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Monthly Archives: January 2014

Comfort Food #12: Brown Bread Ice-Cream

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Does anyone remember brown bread ice-cream? Has anyone ever tried it?

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It’s way too cold to be even thinking about ice-cream so I have no idea why the first comfort food feature of the year is going to include a recipe that probably won’t be tried and tested for another five months at least!

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Flicking through a recipe book last week, I came across a recipe for brown bread ice-cream and it took me right back to my childhood…

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When I was a child growing up in 1980s London, we didn’t have the variety of ice-cream flavours that we have today. Coffee was served steaming hot in a mug not ice-cold in a wafer cone; peanut butter was something we got in a jar and the idea of salted caramel in any form would have been scoffed at (rather than just scoffed!) I suppose there are some advantages of twenty-first century living!

Neapolitan: the ice-cream of my childhood

Neapolitan: the ice-cream of my childhood

Back in my day, ice-cream was almost strictly vanilla, strawberry or chocolate with ‘exotic’ flavours being banana or mint choc-chip! Oh, not forgetting the classic Neapolitan.

So it was a huge surprise for me to see recipes for brown bread ice-cream in the women’s weeklies that my mum used to buy. I also used to watch it being made on cookery shows. I was quite puzzled though because I always thought that ice-cream could only be chocolate or fruit- flavoured. How on earth could you make ice-cream out of bread? What would be next ‘ cornflakes? Cheese and onion crisps?

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However, now that I’m older and have developed quite a sophisticated palate (so I like to think!) I can appreciate the uniqueness of this particular sweet treat. The caramelised breadcrumbs give a deliciously nutty texture and a toffee – almost fudgy – flavour.

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Brown bread ice-cream became available in the eighteenth century after fruit flavoured ice-creams had been introduced but it didn’t gain in popularity until the late Victorian and Edwardian times when it was a privilege of the rich and served as a country weekend treat.

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It seems to have declined in popularity over the years though because despite recipes for this ice-cream being readily available, I don’t hear any real mention of it. It has not appeared on the cookery pages of any of the magazines I’ve bought for a good few years; I haven’t seen it on restaurant menus and it has never been one of Haagan Dazs’ one million and one flavours (at least not here in the UK.) It seems to have been very much consigned to the drawer marked ‘forgotten about’ which is a shame because it is a delicious tasting ice-cream. Those who have never tried it, don’t know what they’re missing. Furthermore, despite all the sugar and cream, it can’t possible be an unhealthy dessert – not when it contains brown bread!

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the recipe I came across was in a book Traditional Puddings by Sara Paston-Williams. It seems extremely easy to make so I will most definitely be giving it a go. It can be served with brandy snaps and your favourite ice-cream sauce served warm such as butterscotch or chocolate fudge or … salted caramel. However, I also found a recipe from the same book for a hot marmalade sauce which should complement this ice-cream very well.

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BROWN BREAD ICE-CREAM

Recipe by Sara Paston-Williams

Serves 6-8

INGREDIENTS:

75g (3oz) wholemeal bread

50g (20z) unsalted butter

75g (3oz) castor/soft brown sugar

4 eggs, separated

115g (4oz) castor sugar

30ml (2 tbsp.) rum, brandy, Madeira

400ml double or whipping cream

METHOD:

  • Prepare breadcrumbs by frying in butter until crisp and adding 50g sugar.
  • Let this caramelise and then cool completely before crushing with a rolling pin.
  • To prepare basic ice-cream, beat egg yolks with sugar and alcohol.
  • Whip cream until it holds its shape.
  • Add to egg mixture.
  • Freeze in a lidded container for about 1 hour.
  • Stir in crumbs then freeze again.
  • Remove from freezer 30 mins before serving.
  • Scoop into glasses.
  • Serve with brandy snaps and sauce.

