Strawberry, Chocolate & Pistachio Ice Cream Bars

strawberry ice cream

Smooth strawberry ice cream encased in dark chocolate & toasted pistachios

While I’ve not quite reached the age where I’m ready for children, I often wonder what it will be like to have them around: how I’ll bring them up, how their personalities will develop and, importantly, what I’ll feed them.

I want my children to understand where food comes from, how important it is, to realise that meat doesn’t just arrive pre-packaged and devoid of all fat and sinew and that the investment of just an hour or so a week can produce better bread than you could ever buy pre-sliced and stacked sky high on the supermarket shelves. Continue reading

Caramelized Brown Bread & Pecan Ice Cream

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Smooth, creamy custard swirled with crunchy nuggets of brown bread

Fact: Britains throw away over four million tons of edible food every year.

Do you know what’s number one on the list of wasted products? Bread. Approximately one third of this beautiful crunchy-crusted, tender-crumbed, breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner staple purchased is binned by households on an annual basis, at a cost to the country of over a billion pounds.

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Hazelnut Praline Ice Cream

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Soft, smooth ice cream, sweet, crunchy praline & a mellow hint of frangelico

The first time I ate ice cream with alcohol in, it made me cry.

I was on holiday with my family in Italy, a much littler loaf than I am now, and we’d just emerged from eating lunch at our favourite local pizzeria. The kind of pizzeria with no pretensions, just incredible dough rolled paper thin, rich red tomato sauce spread over the top and milky mozzarella dotted between volcanic blisters of risen crust. By all accounts we should have been full, but anyone with even the slightest sweet tooth will understand that there’s full, and then there’s the pudding stomach.

Normally we’d have jumped in the car and headed up into the walled town to get a cone of homemade ice cream from one of the local bars, but for some reason or other we had to get on the road. If memory serves me correctly it was raining, so my Dad hot footed it into the next door café to grab a couple of cornettos for my brother and I to eat in the car 0n our way to wherever we were going. Continue reading

Tea & Biscuit Ice Cream with a Salty Caramel Swirl

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Tea & biscuits . . .but not as you know them

What could be more British than a cup of tea and a biscuit?

Whether it’s the start to the day, a mid-morning pick-me-up, something to tide you through the afternoon, or anything in between, these perfect partners in crime are a way of life for us Brits. Had an accident? A strong cup of tea will sort you out. Need to talk? What better place to do it than over a brew and a plate of biscuits? Any excuse to wheel them out and we’re there, plying people with chocolate digestives and different types of tea, the perfect social crutch and an important part of pretty much most of the population’s daily routine. Continue reading

Rhubarb & Blood Orange Ice Cream Melting Hearts

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Sweet, sharp rhubarb & orange ice compote stirred through a cool, creamy custard 

One of the books I’ll turn to time and again when in need of some recipe inspiration is A Year in My Kitchen by Skye Gingell. Inspired by the seasons and full of interesting yet accessible flavour combinations, it manages to be both sumptuous and simple at the same time, and with dozens of beautiful recipes based on a ‘tool box’ of core basics – stocks, spice mixes, flavoured oils, custards etc – it’s something I can’t imagine ever getting bored of. Skye’s enthusiasm for food and avoidance of any overtly cheffy pretension are what really make this book, and my regular use of it is evident in the well-thumbed, slightly spattered pages and rapidly weakening spine.

Surprising, then, that until last weekend I’d not made a single dessert from this book. Looking at my blog you’d likely assume that something sweet would be the first thing I’d want to road test, and while this is often the case – my natural inclination is to scour the index of a new book for sections on sweets and baking – with A Year in My Kitchen I just haven’t felt the inclination. Perhaps it’s the fruity nature of the desserts on offer – I have a somewhat unhealthy in-built radar for anything of a chocolate, caramel or sticky-sweet persuasion – but it could well be that the other recipes have been simply too distractingly good to allow me time to pause and consider pudding. Continue reading

Gingerbread & White Chocolate Ice Cream Sandwiches

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Golden spiced gingerbread & rich, smooth ice cream

As resident little loaf in this household, I’m understandably pretty partial to anything with the word ‘sandwich’ in the title. Any excuse to enjoy bread is always welcome, and there’s such certain comfort in something delicious sandwiched between two slices of thick-cut homemade bread.

