Le Serre Nuove – Thoughts from Glasshouses

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Blueberry & Chocolate Ice Cream

The New Year begins with detox. The Christmas excess and the couple of extra pounds your girth is showing implies that the resolutions of the New Year should be of healthier eating and more exercise. The promises to eat more certain types of food and the promises to cut down on the things that are worse for you; I had made a similar resolution to do that, but I got a new toy for christmas, a new ice cream machine, and was itching to have a play with it. So I lasted three days.

Two of my favourite ingredients are Cacao and Blueberries. Cacao is basically raw chocolate – or more specifically cocoa solids without any cocoa butter, and has gained increasingly popularity in the UK not least as a result of the efforts by Willie Harcourt Cooze, who launched his own series of Cacao products and ‘delectable’ chocolate range. It is amazingly versatile and can be used in a variety of ways (see my earlier post for Venison Stew as an example). The thing I like about it the most is that you can determine how ‘chocolately’ you want to make it, by reducing or adding more sugar, cream or butter. I’ve made this previously by using very little sugar, it is very bitter and a little sour, but a fantastic flavour. Blueberries too, are a very sweet fruit, and very refreshing, and the sweetness of the blueberries compliments, and contrasts, the bitterness of the cacao.

I decided to make this as a chocolate ice cream with a blueberry purée through it. If you wish, you may prefer to simply make a chocolate ice cream, and serve with fresh blueberries.

Blueberry & Chocolate Ice Cream
For the Chocolate (for a Ganache)
100g Cacao
100g Cream
30g Sugar (or to taste)

Grate the cacao and melt over a ban-marie. Add the sugar and cream and mix together until the sugar has dissolved. Leave to cool and thicken.

For the Ice Cream
700 ml Milk (I used Jersey Cow’s Milk in this instance)
6 egg yolks
75g sugar

Separate the egg yolks and whisk together in a large bowl. In a pan hit the milk and sugar over a low heat until the sugar has dissolved (do not let it boil). Slowly, and ensuring you are whisking all the time, gradually add the milk and sugar mixture to the egg yolks. Whisk until the mixture has combined. Return to the heat to allow the mixture to thicken slightly, until it coats the back of a spoon. Mix the ice cream and ganache together and chill for about 6 hours.

Meanwhile, blend 400g of blueberries in a food processor. Pass through a sieve to form a purée.

Once the custard has chilled, churn in your ice cream machine (per your manufactures instructions), normally about 30 minutes. You can either add the purée five minutes before it has finished churning or simply mix together before hand. Serve immediately or freeze for up to a week.

Given how cold Scotland has been recently, and even though we have just had Christmas, this did not feel out-of-place in the depths of winter. It is was a welcome change to some of the food we’ve had recently, and certainly made me start thinking about the summer and not about VAT increase.


Tales from Wales and Speckled Bread

Some things I have always found hard to resist, and most of my food memories growing up involve my Nan in some way or another. It is not necessarily the variety of the food, most of it was very traditional – e.g. meat, potato and veg sort of affair – and even pasta would be considered exotic. The thing was it always felt homely and always properly cooked. My parents considered me a fussy eater as a kid, I tend to thing that I just do not like badly cooked food and that was the case when I was young too, but my nan got me eating things (basically green veg) without so much hassle. I think I’ve mentioned before that she used to send me Welsh Cakes to me in the post whilst I was a student; they were always a great treat and something that never used to last long with either me or my housemates.

