Sometimes a recipe is enough, sometimes you need a therapist

I have been emailing my stepdaughter in Australia about recipes.  She requested some of my “failsafe”, simple family favourites so I duly sent instructions out about what I do.  A slightly irate email came back as she had had disasters with her toffee banana ice-cream and the sour cream pastry.  She claims my recipes are not “foolproof” (her choice of words, not mine!).  It made me realise how difficult it can be to tell people what to do when you can’t see them, they can’t ask questions and you don’t know what they don’t know.

More instructions I hear you cry.   And you could be right but it is also easy to move through clarity into too much information.  In addition, it can be difficult to second-guess what someone else might do. I, for example would probably never have thought to say that if your pastry is too soggy, don’t use Arborio rice to bake it blind as it will absorb moisture and you will have burnt risotto on your tart base as well as bits of pastry dripping onto the oven floor.  I simply did not know this myself as I use ceramic baking beans on foil or greaseproof – and recommend that you do too.

There are lots of brilliant books out there that give you help and instructions for just about anything.  I consume large quantities of them and am a great believer in teaching yourself.  However, there comes a time when you don’t understand, don’t know what was meant by that strange term or instruction or you simply don’t know what you don’t know,  At times like these it helps to call in the professionals.  Just as I have stood by someone and helped them to cook, a therapist will stand by you and support you in your efforts to learn and change.

In the meantime here is a recipe for very easy (really!) ice cream because good food makes us happy.

Toffee Banana Ice Cream

3 large eggs

½ teaspoon salt

170g  demerara sugar

6 tablespoons of water

4 ripe bananas

juice of lemon

250 ml of double cream

Whisk eggs and salt until thick and foamy.  Dissolve sugar in the water over a low heat, ring to boil and boil fiercely without stirring for 3 minutes.  Pour bubbling syrup in a thin stream onto the eggs, whisking all the time (needs two unless you have a free-standing mixer).  Whisk until mixture thickens.  Cool. Mash bananas to puree with lemon juice and stir into eggs and sugar.  Whisk cream until thick but not stiff and stir into the mixture.  Pour into dish and freeze.  It does not need churning.  Some rum is a nice addition and makes it easy to scoop up as the alcohol affects the freezing point.

Other things you may need to know

  • Do all whisking and beating with electricity if humanly possible
  • Pour the syrup slowly or it will send syrup and egg mixture all over the kitchen.
  • Turn down the mixer speed to avoid spinning out of control.
  • If the bowl or the beaters are very cold, try to keep the syrup away from them or it will caramelise.
  • If it caramelises, it will in the end dissolve so be patient.
  • Don’t beat the cream beyond soft peaks or it will be hard to mix in or worse, become butter.

If anyone is interested in sour cream pastry, let me know and I will send the recipe.

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