Tuesday, 28 February 2012

A brief encounter with snow and lots of encounters with chocolate!

This has truly been the most manic two months to start any year to date. Not only did I start the year with an astonishing Detox of such severity that every email that I sent ended with "love from" or "best wishes" from "Starving of Herefordshire"! This was brought on by a conversation with equally over-indulgent festive friends that it would be entirely possible to refrain from drinking anything other than water and teas for 3 weeks! I found this concept hideously alarming but in the spirit of 2012 I agreed to give it a go. Well, astonishing though it may seen it has been done, well most of the days anyway...... and what is more than extraordinary is that I did indeed feel amazing and gained at least another two hours per day in energy... frightening some would say!......
The highlight of January was the amazing cocktails and dinner at the Grocers Guild Hall. Divine to dress up and get a taxi into the City of  London but thoroughly fabulous to see inside the Grocers Hall. The amazing chandeliers, silver and paintings, the sheer size of the banqueting tables and the immaculate presentation of delicious food, course after course. The starter is definitely being snatched for my new cookbook!
A couple of other trips to London included a tour of the City of London with the Pink Lovely, a visit to the Geffreye Museum and the Bank of England Museum, both of which were fascinating. However, the favourite pass time of the Pink Lovely was sitting on a double decker bus! Thank God for the Oyster Card! Determined to see "The Railway Children" before it closed on the platform of Waterloo Station, we managed to get to the last performance and it was truly a delight.There were many more adults than children and I think that they secretly just wanted to see the steam train tooting in down the platform. Our trip ended up with skating outside the Natural History Museum and then going on the Merry Go round before returning back to  the quiet pastures of Herefordshire and the new school term.
Having made the decision not to write an e-book or App. but to throw myself into another cookbook with old fashioned paper and binding, I settled into daily writing and testing of winter recipes before the spring brings new ingredients and ideas to try.
We had a brief encounter with snow for one day and it snowed all day, piling up nicely under my watchful eye and those on the committee of the Ludlow Hunt Ball. If I ever question my heritage, remind me of this night because I am entirely sure than all the proof that is needed is here.  200 of us did fight our way through 3 snow storms which were so thick that the lines in the middle of the road were nowhere to be seen!  This was slightly dodgy with approaching traffic struggling towards you. This has to be entirely English, who else would venture out to a BALL in the middle of the Marches along zigzag lanes and single tracks to get to a marquis without snow chains or skiis! It was I am glad to say entirely worth it and we all danced until 2.30am and by the time we went home the moon was bright and the roads passable. But still quite definitely mad!
We are still just in February and this I shall call my chocolate month. I am not entirely sure what has happened but I seemed to have been obsessed by chocolate all month. Not a day has passed without a glorious, melting moment! I have tested every single chocolate recipe in my new book with great success it may be said but also with a secret supply that the Pink Lovely has not yet discovered!  I am now debating which one to write out for you here as they were all rather yummy and easy. Even when I was in London for a couple of days last week to see the Hockney exhibition and attend a few lunches and dinners, chocolate featured every few hours, are we due for an equinox or something! I even put chocolate in my venison stew which was gloriously rich and decadent. There was a brief moment when it occurred to me that I should join Chris Tarrant on Radio 2 and give up chocolate for lent but  giving up my daily cup of coffee seemed an easier option!  What will March bring? I will let you know but certainly not chocolate! So, before all the evidence of my current addiction disappears from my hidey places there is a little recipe that I would like you to try!
Chocolate Ice Cream
350ml whole milk
1 heaped tablespoon pure cocoa powder
The seeds from some cardamom pods (how many depends on how flavoured you like ice creams to be)
6 large eggs, yolks only
125g caster sugar
120g dark continental chocolate 70%cocoa, melted
300ml double cream

Heat the milk with the cocoa and cardamom seeds in a saucepan, simmer for 5 minutes on low. Meanwhile, whisk the egg yolks and sugar in a large bowl, when pale and thick whisk in the hot milk. Return this to the pan and heat, stirring continuously until thick enough to coat the back of the wooden spoon. Cool and then blitz in the liquidizer until smooth and silky. Pour the mixture into a freezer bowl or container and fold in the cream. Freeze until solid but beat the hell out of it every few hours so that it continues to be silky smooth.

Serve with chocolate brownies for a serious fix!

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