Bara Brith

But my favourite thing I’ve always got from her, and she always makes me one whenever I come down and see her, is Bara Brith. It is supposedly translated to ‘Speckled Bread’ and is a type of tea cake. It could be said that it is a variation on a Selkirk Bannock cake but it doesn’t have butter or milk in it, and likewise the Bannock isn’t soaked in tea or use eggs. Bara Brith originated, or so the story goes, from adding fruit to the surplus bread dough when baking once a week. Some also say that there are South and North Wales variants, I slightly disagree with this, but it is certainly true that the adapted recipe that my nan uses does originate from South Wales as way to bake the cake without using yeast to make it easier for industrial (i.e. miners) families to bake it. I think I actually prefer it this way too because it makes it a lot more richer. I am not sure whether there is any sort of originality in this recipe, I certainly know it is old, but how old I am not sure. To quote my Nan (yes, she did say that): “I got it from Mrs Jones, who used to live on Llandaff Road, a long time ago.” I am probably certain it is from either the late forties or early fifties when my grandparents used to run a grocery shop, as this was typical of the stories she used to tell me from those days. It is a simple recipe, but simply delightful.

Bara Brith – Speckled Bread

SimplesSoak Overnight

1/2 lb Dried Fruit (traditionally sultanas / currants) in 1/4 pt + 2 tablespoons of hot tea (any will do but try Earl / Lady Grey)

Next Day

4 oz Brown (or Demerara) Sugar

1/2 teaspoon of mixed spice (cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice or cloves and ginger)

1 beaten Egg

8 oz of self rising flour

Mix all the above ingredients into the soaked tea and fruit. Grease a tin loaf (you may use parchment paper too) and preheat the over to 170°C. Add all the combined ingredients to the tin loaf and bake for one and half hours, ensuring that a knife can come out clean if inserted into the cake. Slice and serve with butter, with a pot of tea.

How to Warm Up: C&C Soup

Tonight I got cold. I have been quite lucky with the weather recently, because I am fortunate enough not to have to worry about getting to work, mainly because I walk and it takes about 25 minutes whatever the weather, or other daily banalities as I can do must things that way. Edinburgh is nothing more than an ice rink at the moment, this probably sums up the worst weather in 50 years the best, with temperatures averaging about -10 (14). Of course, there are worse places in the world to be but the bureaucratic efficiency of this country has shown its hand again. But the one thing I wasn’t expecting was the heating to break. That really got me today. And I really started to feel it. Even the dogs couldn’t keep me warm. The thing I turn to most when I am really cold is soup. I find there is nothing better than warming me up. I don’t really care what it is, be it tinned Tomato Soup, homemade pumpkin Soup or Beer and Cheese Soup, but it hearty soul food.

With that in mind I attempted to dissect the contents of my cupboards. There isn’t really a lot in there at the best of times, as my wife and I have a habit of getting every few days to try to keep things fresh and varied, and just what we are going to eat. I don’t often eat Celeriac, and I really enjoy it as an accompaniment to fish, The bitter flavour’s help give it a nice sharpness, and I love the combination of this with cider, it is common to see it with apples but I like the added sweetness of the cider.

Cider and Celeriac Soup

500g Celeriac
400 ml Cider (or more to taste)
35g Butter
400 ml vegetable stock
40g Onion (or 1 medium)
90 ml Double Cream

Melt the butter in a pan, and add the onions. Cook for a minute or so until translucent, and add the celeriac. Cook over a medium heat, ensuring the celeriac does not brown, for about 5 minutes. Add the cider and stock and simmer for 20 minutes. Blend. Stir in the cream just before serving to give it additional richness.

Perfect for when you get really quite cold.

Gascon Tales

France is a nation of mass contradictions. On one hand, you learn about the classical idea of the republic: liberty, fraternity, equality – but how does that idea transcend the image of French Identity? I wrote my post-graduate thesis on the emergence of French Identity during the period of the Third Republic leading up to the First World War, and one of key theories behind it, as per many French Historians (like Graham Robb or Eugene Weber), is that peasants became Frenchman: A nation of regions that during the 19th century developed one identity, based heavily on a perceived notion of what ‘Frenchness’ should be as it modernized and industrialized. There are quirks to this, and you see that in the distinction of the Bordelaise, but the overarching feeling is one of an imposed identity.

