Can you imagine life without a fridge? In parts of Asia, as early as the third century BC, people would store blocks of ice or snow in a dry underground place to cool food. Here lie the remote origins of ice cream and sorbet. European ice creams and sorbets probably appeared in early seventeenth-century Italy, from whence they were taken up by the French and Spanish courts. In the first year of the Restoration, Charles II built an icehouse in St James’ Park, in all likelihood inspired by his sojourn in Paris during the Civil War. And the poet Edmund Waller celebrated Charles’ creation:
Yonder the harvest of cold months laid up,
Gives a fresh coolness to the Royal Cup
There Ice like Christal, firm and never lost,
Tempers hot July with December’s frost.
Vanilla Ice Cream
Despite its name, I like my ice cream made from a custard that is half cream, half milk, with 5 egg yolks to 600ml of cream and milk. I have an inexpensive ice cream maker with a stainless steel bowl that needs to go into the freezer for 10 hours before making ice cream. Mine lives in the freezer at the ready for impromptu ice cream making. It makes wonderful creamy ice cream.
Serves 6 (The Grain-free Vegetarian p. 221)
300ml goats’ milk
5 egg yolks
135g fragrant honey
2 teaspoons good-quality vanilla essence
Put the cream and milk in a saucepan set over a high heat and bring almost to boiling point. With an electric beater, whisk together the egg yolks, honey and vanilla until the mixture is pale and fluffy. Set the mixture to a low speed and pour on the hot cream mixture.
To make a custard in a microwave oven, put the mixture in a bowl and cook on a low setting, stirring regularly, until it starts to thicken, 2-3 minutes.
To make the custard on the hob, stir the egg-and-cream mixture constantly over a low heat until it begins to set and thinly coats the back of the spoon, about 8 minutes. Whichever method you choose, ensure the custard does not boil or it will curdle. (If starts to curdle in the microwave, quickly blitz it with a hand-held blender to rescue the situation.) Leave to cool and then refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
Churn the custard in an ice cream maker until thick, about 20 minutes. Transfer to a plastic box and freeze.
Frozen Raspberry Sorbet
Stunning to look at, frozen raspberry sorbet is an incredible ruby red and wonderfully quick to make. One time, I made it for the Christmas Bombe (see The Grain-free Vegetarian p. 230) using my sister’s frozen loganberries and the colour was even more vibrant. Delicious paired with Vanilla Ice Cream (see above) and decorated with raspberries and toasted flaked almonds, with a sprig of mint or lemon verbena. The above quantities vanilla ice cream and frozen raspberry ice cream of would make enough for 12 people.
Serves 6 (The Grain-free Vegetarian p. 226)
500g frozen raspberries
Juice of 1 orange
Juice of 1 lemon
125g maple syrup or mild honey
Pulverize the frozen raspberries with the orange and lemon juice and maple syrup in a food processor. If the sorbet pulp seems too strong, add a little water, about 45ml.
Churn the raspberry pulp in an ice cream maker until thick. This will not take long because the raspberries are still very cold, about 8 minutes. Transfer to a plastic box and freeze.
To serve: put a scoop of raspberry sorbet in a glass and then a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Scatter a couple of raspberries over the raspberry sorbet and a few toasted flaked almonds over the vanilla ice cream. Finally place a sprig of lemon verbena or mint on top.