been invited to events. All words and opinions are my own, however.

Skiing Weekend w/ Didier Cuche

Ovomaltine Brunch

Ovomaltine Muffins/BunsOvomaltine Ambassadors

View from Üetliberg

London Day Two

On Sunday morning we got up a little late since we had been to the Kensington Roof Gardens the night before. It’s an amazing place, imagine a rooftop garden with a flowing streem with fishes and flamingos, lots of colourful flowers and trees and oriental lounges. Unfortunately it was raining that night and we could not really enjoy the gardens but had a lot of fun anyways. http://www.roofgardens.virgin.com/

So on Sunday morning we wanted to explore the area of Marylebone and walked from our B&B in Notting Hill to Marble Arch and then headed for Marylebone High Street. The sun was shining and warming us up and I was very excited for breakfast at “La Fromagerie”. It was very easy to find and the café was simply stunning. In the entrance there were fruit and vegetable stalls and inside shelves full of homemade jams, honeys, chutneys, flours, and counters full of bread, pastries, granolas and so on. And of course there was the (seperate) Cheese Room with an overwhelmingly big range of soft and hard cheeses. After we were seated (we had to wait a little), I ordered a cappuccino and the “Boiled Egg with Soldiers” which came with butter and sea salt flakes on the side. My friend had a “Pain aux Raisins” and the “Breakfast Pot” with granola, yoghurt and fruit compot. Everything was just perfect. Even if I am usually more of a sweet breakfast eater, I liked the combination of the granary bread with butter and sea salt flakes so much that I ordered more bread. The staff was also very lovely and we enjoyed our breakfast a lot. http://www.lafromagerie.co.uk/tasting-cafe/

Breakfast at La Fromagerie

Next stop was Marylebone Farmers’ Market just around the corner. I was again amazed at the beautiful range of produce. I think I liked it even a little more than Notting Hill Farmers’ Market but to be fair we had arrived there quite late. One of the things I loved most were the colourful apple/fruit juices at “Chegworth Valley Juices”, the pepper crusted goat cheeses and the cheesecakes at “Windrush Valley Goat Dairy” and the beautiful vegetables at “Akiki Organics”. I just wished I were able to cook with all those beautiful ingredients. http://www.lfm.org.uk/markets/marylebone/

Chegworth Valley Juices

Windrush Valley Goat Dairy

After that we were ready to get to know Marylebone a little better and went up Marylebone High Street further. It is a beautiful area, great for shopping (you can find stores like “Skandium”, “Le Creuset”, “The White Company”, …), eating and if you walk up the street all the way you reach Regent’s Park, a great place for a picknick or to simply have a rest (which we visited on another day). I also stumbled upon a bookstore called “Daunt Books” that I loved (it also had a wide range of cookbooks in stock 🙂 ). http://www.dauntbooks.co.uk/

The Village of Marylebone has a great website with all the restaurants and shops that is really worth visiting: http://www.marylebonevillage.com/en/marylebone-village/index.cfm