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Tag Archives: Dessert

A Few Of My Favourite Things

The hubby and I have been in America for over six weeks now and I’m slowly becoming accustomed to my new home. To be honest we’ve both been busy with all the usual hectic stuff that goes with a move abroad i.e. renting a flat; buying a car; settling into a new job; getting to know people; finding the best place to get a take away curry etc. etc.

I’m very excited about coming to America and all the opportunities it presents. From the time I was a teenager, I had a feeling that I’d one day end up living abroad. And now I’ve done just that. But that doesn’t mean I don’t get homesick and miss England and everyone and everything in it terribly because I do. So I always take comfort in anything that reminds me of home… and some of these things even have a connection to my childhood!

BOOT’S PRODUCTS

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I remember when I was last in Oregon a few years back, Target had started stocking  up Boot’s products which I was very excited about. And I’d totally forgotten about it until we went into our local Target last week and found a small section of the store – and I do mean small – dedicated to Boot’s cosmetics and skin care products. That really did cheer me up – to see a little piece of home.

I’m not familiar with many of the brands available in the States although I will inevitably get round to trying them out – but right now its great to see a brand I know and trust.

JELLY

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Or jello as its called over here. OK, I know – jelly is such a kid’s dessert. No one with a sophisticated palate would even consider a bowlful of the wibbly-wobbly stuff and most adults will probably only touch it if you add alcohol and serve them up in little plastic shot glasses at parties.

But then I’ve never really been one for following the crowd and I’ve always loved jelly. It stems from childhood when a bowlful of jelly was an amazing treat – how easily pleased we were – and even now, when I’m feeling homesick or a bit low for any reason, jelly hits the spot every time. And if there’s any ice- cream or squirty cream to go with it, so much the better!

Funnily enough, most American adults I know have no interest in jello – unless we’re talking jello shots – but yet there’s such a fantastic array of flavours unlike the UK where we’re pretty much limited to five flavours. So far I’ve come across peach, melon, cherry, blueberry, apricot, grape, fruit punch, cola, pineapple, mango… and those are just the ones I can remember!

While the Americans beat us on flavours, the thing I love about jelly in Britain is that you can get them in the form of squidgy gelatine squares whereas over here in America it’s always in crystal form. How I love those jelly squares! Whenever my mum used to make jelly for us, you could be sure I’d pop a couple of squares in my gob. In fact, I’ve even been known to scoff a whole packet like sweets!

EGGO WAFFLES

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In Britain, waffles are either Belgian or potato which are both fab but I remember my aunt making a different type of waffle when i used to go round to her house which seemed to be made from batter. I have no idea what brand it was but when I was much older I used to look for them in the frozen aisles but could never find them so they’d obviously been discontinued long ago.

Eggo waffles are the ones that come closest to my childhood memory and they are a firm favourite in our household.

SARA LEE DESSERTS

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Who remembers those Sara Lee television ads of the eighties where we were advised that “If at first you don’t succeed – cheat!” I’m quite sure that Sara Lee gateaus would have been all the rage at dinner parties back in the day but this brand is another thing that seems to have disappeared over the years in Britain. It was only when I used to visit Oregon a few years back that I ran into this brand at the supermarket like a long- lost friend… and those Sara Lee fruit pies soon became a freezer staple.

These days I’m addicted to Sara Lee’s pound cake. Delicious!

 

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Posted by on March 1, 2016 in Brands

 

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Newlyweds: Nick And Jessica

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I can’t remember exactly what it was that got me thinking about Newlyweds: Nick And Jessica, the reality TV series that starred newly married couple, singers Jessica Simpson and Nick Lachey as they embarked on a new chapter in their lives. But I decided to check out a couple of old episodes and soon became hooked again!

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When it came to American teen girl singing sensations in the nineties, Britney and Christina ruled. And when it came to nineties American boy bands, N’Sync and Backstreet Boys owned it. This left Jessica Simpson and Nick’s band 98 Degrees a little in the shade, which was unfortunate as they were – and still are – mega talented. I remember watching Jessica for the first time when she performed on Top Of The Pops with I Wanna Love You Forever, and I know that 98 Degrees collaborated with my then-idol Mariah Carey on her track Thank God I Found You which I absolutely loved. Both acts were well-known in the States but back in 1990’s Britain there were still many people who hadn’t heard of them.

