Sunday, 29 November 2009

Christmas flavour ice cream

Christmas is undeniably on it's way now, it's time to put up decorations, buy presents, write cards and if you haven't already done it make the cake.

We were talking about Christmas at work last week and some gave me a idea for an ice cream recipe, she said that if you take some store bought vanilla ice cream, leave it to soften, then mix it with a jar of mincemeat it makes a really delicious Christmassy treat.I really liked the idea and I'm sure it's delicious with store bought ice cream but I wanted to make the whole thing myself, so that's what I did! As well as making the ice cream myself I also added a hefty glug of brandy for good measure, not only does it make it even more Christmassy it helps stop the ice cream from freezing rock solid too.

When I served this I was told it tastes like Christmas cake which is exactly what I was aiming for, mission accomplished!



For the custard ice cream base:
  • 3/4 pint whole milk
  • vanilla extract
  • Two large egg yolks
  • 1 tbsp cornflour/cornstarch
  • 30-40g caster sugar
You will also need:
  • Half a pint of double/heavy cream whipped to soft peaks
  • 450g micemeat (recipe here or buy some)
  • Brandy
  • To make the custard pour the milk and vanilla into a saucepan and gently bring to a simmer, don't let it boil.
  • Meanwhile beat the egg yolks, sugar and cornflour/cornstarch together in a large mixing bowl.
  • Once the milk is up to heat pour a little into the egg yolk mixture and quickly beat it in.
  • Pour everything back into the saucepan and cook over a very gentle heat stirring constantly until it coats the back of a spoon. Don't leave leave it unattended for even a minute or it will burn, curdle or both!
  • Once made cool the custard completely before continuing.
  • Once the custard is cool fold it into the whipped cream, add the mincemeat and brandy to taste. Be careful not to add too much brandy or your ice cream will never freeze! 4-5 tablespoons should be enough.
  • Churn the mix in an ice cream machine or put into a tub in the freezer and beat every hour until frozen.

Monday, 16 November 2009

Christmas goodies from Able and Cole

There's a house just down the road from me that always have their Christmas decorations up by the beginning of November, it seems strange to me that anyone would want to start celebrating so early. I always try to leave all things Christmassy to the last minute, that way the novelty and excitement hasn't worn off by Christmas day!

Of course sometimes there are exceptions to the rule and this year was one of those times. Able and Cole offered to send me some 'Christmas goodies' to try, sausages wrapped in bacon and some cranberry and orange relish. The goodies arrived on Friday well packed in an insulated box full of ice, so far so good...

I cooked a mini Christmas dinner on Sunday -that's a roast chicken to me and you- to eat with the sausages and relish and put them to the full Christmas dinner taste test.Sausages wrapped in bacon sometimes quaintly called pigs in blankets are one of my favourite Christmas foods, I actually much prefer these to the turkey! Normally I'd make my own but after trying the sausages from Able and Cole I'd be really happy to serve theirs. Whenever I buy sausages the first thing I check is the meat content, anything below 70% and I don't buy them, the sausages I had to try came in at 85% so no problems there. They had a really good texture and were perfectly spiced with coriander, nutmeg and pepper. If you're looking for something to serve with your Christmas dinner this year I can highly recommend these.Next up was the cranberry and orange relish, I really loved this it made the perfect accompaniment to the sausages and chicken. Normally I would serve traditional cranberry sauce on Christmas day, this relish is quite different but I would say even more delicious. The flavour is far more complex than normal cranberry sauce, you can clearly taste the orange but there are also subtle spice flavours in the background, I'm sure I could taste cloves and star anise in there. The texture is thinner than cranberry sauce in fact it's almost pourable but that's no bad thing at all especially as the cranberries are left whole making this quite a chunky relish. As well as being perfect for Christmas I can imagine pairing this relish alongside pork, sausages, bacon or poultry.

Sunday, 8 November 2009

Winemaker's grape cake

A few years ago I planted a grape vine against the wall in my garden. At the time I didn't really expect it to do that well, England isn't isn't known for it's grapes after all!

I couldn't have been more wrong, it seems that in cold damp England grape vines can thrive, mine has gone wild climbing up the wall, over the windows and along the washing line! What's made me really happy is that it's also produced a bumper crop of beautiful purple grapes.Although the grapes were deliciously sweet enough to eat out of hand I'd seen a few recipes for grape cakes that sounded really interesting. We don't really cook with grapes in England so this idea was totally new to me.

The recipe I settled on was from called winemakers grape cake, what really drew me to this recipe was the use of olive oil rather than butter which not only gives the cake a wonderful texture but a delicious flavour too.The lived up to all expectations being both perfectly soft and moist but full of flavour too, the little grapes were like bombs of flavour that exploded when you bit into them. A fantastic cake!

You can find the recipe HERE.