Nov 29, 2009

From Sherried Pickled Onions To Pickled Onion Ice Cream!

My father had a lifelong love of food and amongst his favourite foods were ice cream (read my Knickerbocker Glory Champion post) and pickles - though never together!

Mind you, pickled onion ice cream may sound a little crazy but I do know someone who has made it - Gino Soldan master gelatiere at Morelli's ice cream parlour in Harrods, London told me in an exclusive interview last year of how he made pickled onion and white chocolate ice cream as a special order for a private party. It might have sounded like a novel idea at the time but I doubt it suited everyone's palate!

Pickled onions are, in my opinion, best enjoyed in their own right and when pickled in sherry it gives them an added sweetness. Delicious! The best sherried pickled onions I have ever tasted were the ones that my father made every year; this time of year he would proudly give me and my family a couple of jars and it wasn't long before they had all gone -once you started eating them it was difficult to stop!

When my father died in July this year we knew there would be many things we would miss about him. I didn't stop to think about the pickled onions .... until now. Thankfully my mother has his recipe and is continuing the tradition. I asked her for the recipe and she kindly wrote it out for me insisting that I credit it to my father. So here it is for you all to enjoy ....


4lb pickling onions
3/4 lb demerara sugar
1 1/2 pints vinegar
2 wine glasses of sherry

Peel the onions and soak in salt water overnight.
Boil the vinegar and sugar together. Leave to go cold.
Drain the onions and put them into glass jars.
Stir the sherry into the cooled vinegar/sugar mixture.
Pour this over the onions in the jars.
Seal the jars tightly and label with the date.

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Nov 25, 2009

A Dimension Of Thanksgiving - Apple Pie With Ice Cream!

There is of course more than one dimension to Thanksgiving. Much of the media seems to focus on the 'gluttony' that takes place, portraying many families as spending the afternoon lazily watching football on tv after over-indulging in food. OK so that might happen in a lot of households BUT what is more important is the fact that many people go to great lengths and travel long distances just to be with their families for this one special day, irrespective of how they spend the afternoon. Being together and giving thanks for the good things they share is the real heart of Thanksgiving. It's not commercial and it's not about religion - it's about love and gratitude - and I can't think of a better way to celebrate than with good food.

So enjoy your turkey, the cranberries and the stuffing and if you're having good old apple pie for dessert ..... don't forget the vanilla ice cream!

Happy Thanksgiving

PS. Not planning to have apple pie? Just want a good homemade ice cream? Read my Thanksgiving Ice Cream page.

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Nov 22, 2009

Cumbria Floods - Donations Appeal

It's rare that I write 2 consecutive posts on the same theme but I'm going to make an exception in the light of the terrible floods in Cumbria on 19 November. The floods followed the heaviest rainfall ever recorded in Britain. A staggering 314.4 millimetres of rain fell in 24 hours in the area.

In my last post I described how on that same day I met three flying policemen during a break from their emergency rescue work in Cumbria. Having quickly shot a video clip of their helicopter leaving I turned to see an RAF Rescue Helicopter that had just landed briefly to refuel and was able to film it as it took off westward back to the flood disaster area. Here it is ....

Over the last 2 days the world's media has covered this news in one way or another. We have all seen the pictures of devastation including collapsed bridges - 6 have already collapsed, others are under threat and all 1,800 of Cumbria's bridges are to undergo tests. Then there are the many flooded and damaged homes as well as shops, banks and pubs. Even the historic Wordworth House in Cockermouth, the birthplace of William Wordsworth, has been badly damaged.

Stories of heroism and tragedy have touched people's hearts across the world and the spirit of the Cumbrian people to face and deal with this catastrophe has been heartwarming. After a few days, perhaps a week or two in the news, life will go on for the rest of the world but for those directly affected by these floods life may never be the same again. Recovering from such an event will be difficult both financially and emotionally for many people. That is why a special Cumbria Flood Recovery Fund has been set up. The aim is to help individuals and families as well as voluntary groups who suffered in the flooding. I heard about the Appeal whilst listening to a BBC Radio news interview with Deb Muscat of Cumbria Community Foundation. If you are in a position to make even the smallest of donations please do so. Go the the Cumbria Community Foundation website and follow the instructions for "Give Now".

During "Thanksgiving" week it's a great opportunity to recognise our own good fortune in contrast to the misfortune of others.

Thank you to all my readers for your time in reading this - if even just one of you makes a donation it will have made this post truly worthwhile :)

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Nov 20, 2009

Flying Police In Cumbria Rescue

Today's tv news headlines in Britain have focused on the terrible floods in Cumbria (close to the border with Scotland). Tragically a policeman trying to save others lost his own life when a bridge collapsed from under him and tonight many people are unable to return to their homes tonight with some having been rescued by emergency services including RAF Rescue helicopters.

I happened to be on a chance visit to Carlisle Airport in Cumbria today with my family where, thankfully, the weather was not as bad. Taking lunch in the cafe we were sat next to a table of 3 policemen who were clearly taking a much needed though short break. I could tell from their uniforms that they were not the standard type of police you see on the streets of Britain. In the light of the breaking news I asked if they had been on flood duty. 'Yes' came the answer. They had been out at Seaton (near Workington where the policeman had died earlier in the day). One of the 3 turned and said proudly that they had already rescued one person and they were now about to go back. They were from the Lancashire Constabulary and had come up specially to help with the rescue operation.