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But Newlyweds changed everything…

At the beginning of the twenty first century, reality television wasn’t as we know it today but it was starting to gather momentum. Today The Osbournes, Donny Loves Jenny, Wahlburgers, and of course, Keeping Up WithThe Kardashians are well-known but Newlyweds was probably one of the earliest reality TV shows to feature the day-to-day lives of celebrities, especially a celebrity couple. Nick and Jessica’s MTV reality show that followed the lives of the newlywed pop stars, who married in 2002 and began filming their series in 2003.

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I remember I used to watch Newlyweds on MTV with my sister. Even though we knew who both Nick and Jessica were, we didn’t quite know what to expect before watching the first episode. We thought it would be bland, boring fly-on-the-wall stuff which we probably wouldn’t bother watching again but we thought we’d give it a go. I was especially interested because I remember that the impossibly good-looking couple’s wedding was featured on one of Oprah Winfrey’s celebrity wedding shows and I was curious to see what married life was like for them.

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Well Newlyweds proved to be anything but boring. It had me and sis in stitches! Jessica’s combination of dumb blonde-meets pop sensation meets wannabe housewife seemed to grate on Nick which provided many of the comic moments. The pairing of solid, dependable, down-to-earth Nick with scatty, dizzy but lovable Jessica who was very comfortable in the world of celebrity made for great viewing. Who didn’t love watching Jessica’s antics and listening to her ‘Jessica-isms’ which often left an exasperated Nick speechless?

But it wasn’t just the humorous aspect that kept us tuning in. Like most of Newlyweds’ fans, I just loved watching Nick and Jessica together. The love between them was evident, and although they may have been chalk-and-cheese, somehow they worked. I used to watch Nick’s romantic gestures and hope that one day, I’d find a man like that too (who didn’t?) It was a modern day fairy tale and I couldn’t wait for my weekly fix of Newlyweds. To be honest, I’m amazed that I pretty much forgot about this couple and the show. As far as memories go, they are relatively recent and both Nick and Jessica are still very much in the public eye. But I suppose it’s the fact that they’ve both moved on and created new lives for themselves and developed as people who are as far removed from their Newlyweds days as you can get, that made us forget that once upon a time, we used to be glued to this show.

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The show boosted the couple’s popularity greatly especially Jessica’s and was great publicity for her many professional ventures including her cosmetics line, Dessert, her album, In This Skin, and her first ever movie role as Daisy Duke in Dukes Of Hazard. Unfortunately as everyone knows, the marriage – and the show – wasn’t to last. At the end of 2005, Nick and Jessica separated after three years of marriage and three series of Newlyweds, despite having a seemingly solid relationship, divorcing six months later. Nick and Jessica fans hoped that the couple would reunite but it wasn’t to be. Fast forward to 2015, and both Nick and Jessica have new partners with whom they have started families, and they have both on numerous occasions expressed a desire to move on from the past and focus on their new families. Of course in the world of celebrity, the past can’t be erased  so easily but there’s no denying that Nick and Jessica both seem happy in their new lives and that’s all that their fans can wish for.

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But the show – and the couple –  will always have a very special place in our hearts.

FAVOURITE JESSICA-ISMS

  1. “Is this chicken that I have or fish?” That infamous line.
  2. “I don’t eat buffalo” – when offered buffalo wings
  3. “Twenty-three is old. It’s like almost twenty-five which is almost mid-twenties.” – on her twenty-third birthday.
  4. “You post a letter before you can send it.” – her thoughts on the prefix ‘post’ meaning ‘after’.
  5. “I feel bad for this horse but I guess it’s on wheels so it makes it go faster.” – during the romantic buggy ride for their first anniversary.
  6. “The horse knows to stop at a red lights?” – during same buggy ride.
  7. “I love this scent. What scent is it again? Oh, it’s unscented.” – on candles.
  8. “They have their own language.” – on thinking that ‘African’ is a language.
  9. I think I just broke my kidney.
  10. “It was total mayham.” – instead of mayhem.

