Silky sweet, the pucker of tartness. A few seeds on my tongue, icy cold on the top of my mouth. The fullness of raspberry frozen yogurt melting into my teeth.
It’s late summer. In Seatle, the weather is slowly starting to turn. Mornings emerge from behind soft white clouds, later every day. Most afternoons are still gloriously warm, but today is quiet, the grey cover low upon our heads. Everything’s tamped down. And the street along the cemetery, just a few blocks from my house, is suddenly confettied with wilting yellow leaves. Autumn is just around the corner.
But before it arrives, fully, it’s time for homemade frozen dessert.
Remember those long summer afternoons when you were a kid and listened for the tinkling music of the ice cream truck? One of my most vivid memories of being four, the year my family lived in Detroit, was standing on the sidewalk in front of my house, in the hot, humid air, talking the ice cream man into giving me a free treat. I’m sure my mom must have been behind me, handing him some money over my head. But I still remember how good that ice cream tasted, thinking I had convinced someone to give it to me.
I’ve always loved ice cream. I have so many memories of it. When I was in high school in Southern California, there were months where the only food I ate for lunch was a Yoplait yogurt and an It’s It ice cream sandwich: chocolate cookies and mint ice cream. Florence, in February, a hail storm on the piazza in front of the Santa della Croce, and I’m inside, eating pistachio gelato. Sitting in Sharon’s bedroom in our apartment in New York, watching movies with the air conditioner blasting, eating Ben and Jerry’s out of the carton. And all the various popsicles and frozen treats: root beer popsicles; Big Sticks; Otter Pops; and snow cones.
Most of them have gluten in them. Ice cream shouldn’t have wheat, rye, or barley in it, right? Or posicles? Why would it? Well, most of the products that contain gluten don’t make sense to me. Most commercial ice creams and popsicles contain gluten. Of course the ce cream sandwiches are gone—the cookies alone would make me sick enough to stay at home for days. Pure gelato is probably fine, but I wouldn’t know how to ask the questions in Italian to make sure. And Ben and Jerry’s, my favorite kind, cannot guarantee that their ice cream is gluten free, because they cannot vouch for all of their suppliers. I don’t know if that’s a legal covering-of-the-butt or a real threat. So I don’t eat their ice cream any more.
Again, as with all this gluten-free saga, I could take this as an enormous punishment. Hang my head and cry about the lost concoctions I could eat with ease. But not me. Instead, I’m learning how to make new food.
Yesterday, I made raspberry frozen yogurt.
I’ve been eating raspberries all summer. Soft and warm in the sun at the farmers’ market, they make me feel at home. I know they’re filled with nutritional goodness, but I don’t really think about that when I’m eating them. I’ve been making them into jam, piling them into my cereal in the morning, and baking them into cobblers. But mostly, I’ve been popping them into my mouth straight from the green half-pint boxes. Summer means eating berries fresh, all day long.
Still, in the end, I miss my ice cream. A friend of mine has offered to give me her ice cream maker, the one she never used. Another friend gave me recipes for chocolate sorbet and canteloupe gelato. The New York Times last week had a recipe for gingersnap ice cream, and I’m a fiend for ginger. Expect reports and recipes soon.
But I don’t have the ice cream machine yet. And I found out I don’t need it to make frozen yogurt. The Jamie Oliver book I bought on Sunday has a section on how to teach kids to cook. Simple, sensory recipes that anyone can make. And he has one for frozen yogurt that astounded me with its simplicty. You’ll be amazed when you see it below as well.
Last night, I was walking toward Cupcake Royale with Amy and her friend Nan. We were talking about food, of course. I had just tried my raspberry frozen yogurt for the first time, and I was still smiling. (Plus, I was walking into the den of iniquity, a coffee shop devoted only to fancy little cupcakes. It took me all my strength of will to not run from there, screaming.) “You made frozen yogurt?” one of them asked me.
“Yeah, it’s really easy. You don’t even need an ice cream machine.”
Immediately, they wanted to know how.
I’ve been making food all summer, food I always bought at the store instead of making it at home: hummus; pesto; glazed carrots; chicken curry salad; risotto; cake from scratch; fruit crumbles; and now frozen yogurt. Everything I make tastes much more alive than the commercial imitations. Nothing can compare to cooking my own. And every food I create makes the next recipe easier. Nothing can stop me now. Soon, I’m going to need more slotted spoons, a double boiler, and expensive Swiss chocolate. Flourless chocolate cake can’t be far from now.
I can’t wait for gingersnap ice cream.
I lived in England twice. While I loved the experience of living there, I can’t say I always loved the food. So you never could have told me that I’d be taking cooking cues from an English bloke. But one) British cooking has grown far more worldly, and spicy, in the last twenty years, just like America; and two) Jamie Oliver’s just damned adorable. He has an intuitive sense for food, a rampant curiosity, and a giant smile. I like that his recipes are written in narrative style, instead of being too precise. So here is his recipe, word for word:
11 oz of good frozen fruit
1 lb 2 oz tub of yogurt
2 tablespoons good honey
The only important thing to remember here is that your fruit should be in the freezer and frozen and your yogurt in the fridge and cold before you start. Remove the fruit and place it in your food processor. Blitz for 30 seconds, add the yogurt and honey and blend until smooth. At this point, taste for sweetness—fruit is normally frozen when it’s ripe and at its best, so it should be pretty perfect. If not, add some more honey. It should be scoopable, so eat it straight away, or put it into a covered bowl and place in the freezer, where it will keep for a couple of weeks. How good is that?
Pretty damned good.
°Remember to check the yogurt to make sure it’s gluten-free before you taste it. I used Nancy’s
organic nonfat yogurt, but I’m sure it would be even better with lowfat, or full-fat. Vanilla yogurt might do nicely, but stay away from the ones that are supposed to taste of the fruit you’re making. Too sweet.
° For vegans, or people who are lactose intolerant because of the celiac (more on this later), I’m sure that soy yogurt would work well. Silk is my favorite of the bunch.
° I used a good Tupperware container to freeze this, and it’s solid now. In fact, I found that when I wanted some today, I had to leave it out to thaw for about ten minutes before I could scoop it. This made me happy, as it feels like real frozen yogurt this way!
°I’ve read that we plebians can actually buy white cardboard ice cream containers somewhere in this city, but I haven’t found them yet. I’ll let you know.