Book Review: Melt

Here’s another review that’s way overdue! Procrastination is the thief of time etc. etc. Or the thief of Tim, if you let autocorrect have its own way. It doesn’t help that I’ve developed gallstones, and I’m really not supposed to eat ice-cream anymore (starts weeping softly).

This is a book of fairly unusual ice-cream recipes, dreamt up by Claire Kelsey, who started selling her creations from an ice-cream van, called Ginger’s Comfort Emporium, in 2009. Well, here we go then!

Melt, by Claire Kelsey. Simon and Schuster, 2013.

Ice-cream sensations to make at home

So, why did you buy it?

I love ice-cream and inventing/trying new and interesting flavours. There’s a lot of those in the book, from olive oil to camel’s milk!

Judge a book by its cover…

Stylish, retro, with hints of a carefree alternative lifestyle. Right up my street.

Do you use it?

Ah! Not really. I’ve found I don’t get on with the recipes, especially the no-churn ones. I didn’t by a super-duper, all singing and dancing, extra fancy ice-cream maker, to do no- churn. I find the recipes very over sweet as well. Instead, I use the recipes as inspiration and a starting point for developing my own.

What did you make?

Um…definitely olive oil, which was probably our favourite out of all of them, coriander leaf (interesting, not unpleasant), fresh mint stracciatella (couldn’t taste the mint), and ‘Monkey Gone to Heaven’. Named after a song by The Pixies, that one contains roasted banana, salted caramel and peanuts. It sounds great on paper, but the texture was a bit odd, wasn’t keen on the banana part, and it was very ugly and unappetising to look at. I daresay that’s my fault, though.

Is it still in print?

It doesn’t seem to be.

Is it worth buying?

If you’re adventurous, and experienced with making ice-cream, you’ll probably love it. I wouldn’t recommend to beginners.

Olive oil and sea salt

Ice-Cream By Hand

I’m lucky enough to have a super-duper, self freezing ice-cream maker. It’s ace, best kitchen gadget ever, even plays a tune when it’s finished. It took a lot of saving up for though. There are other, less expensive, machines out there, usually the type where you have to put the bowl in the freezer overnight. I used to have one of those, it was fine, but you had to take out one of the freezer drawers to get the bowl in, which was a nuisance.

The good news is, it’s perfectly possible to make ice-cream without anything more complicated than a plastic tub and a fork. Simply follow this incredibly informative infographic:

Please bear in mind that while this method works it will not give you the same results a machine would. The ice crystals will be larger, so the ice-cream will have a grainier texture, with bits of ice in it. It will also set a lot harder, so give it time to soften before serving, or you’ll end up bending the spoon!

The first patent for an ice-cream maker was granted to Nancy Johnson, of Philadelpia, in 1843.

Ice-cream of the Month – Chocolate Oaty Biscuit

The idea for this ice-cream came to me all of a sudden, when trying to think of biscuits, ice-cream and dairy free foods all at the same time. Something like –

Dairy alternatives-oat milk-oats-Hobnobs-icecream…Eureka!

I’m not sure if I can call it Hobnob flavour, because it doesn’t have the actual biscuits in it (and copyright); but it does take the individual elements and make them into a glorious whole.

Normally  I would be extremely sceptical of non-dairy ice-cream, but honestly, this was amazing! If you want to go gluten free, then just use gluten free oats. It you don’t need to be dairy free and can’t get one of the ingredients, then just use regular milk or cream. I guess if you wanted to go vegan you could thicken the custard with cornflour, but the finished product wouldn’t quite have the right taste or texture.

Chocolate Oaty Biscuit Ice-cream

Ingredients:

  • 400ml oat “milk” (I used Innocent brand)
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 30g caster sugar
  • 1tsp cornflour
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • 70g golden syrup
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 200ml tub of oat “cream” ( I used Oatly creme fraiche)

For the oat crumble:

  • 100g rolled oats
  • 100g golden syrup
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • 40g dark chocolate

Method:

In a large bowl, beat together the egg yolks, sugar and cornflour.

Heat the oat milk in a saucepan till almost boiling, then pour over the egg yolks, beating well the whole time.

Turn the heat down. Pour the mixture back into the saucepan. Stir over a moderate heat with a spatula or wooden spoon, until the mixture starts to thicken. Don’t cook for too long or it will curdle.

Remove from heat and stir in the salt, syrup and vanilla. Put the oat cream in a jug and pour the custard in, beating with a fork to combine. Put aside to cool, then chill in the fridge.

To make the oat crumble:

Toast the oats in a large frying pan. This will take around 3 minutes. You want the oats to have a nice nutty, toasty smell but not to be significantly browned.

