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Pineapple Sorbet

pineapple sorbet Aside from friends and family, I think the thing I miss the most about Northern Ireland is its selection of ice lollies. Considering its such a chilly corner of the world, we love our frozen treats. Ice cream has its merits, but there’s something about ice lollies that we especially enjoy.

These lollies held a massive lure when I was a kid popping to the local shop with my pocket money. Sometimes you went for quantity over quality and got handfuls of those Mr Freeze freezepops in the long plastic containers, making sure there was at least one Blue Raspberry flavour per batch. A freezepop fest didn’t count unless you dyed your tongue an unnatural shade.

But more often, it was all about branded lollies on wooden sticks. I’m old enough to remember when they embossed jokes onto the sticks and this was worth the potential to set your teeth on edge with the wood. Walls offered us Mini Milks and Funny Feet, but I didn’t like either much. Lyons had the iconic Fab and the Mivvi, but they were cinema lollies not hot day ones. I adored Irish company HB‘s Fat Frogs which were apple flavoured and had a soft spot for a shark shaped one that was sharp and citrus flavoured and a blackcurrant Dracula lolly too, but my love lay (and still does) with Norn Irish classics from Dale Farm.

Leaning over the freezer trying to choose between a Rocky Rasper (raspberry, but not blue), the sugar free but lovely lemon-lime Supa Cool, a smooth vanilla Mr Frostie (in lieu of the toy lolly maker of the same name) or the crocodile branded Choc Pop was tricky. I never wanted a Joker with its orange outer and ice cream middle and I hated orangey Quenchers too.

My first choice was always the Pear Picking Porky, the undisputed classic ice lolly of all time. Not, as my Slovakian surrogate sister once asked, pig flavoured, but made of that artificial pear flavouring that is nothing like the fruit, these lollies the spot every time. I’ve even eaten them walking up Botanic Avenue on Boxing Day. The only problem with them is that they are so popular they sell out easily, meaning one needs a back up plan.

For me this comes in the shape of a Polly Pineapple. So when I found myself far from Belfast in the middle of a heatwave and craving frozen salvation, I knew I could muster a pineapple lolly in London rather than a pear one. Surely it would be pretty simple?

And it was, coming in with a whopping three ingredients. The tricky bit came when I could not for the life of me get the lollies out of the cheapo moulds I bought in the pound shop in one piece. The sticks slid out, there was swearing and then in a fit of frustration, I scooped the slightly slushy sorbet out with a spoon and refroze it in a Tupperware. Success…

Pineapple Sorbet (makes about 500ml)

  • 1 whole fresh pineapple or 425g tin of pineapple chunks
  • 100g sugar
  • 75ml water

I like tinned pineapple (blame my Mallory Towers habit as a kid) so that’s what I used but if you can get a super sweet and ripe fresh pineapple, it’d be perfect. Sniff the base of it, discreetly if in store, and if it smells strongly of pineapple, it is perfect. Peel it, remove the core and chop it up making sure you keep any juice.

If using the tinned, tip it, juice and all into a large bowl. Using a hand blender, blitz the pineapple of either kind and its juice together until smooth and lump free. It should like those nectar style juices you get that contain pulp. Set aside and chill.

Make a simple sugar syrup by combining the sugar and water in a pan and heating together until it forms a thick syrupy texture without changing colour. Remove from the heat and allow to cool down. You will have slightly more here than you probably need for the recipe but it keeps well in the fridge and is perfect for sweetening iced tea in hot weather.

Add about 50ml of the cooled sugar syrup to the pineapple pulp and stir. Pour into a Tupperware container and put the lid on. Put in the freezer and chill for 4 hours. Either give it a stir once an hour with a fork to break up the ice crystals and keep it smooth or leave it alone for 3 hours and then blitz it again with the handblender and freeze for another hour.

Take it out of the freezer about 10 minutes before you want to eat it. It will be smooth in texture and almost like a really really good Slush Puppie. In fact, you could add a tiny bit of dark rum and drink it as a frozen cocktail through a wide straw if you liked. It tasted enough of a Polly Pineapple to quench my craving, but better enough to be worth the effort. Plus it gave me a chance to get the fake parrot and pineapple ice bucket out…

 

White Chocolate Nutella Sorbet

 White Chocolate Nutella sorbet

 Every so often, you realise you’ve never seen certain things you just assumed existed. Baby pigeons, a body positive article on the Daily Mail, a smiling traffic warden or white chocolate Nutella…

People love Nutella, especially ones like me who associate it with childhood holidays so it seemed strange that in this day and age they haven’t gone the Marmite route and brought out variations on a theme with different types of chocolate. It looked like if I wanted to try this elusive style of spread I’d have to make it myself.

