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I have been experimenting with milk again. How can I resist when I am surrounded by such mass bovinity in all of its glory? The dairy possibilities are endless in this kitchen. There is literally milk everywhere, clearly most notably on my brain.

Over the past few years I have performed my fair share of indulgent dairy experiments. I’ve churned butter. Strained farmer cheese. Clouted clotted cream. Creamed curd cheese. Condensed milk and evaporated milk. Dairy-ed fudge. Soured cream. Creamed cheese. Used the remaining buttermilk and whey for various experiments in baking. Hell, I’ve even made bread out of milk.

creamymilk

Strictly speaking, when things get a little stressful; i.e. when the weather makes it difficult to farm, we DIY ice cream.  One of my favourite playwrights’, David Mamet exclaimed, “We must have pie. Stress cannot exist in the presence of a pie.” Well, I agree, but I’d swiftly say the same for ice cream too.

When our ice cream is ready to eat, we quietly share fifteen family minutes together on the farm, scooping spoonful after spoonful of cold creamy glee into our smiling mouths. I suppose the flavour du jour is whatever strikes the fancy of a certain farmer’s mind at that particular time. Triple chocolate-chocolate, cookie dough, chunky monkey, red raspberry ripple, marshmallow cream, rhubarb-n-custard….if we are feeling extremely creative, and if the season is right, we’ll steep some fresh hay into the creamy base too. Just because.

This weekend, we happened to have a bit of extra crème fraîche in the fridge so we decided to make ice cream with it. Crème fraîche ice cream is not new. It’s been done before, but it’s new to my kitchen, to my Magimix, to our time-tested palates.

After getting an email from a friend telling tantalising tales of lemon sea salt ice cream at the beach, I decided to add that to the mix as well. The result is an ultra-creamy, tangy, zesty ice cream with the slightest hint of salt from the sea.

cremefraicheicecream2

Crème-Fraîche-Lemon-Sea-Salted Ice Cream

200ml whole milk
175g caster sugar
600g full-fat crème fraîche (Glenisk or Glenilen are both fantastic)
Zest 1 lemon
½ tsp vanilla extract
2-3 pinches sea salt (I love Irish Atlantic Sea Salt)

1. Whisk together the milk, sugar, crème fraîche, lemon zest and vanilla over medium heat until sugar is dissolved.
2. Set aside to cool completely. Place in fridge overnight.
3. Add in sea salt and churn in an ice-cream machine, following manufacturer’s
instructions, before freezing. Or freeze for 1 hr, then give a good whisk and return to
the freezer for another hour. Repeat 3 or 4 times until it becomes solid.

Slan Abhaile,

Imen

{I am away from the farm travelling stateside due to a bereavement this week, so I am sharing this post adapted from my column + recipe recently published in Irish Country Living}

Photos + styling by Imen McDonnell 2013 

 

 

 

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Clotted Cream

26 Mar 2012

Naturally, I had to crack the clotted cream. It was only a matter of time. My reasoning? Well, we do live on a dairy farm for god’s sake. The only question remaining is: what on earth took me so long. After dipping into a tub made by a fellow farmerette at a recent photo shoot, there was no stopping me.  To put it plainly, the flavour and texture of homemade clotted cream is absolute pure ambrosia.

The first time I tasted clotted cream was at a little afternoon tea party that I organised for a dear friend’s engagement. It took place in the very unlikely, but ultimately ohhh sooo perfect, Murray’s Steakhouse “Home of the Silver Butterknife Steak”. Murray’s is a supper club and cocktail lounge in downtown Minneapolis which opened in the 40′s and is so authentically retro that the dining room is darkly lit even during their lunchtime service. As I recall, the main room is adorned in mirrored walls, chandeliers, salmon pink draperies, and wall to wall carpet with art deco patterning. I wanted to plan something really unforgettable, and just knew Rebecca would love a bit of a mad tea party with all of her girls. Murray’s was the only place that offered such a service at the time. Don’t ask me why.

We all showed up in our frocks and sipped tea and champagne, pawed at dainty cucumber sandwiches and gobbled down white scones with clotted cream and jam in the lowly lit room for over two hours. It was not The Plaza, and no one wore white gloves, but it sure was divine.

After I was living in Ireland for a couple of years, I decided it would be nice idea to invite my mother and sister-in-law to an afternoon tea at Adare Manor. We arrived to the 1800’s Neo-Gothic estate and were seated in the tea rooms. From where I was sitting there was a picture window introducing a view of the most tremendous formal gardens behind one shoulder, and an enormous hearth fireplace that seemed so large that one could stand inside of it, beyond the other. A very reserved waiter served us Darjeeling tea with light egg + cress, salmon + crème fraiche, and ham sandwiches along with delicate cakes, scones, and petit fours. We were all spoiled with clotted cream on that day as well.

Today, I am in my very own kitchen with a pinny making clotted cream from scratch. Didn’t see that happening in my lifetime, but must admit, I am delighted with my success. It’s not difficult, but when you make it for the first time, it’s very easy to get the feeling that it’s not working. I also made the mistake of thinking that the cream underneath the crust was the actually clotted cream. It is not. That crusty golden top is just that, pure gold.

Clotted cream is not Irish, but I would venture to say it features on all formal afternoon tea menus across this fine country. It is mostly associated with dairy from the southwestern part of England; and in particular the counties of Cornwall and Devon. In fact, Cornish Clotted Cream is another one of those protected foods (PDO) so long as the cream is from Cornwall.

My clotted cream proudly comes from milk from our happy Irish Dunmoylan cows, but you don’t need a dairy farm to make it from scratch. If you can get unpasteurized, unhomogenised cream from a local dairy that would be ideal, but if not, use double or heavy organic whipping cream.  Don’t ask yourself why you’re making clotted cream, just do it. And bring it to a friend’s house with homemade scones on a sunny afternoon, it’s a slice of heaven.

Homemade Clotted Cream

Preheat oven to 100C/200F

1000ml/4 cups double or heavy cream (unpasteurised is best)

Pour the cream into a heavy bottom shallow pan. I used a stainless steel roasting pan.

Put it in the oven

And, forget about it for 8-10 hours

When it is done, it will have a thick golden crust forming on the top, like this

Take it out of the oven and let it sit in a cool place for 10-12 hours

Remove the “clouted” top with a slatted spoon, put into jar(s) and place in refrigerator for 2-3 hours

The clotted cream will last for 3-4 days

You can use the reserved cream underneath for other purposes if you wish…such as baking scones!

Slather on scones with jam.

{you will thank me}

Slan Abhaile,

Imen

Photos + Styling by Imen McDonnell 2012

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