Remove from heat and stir in the salt and syrup. Return to the heat, stirring quickly, for 30 seconds. Remove from heat and tip the oats onto an oiled baking tray to cool down.

When cool, break into small pieces. Chop the chocolate into small pieces, mix with the oat chunks, and put in the fridge to chill.

When everything is chilled, follow your ice-cream machines instructions, remembering to add two thirds of the oat/chocolate mixture when prompted. Keep the remaining oat crumble to use as a topping.

If you don’t have an ice cream maker, you can put the chilled custard in a tupperware container in the freezer. Every hour, break up the ice crystals with a fork or whisk. When it is almost completely frozen, mix in 2/3 of the oat crumble and leave in the freezer to set.

To serve, remove from freezer and allow to soften for 5-10 minutes before scooping, as it sets quite firmly.

Garden Party Ice-Cream

Many people have a romantic view of the past; there is a word for it, which for the life of me I can’t remember, meaning a yearning for a past time, a golden age, which perhaps never really existed.

For me it’s the inter-war period – the twenties and thirties – which I tend to view through rose tinted glasses, mainly because all of my knowledge has been gleaned through British novels of the time, 90% of which are dectective stories from the likes of Agatha Christie and Margery Allingham. There may be a body in the library, but there are garden parties, house guests, afternoon teas and the feeling of an endless English summer, populated by independant young women and handsome heroes making eyes at each other in a secluded area of the vicarge garden.

Who needs reality anyway? Forget your troubles for an hour or two with a classic novel and a big bowl of homemade ice cream that tastes like a dream of summertime; layered with strawberry sauce, studded with shortcake and meringue, drizzled with a cheeky lemon syrup, and no cyanide, sparkling or otherwise.

First published July 2019


Garden Party Ice Cream

For the ice cream:

  • 4 egg yolks
  • 300ml milk
  • 80g sugar
  • 300ml double cream
  • 1 tsp cornflour
  • 1/2 tin of condensed milk
  • 6 shortbread biscuits
  • meringue – either made using the left over egg whites or a couple of bought meringue nests.
  • 500g fresh strawberries
  • 1tbsp lemon juice
  • 3 tbsp sugar

First chop the strawberries and put them in a saucepan with the lemon juice. Heat gently until the berries are soft, mash them a little, then stir in the sugar. Allow to cool then pop in the fridge.

Break the biscuits and meringue into chunks (if you made your own using the left over egg whites, you will need about 1/4 of it. The rest can be used as a garnish later). Chill the chunks in the freezer.

Put the egg yolks, sugar and cornflour in a bowl and whisk to combine. Heat the milk to boiling point.

Pour the milk onto the egg yolks, whisking the whole time. Pour the mixture back into the saucepan and heat gently, stirring the whole time with a wooden spoon or spatula (the whisk won’t make enough contact with the bottom of the pan, risking a burnt and lumpy custard) until the custard has thickened to the consistency of cream and remove from the heat.

Pour into a large jug and add the double cream and condensed milk. Cool in the fridge.

Make the ice cream following the instruction for your machine. If you don’t have an ice cream machine you can pour the custard into  a 1.5 litre tupperware container and put it in the freezer. Every couple of hours, stir with a fork to break up large ice crystals. When it is fairly thick but still stirable, add the ripple as below.

When the ice cream is ready and working quickly, spoon half of the mixture into a tupperware type container, spread with spoonfuls of strawberry sauce and sprinkle over half of the chunks. Repeat for a second layer. Using a palette knife or simliar, ripple the two mixtures together. Don’t overdo it or it will lose the ripple effect!

Freeze for a few hours or overnight.

Meanwhile make the optional lemon syrup.

Lemon Syrup

  • 400g golden caster sugar
  • zest and juice of 6 lemons, preferably unwaxed.
  • 200ml water

Sterilise a large glass jar or bottle and keep it hot. This can be done in the oven at around 120 degrees, in the dishwasher if you have one, or by heating in boiling water. Wear rubber gloves to avoid burns.

Put the sugar and water into a saucepan and heat very gently until the sugar has dissolved. Bring to the boil and simmer for 5 mins

Add the juice and zest and simmer for another 5 mins.

Very carefully pour into the hot bottle. It has to be hot, otherwise the heat of the syrup will cause it to crack. Remember boiling sugar is INCREDIBLY HOT, please be careful and keep pets and children out of the way.

Allow to cool, then keep in the fridge. As well as a dessert topping you can add soda water to the syrup for a refreshing drink.

Strawberries aren’t actually berries but “accessory fruits”.