So what has all this got to do with food? Well, I ask the question in the context of whether we are going through a renaissance in French food. With the ever-increasing number of new french restaurants opening up, with a focus on classical rather than haute cuisine, they are starting to  dominate the scene again and not least with the reappearance of one of Britain’s greatest (French) chefs, Pierre Koffman. His restaurant is described as ‘hearty, robust, seasonal food, influenced by Pierre’s Gascon heritage’, but still French. Is it both? Can it be both?

The one thing that was the most abiding memory of my recent visit to Koffman’s was the  sense of satisfaction. I knew what I had just eaten had no intention of trying to dazzle me, it just wanted to satisfy me in a way only simple good cooking can. This is Gascon cooking. As PK is reported to have said, “It is done at its very best if its been done all your life”; the love of food and the appreciation and respect of the traditions and nature of the region.

Between my wife and I we had the foie gras, crab, roast partridge and rabbit. Each dish smacked of simplicity yet was truly delicious. It is hard to really describe the food more than that, because I was having far too much fun. Sorry. Mildly tipsy and just enjoying myself.  Gratification to a degree I rarely experience. The dishes were traditional and elegant, and did not possess the tricks and traits that you associate with Michelin star cooking, allowing them to speak for themselves.  Gascon’s like to consider Foie Gras a local specialty as their main produce is duck, chicken and geese. Indeed there is a website that claims “The method of pouring the grain down the necks of the birds is something that only the British have a problem with”! Whilst I think that is a little bit of a contentious point, the delicacy of the dish, along with the quality of the foie gras and the brioche toast, made it seem anything but pâté on bread.

Apple PieFor dessert, we had a Gascon Apple Pie, and a Caramelised floating island (‘Oeuf À La Neige Caramélisé’). There is a slightly blurry picture of the Apple Pie to the right. The story goes that every now and again PK works the pastry station. If its true, then it may explain why I enjoyed my pie so much. The Armagnec (a product of origin of Gascony) gave the apples such a little hit of spice, and the sugar of the pastry was so soft and something reminiscent of, actually, I cannot compare it to anything, because it was like nothing I have had before. Even in France. My wife’s carmaelised floating island, a giant macaroon with the most syrupy custard sauce, was exquisite, and they rounded off the evening in the best way.

I cannot remember the last time I had such a good time eating out, because the overriding memory was of a fun evening eating fantastic food. Can it be beaten? I don’t necessarily think that is the point. It is rustic, peasant food from Gascony. It will warm the cockles and give you immense satisfaction and let you simply enjoy yourself. Sometimes there is nothing better.

And I found nothing French about it.


Brief footnote: Pierre Koffman is famous for his pig trotters, which are still available at Koffman’s. Please check out this recipe if you want to have a go: Trotters

Stories from the City

To badly paraphrase a P.J. Harvey record, and whilst walking the dog one evening, I wondered about the food history of Edinburgh and the food that has been made famous here. There are a significant number of Scottish dishes that we all know and love, from haggis to deep-fried Mars bars, and the outstanding quality of the produce you can find is second to none but what is Auld Reckie famous for?

My mind almost instantly turned to a couple of things: chippie sauce on your fish supper and Cock-o-Leekie soup. Even then I only really know Cock-o-Leekie soup as an Edinburgh dish because it has local twist to it: adding whisky. There is also a variant on oatcakes, that get called ‘Midlothian Oatcakes’, which are not as heavy on the oats, and use flour in the recipe producing a crisper texture. Of course, lest we forget that you can get Edinburgh Rock, but for the most part that’s all I could find. Chippie Sauce doesn’t really count as a ‘recipe’, although it is a strange Edinburgh custom. It’s a mixture of Brown Sauce and Malt Vinegar, and a fish supper would be poorer without it. I once mistakenly asked for it in London and got Kebab sauce. You live and learn.

Even consulting the bible of Scottish Cooking – The Scots Kitchen: Its Traditions and Lore with Old-time Recipes – Florence Marian McNeill, first published in 1929 and probably the Scottish equivalent to the Silver Spoon, did not really yield any more results. There is also another book, Edinburgh ‘A La Carte’ – The history of food in Edinburgh – but I think I will need to root round the second-hand bookshops to have any luck in finding. I did eventually find one other dish, something which I have not heard of before and certainly not tried – Edinburgh Fog. It sounds like a play on cranachan, but I hope that it might be tasty with the almonds.

