I’m the kind of cook who takes pride in opening up the fridge, rummaging in the cupboard and coming up with a nice meal at the end of it. That should ring strange to me, because I generally dislike not having a plan (I’m boring like that). I like to think that I feel confident in my abilities to cook something decent out of leftovers and half-forgotten vegetables – whether this is true or not, I’m not sure. Summer is in full swing which can only mean one thing: it’s almost PYO time! Last year B. and I tried out a couple of PYO farms nearby and stocked up on berries (and broad beans) for the rest of the year. Gradually I used up gooseberries, blackberries, raspberries and blackcurrants. I used handfuls redcurrants here and there, but I hanged on to the majority of them for a special recipe. Well, this is it. I to-and-froed over what to make but it seems like in the end I always go back to frozen sweets. And I couldn’t have been happier with the result: not only this is some seriously good dessert – tartness and sweetness in one mouthful – I also made the meringues using some egg whites lurking at the back of the freezer too. Definitely a win-win situation in my book.
Housekeeping: I have been painfully slow at posting lately and it might be a while before I am back to more regular and frequent posts. In the meantime, a good soul has given me her old smartphone (thanks Gill!) and this has made so much easier to tweet.
Prepare the meringues.Preheat the oven to 100°C. Place the egg whites in a clean bowl (or bowl of standing mixer). Whisk a little, then add half of the sugar and lemon juice / vinegar and whisk until firm. It will take a while. Gently fold in the remaining sugar. Spoon into piping bags (alternatively, use a couple of tablespoons or just spread the mixture in a thin layer if you don’t care about the shape – you’re going to crumble it anyway) and pipe your chosen shapes on parchment-covered oven trays. Dry the meringues in the oven for at least 2 hours. You want them dry inside as well, so that when you crumb them up you won’t end up with a squishy interior. Take out of the oven and cool down. They can be stored in an airtight container for up to 10 days or so (I made mine the week before making the ice cream). Prepare the milk ice cream. Bring all the ingredients to 85°C (almost boil) in a pan, then turn the heat off and let it cool. Once at room temperature, cover with clingfilm and put in the fridge for at least a couple of hours. I left it overnight. Churn according to your ice cream machine manufacturer’s instructions. Because the mixture is quite liquid compared to custard based ice creams, you might find that it takes a while to get the texture you expect. As long as the ice cream machine is proper cold, you shouldn’t struggle. For the berry sauce: put redcurrants and sugar in a small pan over a low heat. Stir every now and then until the skins of the berries have broken and the sugar is dissolved in the juices. Leave to cool for a few minutes, then sieve the seeds out of the mixture and leave the remaining sauce to cool in a covered container. Assemble the ice cream. Crumble the meringues. Take a freeze-proof container and spread a layer of ice cream on the bottom. Then sprinkle some meringue crumbs, and drizzle some redcurrant sauce. With a long skewer or chopstick, gently stir from the bottom to the top, without overmixing. Repeat: ice cream, meringue crumbs, redcurrant sauce, stir. Ice cream, meringue crumbs, redcurrant sauce, stir. Keep going until you finish all ingredients. Cover with a lid or tightly with clingfilm and store in the freezer for at least a couple of hours to firm up. Take out a bit before serving to soften it up.