Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Shipwrecked islands

Everyone has their weakness.
For Imelda Marcos it was shoes. For me it is kitchen gadgets. 

I love 'em: deep fat fryer, panini press, pasta maker, food processor, pressure cooker, wok,  slow cooker, coffee maker,  blender, blow torch, potato ricer- they all live happily in my kitchen and (apart from the fondue set which I haven't used since 1982) they all get used.

The latest addition- and contents of the Mystery Parcel- is an ice cream maker!

I've never made ice cream before - but I reckoned it would be a good weapon in my war against waste- using up leftover fruit, eggs and bits and bobs.

I decided to try the easiest recipe in the 'Ice Cream Made Easy' book. It was also the cheapest.

I made a simple custard ice cream- using a tin and a half of ready made custard (but you could make your own if you are an egg custard afficionado), made up to 700 ml with some double cream, the scrapings of a vanilla pod, a teaspoon of vanilla extract and 3 tbsp of icing sugar.It all churned away nicely (when I remembered to put the inner bowl inside!) and after a very short time ( about 20 minutes) it was thick enough to spoon into a container and freeze.

I decided to serve it in a twist on a classic ile flottante (my all time favourite French dessert). Usually, the poached meringue floats on a sea of creme anglaise and is garnished with almonds and caramel sauce. So it was with my Shipwrecked Islands- except the meringues were marooned high and dry on the custard ice cream. Reader, let me tell you they were delicious!
I'll let you into the secret of poached meringues. 

You can follow Raymond Blanc's classic recipe

I usually recommend this when people ask me for the recipe. (With my tongue firmly planted in my cheek).

You can watch a video of someone making these here:

What I actually do is, whenever I'm in France (or whenever French visitors come to the UK bearing gifts) I buy a block of oeufs a la neige at a wonderful supermarket chain called Carnivor.

Carnivor (unsurprisingly given its name) specializes in butchery for the catering trade- but also has a good range of catering packs of desserts.

These blocks of poached meringue freeze really well- you just scoop off what you need each time and put them back in the freezer. Voila!

As penance for my cheating, I am going to make these meringues from scratch- just to prove to all my dinner party guests who have gone away clutching a photocopy of Raymond Blanc's recipe - and who now know the truth-that I can actually do it.

I'll let you know how it goes.


  1. LOVE this idea, what an original take on a classic dish. Will be giving that a go for my next dinner party! Did you toast the almonds or just sprinkle them over?

  2. I used toasted almonds (ready toasted!)

    I wanted to call these Islands in Dry Dock- (au radoub) - in honour of the Marseille port- but does that work in French?

  3. Haha! I guess you could say "îles en cale sèche" or something, but I really like the idea of them being shipwrecked! Like little titanics on a custard ice berg :-P