Tag Archives: philip meeker

Sour Cherry Liqueur

Things have settled down around here. After a hectic month, we finally have a little quiet time which is welcome.

Before our workshop chef departed, literally 10 minutes before he had to catch a train, Chef Philip decided he needed to ferment a ginormous batch of cherries from our sour cherry tree. He had originally put up a small batch by picking a tiny batch of cherries a few weeks earlier and putting them in sugar to break them down. Then he placed the tiny jar in the window sill to ferment.

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here’s his instagram post about the first batch

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Then about 2 weeks later, he and our intern Adri decided to climb the old cherry tree and harvest basket loads of sour cherries. I’ve never seen a happier Philip. We grabbed a giant glass jar and loaded it with the alreadly fermenting cherries from the window sill and the new cherries they had collected. Adding more sugar and a few liters of pure alcohol, Philip covered the batch and left it to ferment.

Much to my surprise, literally, as we were heading to the train station, Philip decided to harvest more cherries, and quickly added them to the fermenting batch and then added much more sugar and more bottles of alcohol. The giant batch now sits proudly in the middle of the commercial kitchen. I can only surmise that this was a subliminal way of letting us all know that Chef Philip will be back.

For this recipe and so many more, join us in September not only to taste Philip’s Sour Cherry Liqueur but to explore this incredibly rich region on our Preserving Italy : Slow Food of the Lunigiana Experience. Head to the link to preserve, explore, harvest and cook with us. Learn to make local dishes and handmade pasta with Chef Philip and other local experts. Harvest our grapes and visit the winery where we make our wine. It’s going to be a dream.

I cannot wait to taste our Sour Cherry Liqueur; our first batch of many in years to come.

Grazie and Cin cin! Philip, you’re crazy, and we love that.

xx

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Chef Philip’s Arugula Ice Cream

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As you know we are about to start our La Fortezza Workshop season. We have the most wonderful Chef, Chef Philip Meeker. You may have seen him on previous blog posts from last fall’s La Fortezza Workshops. He’s a cool guy that speaks Italian and drives a stick shift, but mainly he is super creative with local ingredients. So we all love him.

Today I am sharing one of his recipes. When he told me about it, I just had to share. With the last of the arugula popping up in our garden, it’s perfection for this time of year. Stay tuned for more of his recipes coming up as we cook for and with our workshop attendees. Buon Appetito!

Arugula Ice Cream or in Italian, Gelato di Rucola

Chef Philip says, “This time of year there’s a lot of fresh arugula at the market. Buying it from the farmer is a totally different experience than getting it at the store. The nutty and peppery flavors that you get from farm-fresh arugula are as striking as any herb which to me is a great indication that it would go well in a gelato just like rosemary or basil would. But what to pair the gelato with depends on whether you use cane sugar or glucose to make it. If you use glucose, the sweetness will be so minimal that you can use it in salad, like a carpaccio di fragole (a.k.a thinly sliced strawberries) with balsamic, fresh arugula and olive oil. And don’t worry: while glucose may sound fancy and hard to get, the light corn syrup you use for pecan pie is mostly glucose.”

Arugula Ice Cream

You will need:
– 1 ¼ cups heavy cream
– ¾ cups whole milk
– 1 ½  cups sugar (or glucose or light corn syrup)
– ¼ cup cornstarch
– 3 cups puréed arugula (about 3-4 bunches of field arugula)
– pinch of salt plus salt for boiling arugula
Note: There is no acid in this recipe because it will destroy the green color

Blanching and Puréeing Arugula:

Prepare a bowl of heavily iced water. This will be used to immediately cool down the arugula after it cooks. Bring a saucepan full of water to a boil. Salt the water lightly. Throw in the arugula and let it cook for three to five seconds. Remove it from the boiling water and immediately plunge it into the ice water. As soon as the arugula becomes ice cold, about 20 seconds, put it into a blender. Don’t worry too much about water that stays with the arugula as it goes into the blender. This will help the arugula blend into a smooth purée. Add a couple of ice cubes to the blender before starting to ensure the arugula won’t heat while blending which will allow the beautiful green colors to be , preserved. As you blend the arugula to a purée, add water and ice to the blender as needed to ensure the arugula has enough liquid to blend. Store the arugula purée in the fridge until you are ready to add it to the ice cream mix. Keeping it cool will ensure that its color will stay green and that the flavor won’t weaken.

Making Ice Cream Base:

To make the base of the ice cream, heat ½ cup of the whole milk plus the heavy cream in a small saucepan on high heat along with 1 cup of the sugar. Stir occasionally to make sure that it doesn’t stick to the bottom. In a bowl, mix together the remaining sugar and cornstarch with a whisk (mixing these two ingredients together ahead of time helps avoid lumps). Mix in the remaining milk.

When the dairy-sugar mix in the saucepan comes to a boil, mix a little of it in with the cornstarch mix. Then pour the entire contents of the bowl into the pot. Put it back over high heat. Mix it slowly while it comes to a boil. When the contents of the pot boil, mix it rapidly, carefully scraping the bottom to avoid scorching. The mixture needs to boil for 1-2 minutes until it lacks a starch taste.

Afterward, pour the mix into a sealed container, and store in the fridge to cool down.

Once cool, whisk the arugula into the dairy mix along with the salt. Spin in an ice cream maker to make ice cream.

*Tip: Make sure the arugula mix has enough salt in it to make it have maximum sweetness but not enough to make it taste salty instead of sweet. You do this by adding salt to the mix, little by little, tasting as you go. It will bring out the nutty, peppery flavor of the arugula.

*Suggestion: Create new flavor profiles by using other herb purées, such as parsley, mint, or tarragon. If a herb seems like it might lack flavor, steep the herb in the dairy mix after the dairy mix comes off the heat. Remove the steeped herb before it starts to turn color to something dead looking. I generally do a five-minute infusion.

Grazie mille, Chef Philip!

xx

Photo credit: Philip Meeker

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