It would be easy to dismiss my friend Sig’s new book as jumping on the Scandi band wagon, but it’d be completely wrong to do so. Since June 2008 Sig has been sharing the joy’s of Scandinavian cooking via her blog, Scandilicious.

Describing her heritage as Scandinavian-English-American-Irish-German-Jewish-Lithuanian (and born to a Norwegian father and English-American mother) Sig is well known for sharing an eclectic range of recipes with a distinctly Scandinavian theme. Having studied food anthropology, graduated from Leith’s and been one of the students that contributed to Fiona Beckett’s The Ultimate Student Cookbook, she has brought all her experience into her first solo book Scandilicious.

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Wonderfully warm, just like the author in person, Scandilicious is an attractive and engaging book. I particularly like the use of sketched illustrations by artist Liam Wales, though there are plenty of photographs of the finished recipes too. It really has its own style, and is not at all like any of the other Scandinavian cookbooks on my shelf.

There are many tempting recipes such as a range of fruit compotes and jams (to go with home made yoghurt amongst other treats), banana and cinnamon crispbread, raspberry and rhubarb lemonade, vanilla and sour cream waffles, a whole range of open and closed sandwich ideas, spiced blueberry juice, mor monsen (Norwegian lemon, currant and almond cake), kladdkaka (Swedish gooey chocolate cake), mustikkapiirakka (Finnish blueberry tart), Bergen fish chowder, chilled cucumber and borage soup, beetroot and ginger soup, pickled herring, Janssons frestelse (Swedish anchovy and potato gratin), lemon and nutmeg krumkaker (cornets) and lingonberry jelly. And that’s only a selection – there are many, many more appealing recipes!

This banana and cardamom ice cream is very simple but quite delicious.

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Scandilicious’ Banana & Cardamom Ice Cream

Feel free to substitute grated nutmeg or ground cinnamon or clove if you fancy a different flavour combination. If you’re making this for children, you may wish to omit the alcohol.

Serves 4-6

Ingredients
300 ml whipping cream
1 teaspoon freshly ground cardamom
4 small ripe bananas
50 grams fructose (or 75 grams caster sugar), plus more to taste
1 tablespoon rum or brandy
pinch of salt

Note: I had only brown cardamoms, most commonly used for savoury cooking in my house, rather than the smaller green cardamoms used for savoury and sweet. As the recipe didn’t specify, I ground the seeds from within from these enormous pods. It gave a nutty, woody flavour alongside the usual cardamom perfume; it worked really well.

Method

  • Put the cream and the ground cardamom in a small saucepan, bring to a simmer and cook for 1-2 minutes before removing from the heat. Allow to infuse for 30 minutes and cool completely.
  • Once the cream has cooled, blitz the bananas and fructose (or sugar) in a blender or mash together by hand. Add the cardamom-infused cream, alcohol and salt to the sweetened banana and either blitz or mash together, as appropriate. Taste to check the sweetness and add more fructose (or sugar) if necessary – the mixture should be slightly sweeter than you want the final ice cream to be, as it will taste less sweet once frozen.
  • The next step is to freeze the ice cream. I used my loan Gaggia machine, but the recipe also provides instructions for those who don’t have a machine.

The ice cream was delicious and the addition of cardamom and brandy to the banana was wonderful; it worked really well.

With thanks to the publisher for my review copy.


Published by SaltYard, Secrets of Scandinavian Cooking … Scandilicious is currently available on Amazon for £11.61 (RRP £20).

 

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This evening’s beer is from the Windsor & Eton Brewery, another of the ‘new order’ of London breweries. Founded just last year, they have an impressive list of pubs to the south and west of London (and plenty, of course, in Windsor, and Eton) carrying their beer on tap. I’ve had to make do with their bottled offerings, but the beers don’t seem to suffer for that!