I came across this David Lebovitz recipe for home made Nutella and while it looks gorgeously rich and much more alluring than the shopbought stuff, it also seemed quite labouriously faffy with its milk powder and two types of chocolate and dollops of honey. I wondered if I could simplify it and still end up with some thing essentially spreadable? I like to think I did just that and that the most difficult part of it was finding a half decent brand of white chocolate!

White chocolate Nutella spread:

  • 200g white chocolate (I used two large bars from Marks & Spencer)
  • 120ml whole milk
  • 100g hazelnuts
  • 75g sugar
  • 50ml vegetable oil

Firstly, either buy ready skinned hazelnuts or prepare yourself for a horrible kitchen job when you skin them yourself. i was advised to boil them for 3 minutes in a small amount of water and bicarbonate of soda to help loosen the skins rather than just roast them. Unfortunately my small amount must have varied to their’s and it all boiled over leaving my cooker coated in a fizzy brown liquid that clung like nobody’s business. Then when I rubbed the skins off in a teatowel, they stained the cloth forever more and although the entire skin came off, they stuck to everything like glue. I then had to roast the nuts at 220℃ for about 25 minutes to dry them out and turn them golden brown.

However this palaver redeemed itself when I went to grind the nuts in a food processor and they turned to a soft powder with ease which I haven’t noticed before with just roasted nuts. Hazelnuts finally tamed, I turned my attention to the rest of the recipe and heated the whole milk and the sugar gently on the stove. Then I broke up the chocolate and blitzed it into the hazelnuts until I had a thick paste.

white chocolate buttons and hazelnuts

Add the warmed milk mixture into this paste and blend it all together (in batches if needs be) and then return it all to the pan to heat it through and make sure the chocolate is totally melted and everything is combined. Then add the oil, a tablespoon at a time until the whole thing looks soft and spreadable rather than stiff and unyielding, bearing it in mind it will thicken as it cools. I probably used about 60ml in total but depending on your chocolate you might need more.

White chocolate Nutella jar

Pour into a sterilised jar and allow to cool. It will be scoopable and spreadable and in my experience very very good with homemade mini doughnuts. It isn’t as smooth as the shopbought version or David Lebovitz’s one but it tastes great and I don’t mind the texture of the nuts. The only problem is that because of the fresh milk it has a fairly limited shelf life even if kept in the fridge so I decided to turn it into sorbet using this recipe from The Little Loaf as a rough guide.

White Chocolate Nutella Sorbet:

  • the jar of Nutella from above
  • 200 ml water
  • 50g sugar
  • 100g extra white chocolate

Heat the water gently and dissolve in the sugar, melting in the extra white chocolate in lieu of the cocoa powder in the original recipe and then stir in the homemade Nutella until you have a thick shiny custard like soup. If you really don’t want the texture of the nuts in your sorbet then strain the mixture through a sieve at this stage. If you don’t mind/are lazy, pop it all in a bowl and chill well before either churning in your ice cream machine or mixing with a fork every so often in the freezer to create a sorbet.

This is the grown up glamourous sibling of that childlike doughnut dip. Icy cold, nutty and sweet, it’s as sophisticated as chocolate spread gets. It’s delicious, but very rich and a little goes a long way but the whole thing is preserved by freezine so you can dip in and out every time you get the craving. I plan to serve it on the side of the dark chocolate sorbet as a real contrast or as an ice crem sandwich so you still the Nutella on toast vibe. I’m even more baffled as to why I’ve never seen a white chocolate version before. It’s converted me to what I always thought was kids’ chocolate!

White chocolate Nutella sorbet

 

Fizzy Cola Bottle Sorbet

Fizzy Cola Bottle Sorbet with vintage Coke bottle holder

My tastes were very different when I was a kid. Those were the days before I worshipped at the shrine of umami and the earthy flavours of things like mushrooms were more likely to make mealtimes a misery than anything else. Olives were awful. Capers were crap. I actually liked things that had a described colour instead of a definable flavour. Everything was better with added sugar. And some of my social standing came from how well I could handle acidic foods. It was all about the cola bottle…

I hadn’t thought about these gummy wonders for years. Not only are pick n’ mixes a thing of the past, but age has made less keen on sugar and totally unable to handle sour treats, breaking me out in a sweat if I go near a bag of Haribo. Then last year, Mister North and I made mozzarella from scratch and needed citric acid for it. Re-enacting our childhood somewhat, Mister North dared me to taste a bit of this innocuous looking white powder and my mouth exploded in a combination of nostalgia and tanginess as my mouth contorted, albeit pleasurably, round it. Once I’d recovered, it got me thinking how the sweet and slightly savoury vegetable taste of cola really works with citric acid, turning the burn to fun and how I wanted to revisit it as an adult.

