Dec 28, 2008

Festive Spicy Ice Cream

During the Christmas holidays many of us meet up with friends and family that we don't see very often throughout the rest of the year. So I think it's a great time to give people a treat. Cooking at home for people is a real pleasure - sure it's hard work too but it's like anything, the more positive the energy you put into it, the better the result. With food of any kind this makes the best possible recipe!

So how about making some spicy ice cream for your guests? Most are not likely to have tried this before but, given that it's Christmas, they're probably in party mood and would really relish trying something a little different - especially if the host has gone to the trouble of making a homemade treat.

My idea? Honey with Cinammon and Cloves Ice Cream. Great, simple ingredients - honey, milk, sugar, eggs and cream with the added spice of cloves and cinammon. It's not the quickest ice cream recipe because you need to allow the spices to infuse in the milk (at least an hour or even overnight if you have time) but it's the richness of the spices that makes this ice cream special. It's probably only at Christmas, or at least in winter time, that you'll think of making and eating such an ice cream in fact ... but that's what makes ice cream such a fantastic food - you can vary the ingredients according to the seasons.

Follow the link above to find the full recipe instructions.

I hope you enjoy this festive, spicy ice!

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Dec 23, 2008

Christmas Pudding Ice Cream

Last year I suggested two ice cream recipes for dessert on Christmas Day - traditional vanilla ice cream for those with simple, traditional tastes and Egg Nog ice cream for the more adventurous. This year I'm not going to suggest an ice cream for Christmas Day at all ... surprised? Well this time I'm going to encourage you all to enjoy a traditional Christmas Pudding with cream, brandy sauce or custard ...

Then, having bought an extra Christmas Pudding, cook this the following day (26 December) and use it to make your own Christmas Pudding Ice Cream!

In many families, the day after Christmas Day is a quiet day - no special meal and no desire for one either after the previous day's feast! However, making the day special in some other way is a great idea and ice cream is just the treat. Let's face it, if you have children in the house over Christmas it's not always ease to keep them from getting bored - this is where ice cream is nearly always a winner! They will not only enjoy having homemade ice cream but the fact that it's something they've probably never had before will make it even more exciting for them.

Indeed, you can cook the Christmas Pudding in the earlier part of the day without anyone knowing if you like and make the ice cream later, only announcing to everyone at that latter stage that homemade ice cream is on its way. The clever cook must always keep something up her sleeve and there's little that is more pleasurable to people than being given a surprise treat!

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Dec 21, 2008

A Christmas Story - Of The More Unusual Kind

Christmas is synomous with tradition. Perhaps you will have a traditional Christmas tree in your house or sing traditional Christmas carols or eat traditional Christmas food and drink such as traditional mulled wine (if you like mulled wine try my mulled wine sorbet!).

There are also many traditional Christmas stories of course - from the definitive nativity story itself right through to Charles Dickens' 'A Christmas Carol'. Well, for those of you who enjoy Christmas stories - and that's adults and children alike - here is a new one. I just found it on this wonderful Letters From London Blog.

Full of the sentiments that Christmas is really all about, it's a super little story and I was so grateful for having found it, I wanted to share it with my ice cream blog readers.

It's called The Christmas Rock Maker - follow the link to read it in full. I hope you enjoy it and pass on the link to others - sharing the true spirit of Christmas is possibly one of the best gifts you will give this year.

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Dec 13, 2008

Christmas Shopping? There's still time ... online!

Phewww .... I've actually done all my Christmas shopping - gifts for family and friends and I've even ordered the turkey! However, many of my friends have not and according to a BBC Radio program I was listening to, this seems to be the case for most people. Not to worry though because help is at hand - courtesy of the Internet.

Let's face it, it's a wonderful resource at this time of year and for lots of different reasons ....

  • you can stock up on food for the holidays by shopping online thus avoiding braving bleak weather and long supermarket queues;

  • you can get some great recipe ideas online ahead of throwing a party or dinner - such as my ice cream recipes of course;

  • you can shop online for all your Christmas gifts;

  • you can check online to see what's on tv over the Christmas holidays;

  • you can check for the latest weather reports ahead of making any trips to visit people over the holidays;
What would we all do without it now? Strange but for young people today they can't relate to that idea. Being from an older generation though, I can not only recall what life was like before the Internet but even before there were pocket calculators! I'm digressing a bit too much here .... so back to thinking about Christmas.

This is the last post I'm going to write about Christmas shopping for this year ... just let me remind you that I have a super little Internet store for US buyers where you can buy all kinds of gifts (courtesy of Amazon) such as:

The Back to Basics CM300BR Cocoa-Latte Hot Drink Maker (pic left)

The Cuisinart ICE-30BC sorbet/yogurt/ice cream maker

There's also a great range of coffee makers and tea makers

For that ever important fresh ice at parties there are ice makers

One of my favorite gift ideas, especially at Christmas time, is the gourmet gift basket (or hampers as they're called in Britain). In the store you will find some wonderful gourmet gift baskets such as the Lindt Lovers Chocolate Gift Basket. The Sweet Wishes For You Basket pictured right is possibly one of the most stunning and appropriate gift baskets I've ever seen for Christmas.

For British buyers there's a separate online store where you can buy a similar range of gifts including this electric bottle chiller (left) for making sure that the extra special bottle of Chardonnay you've bought is served at just the right temperature. Whether it's for a quiet romantic evening in or for when you have guests to dinner, it's a great piece of kit to have to hand.

Serious lovers of ice cream could enjoy life so much more if they had this superb ice cream maker by Gaggia (right) which is really popular in Britain and Europe. Then when you've made your ice cream you should serve it in style - like in this fantastic, stunning-looking ice cream bowl and spoon set from Alessi.

Whatever you buy for your friends and family this Christmas, I hope you try to make sure it's something they will find rewarding. Happy hunting!

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Dec 4, 2008

Started Your Christmas Shopping Yet?

When it comes to Christmas gift shopping everyone seems to take a different view. Some people don't like to contemplate the idea of Christmas until around 17 December, a week before Christmas Eve. By contrast some people (me included) like to get their Christmas shopping done early so that they don't have to rush at the last minute coming up with ideas or trekking round a shopping mall amongst throngs of people.

To be honest I always try to do my Christmas shopping in October - before Halloween in fact. I will usually make one trip to a main shopping area, spend 2 or 3 hours there browsing and getting my ideas together and then when I get home I will go online to look for the best deals for the gifts I've decided to buy. I don't always find what I want straight away but by the 2nd or 3rd time I've been online I've got my list together of where I'm going buy my Christmas gifts. More often than not the suppliers are a mixture of the 'big guys' such as Amazon and the smaller, specialised retailers.

Here's are some examples of ice cream related Christmas gifts online ....

Electric Ice Cream Maker

USA Shoppers - have some great deals and their customer reviews and star ratings are a great bonus in helping you choose the right machine. This Cuisinart ice cream maker comes with an ice cream recipe booklet, 3 year warranty and has some great customer reviews. It's also at an affordable price and from a top ice cream machine manufacturer.

UK Shoppers - is a good route to take. There's a Phillips ice cream maker which is stylish and compact, has a 5 star rating and at under £50 is great value for money.

Ice Cream Books
On both the above Amazon stores there are sections dedicated to books on ice cream covering subjects such as ice cream recipes, making gelato, old fashioned ice cream and granitas. I could spend hours just browsing through these books alone! So I shall take a closer look at ice cream books in a later post and list my personal choices for what I think make great Christmas gifts.

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