Archive for February, 2006
A couple of years ago, I traveled across the South of France with a friend, eating our way from town to town. It was May, the weather was perfect, and the eating was mostly very good. The taste that really stayed with me after the trip, was a pot of honey infused with lavender that I bought at a food market in San Rémy.
It’s a funny thing, sometimes I think that we are fools here to work so carefully with ingredients and process. Most ice cream makers would buy their mix and flavours in big tubs from companies such as Pregel and Fabbri. They are the smart businesspeople, and I really mean that. If you want to make money with an ice cream shop and want to make your own ice cream without too much bother, that is how you do it. You save a fortune on labour and ingredients, and a good percentage of customers aren’t too bothered.
Still, I suppose the world needs a few fools, and I can’t get past the taste thing. Fresh ingredients just taste better, and besides it’s much more fun to play. For example, I’ve never seen Lavender and honey ice cream from a mix company! So last year, I put my mind to making it, and I think it’s a wonderful flavour. Recently I was asked for the recipe, so I’ve modified it for home use.
Here it is, if you want to try it. Chances are your kids (if you have any) will hate it, so you can eat it all yourself. Let me know how you get on.
By the way, this may sound strange, but it’s a great partner to chocolate cake!
Murphy’s Honey Lavender Cream
1 Cup (237ml) Sugar
5 Egg Yolks
1 1/8 Cups (266ml) Cream
1 1/8 Cups(266ml) Milk
2 Tablespoons Lavender Flowers
2 Cups (475ml) Water
3 tablespoons liquid honey
1. Cook the lavender flowers in the water over low heat until the water has reduced to 1/10th of the volume.
2. Remove from the heat and strain. Stir in the honey.
3. Beat the sugar and egg yolks together until thick and pale yellow.
5. Beat the milk into the eggs and sugar in a slow stream.
6. Pour the mixture back into pan and place over low heat. Stir until the custard thickens (around 70C). Use a thermometer, as at 75C the eggs will scramble!
7. Allow the custard to cool.
8. Mix in the lavender and honey.
9. Whip the cream.
10. Gently fold in the custard.
Yield: 6 Servings
1. I suggest you use a simple, liquid honey. Darker or more complex honeys will have a very strong flavour, so in that case use less!
2. Lavender flowers should be available at your local health food shop.
Technorati tags: lavender, honey, flower, ice cream, recipe
Still on the subject of chocolate, I received a sample yesterday of Valrhona crunchy chocolate pieces from our supplier Odaios (see left). It surely is a wonderful thing to be in this business and get such presents! I’m practically sick from them; they are so good, and the sample size is so large! If there are any left on Tuesday, they will make a great addition to a batch of ice cream.
The factory was also brightened by the lovely Clodagh McKenna and Aoife, the producer for the excellent RTE radio show Winter Food. They recorded us and various factory noises. We should be on next Saturday’s show so listen in if you can.
Clodagh wanted a recipe for ice cream. I was thinking of white chocolate and rose water. I guess I can’t get chocolate off my mind!
Since I can’t, I might as well mention that my friend Conor brought back chocolate covered espresso beans from Caffe Sant’Eustachio in Rome, who make some of the best coffee in the world. As I munch away I think that it’s a pity he couldn’t bring back a cappuccino to go with them! Happily the Dingle shop will be open on Wednesday, and I’ll be back in the coffee again.
As we’re on that subject, I have been trying to do something with the interior courtyard in the shop. We inherited a half-plastered wall and have left it that way for the last six years. Finally I’ve decided to tackle it and tried painting it with a wash of our blue. It’s a bit electric, though. I don’t know what I think! I should be in there today painting away and getting ready for the opening, but I’m feeling lazy and besides we’ve given over the shop to the West Kerry Mental Health Assn for the weekend so they could raise some money by selling books.
Finally, this whole blogging thing is still quite new to me, but it’s quite exciting to see what’s out there, and what they are writing about. conoroneill is an interesting gourmet site, and I just did a search to see who’s writing about our company, and he was one of them! Sometimes one can feel a bit isolated as a foody in a rural part of Ireland (mind you, Dingle has its fair share), and this should help!
We have been spending a lot of time these days talking about chocolate, and being chocoholics there are worse conversations to have!
Over the last six years, we have had an on-going discussion about Valrhona vs. Callebaut. We originally used the Callebaut for everything, then switched to Valrhona two years ago. The difference in taste is immense – the Callebaut is deep and rich, the Valrhona is clean and simple on the palate. Valrhona is a much smaller company, and they have a top reputation among the gourmet community. In terms of eating chocolate, we wouldn’t touch another. But things get complicated with ice cream. Often “cruder” flavours taste better when they are combined with the ice cream mix…
In any case, we did a test for chocolate sauce using both, and liked the Valrhona better on its own, but the Callebaut better when served over vanilla ice cream.
If you want to try our recipe, here it is:
Murphys Ice Cream Chocolate Sauce
- 150 gm chocolate (Valrhona Araguani or Callebaut 72% is what we used. If you can’t find either, just use a very good quality bittersweet chocolate. Note that it will only taste as good as the quality of chocolate you use!)