While playing with the ice cream maker I bought last year, and realising it’s the big girl version of a Mr Frosty machine, the whole thing came together and I knew it would have to be a cola bottle sorbet. I also knew that it would suit the vibe of the exercise to make it up as I went along to actually create it. Resisting the temptation to return the concoctions of youth that involved adding a little bit of absolutely everything in the cupboard, I kept it super simple.

Fizzy Cola Bottle Sorbet:

  • 1.25 litre bottle of full fat Coke (Diet will not cut it here. Use cherry if you prefer.)
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar (sorry, but I could not be bothered weighing things for this.)
  • 1/4 cup caster sugar
  • 1 tsp citric acid
  • A good slug of dark rum (optional)

Pour all the Coke into a pan and add the granulated sugar, heat gently and then reduce the volume of Coke by about a quarter by boiling it away. This intensifies the Coke flavour as things taste less strong when frozen. The added sugar makes it more of a syrup so that it will freeze properly and not resemble a sad Slush Puppie in texture. Add the rum, allow to chill well and then churn in your machine for 30 minutes or freeze directly, breaking the crystals up with a fork every hour for about 4 hours.

Put the caster sugar in the hand blender or give it a good bash with a pestle and mortar so that it is slightly finer than caster sugar but not as powdery fine as icing sugar and then depending how game you are, add in up a tsp of citric acid and mix well.

If your sorbet has frozen evenly (and mine didn’t as it needed a bit more sugar which is now adjusted) you’ll get tightly coiled scoops of sorbet. Put the sugar and citric acid mix on a plate and roll the ball of sorbet in it so it’s completely coated. Serve.

You should get an amazing hit of really icy cold intense Coke, like the way you wished ice pops were when you were wee, and then just when you think you’ve missed it, a blast of amazing mouth puckering flavour that jolts right through you and wakes you right up. You’ll be torn between making it stop and not being able to resist yet another mouthful. It’s oddly irresistable. Bring out the big kid in yourself with this most grown up of all cola bottles…

Grapefruit, Pimm’s and Mint Sorbet

I’ve been living in England for the last ten years, and yet I still wouldn’t consider myself at all English. The Veda-loving Norn Irish in me remains predominant and I haven’t kicked my spud obsession at all, but other tastes from this green and pleasant land have filtered through to become well loved and often craved. Buttered crumpets, roast beef and Yorkshire pudding, lashings of proper gravy, potted shrimp all make me very happy indeed. But my favourite English flavour is Pimm’s

Just perfect on a warm and sunny afternoon, dappled with refreshing cucumber, mint, strawberries and borage flowers, a jug of Pimm’s has replaced my previous refresher of gin and grapefruit juice as the taste of summer. Knowing the weather for the Royal Weather wouldn’t be just as glorious for sitting out as the previous glorious Easter weekend, I decided to bring some sunshine back to my life and toast the nuptials with a recipe for a Grapefruit, Pimm’s and mint sorbet and combine my favourite sunny flavours in a style suitable for an 11am start.

I have had this recipe knocking around for years, copied carefully into my handwritten recipe book from a magazine or paper, but with no evidence remaining of where it came from, but a major reason why I recently bought my ice cream maker. And I was delighted to see that it was worth the wait!

Buying the machine was the faffiest bit of the whole recipe really. Simply dissolve 100g of caster sugar in 150ml Pimm’s, around 300 ml of fresh grapefruit juice (this is around 3 large fruit) and 125ml of water. Cool the syrup in the fridge, adding in around 10 finely chopped leaves of mint. Then simply pop it all in the machine, adding a well whipped egg white and churn for around 30 minutes until you have a pale golden sorbet the texture of snow. Serve immediately or freeze until needed. It scoops perfectly from the freezer without needing to be thawed at all.

Super refreshing, the sorbet has a lovely sweet taste of Pimm’s on first taste, before you get a gorgeously tangy and incredibly refreshing grapefruit hit that works just beautifully with that quintessentially English of tastes. The mint comes through as a aftertaste, marrying the grapefruit and Pimm’s perfectly. Cleansing, refreshing and with a subtle kick from the Pimm’s, this is the most grown up way to cool down this summer. Bottoms up!

Buckfast sorbet…

Alcohol, sugar, caffeine, ice… it’s Buckfast sorbet!

Buckfast may be made in the bucolic countryside of Devon, but its spiritual home is Scotland and Northern Ireland. A bottle or two of ‘Buckie‘ on a night out is a rite of passage for under-age drinkers when growing up either side of the Irish Sea. So it made perfect sense that since Mister North and Miss South are half Scottish, but raised in Belfast they would rise to the challenge of using up the leftover tonic wine from Burns’ NightRead more