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Starting with their Windsor Knot, a 4.5% ale specially created for the Royal Wedding, but happily I’m told they’re still brewing it for cask, and are considering further bottlings. It has a thin but fine bubbled head, and a light amber colour. The nose is sweet, with lots of floral hops. In the mouth, there’s an almost champagne-like mouthfeel with buckets of fine bubbles; a great range of flavours coming from the generous hopping, with both bitterness and a delicious, raw green hop, citrus lime tang. There’s sweetness there, but without much in the way of malt. It’s a well balanced, refreshing summer beer – it’s perhaps telling that the last thing in my tasting notes is “too small!” – coming in a 330ml bottle, unlike the 500ml bottles for the rest of the range.

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Next up is Knight of the Garter, less strong at 3.8%. A paler, golden syrup colour with another fine but shorter lived head. The nose is floral and hoppy again, but more subtle than the Windsor Knot. A nice body in the mouth, hoppy and slightly sweet. A great example of a golden ale, with lingering hoppy bitterness. It’s not normally my style – I like my beer darker – but it goes down nicely on those hot summer evenings.

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For our third beer, we have Guardsman Best Bitter, a traditional best bitter coming in at 4.2%. Another short head, and a copper colour in the glass. A simpler hop nose, without all the citrusy notes of the first two beers, and distinct toasted malt too. Sweeter, with the malt, almost caramel flavours coming through and a more heavy hitting – but still controlled – hop bitterness in evidence. There’s a tang of something else that I can’t quite put my finger on – some sort of spice perhaps? There’s nothing particularly outstanding about this one, but it’s a good, tasty session beer.

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And finally, Conqueror Black IPA at 5.0%. Now, Black IPAs are all the rage these days; every brewery seems to be jumping on the bandwagon. I have to admit to being a bit of a grumpy old man about this, but what exactly does the ‘P’ in IPA stand for? Pale, for heavens’ sake! The idea of a black, pale ale is absurd. Surely we can come up with a better name for it than Black IPA?

Ok, rant over. Despite my issues with the name, I’m forced to admit this is a pretty fantastic beer. A thin head, as black in the glass as the name suggests. A rich, dark wood nose that reminds me of the smell of wooden indian furniture! In the mouth, it’s rich, not quite chocolate, with a deep roasted bitterness without being sickly sweet. There are hints of dark dried fruits, a coffee bitterness in the tail and still those woody hints. Delicious, very, very drinkable and my favourite of the bunch.

Overall, it’s a great collection of seriously tasty beer, and it’s a brewery I shall certainly make an effort to track down on tap.

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Fast growing chain Byron Burgers has gained a loyal following in the 3.5 years since they opened their first branch, me included.

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On a recent visit, we took our friend Gothick, who declared his classic Byron burger the best burger he’d ever had!

Byron’s burgers are mighty fine and certainly blow competitors such as GBK (Gourmet Burger Kitchen) and Ultimate Burger out of the water. And Haché too, for that matter, with their ciabatta bun wrongness.

Burgers are moist and beefy. Accompaniments are simple (no scavenging hunt list of oddities such as peanut butter, onion bhaji, marmalade or pineapple, none of which I ever want to find inside my burger!). And the bun is plain white and doesn’t disintegrate while you eat.

Lastly, those pickled gherkins are just perfect, though I’d prefer them in a sliced format I could have inside my burger, rather than alongside.

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I’m also a big fan of the courgette fries, essentially zucchini fritti just like our local Italian restaurant makes.

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And oh my, there were two very happy smiles about the new craft beer menu featuring a great selection of British and American beers.

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Service was friendly, knowledgable and helpful.

If you’re looking for a decent burger in Central London, I’d certainly recommend looking up your nearest branch of Byron.

Tiny niggle? Please remove one of the banquette tables along the front wall and spread the others out. Legroom at those tables is really tight.

Byron on Urbanspoon

Chime in with your thoughts on what makes the ultimate burger.

 

Fellow chocolate fiend Chloe, The Faerietale Foodie, was unable to make the Gaggia coffee and ice cream event I attended several weeks ago. (A 5pm start for a blogger event does rule out most bloggers, who have full time jobs alongside their food blogs). Initially, she was most disappointed about missing the coffee half of the evening, and the chance to meet and listen to top barista trainer Paul Meikle-Janney. However, when Dom and I shared what a great time we’d had, and were then sent Gaggia ice cream makers to review for the summer, she was visited by the green eyed monster!

