Pistachio Gelato

a bowl of homemade pistachio gelato
Ninety-four degrees and not even 11:00 a.m. yet. My walk this morning, more than any other morning this summer, brought to mind summertime memories of my childhood. My family didn’t spend the season at our grandparent’s lakefront cottage. There was no lake. There was no cottage. Our summers were the long days of middle-class suburban kids in Anaheim. Our summers were dusty, scorched, pavement summers. I’d wake up late morning, suffocating from the stifling air of my bedroom – air conditioning was an unnecessary luxury. I’d throw on shorts and a tank top and amble, on summer-calloused bare feet, to a friend’s house. At her home, as sweltering as my own and stocked with grape Otter Pops, we’d make plans to stay cool for the day. None of us had a pool, except one older girl, who doled out invites sparingly, and only to those she deemed worthy (I was rarely worthy). My favorite days were those when we combined funds to buy a bag of water balloons from Hanshaw’s liquor store and compete in boys-against-girls neighborhood balloon fights that always seemed to end with turning the hose on each other. On special summer occasions, like July 4th, my family would hand-churn ice cream in the late afternoon.

Pistachio Gelato

  • Servings: 1 ½ quarts
  • Print
Don’t be surprised by the color – the bright green of most pistachio products is from additional coloring. The final color will be brighter green if you take the time to remove the pistachio skins (I did not). Measurements are in grams.


  • 955 grams 2% milk
  • 215 grams sugar
  • 54 grams corn syrup
  • 1 gram salt
  • 33 grams powdered milk
  • 1 gram guar gum
  • 1 gram carob
  • 215 grams shelled pistachios, plus more for garnish (optional)
  • 2 grams vanilla


  1. Heat milk to 104 degrees. Add sugar, corn syrup and salt. Continue heating and stirring milk mixture until sugar is dissolved. At 144 degrees, add powdered milk mixed well with guar gum and carob. Stir well to incorporate. Heat milk to 194 degrees to pasteurize and immediately remove from heat.
  2. Pulse pistachios in a food processor until chopped (don’t chop them fine). Add a cup of the hot milk mixture and process well.
  3. Add nut mixture from food processor to remaining milk mixture. Cool milk mixture in an ice bath, adding vanilla when mixture’s temperature is reduced to 144 degrees. When mixture has cooled to room temperature, refrigerate overnight.
  4. The next day, strain gelato mixture pressing on the nuts to extract maximum flavor. Make gelato in ice cream maker and process according to manufacturer’s directions. Garnish with additional chopped pistachios if desired.


Post Party Chilaquiles


For July 4th, we had a casual Mexican fiesta dinner on the backyard patio.  My guests brought guacamole and various salads.  I braised a pork shoulder for deshebrada tacos and created two flavors of gelato –Toasted Almond Joy was my personal favorite. I’m chagrined to confess that I polished off the remainder yesterday. Sidetracked by the festivities, I forgot to take photos to share with you.

Today, I used the leftover dibs and dabs secreted in the corners of refrigerator to create my version of Chilaquiles.

Chilaquiles with Ancho sauce

3 Ancho chili pods (dried pasilla)
1 fresh pasilla chili (roasted, skinned and seeded)
4 roasted garlic cloves
4 roasted tomatillos
2 small handfuls of cilantro
Salt to taste
9 corn tortillas cut into eighths, preferably stale
Corn oil for frying
½ chopped onion
Handful of queso fresco

Soak ancho chilies in hot water for 15 minutes. Seed and stem chilies. Blend both kinds of chilies, garlic, tomatillos and cilantro in a blender until smooth. Add ancho soaking liquid as needed if sauce is too thick. Add salt to taste. Set aside.

Fry tortillas in oil, in batches, until almost crisp. Drain on paper towel and salt lightly. Remove most of the oil from the pan and sauté onion until soft and beginning to brown. Add sauce to pan and simmer until warm. Add tortillas and cover with sauce. Cook about 3-5 minutes until tortillas begin to soften but aren’t mushy. Top with queso fresco. Remove from heat. To gild the lily, top with a fried egg with runny yolk. Serves 4.


Lemon Verbena Gelato with Nectarine Essence

Lemon Verbena Nectarine GelatoIt’s absurd to believe men are the initiators in romantic pursuits. My encounters find them immobile with laziness, fear or indecision. A few hundred thousand years ago, man’s irrepressible instincts forced him, sweaty and grunting, to drag a reluctant mate back to his cave, but there’s been a reversal of roles.  A man’s Neanderthal nature has been somehow buried within his recessive genes. In the present dating world, women initiate, albeit often surreptitiously, and men are oblivious that they are being led. Women chase; women persuade. No longer vulnerable prey, they are adept predators. If not overt hunters, women render their capture child’s play – Here I am, a helpless little bunny caught in a snare, come get me. Perhaps it’s always been this way.