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Posted by on August 30, 2015 in TV Shows

 

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Old-Skool Ice-Cream Flavours

Today has been an absolute scorcher of a day. I swear half of me has melted away!

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If I could walk around the streets of London in a string bikini, I would. But unfortunately can’t (especially not with this bod!) so I’ve had to think of other ways to beat the heat and I’ve been downing anything that’s icy cold.

And thoughts turned to all the ice-creams we used to devour as kids. It goes without saying that we loved our ice-cream. For a number of reasons, this was not a freezer staple but rather an occasional treat. There’d always be tubs of Cornish vanilla or neopolitan ice-creams at family parties and gatherings; the ice-cream man wasn’t safe when we heard the van approaching our road, and ice-cream cones always featured when my family and I hit the local park. Unsurprisingly, Mum refused to stock up on ice-cream during the winter months, so ice-cream is most definitely synonymous with summer.

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Today ice-cream means Ben and Jerry’s, Haagen-Dazs, Carte D’or and (once) unusual flavours such as salted caramel, lemon meringue pie, espresso, and toffee apple. When I asked my class recently what their favourite flavours were, ‘pistachio’ and ‘green tea; featured in the answers. And me? Well funnily enough my favourite ice-creams are three which are very hard to find in England: I love butter pecan (USA) crème caramel/flan (Spain) and brown bread ice-cream (Ireland.) I must be the only person who needs to hop on a plane every time they fancy an ice-cream cone!

Image from bbc.co.uk

Image from bbc.co.uk

 

This is all good but it’s dawned on me that many of the ice-cream flavours from my childhood have either totally disappeared or they’re very hard to come by. Ice-creams in the 1970s,1980s and 1990s wasn’t necessary high-end or ultra-sophisticated. In fact when I think about it, there were very limited in their range of flavours (generally chocolate, strawberry, or vanilla) and packaging was anything but glam. Brands were typically Wall’s, Lyon’s Maid… and not much else! But it was fun, delicious and it kept you cool.

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I absolutely love ice-cream today: there’s a never-ending variety of flavours, including savoury flavours (avocado chilli or basil, anyone?) the quality has vastly improved, and it’s that much more creamier and flavourful. But I can’t help but get all nostalgic when I think about what ice-cream looked like back in the day and those retro flavours. So as an ode to summers gone by and staying cool, here’s a list of the ice-cream flavours that were around when I was growing up in the eighties. Some of them are still around; some are hard to find, and some seem to have melted away…

1. VANILLA

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Vanilla ice-cream needs absolutely no introduction! Vanilla ice-cream might be considered a bit, well, vanilla, but back in the eighties, in a world with limited ice-cream flavours, if anyone had a tub of ice-cream in their freezer, you could bet your life it would be vanilla. It was very popular in our house although Mum tended to buy it in block form rather than a tub. I suppose one reason it was so popular was because it was – and still is – so versatile: you could pop it in a soda float; add any flavour topping to it; layer it up in a sundae, or serve it as an accompaniment to a pudding such as a cake or tart – much like we do today. However most of the people I knew used to serve it with tinned fruit salad – a real treat back then for us kids (tinned fruit was the only fruit I’d eat back then) or jelly. It might not sound very sophisticated but if someone served that up for me now I’d still scoff it!

Today, vanilla has to work hard to maintain its popularity with all these weird and wonderful ice-cream flavours around that are tempting us away from this good, old-fashioned flavour. Vanilla is still tops due to its versatility but we’re much more fussy when it comes to the quality and won’t settle for any old vanilla ice-cream. It has to be super smooth and creamy, with an intense vanilla flavour – and if it happens to be vanilla bean ice-cream, so much the better!
2. CORNISH VANILLA

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Now this was the ice-cream flavour that Mum was most likely to buy and it was always the Wall’s brand that was in our freezer. Cornish vanilla ice-cream had a much deeper cream-come-yellow colour that regular vanilla ice-cream didn’t have, and what I remember most was that deliciously buttery flavour. Even as a child I felt that Cornish vanilla ice-cream didn’t really need any sauces or toppings thanks to that unique flavour; I preferred to have it ‘plain’.

