I’m not an inspirational chef but I do take inspiration from good ingredients and recipe ideas. One of my weaknesses is recipe book dependence but that’s beginning to change. Over the last year or so I have made a conscious effort to adapt my shopping habits, largely in the face of my monumental hatred of Sainsbury’s. Let’s get something clear – they offer a paucity of choice when it comes to raw ingredients with aisles and aisles of processed food and only a very limited selection of anodyne factory produced “fresh produce”. Then there’s the relentless over-marketing whereby you are brow-beaten into buying 2 for 1 or 3 for 2 when you only wanted 1 so you buy too much overpriced food and it gets wasted. Shocking value and a wearisome shopping experience.
For Sainsbury’s read any of the major supermarkets, but there’s an alternative if you are prepared to forego a little convenience. I’ve taken to shopping at Aldi for mainstream items and then following up with specialist independent meat/fish/grocers for fresh produce. It’s more effort but a far superior shopping basket for two thirds of the cost makes it a no-brainer.
This is how shopping used to be before successive governments allowed the giant corporations to kill all the small independent retails along with our high streets. And my change in shopping habits is forcing me, in a positive way, to rethink the way I cook. No longer can I assume that my precise recipe ingredients will be available. More to the point the independent grocers always tempt me with fresh and exciting goodies that I wasn’t expecting. Much better therefore to ease off on the list and take inspiration from what’s available.
It also means that I am having to rediscover my cooking instincts. My plans to make some Indian influenced ice cream this weekend had to evolve due to a failure to obtain saffron along with arriving home with a glut of natural yoghurt. In Ready-Steady-Cook style, here’s what happened next…
250ml single cream
2tbsp Clear Honey
3 cardamom pods
3 large eggs
100g soft brown sugar
300ml natural yoghurt
1) Extract the cardamom seeds and chop them finely. I love cardamom and they are great in curries, rice, baking and green or ginger tea. They have to be great in ice cream don’t they?
2) Mix the cream, milk, honey, cinnamon and cardamom in a pan. I was toying with adding one or two cloves and even a light touch of chilli but let’s rein it in for now. Heat and keep stirring, but don’t boil.
3) Separate the eggs and add the yolks to the sugar in a bowl. This is orthodox ice cream making territory. Mix until smooth.
4) Add the hot cream mixture to the bowl and stir. Return the mixture to the pan and heat until the mixture thickens, stirring all the time.
5) Allow the mixture to cool to room temperature and then transfer to the fridge for a couple of hours
6) Watch a film while waiting. I watched Fire In Babylon but you can substitute films of a similar length depending on what you have in stock.
7) Stir in the yoghurt and a little lemon juice. Hmmm, this should be interesting. I was going to add some lemon zest but … I forgot. Ho hum.
8) Pour the mixture into a pre-frozen ice cream maker being careful not to devour all of the mixture before it gets transferred. You don’t need a machine for this but it’s one of those gadgets I picked up along the way and if you are going to use it enough (like I do) then it does an effective labour saving job.
9) Once you are fed up of the racket made by your ice cream maker spoon the ice cream like contents into a container and store in the freezer.
10) Go to bed. Sleep. Get up. Do whatever it is you do before deciding that you fancy some ice cream.
11) Serve the frozen ice cream with some almond flakes or perhaps some kind of exotic Asian fruit salad. Perfect after a weighty Indian meal. Chicken Saag with masala stuffed baby aubergines and lemon rice since you ask.
Verdict – 8.5 out of 10. Good flavours, a fine way to finish an Indian meal and relatively healthy for an ice cream. The consistency was very slightly firm so next time I might change the cream to yoghurt ratio somewhat, or at least remove from the freezer a bit earlier. There’s plenty of scope to play with the flavourings. Some caramelised mango would go well with it.
I’m not sure if this is a recipe blog or an anti-globalisation rant but let’s worry about the taxonomy later – there’s ice cream to consume.