Dom and I couldn’t bear to see her cute little pout so we quickly suggested an #icecreamwednesday party for Chloe and a few other friends.

Chloe’s candied bacon, toasted pecans, maple syrup, Southern Comfort and salt ice cream went down a storm and she has kindly agreed to share her recipe on Kavey Eats.

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Handing over to Chloe:


I’ve never made ice cream before. I don’t often buy it either. Not that I don’t like the stuff you understand… more that I don’t have much freezer space and dessert wise, I prefer cake, or chocolate.

But the chance to invent new and exciting flavours was an opportunity not to be missed and you can imagine how all sorts of crazy thoughts went through my brain!

My first premise was that it needed to be something you can’t buy in your local supermarket, and the first ingredient that sprang to mind was bacon. Well, it just had to be done didn’t it? I’d been playing around with bacon for my candied bacon butter recipe and I was pretty sure my fellow #icecreamWednesday guests would create more traditional recipes so my decision was easily made.

I decided to cheat by using double cream and ready made fresh custard instead of making fresh custard on the day. The bacon and pecans I prepared the evening before. I added the maple syrup and salt to taste just before churning the ice cream. At that point, I felt it needed a hint of something extra…. my brain cried bourbon, Kavey produced a bottle of Southern Comfort and it worked!

Chloe’s Candied Bacon, Toasted Pecan, Maple Syrup, Southern Comfort and Salt Ice Cream

For the candied bacon:
Thick cut streaky bacon
Light muscovado sugar
Drizzle of maple syrup

  • Preheat oven to 200 degrees.
  • Lay your bacon rashers on a non stick baking tray and heap the sugar on top of each piece, giving a good drizzle of maple syrup for good measure.
  • Pop into the oven for around 15 minutes, turning the bacon half way and giving a swish around to gather up lots of that syrup.
  • Careful, as this has a tendency to suddenly burn.
  • When it’s beautifully crisp and glossy, let it cool down, then chop into teeny tiny pieces.

For the toasted pecans:
Pecan halves
Softened salted butter

  • Preheat the oven to 200 degrees.
  • Toss your pecans in the softened butter before laying in a single layer on a non stick baking tray.
  • Place in the oven for around 5 minutes to toast but keep an eye on them as they can scald very quickly.

For the Ice Cream:
Double cream
Good quality fresh custard
Candied bacon
Toasted pecans, roughly chopped
Maple syrup
Southern Comfort
Salt

Note: I’m afraid I wasn’t paying too much attention to quantities here as I was caught up the excitement of playing with the shiny new machine, so I added ingredients to look and taste.

  • Add roughly equal parts cream and custard to a bowl and stir until combined then add plenty of maple syrup; I found I had to add a fair amount to get that maple flavour to come through.
  • Chuck in a good couple of handfuls of pecans and the same of the bacon, and then the salt and booze to taste.
  • Pour the mixture into your ice cream maker of choice and leave to churn for around 30 minutes.

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I might be ever so slightly biased… but I was pretty pleased with the result and was thoroughly impressed with the Gaggia machine. Can I have one too please?

 

There’s something deeply satisfying about making a meal of ingredients foraged directly from the earth, not by some faceless stranger who’s sold his lucrative hedgerow hoard to a restaurant chef, but by your own hands.

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Common mallow

Of course, there’s the thrifty delight in a free meal. £3 for a bundle of asparagus or marsh samphire for free? £2.50 for a punnet of raspberries or blackberries for free? A few quid’s worth of leeks or wild garlic for free? £2 for a bag of spinach and rocket leaves or black mustard and sorrel leaves for free? You get the idea!

But it’s more than that, isn’t it?

In today’s society of plastic-wrapped supermarket shopping, there’s a joy in reconnecting with nature as you search, pluck and pick wild food directly from the land.