Edinburgh ‘Fog’

300ml double cream
30g castor (fine granulated) sugar
50g small almond ratafia biscuits (macaroon biscuits are a normally substituted for these)
Almond essence
Drambuie / Whisky to taste
30g flaked almonds

Whip the cream until it is stiff and fold in the sugar, almond essence and whisky.  Crush the macaroon biscuits,  and mix well with the cream.  Serve well chilled as a luxury dessert. Sprinkle the almonds over the desert before serving.

What other dishes do you know that originate in Edinburgh? What other dishes should I try? Do you like Edinburgh Fog? Do you have a copy of Edinburgh ‘A La Carte’?

Welsh Curiosity

There are certain things that the forces of nurture impress upon you. Growing up with a Welsh Dad, and with members of family still living in Cardiff, for me that was alcohol, socialism, rugby and laverbread. Being Welsh or more specifically scouse born, home county raised, half Welsh, these things were unescapable,  as they were traits that emerged at certain times of the year. Most obviously whenever the six nations came about (particularly 1993 and Ieuan Evans’ try), they would lurk in the background and shoot at me when I least expect it. During my student days too, I would invariably get packets in the post from my Gran containing a whole heap of goodies – predominantly her Welsh Cakes. They are unequalled. Period.

Talking of my Gran, she used to threaten me with laverbread whenever I came to stay. Laver is seaweed found on the Gower coast plucked from the rocks at low tide. To make Laverbread it is boiled for several hours and then minced. I think the notion of eating seaweed would always put me off, and that it looks like black mush. Then she cooked me a traditional Welsh breakfast (you get it with cockles nowadays but this is a traditional South Wales miners breakfast) of laverbread, bacon, mushrooms and sausages, when I was about 18 and boy did I realise how good it is. I was amazed about how fresh it tasted and how it tasted like the sea. I found it quite salty, but it compliments the meat really well. With seaweed being increasing popular with the rise of sushi and the significant health benefits it brings, it is a great thing to cook with and something that I really enjoy, particularly when I now go down to the Valleys. Steven Terry is a big fan (from the Hardwick Inn) and here is a great recipe of his here. Below is a great dish I have made a couple of times and I think helps show how versatile the dish is, and what a curiosity it is.

Monkfish & Laverbread Cakes

Monkfish fillets
100g fresh or tinned laverbread
35g fine oatmeal
10g Parsley
6 rashers of bacon (keep the fat)

Grill the bacon over a medium heat, ensuring you keep the fat, until cooked.  Place on a paper towel to remove excess fat. Dice the cooked bacon, and combine the laverbread, parsley and oatmeal in a bowl. Shape into 6 small cakes, about 5cm wide and 2cm thick.  Heat the bacon fat in a frying pan (or use the same pan as you cooked the bacon in), and gently slide the cakes into the hot fry, turning occasionally until crisp on both sides. Drizzle with some lemon juice just before serving if you wish.

To roast the monkfish, season the fillets with salt and pepper, heat a large ovenproof frying pan with some olive oil, and fry the fillets in the pan for 2 minutes. Turn them over and put the pan in a preheated oven (about 220°C) for 6 to 8 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fillets. Serve with the laverbread cakes.

Yr un peth eto, os gwelwch yn dda.

Log fires and Seafood – The Three Chimneys

Probably one of my favourite places in the whole world is the Isle of Skye. It is a mystical place. Rugged, wind-swept, beautiful and enchanting that often lifts me onto a different emotional plain. Sometimes you really don’t know what is on your doorstep. That was certainly true when I first went there, because there are elements to it that really blew me away, like going to Florence for the first time or walking along the Inca trail and stumbling upon Machu Picchu, and seeing landscapes in their natural beauty. The Three Chimneys is nestled in a village whose population would not even fill the restaurant – with a view overlooking the sea, the surroundings wild, bleak and sparse.

