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Lake Garda

So we’re back home again – happy, rested and, of course, extremely well fed after two weeks in Italy! (One week in Rome and one near to Lake Garda.)

But I didn’t forget my promise to Mooch that I’d take a few photos along the way…

gelati

Icecream from Rome 🙂 Knock-out melon and chocolate-orange flavours from Crema & Cioccolato in the Jewish Quarter, modelled by the always-patient Mr B.

Patient, that is, right up to the point he started getting icecream all over his jeans.

More icecream – from the San Crispino Gelaterie, near the Trevi Fountain. Top to bottom: banana, lemon, caramel and hazlenut flavours…

more icecream - from San Crispino

Er, even more icecream – from La Dolce Vita in Malcesine, Lake Garda:
 
Icecream from Malcesine

Just for the Caked Crusader, a midnight feast of pastries from Trastevere:

Pastries from Trastevere

And some mini doughnuts filled with apricot jam, from Riva:

apricot doughnuts from Riva

Last, but very definitely not least, foccacia topped with onions, from the same bakery in Riva. My favourite food from the trip and something I’m going to have to play around with in my kitchen very, very soon…

foccacia topped with onions

Now, off to find out what the rest of the blogosphere has been up to whilst I’ve been away. Something about a referendum?

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Scooting off to spend the weekend with the in-laws. Will be back home on Sunday with big plans to have an afternoon of making icecream – namely banana with chocolate shavings and orange jaffa. Oh yes, it’s a date with destiny… Besides, we’re running low on our stock of icecream and that always makes us a little panicky 😉   

Have a good weekend everyone!

Just the sheer number of cinnamon-spiked dishes I’ve posted on this blog probably speaks volumes about how much I love this spice. I will happily make any recipe in which it is the main star or I will sneak in a little extra if it’s only meant to have a supporting role. In short, I am a cinnamon fiend.

So when Kieran of Murphy’s Icecream put out the call the other week for recipe testers for his upcoming book, well… it was a shoe-in which one I would go for. Cinnamon icecream – oh wow.

Now, I’ve got to admit, this was a leetle bit of a selfish choice on my part – Mr. B likes cinnamon, he thinks it’s, you know, ok and all that. But it’s not his favourite. So back I went to Kieran’s recipe list to search for something that would preserve marital peace and harmony. And there it was – hot fudge sauce. Mr. B likes to consider himself something of an afficianado when it comes to icecream extras – he has his own special recipe for chocolate sauce, along with the sweetest tooth of anyone I know, so Kieran’s recipe would be judged against stringent standards.

The icecream turned out like a dream, as the warm spice of the cinnamon partnered well with the creamy custard base – a real taste of Christmas (you know, when you’re still far enough away from Christmas that it still seems exciting). And I have confirmation of that from people who aren’t as enamoured of cinnamon as I am – we polished the whole lot off for dessert one evening when we had friends round for dinner, along with this scrumptious apple tart from Smitten Kitchen. Unfortunately, there is no picture of this happy event as I’m still a bit shy about taking food pictures when other people are around. I’ve got to get over that.

But did the hot fudge sauce meet Mr B’s exacting expectations?

And how. He was seriously considering drinking the lot straight from the jug at one point. I think I mentioned that he has a seriously sweet tooth 🙂 In the end, he showed admirable restraint by simply drowning his icecream in the molten, fudgy gorgeousness.

I’d love to tell you that I’ve deliberately shot a soft-focus pic here but the truth is I think I screwed up my camera the other day when I leaned in to closely to snap some soup and a bit of steam got into the lens. Now everything looks like I’m applying for a job with the M&S advertising team. For mouthwatering pics of icecream, hot fudge sauce and many other wonderful things (along with the recipes, of course) I’d recommend a trip to Icecream Ireland.

Good luck with the book, Kieran. It’s certainly been fun testing the recipes!

Mr B. has run away to Kerry for work purposes and he’s taken the camera with him 😦 Nevermind, he’ll be back tomorrow.

In the meantime, this has given me the perfect excuse to go trawling through my photo archive, weed out the rubbish (of which there is a lot) and see if there’s anything interesting and food-related to post here.

Icecream on a sunny May day at the Edinburgh farmers market seems to fit the bill. More specifically, low-fat, no-sugar, vegan strawberry icecream,* which was absolutely delicious. And I wasn’t the only one who thought so – the stall selling it ran out by mid-morning.

This was a treat that sparkled with flavour on the tongue. It performed that wonderful trick of tasting more like strawberries than the real thing. Sunshine somehow captured in a cone. A real pleasure to be lingered over on a warm day, while taking in the view of the Castle – I don’t know of too many other farmers markets with such an amazing backdrop. (Although I’d love to put that to the test by visiting all the markets in the world, just to make a fair comparison, of course…)As for the icecream makers, they were local farmers who had come up with an ingenious solution to their strawberry glut (rather than just going the usual jam-making route), so it could have been just a one-off thing for them to pitch up on that particular Saturday. I don’t know if they ever came back as I moved to Ireland not long after taking these photos. But I truly hope so.

