Archive for July, 2006
I am a happy (although busy) man in the Summer. A few days ago, I saw some fresh strawberries at a fruit and veg shop in Killarney, and there were two remarkable things about them – 1. They had an odour, and 2. There was real earth attached to some of them (i.e it was not hydroponically grown). Yes, Irish fruit is back in season, and it’s something to savour!
Then I had to go to Dublin, and I stopped off at Sweetbank Farm in Wicklow. I’ve written about them before, and I highly suggest that anyone in the area go visit. Their fruit is sublime, and they serve it out of a delightful farm shop with fresh cream and a coffee if you want it.
In any case, I bought back trays of fruit for making ice cream, and I took a punnet of strawberries for myself. I had strawberry soup on the brain, and I decided to whip some up.
Fruit soups are rare in these parts, but you’d find them on the continent. It’s a great thing to serve before the main course of a nice meal (instead of a sorbet) – it cleans the palate and is guaranteed to wow the guests!
Chilled Strawberry Soup
500gm Fresh Strawberries
300 ml water, boiling
2 Tablespoon sugar
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons balsamic vineger
Pinch of black pepper.
What to Do:
1. Put the sugar in a blender or food processor, add the boiling water and blend briefly to dissolve.
2. Add the strawberries and puree until smooth.
3. Add the rest of the ingredients, blending briefly to incorporate them.
4. Chill the soup thoroughly.
5. Garnish with yoghurt and a bit of mint and serve!
I’m afraid I was making coffees for most of the day, and hence I feel another coffee rant coming on. I’ll limit it to two points.
1. Even before Starbucks made its inevitable entrance into Ireland, many cafes have tended to look more toward Seattle than Rome for a model. What Starbucks sell, in my opinion, is a feeling of validation about being busy, and that fits in well with the new Ireland. In other words, “I am so busy, I need a coffee THIS big to keep me going.” We’ve recently bowed to customer pressure and increased the size of our take-away cups on our lattes, and sizes seem to be increasing rapidly all around us. The entire definition of a cappuccino or latte is rapidly changing away from the Italian model, and I think that’s a bit of a shame. Is bigger always better? I always liked that little cup at an Italian street-side cafe…
2. Why do people order take-away espressos? I’m happy to serve anything to-go, but where are you going to take 1 oz of espresso? How far are you going to get? Will it not be cold before you get there? Wouldn’t you rather have it in a warmed cup, down it in a few seconds (after all, it is called “Espresso” i.e. “fast”), and be on your way?
Well, things are definitely getting very hectic here at Ice Cream Ireland. On Saturday, the rain poured down and the winds battered us. Still, there were customers enough, although they were a bit wet and bedraggled.
Today, I would have expected it to be quiet, with the Munster final and the world cup final both on. However, we were absolutely clattered, with one of our busiest days ever. I guess tourism is alive and well in West Kerry.
What could I do but push her back out and get back to scooping?
There is a time to debate the name of our town (and it’s clear that the controversy will rage on), and there’s a time for ice cream!
One of my favourite treats in the whole world is the Affogato al Caffe, and I just wish that more people knew about it! After all, it combines two of my favourite things – coffee and chocolate. If I make an affogato with chocolate ice cream, it includes three, although vanilla would be the more popular option…
In any case, the name Affogato means “drowned in coffee,” referring of course to the ice cream, and when I came across it, I thought I was in heaven.
To make it, you simply take a scoop of ice cream (we like to serve it in a small coffee cup) and pour over some espresso (we use a single shot run long, in other words, an espresso lungo). In the shops, we serve the shot of espresso on the side and let the customer do the pouring.
I think I must do more research now, and have another one!
We recently brought in some organic sugar, and we’ve been working with a few varieties of sorbet with all organic ingredients. Several of them turned out very nicely, but the best was the chocolate sorbet. If you’re a chocoholic, the following recipe will give you a chocolate kick that you won’t get with ice cream…
(A little disclaimer – we are not certified organic and don’t claim to be. That’s because although we are committed to organics and buy organic when possible, our priorities are as follows: 1 = taste, 2 = fresh, 3 = local, 4 = organic. In other words, we’d rather use delicious, fresh milk from a local farm than organic milk powder brought in from another country. We can then also push for our local partners to move organic.
We hope that in the future, all four of our priorities will intersect for all of our ingredients!)
Murphys Chocolate Sorbet Recipe
300 gm Organic Sugar
500 ml Boiling Water
What to do:
1. Melt the chocolate in a double boiler.
2. Sift cocoa and sugar together in a heat-proof bowl.
3. Stir in water in small parts until the sugar and cocoa are completely dissolved.
4. Add the water/cocoa/sugar mix to the melted chocolate in small parts, stirring until you have a smooth emulsion. The chocolate will clump at first, but just keep adding the liquid and stirring until it is smooth and glossy.
5. Cool the mix completely.
6. Freeze using a domestic ice cream maker or cover and place in the freezer, stirring every two hours to break up the ice crystals.
Our baker Wiebke is back in Dingle full time and seems to have reached a superwoman stage to her pregnancy. She is churning out her fabulous cakes, such as the strawberry cake above, and they are devoured by happy customers in the shops just about as quickly as we put them out! I will have to see if I can get her to part with some of her recipes and techniques for my readers here, but she is quite secretive…
In other news, I was given a copy of the Guardian over the weekend, and there on the front page was an article about the Cadbury recall due to Salmonella in their product. What amazes me is that I haven’t heard anything about it here in Ireland, although the FSAI does have a mention of it on their site. Maybe I missed it in the mainstream press, but it sure seems a big story. Salmonella is a nasty bug, and the tolerance for it should be zero. (Cadbury claims the amounts were small, but according to the Guardian article, it seems that some people did indeed get sick).
What’s really astonishing is that the company knew about it since January but only disclosed it in June (seemingly after pressure on their lab from the British FSA). There have been more than a million bars recalled, and there are 30 more Cadburys products being tested.
There’s also a bit about it on Candy blog.
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