Monthly Archive for June, 2008

Caprese Gelato

caprese-gelato3.jpgcaprese-gelato2.jpgcaprese-gelato1.jpg

Here’s an unusual dessert that incorporates some of the best flavors of summer into a cool, palate cleansing treat! My friends’ friends brought them back a bottle of 15 year old balsamic vinegar from a trip to Rome last year. Ever since then they asked me to come up w/ a dinner menu to showcase this delicious vinegar. I came up w/ a menu but it’s been difficult to get everyone together due to our schedules. So last night we did the dinner, minus the friends who brought this gift from Rome… oh well, some other time for them. We’ll be sure to tell them what they missed! The main dish and vegetable that I planned to make wasn’t made, but we did put together a delicious spur of the moment pasta dish w/ shrimp, tomatoes, asparagus and a light sauce of olive oil, roasted garlic, herbs, red pepper flakes, white wine and butter. The dessert was the only showcase for the aged balsamic vinegar.

I know, you’re probably thinking “caprese gelato – yuk…that’s weird”, but it actually tasted good… very much like a sweet caprese salad. A small drizzle of the vinegar on the plate added an extra component of sourness and twang! My friends’ kids, ages 14 and 11, even liked the gelato (minus the balsamic vinegar drizzle), so despite being weird conceptually, in reality this recipe is worth making if you like the flavors of caprese. Try it and judge for yourself!!

Caprese Gelato

Ingredients:

2 cups tomato puree

1 cup sugar

1 quart half and half

6 egg yolks

1/4 cup chopped fresh basil 

1 cup fresh mozzarella pearls

Procedure:

1) Blanch and peel 2 large tomatoes, puree in a food processor then press through a fine mesh  strainer to remove the seeds

2) In medium saucepan heat half + half gently to a simmer, then turn off heat

3) In a large mixing bowl combine egg yolks and sugar and beat together until pale yellow

4) Beat 2 tablespoons of the warm half + half into the egg mixture (do this slowly to avoid curdling the eggs), then beat in the remaining half + half little by little

5) Place bowl over a pot of simmering water and cook over a gentle heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture coats the back of a spoon (do not let temperature exceed 170 degrees or mixture will start to curdle)

6) Cool in an ice bath

7) Stir tomato puree into custard and liquify in the food processor so the puree is well incorporated

8) Place custard mixture back into bowl and chill in fridge for at least 4 hours (or overnight like I did)

9) Churn in ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions, adding the mozzarella pearls and basil 3/4 of the way into the churning

10) Pour gelato into a 2 quart plastic container and quickly stir to evenly distribute the mozzarella and basil

11) Place a piece of parchment paper cut to size on the surface of gelato (this will reduce air exposure and prevent ice crystals from forming on the surface of the gelato), seal the container and freeze until firm

 Yield: Approx. 1 ½ quarts

Enjoy the flavors of summer!

Bruno

 

Pi for Pizza in St. Louis

I’m crazy about pizza! When my best friends, Bob and Kristin asked me where I wanted to go for my belated birthday dinner I suggested the new pizza place just east of the U. City loop, Pi. I was curious to taste their pizza, which was being described as San Francisco style. During the 2 1/2 years I lived in San Francisco I had never heard of this style of pizza.

One of the owners, Chris Sommers, stopped by our table to say hello, so I took the opportunity to ask him about San Francisco style pizza. He explained that there is a pizza restaurant there called Little Star which opened about 3 years ago. They make a unique deep dish pizza using corn meal in the crust. Chris said the corn meal not only gives the crust a great flavor but also makes it sturdy enough to support the weight of the extra ingredients of deep dish pizza. Pi purchased the rights to the dough recipe and introduced it to the St. Louis pizza repertoire.

With my curiosity satisfied, my friends and I proceeded to place our order. We decided to create our own deep dish pizza w/ roasted garlic, mushrooms, campari tomatoes, basil and mozzarella. We also ordered one of the signature thin crust pizzas – The East Loop – which is topped w/ mozzarella, pesto, roasted chicken, mushrooms and onions. 

The pizzas were both delicious! I preferred the thin crust, but Bob and Kristin loved the deep dish so much there was a battle over the last piece!! We ordered a bottle of the Renwood Syrah to go with our pies. A great match! To finish off our meal Chris brought out a complimentary  piece of apple pie which is also baked w/ the deep dish corn meal crust. The apple pie was exquisito!

The service at Pi was excellent and the atmosphere is laid back and fun!

pi-1.jpgpi-2.jpgpi-3.jpg

Deep dish; thin crust; apple pie

pi-4.jpgpi-5.jpgpi-6.jpg

Shots of the interior

pi-7.jpgpi-8.jpgpi-9.jpg

The side room; the patio out front; Bob and the birthday boy

Thanks Bob and Kristin for treating me to a delicious birthday meal!!

Ciao,

Bruno