MARMALADE SAUCE

Image from storiesfromthestove.net

Image from storiesfromthestove.net

INGREDIENTS:

5ml cornflour

Juice of 1 orange

250ml white wine

60ml mamalade

30ml soft brown sugar

METHOD:

  • Dissolve cornflower in juice.
  • Heat wine, marmalade and sugar in a saucepan until the sugar has dissolved, stirring from time to time.
  • Stir in cornflour mixture.
  • Bring to the boil, stirring well.
  • Simmer for two minutes.
  • Serve hot.

Enjoy this very retro dessert!

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Video

Why Everyone Needs An Uncle Phil

It’s been almost three weeks and I still cannot get my head around the sad passing of James Avery at the age of 68. The actor who passed away on New Year’s Eve in California due to complications from open heart surgery has been acting since 1980 and has had roles in a lot of my childhood faves including Beauty And The Beast, Jake And The Fatman, The Dukes Of Hazard, Cagney and Lacey, The Scarecrow and Mrs. King, The A-Team, Moonlighting and Dallas. And that’s just a fraction of his long acting career. In addition to all this, he also provided the voice for Shredder in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Planet of The Turtleoids; was an accomplished poet and served in Vietnam. But what the Virginia Native is most well-known for – especially here in the UK – is his role as tough but loveable attorney (and later judge) Philip Banks in The Fresh Prince Of Bel Air.

Avery played the patriarch in the popular nineties sit-com where his gruff manner often brought him into conflict with his family, especially his nephew Will, played by Will Smith who has been sent by his worried mother to live with the Banks family after Will got into a fight. He was tough and straight-talking and never put up with any nonsense from anyone. Who could forget the number of times Will’s friend, Jazz was comically thrown out of the house by Uncle Phil for being cheeky? Or the way Uncle Phil dealt with the officer on duty after he and Will were wrongfully arrested and put in a cell on Thanksgiving? Or how he took on the hustlers at the pool hall? That was Uncle Phil – he could put the fear of God into anyone.

But underneath that tough exterior was a real family man who loved his wife and kids including his wayward nephew. He was fiercely protective of them all and was determined that his children made good use of the opportunities that were available to them and make something of their lives rather than grow up to be over-privileged, spoilt rich kids.

 

Philip Banks was the example of the kind of father/uncle every man should be. He wasn’t afraid to discipline his children, teaching them right from wrong but he was fair and loving when he needed to be. Despite being born into a life full of privileges, he encouraged them to be independent, to stand on their own two feet and to have ambition. Even though the kids got themselves into scrapes a number of times – scrapes Philip often had to rescue them from – there wasn’t the slightest sign of addiction, rehab visits, dysfunctional relationships or scandal – a sure sign that he was doing something right. It’s no wonder that the character of Philip Banks ranked number 34 in TV Guide’s list of the “50 Greatest TV Dads of All Time” [20 June 2004 issue]. Although personally, I think he should have ranked much higher. James Avery is quoted as having said, “I don’t understand this whole Twitter, Facebook stuff. I don’t get it. Make a phone call. Talk to somebody.” In a world where people have made their iPads and notebooks their very best friends, Avery reminds us that it’s human contact that is important. He’s also quoted as saying, “Monetary success is not success. Career success is not success. Life, someone that loves you, giving to others, doing something that makes you feel complete and full. That is success. And it isn’t dependent on anyone else.” I think it would be fair to say that a lot of James Avery went into the character of Philip Banks.

Naturally I have fond memories of watching The Fresh Prince. During the 1990s it used to be on in the evenings on a weekday and I’d much rather be watching The Fresh Prince than doing my homework. Who cares if I got told off and had to complete homework in detention? All the kids at school would be talking about it and rapping the lyrics to the theme tune – there was no way I was missing out on all of that. It was one of the most popular shows of the decade and something that I used to watch with my siblings. I was so disappointed when the series eventually ended but to this day I’m so glad that it featured as part of my childhood memories and made it’s mark in my era.

