Mango Sorbet: the economics of ice-cream making

It is hot, I am extremely saddened, so it is certainly time for summer comfort-food and what is best than ice-creams and sorbets. However shopping for ice-creams can leave "one" even more distressed than when "one" started. So much choice, so much temptation that choosing becomes a complex exercise so I decided to go back to basics, I am going to make mine own frozen dessert and to that effect I borrowed my mum's ice-cream maker and gave it a go.

The ice-cream maker in question dates from my childhood, definitely predating any health and safety regulations. It is brand new (so to speak) as it has been used only a couple of times. It needs to be plugged in, while in the freezer which in practice means that the leads wiggles out of the door and makes it merry way to the wall can imagine that this is not to the liking of everybody in the household.

Moreover, the results were not best, my first attempt: plain vanilla ice-cream came out slightly crystally. For my second attempt, mango sorbet, I used the ice-cream maker mostly to whisk the mixture outside the freezer that was better but after a few days there was a layer of ice on the top which needed to be removed before consumption.

In the meantime, he found the best tip ever: to avoid the crystal effect add a little bit of vodka to the mixture.

Though I am not very good at doing maths, cost-wise: here is a gadget which has survived decades and has been used a maximum of 10 times, in my books that makes it one of the least cost-effective purchases and guess what.... I would bet that if you would use the recipe below the results would be just the same or even better.
Next attempt I'll ditch the ice-cream maker.

Mango Sorbet

  • 4 mangoes peeled and cubed
  • 2 lemon juices
  • 180g caster sugar
  • 180ml water
Dissolve the sugar and bring to boil for 5 minutes
Puree the mangoes and add the lemon juice to the puree
Mix the 2 together, let it cool, whisk
Pour into a container, freeze for 30 minutes and whisk
Repeat the operation twice

Meringues - a Momentous Moment -

I have done a few daring things which if I had thought about them for too long, I would possibly have never dared to undertake: holding one of the world largest python, arm wrestling hotel owners in weird and wonderful places to get a discount on a room but strangely enough when it comes to making meringues, I always recoil, feeling very sheepish.

When I interviewed the cookery writer Jennifer Joyce, she had baked meringues that very morning and she had nicely displayed them on the kitchen counter. They were so inviting that I thought of taking a bite while she was not looking but someone might have noticed.

I always think of meringues as the height of sophistication, you know the kind of desert the accomplished hostess or mum will produce to the delight of the party around the table. In other words, I always thought that this was not for me. Until the other day when I got very cross with life and decided that it was time to get rid of some of my timorousness. And as a consequence, I realised that meringues were dead easy and in my book, not much more complicated that stroking a well fed python.

For that kind of thing, the meringue not the snake, there is only one place to turn to and that is Delia's site. Once you master the technique, a whole world is yours, add Almonds, melted chocolate, orange water, top with berries or anything else you can think of.

My thanks to Anne Mortensen-photographer- for letting me use her meringue picture.

Black Moth : a Vodka With a Je Ne Sais Quoi

The voice that helps me write is stuck in a groove, it keeps repeating as a sing song "I love vodka." But one can't decently start a post with "I love vodka".

The little voice is puzzled "why look further for an opening, you love vodka, it is your drink of choice so why not say so?."
Hmmm indeed, and that would possibly explain the speed I used to send my RSVP when invited to be one of the first to try out a new vodka.
So last Wednesday I attended the elegant launch of Black Moth Truffle Vodka which took place in one of the largest and most remarkable house in London - 33 Portland Place.
Thinking back, I am at stretch to find a beverage more stylish than this fine vodka infused with PĂ©rigord black truffles . The decor for the event was simply amazing, black and silver to match the sleek black vodka bottle and the attention to details was impeccable. Picture this, the first thing on sight was a cocktail bar. It did not take much persuasion for me to try their signature serves, blends of fresh summer fruits, champagne and the star of the show this new truffle vodka.

Drink in hand, the next thing I did was to dig the truffle story a little. Starting point: Dr Paul Thomas, one of the two entrepreneur behind the venture. It was whilst studying for a PhD in plant science that Paul Thomas was introduced to the celebrated truffle, one thing lead to another, he now owns 25 truffle farms most in the UK.

Did you know that 80% of the world's truffle supply comes from plantations.

