Archive for March, 2009
This is a recipe from the book, and it is a flavour we haven’t made for a while. The reason I’m posting it now is that we had a customer asking for it, but it’s one of those flavours that just doesn’t seem to sell in the shop. French people like it, which is why we call it “pistache,” but otherwise it seems to have a very narrow appeal.
I think this is a shame, because pistachios are delicious nut and make a delicious ice cream. My brother Seán is so addicted to them that you can usually find him by the trail of his pistachio shells. In the ice cream, we have added a traditional hint of almond. The recipe calls for pureeing the nuts, and we will leave it up to you how smooth you wish to make it.
PISTACHIO (PISTACHE) ICE CREAM
What to do:
1. Beat the sugar and egg yolks together until thick and pale yellow.
2. Bring the milk to a low simmer.
3. Beat the milk into the eggs and sugar in a slow stream.
4. Pour the mixture back into the pan and place over low heat.
5. Stir continuously until the custard thickens slightly (around 65-70C) and just coats the back of a spoon. Don’t over-heat, though, because at around 76C you will scramble the eggs!
6. Immediately remove from the heat.
7. Allow to cool.
8. Put the pistachios in a blender or food processor, adding just enough of the custard to help it mix. Blend until smooth.
9. Whip the cream until it has doubled in volume (you should have soft peaks – don’t over-whip).
10. Fold (gently stir) in the rest of the custard (without the nuts).
11. Add the almond essence.
12. Freeze using a domestic ice cream machine, or cover and place in the freezer, adding the pistachio puree when it is somewhat solid.
13. If you’re using a domestic ice cream machine, transfer to a freezer-proof covered container when the ice cream has achieved a semi-solid consistency (around 15 minutes). Place it in the freezer, and continue to freeze until it is solid.
1. Make sure your pistachios are good and crunchy. If not, you can always put them in the oven at around 100C for twenty minutes or so, but keep an eye on them that they do not burn!
2. You don’t have to blend the pistachios until smooth if you like the crunch. Just pulse the blender a few times to break up the nuts a bit.
3. To pasteurise the eggs, heat the custard to 73C and maintain that temperature for at least 5 minutes. Use a cooking thermometer, though, and keep stirring! If the custard goes any higher than 76C, the eggs will scramble. Immediately cover and place in the freezer until cool.
There’s been so much talk in Ireland recently about prices and about cutting back – companies cutting their cost base and consumers reducing their spend. While this is natural in a recession, and while both consumers and companies have to adjust their outlays to match their means, it doesn’t mean that everything has to be cheap or that it needs to come from abroad, where cost are much lower. There are cheap alternatives out there, and the number of them will no doubt increase as people look for bargains. However, there is still a very human need to treat ourselves from time to time.
That’s, I think, where the small Irish food producer comes in. There are Irish food products that, in my opinion, stand up to any around the world. These products, including cheeses, chocolates, speciality meats, and fish can provide that treat, not only here but abroad, and I am hoping the companies making them will do well even as the economy contracts. My brother and I lived through a recession in the US, and it was generally companies positioned at the top and bottom of the scale that survived while those in the middle suffered. Discounters flourished, but so did small, high quality artisan food producers.
One of the benefits to the small producers doing well was that they were more likely to buy locally produced ingredients, supporting their local economies and building a web of excellent ingredients and products. We live on a small island, and we are well suited to do the same, but the choices we make will be critical. Not only do I believe that we should be pushing harder to improve both the quality and appreciation of Irish foods, but we need to be building that web by connecting food suppliers and producers and doing more to support each other. For ourselves, for example, choices like buying Kerry Cow milk from Colm (photo above), stocking top quality Irish chocolates, and insisting on local free range eggs will make a difference. Such choices benefit both the Irish economy and the options available to ourselves as consumers.
There is no question that as a country we will have to find savings where possible, and that there will be less money to spend. By spending it wisely, however, we can support those Irish food producers we think deserve it, build toward a quality future, and ensure Ireland is synonymous with food excellence.
I feel a bit like the character Vianne from the movie Chocolat, since I’ve been writing so much about chocolate during Lent (she opens her shop in the middle of it). Apologies, to anyone who has given it up, but it’s what I’m working on at the moment!
Here are a few options:
1. The easiest way is to chop one of your favourite chocolate bars into pieces sized to suit your tastes.
2. A second way, if you like finer pieces is to take a chocolate bar and use a vegetable peeler or grater to create chocolate shards.
3. What I’ve been doing recently (photos), is to take some tempered chocolate, spread a thin layer on baking parchment, and then cut it into chunks. It seems to work quite well as long as you cut the chocolate as soon as it has set, but before it hardens fully. After you’ve cut it, let it harden fully, then remove from the parchment.
Note: If you find the chocolate too brittle in the ice cream, you can either use a chocolate with more fat (more toward milk and less toward dark) or add a bit of grape seed oil (5% or so of volume) while you are melting it.
Here’s a little tidbit for chocolate lovers – Benoit Lorge, of Lorge Chocolates is offering the following courses in April and May:
Beginner’s Workshop, Saturday 25th of April – Accessible to everyone. Cost: 130 euros, including lunch.
Advanced Chocolate Course, Saturday and Sunday, 9th and 10th of May – for chocolatiers, chefs or pastry chefs. Cost of the 2 days: 290 euros, including lunch.
He also has Kiddy’s Chocolate Workshops, for children ages between 6 to 12 years old. Cost : 12 euros.
Email for more information.
Here’s a little treat I made to give out to mothers in our shops on this Mother’s Day. If you want to make them, here’s what I did:
- I used a spatula to spread a thin layer of dark tempered chocolate on a sheet of baking parchment.
- As soon as the chocolate hardened, I used a heart-shaped cookie cutter to cut the chocolate hearts. (Work quickly before the chocolate becomes brittle).
- I let the chocolate harden completely, then removed all the chocolate around the hearts.
- Finally, I drizzled the chocolate hearts with white chocolate.
Hopefully we’ll make some mothers happy today!
For anyone up early and wanting to listen in, I’ll be on Radio Kerry this morning at 9:00 talking about Spring, ice cream, and the US as part of a panel.
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