Yet, despite the location, you have a venue in the Three Chimneys that has been known to receive traveling visitors to the helipad (i.e. the patch of grass opposite) for lunch and a reputation that belies its rural out-posting. Its reputation built upon the local seafood that surrounds the isle, all of which identified on the menu with the landing site for the catch. The traditional stone croft cottage has been transformed and is now incredibly intimate, to a degree that you are almost dining with the table next to you. A very reasonable wine list, heavy on white wine, led us into a white Burgundy from Nuits Saint George. I had conflicting thoughts about the menu, (unbalanced maybe?), but I was there to eat the seafood: Hake, skate and razor clams to start, halibut and squid to follow.

Gigha Halibut, Squid, Fennel. Caviar sauce.

I have always been a bit skeptical of taking pictures of restaurant food, however beautiful it is (I am more in the Giles Cohen school), and I would probably annoy my wife exponentially by getting out my DSLR: filters, flashes, tripods and all. But in honour to all you bloggers that do, there is a little photo to the right (done with my iphone).

It was a dish that typified our experience. Some parts phenomenal, some parts average. The squid was overcooked and not particularly enjoyable whilst the potatoes did not really bring anything to the dish against the fennel or the sauce. That said however, the gigha halibut was absolutely fabulous. It alone was worth the entry fee (if you had one). I probably do not have the linguistic capabilities to really express my delight at how good it was and how much I enjoyed it. With the caviar sauce, it was simply sensational. The anise and slight nuttiness of the fennel was also not too overpowering and added subtlety. That alone would have been sufficient for me. It was a BIG portion. My starter, equally, was the same. The hake was fabulous, as were the clams, but I struggled against the saffron potatoes and I could not taste the skate. My wife really enjoyed her partridge starter, but her monkfish in Ayrshire bacon was very salty (which may in part be of course due to the nature of the bacon). The scallop accompaniment however, made the dish. As soft and delicate as you can get.

The deserts, the warm almond cake and the dark chocolate mousse with ginger, were both excellent, although the ginger was served separately so balancing the flavours proved problematic. The sommelier was suitably impressed by my wife’s origami with the napkins (she turns it into a chicken) that he gave us some complimentary dessert wines which was a nice touch, and typified the excellent service. The Three Chimneys is renowned for its marmalade soufflé, and judging by fellow diners’ reactions it was proving to a massive hit. It was pertinent to wash everything down with a Talisker, and all its smokey goodness.

Walking out of the restaurant the view is simply stunning, and if you hit it at the right time of year the sunset phenomenal. This is what contributes to the magic that is the Three Chimneys. The food is good, but there are elements you would not expect if it was in say, London. Ironically it has been outstripped by Kinloch Lodge (which has been awarded a Michelin Star, and dining there really does feel like you are enjoying dinner in Laird MacDonald’s house) as THE location restaurant within Skye. That competition can only be a good thing, because it will help drive the Three Chimneys on it bigger and better things. I will remember that Halibut for a long while; next time you hope everything is as good.

We slowly drove back down the single track lane back to our apartment, to a wonderful log fire and yet another night-cap. The raw majestic qualities of Skye will never fail to dazzle me.

Sausage Squash

A guest blog! Well kind of. This is something that my wife has introduced to me from her American roots. I believe it is described as ‘southern’ cooking, which often is considered just the Cajun and Creole food of Louisiana, but that is just a particular aspect of it. The primary basis of southern cuisine is corn, and hence cornmeal, which you see used in a variety of ways. I will leave it for another occasion to tell you about ‘Biscuits and Gravy’, and the story of Hush Puppies (deep-fried cornmeal), but it is amazing how varied it is. There is a cookbook called ‘What Mrs. Fisher Knows about Old Southern Cooking’ from 1881, which is written by a former slave and demonstrates the nature of the way the African-American food culture, and ultimately ‘southern’ food, emerged. It is quite an incredible read, very different to modern-day cookbooks, and worth finding out about.