I’ve refused to act the aggressor. It’s not my forte, it never has been. Whether from ego or fear, I want to be pursued, not pursuer. I believe I’m worth chasing. A recent uncharacteristically bold move on my part prompted recollections of my prior unexploited opportunities and wasted chances; missed assignations that slipped past my grasp because I wasn’t assertive enough to act –arranging myself at his doorstep, naked except for a trench coat and heels.

I’m bolder when it comes to exploits of the culinary variety. Specifically, I’m reminded of my Italian gelato school adventures. Apologies for the measurements– I’ve been too lazy to convert to US since my return.

Lemon Verbena Gelato with Nectarine Essence


400 grams 2% milk
Small handful Fresh lemon verbena, roughly chopped
145 grams Sugar (sucrose)
16 grams Dextrose
50 grams Powdered milk
4 grams Equal parts carob and guar powders
2 grams Salt
250 grams Heavy cream
200 grams Nectarine puree


Over low heat, warm milk to 40 degrees Celsius. Remove from heat, add lemon verbena, cover and let steep for 15 minutes. Remove lid and reheat to milk to 40 degrees C. Add sugar, dextrose and ¾ of powdered milk, stirring constantly. Mix carob and guar with remaining ¼ powdered milk. Continue heating milk mixture until temperature reaches 62 degrees C.   Add carob/guar mixture and salt to milk, continuing to stir. Heat milk until it reaches 90 degrees C. for pasteurization. Remove from heat and pour mixture through a sieve into a bowl or container placed over salted ice water for faster cooling. Cool to 62 degrees and add heavy cream. Add nectarine puree and blend with an immersion blender. Continue to cool mixture, stirring occasionally. Remove bowl or container from ice water, cover with plastic wrap and chill in refrigerator 12-36 hours to allow flavors to meld. Follow ice cream manufacturer’s directions for chilling.

Fresh Strawberry Frozen Yogurt

Fresh Strawberry Frozen Yogurt

I haven’t made fruit gelato for over a year. My last recipe was Apple Pie gelato while I was at Gelato School.  My experiments frequently result in a dessert lacking sufficient fruit flavor – or – frozen bits of fruit suspended in a bland base. Yes, I know about premade purees available to amp flavor, but I wanted to find a way to accomplish it without unscrewing a jar – using fresh fruit and not much else. I discovered the answer while reading the May/June edition of “Cook’s Illustrated.” Sarah Mullins’ article addressed a lackluster strawberry mouse, but it struck me that her method could work for frozen dessert challenges as well.

Her answer lies in a fruit juice reduction. Following her instructions, I pulsed the strawberries a few times in a food processor, giving them an ample surface area, and mixed them with a liberal amount of sugar and a bit of salt. I let them macerate for 45 minutes at room temperature, stirring occasionally. After maceration, I drained the juice and pureed the drained berries, straining the pulp to remove the seeds. Her stroke of genius was reducing the remaining juice to just a few tablespoons of concentrated flavor. The strawberry puree plus the juice reduction resulted in colorful dessert with a fresh tang without being icy.

Strawberry Frozen Yogurt
Adapted from David Lebovitz’s ‘The Perfect Scoop’ and “Cook’s Illustrated” Fresh Strawberry Mousse

1 lb.        fresh strawberries (insipid store-bought berries are fine)
3/4 c.     sugar
Pinch     salt
1 c.         plain whole-milk yogurt
1 t.          lemon juice

Coarsely chop strawberries in a food processor. Add ½ c. sugar and salt. Macerate for 45 minutes. Meanwhile, mix remaining ¼ c. sugar and yogurt. Add lemon juice. Drain juice from strawberries. Puree strawberries in food processor and strain pulp to remove seeds. Add to yogurt. Reduce strawberry juice to a few tablespoons. Cool and add to yogurt. Let rest in refrigerator for at least an hour, but overnight is preferred. Process in your ice cream maker, following manufacturer’s directions.


I’ve been re-reading The Happiness Project.  In the book, the author lists her 12 (she couldn’t stop at 10) commandments for happiness.  As I move through this process of potentially opening my own gelato business, I thought it would be beneficial to write commandments of my own (I borrowed more than a few from the book).   These are a combination of quotidien, life-enhancing reminders and more specific directives specifically for the business.   Here are my thirteen:

The 13 Commandments

  1. Appraise opinions accordingly.  If devoid of solution or accuracy, they are of no value.
  2. Connect
  3. Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good – Voltaire
  4. Drive with the top down whenever possible
  5. Do stuff
  6. Talk to strangers
  7. Go outside
  8. Never bother with people you hate
  9. Make mistakes
  10. Imagine the eulogy: how do I want to be remembered?
  11. What would I do if I weren’t scared?
  12. Dry shampoo will give you 30 extra minutes of time
  13. Consider before saying ‘yes’ or  ‘no’