Once the ground begins to thaw, and the air is getting a little balmy, it feels so nice to get out and take a nice long walk. A few miles away, on the upper side of Brady Street is an old Italian neighborhood, speckled with specialty grocers, bakers, and tiny store-front restaurants, including Mr. D'Amato's Sanford, where I had my first taste of an herbed gelato. It was basil, and reminded me of spring. Armed with a plump, snow-white bulb of Glorioso's best fennel, and a box of amaretti from Sciortino's bakery, I headed home with hopes of coming close to capturing this same effect. —Jennifer Ann
Fennel bulb, sliced as thinly as possible on a mandoline
Lemon zest (microplaned from one lemon)
Fennel pollen (crushed to dust in a mortar and pestle)
Amaretti cookies (optional)
In This Recipe
Place the fennel slices and lemon zest in a heat proof bowl, and set aside.
In a medium saucepan, mix the milk and cream over medium heat until foam forms around the edges of the pan; move off the burner.
In a large bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and honey until frothy; in a slow stream, pour the warm milk & cream mixture into the eggs and honey, whisking constantly.
Return the mixture to saucepan, and cook over medium heat, stirring with a wooden spoon until the mixture thickens enough to coat the back of the spoon - about 5-7 minutes.
Blitz about one cup of the hot custard in a blender with the fennel fronds until they are reduced to tiny green specks; pour over fennel and lemon zest , then top with the remaining hot custard; give a good stir and pop in the refrigerator to cool completely; peek in and stir occasionally, pressing down on the fennel and zest to extract more flavor.
Press the cooled custard through a fine mesh sieve, and freeze according to your ice cream maker instructions; pop in the freezer to firm up.
Just before serving, scoop into pretty bowls and top with a small pinch of pollen, and crumbled amaretti cookies.