During a month-long sojourn in Lecce, Italy one summer, my friend and I met a trio of Italian stallion locals. Fabio, Giorgio and Massimo took us under their care, showing us around their favorite beaches, restaurants and bars. Strolling down the road one afternoon, Fabio pointed out his preferred pizzeria. A dashing pizzaiolo greeted us amicably as we looked inside. In an attempt at making conversation, I lamely asked him how the pizza was that evening. With a throaty chuckle, he replied, ‘Grande, grande,’ accompanying the comment with a peculiar gesture. Yanking me outside, Fabio asked if I realized what ‘pizza’ was a euphemism for in the local dialect. Let’s just say I never got to experience any sort of pizza from that pizzaiolo; I was too mortified to ever return.
I had no idea what a monster I would create when I gave a small jar of starter, and a recipe for sourdough crèpes, to Jay’s mom’s sweetie, Gunars. He adapted the crèpe recipe into that of waffle batter, and for the past year, he has been gracing us with the most heavenly crepes and waffles each morning when we visit. (Update 2/4/14 – four years later, he is still at it.)
No, you are not having a mushroom induced hallucination — well, maybe you are, but you did read that title correctly. Candy caps, or lactarius rubidus, have a strong maple aroma when dried and are often used in pastry making. I first sampled this delicious fungus at Alive, a raw restaurant in the Marina, in a candy cap cheesecake. Now I know that raw, mushroom-flavored cheesecake sounds completely revulsive, but one bite of their ethereal confection bursting with creamy, maple goodness would immediately dissuade you otherwise.
1 cup whole milk
1/3 cup medium or long grain white rice
3″ cinnamon stick, plus an extra one for grating over the finished ice cream (optional)
4 or 5 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup heavy cream
In a dry, medium saucepan, toast the rice and cinnamon stick over medium heat until the rice is fragrant and barely golden, 1 – 2 minutes. Pour in the milk and heat until small bubbles appear around the sides of the pan, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat, cover and steep for 30 minutes, or whenever you are ready to get on with the rest.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the yolks, sugar, cinnamon and salt to combine. Pour the cream into a quart sized mason jar or metal bowl and set a fine mesh strainer over the top. Reheat the ricey milk until the small bubbles appear again, then slowly pour into the yolks, whisking constantly. Pour the whole deal back into the pan and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon or heatproof rubber spatula, until the mixture just starts to thicken on the bottom of the pan (170º). Immediately strain into the cold cream, stirring to combine.
Refrigerate the ice cream base for at least four hours or up to a couple days. Spin in an ice cream maker until the ice cream reaches the consistency of a very thick milk shake. ‘Cure’ in the freezer for an hour or two to firm to a scoopable consistency. Grate a bit of cinnamon stick over the ice cream to serve, if desired.
I have a bit of a problem making decisions sometimes, and have spent many hours agonizing over things like restaurant menus, socks, and especially recipes. Today I wanted to make triple ginger molasses cookies, but couldn’t decide whether to make them classic, with chocolate chunks melting inside them, or dredged in orange sugar. So I divided the dough into thirds and made all three. Sometimes being indecisive pays off.