Of course, across much of Europe and indeed, the rest of the world, wild food is still very much a regular part of the diet and entrenched in traditional food cultures. In my mind’s eye is an image of little old ladies across a hundred different landscapes, carefully guarding and passing on their hard-won knowledge of where to find abundant crops of mushrooms, the juiciest wild fennel, a wide array of herbs, fruits and nuts…

Here in Britain, where is this is the exception not the rule, there’s more than a little romance in that image.

 

Foraging and Cooking

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Caroline and Simon

Simon Day, founder of unearthed, has discovered during his travels around Europe, that many areas still have a thriving wild food culture. Indeed, he has found that many producers of local and regional food specialities, of the type he seeks for unearthed, are very much aware of what the land around them has to offer.

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A few weeks ago, Simon invited a small group of food writers and bloggers to join him on a special foraging and cooking day organised and run by Caroline Davey. Caroline is the founder of the Fat Hen Wild Food Foraging And Cooking School, a few miles from Land’s End in Cornwall.

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When you learn about Caroline’s life, it seems almost inevitable that she should be doing what she does now. Much of Caroline’s childhood was spent living in the Far East, Africa and England; everywhere she made a deep and lasting connection with nature. Whether tramping around in the British countryside picking mushrooms, berries and chestnuts or eating lotus seeds in the early morning mists of Kashmir with Mr Marvellous, the flower seller, Caroline developed a fascination with wildlife and wild food. In addition, her Welsh  mother passed on a love of good food, cooking and entertaining that was very much a part of family life. Studying and qualifying in Zoology and Environmental Impact Assessment lead to a 12 year career as an Ecological Consultant, most of it in Cornwall, where Caroline visited many of the county’s wildest corners to record and document habitats and species. She honed her plant identification skills and developed a deep understanding of natural ecosystems, the impact of farming methods and local wildlife conversation issues. But Caroline felt she needed a more interactive relationship with nature than merely recording and reporting on it. As she taught herself about the plants around us, she wanted to know what they meant to us and how we could best use them. After a year as a freelance forager, during which Caroline became intimately familiar with what could be foraged where and when during the year, she started offering foraging courses a few years ago.

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Our day with Caroline was hugely enjoyable. Waterproof coats and shoes protected us from the rain as we took a walk in the local countryside, learning how to identify a wide range of wild plants and how best to collect them, tasting and collecting as we went. Even in the rain couldn’t dampen our enthusiasm as Caroline brought nature’s larder alive for us.

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We returned back to the warmth of Fat Hen, located in a converted goat barn and the family farm house kitchen.

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There, Caroline and Simon had arranged for local chef and teacher Mark Devonshire to give us a demonstration of how to use the wild food we’d foraged, in conjunction with some delicious unearthed products such as rillettes and chorizo.

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Simon and Mark

Mark spent 17 years working for Rick Stein at The Seafood Restaurant in Padstow, the last 8 of which were as head lecturer at the Padstow Seafood School. These days he teaches at Cornwall College where he shares the joys of food with eager youngsters. His latest class were due to graduate just after we attended the course, and his pride in their success and hope for their future was very clear. We sat around the beautiful big table smelling and tasting the tidbits Mark and Caroline prepared and offered.

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After the cooking class, we enjoyed a delicious meal that made full use of locally foraged ingredients.

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Pork Rillettes with Pickled Rock Samphire Served on Soda Bread Toast

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Ingredients
Pork rillettes
Toasted soda bread
Large handful rock samphire, washed and patted dry
300 ml cider vinegar or white wine vinegar
Pickling Spices
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
1 bay leaf
1 clove garlic
Pinch of chilli flakes
1 teaspoon black peppercorns

Method

  • Heat up the cider vinegar with the pickling spices in a saucepan until boiling, take off the heat, add the rock samphire and transfer to a sterilised glass jar. Seal and leave for at least a month before eating.
  • Serve the pork rillettes on top of soda bread toast with pickled rock samphire laid on top.

