I think it can almost legitimately be called Spring now can't it?
This weekend we ate lots of ice cream, drank wine at lunchtime and went for a walk without our coats. All definitely spring-like things to do.
We'd just finished our desserts when the waitress came over and said that they were trialling a liquid nitrogen ice cream trolley and did we want to try. We had moments before been bemoaning how full we were but when someone asks you if you want to try a liquid nitrogen ice cream, it's quite hard to say no. A little while later, a man wheeled a trolley towards us. Into a stand mixer went a jug of custard flecked with vanilla beans. A jug of liquid nitrogen was then poured in and within minutes, we had ice cream!
And pretty amazing ice cream it was too Quite apart from the fact that we'd seen it made before our eyes, it was silky smooth and creamy with a rich vanilla taste. There was a choice of toppings and I went for a smattering of freeze dried apple and popping candy which added a completely different texture and experience without taking anything away from the ice cream. Why can't every meal end this way?
Leek and gruyère tart
Yield: 8 mini tarts or 1 large tart
- 220g plain/all purpose flour
- 110g unsalted butter, cold
- 1 pinch of salt
- 1 large egg
- 20g butter
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 2 medium leeks, chopped
- 1 large egg
- 140ml crème fraiche
- 100g gruyère cheese, grated
- Salt and pepper to taste
- To make the pastry, rub together the flour, butter and salt with your fingertips until you have something that resembles breadcrumbs. Try not to overmix and keep it as cold as possible. Add the egg and bring together everything into a ball of dough. Flatten the ball with your hands and wrap in cling film. Chill for at least half an hour or overnight.
- Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface to a thickness of a couple of mm. Use the pastry to line your tart tins and trim any excess, remembering that the pastry will shrink when cooked. Chill for 30 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 180C/350F, line each pastry case with a piece of greaseproof paper and fill with baking beans/rice. Bake for 15 minutes and then remove the paper and bake for another 5 minutes until light golden brown.
- While the pastry is cooking, heat the butter in a small pan over a medium heat. Add the garlic and leeks and cook until softened.
- In a bowl, beat the egg and add the crÃ¨me fraiche, cheese and leek and garlic mixture. Season to taste.
- Pour the mixture into the blindbaked pastry cases and bake for 15-20 minutes until brown and set in the middle. Serve warm or cold.