Wednesday, June 10, 2009

STI: Eater's Digest

June 7, 2009

Eater's Digest

By Cynthia Low

For most people, ice cream is something special. A treat and, sometimes, an expensive one. But it is also very easy to make. Here are four books with recipes from a frozen 'quick fix' to an elaborate five-star dessert.

Paul Gayler's Little Book Of Ice Cream And Sorbets

By Paul Gayler

Kyle Cathie/2009/ Hardcover/112 pages/ $19.94/Books Kinokuniya

This book has something for everyone.

As with all of Gayler's books, the instructions are easy to follow. Even though he is the executive chef at London's prestigious Lanesborough Hotel, his style is down to earth. The recipes are well within the reach of the home cook.

There is a step-by-step guide for making ice cream and sorbets, either by hand or with the help of an ice cream maker.

Along with basics such as vanilla and chocolate, there are some interesting flavours to try, such as Sweet Corn, Goat's Cheese Ice Cream and Coconut Milk Sorbet.

The pictures are mouth- watering - one for each recipe, which makes choosing difficult.

There is also a chapter on sauces to serve with ice cream, such as mango coulis, toffee sauce and the unusual Cajeta sauce, essentially a cinnamon-flavoured cream sauce to serve with pancakes and roasted bananas. The recipes for pancakes and bananas are here as well.

Also useful is a section on the pros and cons of investing in an ice cream maker, plus hints on freezing and storing ice cream.

Frozen Desserts

By Francisco J Migoya: The Culinary Institute of America

John Wiley & Sons/2008/Hardcover/440 pages/$105.88/ Major bookstores

This truly handsome book is for the dedicated chef or anyone keen on the intricacy of every type of frozen dessert. But the science of making professional ice cream calling for the use of refractometers and hydrometers to measure density may seem rather over the top for the average cook.

Frozen Desserts has charts, pictures and mathematical formulas on how to calculate levels of fat, non-fat solids and sugars to get exactly the right result. But if you are willing to do the maths and scale down the volume of ingredients listed for many of the recipes, there are some good ideas here, especially when it comes to presentation.\

There are recipes and pictures for some beautiful concoctions worthy of any five-star restaurant, such as Spice Ice Cream with Gingerbread and Chocolate Mousse timbale, Green Mango Sorbet with paprika bubbles and Marzipan Ice Cream terrine.

The book is probably way above the heads of most home cooks but its saving grace is the wealth of explanations and the section on base recipes for most flavours of ice creams and sorbets.

The book is clearly a labour of love by the author, an assistant professor at the Culinary Institute of America. It is certainly not a casual read. But for serious cooks, it is an excellent educate-yourself-at-home guide - a serious book for serious makers of frozen desserts.

500 Ice Creams And Sorbets

By Alex Barker

Page One Publishing/ 2009/Hardcover/288 pages/$15.94/Books Kinokuniya

If you do not have an ice cream maker, do not worry. This book shows you how to make ice cream with or without one.

With 500 recipes to choose from, your family will never suffer from flavour repetition. If you are on a low-fat, low-sugar diet and desperate for a treat, there are recipes and hints on how to keep the fat and sugar levels down.

The layout is very practical - each base recipe for ice creams, sorbets, water ices and granita has instructions for at least five variations.

One intriguing idea, which seemed just right for a hot day, is watermelon and strawberry slush. That may not sound appetizing but the easy-to-make mix of crushed ice, fresh strawberries and watermelon was, well, slushy and delicious.

There is also a useful section upfront on techniques such as marbling, how best to store ice cream and the basic ingredients from which you can dream up your own concoctions.

Delicious Ice Cream

Parragon Books/2007/ Paperback/96 pages/ $8.51/MPH Bookstore

A small and uncomplicated book that has pretty much all you need to make your own ice cream.

Despite its size, it has instructions for both machine and hand methods for each recipe. The layout is simple, one recipe a page with an enticing picture on the facing page.

I decided to try out the recipe for one of my favourites - ginger ice cream. The result was worth the hunt for a bottle of stem ginger. However, next time I will substitute milk for some of the cream called for to cut down on the richness of the end result.

If you do not fancy ginger, there are instructions for cappuccino, coconut, chocolate fudge and peanut butter ice cream. All the recipes are easy to understand, so if you want to keep your homemade ice cream-making uncomplicated, this is the book to choose.

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