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Category: Food & Drink

4 of the Best: Dairy Farm Ice Creams

Ah ice cream; the perfect sweet treat on a hot day for all ages. We don’t get much sun in the UK but one thing is a guarantee, if the sun’s out, there will be a ice cream van or kiosk waiting to take your order. I’m a fan of most ice cream: I love a Magnum, Mini Milks make me nostalgic and I have a soft spot for a slightly retro Viennetta  but my favourite by far is a large scoop of creamy dairy ice cream. British dairy farms, and the wonderful things they put so much time and love in to producing, need to be both supported and celebrated. That’s why I’ve put together a round up of my favourite dairy farm ice cream brands.

  1. Northney Ice Cream, Hayling Island – Now this is a brand that I had not heard of before making the move to Hampshire just under a year ago but my gosh am I glad I’ve now tried it! Our local pub has Northney Ice Cream on their dessert menu and every time I visit, despite telling myself I should try something new, I can’t help but choose the pudding option of 3 massive scoops of ice cream. With this dairy farm just a short journey across the water from me; I am very tempted to attend one of their open days this summer to see for myself where it all comes from and find myself in a little bit of ice cream heaven! I recommend creating a mocha taste with 1 scoop of chocolate and 1 scoop of coffee. 
  2. Marshfield Farm Ice Cream, Wiltshire – I haven’t lived in the West Country for over ten years now but Marshfield Farm ice cream still manages to take me home with every mouthful. Produced in Wiltshire; this ice cream can be found in many pubs, ice cream vans and attractions across the South West and even further afield. I’m very lucky that even over 100 miles away from ‘home’; I can still enjoy this brand virtually on my doorstep at the local lake. There are plenty of flavours to choose from but my favourite has to be the ‘toffee fudge fiasco’.
  3. Cheshire Farm Ice Cream, Tattenhall – If you live in the North West and you haven’t visited the ice cream farm in Tattenhall yet then be sure to set a reminder on your phone and pencil it in to your diaries as this dairy farm has become more of an attraction for a day of family fun. It’s not just delicious ice cream that Cheshire farm has to offer, it also boasts: an adventure golf course, tractor tours of the animal enclosures, a soft play area and even a treasure cove where you can pan for gems! When you’re all exhausted from the full day of fun; you can sit back and relax with one of their ice creams in over 50 different flavours. Make mine a ‘White chocolate, raspberry & oreos’ will you!
  4. Shepherds Ice Cream, Herefordshire – Okay so you might think this is a little ‘out there’ but Shepherds produce milk made from yep, you guessed it, sheep’s milk. I first tried their ice cream over a decade ago on a trip to Hay-on-wye; the town of books on the border of Wales which stole my heart and holds so many memories of time spent with my late Dad. I’ll be honest, I was a bit sceptical about ice cream made from Sheep’s milk, my worries were put to bed on first taste and I was totally unprepared for how creamy it could be whilst full of flavour. With year round favourites, as well as quirky seasonal variations, there is a flavour for everyone. My choice is the cardamom and lavender.

Is there an ice cream farm near you that is out of this world? Dairy Farm we should know about? What’s your favourite flavour? Let me know in the comments section

4 Ways with Meringue

Pudding; the best part of a meal in my opinion! Summer is here now; so it’s time to ditch the dense cakes and filling crumbles in favour of something a little lighter. Whether you’re counting calories, or looking to deliver a wow factor dessert, meringue is a wonderful way to get a sweet treat. Incredibly versatile, and surprisingly simple to make, they can be the main element or play a small part in a much more dramatic recipe.

Looking for inspiration? Here are four ways you can use meringue:

  1. Toffee Coffee Pavlova – Two of my favourite flavours paired. This dessert sounds too good to be true and from the moment I saw this recipe on a food blog, a couple of years ago, I was dreaming of sampling it for myself. Needing only a handful of ingredients; this dessert is both easy and inexpensive to put together making it a dinner party dream.
  2. Sandwiched Meringues – These bite size drops of heaven are not for the faint-hearted! Don’t be fooled by how beautifully delicate these look; they pack a serious sweet punch but are worth every mouthful. Chocolate filling brings two rose shape meringues together for a sugary hit perfect for that mid-afternoon low point. Whilst the rosettes can be slightly tricky to master; the finished product is incredibly impressive.
  3.  Tropical Fruit Mess – Eton mess has to be one of my all time favourite desserts. Not only is it incredibly simple to make; it can be constructed in seconds and ingredients played around with depending on preference. Only last week I enjoyed my first traditional ‘mess’ of the summer at a local café and I’m already anticipating many more portions of this style dessert. I like to substitute the traditional berries with tropical fruits for a refreshing, and somewhat summery, twist on this British classic. Pile the fruit high or use lashings of cream, it’s completely up to you but one thing’s for sure, you wont be disappointed.
  4. Meringue topped Espresso – There are thousands of ways to enjoy your coffee and it’s really not uncommon to add some sweetness with sugar or syrups but how about meringue?! When this Korean trend started popping up on my Pinterest feed towards the end of last year I thought my eyes may have been deceiving me. However, when you think about it, giving your coffee a meringue lid is no different to adding sugar or buying a slice of cake to accompany the drink. Whether this trend gets picked up in the UK remains to be seen but I’d be open to sampling if it appeared on a menu near me.

What’s your favourite use of meringue as a dessert? Will you be trying any of these ideas for yourself? Let me know in the comments section.

