Thursday, October 11, 2012

Gaggia Gelatiera

A couple of weeks ago those lovely people at Phillips asked me if I wanted to try out an ice cream maker.  Being the dutiful husband that I am, I checked with the wife first, although unfortunately I did so within earshot of the mini-monsters.

ME:  Do we want an ice cream maker?
THE MRS:  What kind of ice cream maker?
KIDS:  Ice cream?
ME:  The kind that makes ice cream of course.
THE MRS:  I mean what make is it?
KIDS:  Ice Cream?
ME:  Does it matter?
THE MRS:  Of course it does.
KIDS:  Ice Cream?
ME:  Aren’t they all the same?
THE MRS:  Nope. So again, what make is it?
KIDS:  Ice Cream?
ME:  Gaggia
THE MRS:  Get it. Now.

So I kindly took them up on their offer as I feared my life would be in danger if I didn’t.  A few days later my Gaggia Gelatiera ice cream maker turned up and, like a kid at Christmas, I hastily ripped it out of its box.  It has its own refrigeration unit which is good news if you want your ice cream nice and quick and want to dispense with all that ‘freeze ingredients, mix together and freeze again’ type nonsense you get with other machines.  As long as your ingredients are cool when you put them in, then you get ready to eat ice cream in 30 minutes, perfect.  The bad news was that that meant I couldn’t instantly start using the machine for a sneaky ice cream session whilst the kids where at school as, with all fridges, you have to let them settle first.
Later that evening, after the kids had gone to bed, I decided to get going with a basic vanilla ice cream.  I’ve posted the recipe at the bottom of the blog (as I will with all the ones I mention) but it’s pretty simple stuff to be honest.  The only prep that took any time at all was letting the milk cool down after you had placed the seeds from a vanilla pod in it and brought it to a boil.  Fiveteen minutes later I was pouring the contents into the Gaggia (after letting the unit pre-freeze itself for a whopping 5 minutes) and 30 minutes after that I was eating some of the best vanilla ice cream I had ever tasted.  The Mrs thought it was better than ‘restaurant’ ice cream and really rich (something she never says about me).
The next night after an afternoon of very loud coercion from the kids, I decided to make them some.  One problem, I had forgotten to buy any eggs.  No worries, the instruction manual had a quite simple ‘no egg ice cream’ recipe, so simple that the only difference was not adding the eggs.  It is at this stage that I must admit my ice cream ignorance, up until the day before I didn’t even realise that you put eggs in ice cream.  But now that I did know, well, I was slightly worried about how the egg-free version was going to turn out.  Well I needed have worried, it turns out like the ice cream you get from the ice cream vans, just with more substance.  The kids were mad for it and I was duly christened ‘The best Dad in the world - ever – again’.  Music to my ears.  I tasted some myself and preferred it to the egg version if I’m quite honest.  I’ve never really been an egg person anyway, I always thought that Humpty Dumpty had got what he deserved.
The next thing on the to-make list was sorbet.  I’m a massive lover of the stuff and will always pick it ahead of ice cream, nothing better than a tangy lemon sorbet.  3 lemons, some sugar, some water and 30 minutes later – Ta da – lemon sorbet tangy enough to make you pull the ‘Priest hearing a dirty joke’ face.
Days later as I was planning my next ice cream, I realised that I hadn’t taken any pictures of my creations to adorn this piece and when you see the pictures I did end up taking you will see why.  Our camera is great for underwater and action shots, not so good for arty beautiful food ones.  So please forgive, I tried my best and then I gave up.
A firm favourite of The Mrs is raspberry ripple and I felt sufficiently confident to give it a whirl.  I used the eggless ice cream recipe, throw out the vanilla, halved the sugar and added some blitzed up raspberries that I kept in a separate pot.  As the ice cream started to solidify I slowly poured the raspberries in and hoped for the best.
Well as you can see, it didn’t exactly look like the traditional raspberry ripple, but by god it tasted awesome.  After further research, (I asked one of the Mums in the playground) I realised my mistake – I should have taken the ice cream out earlier, swirled the juice in and then left it to set in the freezer, better luck next time and all that.
In my quest to find some new and slightly unusual flavours I picked the brains of Kate (the aforementioned raspberry ripple expert whose food blog is at .)  Amongst other things, she suggested strawberry and basil ice cream which definitely fit in the strange but yummy category that I was looking for.  I tore a big bunch of basil leaves up and threw them into the heated milk and let it all cool down.  I then whizzed up a load of strawberries (I know, you’re astounded by my high levels of accuracy) and threw them into the cream, halved the sugar and that was that.
What a taste-bud surprise.  I knew what was coming my way yet still my tongue did a little dance of confusion with the first mouthful.  My wife however found it was not exactly to her taste, a ‘little bit too adult’ don’t you know.  Personally I feel this is the fault of her taste buds, she has what doctors call ‘Lucozade-tongue’ and therefore has the palette of a Chilean miner.
I now seem to have become an ice cream monster, I spend hours daydreaming about new recipes and concoctions and it’s all Gaggia’s fault.  This machine is an absolute dream to work with, no mucking around pre-freezing stuff, or waiting around for a mixture to freeze.  I’m yet to find a lump of ice or frozen milk in anything yet, it’s delivered a perfect smooth mix every time.  It’s fast, it comes with a separate removable bowl for when you want to make larger batches of ice cream and it’s easy to clean (especially if you bribe one of the kids to do it with the promise of more ice cream.)  I started this trial wondering if an ice cream maker was really necessary and I’m now fully convinced, especially when it comes to the kids.  I can control the amount of sugar going in it (I normally halve it), I know the eggs used are free-range and as long as I have some milk and cream in the house I can shut them up within delicious ice cream that takes 30 minutes to make – perfect.
I have to thank Phillips, Gaggia and Sam from Ketchum Pleon for providing me with the Gaggia Gelatiera but I do have an apology to make - I can’t return the machine because a magpie swooped through an open kitchen window and flew away with it, honest. 
Now, who’s for Pimms sorbet?