Over the years I gradually stopped devouring Cornish vanilla. I’m not sure if it’s because I ate bucket-loads as a child or because I was tempted away by other flavours – or maybe both! But when I’m hit by nostalgia – as I so often am – I do treat myself to some Cornish vanilla ice-cream. However, I can’t help feeling a little underwhelmed by it because that intense, buttery flavour that I remember doesn’t seem the same – no matter which brand I buy. But I live in hope of rediscovering it.

3. CHOCOLATE

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I didn’t know a kid back then who didn’t like chocolate ice-cream – and I still don’t! It’s still very much a firm favourite today with children and adults alike. When I was growing up but it was just ‘chocolate’. Now chocolate ice-cream has more varieties than Heinz: white chocolate, chocolate brownie, chocolate fudge; chocolate cookie dough; chocolate mud pie; triple chocolate; chocolate-til-it’s-coming-out-of-your-ears etc.

At secondary school, we were fortunate enough to have an ice-cream van arrive in the school yard every lunch time and home time, where after school, I would sometimes treat myself to a chocolate cone. I wonder what Mr. Oliver would make of that!

And you don’t need me to tell you, it’s still one of the most popular ice-cream flavours all over the world. But thenwith all those chocolate variations it would have to be.
4. STRAWBERRY

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My memories of strawberry ice-cream – a flavour both my parents loved back then – was that it was always an eye-catching shade of pink, from a pretty pastel shade to a very deep pink. However one thing I’m wondering about is whether any of the strawberry ice-creams I devoured contained a scrap of real strawberry at all. I suspect most of them didn’t and were simply strawberry flavoured but even if we knew that back then, I doubt we would have minded very much.

Of course today there is a real distinction between the brightly coloured strawberry flavoured ice-cream, and the frozen, creamy delicacy that’s made with real strawberries and often contains yummy chunks of strawberries – and I definitely know which one I prefer!

And as with chocolate, there are many variations today of the humble strawberry ice-cream: strawberry cheesecake; strawberry shortcake; strawberries and cream; strawberry and Champagne… oh it was all so much simpler in my day!
5. MINT CHOC-CHIP

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A childhood fave for me, as I loved anything that was mint flavoured (as a matter of fact I still do!) And contrary to popular belief, mint ice-cream tastes nothing like toothpaste. When I was around seven, I went through a phase where I would only ever eat ice-cream if it was mint choc-chip. I loved the cool, refreshing, minty taste combined with creamy texture. And those dark chocolate chips were a very welcome addition. Mint and chocolate – a winning combo if ever I heard one. And of course I loved the minty green colour too.

Mint choc chip is still readily available and although I never rush out and buy a tub anymore (I definitely overindulged when I was a child and can never finish a whole tub now) I never say no to a mint choc-chip cone.
6. RASPBERRY RIPPLE

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This was another ice-cream flavour I really liked: vanilla ice-cream swirled with raspberry sauce. Once again Mum used to by this in block form (yep, those blocks sure were popular in the eighties and nineties) which we would usually slice and serve between two wafers. I was always very fussy about which slice I got because it had to be very heavily rippled with raspberry sauce.

Thankfully this delicious ice-cream is still popular today.
7. NEAPOLITAN

Neapolitan: the ice-cream of my childhood

Whoever invented Neapolitan ice-cream is right up there with Einstein! It was a great idea to put the three popular ice-cream flavours together: chocolate, vanilla and strawberry. It meant that mums could buy just one tub and know it would please the whole family, and for those who just simply couldn’t decide which one to buy – they could just go for Neapolitan. One tub fits all!

It goes without saying that a tub of Neapolitan was always very well received in our house where we all had our favourites. And whenever we had guests over for dinner and there was going to be ice-cream for afters, if it wasn’t vanilla it was almost guaranteed to be Neapolitan because let’s face it everyone was guaranteed to like at least one of the flavours (unless they were strictly mint choc-chip in which case we were screwed!)

Neapolitan ice-cream is still around today but I wonder how many people have a tub in their freezer…
8. BROWN BREAD

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Although brown bread ice-cream was well-known during the eighties, I don’t ever recall it being available to buy in stores. Instead it seemed to be an ice-cream people were encouraged to make at home judging by the recipes I’d see in magazines and on cooking shows. At the time I remember thinking what an odd flavour it was for an ice-cream. Why on earth would anyone want to eat ice-cream made out of bread?