 

Rules for Foraging Safely and Responsibly

Caroline was keen to stress to us a number of key rules for foraging, some of which I’ve paraphrased below.

  • Only pick something that you are 100% positive you have identified correctly. As we saw during the day, many plants are easy to confuse and some are deadly. It’s not worth taking chances.
  • Leave enough for the plants to grow back and use a scissor or knife to cut cleanly.
  • Don’t deplete rare species. There are plenty of common plants that grow in abundance.
  • The exception to the above is invasive plants such as three cornered garlic (Allium triquetrum), which originated in the Mediterranean. Three cornered garlic is a different plant to our native wild garlic (Allium ursinum); both can be foraged and used in cooking, but you can also dig up the bulb of the former without worry.
  • Be aware of pollution. Find out if fields have been sprayed, avoid picking along heavily trafficked roads and next to any paths where dogs are commonly walked.
  • Get permission from landowners before foraging on private land.

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Olly Smith is well known as a wine writer and presenter, respected for helping the nation to find and appreciate good wine.

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But he’s also a keen food lover and has written his own cookery book Eat and Drink full of his favourite recipes, with an emphasis on food that great to drink with. The collection is wide-ranging and includes recipes handed down in the family as well as his own creations and adaptations. The writing style is very much like his energetic speaking style and very down to earth. And there’s an endearing ode to Roger Moore than runs throughout the book.

I confess that I do like photographs in cookery books and those are missing here. But it’s an easy read with many appealing recipes including a tangy orange and squidgy almond cake, north sea chicken in a hijack sauce, lavender-studded roasted lamb rump, orange blossom rum babas, great granny Lennard’s crunchie pie and sticky bourbon beef. Do those not sound wonderful?

What drew me to the recipe below is that it starts a lot like my slow cooker chicken, where I cook the whole bird for several hours; the cooking liquid is alternatively water with white wine, or water on its own and I’ll usually throw in onions, carrot and leek peelings, if I have them, and a bay leaf or two. This recipe starts off somewhat similarly but then mixes the wine-poached chicken into a sauce made from the reduced cooking liquid and green grapes.

Jolly Olly’s Chicken Veronique

Serves 4-6

Ingredients
1 kg organic or free range chicken
50 grams butter
1 onions, roughly chopped
100 grams button mushrooms, sliced thinly
500 ml fruity white wine
500 ml chicken stock
300 ml or 1/2 pint double cream
200 grams white grapes, halved
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Note: We discovered as we were about to start cooking, that our mushrooms had gone off, so we omitted them from the recipe. I adore mushrooms, so will make sure I include them next time.

  • Preheat the oven 180 C / 350 F/ Gas 4 and season the chicken with salt and pepper.
  • Heat an ovenproof casserole dish, big enough to fit the chicken snugly, until medium hot. Add the butter and heat until foaming and then add the chicken and seal on each side for 1-1.5 minutes until golden brown. Remove the chicken and set aside.
  • Add the onion to the dish and cook for 5 minutes until softened, then turn the heat up, add the mushrooms and cook for another 2 minutes.
  • Place the chicken back into the pan on top of the vegetables and pour in the white wine. Bring to the boil, then add the chicken stock and return to the boil.
  • Season with salt and pepper, cover and place in the oven for an hour until the chicken is tender and cooked through. Remove the chicken and set aside to cool.
  • Return the dish to the hob and bring to the boil. Add the cream and cook until the whole mixture has reduced by a third. Check the seasoning, add the grapes and then set aside.
  • Strip the chicken of all the meat and shred into 5cm strips (the carcass can be used to make stock). Add the chicken to the sauce and mix well.
  • Place back on the heat until bubbling, check the seasoning once more, then serve with some basmati rice.

No photos, I’m afraid because a) I forgot to take any during the earlier stages and b) the finished dish is definitely not photogenic!

I adapted the recipe to use my slow cooker for the first part, so didn’t pre-soften the onions, nor seal the chicken; since one strips away the skin when taking all the meat off the carcass, I couldn’t see the point in sealing and the onions softened completely during the long period in the slow cooker.