I then realised that these were 'flying policeman' and their helicopter was standing on the tarmac outside. They got up to leave but before the last of the 3 (who turned out to be called Phil) went out of the door I asked if they liked ice cream. With a broad smile Phil said 'Yes'. His favourite flavour? 'Pralines & Cream' came the reply. I told him that happened to be George W. Bush's favourite too - though I think he was a little bemused by how I might know that! Well, Phil if you read my page on ice cream and famous people you will see it mentioned there.

I asked Phil if he would mind me mentioning our little chat on this blog and he seemed delighted at the thought. Then off he went with his 2 colleagues John and Stuart. They boarded their helicopter and took off flying westwards into the distance and towards the flooded part of Cumbria. I managed to grab this very short video clip of their helicopter as it left.

On behalf of all the people in Cumbria who so badly needed help today ... thank you Phil, John, Stuart and all your other colleagues in the emergency services for your great work. When you are next off duty, make sure you get an ice cream treat ... if I could buy you one I would!

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Nov 18, 2009

Ice Cream Maker Tips - Choosing The Right Machine

If you are looking to buy an ice cream maker for the first time, you will be overwhelmed by the choice now available. Years ago of course it was not the case but today, as with so many other things, it is a very different scenario.

First of all, there is the choice between a manual machine and an electric ice cream maker. The latter, whilst much more expensive, bigger and heavier, actually freezes the ice cream as it churns it so you can go from your ready mixture to edible, servable fresh ice cream within as little as 20 minutes.

Secondly, even with an electric ice cream maker, there are different types and styles to choose from. Gaggia for example have developed their own very distinctive style of machine which you recognise instantly the moment you see one of their ice cream makers and Cuisinart have also developed their own style such as the very popular ICE-50BC Supreme Ice Cream Maker (see photo left).

Hamilton Beach makes an ice cream maker that looks entirely different again! Indeed, their Hamilton Beach 68330R 4-Quart Automatic Ice-Cream Maker (photo right) actually works in a different way. It requires you to pour your mixture into the canister, insert the dasher into the canister, attach the easy-lock lid and then place the motor over the canister, locking it onto the bucket. Then you add layers of ice and salt to the bucket covering the canister. Your homemade ice cream will then be ready in 20-40 minutes. This particular ice cream maker can also be used for making frozen yogurt and custard. At under $40 it makes a great, affordable gift for a loved one or friend - especially if you know they love ice cream!

So you see ... choosing an ice cream maker is not that easy any more.

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Nov 12, 2009

Ice Cream Books For Christmas

Out and about Christmas shopping yet? Already suffering from shopping mall blues?

Well, if the idea of sitting comfortably in your slippers and doing a little shopping on the Net appeals, here are some great ideas for Christmas gifts - ice cream books.

These are highly rated books from Amazon now available through the Ice Cream Recipes Online Store ....

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Nov 7, 2009

English Seaside Ice Cream, Hogwarts Castle & Craster Cornets!

Ice cream has lots of traditions - from the way it's made to the way it's served and lots more. What I find interesting is to look into what makes ice cream 'traditional' to any particular geographical area. It might be the quality of the local milk, the type of locally grown fruit that is available or, if it's an area that attracts tourists, it might even be that the ice cream is produced especially to cater for the tastes of the 'incomers'. The truth is, like with all things ice cream, there are many variations on a theme.

In England, for example, ice cream is produced by a wider variety of people than ever before. You have the traditional, small, local companies whose family have been making ice cream for years (such as is sold at the tea rooms next to Lanercost Priory in Cumbria) but also there are many dairy farmers now turning to producing their own ice cream which they sell direct to retailers and sometimes even directly to the public from their own ice cream shop. One tradition, however, that is thankfully still alive and kicking is that of the ice cream parlour though it is by no means thriving. The most common and indeed most popular is the traditional 'seaside' ice cream parlour (in the States they're called ice cream parlors of course). I have many happy childhood memories of them on the Yorkshire coast (Scarborough especially) and in more recent years have found others such as when I visited thre great medieval Alnwick Castle - or Hogwarts Castle as many now call it (the Harry Potter movies were filmed there) in Northumberland. NOTE: There is some great Northumberland ice cream - if you ever plan a visit there, you should read more!

Alnwick Castle is not far from the beautiful Northumberland coast with its sandy beaches, great vistas and fascinating history and wildlife. So a lot of visitors to the area, especially from the USA, enjoy the best of both worlds by staying in Northumberland cottages. After visiting Alnwick we called in at Bamburgh to see the magnificent Bamburgh Castle and then at Craster where we took the wonderful walk up to the ruins of Dunstanburgh Castle, a fabulous medieval castle in a location that defies description (once up there the views take your breath away!).

After Craster it was Seahouses and there we found some great traditional English ice cream, produced locally and served from an old fashioned ice cream trailer (see photo).

We plan to go back some day, possibly staying in one of the many Northumberland cottages that are available in the area. It might be a Seahouses cottage, a Boulmer cottage, a cottage in Craster cottage or even something in Alnwick or Bamburgh.

The history and scenery is well worth going back for but the ice cream on top of that, well need I say more? :)

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