Well I’ve just come back from holiday where I indulged in the most gorgeous brown bread ice-cream. Words really don’t do it justice. Good on the ice-cream parlour for having brown bread ice-cream as one of its flavours. I hope other parlours and restaurants will follow.
9. RUM N’ RAISIN

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I never actually had rum n’ raisin ice-cream when I was growing up, despite it being quite popular, because I wasn’t keen on raisins and I was afraid I’d get drunk on the artificial rum flavour! How times have changed because now I love to get drunk on real rum… but I still have a love-hate thing going on with raisins. So good on rum n’  raisin for making it into the twenty first century but I really don’t think it’s something I’ll ever be wolfing down (it would have stood a better chance without the raisins.)

My mum, on the other hand, loves raisins but will never stock the freezer with rum and raisin because she hates the taste of rum!
10. BANANA

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This is an ice-cream flavour I loved back then and still do. Banana ice-cream wasn’t overly common when I was growing up – it still isn’t – but I remember that some restaurants offered it along with the top three. I really like banana ice-cream partly because I love the sweet, creamy taste of bananas but also because it made a change from vanilla, chocolate and strawberry. I’ve since discovered that banana ice-cream isn’t popular with a lot of people even now although I can’t understand why after all most people like a banana split and the flavours aren’t too dissimilar.

Never mind – I’ll still guzzle it by the bucketload!

11. TUTTI FRUTTI

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Meaning ‘all fruits’ in Italian, this ice-cream flavour containing mixed peel, dried and candied fruits was incredibly popular during the eighties and early nineties and was a huge hit with my family, especially my mum and aunts. But guess what? I HATED it! I couldn’t stand the stuff. I remember one occasion during a family get together when my five year old self had cried the house down because I wanted some ice-cream. And of all the flavours they could have brought me, they brought me a bowl of horrid tutti frutti.

“Now you eat that,” said my aunt in a very stern tone, “you asked for it, now eat it!” I didn’t dare tell her that even though I’d asked for ice-cream, I did not ask for that awful flavour.

Even though my palate has changed over the years and I now like foods I once detested, I don’t think I could ever get used to tutti frutti ice-cream. And I’m not sure I’ll ever get the chance to find out if I’m right because I honestly can’t remember the last time I saw it on sale… anywhere! In fact a lot of people I’ve spoken to have said the same. And despite my dislike of the flavour, I am sorry that it doesn’t seem to be around now as it brings back a lot of memories of my family, childhood and the eighties… and also because my mum likes it!

12. CHOC-CHIP

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Chocolate chip ice-cream is an absolute classic: smooth vanilla ice-cream combined with crunchy chocolate chips. This was a very popular ice-cream flavour as I was growing up but funnily enough I don’t remember us having this at home. On the rare occasions when we were fortune to sample a dish of choc chip, it was usually in a restaurant. And of course this flavour is still consumed by the truckload.

Right, now I’m going to stay cool with a huge tub of olive oil and bay leaf ice-cream. Bliss!

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Comfort Food #16: Banana Custard

I realise that it’s been a while since I last did a Comfort Food post and as I’ve been having thoughts about banana custard for a while, I thought now would be as good a time as any to do a new recipe post.

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Things have been a little stressful lately what with work issues and wanting to move house. I thought back to one of the most stressful periods of my life when I was in my mid-teens, and do you know what got me through it? Puddings! It’s no secret that I’ve got a sweet tooth and all sorts of sweet, warm yummy puddings proved to be a real comfort and help with all that teenage angst. And one pudding in particular that proved to be a real godsend was banana custard. Now I am well aware that banana custard might not be to everyone’s tastes and I’m sure some people might liken it to baby food and think it’s just for kids but I absolutely love it. It’s simple yet delicious and warming – although it can also be eaten cold.