Korean Food? Yes please!

It’s no secret that I’m slightly obsessed with Korean food, but recipe books aimed at the European Market are few and far between. Yes I could use American ones, but I really don’t get on with cup measurements or directions such as “a scant stick of butter”; surely it’s easier to take away the uncertainty by weighing it? Also why not give the weight as well, like British recipe books do metric and imperial?

I was happy to find this book by Korean American, Judy Joo, who now works as a top chef in London. A lot of the recipes are fusion food, or have “cheffy” touches, so perhaps aren’t quite that simple, but there are still plenty of authentic and traditional dishes to try out.

Korean Food Made Simple – Judy Joo. Jaqui Small LLP, 2016

“Easy and delicious Korean recipes to prepare at home”

So why did you buy it?

Are you kidding? Korean food is awesome, that’s why.

Judge a book by it’s cover…

Actually, I’m not keen on the cover, it’s a bit brash and swirly. I’d prefer something more subtle or more obviously based on Korean art.

Do you use it?

It’s a fairly recent acquisition, so this was a good chance to thoroughly test the book.

What did you make?

Quite a lot! I also made the effort to source some of the more exotic ingredients such as dried anchovies and salted shrimp.

Starting with kimchi, which is the backbone of Korean cuisine, we also tried crispy tteokbokki, Royal tteokbokki, Rappoki (we like tteokbokki)…

Rappoki, a combination of tteokbokki and ramen.

Crispy tteokbokki, a snack to die for!

Royal Tteokbokki.

… Galbi jjim (beef short ribs), sweet and sour beef, and for desert, doenjang salted caramel ice cream. Yep, we love Korean food alright.

Koreans love Chinese food too.

This ice-cream is intense!

Is it still in print?

I’m not sure. New copies are still for sale from some sellers, but it’s mostly used copies at the moment.

Is it worth buying?

I would definitely recommend this book to experienced cooks who want to try something different, or who already have a basic knowledge of Korean food. If you are a beginner then you might find some of the recipes a bit daunting, some are very labour intensive and complex, but then again some are very simple. For me, it’s a keeper.

Garden Party Ice Cream Part 2

Apparently ‘Poirot and the Bear’ was an epic two parter. Oh, and the ice cream didn’t really feature in the dream. Please see previous post!

Many people have a romantic view of the past. There is a word for it, which for the life of me I can’t remember, meaning a yearning for a past time, a golden age, which perhaps never really existed. For me it’s the inter-war period – the twenties and thirties – which I tend to view through rose tinted glasses; mainly because all of my knowledge has been gleaned through British novels of the time, 90% of which are dectective stories from the likes of Agatha Christie and Margery Allingham. There may be a body in the library, but there are garden parties, house guests, afternoon teas and the feeling of an endless English summer, populated by independant young women and handsome heroes, making eyes at each other in a secluded area of the vicarge garden.

Who needs reality anyway? Forget your troubles for an hour or two with a classic novel and a big bowl of homemade ice cream that tastes like a dream of summertime. Layered with strawberry sauce, studded with shortcake and meringue, drizzled with a cheeky lemon syrup, and no cyanide, sparkling or otherwise. July’s Ice Cream of the Month.

Who do you call when bears invade you garden party? “Why, Hercule Poirot of course!”
(See previous post)

Garden Party Ice Cream

For the ice cream:

  • 4 egg yolks
  • 300ml milk
  • 80g sugar
  • 300ml double cream
  • 1 tsp cornflour
  • 1/2 tin of condensed milk
  • 6 shortbread biscuits
  • meringue – either made using the left over egg whites or a couple of bought meringue nests.
  • 500g fresh strawberries
  • 1tbsp lemon juice
  • 3 tbsp sugar

First chop the strawberries and put them in a saucepan with the lemon juice. Heat gently until the berries are soft, mash them a little, then stir in the sugar. Allow to cool then pop in the fridge.

Break the biscuits and meringue into chunks (if you made your own using the left over egg whites, you will need about 1/4 of it. The rest can be used as a garnish later). Chill the chunks in the freezer.

Put the egg yolks, sugar and cornflour in a bowl and whisk to combine. Heat the milk to boiling point.

Pour the milk onto the egg yolks, whisking the whole time. Pour the mixture back into the saucepan and heat gently, stirring the whole time with a wooden spoon or spatula (the whisk won’t make enough contact with the bottom of the pan, risking a burnt and lumpy custard) until the custard has thickened to the consistency of cream and remove from the heat.

Pour into a large jug and add the double cream and condensed milk. Cool in the fridge.

