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Defining Ices: From Gelato to Semifreddi

September 12, 1985|MINNIE BERNARDINO | Times Staff Writer

Question: Can you please tell me if tofu ice cream is made with real tofu? Also, can you define semifreddi ? It's somewhat like gelato, I think. Some of these ices in various ice cream places get to be confusing to me. For instance, is there a difference between sorbet and sherbet?

Answer: Theoretically, tofu ice cream is a tofu-based, non-dairy blend with or without fruit and flavorings. Because it has no cholesterol and is often low in calories, it appeals to people who cannot tolerate dairy products. Some of these frozen tofu desserts do not contain tofu, the cheeselike curd, but are made with soy-milk or soy isolates, which is 90% protein. The advantage of using soy isolates for manufacturers is that the powdery substance has a longer shelf life than the perishable refrigerated tofu.

Semifreddi is an iced fruit mixture that is similar to gelato or sorbet but lighter in texture and taste because of the addition of whipped cream, meringue or pastry cream. Gelato is a rich, dense concentrate of fruits and usually egg yolks and whipping cream are added.

Sorbet and sherbet can be slightly confusing but often sherbet is lighter, as it is made with milk. Sorbet is an ice made purely with fruit puree or juices plus a sweetener. Sorbet varieties can include liqueurs and even herbs or vegetables. Sherbet is a blend of fruit puree or fruit juices, milk (not cream, otherwise it will be ice cream) and egg white or gelatin.

Granite (or granita), also made with fruit and sweetener, is distinguished from sorbet or sherbet by its coarse granular icy texture. For a true granita, no ice cream machine is required. The blended mixture is still-frozen in a pan and when icy, quickly stirred with a fork and refrozen.

Q: For the holidays I would like to prepare a suckling pig roast. I have a recipe for a fruit-stuffed pig that I would like to roast in my oven. Where is this available? I heard that the purebred suckling pig can be mail-ordered. Do you have an address?

A: Small suckling pigs can be purchased through mail order. Campbell's Farm in Vermont specializes in raising purebred Yorkshire suckling pigs which are about 4 weeks old, ranging in size from 15 to 20 pounds. To mail order, write to Campbell's Farm, P.O. Box 74, Post Mills, Vt. 05058. Allow at least one month when ordering, particularly during the holidays as the pigs are available only on a limited basis.

You can easily order a regular (larger) suckling pig from Farmer John's in Vernon. To place an order, call (213) 583-4621 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Friday. Cost is $105 for a 55- to 70-pound suckling pig, which comes frozen. Since the pig is about 40 inches long, it will not fit in the regular oven.

Q: We have cactus apples or pears that we'd like to use for jelly. How do we remove the stickers? There must be some way but I've been unable to find it.

A: There are quite a number of ways to do this but you may still get a few spines in your fingers if you're not extra careful. Some people have given up removing the stickers and simply cook the sliced cactus in water to cover until tender and then use the juice extracted. The fleshy cactus works best in jellymaking. Some of the most successful ones are the plate cactus ( robusta opuntia ) and the cow's tongue ( Linguiformis ).

Very ripe, juicy cacti need very little water and may be tender after about 20 minutes. Firm ones require more water and a longer boiling period, about 45 minutes or longer. When tender, pour into a jelly bag that has been moistened with hot water. Allow to drip for 12 hours (do not squeeze bag) and then boil the extracted juice for about 5 minutes. The cactus juice is then ready to use with either commercial liquid or powdered pectin following the manufacturer's fruit jelly (apple jelly works well) recipe in the package.

Use potato tongs when handling the pear cactus. If you still prefer to remove the spines, use tongs and singe the cactus over a gas flame. Or brush the spines off with a nylon brush while wearing thick rubber gloves and using tongs if necessary; wash then peel with a sharp knife.

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