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I love creamy, custardy type desserts, and I’m also fond of bananas so it was inevitable that banana custard and I were going to get on well like a plate of bacon and eggs! There are many variations of this classic dessert some of which include mascarpone, chocolate, cake or biscuit pieces, whipped cream, meringue topping etc. which all sound incredibly scrummy but I still say that the simplest  and old-fashioned version is the best – home made custard with chopped or mashed bananas folded in. Of course if you’re pushed for time or you find making custard a challenge (I do understand – it’s not as easy as it looks!) you could always opt for the ready-made stuff and simply fold the bananas in yourself, though personally I do think it’s worth the effort to try and make the custard yourself. And it’s also a great way to use up bananas that are beginning to over-ripen. And it’s also quite versatile as a dessert because the banana custard can be used as the filling for a pie, cake or crumble. You can also caramelise the bananas first, and even make a baked version of this pudding.

So here’s a recipe for the dessert that made my teen years taste so much sweeter. It’s yumtastic!

BANANA CUSTARD

Serves 4

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INGREDIENTS:

  • 300 ml full fat milk
  • Contents of 1 vanilla pod
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 1 tbsp cornflour
  • 2 tbsp golden caster sugar
  • 3 large bananas, sliced or mashed 
  • A splash of rum (optional)

 

METHOD:

1. Pour the milk into a medium saucepan and place over a medium heat.

2. Add the vanilla and pod and bring the milk to the boil.

3. While the milk is heating up, tip the egg yolks into a bowl, along with the cornflour and sugar.

4. Whisk together until the mixture is thick and pale.

5. As soon as the milk comes to the boil remove the pan from the heat.

6. Scoop out the vanilla pod and pour the hot milk onto the egg mixture.

7. Whisk continuously until well combined.

8. Pour the custard mixture back into the pan and heat gently over a low heat, stirring all the time, until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.

9. Slice the bananas into the custard and stir to combine.

10. Add rum if desired.

11.  Pour the hot banana custard in dishes.

12. Serve hot or cold.

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Posted by on April 6, 2015 in This, That and the Other!

 

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Sunshine In Winter With Delia Smith’s Summer Collection

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I am so excited with my latest purchase. This afternoon I bought a copy of Delia Smith’s Summer Collection and it brought back so many memories. This cook book accompanied the 1993 BBC series which used to be broadcast once a week on a week night which I used to watch when I should have been doing my homework!

A terrine of summer fruits from Delia's Summer Collection

A terrine of summer fruits from Delia’s Summer Collection

 

I’ve pretty much grown up with Delia; it’s no secret that my mum was a huge fan of TV cookery shows – she still is – so I got my liking for such shows from her. And Delia Smith was probably the first TV cook I watched in the early 1980s and her career started long before I was even born. I’ve watched all of her TV series as I was growing up which I’m sure contributed to my interest in food, cooking and trying new culinary delights. And I have to say it – Christmas just isn’t Christmas without Delia Smith’s Christmas.

The great lady herself!

The great lady herself!

 

Delia is most definitely on a different plane when compared to today’s TV chefs. Not that I’m saying anyone’s better or worse as I have a lot of respect for those guys, but whereas they’re more fast-paced, energetic and often prone to tantrums, Delia is a lot more calmer with a no-nonsense approach. She reminds me of a school teacher with a great deal of patience! She also had a reputation for complex dishes and for using obscure ingredients that were difficult to source but flicking through Delia Smith’s Summer Collection, there’s very little evidence of that. Many of the dishes seem extremely easy to rustle up with ingredients that are easily obtainable. I was also surprised to see some recipes for Thai and Sri Lankan dishes so I’m guessing the British public were starting to become more adventurous when it came to food just over twenty years ago!

A delicious looking vanilla cream terrine

A delicious looking vanilla cream terrine

 

There are a lot of tasty recipes in here, as well as ones I remember her making from the show such as Coconut ice-cream with lime syrup, ice-tea, and coconut lime cake. That last one is especially interesting because I’ve never been much of a fan of desiccated coconut but it looked so fantastic on the show that I wanted to try it!

So here’s the recipe for coconut lime cake taken from Delia Smith’s Summer Collection which I will also be attempting soon. Go on – inject a little sunshine into winter!

