There is a family story that tells of my Grandfather, Jim, dining at the Savoy in London and one evening ordering the soufflé for his desert. So unhappy was he, with what was served, that he wrote to the kitchen explain his disappointment. Unlike today’s apologetic vouchers or consolatory free meal, this was the 1940s […]

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Spiced Oranges and Home-made Vanilla Ice Cream

Have you over come the post-holiday blues yet? Are new year resolutions settling themselves around food, fitness or health? I cannot kid myself any longer.

If I wasn’t eating over Christmas I nose deep in my Grandmother’s cookbooks back at my parents’ house. A good few days of writing up and deciphering recipes lead me to the conclusion that there is just no time for diets and the denial of happy food thoughts. Eat in moderation, and eat well. Exercise accordingly.

And so now for something sweet and sugary. Here is a desert recipe Elise had scribbled into the pages Great Dishes of the World, by Robert Carrier. From the list of spices it sounded wintery. After tasting however, I think this is a desert that could offer itself very well after summer meals – the sharp sweet flavours are a nice refreshing end to a meal perhaps like a barbecue, and it is easy to prepare in advance.

1/2lb sugar (220g)
1/4 pt water (140ml)
1/4 pt Red Burgundy (140ml)
1 clove
1 cinnamon stick
2 strips orange peel
2 strips lemon peel
4 oranges

Start by making the syrup base: warm the water over a flame and melt into the sugar. When the sugar is completely melted, combine the Burgundy wine (holding back about two tablespoons for later) and drop in the clove, cinnamon, and strips of orange and lemon peel.  Simmer gently until it is reduced to a syrup. Add the reserved two tablespoons of Burgundy to loosen the syrup a little and increase the alcohol levels again.

Peel and slice the oranges and put into the warm syrup, then chill in the fridge before serving them with ice cream.

Home-made Vanilla Ice Cream

This is my variation on a recipe I found in the same book. I think there was more cocoa powder than printed word on these pages of deserts, so I will be trying them all out soon.

4 egg yolks
120g sugar
1 pinch salt
440ml single cream
1 tsp vanilla esscence
The seeds of a vanilla pod
290ml double cream, thickly whipped

Beat the egg yolks, sugar and salt until it turns a pale yellow colour. Heat the single cream to almost boiling and add to the eggs, whisking until mixture is well blended and no longer grainy.  Pour the mixture into a ban-marie and cook over hot water, stirring continuously, until the consistency becomes custard-like and coats the spoon.

Stir in the vanilla pod seeds and essence, then allow to cool completely.

Once cool, stir in the thick double cream into the vanilla custard and freeze for at least 3 hrs.

Chocolate and Raspberry Gateaux


75 g Bournville cocoa powder
350 ml boiling water
250 g butter, diced
300 g light brown sugar
250g fine caster sugar
4 eggs
410 g plain flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1tsp honey
1tbsp raspberry liquor (or syrup )

Dissolve the cocoa powder and melt the sugars, honey and butter into the boiling water. When everything is the same consistency, beat in the eggs. Be sure that the water is not so hot as to cook the eggs immediately.

Into a large bowl sift the flour, bicarbonate of soda and baking powder together. Make a well in the centre and start to combine the warm chocolate liquid, being sure to mix together as you go. You should have a smooth but quite runny cake mix.

Pour the mixture into a pre-lined round baking tin (9″ diameter with a depth of at least 4″), and place in a pre-heated oven for 1hr 30mins at 180°. Take out and check that the cake is cooked through by running a skewer through the centre. If the skewer comes out clean then the cake is cooked.

For the hard icing topping:

Warm 200ml of double cream and melt in 400g of dark chocolate and 100g of icing sugar. Allow to cool until the mixture coats the back of a metal spoon. Make sure the cake is cooled completely before applying the icing.

Top with fresh raspberries and anything else you like.  I added fudge! ~