This southern recipe my wife cooks for me frequently. It is a straightforward dish to do, and a great easy supper. I really like it, and it is very tasty. You can serve it as a side dish or as a main, although we normally serve it with some simple green beans and toasted walnuts. You could serve it with some creole rice or even mac and cheese!

Sausage Squash

4 Sausages (pork / venison work best) – (two per person)

2 acorn squashes (or one per person)

20 g Breadcrumbs

25 g Parmesan Cheese

Salt and Pepper

Cut the squash in half, removing the seeds and fibres. Place the halved squash in a roasting tin half filled with water, and roast until tender (about 25 minutes, depending on the size of the squash, the ones we get in the UK are fairly small so this should be sufficient) at 180ºC. Meanwhile fry the sausages and chopped into small pieces and set aside. Once the squash has roasted scoop out the pulp and mix together with the chopped sausages, seasoning, breadcrumbs and about half of the cheese. Return the combined mixture to the squash shells and cover with the remaining cheese. Return to the oven for a further 10-15 minutes or until everything has warmed through. Serve in their shell.

My Favorite Stew

I cannot remember where this came from, but this is one of my favourite recipes that I have played around with recently. I love the way in which venison and chocolate work so well together (Richard Corrigan serves a wonderful chocolate ravioli with venison) and Rowley Leigh was the first chef who I really saw use these ingredients together. The chocolate cuts through the flavours of the meat and really strengthens the taste, adding bitterness and a great sharpness to it. The darker the chocolate the better too (or go the whole hog and use Cacao it is certainly worth it).

Chocolate Venison Stew

1 kilo shoulder (or haunch) venison, diced,
A bottle of red wine (a good Merlot based one would work best.. or a Rioja)
2 tablespoons of olive oil,
2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar
2 crushed garlic cloves,
a handful of rosemary and thyme,
2 bay leaves,
1 teaspoon of crushed juniper berries,
Half a teaspoon of crushed peppercorns,
Half a teaspoon of salt.

Combine the ingredients into a marinade, add the meat  and leave overnight.

When you are ready to cook you will also need:
2 tablespoons of oil,
100g of Serrano ham fat or fatty bacon, cubed.
1 large onion, diced
1 large carrot, diced
70 grams of bitter black chocolate, grated.
salt and pepper to taste

Fry the ham or bacon in a casserole dish. Remove just before it the oil discolors, and keep to one side. Pat the meat dry (who make also wish to flour the meat) and gently brown before removing and leaving to one side.. Add the onions and carrots and soften over a medium heat in the same pan. Add the marinade, and bring it to a simmering point (that it when it starts to gently bubble). Return both the venison and ham to the dish, and add the spices. Cook in a low-medium oven (i.e. at about 150) for 1 1/2 hours until the meat is tender. You make want to add a drop of water to ensure the meat does not dry out. Return to the hob, and grate the chocolate into the dish, bringing the sauce back to a simmer point or until the sauce is of a decent thickness. Serve immediately.

This is like cooking the Julia Childs version of Beef Burguignon,  as it take can take a few hours, and most of the techniques are classical: Cooking each element in the same dish first, adding and returning them add at different points as it cooks. Try not to use a too spicy wine (like a Syrah) as it can kill the chocolate flavour, and do not go over board with the chocolate – Dairy Milk will not work either!

Regardless of how long it takes to cook – it is worth the wait and great to banish the Autumn blues.

A Pumpkin Obsession

Pumpkins. For me it is officially the end of summer when they first start appearing in the shops and the kids have gone back to school. It is the thing that the supermarkets can sort of fudge to hide getting the Christmas goods in. With all the Halloween festive additions of chocolates and sweeties (and it seems that since Kraft took over Cadbury they have gone for this market quite significantly), they stand out like a sore thumb. Big and cumbersome, they look battered and bruised and never tempting to eat, disappearing as soon as Halloween is over.