INGREDIENTS:

 2 oz (50 g) desiccated coconut
 2 limes
 6 oz (175 g) self-raising flour
 6 oz (175 g) caster sugar
 6 oz (175 g) soft margarine or butter
 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
 2 level tablespoons dried coconut milk powder
 1 rounded teaspoon baking powder
For the icing:
 3 limes
 8 oz (225 g) icing sugar
 Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 3, 325°F (170°C).
Equipment
You will also need two 8 inch (20 cm) round sponge tins 1½ inches (4 cm) deep, greased and the bases lined with silicone paper (parchment).

METHOD:

For the cake, start off by grating the zest of the 2 limes on to a small saucer, then cover that with clingfilm and set on one side. Next, measure the desiccated coconut into a small bowl, then squeeze the juice of the limes and pour this over the coconut to allow it to soften and soak up the juice for an hour or so.

To make the cake, just take a large, roomy bowl and sift in the flour, lifting the sieve up high to give the flour a good airing. Then simply throw in all the other cake ingredients, including the lime zest and soaked coconut, and with an electric hand whisk, switched to high speed, whisk everything till thoroughly blended – about 2-3 minutes. Now divide the mixture equally between the two prepared tins, smooth to level off the tops and bake on a middle shelf of the oven for 30-35 minutes, or until the centres feel springy to the touch. Allow the cakes to cool in the tins for 5 minutes, then turn them out on to a wire rack to cool completely, carefully peeling off the base papers. They must be completely cold before the icing goes on.

To make the icing, begin by removing the zest from the limes – this is best done with a zester as you need long, thin, curly strips that look pretty. Then, with your sharpest knife, remove all the outer pith, then carefully remove each segment (holding the limes over a bowl to catch any juice), sliding the knife in between the membrane so that you have the flesh of the segments only. This is much easier to do with limes than it is with other citrus fruits. Drop the segments into the bowl and squeeze the last drops of juice from the pith. Now, sift the icing sugar in on top of the limes a little at a time, carefully folding it in with a tablespoon in order not to break up the lime segments too much.

When all the sugar is incorporated, allow the mixture to stand for 5 minutes, then spread half of it on to the surface of one of the cakes and scatter with half the lime zest. Place the other cake on top, spread the rest of the icing on top of that and scatter the rest of the zest over. Then place the cake in the fridge for 30 minutes to firm up the icing before serving.

 

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Posted by on December 29, 2014 in Books Galore, Childhood Legends

 

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Comfort Food #14: Peach Melba

 

 

Summer is on it’s way out, and along with it some of my favourite fruits which I will not see for another year. Two fruits which I love and have been readily available these last few months are raspberries and peaches – two reasons to love Summer! Needless to say our refrigerator has been stuffed with these fruits, as well as other seasonal goodies, which I’ve put into puddings, fruit salad, or eaten them just as they are.

Image from creative-culinary.com

Image from creative-culinary.com

 

As both raspberries and peaches are the chief ingredients of a peach Melba, it wasn’t long before thoughts turned to this retro pud. As a child I was very familiar with peach Melbas because they were EVERYWHERE! Not only was my mum a huge peach fanatic, but it was also served up in restaurants and at dinner parties; featured in the recipe section of magazines, and appeared on cooking shows. Peach Melba was as common a dessert back in the ’80s as panna cotta is now.

 

But as with many of my childhood desserts, the dish which Nigella Lawson rightly describes as ‘summer on a plate’ went from being everywhere to disappearing without a trace. Even Baked Alaska made an appearance on The Great British Bake Off this week!

Peach Melba is such a delicious dessert which I hope (please, please!) counts towards your five-a-day. Peaches and raspberries are a gorgeous combination and it’s a great way to make use of the two fruits are  in abundance at the moment. It’s just a shame everyone’s forgotten about it!

Image from taste.com.au

Image from taste.com.au

 

SO WHAT IS PEACH MELBA?

The peach Melba is a simple, well-known, classic dessert. This creamy, cool, and fruity pud consists of vanilla ice-cream, peaches and a raspberry sauce – in some ways, a kind of ice-cream sundae.