Make the ice cream following the instruction for your machine. If you don’t have an ice cream machine you can pour the custard into  a 1.5 litre tupperware container and put it in the freezer. Every couple of hours, stir with a fork to break up large ice crystals. When it is fairly thick but still stirable, add the ripple as below.

When the ice cream is ready and working quickly, spoon half of the mixture into a tupperware type container, spread with spoonfuls of strawberry sauce and sprinkle over half of the chunks. Repeat for a second layer. Using a palette knife or simliar, ripple the two mixtures together. Don’t overdo it or it will lose the ripple effect!

Freeze for a few hours or overnight.

Meanwhile make the optional lemon syrup.

Lemon Syrup

  • 400g golden caster sugar
  • zest and juice of 6 lemons, preferably unwaxed.
  • 200ml water

Sterilise a large glass jar or bottle and keep it hot. This can be done in the oven at around 120 degrees, in the dishwasher if you have one, or by heating in boiling water. Wear rubber gloves to avoid burns.

Put the sugar and water into a saucepan and heat very gently until the sugar has dissolved. Bring to the boil and simmer for 5 mins

Add the juice and zest and simmer for another 5 mins.

Very carefully pour into the hot bottle. It has to be hot, otherwise the heat of the syrup will cause it to crack. Remember boiling sugar is INCREDIBLY HOT, please be careful and keep pets and children out of the way.

Allow to cool, then keep in the fridge. As well as a dessert topping you can add soda water to the syrup for a refreshing drink.

Strawberries aren’t actually berries but “accessory fruits”.

Garden Party Ice Cream Part 1

Sometimes recipe inspiration can come from the strangest places…

Written by not-so-small boy, aged 12. Based on a dream which occurred after reading Agatha Christie and Rudyard Kipling in the same week.

POIROT AND THE BEAR by R.H 6th July 2019

“It was a wonderful sunny day at Mrs White’s garden party. The guests were enjoying themselves immensely, as Mrs White had made everybody’s favourite ‘Garden Party Ice Cream’. Delicious!

Suddenly, disaster struck! Out of nowhere a grizzly bear appeared! Proceeding to kill first, Mr Percy, then Mr Brimble and finally poor Miss Bickford – Smith, in a most ungentlemanly manner! The bear then crawled away in the direction of the school playing fields.

Now, Mrs White, a quick thinking woman, decided that something must be done before anyone else was hurt; so she called the best bear catcher in Britain – why, Hercule Poirot of course!The great man promptly arrived and saw what he had to do. He had to wrestle the bear! It was an epic battle, which seemed to last for many hours. Poirot struggled valiantly until he gained the upper hand. Unfortunately the bear escaped Poirot’s grip, and ran away in a cowardly manner.

Poirot wondered where it would strike next, and who could stop its tyranny…

Recipe to follow soon!

He’s going to be a great writer some day. I know because he said so.

Happy Little Accidents?

Painter Bob Ross, famously said something along the lines of “There are no mistakes, only happy little accidents”. Does this apply to recipe fails, as well as trees? Sometimes. Not always.

The way the macarons turned out was rather dissapointing, especially considering how much time and effort goes into making them. Thankfully in this case there was a soloution. Macarons are made with egg whites, leaving several unused egg yolks. Instead of letting them go to waste, I use them to make ice cream.Well, you can get cookies ‘n’ cream ice cream, so why not macarons ‘n’ cream. After all, they were already broken into handy bite sized pieces. It’s even good enough to re-start Ice Cream of the Month!

So now you know what to do if you make a total pigs ear of your macarons, or if you inexplicably find yourself with a pile of macarons that need using up quickly. I’ve left the ice cream plain, so you could use any flavor of macarons you liked, mine were coffee flavoured.

Macaron Chunk Ice Cream

  • 4 egg yolks
  • 300ml milk
  • 90g sugar
  • 400ml double cream
  • 1 tsp cornflour
  • 150g – 200g crumbled macarons (any flavour)

Put the egg yolks, sugar and cornflour in a bowl and whisk to combine. Heat the milk to boiling point.

Pour the milk onto the egg yolks, whisking the whole time. Pour the mixture back into the saucepan and heat gently, stirring the whole time with a wooden spoon or spatula (the whisk won’t make enough contact with the bottom of the pan, risking a burnt and lumpy custard) until the custard has thickened to the consistency of cream and remove from the heat.

Pour into a large jug and add the double cream. Cool in the fridge. Chill the macaron crumbs in the freezer.

