London in the hot hot hot is infinitely preferable to London in a drizzle, but the seaside is even better. We took a spontaneous trip to Nanna & Quinto's for some impressive Sussex seaside time - too much ice cream, traditional funfair and giant fish & chips galore. Lots of fun and lots of sun. Nothing makes a kid (well, my kids) happier than an excuse for some public nudity, so the beach is always a winner, but we really hit the jackpot with the little old funfair - cheap and full of rides they loved, with not a single queue to kill our vibe. Shame on Legoland. Indy went on her first real funfair ride, and then insisted on going again...and again...and again. I've never seen her grin for so long, and watching her turn the corner and wave like royalty (again...and again...) strangely never got boring. What a difference a long, sunny summer makes! We are all brown as berries and feeling good, and haven't hopped on a plane once...
My gorgeous husband had his latest birthday on Monday, and we were under strict "no presents" instructions, so Pablo & I conjured up a home made gift of his favourite raspberry ripple ice cream and a hand-crafted card. Then I decided that if we were making ice cream we may as well make an ice cream cake (a first for me!) Our freezer is now full to bursting with raspberry ripple but Konch had a lovely birthday and we all made ourselves feel a bit sick eating too much cake.
The couple of weeks leading up to Christmas were INTENSE, mostly due to baking commitments (ok, and whims...) Here's a few things we got up to:
L-R from top...
- cutting heart shaped doughnuts
- double choc 70th birthday cake
- making christmas biscuits with Elton John
- incredible rolls by Konch
- red velvet christmas cake
- finished doughnut heart
- cassis mince pies (with cinnamon-chic ice cream)
- our gingerbread cabin
- proud biscuit baker
- all iced and packed up for the school party
- cinnamon-choc ice cream getting going
- satisfying gingerbread poke by Pablo
Husband & I are danger of making one of those "don't get me anything big this year" pacts, but let's pretend we're not...
- I'v never even smelled this but it's called Coqui-Coqui Coco-Coco so I MUST OWN IT. They also have a bloody lovely looking spa residence in Tulum. Please can I go? Please?
- Take a minute to imagine how AWESOME it would be to own this entire rainbow of Marimekko ice cream bowls. Just me? Ok, I know I don't have enough space (or enough friends?!) to justify such an extravagance, but for aesthetics alone...swoon. From Skandium.
- I am going through very nice, not un-pricey coffee like wildfire because I keep trying to make espresso-strong coffee in my beloved cafetiere. That and the tedium of heating milk in a saucepan each day MUST STOP. Please Santa.... Dualit espresso machine.
Konch has been at a 'Wacky Races' themed stag do in Bruges since Thursday (he is Blubber Bear), so we are making the most of his absence by having a mum-&-Pablo-ONLY slumber party snuggle puddle on the sofa. Pizza, ice cream sundaes and E.T. (Pablo's first viewing). I'm loving him getting into actual films now, and he was gripped from start to finish. Though I then had to spend about an hour answering the questions "But why did E.T. get sick?" and "But where do aliens live?" on repeat...
I've spent the entire year thinking I was 32, but having established with girlfriends over drinks last night that I'm only 31 (via some very shaky maths) it's about time I got a decent birthday wishlist together to throw in front of my husband's eyes every five minutes for the next month ahead of the REAL 32 rolling around on October 3rd! PLEASE O PLEASE O PLEASE....
- TOP want, these Minnetonka moccasins (in a size 5/38 in case anyone's listening)
- ...one pair is not enough. These too... please?
- My eyelash curlers are still ones I stole from the beauty closet when I interned at ELLE magazine in 1999. I'm not kidding. My friend Lauren says these by Shu Uemura are the best.
- Have been lusting after this Wildfox jumper and it's sold out everywhere....except the US site! NEED!
- Loeffler Randall shoes. A girl can dream...
- I am dead out of tshirts, tops and anything not eaten half to death by moths. This beautiful top from twostringjane on Etsy would kick off autumn nicely.