Image from bbc.co.uk

Image from bbc.co.uk

 

THE HISTORY BEHIND THE DESSERT

The dessert was first created in the 1890s. it’s something of an international dessert because it was created in London by a French chef – Georges Auguste Escoffier – in honour of the Australian opera singer Nellie Melba who this dish is named after. Incidentally Melba toast is also named after her.

The muse: Nellie Melba

The muse: Nellie Melba

The original peach Melba is believed to have been poached, skinned, and sliced before being sprinkled with sugar and cooled. This was then placed onto vanilla ice-cream and then drizzled with a sweet, seedless raspberry sauce. Escoffier insisted that the dessert should be served in a silver dish.

The patron saint of Peach Melbas: George Auguste Escoffier

The patron saint of Peach Melbas: George Auguste Escoffier

 

But the version we are more familiar with sees the peach halved before being poached in a sugar syrup.

WHEN WAS IT POPULAR?

I know Peach Melba was all the rage in the 1980s when I was growing up until about the early ’90s. I’m sure it must have been very popular in the preceding decades to but it’s hard to determine when it was at it’s most popular as there’s so little information available.

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DECLINE IN POPULARITY

It’s not known why this dessert isn’t as popular now as it once was. It’s just simple gone out of fashion just as clothes and hairstyles often do.  It could be that it has quite an old-fashioned image or perhaps it’s considered to be too simplistic and has been ousted by more seemingly sophisticated desserts which everyone now has more of a taste for.

THE LEGACY LIVES ON…

Paul Heathcote's contemporary take on the classic Peach Melba

Paul Heathcote’s contemporary take on the classic Peach Melba

Peach Melba isn’t altogether ‘off the menu.’ Some chefs have revamped the humble Peach Melba for the twenty-first century in terms of appearance and ingredients so it’s shaken off it’s retro image. The combination of peaches and raspberries is still very much used in cooking, which isn’t a surprise because the flavours and colours work so well together. So even though the actual dessert isn’t so common now, the flavour profile is still very much evident, and the fact that any dish containing peaches and raspberries is referred to as ‘Peach Melba’ indicates that this classic pud still continues to live on albeit in a different form. So now we have Peach Melba cheesecakes, trifles, pies, tarts, tortes, ice-creams, roulades, martinis, smoothies, sorbets and even a Peach Melba… Baked Alaska!

Peach Melba roulade from bbcgoodfood.com

Peach Melba roulade from bbcgoodfood.com

 

So if you’d like to set your senses alight to the fabulous flavours and textures of a Peach Melba, here’s a recipe for Nigella Lawson’s take on this pud for you to try.

Image from nigella.com

Image from nigella.com

 

INGREDIENTS:

for the peaches

  • 750 ml water
  • 700 grams caster sugar
  • juice of ½ lemon
  • 1 vanilla pod (split lengthways)
  • 8 peaches

for the raspberry sauce

  • 375 grams raspberries
  • 25 grams icing sugar
  • juice of ½ lemon

to serve

  • 1 large tub vanilla ice cream

METHOD:

  1. Put the water, sugar, lemon juice and vanilla pod into a wide saucepan and heat gently to dissolve the sugar.
  2. Bring the pan to the boil and let it bubble away for about 5 minutes, then turn the pan down to a fast simmer.
  3. Cut the peaches in half, and, if the stones come out easily remove them, if not, then you can get them out later.
  4. Poach the peach halves in the sugar syrup for about 2-3 minutes on each side, depending on the ripeness of the fruit.
  5. Test the cut side with the sharp point of a knife to see if they are soft, and then remove to a plate with a slotted spoon.
  6. When all the peaches are poached, peel off their skins and let them cool (and remove any remaining stones).
  7. If you are making them a day in advance, let the poaching syrup cool and then pour into a dish with the peaches.
  8. Otherwise just bag up the syrup and freeze it for the next time you poach peaches.
  9. To make the raspberry sauce, liquidize the raspberries, icing sugar and lemon juice in a blender or else a processor.
  10. Sieve to remove the pips and pour this fantastically hued puree into a jug.
  11. To assemble the peach melba, allow two peach halves per person and sit them on each plate alongside a scoop or two of ice cream.
  12. Spoon the raspberry sauce over each one, and put the remaining puce-tinted red sauce in a jug for people to add themselves at the table.

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