Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Rhubarb ice

Today's entry will not be so much about the recipe (as it's not really a recipe, and I'm basically re-using something I already blogged about, and some aspects of it weren't very successful), but I'm using it as an excuse to write about something I think is quite awe inspiring. That something is my Mum's garden. Well, actually it's my Mum's partner Veikko's garden, as it is primarily Veikko who takes care of it. My Mum and Veikko live in a house in the countryside in South Finland, and they have a huge garden with plum trees, several types of berry bushes and a huge vegetable garden. 

The vegetable garden. In the front rows there are several
types of lettuce, parsley and dill. Next beans and beet root,
and in the back plenty of potatoes. To the left Jerusalem
artichoke and plum trees in the back.
Red gooseberries
I'm always in awe walking in the garden. And my Mum and Veikko get a huge amount of produce from the garden which they freeze and use through the winter. Veikko makes his own compost for the vegetable garden, which is probably one of the secrets why it keeps producing so much vegetables and herbs every year. And I was lucky to be in Finland  around the time when things start to get ripe, so I got some wonderful pictures. 

Courgette. I wish I could have cooked the
courgette flowers... always wanted to do that.
Black currants
Oregano. Delicious and pretty.
The vegetable garden is huge and the main vegetable is potato. In addition there are beets, Jerusalem artichokes, several kinds of lettuce, several types of beans, herbs, tomatoes, courgette, spinach, raspberries, gooseberries, black currants and rhubarb. And probably a few other things I'm forgetting about. I definitely want a garden like that when I grow up. Although then I would need a gardener as well, as I certainly don't have the patience to plant, weed, compost, harvest and all the other things you need to do to keep your garden flowering and produce harvested and stored. Well, since I want a house keeper, a driver and a maid in my home when I am a proper grown up, I guess throwing in a gardener in the mix wouldn't be impossible. I will of course be living in a ten bedroom mansion which is complete with stables, paddocks and huge grounds to ride around on. I will be wearing a huge flowing dress and someone has invented a time machine to go back in time a hundred years or so. Ok, I need to stop watching costume dramas and get back to reality to my tinier than a shoebox studio, which has been hotter than hell the last few days.

Plums were nowhere near ripe yet.
Tomatoes need a bit more time as well.
Beans just waiting to be picked and frozen.
I haven't had potatoes in a long time, as they aren't a part of my nutrition plan. However, after all the chocolate, cookies, bread and other horrible unhealthy foods I had already ingested, I thought I might as well get my potato fix as well. So me and Mum has a feast of new potatoes straight from the earth, boiled with a lot of dill and eaten with pickled herring and smoked salmon. True fast food, and what a wonderful taste of summer. If you have never had pickled herring, pick up some on your next trip to Finland, Sweden (or Ikea). I know it doesn't sound too appetising, but it's brilliant. Especially on a hot summer's day after sweating too much, to replenish some of that lost sodium. It's also a brilliant hangover food. Traditionally served in the morning after parties which have run all the way through to the next morning, such as First of May brunch. 

Potatoes and garlic pickled herring.
Summery fast food.
Ok, so like I said before, this isn't really a recipe, it's an extension of the three ingredient ice cream I blogged about earlier. However, the rhubarb custard is nice as a pudding on it's own as well, you don't need to make it into ice cream. In that case, you probably want to add some sugar. 
Someone else was interested in the rhubarb too.

Rhubarb ice cream (serves 6):

For the rhubarb custard
4-5 big stalks of rhubarb
1 cup (ish) of water
1-2 tbsp sugar (I used caster sugar but would have used brown sugar if I would have had some available)
2 tsp ground cardamom
2 tsp potato starch (I guess corn starch would do as well)

For the ice cream
1 can (395g) condensed milk
250 ml (1 cup) strawberry flavoured heavy cream (or regular cream if you live in a country which hasn't discovered the joys of flavoured creams, add strawberry extract if you happen to have some)
2 tbsp vanilla sugar or vanilla extract

The howto: Chop the rhubarb into a cooking pot, add water sugar and cardamom. Bring to a boil and let cook for about 5 minutes or until the rhubarb is soft. Mix the potato starch with a tablespoon or two of water, take the pot off the heat, pour in the potato starch in a thin stream while stirring so that no lumps form. Put back onto the stove, and bring to a boil (only until you see the first bubble forming). Let cool. If you feel like the custard isn't thickening at all when you add the potato starch, you can add some more, but beware that the custard will get a bit thicker when you bring it to a boil the second time.

Rhubarb custard.
For the ice cream, mix all ingredients and use a hand held whisk to whip until fluffy and forming stiff peaks. 

Mix rhubarb custard and ice cream mix, freeze over night. I had a strange problem where about a quarter of the ice cream mix just disappeared while waiting for it to freeze. I'm sure there is something wrong with my Mum's freezer...

The verdict:
Let's start with the good news. The ice cream was delicious. The combination of strawberry and rhubarb is a classic, and I love the simple ice cream recipe which doesn't require an ice cream maker. Then the bad news... *Someone* was being quite a blonde, thinking it would be a good idea to combine a water based custard (which obviously freezes to hard ice) with ice cream (which is soft and fluffy and stays soft even when frozen). I didn't even mix the custard and ice cream properly, but just dotted the rhubarb cream into the ice cream thinking I would get nice swirls of rhubarb in the ice cream. Well in theory yes, there were swirls of rhubarb, but it was impossible to scoop the ice cream out as the rhubarb swirls were hard as rock. So to be able to scoop out the ice cream, you had to let it soften for quite a while in room temperature. At which point the actual "ice cream" was quite soggy and the rhubarb still ice cold. I think the solution to this would be to thoroughly mix the ice cream with the rhubarb custard so that the entire mixture would be rather homogeneous. I think I have to try that out at some point. Although after my ten day binge eating holiday, I'm not quite sure when I will be allowed to eat ice cream again. I have probably shifted the excess weight by Christmas... Which is not the greatest of ice cream seasons. I guess the other alternative would be to freeze the ice cream mixture and refrigerate the rhubarb custard, and serve scoops of the ice cream with rhubarb custard poured on top. 

As I said earlier, you can also serve the rhubarb custard on it's own after completely cooled. It's a nice, refreshing summer pudding. Nice with a bit of whipped cream. Or fresh raspberries or strawberries, if you want to be healthy. You can also serve the rhubarb custard with your main course, it goes very well with barbecued salmon. However, you might want to reduce the sugar a bit, and add a teaspoon of salt. 

1 comment:

  1. Kyllä oli taas kertomusta kerrassaan ja upeita kuvia! Hienoa työtä! Vatsan sai taas herkut murisemaan.