Our last long weekend until October! And a whole winter to get through before then. The long weekend, rain pouring, wind blowing the perfect day for a late, long lazy lunch with friends.
To kick things off a little anti pasti and then it may have been Saturday but it felt like a Sunday so a simply roasted eye fillet with roast potatoes, Nigella's of course, for the main event. On the side some Ottolenghi pumpkin, braised leeks and a little broccoli for some nutritious green stuff.
And no long lazy lunch would be complete without dessert. Kiddies in tow with the grown ups so homemade vanilla ice cream is a sure fire winner. To go with the ice cream some roasted pears and toasty almonds.
Roasted Pears with Almonds, courtesy of Annabel Langbein, Eat Fresh
This is a an easy, simple dessert making the most of the pears. The pears can be poached ahead of time and then popped in the oven to roast just before serving. You could also go sans butter and just scatter the almonds over the pears before you roast them. However, the buttery toasty almonds are worth it.
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup water
2-4 whole cloves
2-3 strips lemon peel
3 pears, ripe but firm, I used Bosc and they held their shape well
2 tbsp melted butter
1/2 cup almond slices
Preheat oven to 220C / 425F
You want a pot large enough to hold the pears in single layer, or you could do a couple of batches. In the pan heat the sugar, water, cloves and lemon peel. Stir to dissolve the sugar and bring to a simmer. Add the pear halves, cover and simmer for 20 minutes.
Remove the pears from the syrup and place them in a shallow baking dish, cut side up. Pour over the syrup and bake for 30 minutes or until the start to caramelise.
Meanwhile, melt the butter in a pan and cook the almonds until they are golden, stirring frequently. Scatter the almonds and butter over the pears and serve with some homemade vanilla ice cream...
Vanilla Ice Cream
Makes 1 litre
1 3/4 cups cream
Vanilla seeds from 2 vanilla pods
1 cup milk, full fat no discussion.
3/4 cup sugar, divided
Pinch of salt
5 egg yolks
Place the cream, vanilla seeds and pods in a small saucepan. Bring to just a simmer, you will see little bubbles start to form around the edge. Remove from the heat and let the flavours infuse for 20-30 minutes.
In a medium saucepan place the milk, 1/2 cup of sugar, and a pinch of salt. Warm through to dissolve the sugar. Meanwhile in a good sized bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar. Add the hot milk mixture to the eggs slowly, in a steady stream, whisking all the time. Return the mixture to the saucepan and cook, stirring all the time with a wooden spoon. It is ready when the mixture coats the back of the spoon. Be careful not to let it boil.
To be on the safe side you can have a basin full of ice cold water ready to go. If it looks like the custard is about to curdle place the pot in the ice bath and whisk vigorously!
Allow the custard to cool. Remove the vanilla pods from the cream. Strain the mixture in to the custard. Apply a little pressure to ensure that you get every last little bit of flavour out of the vanilla seeds, besides I like my ice cream flecked with little speckles of vanilla.
Cool the custard thoroughly, in an ice bath or over night in the fridge. Churn in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions. Place in a container and pop in the freezer for about an hour.
The vanilla ice cream was rich and creamy, flecked with vanilla seeds and so full of vanilla flavour, the perfect foil for the sweetly roasted pears and buttery toasty almonds.