Taste Test: Decadent Decaf Coffee

Some families are loyal tea drinkers; in our house there’s only one drink – coffee! When I was pregnant I wasn’t worried about giving up alcohol, or missing cheese, it was the thought of giving up caffeine that I wasn’t sure I’d be able to manage. I survived it though and that first cup of ‘real’ coffee after little miss was born was THE best I have ever tasted. However, I didn’t take into consideration the effect caffeine would have on little one whilst breastfeeding – it keeps her up even more! So, in search of more sleep, I cut it out of my diet once again. Fast forward over a year and I’m still breastfeeding. As I’m only doing so at night; I am allowing myself one ‘normal’ coffee a day but it’s not the caffeine hit I miss, it’s the taste.

I’m not sure why, but I have always thought of decaf coffee as pointless but desperate to be able to consume more than one mug a day, I decided to expand my horizons and look into the decaf market a bit further. I tried leading brands, grounds and instant, and was beginning  to lose hope when I heard about Decadent Decaf; an award winning company specialising in decaf blends. Worth a shot – if you pardon the pun.

I’m pleased to say; I was won over from the moment I took my first sip of the ‘Signature Espresso Blend’. Brewed in our beloved Aeropress for 4 minutes, the result was strong yet smooth with almost velvety tones. And the smell, the rich scent of coffee filled the kitchen, heavenly for a coffee addict. Worried it was a fluke, I made a couple more mugs that day; using the French Press as well as the Aeropress. Each mug had slight differences but they were all delicious. The only negative is that the grounds are slightly too fine for the Aeropress but that is a compromise I’m willing to make for such good flavour.

Moving forward; I’m excited to try more blends in the Decadent family and will be sure to tell all my coffee (and sleep) deprived friends that decaf coffee doesn’t have to mean compromising on taste.

Have you got a favourite make or blend of coffee you’d recommend? Let me know.

Taste Test: Pizza Express for Iceland – Pasta

IMG_20170508_192950I love to cook, ever since helping my Dad in the kitchen at an early age, but with an energetic one year old to look after I’m no longer able to spend as much time preparing a meal as I’d like. This means I tend to keep a few ’emergency meals’ in the freezer just in case time runs away with us or we don’t have a chance to eat until after little girl has gone to bed. There’s nothing wrong with a ‘ping’ meal as I’ve heard them be described. However, like many things, there are good ones and bad ones and I’m not about to waste a meal on something bland or watery. When I saw that Iceland were stocking a range of Pizza Express ready meals that had been exclusively made for them; I couldn’t wait to try them out.

With OH coming through the door late from work and leaving not much time before I would have to run a bath for LG; last night was the perfect excuse to put the Pizza Express ready meals to the test.  To the freezer I went; it would be ‘Prawn Liguine’ for him and ‘Spinach and Ricotta Lasagne’ for me. As the microwave whirred, delicious smells began to fill the kitchen, it was a good first indicator.  *PING*, it was ready in only a shade over ten minutes and once plated it looked as good as it smelt.  Now for the taste test.

The Spinach and Ricotta Lasagne completely outshone any Spinach and Ricotta ready meal I’d ever had before. Every element had so much flavour but it was so well balanced that it was not overpowered by one specific taste. There was a good amount of filling and you could actually see the authenticity of the ingredients as opposed to it becoming one watery mess like some microwave meals do. I wasn’t disappointed and, more to the point, I wasn’t left hungry.

Now I didn’t actually taste the Prawn Linguine, I’m not that great when it comes to fish dishes, but when serving I took note of the large amount of prawns included in the meal as it’s not uncommon to find a prawn ready meal with next to zero prawns in it. I’ll be honest, I was a little bit concerned by the two chilli pepper symbols on the packet and the vibrant red slices dotted across the plate but I’ve been informed it was a ‘nice heat’ which packed flavour rather than a punch!

Verdict? Need you ask – it’s a resounding yes! We loved the meals and they will definitely become freezer favourites for those last minute dinners.

 

Iced Coffee vs Frappe

14336336050_77ced37157_mNow that spring has sprung and the weather is becoming brighter I have swapped my usual coffee order to the iced variety. A good coffee made by a master of the art is a treat and something I look forward to, which is why it is so extremely disappointing when your drink is passed to you and it’s nothing like you imagined it would be.

I don’t think I’m being unreasonable in my assumption that if it is literally your job to make coffee then you should know how to put together variations of the drink. However, I continue to be surprised by the sheer amount of coffee shops where ‘baristas’ claim to be able to put together an iced coffee but actually deliver a frappé.

I know, I know, talk about first world problems! When you’ve just spent the best part of a fiver on a drink that you were hoping to brighten your day; the confusion between the two becomes a point of irritation. An iced coffee is a coffee that is made in the normal way but then served over ice whereas a frappé is blended resulting in drink very similar to a milkshake.

When I order an iced coffee it is because I want the same strong coffee taste just served cold; if I wanted a milkshake style drink I would be swapping a café for an ice-cream parlour serving ‘thick shakes’! Don’t get me wrong, I’m not anti-frappé, in fact I’m quite partial to a certain trademarked drink of this variety – I just don’t understand how the difference between the two goes unnoticed.

So please, for the sake of my sanity and tastebuds, if you work with coffee and someone asks for an iced-drink then please just ask for clarity on what they would like as it could be a deal-breaker.