David Bowman is the UK’s biggest seller of pumpkins, shifting around 2 million of the things – they even sponsor a pumpkin festival (sadly gone for this year) in Spalding, Lincolnshire, which is the defacto pumpkin capital of the UK – and suggests that 99% of all pumpkins are used for carving. It surprises me that so few people eat it; although that’s probably not true given the poor bland watery quality of most of them that you can buy. But I still remember the first time I ate it, tortelli de zucca.

The Italian town of Mantova, Lombardy – or Mantua, as the natives call it – and its ‘tortelli di zucca have a sacral quality’ –  is the home of this venerable dish. It has been around since the 1500’s apparently, and the locals are fiercely proud of its origins. It is a traditional Christmas Eve dish, and one of the few non-meat dishes Italians will eat. Indeed, the proprietor who sold it to me the first time said it is the only vegetarian dish he would eat. It didn’t take long for me to be completely smitten. Its flavours are so mellow and warming, with a such a gentle sweetness that makes the harsh autumnal blues float away. I am not sure whether it is the amaretti biscuits or the apple mustard that really gives it its distinctive flavour, but it completely changed my perception of those orange things that I had only ever really used for Jack O’Lanterns.

I am now completely obsessed. If there is ever anything on the menu that pumpkin is in, I will order it. Even when it is bad, I love it. I once made a pumpkin risotto without steaming it, and it was really hard and chewy and not sweet at all, but that didn’t stop me. You increasingly see it in thai fusion cooking as the combination of sweet, sour, hot and spicy work well with it. I really enjoy simply roasting it in sage and olive and oil and eating in with some salad greens and goats cheese. There is no question that it makes a fantastic soup (I really enjoy it with some red pepper), and or course, risotto’s are an easy thing way to enjoy it (as long as you don’t make my mistake). I have not as yet tried to make it from scratch but pumpkin gnocchi, either in a sage butter or a plain tomato sauce, is also very tasty. Even just roast it and sticking it on a margarita pizza.

There are over 50 varieties of pumpkins, and the more flavourful are the smaller and perhaps, un-orange skin ones. Marina di Chioggia, the main varietal from Italy is in fact green, are the one I was recommended to cook with. I really enjoy cooking with munchkins too, but it is best not to use the larger varieties for savoury dishes, and if you want to make pie, use the New England versions as they are naturally sweeter.

Pumpkin Pie. It was never something that appealed to me, and something that I used to dismiss as a silly American thing. Since meeting my wife (who hails from the Sunshine State), I now celebrate Thanksgiving with her and made it my mission to make pie every year. I used to just stick with the Libby’s version, because it is such a fail safe – and that’s what you do right?, but one year someone brought their own, homemade version. Then I discovered an ice cream shop in NYC that made Pumpkin Pie ice cream. I had to do both. So last year for Thanksgiving I made my own pie and, even though Scotland has got incredibly cold recently, I wanted to finally make ice cream. Here is a version of a pie recipe that I have altered to work as an ice cream.

Pumpkin Pie Ice Cream
100g caster sugar
450 g (1 lb) pumpkin flesh, cut into 2.5 cm (1 in) chunks
2 large eggs plus 1 yolk
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
½ tsp ground allspice
½ tsp ground cloves
½ tsp ground ginger
275 ml (10 fl.oz) double cream
Shortbread biscuits (as many as you want – 5/6 should be sufficient)

Steam the pumpkin, then put it in a sieve and press lightly to extract any excess water. Then lightly whisk the eggs and the extra yolk together in a large bowl. Place the sugar, spices and cream in a pan, bring them to simmering point, stirring with a whisk regularly. Then pour this mixture over the eggs and whisk it again briefly. Return the mixture into the saucepan containing the rest of the cream and continue cooking gently for 3-4 minutes, or until the mixture coats the back of a spoon. Remove from the heat and now add the pumpkin pureé whisking everything thoroughly until combined. Pour the mixture into an ice cream machine and churn for 2 hours. Crumble shortbread into the mixture as it churns or add when serving as desired.

Serve with cognac.

Simply exquisite.


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