Make the ice cream following the instructions for your machine, adding the macaron crumbs when prompted, or towards the end when the ice cream is nice and thick. If you don’t have an ice cream machine you can pour the custard into  a 1.5 litre tupperware container and put it in the freezer. Every couple of hours, stir with a fork to break up large ice crystals. When it is fairly thick but still stirable, add the macaron crumbs.

Apparently the first macrons were made in Italy rather than France.

Elderberry Icecream

September is a good time to pick a variety of wild foods, blackberries being the most obvious. If you enjoy foraging, it’s worth getting a decent guide book on the subject; make sure it has actual photographs – no matter how pretty hand drawn illustrations may be, in my experience it’s hard to be 100% sure you’re looking at the right thing. Also bear in mind that a lot of wild berries are not edible until cooked. Elderberries for example, if eaten raw, will give you a nasty upset stomach.

So a couple of years ago we went elderberry picking…

“After making the hedgerow liquour and a couple of gallons of elderberry wine (excellent for colds and flu) there were still a fair amount of berries left over. What to do? First thought was a straight up elderberry ice cream, then I worried that the flavour might be either overpowering or lost, having never used them in desserts before. How about a ripple? It turned out be be a fantastic combination of tangy fruit and extra creamy ice cream.

Elderberry Ripple Ice cream

For the ripple:

  • 200ml of elderberry juice
  • juice of half a lemon or lime
  • sugar to taste

I’m afraid I’m not very good at keeping accurate notes when recipe developing and have no idea how many berries it took to get this much juice! Lets say half a standard carrier bag full. Heat them gently in  a saucepan, with the lemon juice, until the juice starts to flow. Simmer gently for 10 mins to get rid of the toxins. Strain the berries out using muslin or a jelly bag and return the juice to the pan. Add sugar to taste, some like it sweet, others may prefer tangy. Stir till the sugar is dissolved.

Allow to cool then pop in the fridge.

For the ice cream:

  • 6 egg yolks
  • 300ml milk
  • 120g sugar
  • 400ml double cream
  • 1 tsp cornflour

Put the egg yolks, sugar and cornflour in a bowl and whisk to combine. Heat the milk to boiling point.

Pour the milk onto the egg yolks, whisking the whole time. Pour the mixture back into the saucepan and heat gently, stirring the whole time with a wooden spoon or spatula (the whisk won’t make enough contact with the bottom of the pan, risking a burnt and lumpy custard) until the custard has thickened to the consistency of cream and remove from the heat.

Pour into a large jug and add the double cream. Cool in the fridge.

Make the ice cream following the instruction for your machine. While it is churning put the elderberry syrup in the freezer, it helps to stop the ice cream melting again when you ripple it.

If you don’t have an ice cream machine you can pour the custard into  a 1.5 litre tupperware container and put it in the freezer. Keep the ripple in the fridge instead of the freezer or it will freeze solid before the icecream is ready. Every couple of hours, stir with a fork to break up large ice crystals. When it is fairly thick but still stirable, add the ripple as below.

When the ice cream is ready and working quickly, spoon blobs of it into a tupperware type container, alternating with spoonfuls of elderberry syrup. Using a palette knife or simliar, ripple the two mixtures together. Don’t overdo it or it will lose the ripple effect!

Freeze for a few hours or overnight, then enjoy!

I was not paid to endorse the Sage ice cream maker, though if they would like to….”

Small scale studies have shown that elderberry extract can lessen the severity and duration of cold and flu symptoms.

It’s Never Too Cold for Ice Cream

While I’m contemplating getting my blogging rear in gear, please enjoy some old favourites.

Hah! I bet you were expecting Christmas flavour ice cream. Tough. Not even the imminent death of Tiny Tim will convince me to join in with the festivities.

Enjoy December’s ice cream of the month: Humbug. A mint flavoured brown sugar ice cream with a caramel ripple.

This time I used a tin of Carnation caramel, but feel free to make your own.

Humbug Ice Cream

  • 300ml milk
  • 4 eggs
  • 100g brown sugar
  • 1 tsp cornflour
  • 2 tsp natural peppermint flavouring
  • 300ml double cream
  • 1 tin of caramel or dulce de leche

Beat the eggs, sugar and cornflour together. Heat the milk to boiling point.

Pour the hot milk onto the eggs, beating the whole time. Pour the mixture back into the pan and over a medium heat, stir with a wooden spoon until the custard is the thickness of single cream.

Pour into a jug and add the peppermint flavour and the cream. Put in the fridge to chill.

Churn according to your machine’s instructions. Layer the ice cream in a tub with the caramel sauce and swirl gently with a knife.

Freeze until firm.

First published Dec 2015

Because it’s actually been snowing lately, I wanted to put a cheesy snow related joke here, but they were all too awful!