Since the sun has generously bathed us with its warm spring rays for almost a week now, I have optimistically shed my coat, donned my sun glasses and begun to fantasies about warm summer afternoons eating ice cream in the garden. In the light of world events it serves as a small and pleasant distraction from the catastrophes unfolding and my heart goes out to anyone with family and friends in Japan and the Middle East. Events on home turf are fairly disturbing too, what with both threatened and real cuts to public services and the NHS, rising fuel prices, unemployment at its highest since 1996, and forced evictions and enforced homelessness of travellers, costing the local council £8 million (at a time of public service cuts). All of this is convincing me to return to my protesting roots and I have joined 38 degrees where I let my own little rant be heard in the form of petition signing!
Anyway back to my ice cream fantasies and two new recipes I came up with recently. The first was a grown up sorbet experiment using a new liqueur called Aeronia made from Aronia (choke) berries. I’m a sucker for unusual liqueurs and I make plenty of my own so I was keen to try this new one out. The Aronia berry, which looks like a cross between a blackcurrant and a sloe, is a native of North America and dubbed by the Daily Mail Online the ‘healthiest fruit in the world’. They are now being grown here in Wales by Hazel and Gwilym Jones and used to create a deep red fruity liqueur which has a taste not dissimilar to Ruby Port, although is sweeter but with a slight dryness on the palate, that you might find in a Sloe gin or in red wine. It’s not sickly sweet so I like to drink it mixed with chopped fruit and lemonade, Pimms style. It makes a refreshing summers day drink but also is very good for macerating red fruit really bringing out the full flavour of the berry.
For this Red fruit and Aeronia sorbet I mixed 350g of frozen mixed red and black fruit (black currants, blackberries, cherries, which is what I had leftover in the freezer, but you could buy a pack from the supermarket if you wanted) with a couple of good glugs of the liqueur (maybe about 150ml) which I left overnight, but you don’t really need to do this. I then added a dessert spoon of lemon juice and about 100g of icing sugar, pureed and then sieved the mixture. I added about 50ml double cream and then turned it into my ice cream machine to churn until it was frozen.
The second recipe came about due to my excessive custard exploits this weekend in practise for BBD filming next week. I needed to have a tinker with my quantities of milk to egg yolks so it has been custard with everything. The kids are now begging for me to ease off so the last lot was used in this recipe for Gooseberry ripple ice cream. I made a vanilla custard (creme anglaise) from 6 egg yolks and 500ml whole milk which I then mixed with 250ml lightly whipped double cream. I then poured this into my ice cream machine and allowed it to churn for about 10 minutes. I then poured in about 200ml of sweetened gooseberry puree (made from gooseberries from my garden. This was the last tub left over from my winter stocks) and allowed it to churn until frozen. It should have a slightly marbled finish, which can also be created just as well without an ice cream machine. Just turn it into a rigid tub and place in the freezer. Take it out ever couple of hours and give it a good stir to disperse any ice crystals until it is frozen.
Ice cream made with cooked ingredients should be eaten within two weeks; but I can’t imagine it will last that long if my kids reaction to it is anything to go by!