Month: September 2012

Pure morning – Burnt honey, vanilla, and parsnip ice-cream

It’s the light, a cold blue grey. It’s the window, adorned with pearls. It’s the wind, carrying the scent of moss and ocean.

And just like you don’t even have to think to know you’ve fallen deep-hard in love, I didn’t have to look through the open window to know we’d been surrounded by cotton overnight.

Yes, that morning – or perhaps more accurately, early afternoon – I could feel autumn. And tea was brewed. And porridge got made, with freshly cracked black pepper and a pinch of fleur de sel. Don’t ask, it’s a favourite.

I got the ice-cream machine started too.

You see, the night before, I had chopped parsnips and cooked them in burnt honey and loads of vanilla, until shiny. I had then added milk and blitzed the whole thing.

Because that’s what we do. We chop and cook and bake and blitz and pass and chill and whisk and scrape and fold.

That morning, I also got some really exciting news. Yes, the ones I told you about. And rather literally, it’s gonna be one hell of a rainbow.
Not unlike porn for pastry chefs. Not unlike closing your eyes / making a wish / opening your eyes / making it happen.

I can’t wait to tell you more about it.

Burnt honey, vanilla, and parsnip ice-cream

This ice-cream is inspired by a Christmas lunch I had years ago, where parsnips got roasted with honey and vanilla until the edges were crunchy, and the flesh sweet and fluffy.
That day, we ate them with the biggest turkey I had even seen, stuffed with chestnuts and apples.

The process couldn’t be easier. The honey and vanilla get cooked until foamy, then the parsnips are tossed around. And really, I can’t insist enough: use young, small parsnips. They’re sweeter and firmer.

The ice-cream tastes sweet and earthy, just like the parsnips I had years ago. You should try it with a slice of brownies or a rich chocolate cake. Please do.

Burnt honey, vanilla, and parsnip ice-cream

makes 1L-ish of ice-cream

50 g chestnut honey
500 g peeled and diced parsnips
one vanilla pod
100 g caster sugar
350 g whole milk
400 g double cream

Place the honey, vanilla seeds and pod in a large pan set over high heat and cook until foamy and fragrant. Add the parsnip dices and stir well to coat.
Deglaze with the milk and bring to the boil. Simmer with a lid on for 15-20 minutes, or until the parsnip is cooked through.
Handblend for 6 minutes or until smooth. Add the cream and blend a bit more. Pass through a fine sieve. Clingfilm to the touch and chill for at least 4 hours or better, overnight.
Churn according to your ice-cream machine instructions, and keep in the freezer for an hour or so before serving. It’s pretty delicious with anything chocolate.

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Things that #2… make me long for autumn

The sound of wind through the trees. And of leaves under our boots too.
The hidden world behind puddles.
Knowing that Christmas is just around. Because, really, the best thing about Christmas is the perfect mix of anticipation and excitement.
The rain. And when it stops pouring, the one that comes from trees.
Lingering in gold, every cloud is ours.
Walks through empty alleys in museums. And the too-hot-to-drink coffees we have there too.
The endless road-trips; where windscreen-wipers beat faster than our hearts.
Pumpkins and pine cones and apples and chestnuts.
The figs we eat from the branches. And the oysters we gather from rocks made of mud. The blackberry bushes we spike our fingers with.
The smell of earth on foggy mornings.
Wearing leg-warmers and wool leggings and earmuffs.

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Bonjour septembre

[Hello September]

I’ve been falling asleep to bigger-than-life fairy-lights; of the skyscraper kind. I’ve been talking too loud. And I’ve French-kissed, at times with a reason, most of the time without. I’ve been waiting for autumn, and wool leggings, and earmuffs; and somehow, I’m sort of day-dreaming about the past few months and how the sun would feel on my skin and how the beer made my tongue tingle and how pieds-nus [barefeet] was the only way to go, just by reading Nikole’s words. I’ve been waiting for something else too, someone else really. I’m still waiting, but shhh… that’s a secret.
I’ve been working days and nights. Or perhaps, it is nights and days. I’ve forgotten how to count weeks. Hours. Minutes. And seconds too.

I’ve felt the wind from the top of that bridge, late at night. Or very early in the morning, your call. I’ve tied my hair into a ponytail and walked through the meat-market. I’ve made plans to visit the fish market after that, but really, the comfort of my bed was all we needed.

I didn’t take no for an answer. And for the first time this year, I’ve said no out-loud. Many times. It might be a back-to-school illusion, but I’ve sort of grown up. And yet, I’ve been eating ice-cream straight from the tub, bath or not. I’ve employed magical thinking when making bread. I’ve made wishes at every shooting star I saw. I’ve dreamt. And really, no matter how old I ever get, I never want to stop dreaming.

Right now, I dream of things you’ll know about soon enough. The obvious and the less obvious.

The not-so-official September dream/happy-list.

1. Three rolls of film. To be developed. To be continued really.
2. Closing my eyes at every street corner and wishing to see his face.
3. Taping that last full stop in the manuscript I’ve been meaning to finish for months. Yes, I’m still not over.
4. Watercolour and brushes. Illustrations for that book of mine that still feels too pinch-me-I’m-dreaming good to be true.
5. That secret thing I will know more about tomorrow. Cross your fingers for me. And your toes too!
6. Sitting by the Thames. And looking at the clouds go by.
7. The coffee missions my friend Francesca has been enrolling me in, not unlike a treasure hunt. So far, it’s been amazing.
8. Hearing the sound of raindrops against my window. Such a classic cliché, such a broken record; and yet, I’ll never ever ever get tired of it. Figs too, by the way.
9. Sleeping with no other alarm than the sun shining through the curtains.
10. The giant fabric baobab I see very early in the morning. The one that makes me feel like I’m in Le Petit Prince.
11. Yes, eleventh, just because it feels right: the most gorgeous dinner I’m ever going to eat. Yes, it’s on the way. And more.

I’d like to talk more. But you see, there is a consommé with halibut and some fennel – of the baby, caramelised kind – being cooked in my house, and there is white wine in tall mismatched glasses, and it rained tonight! And most importantly, escargots would go in the wild. Adorable and all.

What are you dreaming about these days anyway?

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