Feb 28, 2009

Beating The Recession With Ice Cream

There's no escaping it, the world economy appears to be in a recession. There's hardly a country on earth that is not suffering its effects in some way BUT if a recent news article about food in Britain is correct, then McDonald's could be one of the few losers .... thanks to ice cream.

It seems that many British families are abandoning restaurants and opting for less expensive food with the knock-on effect that McDonalds has just announced its best year ever for its outlets in Britain. Serving no less than 2.5 million British customers every day, the giant food chain is understood to be claiming a 10 per cent rise in its breakfast sales during 2008 alongside a strong rise in its ice cream sales.

So what do we learn from this? That it takes a lot to diminish the British love of ice cream and even when pockets are tight and finances struggling, having an ice cream is not only inexpensive but it's a treat to brighten up even the darkest of gloomy economic times.

I have yet to see someone who, when eating an ice cream, fails to smile at some point!

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Feb 16, 2009

Baobab Ice Cream Anyone?

One of the reasons that ice cream is such a delicious food is that it can be made with so many different ingredients - from all kinds of fruit to chocolate, wine, tea, coffee and lots more. The biggest category of ingredients has to be that of fruit. Standard popular fruits such as the strawberry are great for making ice cream that's deliciously creamy; the more citrus fruits lend themselves better to making ideal, refreshing sorbets.

I'm always on the look-out for unusual fruits to try in ice cream. Last year I made strasberry ice cream, publishing the first Internet ice cream recipe ever for that fruit - not often you get to achieve a 'world first'! It was such a strong tasting, aromatic ice cream that I can't wait to get my hands on some more strasberries this year when they are in season.

My mother recently sent me a newspaper cutting about .... the Baobab. I had never heard of the word before and yet it sounds like an astonishingly unusual and also beneficial fruit. Here's what the article claims about the Baobab tree:
  • it sometimes referred to as 'the upside-down tree' because of its root-like branches
  • it can live for up to 500 years with some living as long as 2,000 years
  • it has been known to grow up to a height of as much as 98 feet
  • hollowed out baobab trees in Africa are sometimes used as shops and barns
  • the baobab fruit looks like a coconut on the outside
  • its white pulp is powdery with a cheese-like texture
  • the pulp tastes slightly sour
  • it is high in iron, potassium and anti-oxidants
  • it is native to Africa
  • it has been revered in Africa for thousands of years
  • only specially trained people are allowed to climb the baobab tree to collect its fruit
  • in some parts of East Africa it is sold as a type of sweet with a red, sugar coating

The nutritious properties of the baobab's pulp apparently make it ideal as an ingredient for cereal bars and smoothies and it is now being imported into the EU for the very first time for that purpose.

So we have a new fruit to experiment with - and enjoy. I have yet to see any baobab fruit pulp in my local supermarket but I will keep looking as I would love to try some in an ice cream recipe. As and when I do you'll hear about it on this blog .... so watch this space!

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Feb 10, 2009

Valentine's Day - Ice Cream or Nigella's Coca Cola Ham?

Well, Valentine's Day is just around the corner and I can't believe it's a year already since I wrote my last Valentine's Day Ice Cream blog post.

My suggestion then was to make Valentine's Day extra special by actually making something yourself for your Valentine as opposed to just buying something. Let's face it, showing that you're prepared to put in some personal effort has to be viewed as a genuine token of affection. Last year I suggested making some homemade ice cream based on your Valentine's favorite ice cream flavor such as strawberry ice cream or chocolate ice cream.

Whilst this still rings true as a great idea, for those of you looking for a culinary idea but perhaps a main course rather than a dessert, here's a recipe that a friend of mine, Elaine Rogerson, told me about recently and said was wonderful - Ham In Coca Cola. Sounds a little unusual? Well, that's what I thought but as you can see from the photograph this is a serious dish. (Thanks for the super photo Elaine) I also found other people on the Net raving about it. Elaine tells me it's a recipe by Nigella Lawson who is a British TV cook so I looked it up on the Net and here's the recipe along with some reviews. You can also find it in Nigella's book 'How To Eat, the pleasures and principles of good food'.

Any vegetarians reading this post might be a little disappointed if I didn't also quote a non-meat dish so here's one, again from Nigella Lawson - Double Potato & Halloumi Bake. Like the Coca Cola Ham, I haven't tried it but it sounds delicious. The truth is I have tried other recipes by Nigella and they've been so good that I trust pretty much everything she recommends. The hit of our Christmas Dinner in fact was her recipe for roast parsnips in maple syrup and that was fabulous and as my friend Elaine is a pretty smart, Scottish lady (she's involved with an international security systems company with things like Multisys Security), she knows a good thing when she sees it - so I know better than to ignore her advice about the Coca Cola Ham!

Now back to Valentine's Day ... of course you can still buy your Valentine a great Valentine's Day card. I looked around on the Net for some good Valentine's Day card ideas and here are a few:
Pop-up Valentine's Day Cards
Jumping Cracker Beans Valentine's Cards

One more thought ... never forget just how romantic ice cream can be. Be it on Valentine's Day or any other day, there's something special and very endearing about sharing an ice cream cone with the one you love. (Have to get my plug in for ice cream somewhere in this post!)

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