Next it was time for dinner, but before I get there let me tell you about the vodka itself, produced from grain and made with all natural ingredients the flavour is definitely unique, it is really soft and the delicate truffle taste surprisingly stays with on your taste buds long after the drink has been consumed.
And it can be used in the kitchen too as demonstrated on the evening of the launch with
  • Black moth Lobster Cornish Crab Salad
    Welsh Salt-Marsh Best End of Lamb
  • Black Moth Truffle and Vanilla Panna Cotta, Wild Blackberries and Truffle Sorbet
It was all so delicious that at times it left us speechless which was achievement considering the innate "bubbliness" of the convives.
English Summer Cobbler
A blend of fresh summer fruits, Black Moth truffle vodka and Tio Pepe dry sherry shaken with a squeeze of orange, served over cracked ice

Glass:Large tumbler
40ml Black Moth vodka, 20ml Tio Pepe dry sherry, juice from 2 x orange wedges and 10ml sugar syrup
Lots of summer fruits
Method:Shake all of the ingredients together in the cocktail shaker, serve over cracked ice and garnish with summer fruits

Toad in the Hole

When I first arrived in London my knowledge of English was very poor and I owe a debt of gratitude to Children BBC for teaching me quicker than any Adult Education institute. OK, I had to seat in front of programmes aimed at 5 years old which would have been debilitating in any other circumstances but I was determined.

Besides my linguistic ignorance, I had not much of an idea of what food was like. One evening, he presented me with this weird looking dish and when I inquired to what it was, he said "toad in the hole", "toad?" did I reply but the conversation rolled on and I never got to know exactly what I had eaten.

Until the next day, when duly seated with my nose glued to the TV, learning my words, Mr Toad appeared from the corner of the screen. Needless to say that I jump out of my skin. Yes I know, where I come from we catch, disembody and fry frogs, but toads that was pushing it. I was never put right and for a long time I avoided this traditional English dish, with the only excuse I knew "thank you, but I don't eat toad" which everyone found very funny.

Decades later, perfectly bilingual, I sill had problems with the dish, I presume the story was still impacting somewhere on my mind, but the other day I thought "this is silly, it is very easy to make, I have got the ingredients, lets find a good recipe" which I did. On the BBC Good Food web site (yes, auntie Beeb again) sometimes it is nice to go full circle.
Perfect for a quick evening meal, you should try it and spare of thought for good old "Mr Toad"

100g plain flour
1 egg
300ml equal mixture milk and water

Preheat the oven to fan 200C/conventional 220C/ gas 7. Sift the flour and a make a well in the centre and crack in the egg. Beat lightly,then gradually pour in half the milk and water, beating all the time to form a smooth,thick batter. Continue for 2 minutes,then stir in the remaining liquid. (The batter can be made several hours ahead of time, although contrary to popular opinion it is not improved by standing.)

8 rashers streaky bacon
8 good-quality pork sausages
1 onion , thinly sliced
1 tbsp vegetable oil

Wrap a bacon rasher around each sausage then put them, spaced apart, in a large roasting tin (preferably metal). Scatter over the onion and drizzle with oil. Bake for 15-20 minutes until the bacon and sausages are starting to colour and the onion is tinged brown at the edges.
Remove from the oven and quickly pour the batter over the sausages. Return to the oven for a further 35-40 minutes until the batter is crisp and well risen.

Return to the oven until the batter is crisp and well risen. In the meantime
make the gravy. Heat the vegetable oil in a small pan, add the onion and fry gently for 5 minutes until softened and lightly coloured. Stir in the flour and cook for 1 minute. Add the mustard, Worcestershire or soy sauce and stock and bring to the boil, stirring. Simmer for 15 minutes, then taste and add more salt and pepper if necessary. Serve the toad with cabbage or broccoli and lashings of gravy.

FOR THE GRAVY (sorry no gravy picture, we don't do gravy in this kitchen)
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 onion , thinly sliced
2 tsp plain flour
2 tsp ready-made English mustard
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce or soy sauce
600ml chicken or vegetable stock

Week-End Pictures

I am the lucky girl who went to the Hop Farm Music Festival this week-end. My first ever music festival and it was glorious. The bill was an incredible bill of legendary stars, the weather remained glorious throughout, everybody was in a good mood, it was only 3 days and 2 nights but it was so packed that it felt much longer.

Here is a snippet:

That's me.........just there

Blondie, "still figuring it out" she said but it is more a case of : at 65, she has still got it. I was a bit surprised by the thinness of the crowd.

Van the legend in super form, I think at some point he smiled but may be not 'cause the whole thing was like a dream

Foy Vince in action, he may not have been the best but sure was my favorite
Of course, Dylan was there too but as he had requested no screen close-up with 30 000+ people in the audience and my meter fifty seven and a half, I got no shot and had to be lead out to the edge of the crowd after 1 hour where I could breath.

Churros and proper coffee for breakfast


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