- I'm DESPERATE to start making my own ice cream, even though it's practically winter... Kitchenaid attachment is a necessity, really.
- I love this Zoe Karssen tee! Did I mention I am bereft of tops?
These really are largely autumn wardrobe based for a reason. I don't think my tie dye Ibiza baggies or my still-worn sleeveless maternity jumpsuit will adequately see me through a London November. And neither will my plimsolls. Boots please...
Chocolate Pistachio Ice Cream Sandwiches
I don't think I"m a glutton, but one of my favourite things is eating, for pleasure as opposed to fuel. With two smalleys circling and squawking at me every three and a half seconds these days, good food's presence in my life has dwindled. Exhausted evenings are too often cheese-on-toast-y; meals are scraped together in a hurry as a solution to low blood sugar and its associated whinging; things best dipped in ketchup play far too hefty a role... The ultimate treat has become a good excuse to devote some precious energy to preparing something truly tasty, and a stretch of varyingly child-free time in which to do so, preferably on a Sunday soundtracked by Cerys Matthews and Jarvis Cocker (Heaven). So YAY our lovely friends Leo & Leonie said they'd pop over for Sunday lunch and provide such an excuse. Since it's (supposedly) summer and I'd spent the past two days at my mum's devouring THIS pistachio ice cream (one of the most gorgeous things on this earth, promise), I opted for a twist on a recipe I'd seen on Pinterest that week for chocolate fudge brownie ice cream sandwiches! The below is a variation on that recipe from Good Life Eats.
For the Brownies
113g unsalted butter
225g granulated sugar
2 tablespoons cocoa, plus a bit extra for the pan
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon proper vanilla extract
85g plain flour
pinch o' salt
For the Ice Cream Sandwiches
1 litre ice cream - I went with 500ml vanilla and 500ml pistachio but you could go with anything as long as it's lovely, quality ice cream - slightly softened
300g proper dark chocolate - I used Green & Blacks 70%
1 tablespoon(ish) butter
couple of handfuls of pistachios, chopped
wooden popsicle or kebab sticks
First of all, PLEASE start the night before. There is all kinds of thawing and refreezing to be done, and the beauty is that you can get the whole lot prepared nicely in advance of guests arriving, so you don't have to spend half an hour sweating, drinking and trying to hold a conversation whilst you add the finishing touches to something mid-course.
Start with the brownies. Preheat the oven to 170 C and grease & paper a 13x9in pan. Rub the parchment with butter and then dust with cocoa powder. Shake off any excess powder.
In a mixer with paddle attachment cream butter, sugar and 2 tbsp cocoa, then add eggs one at a time, giving a good little mix after each. Next add the vanilla. Turn the mixer to low and add the flour and salt. Mix until just combined and then spread in the pan. Bake 10-15 mins, until top is shiny, and allow to cool completely.
Once totally cool, cut the brownie in half and spread one half with the ice cream. I mixed it up so some would be pure vanilla, some pure pistachio and some half and half (these were the best). Top with the other brownie half, wrap in greaseproof paper and cling film and freeze for minimum 4 hours (in my case, overnight).
In the morn, remove the brownie/ice cream blocks and cut into smaller pieces. Insert popsicle sticks and re-freeze. This was the moment I realised I had absolutely no popsicle sticks in the house, so used wooden kebab sticks instead, which was absolutely fine.
Melt the chocolate and butter in a bowl over a pan of simmering water. I deviated a bit from the original recipe here, which called for melting choc chips with oil in a microwave, because we don't have a microwave and I preferred the idea of butter. Therefore my measurements here were guesswork, but you could play around with amounts of butter added. Only crucial thing is not to get any water into the choc/butter mix (not even a drop!) as that will spoil the texture.
Dip each sandwich in the chocolate mix and sprinkle all over with chopped pistachios, then place on parchment and re-freeze until ready to serve. YOU WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED!
I still dream of these...