After getting an ice cream maker for my birthday this summer, I began experimenting with numerous flavour and texture combinations, accompanied by my trusty ice cream bible, The Perfect Scoop. Following in quick succession came a trip to Sicily with a group of girlfriends at the end of August, where I strolled the streets looking for the best gelato available, feeling like a kid in a candy store when presented with such choice and quality. Continue reading

Salted Caramel Ice Cream Rolo Cups

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Chewy caramel & creamy chocolate – a treat to fall in love with

Do you love anyone enough to give them your last Rolo?

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There are last Rolos, and there are last salted caramel ice cream Rolos…

So much food is sold on sentiment. Browse through any given sample of blogs, cookbooks and recipe columns and you’ll find stories steeped in nostalgia; the memories created by cooking, the promise of unforgettable experiences, the joy individual ingredients can bring. Continue reading

Salty Snickers ice cream bars

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Sweet, salty and scrumptious – homemade Snickers ice cream bars

For some reason, people are always incredibly impressed when you present them with home made ice cream. I’ve found the same with bread, and think perhaps it’s the fact that both are such readily available convenience foods that inspires such enthusiasm and awe in guests when you bother to produce them yourself.

Anyone who owns an ice cream maker will know that this is not a complicated process. We’re no longer required to fetch snow down from the mountains or patiently shave away at blocks of ice as our ancestors once did. The ability to make a basic custard is useful, but not an absolute necessity – as shown by the simple ‘Philadelphia-style’ recipe below – and then it’s just a question of mixing and matching flavours to your taste. Nonetheless, there is still something very magical about ice cream, the way it undergoes a texture transformation as it freezes, turning a nondescript liquid into a cool, creamy, velvety delight which melts in your mouth. Continue reading

Chocolate sorbet & Honey sesame brittle ice cream

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Creamy chocolate sorbet & wholesome honey sesame ice cream

For me, cooking for others is all about the joy of shared experience. It’s family sitting round a big kitchen table and breaking bread, friends catching up over long boozy dinners, the look on people’s faces when you emerge from the kitchen – whether carrying an incredible confection or a simple supper – and the satisfaction of introducing your loved ones to favourite recipes or brand new flavours.

Cooking for others can also be tricky; there are different tastes to consider, different appetites to allow for, and in some cases, diet restrictions to bear in mind. Heading round my parents for dinner recently, I knew I wanted to make something using the ice cream maker they’d given me for my birthday, but was confronted by a few constraints. My Dad, as per your (larger than) average middle-aged man, is on a semi-permanent diet to keep his heart in healthy shape, and my Mum doesn’t have a hugely sweet tooth.

Luckily I’ve not yet inherited either of these troublesome traits, but I wanted to create an ice cream (or two) which they would both enjoy. After a few hours trawling through recipe books and tinkering with ingredients, these two flavours are the result. Continue reading

Butterscotch Pecan Ice Cream Tartufi

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Creamy butterscotch pecan ice cream in a smooth chocolate shell

Cooking, for me, is all about memories; indulging in old ones and creating new ones. Looking back over previous posts, you’ll notice that the vast majority include the lines ‘When I was little’ or ‘I’ve always wanted to recreate’, and I think this sentiment is somewhat universal. Much of our lives can be measured in the edible; from celebratory meals and birthday cakes, to the comforting smell of a Sunday roast, the zing of an exotic new spice or a single taste which transports you instantly to a certain time or place.

When I was given an ice cream maker for my birthday, there were certain flavours I knew I had to make. Rich chocolate and vanilla – my all-time favourite childhood combination – velvet smooth and dripping from a giant cone; milky straciatella, packed with fragile shards of bittersweet chocolate; nutty gianduja, a slightly more sophisticated take on Nutella, and mint choc chip – for me the flavour of France – piled high in a sundae glass and topped with delicate clouds of crème chantilly. Continue reading