Meringue 101


Cooled meringue ready to finish

The sweet, snow-white cloudy wisps, with a melt in the mouth, crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside goodness … who can resist it? I certainly can’t. A four or five egg white meringue is finished in a couple of days by just our family of four. It is simply the fastest disappearing dessert in our house.
First time I had meringue was the store bought ones from M&S food. These completely crispy meringue took me by complete surprise. Who though a mixture of just egg whites and sugar will be this delicious. But then it is not just the taste, it is also the texture. I thought it could not get any better till I watched Nigella cut into one of her creations, even over TV, the gooey centre was simply decadent, that I had to now make it. That was about at least six years ago, followed by many many more meringues, always homemade with a gooey centre. Continue reading


Gooseberry Ice-cream Any Time of the Year

Last summer, from our single unassuming gooseberry bush in our allotment, we got an abundant crop. After giving away half of it and making two lots of ice-cream, there was still a lot left over! Not knowing what to do with them, leaving them unattended for a few days, some began to get spoiled and were thrown away. Experience teaches you new things I suppose. When it came to harvesting the final few gooseberries which was about 2 kilograms, I had a plan, I would freeze them. Once they came into the house it was apparent they occupied so much volume that there would not be space in the freezer and I did not know if they would freeze well.

Then it stuck me. We love gooseberry ice-cream so much that, it is the only thing we are going to make and since ice-cream also takes up so much space, I decided to make the ice-cream base and freeze it in portions. So I made the gooseberry into a the ice-cream base with half the sugar, which is just a sort of coulis right for mixing into ice-cream and froze it in plastic bags, flat, occupying very little space.


Frozen Gooseberry Coulis – made with half the sugar and frozen in portions weighted to make a single batch of ice-cream


Last week it was time for ice-cream! Defrosting a bag of gooseberry ice-cream coulis and mixing in a freshly made ice-cream custard as in my previous recipe. Left it to chill in the fridge overnight before churning the next day. It was as good as when I made it from fresh gooseberries. Now there is no reason why it should not work with other fruits, especially blackcurrant which is this family’s other favourite. That is for this years experiment. Would avoid a lot of waste of soft fruit, especially the seasonal and expensive berries. To top it you can have natural homemade ice-cream with no additives, any day of the year, even out of season.


Defrosted Gooseberry coulis


Gooseberry ice-cream, after churning with paddle removed

If you want the recipe for the goose berry ice cream, it is here.


Chocolate Ice-cream

Chocolate. If honey was the nectar of our ancient ancestors, then chocolate is certainly the nectar of the modern age … at least the past 2 centuries or even more if you consider the native American Indians. Chocolate melts at body temperature that is about 36 – 37˚C, that is why it is so indulging, the way it melts in your mouth, the velvety texture and the taste combine to give an exquisite experience. It is one of those foods that you have to shut your other senses down and allow taste to take over … as explicitly used by many of the chocolate ads on TV and my favourite is the Galaxy ad with Audrey Hepburn lookalike, it is like watching her allover again. Continue reading

Mango Icecream

Mango Icecream

I love mangoes. Brin loves them even more than me (poor me). It is the nectar of the Gods! The number of varieties of mangoes in India is enormous, with such varied tastes and textures. In England, you really have to trawl the Indian shops to find the best tasting ones. And being airfreighted, they are expensive indeed. Supermarkets are not a place to buy mangoes, if you want the tasty and sweet ones, that is. Having said that, I have found quite bland ones in the Indian shops as well, so you have to know your mangoes. One of the sweetest and flavourful varieties is “Alphonso”, which sparks something of a craze in India during mango season. It as so stays well and firm after ripening which makes it ideal for export. But Mangoes are seasonal and expensive. Given an alphonso mango in hand, I would rather eat it whole than cook or juice it. So I use canned mango pulp instead, alphonso and kesar varieties are freely available even in supermarkets. Continue reading

Blackcurrant Icecream

blackcurrant icecream

A bowl full of blackcurrants from the allotment. Rohit wanted ice-cream. And the debate whether “to custard or not to custard” raged again. This time not to custard won, with an argument of “if it does not come out right, next batch, custard”!

Next issue, cooking! You could make an ice-cream without cooking the blackcurrants or you could soften them by cooking and extract the juice. If I had not got the sieving attachment for the Kenwood mixer, I would not be debating this. There is no way to hand press and sieve a whole bunch of just about ripe blackcurrants, while the machine with make short work of it. Maybe my lazy bone struck again, I choose the non-cooking method.

No custard and no cooking, now how easy can it be … very! Continue reading

Gooseberry Icecream


An unassuming small gooseberry bush about a meter across was already established in our allotment. This has been a particularly good year for most fruit, supposedly due to the very long and cold winter and late spring and summer, who would have thought! The gooseberry bush was a prime example with all the branches just laden to the full. How can a such a small gooseberry shrub give so many fruit? Gooseberry variety here is unlike the gooseberries we have in India. Oval fruit with light green skin with tinges of red. No large single stone in the centre. Instead, about 4 or 5 tiny seeds, which you don’t even have to pick out while eating, and the skin has a lot of fine hairs.

Takes hours to harvest, avoiding the sharp thorns and picking the small fruit one by one. We took turns and did it a quarter of the bush at one time. Even with the tiered picking, we wasted a lot this year, fruit quickly rotting in the unusual heat while awaiting delivery to friends and neighbours. We have effectively used about half the total produce, I estimate.

Staring at the pile of gooseberries, I realised I have never eaten gooseberry jam. Gooseberry ice-cream, at the pick your own farm near Macclesfield, was gorgeous. So it was time to crack ice-cream! My previous feeble attempts at ice-cream making were mostly flavoured ice crystals! But now I had a secret weapon, an ice-cream churner attachment for the Kenwood mixer and the bowl was already in the freezer. Continue reading