Do you really like it when the papers on your desk make right angles? Do you secretly smile when the tupperware containers stack exactly in the fridge with room left over? Does your heart skip a beat when the ingredients around you magically form mise en place?
You, my friend, may very well be just like me. You might be a closet control-freak. People wouldn't guess it, looking at me: hair generally awry, loose fitting clothes, dusty shoes and post it notes littering my workspace, forgotten appointments and misplaced keys... yes, I am messy, it is true. But I permit the mess in my life to exist in exchange for a a few moments of perfect order. Maybe what I really like the contrast of the two. Simplicity in the face of a chaotic day makes me smile.
Thus, there are the hectic evenings. There are the rushed lasagnas, pa sta du jour's, and the let's-use-up-leftovers-now stews. These meals generally imply an excess of effort, complication, and hashed together attempts to balance out whatever random flavors might be sitting in my cupboard. This kind of utilitarian attitude towards cooking puts food on the table, but it doesn't relax me. Understanding the design of simple, flavorful recipes - that is what relaxes me. Those perfect recipes are the basic pleasure of cooking: pure, clean, singular flavors. Finding the simple essence of a thing is what feels healthy to me.
So this dessert might be 80% half and half and it might go well with ginger cookies that turn out to be a mess to prepare (recipe forthcoming), but it will make you feel good inside. Not only is this dessert guaranteed to taste amazing, but the recipe is as bare-bones as good cooking can get. If you're a closet control freak like me, you can make the counter spotless, arrange your ingredients in little bowls and set the whisk to the side of a heavy bottom saucepan. Then you can grin, because you know this one will taste spectacular.
No, it didn't last long.
Luscious Lemon Gelato
Slightly adapted from this Gourmet recipe
Makes ~4 cups - you can just as easily make a half batch, but why?
If you don't believe me, read the epicurious reviews: this Gelato is truly spectacular. It is just tart enough to make your mouth water, and its fresh sweetness will remind you of a perfect summer's day. The velvety cream will melt slowly in your mouth and you won't be able to stop yourself from reaching for more. It can't go wrong. Just heat the custard slowly to make sure it doesn't curdle. If you don't have an ice cream maker, try this granita style (freeze slowly on a cookie sheet, scraping with a fork every 20 minutes).
1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
The zest of four lemons*
1.5 cups sugar
1/4 tsp salt
6 egg yolks
4 cups half and half
1 tsp vanilla
In a solid saucier or soup pot, whisk together the lemon juice, zest, sugar, salt, egg yolks and 2 cups of half and half. Turn the heat to low or medium-low, and bring to a bare simmer, whisking often. As soon as the mixture comes to a simmer, take the pot off the heat and let cool. Strain through a few layers of cheesecloth** and place in the refrigerator to chill for two hours or overnight.
Add the remaining two cups of cream and vanilla. Freeze the mixture in an ice cream maker, following the manufacture's direction. Let the gelato firm up for at least an hour or two in the freezer before serving (the flavor will improve as it sits)
*This should give you 1 cup lemon juice. Since you're zesting, find organic/unwaxed, if possible
**Based on Epicurious reviewer suggestions, I left the zest in the first time I made this. But Greg said it reminded of hair, so the next time I made it I included the straining step - I think it is better without the zest.