Almond soup with Caramelita ice cream

When I saw this dish on  Ferran Adrià’s The Family Meal, I decided to try it on a heart beat. All in all, it was an emotional decision driven by gluttony, which could have be a serious contestant to the Darwin Awards of cooks. As I was plating, I realized that M., the poor suffering tester, is allergic to almonds. Needless should be to add (once again) that  am lactose-intolerant. Would a dessert made of ressuspended almonds and milk-derivatives be a good idea given these combined food challenges? Really, no need to answer. It is already bad enough the question needs to be made. Fortunately, G. showed up for a coffee the day after, and volunteered to help with the full platted dish. He said it was good, and asked for more…

About the dish itself – making the almond soup is actually a bit more laborious than I expected. Filtering the almond suspension can ended in a bit of a mess. In case you wonder why I am cooking for 6: Adrià justifiably says this is the minimum you should do, as it takes some critical mass to get the almond soup right. And, really, go for the Marcona almonds if you can source them. Anything less than that, and you won’t taste its flavor. In the absence of nougat ice cream, I tried Caramelita. It is a good combination, but apparently a bit too sweet (probably true – Moevenpick ice creams tend to be on the sugary side of life).

Food intolerances apart, this is actually a lovely dish for a dinner party. You can do the soup in advance and then plate when you need it.  It is an elegant combination of flavours and textures, which won’t disappoint the hard core foodies.

Almond soup with Caramelita ice cream

Ingredients (for 6)

  • 240g of Marcona almonds
  • 600mL water
  • 80g sugar
  • whole caramelised almonds to tastes
  • Caramelita ice cream to taste (original recipe called for nougat ice cream, which I was not able to find).

Method

Put the almonds in a food processor and roughly chop

Tip them into a large bowl, then add the water

Leave to soak for 12 hours in the fridge

Use a hand held blender or food processor to blend the almonds and water until smooth and creamy

Carefully strain through a fine meshed metal sieve, using the back of a ladle  to help the soup pass through the sieve.

Add the sugar and whisk until it dissolves

To serve, put a triangle of three caramelised almonds in the bottom of a bowl. Place a scoop of ice-cream in the centre of the triangle

Poor the almond soup around the ice-cream.


Baked peaches with thyme and ice cream

Peaches are long gone, but this dessert will be staying. I saw it on Scarlet Pippin, but the original recipe seems to be by Gordon Ramsay. And, then, I tweaked it a bit more…  hopefully, it will become a viral dish because it an ideal dessert for a Summer dinner.

Baked peaches

Ingredients 

  • 4 whole white peaches.
  • 50g icing sugar, 50g caster sugar (I just used 100 of sugarcane sugar)
  • 1 vanilla pod
  • 25 unsalted butter, melted
  • 1-2 teaspoons Cointreau or Grand Mariner (I used prune Schnapps)
  • 1 teaspoon of fresh thyme leaves (stripped from stalk)

Method

Mix the icing and caster sugar together and roll fruits in them to coat. Sit peaches in a shallow ovenproof dish. Mix the vanilla seeds with the melted butter and trickle over the peaches.

Bake the peaches uncovered at 190 oC for 5 mins. Remove and spoon the caramelised liquid that has formed in the dish back over the peaches. Return to the oven to bake for 10 mins (spooning over the juices a few more times).

About 5 mins before the peaches are ready, spoon over the liqueur and sprinkle over the thyme. Remove when ready and allow to cool until warm.

Thyme ice-cream

Ingredients

  • 250ml of creamy milk
  • 250ml double cream
  • 3 sprigs of fresh thyme (OR two strands of saffron OR two sticks of cinnamon)
  • 6 free range egg yolks
  • 90g caster sugar

Methods

Heat the milk and cream in a large saucepan until the liquid starts to creep up the sides of the pan (i.e. boil). Then stir in the thyme sprigs, remove from the heat and leave to cool.

Put the yolks and the sugar in a large bowl and whisk until thick and creamy (ideally with an electric whisk).

Reheat the milk and cream mixture and, when the mixture rises up again, pour into the yolk mixture whilst slowly mixing. Whist until well blended. Strain back into the pan through a sieve (discard the thyme). On the lowest possible heat, stir until the mixture coats the back of a wooden spoon. Cool the custard, stirring occasionally to stop a skin forming. Churn in an electric ice-cream maker if you have such things, or otherwise take out of the freezer to stir regularly as it starts to freeze.