*Being an inquisitive/nosy person by nature, I asked what went into the icecream. I was expecting to hear that there was at least some soya milk or cream, because the resulting flavour and texture was so creamy. The answer turned out to be just water and incredibly ripe strawberries (hence the need to make something with then before they turned bad). Who’d have thunk it?

Copy of The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz, the god of all frozen desserts and loved by food bloggers everywhere? Check. All the ingredients assembled and ready? Check. Icecream maker chilling nicely in the freezer, ready to receive said ingredients and churn them into icy deliciousness? Check.

Right, where’s the icecream scoop?

Ah…

I’m not sure why but it’s just about the one piece of kitchen equipment I don’t have. So there aren’t any ‘perfect scoop’-type pictures on this post (not that I could set one up anyway)*, just a snap of a plastic tub containing pink gloop. You’ll just have to trust me when I say it’s frozen strawberry yogurt. And yes, that’s some real sunshine lighting it up. Hurray!

The strawberries are Irish (or should that be ‘were Irish’ now they’re part of the dessert?), which meant I didn’t feel too bad about buying them in September because they hadn’t travelled very far. And I used organic, whole milk yogurt from Glenisk Dairy, also Irish, which has an excellent creamy consistency and flavour. Altogether an Irish affair. Except for the recipe, which was written by an American living in Paris (I’m jealous!).

Anyway, this recipe got the big thumbs up from Mr. B, the official keeper of the sweet tooth in this house and I loved it too. Sweetness from the strawberries offset by a slightly sharp tang from the yogurt. Mmmmm. What’s not to like? And you can pretend it’s marginally healthy too if you make-believe that the sugar isn’t there.

I’ve already made the roasted banana icecream from David’s book (another thumbs up from both of us) and the next one on my hit list, prompted by Clotilde, here, will be the chocolate sorbet. Although I’m also looking forward to trying out some of the more unusual flavours like goat cheese, basil, or parsley. There’s even one made with Guinness. All very intriguing and probably a bit of a challenge for me, as I can’t quite make the pleasure connection between icecream and savoury flavours.

But even if I never get around to being more adventurous with my icecream making, there are enough sweet variations in The Perfect Scoop to keep me going for a while. We’re definitely going to need a bigger freezer.

Frozen Stawberry Yogurt
from The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz

Makes just over 1 pint.

You’ll need:

450g fresh strawberries, rinsed and hulled
130g sugar
2 teaspoons of vodka or kirsch (optional)
240g plain, whole-milk yogurt
1 teaspoon of freshly squeezed lemon juice

1. Slice the strawberries into small pieces. Toss in a bowl with the sugar and vodka or kirsch, if using, stirring until the sugar begins to dissolve. Cover and let stand at room temperature for 1 hour, stirring every so often.

2. Purée the strawberries and their liquid with the yogurt and lemon juice in a blender or food processor until smooth. If you wish, press the mixture through a mesh strainer to remove any seeds.

3. Refrigerate for 1 hour, then freeze in your icecream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions.

*For amazing icecream photography (and recipes, of course), visit Icecream Ireland. (I feel a pilgrimage to Dingle coming on!)

Generally, I feel like I should be blogging about healthy food (which, despite the evidence of this blog so far, is what we generally eat – honest), searching out new culinary delights and reporting back on interesting local producers…

Then I stumble across this…

Oh yes – proper Mr Whippy icecream, the likes of which I haven’t seen in years. For anyone around the age of 30(ish), this was the taste of childhood summers – right up there with Munch Bunch ice pops and sherbert fountains (proper E-number-crammed crud). Only I don’t think that the portions were as big back then – I mean, look at that picture, it’s an icecream behemoth! It’s coming to take over the world in a bad B-movie near you!

For some reason, Mr Whippy disappeared off the map years ago (or maybe I’ve just been walking around with a blind spot to all things icecream-related – I didn’t develop a real sweet tooth until I met Mr B, so it’s entirely possible). Later, there were other brands claiming to offer the same soft, creamy vanilla treat but they were serious fakers – too powdery, too hard, too flavourless, damn it – and my hopes were always dashed.

The best bit, or perhaps it’s the worst bit, is that you can pretty much get the real deal in any newsagents around the country.

I will make amends immediately for this serious lapse in reporting by seeking out proper artisan icecream and ordering David Lebovitz’s Perfect Scoop.

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I'm short of stature (a family trait) but big of appetite (also a family trait). If you're reading this then you're probably big of appetite too. Or a member of my family (hello Mum).
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