Even after The Fresh Prince ended, Avery continued to work steadily as a voice over artist and made appearances in shows such as My Wife and Kids, Grey’s Anatomy, Star Trek: Enterprise, NYPD Blue, That 70s Show and Charmed. Avery often played characters in the legal or some other high level professional field and he will forever be remembered for his towering stature, beard and booming voice.

Of course tributes came in thick and fast for the actor – who is survived by his mother, wife Barbara and stepson Kevin – after news of his death broke. Alfonso Ribeiro, who played Carlton Banks in The Fresh Prince, took to Facebook to say:

“The world has lost a truly special man. I am very saddened to say that James Avery has passed. Even though he played my father on TV, he was a wonderful father figure to me in life. He will be deeply missed.”

Will Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett-Smith also paid tribute to the man she had the honour of working with on The Fresh Prince:

“We have lost yet another friend. James Avery who we all lovingly know as Uncle Phil from The Fresh Prince has passed. Our condolences to aunt Florence (his mother), Miss Barbara (his wife) and all those who loved him. Rest in peace James.”

Avery’s on-screen daughter, Tatiana Ali stated that Avery would “always be a part of me,” while supermodel Tyra Banks who also starred in The Fresh Prince remembered how warm Avery was to her on-set.

But the most poignant tribute came from Will Smith who summed up perfectly what everyone felt:

“Some of my greatest lessons in acting, living and being a respectable human being came through James Avery. Every young man needs an Uncle Phil. Rest in Peace.”

An actor who will be sorely missed… and he will forever be everyone’s Uncle Phil.

 

Rest in peace, James Avery. Thanks for the memories.

 

 
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Posted by on January 19, 2014 in Gone Too Soon

 

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Video

Not So Rosey On Quality Street

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Christmas is over, the decorations have long been taken down, and we’re all heaving a sigh of relief that we won’t have to look at another turkey until the end of the year. However not all traces of Christmas have completely disappeared as we’re still surrounded by a huge mountain of chocolate that we couldn’t manage to get through during the festive season – even though we had been dutifully stuffing our faces with the stuff!

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Among the stash which is going to take us another year to finish – I won’t need to bother buying chocs this Christmas – is a plastic tub of Heroes which is now half full of miniature chocolates, which I don’t mind but I’m not over the top crazy about, so I’m contemplating turning them into a scrummy, yummy fondue or a brownie so that they’ll be fully appreciated and not sit lingering in the tub for the best part of a year.

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But despite consuming an amount of chocolate that would make an oompa loompa very happy (actually my brother often calls me an oompa loompa but we won’t talk about that!) what was missing this year was the mammoth tin of Roses or Quality Street we used to receive every year since we were knee-high to… an oompa loompa! To us, those tins of chocolate are as synonymous with Christmas as tinsel covered trees and nativity cribs – Christmas just isn’t Christmas without them!

I remember these!!! image from timeplan.com

I remember these!!! image from timeplan.com

 

One of the highlights of our Christmas involved working our way through a tin, tub or glass jar of either Roses or Quality Street (if we were extraordinarily lucky – both!) We couldn’t wait to take the lid off the tin and get stuck in. Even though Roses and Quality Street are available all year round in their standard box form, there’s something about seeing those beautifully wrapped sweets in bright jewel tones at Christmas that makes them very apt for that festive time of year. Opening a tin of Roses or Quality Street was like entering Aladdin’s cave; all those interesting colours, shapes, sizes and textures… no wonder it was such a huge hit with young children.

I still have one of these - minus the lid and label sadly. Image from ebay.com

I still have one of these – minus the lid and label sadly. Image from ebay.com

 

The chocolate tin was the equivalent of the Olympic gold medal in our house – it was regarded as something special that everyone wanted to get their hands on. And it was ideal, no, a necessity for Christmas telly viewing. All six of us would be gathered together in the living room. Dad would be sprawled out on the sofa, rummaging through the tin and gobbling up chocolate as though his life depended on it. Chocolate wrappers would be scattered on the floor much to Mum’s annoyance and our amusement. This would soon be followed by a surprised cry of “Oh! It’s all gone! Who finished it?” Er, you did, Dad but I suppose we should thank you for having the decency to finish the orange fondants and coffee creams. We may love our Roses and Quality Street but I seriously do not know anyone who actually likes these.

