Summer Eats: Creamy Nut Oolong Tea Gelato

I can feel the heat outside the house as I am writing this post. My house is usually cool even during the summer, if I can feel heat, it is REALLY warm out. 🙂 Which is good, considering we didn’t really get much of a summer for the past month or so in Vancouver. Hot weather calls for yummy frozen treats! I was shopping at a tea shop a few weeks a ago (I am a tea lover), looking for a tea blend that would work well in my gelato. The tea expert recommended that I try their “Creamy Nut Oolong”. The tea description: “This high grade Chinese Oolong contains apple pieces, caramel bits, almond pieces, safflower, sunflower, mallow flower and natural aromas.” So I decided to give it a try. It turned out to be very delicious, the caramel flavour worked exceptionally well with the creaminess of the milk and cream in the gelato. I also used honey, its floral aroma also worked well with the floral notes in the tea blend. Ice-cream or gelato is actually very simple to make, as long as you have a good base recipe, you can flavour it with different aromas. I made small batch to try, my brother asked me why I didn’t make more. 😀

Ingredients:

Makes 2 – 3 servings.
  • 2 tsp. of “Creamy Nut Oolong” tea blend
  • 1 cup Milk
  • ½ cup Whipping Cream (at least 30% milk fat)
  • 2 Egg Yolks
  • 2 tbsp. Granulated Sugar
  • 2 tbsp. Liquid Honey

Method:

  1. Place milk, cream and tea leaves in a small saucepan and heat on low heat for about 10 minutes.
    *We want to steep the tea, so don’t boil the mixture.
  2. Whisk together the egg yolks, sugar and honey until foamy and light (see image above).
  3. After steeping, pour the milk into the yolks and sugar mixture slowly and whisking at the same time.
    *Careful not to pour the hot milk into the yolk mixture all at once, we don’t want to have scrambled eggs. Also whisk as you pour in the hot milk.
  4. Pour the custard through a FINE sieve, removing the tea leaves or any solid bits.
  5. Return the custard to the pan on LOW heat, stir with a wooden spoon as the custard heats up.
    *NOTE: This step takes a bit of patience and you have to keep an eye on it because we don’t want to overcook the mixture and have solid lumps of egg yolk to affect the texture of the gelato.
  6. Cook until the custard coats the back of a wooden spoon and draw a line with your finger to test if the custard has reached the right consistency (see image above). The custard will not be very thick but will be a creamy consistency. If you see lumps, remove the pan from heat immediately and cool mixture.
  7. Cool custard and chill in the refrigerator for a few hours or overnight.
  8. Churn the mixture in an ice-cream maker, following its manufacturer’s instructions.
  9. Transfer the gelato into a seal-able container and freeze until firm.

My ice-cream maker is probably one of the simplest and inexpensive models that one can get. It consists of a moving part that has a switch to and a bowl that is to be frozen before the mixture is churned. I think freshly churned gelato actually tastes the best because its temperature is bit higher than freezer stored gelato (unlike the professional freezers in gelato shops). Its consistency is so soft and creamy. So if you are serving gelato from the freezer, you might have to “defrost” it for a short time in the fridge to get a softer texture.


Summer Canning: Tomatoes

Fresh local tomatoes are so delicious in the summer, it is a good time to preserve their sun ripen tomato-ey flavour for cooking. I came across some nice local tomatoes so I bought some to try canning them at home – it is my first time canning tomatoes. It is not a difficult process. All you need is tomatoes, salt, citric acid or bottled lemon juice, and water (proper canning jars too!). The following recipe was adapted from Chow Times.

Ingredients:

For every 500 ml bottle:
  • About 1 lb. (400-500 grams) fresh vine ripen tomatoes
  • ¼ tsp. powdered citric acid OR 1 tbsp. bottled lemon juice
    (bottled lemon juice has regulated acidity whereas the acidity of fresh lemon juice varies)
  • ½ tsp. salt (if desired)
  • Fresh herbs (if desired – I did not use any since it was my first time)

Method:

  1. Score a cross on the bottom of the tomatoes with a knife for easy skin removal.
  2. Boil tomatoes in hot water for about 30 seconds.
    *Remove from water and place them in a cold water bath.*
  3. Peel skin.
  4. Remove the core (stem end) of the tomatoes with a paring knife.
  5. Cut tomatoes into halves or quarters and place into a pot and cover the bottom with water. (I used about 1 cup of water for 2 lbs of tomatoes.) Bring contents to a boil in medium high heat. Reduce heat and simmer for about 5 minutes. Simmering them will kill the enzymes that causes the liquid and solid to separate – the process is called ‘Hot Pack’. Add salt if desired.
  6. Prepare jars for canning: rinse jars with warm water, sanitize and keep jars and tops in hot water (not boiling) until ready to use. Do not put hot contents in a cold jar – glass may break! Place the citric acid or lemon juice in the empty sanitized jars.
  7. Fill jars with prepared tomatoes, leave about ½ inch of space from the top of the rim. Use a plastic knife or utensil to remove air bubbles in the jar, add more cooking liquid if required.
  8. Wipe rim of the jars, place tops and screw rings (not overly tight!). Place jars into hot water with at least an inch of water above the jars and bring to a boil. Process the jars for 40 minutes (time from when boiling starts). After 40 minutes, turn off heat, wait until boiling subsides, carefully remove jars without tilting them. Check seal after 24 hours, the top of a good sealed jar shouldn’t ‘pop’ when pressed with your finger. If it ‘pops’, it means the jar is not vacuum sealed – you will need to use contents as soon as possible and store it in the refrigerator. Store properly sealed jars in a cool dark place.

I was surprised that canning tomatoes are so easy, the tomatoes I used is probably not suitable for a pasta sauce but will be good in a soup or stew. This is not canning tomato sauce – that is a different story which will require removing the seeds and milling the tomatoes. Things to be careful about is handling the hot jars and that cleanliness is key!