Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Ice Cream

No one really knows for sure the true origins of ice cream. What we do know for sure is that it has been created as long as people have been able to make ice. In the past this was no easy process, especially in hot Mediterranean countries. Snow from the high mountains had to be collected and packed into deep pits, then covered with straw and sand. The ice that formed then had to be cut into blocks and then carried down to the towns by mule. As you can imagine ice was a costly commodity in days of old.

Being costly to produce, ice cream was only really enjoyed by the wealthy. Then in Victorian times in England, the first ice cream street-vendors used to sell what was called a ‘Penny Lick’. This was a small mouthful of ice cream sold on a small glass cone at the cost of a penny. Unfortunately, because the cone was never cleaned properly, this method of service was soon proven to be a big spreader of tuberculosis and was banned. So they then went on to use a small biscuit, which later on has developed into the ice cream cone we know and love today. The small glass cones can still be found at antique shops and are worth quite a bit to collectors. Over the years, thousands of unique flavours have been developed. One chef in England is serving ‘English Breakfast’ flavoured ice cream. And we’re not talking toast and marmalade – oh no – sausage, bacon and egg!

In Italy it is quite common to have sweet balsamic vinegar with vanilla ice cream. Try it, it’s rather good! The cool thing about ice cream (pardon the pun) is that it is very simple to make and you can use lots of imagination whilst doing so.

Here is a simple idea to make ice lollies. Buy some wooden lollipop sticks and some fruit yoghurts from a supermarket. Pop the sticks into the top of the yoghurts through the lid – without removing it. Freeze overnight and there you go, frozen yoghurt popsicles! Fun for the kids too! Left are two very nice but slightly unusual recipes for sorbet and ice cream. Ice cream machines are not expensive and easy to find, so why not give them a go? There are a couple of different models to choose from. One has a built-in freezer machine and the other one has to be frozen manually before use. All have simple instructions and recipes with them. The advantage of the one with the built-in machine is that you don’t have to wait to make a second batch of ice cream, whereas the other one has to be re-frozen before use.

Avocado Ice Cream 
Serves 4

600ml coconut milk
300ml milk (full fat, semi-
or skimmed)
4 small ripe avocados
8 tablespoons lime juice
10 level tablespoons icing sugar

Gently heat the coconut milk
and milk in a pan;
Transfer to a bowl to cool;
Halve the avocados, peel and
stone them, chop them up a bit
and mix in with the lime juice;
When the coconut milk is cold,
pour into a blender with the
icing sugar, avocados and lime
juice and blend until smooth and
Transfer this to your ice cream
maker and churn for about
20 minutes. Put into a plastic
container and keep it in the
Transfer it to the fridge for about
45 minutes before serving to
allow it to ‘ripen’.

This makes an ideal mid course
when you are serving Asian-
inspired dishes.

Tomato Sorbet
Serves 4

6 medium-ripe
1 tablespoon of
tomato purée
2 egg whites
2 tablespoons chopped
chervil and basil
Salt and pepper

Peel and de-seed
the tomatoes;
Mix in a blender with
the herbs, puree, and
a dash of salt and
Pour into a small
ice cream machine
together with the
lightly beaten egg
Freeze and churn for
about 20 minutes.

This is wonderful served
with freshly baked
cheese straws.

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