I did use stock, as per Olly’s ingredients, but don’t think that was necessary – I didn’t find the cooking liquid any deeper in flavour than what I’ve always achieved using wine and water only.

Rather than put the cooked bird aside, make the sauce and put it aside, then strip the bird and add back to the sauce and reheat I re-ordered the steps and set the chicken aside only while I transferred the cooking liquid sauce on the heat. I stripped the chicken meat while the sauce was reducing and then, once it was reduced, put the meat straight into it, so the meat quickly reheated in the hot sauce.

We had it with potatoes, which were put on to boil while the sauce was reducing.

Because I switched to using the slow cooker, we probably had a larger volume of liquid to reduce than had we used Olly’s recipe as it’s written so it took a fair old time!

The finished result was delicious!


Olly Smith’s Eat and Drink is currently available from Amazon for £8.84 (RRP £14.99).

 

As I’ve mentioned on a previous #icecreamwednesday, I was recently given a Gaggia ice cream machine to review for a few weeks over summer. One of the things I love about the machine is not needing to freeze a bowl or disk 24-48 hours in advance. I can make ice cream whenever I want as the machine takes only a few minutes to get cold enough, once plugged in and switched on.

I have made custard from scratch (using fresh milk and eggs), and used it as a base for home made ice cream. It’s certainly satisfying and delicious. And I’ve also used fresh, ready made custard from Waitrose’s chiller cabinet, flecked with real vanilla seeds and almost as good as home made.

But I like the idea of store cupboard ice creams that one can make on a whim.

So I decided to experiment and see what I could come up with.

Although purists may turn their nose up at the idea, long life custard makes a decent ice cream with a smooth, silky texture.

And who can resist condensed milk? Mine most commonly goes into coffee (Vietnamese style), which is what inspired the recipe below, but it can also be used as a base for other ice cream flavours. I’ve seen recipes for rich vanilla ice cream based on condensed milk.

Cream mixed with pureed fruit is also a winner; I know fresh cream isn’t a store cupboard ingredient, but we often have some leftover fresh cream in the fridge, after using part of a tub in a savoury recipe. I’ve also tried out a long life cream – sterilised cream does have a certain flavour of its own, so you’ll need to try it to see whether it works for you.

Next time you go shopping, pop some of the ingredients below into your shopping basket and keep them in your cupboard for when you feel that #icecreamwednesday urge!

The recipes below give the amounts I used but are pretty flexible so just use them as a guideline.

Aim for a pre-churned mixture that tastes a touch too sweet, as the sweetness is muted a little once frozen.

Recipes

  • Store Cupboard Vietnamese Coffee Ice Cream Sorbet
  • Store Cupboard Mint Choc Chip Ice Cream
  • Store Cupboard Chocolate Liqueur Ice Cream
  • Store Cupboard Peaches & Cream Ice Cream
  • Store Cupboard Apple Cinnamon Ice Cream

Store Cupboard Vietnamese Coffee Ice Cream Sorbet

Because of the high water content, the texture is half way between an ice cream and a sorbet which I think is very refreshing.

If you want a creamier texture, substitute the 300 ml of coffee for 50-100 ml of strong espresso and skip the milk. Obviously, this will make a smaller amount of ice cream.

Serves 3-4

Ingredients
300 ml strongly brewed coffee
300 grams condensed milk
125 ml full fat milk

Note: I realise fresh milk isn’t a store cupboard ingredient, but figure it’s something most of us have in the fridge most of the time!

  • Mix coffee, condensed milk, milk and vanilla.
  • Leave to cool.

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  • Freeze according to the instructions for your ice cream machine.

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Store Cupboard Mint Choc Chip Ice Cream

Yellow mint ice cream seems a bit strange at first, but ignore the colour and you’ll see it works just fine. Alternatively, add a couple of drops of green food colouring, if you prefer.

