Apr 25, 2012

Celebrating Chilli - Chilli Festivals To Chilli Ice Cream

Chilli - a food that is subject to much debate. People either love it or loathe it. If you are a chilli lover then you probably are already aware of how chilli has become big business.

One of the biggest developments in food promotion in recent years has been the emergence of food festivals - chilli festivals incluided! Here is an example I just read about - a Chilli Festival taking place on 6 & 7 May at a fabulous stately home in the English countryside. They say there will be all manner of chilli food available to taste and purchase, possibly including chilli ice cream!

Now there's a thought ... I have yet to make an ice cream with chilli as an ingredient but it certainly seems popular with plenty of other websites offering chilli ice cream recipes. Here are two I found:
Thai Chilli Chocolate Ice Cream Recipe
Chilli Ice Cream Recipe (with honey)

How good these recipes are I can't say as I haven't tried them. That's for you to judge :)

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Apr 14, 2012

Titanic Ice Cream Remembered A Century On

The story of what happened to RMS Titanic has touched millions of hearts around the world over the years and we have seen many books, movies and tv documentaries dedicated to the subject.  This weekend, as many people realise, is the 100th anniversary of the tragedy. Today it is exactly 100 years since the ship struck an iceberg at approx 11.40pm and in the early hours of tomorrow morning 15 April around 2.20am, it will be 100 years since the ship disappeared beneath the waves of the deep Atlantic Ocean.

It seems like only yesterday but it was in fact was 4 years ago this month that I wrote a blog post entitled Ice Cream Class Distinction On RMS Titanic. My family has been interested in the Titanic story for many years - 3 generations in fact - and with my passion for making ice cream I wanted to learn about the food served on Titanic and find out if ice cream had beeen on the menu. The fact that it was on both the 1st and 2nd class menus on 14 April 1912 - the last day the ship ever saw daylight - was quite a revelation. Moreover, there had been a class distinction in the ice cream served!

Just as class distinction prevailed for the ship's accommodation and, sadly, the order in which people were given access to the lifeboats, so it was with ice cream served onboard:
French Ice Cream - for 1st class passengers
American Ice Cream - for 2nd class passengers (see menu)

Image: Second-class dinner menu, RMS Titanic, 14 Apr 1912. Repro ID: F5245. ©Walter Lord Collection, National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London.
Courtesy of Royal Museums Greenwich website from whom you can order a high quality print.

Thankfully today, 100 years on from the Titanic tragedy, there are fewer social barriers in society and ice cream can be enjoyed by millions.

Thankfully today there are more safety measures in place so that, hopefully, nothing on the scale of the RMS Titanic tragedy will happen again. May the courage of those involved in the sinking always be remembered.

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Apr 10, 2012

Avalanche Experts Try To Improve Ice Cream

Just when you thought that ice cream couldn't get any better, a new idea comes along .... they bring in the avalanche experts!

Studying the formation of ice crystals clearly carries a worth when understanding avalanches but it seems that the very same knowledge may hold the key to perfecting the texture and taste of ice cream. This bbc news article gives more detail.

For my part, having made lots of homemade ice cream over the years, I have long known that the texture of ice cream can vary enormously and as the texture varies so does the taste. If you get too many ice crytals in an ice cream mix it simply doesn't taste tood; difficult to describe, it has something of a 'metallic' taste. Today in fact was a great example of what I'm trying to explain here .... I made some licorice ice cream and the moment it came out of my ice cream maker it was a wonderful texture - smooth yet sticky and solid enough and it scooped really easily. There was no need to pop it in the freezer for a short time as can sometimes be necessary.

It's not always like this with ice cream recipes which is why I often try out a recipe then refine it several times, changing the balance of ingredients. Often it's the sugar content that has to be changed to give a better texture/taste.

So 'Good Luck' to the avalanche experts. I await news of their efforts with great interest - if they're successful we'll all be the happier for it!

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Apr 7, 2012

Easter Ice Cream Treats

Homemade ice cream is a special treat any time but particularly so on special holidays. Easter is a good example. Families and friends get together and often celebrate Easter by sharing a home-cooked meal.

"What's for dessert?" is a common question from the children sat at the dinner table and if the answer by any chance is "Ice cream!" then you can be sure there will be shrieks of glee. Such is the appeal of ice cream.

So what's a good ice cream to make for Easter? Well, it depends upon whether you want to stick with standard favorites or be more adventurous. So I'm going to make a suggestion in each direction ....

A top 10 favorite and usually a safe bet to be popular amongst guests is banana ice cream; it appeals to children and adults alike and is an easy ice cream to make.

Being more adventurous and if you have a little extra time to devote to your ice cream making, you could go for rhubarb and vanilla custard ice cream. My family loves it!

If neither of the above appeals to you as an Easter ice cream then there's a wider selection of ice cream recipes available on the following pages - popular ice cream and unusual ice cream.

Whatever ice cream you choose, make it a Happy Easter!

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Apr 6, 2012

Vanilla Ice Cream - Under Threat?

Vanilla ice cream is by far the most popular ice cream in the world, of that there's no doubt. The stats to my ice cream recipes have proven that year upon year. Vanilla is therefore a valued commodity and already commands quite a price on the open market compared to many other foodstuffs.

In the news today there have been reports about poor vanilla crops in Mexico and India creating speculation that there will be a shortage of vanilla and vanilla extract this summer.

Straight away many news agencies and newspapers have started scare-mongering about high ice cream prices this summer. According to them, this vanilla ice cream cone could fast become a luxury!

Thankfully, it seems not everyone is getting carried away by these reports - one leading producer of vanilla has just made a public announcement to the effect that they don't anticipate any particular shortage in supplies so their customers who buy from them to make ice cream and other foods using vanilla/vanilla extract should not suffer significant price increases. Read the full story from PR Newswire here

Hopefully, they will be right .... ice cream is such a wonderful 'happy' food that it needs to be affordable by everyone, whether they make homemade ice cream or buy commercially made ice cream.

Long may vanilla be in plentiful supply!

Interested in reading more about vanilla? Read my vanilla page.

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