- 75 ml cream (42% fat)
20 gm cocoa (We use Green and Black Organic)
175 ml milk
75 gm sugar
- Melt the chocolate in a double boiler to between 34 and 45C (you can use a mixer bowl in larger pot with water in it)
- Mix together the sugar and cocoa.
- Put in a pan with the milk and warm to about 45C until dissolved.
- Add the milk mixture to the melted chocolate in small parts, mixing in between until it’s incorporated. Keep this up until you have a smooth emulsion. (The chocolate will clump at first and look dreadful, but don’t worry, trust the process!)
- Add the cream.
Technorati tags: chocolate sauce, cocoa, chocolate, ice cream, recipeÂ
I am now back in Ireland and back to work. The cold shouldn’t be such a shock, but it is!
I made ice cream over the last two days, including most of our usual flavours, but the interesting thing is that I retrieved something special from the freezer. In Wicklow, there is a farm called “Sweetbank Farm,” and they grow some of the most amazing fruit. They have a farm shop and are definitely worth a visit during the season.
Last summer, they gave us a good amount or raspberries, tayberries, and other delectables and delighted many customers.
We also froze some raspberries, and I dug them out to make some ice cream, thinking that there is nothing better in the cold of February than a taste of summer. So I made two batches, one simply with raspberries, the other with raspberries and dark chocolate shavings.
Putting fruit in ice cream can be tricky as the water in the fruit turns to ice, making it quite unpleasant. There are two tricks – alcohol and sugar. Soaking fruit in alcohol (rum raisin is an obvious example) keeps the fruit soft in ice cream. Soaking or cooking it in sugar also does the trick.
Since the raspberries were off the farm, I decided cooking was the best route, as it also pasteurises away any bacteria that might be lurking. I used about 10% sugar to volume, added about 5% lemon juice, cooked to a boil (see above), and then cooled immediately. If you try this, don’t cook it for long, or the fruit will lose all its fresh taste and will taste like jam!
Anyway, the result was very tasty indeed, and we’ll see what our customers say when it hits the shops!
In Tafraoute, the landscape is miraculous with strange rock formations like pink Henry Moore sculptures and a swathes of yellow flowers that turn dazzling in the sun. The almond trees were in blossom – ghostly white, and snow capped the mountain tops. Tafraoute has fewer tourists than it should, and it certainly was a highlight of the trip.
The breads in general were excellent, the best we have tasted so far, as were the breakfast pancakes called Beghrir. Both are made with semolina and maybe its the water there or the mountains – in any case how simple and wonderful. The pancakes in the morning served with honey and accompanied by a cafe au lait, the bread after a hike in the hills…
I will post a recipe when I get home and try it out myself. I bought a Moroccan dessert cookbook in French and so it will take a little work!
I am back at the coast now and the sunset was glorious. Two weeks is not a lot to spend in this country. I recommend it very highly, and it was a bargain (379 euro including flights from Shannon and accomodation in Agadir though Sunway, which is so cheap that you don’t hesitate skipping out of town and making your own way around).
I will miss Morocco!
There is a such romance about the Djemaa el Fna , with the exotic expectation of the snake charmers and fire-breathers that the reality leaves one a little disappointed. The cobras seem small and doped up – the charmers have to flick at them to get them to stand up. As for the stalls, there is little that we haven’t seen in other towns around Morocco, although the spices are better displayed!
Still, there is a great pleasure in looking at the bustle of it all – the seething crowds, the darting mopeds, and hearing the clamour of the music and storytellers, especially when drinking deliciously cold, fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice and munching on dates…
Mind you, a much better way to spend time in Marrakech is to sneak away to the Jardin Majorelle and spend some time among the plants and beautiful colours. (You could even bring along the dates!)
Â In Essaouira, there is a fish market and you can choose the fish you want to eat and they grill it for you on the spot. We chose sea bass, and a massive fish it was too. They patted it down with spices and the skin was crispy and the inside perfectly moist. What a great place for a meal, under the ramparts, watching the town go by and the sea gulls trying to steal a snack of prawns…
On the down side, the gelateria on the square proudly displayed Fabbri (pre-manufactured mix and flavouring company) labels, when you would think they would be ashamed. How sad it is to go into an ice cream shop in such a far-flung place and see the generic ice cream.
It really seems that ice cream is a dying art as more and more places go for the easy option… Even on our recent trip across the North of Italy, the shops that made their own ice cream from scratch were tiny minority…
The mountains around Agadir are beautiful. It is certainly worth renting a car in Agadir and getting out of town. It is easy to drive in Morocco, and for the most part the roads are deserted once you get out of the cities. The best part of the trip for me was in these areas – from the mountains to the edge of the Sahara – the people are wonderful and the scenery is breathtaking. Also, the food is very good though quite simple.
One thing these parts are known for is honey. The most exotic comes from the pollen of the Argan tree – better known for its nuts that are made into oil for cooking and cosmetic use. The strangest thing is that the process of extracting the oil involves goats climbing the trees, chewing the fruit and leaving the seed on the ground for easy collection.
But I digress, for the goats have nothing to do with the honey, and the honey is excellent. You can buy it on the side of the road, and it is amber in colour and has a caramel taste that is like no other honey I have tried.
An especially tasty option is Amalou (sometimes spelled “Amlou”) – a mixture of honey with almonds and argan oil. I think it would be a great companion to crepes…
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