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Thursday, July 14, 2016

Pumpkin Flower Gelato

There was a video I watched of a famous Mexican chef and one quote struck me.

"Mexican food is rich in its poverty."

He was referring to the scarce resources that Mexicans would laboriously gather and turn them into exquisite regional dishes that could not be replicated elsewhere. It was inspired labour born out of necessity but it has emerged as unique culinary experiences for the regional, rich or well traveled.

Today, I'm making pumpkin flower gelato and it seems incredibly pretentious. (I'm using heirloom sugar pumpkin flowers too) The cost of squash blossoms is very high, if they are even available, and ordinarily this would be a costly and exclusive dish. This dish has neither been inspired by high brow aspirations nor scarcity of food resources, but by the abundance of my pumpkin plants in producing exquisite, fragrant flowers that I do not wish to waste.

But similar to the quote above, I'm using a normally scarce resource to create a dish that is rich and generous in its taste but will not travel far from my table.

I would encourage anyone who has a bit of room and a place to allow the pumpkins to climb, to plant them and be inspired too.

I was inspired by this Italian video demonstrating the making of zucchini gelato. A couple of things to note; he used pistachios, avocado and the entire zucchini flower. It was pureed with what appears to be water and added to the machine which contained the base. He also mentioned he could add shrimp but that becomes a restaurant food and they didn't seem fresh enough. It seems odd to me but he spoke of it being more Japanese with raw fish.

Gelato di Zucchini

Even though the stems could be used, I wanted to preserve the delicate orange colour; therefore no stems in the gelato.

Pumpkin Flower Gelato

800 mL heavy cream
200 mL white sugar
4 egg yolks
2 mL cinnamon (1/4 tsp)
1 mL ground cloves
1 mL ground nutmeg
1 vanilla bean split down the length

30 - 35 pumpkin flowers, cleaned and destemmed
50 - 100 mL water

For the base, whisk the first 6 ingredients together except the vanilla bean. Once everything is smooth, add the vanilla bean and cook over low heat until mixture thickens. Do not boil or the mixture will curdle. Strain out the vanilla bean then refrigerate and allow to cool.

Just before making the ice cream, combine pumpkin flowers and water in blender to make a very smooth paste. Mix this into the base. Add to ice cream maker and process until smooth and thick.

The gelato had a delicate pumpkin pie flavour.