Friday, July 29, 2011

Gelato al Limone (Lemon Ice Cream) and Sgroppino (Lemon Chill--a "Milkshake" for Grown-Ups) for Food 'n Flix: Letters to Juliet

In the foodie romance film Letters to Juliet, Sophie is a fact checker for The New Yorker, but she dreams of being a writer. Before marrying her finance Victor, a chef, they go on a "pre-honeymoon" trip to Verona. Victor is so consumed with researching and trying Italian food as he prepares to open his restaurant back in New York that he ignores Sophie. Wandering the city alone, Sophie finds herself in the courtyard of Shakespeare's famous character, Juliet. There Sophie meets a group of women answer all of the many letters to Juliet left by the lovelorn. Sophie finds an old letter that has been tucked away, hidden for decades, and answers it. Soon after, the letter's author Claire and her slightly uptight grandson Charlie appear. Claire is looking for her long-lost love and Charlie is looking to protect his grandmother. Sophie uses her fact-checking expertise to help Claire and to write a story that she hopes will kick start her writing career.

Letters to Juliet is a sweet romance full of the charm, scenery and food of Italy. Charlie and Sophie, at odds from the time they meet, first begin to bond over a day of exploring and some shared gelato. You can't watch people devour gelato in Italy without craving the cold creamy treat yourself. I have had the Gelato al Limone recipe in Tessa Kiros' gorgeous foodie & travel porn cookbook Venezia: Food and Dreams, tagged to make for quite some time, and although this cookbook explores the food of Venice rather than Verona, gelato is welcome anywhere. ;-)

I have to confess that half (OK maybe 3/4!) of the reason I wanted to make this lemon gelato recipe was to make the Sgroppino (Lemon Chill) recipe that follows it in the book. The only thing more appealing than a big bowl of creamy gelato is combining it with prosecco and vodka (or limoncello in my case) into the best kind of adult "milkshake." Who knows... Charlie and Sophie probably would have warmed up to each other much quicker if they had shared a few sgroppinos... thus I bring you both recipes to represent the movie.

Gelato al Limone (Lemon Ice Cream)
Venezia by Tessa Kiros
(Serves 6)

zest of 1 lemon, cut into big strips
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup and 2 Tbsp lemon juice
1 cup chilled cream

Put the lemon zest and sugar in a small saucepan with 1/2 cup of water. Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Lower the heat and simmer gently, without stirring, for 5 to 10 minutes, until the mixture becomes syrupy and tastes of lemon. Take out the pieces of lemon zest. Allow the mixture to cool, then pour in the lemon juice.

Whisk the cream until it's fairly stiff and then whisk in the cooled lemon syrup. Allow to cool, then transfer to an airtight container and put in the freezer. After 1 hour give the mixture an energetic whisk with a hand whisk or electric mixer. Return to the freezer and then whisk again after another couple of hours. When the ice cream is nearly firm, give one last whisk. Alternatively. pour the mixture into an ice cream machine (if you have one) and churn, following the manufacturer's instructions.

Notes/Results: If it were possible to float away on a perfect cloud of lemony goodness, it would be made of this gelato. A glorious combination of sweet and tangy, this creamy, rich ice cream is full of sunny lemon flavor. When I first saw the gelato come out of the ice cream maker I laughed that it was supposed to be six servings-worth, however it is so rich, thick and creamy, a small serving is the perfect amount. If you truly love lemon, I urge you to make this easy recipe, savor a little bowl, but save the rest to make....

Kiros says, "You can make your own or buy lemon ice cream for this recipe. If you are making the ice cream, make it the day before so that it has time to become firm and then all you have to do on the day is briefly whizz the ice cream with the alcohol. You can add as much prosecco and vodka as you like here, depending on how soft your ice cream is and how strong you want this to be. Since I like to serve this after lunch, I've made it fairly mild, bearing in mind that you may have started the meal with prosecco, then moved onto wine and are not looking at passing out for the afternoon. It's much more summery with less alcohol anyway. Many people serve this as a palate cleanser instead of as a dessert. If it's very hot then put your glasses in the freezer for a few minutes before serving."

Sgroppino (Lemon Chill)
Venezia by Tessa Kiros
(Serves 2)

1/2 lb lemon ice cream
about 4 Tbsps chilled prosecco
about 2 Tbsps chilled vodka

Scoop the ice cream into a blender. Splash in the prosecco and vodka and whizz (the more alcohol you add the more liquidy the mixture will end up). Pour into glasses and serve immediately before it melts.

Notes/Results: Heaven in a champagne glass! Whether as a dessert, or palate cleanser this is pretty incredible drink. Thick and creamy like a milk shake, with full lemon flavor and a cocktail kick. It is wonderfully cooling and perfect for a warm day. The recipe mixed prosecco and vodka, but since I had part of a bottle of limoncello I thought it would be an even better mix to replace the vodka with it. Wowza, this was delicious--I love how refreshing it is. I am already craving more. ;-)

I will happily make both of these recipes again and again.

My good friend Kim is hosting this round of Food 'n Flix over at her blog Stirring the Pot, and she is accepting entries for Letter to Juliet through July 31. Kim will be doing a round up after the deadline, so stop by her blog and check it out. Next up for August F 'n F is Fried Green Tomatoes hosted by Glennis at Can't Believe We Ate

Need a romantic escape from it all? Enter to win a copy of French Lessons by Ellen Sussman and get swept away to Paris. Enter here and check out my review and a recipe for some yummy fig relish too.


  1. This is ABSOLUTELY the best kind of adult milkshake! more could a girl ask for? Aside from two glasses of it.

  2. Oh my gosh, this is like...perfection...Deb! I totally want a lemon chill! And the gelato. It's all so dreamy...perfect for Letters to Juliet :D

  3. The sound of the lemon gelato has my taste buds in a tizzy! It sound like just the perfect thing for a hot summer night. I just went and added this to my netflix - can't wait to watch it!

  4. I love everything about Tessa Kiros's books, which makes me wonder why I don't cook from them more often? And, she has so many books. Wonder why we haven't thought of her for IHCC. Maybe we should!

    I'm in love with the idea of a creamy lemony ice cream, but even more in love with the sgroppino. I bet it's nice and lemony and refreshing and even better with limoncello. Awesome pick!

  5. I am near faint from the humidity up here, and I want to dive right into this post. Absolutely perfect.

  6. What a perfect selection for the movie and this hot summer that we're experiencing! The lemon flavor is perfect!

  7. I love that your inspirations comes from movies. I feel that we would be great friends if given the chance, food and movies is what inspires me too.


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