Serves 2

Ingredients
250 ml full-fat long-life custard
Approx. 1 teaspoon peppermint essence (give or take half a teaspoon)
Generous handful or two of chocolate chips

I used enormous (milk) Chocolate by Trish chocolate chips. They tasted great but were much too large for this purpose and jammed the blades of the ice cream machine, as they froze to the bottom of the bowl. I would recommend using much smaller chocolate chips or drops instead.

  • Combine the ingredients and freeze according to the instructions for your ice cream machine.

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Store Cupboard Chocolate Liqueur Ice Cream

Serves 2

Ingredients
250 ml full-fat long-life custard
50 ml chocolate cream liqueur (I used the new Thorntons liqueur but you could use any liqueur you like)

Note: I also added mini marshmallows but would not do so again; I didn’t like their pillowy texture within the cold ice cream.

Note: If you don’t have chocolate liqueur, use a blend of chocolate syrup (such as Monin) and a cream liqueur such as Kahlua or Amarula.

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  • Combine the ingredients and freeze according to the instructions for your ice cream machine.

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Store Cupboard Peaches & Cream Ice Cream

Sweet, velvety tinned peaches are perfect in ice cream, though you can use whatever tinned fruit you fancy.

Serves 3-4

Ingredients
Approx. 250-300 ml long life double /extra thick cream (I used a 283 gram tin)
Approx. 400 grams tinned fruit in syrup
Lemon juice to taste, if needs extra sharpness (0ptional)
A generous splash of Amaretto liqueur (optional)

Note: You can substitute fresh cream for the long life cream if you prefer.

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  • Reserve about a quarter of the fruit and put the rest of the tin, including the syrup, into a blender or processor with the cream. Blend to a puree.
  • Add lemon juice to taste, to balance the sweetness with a little acidity or splash in a little Amaretto liqueur.
  • Chop the reserved fruit into small chunks, to give texture to the finished ice cream.

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  • Mix the chopped fruit into the pureed fruit and cream and freeze according to the instructions for your ice cream machine.

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Store Cupboard Apple Cinnamon Ice Cream

Make/ buy a fairly sweet compote, as it will taste less sweet once mixed with the cream.

You can make a compote from any fruit you have lying around, especially if it’s a little bruised and needs to be used up.

Ingredients
Approx. 250 grams apple compote (for home-made, slowly cook peeled and diced apples with sugar)
250 ml double cream
Small pinch powdered cinnamon
1 teaspoon lemon juice (optional)

Note: If you make the apple compote yourself, cool it down thoroughly before making the ice cream.

  • Stir the apple compote into the cream.
  • Freeze according to the instructions for your ice cream machine.

Other ideas

Stem ginger – chopped stem ginger plus syrup from the jar, stirred into custard. Optional: a dash of ginger wine.

Fudge ice cream – crumble tablet or chop soft fudge into small pieces and churn into vanilla custard.

My Christmas Pudding Ice Cream – ready made custard, brandy and leftover Christmas pudding. Could also be made using rich fruit cake.

 

Back in June, Pete, mum and I spent two days exploring the BBC Good Food Show and the BBC Gardeners’ World Live Show at the NEC. Buying a ticket for one automatically gives you entry into the other, which makes it a great value day out as there is plenty to cover in both shows.

I found the food show a little disappointing this year. It seemed smaller than when I visited in June last year, and there were fewer interesting artisanal producers than I remembered.

The gardening show was much more interesting, though it was the outdoor attractions that we enjoyed. Indoors were rows upon rows of stalls, a surprisingly large number of which had nothing to do with gardening (such as ironing boards, fashion clothing, health products, toiletries, paintings and greeting cards).

Outdoors we found many stalls selling garden implements, outdoor furniture, gardening wear, plants, those fantastic shade sails that I dreamed of for our back garden before we scrapped the trendy outdoor room make-over and converted it into a kitchen garden instead. And of course, a selection of show gardens too.

We could also have attended the many talks given by TV gardening personalities and experts, though we didn’t do so well on getting to those.

The best bit for all of us was the RHS Floral Marquee – a cavernous tent with stand after stand after stand of stunning plants. Just as you’d find at the big RHS shows, the stall holders not only displayed their wares but competed on creating the most beautiful displays, competing for the coveted RHS awards.