Vanilla Ice Cream
200g milk
half a vanilla pod
4 egg yolks (skip these for the eggless version)
150g sugar
200g double cream
small pinch of salt
Scrape the seeds from the vanilla pod and add to the milk in a small saucepan, almost bring to the boil, remove from the heat and allow to cool for 15 mins.  Mix the yolks with the sugar and salt, beating until well blended.  Then add the milk and cream.  Pour into the pre-cooled ice cream maker and set the timer for 30 minutes.
Lemon Sorbet
3 large lemons
180g sugar
250g of water
Grate the peel of half a lemon and then juice all three lemons.  Mix all the ingredients together.  Pour into the pre-cooled ice cream maker and set the timer for 30 minutes.


snoo powell said...

I want you as my dad! I have got one too and absolutely adore it but have lost the "recipe" book - do you know where I could find one? Have just made some caramel ice-cream and spinkled in some vanilla salt crystals :-) Have you thought about chocolate and chilli?

Eccentric Foodcentric said...

Unfortunately, the magpie in question wasn't me. If said bird does return it, can I come round and play?
I'm expecting a surfeit of After Eights, Ferrero Rocher, Terry's Chocolate Oranges, chocolate liqeurs and coffee creams this Christmas; and they would make amazing ingredients in some new ice cream recipes I'm working on. See you at school. Kx

Anonymous said...

Thank you for a fantastic review!

That did the trick, I ve just ordered one.

Photos. Dont use flash. Use tripod. Use the natural light from kitchen window;)

Eccentric Foodcentric said...

Anonymous is right about the flash. It completely alters to way food, especially, looks. A tripod will allow you to manually lengthen shutter speed and widen aperture settings to let in more natural light, without any accompanying camera shake. I say camera shake, but knowing you it could just be the DTs. x

Anonymous said...

Try adding a little balsamic vinegar to the strawberry and basil recipe and check out Salt and Straw ice cream online,. Its a Portland based ice cream shop that specialises in odd but fantastic flavours. I was there last year and their salted caramel ice cream was just sublime.