As Quality Street tubs appear today.

As Quality Street tubs appear today.

Now that I’m married, I wanted to continue the tradition. Buying a special Christmas edition tin of Roses or Quality Street that is, not having Dad scoff the lot. As Hubby is from the States, he’s never had either before, so he left it up to me to decide which one to get. As it was our first Christmas together in the UK, I thought I’d go all out and get both. However, I was soon left sorely disappointed.

First of all, they now come in a plastic tub not a lovely metal tin as in years gone by which was ideal for storing biscuits or if you’re like my mum – rice! Then I discovered that for both types of chocolate collections, many of my favourites had been discontinued. The selection of chocolates available were greatly reduced and if I’m being brutally honest, I didn’t like most of them. What have they done to my beloved Roses and Quality Street?

A quick look at reviews and forums indicate that I’m not alone. There have been many complaints regarding both quantity and quality of the chocolates. Many have noticed that the flavours have changed and that the chocolates tastes sickly sweet. Some have put the change down to takeovers by different companies while others believe that it’s due to having to be economical in times of financial crisis. But whatever the changes may be it doesn’t change the fact that it’s not the chocolate assortments that we once knew and loved.

And although it’s a more minor issue, I can’t say I’m too thrilled with the new look designs. Although they disappeared fourteen years ago, I wish that Nestle had not got rid of the image of the two characters Major Quality and Miss Sweetly – who incidentally were inspired by the knowledge that people in the 1930s craved nostalgia. And as for what’s supposed to be an abstract rose which features as part of the Roses design, well it just looks more like a child’s scribble. The design on my mum’s old tin has a beautiful design from either the late 70s or early 80s. I know things have to change as years go by but I thought change was supposed to be for the better.

With Major Quality and Miss Sweetly

With Major Quality and Miss Sweetly

Roses and Quality Street appeared in the 1930s; a time when boxed chocolates could only be afforded by the wealthy. These assortments were reasonably priced and nicely presented, low-cost packaging thus making it available to most working people. And over the years it has been a massive hit. Christmas aside, we knew we were in for a real treat if someone gave us a box of Roses or Quality Street as we were growing up. I also bought into the slogan “Say ‘Thank You’ with Cadbury’s Roses” and it would always be my go-to box of chocolates if I ever wanted to give a small token of appreciation.

Sadly, it’s not something I would do now. And unless the quality of these chocolates improve, I think it’s safe to say that it will be another tub of Heroes again this Christmas.

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Welcome 2014: The First Blog Post Of The Year

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Hope everybody’s had an amazing Christmas and New Year. I just can’t believe how fast the time has gone. Two weeks ago I was running around trying to do a whole bunch of last minute stuff – and now I’m sat here anticipating my return to work tomorrow and the only reminder of Christmas is the last remaining Christmas pudding in the cupboard!

2013 has been a very good year and I do hope that 2014 will be just as good. I don’t bother with new year’s resolutions – they’re pointless for someone like me – but I do have a list of things I would like to at least attempt this year so we’ll see how I get along with that.

I’ve also thought a great deal about Nostalgia Pie and my plans for the blog this year. All my blogs are very special to me but I love Nostalgia Pie just a little bit more because it’s the blog that kicked off everything. I’m still going to be looking at everything that’s associated with my childhood years but I’d also like to feature interview people who’d like to share childhood stories from their era. If I’m lucky I may even be able to get a well known face or two who used to be on screens ‘back in the day!’ But of course, all the usual favourites from Nostalgia Pie will still be here. Here’s hoping the blog will be bigger and better than last year!

 

Happy new year everyone!

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Posted by on January 5, 2014 in This, That and the Other!

 

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