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Of these, my absolute favourite was the nostalgic wooden greenhouse and shed by Pennard Plants. My photos don’t do it justice, especially the greenhouse, with great planting inside and in borders all around the outside too. The smiling faces of Pennard Plants staff were a welcome sight too!

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Kavey Eats, A London Gardener and Mamta’s Kitchen attended as guests of BBC Haymarket Exhibitions.

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Popping over to the allotment yesterday to show it to a visiting friend, we harvested a small box of fruit and some pretty borage flowers, for use as a salad garnish. (The lettuce is growing in the kitchen garden at home and is very nice indeed now it’s hearting up, meaning lots more crunch).

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Fruit wise, we picked raspberries, tayberries and blackcurrants plus about 5 gooseberries that the birds had failed to spot. That said, we hope that a really rigorous pruning of all the fruiting bushes will result in higher yields next year.

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Very variable weather (from extremely hot to monsoon-like rain) plus a large dose of laziness has meant we’ve been a bit lax. Weeds and tall grasses are rampant, though our own planting continues to fight it’s way through.

Apple and plum trees are heavily laden, so we look forward to a great crop of both.

Potatoes are pushing through the weeds and seem to be doing fine.

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The wheat is growing well, and remains reasonably weed free, surprisingly.

 

I’m afraid I didn’t think much of the BBC Good Food Show (Summer) this year. Compared to last year, there seemed to be far less of the smaller, artisanal producers that I remember coming across last year and less exhibitors over all.

There were, of course, a few stalls that I enjoyed visiting.

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Nougalicious were selling a few different flavours of nougat, imported from France in huge blocks, sold by weight. Mine has mysteriously gone missing since getting home, which makes me very sad. (I can’t blame Pete, he’s not a fan!)

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I first came across Halen Mon salts a couple of years ago, they’re awfully good. The pure sea salt crystals are lovely, but if you’re looking for something different, try the smoked sea salt! It was a pleasure to finally meet the lady behind the salt, Alison Lea-Wilson.

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I’ve already shared my love for Kate’s delicious Gower Cottage Brownies; I often order them to send to friends as thankyous or to cheer them up. She was doing a roaring trade!

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Both the name and the design of the labels for Trees Can’t Dance caught my eye. The sauces we tried didn’t disappoint, though they were all too hot for me, an avowed chilli wuss. They were full of colour and tasted very fresh and flavoursome, according to Pete and Ma.

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I might only have been making jam for two years, but I’ve been enjoying it for much longer. I particularly liked the genuinely home-made taste and texture of Jenny’s Jams, no longer made in Jenny’s domestic kitchen, but made to the exact same recipes as when they were.

Mum and I enjoyed watching latest Masterchef winner Tim Anderson’s cookalong session where he taught some eager show visitors how to make rainbow trout with steamed vegetables, daikon julienne, miso mayonnaise, and a ponzu beurre noisette. It looked delicious!

The biggest sour note for us was trying to find a decent lunch option. The Masterchef restaurant was fully booked far in advance of the day and there weren’t many other eateries that offered any seating. Given how much empty space there was around the edges of the stalls, more seating would not have gone amiss.

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We ended up paying £8 each for an absolutely appalling lunch by Olive magazine at their “deli”. Tiny slices of very cold tart (with not even a hint of the promised caramelised onions in any of our three portions), a bland portion of potato salad, one of the most inedible coleslaws I’ve ever encountered (which is a shame as I adore coleslaw and am not particularly fussy about it). And to finish, a revolting raspberry and white chocolate brownie that looked nothing whatsoever like the pictures in the show brochure. Olive magazine should be ashamed at their efforts; I couldn’t believe how bad this was.

Luckily, the BBC Gardeners’ World Live show made up for the disappointing food show; tickets for one gave free entry to the other, making both shows pretty good value.

Kavey Eats, A London Gardener and Mamta’s Kitchen attended as guests of BBC Haymarket Exhibitions.

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