Bitter Chocolate and Orange Ricotta Ice Cream

Bitter Chocolate and Orange Ricotta Ice Cream
I find ice cream one of the most relaxing and joyful things to make.  One of the key notes about Diane Keaton’s character in It’s Complicated- oh we quote the highbrow art here – is that if she can’t sleep she makes ice cream.  Typically for a Diane Keaton role she is uptight and neurotic so her freezer is bursting with ice cream.  However, that comforting and gentle experience of making ice cream is something I can completely relate to.

Bitter Chocolate and Orange Ricotta Ice Cream

When I stopped working full time last year I went on a bit of an ice cream bender.  I made all the flavours I had been setting aside for the many years I had worked in an intense and long-houred career.  I was now free to produce tubs of salted butter ice cream, apple pie ice cream, cornflake ice cream, and malted milk ice cream.  I bought gallons of double cream and whole milk, experimented, I infused and I churned like milk maid gone wild.  There were no losers in this scenario.  It took my mind off the terrifying prospect that I had just voluntarily given up the career I had proudly worked all my adult life to achieve and it helped me reflect on exactly what I planned to do next.   Plus my husband loves ice cream so he was as happy as a pig in Mississippi mud pie ice cream.  Which was also delicious.

It’s surprising then that I haven’t talked much about ice cream in the few months I have been writing here.  I suppose I took a bit of a hiatus, after all our freezer isn’t the giant American style megalith that Diane Keaton had and it could only take so much.  The good news is that my ice cream supply is now dwindling and I have been slowly picking up the pace these past couple of weeks to build it back up again.  Unfortunately it has coincided with the time of year that the freezer needs defrosting, but that just means we’ll have to eat it as quickly as I make it.  Again, there are no losers in this scenario.

Bitter Choc and Orange Ricotta Ice Cream

Bitter Chocolate and Orange Ricotta Ice Cream
Makes about 600ml

250ml double cream
100ml whole milk
Zest of 1 orange
240g ricotta
6 egg yolks
90g caster sugar
50g dark chocolate

  1. Mix together the double cream, milk and orange zest in a medium saucepan and warm through. Set aside for 1 hour to infuse.
  2. Mix the ricotta in with the cream mixture and heat in a medium saucepan until just under a boil.
  3. In a large bowl whisk together the egg yolks and caster sugar until smooth.
  4. Pour the ricotta mixture into the egg mixture in very slow and steady stream whisking constantly.
  5. When everything is combined pour back into the saucepan and heat until just under a boil and the mixture has thickened.
  6. Strain to remove the zest, then chill for at least 4 hours.
  7. Churn in an ice cream machine. When it seems ready, sprinkle in the chocolate chips and continue churning for a minute to evenly disperse.
  8. Decant into ice cream tubs and freeze for at least 8 hours before serving.

Saffron Chicken and Herb Salad

Saffron Chicken and Herb Salad

I love all my cookbooks equally.

Actually that’s not true at all, I definitely have some that I give a higher regard to more than others.  And some are just plain useless but they might be signed by the author or kept for sentimental reasons.  I continually cull my cookbooks, especially since I’m a bit of an impulse cookbook buyer and acquire a lot of dross, so this has to be done regularly lest my house become overrun and my husband gets grumpy.  Last week I sent another batch to the charity shop, always a sad day but it had to be done to make way for my new Christmas cookbooks, of which there are many.

Wesley reading OttolenghiI do read and use recipes from my cookbooks all the time but this January I want to make sure all the newbies get christened as soon as possible so they feel truly welcome and part of the family.  So the first one to get the royal treatment was Jerusalem, a book I have been longing for all year.  Ottolenghi’s previous cookbooks, Ottolenghi and Plenty, are my kitchen stalwarts and a first glance at Jerusalem confirms that his third time out is not a disappointment to the canon.
fennelOttolenghi’s recipes seem to made for Januarys.  The ingredient lists always feature fun new spices that you haven’t heard of before and unique ways of marrying herbs and vegetables that can inspire even the most rigid of detoxes. There were plenty of recipes I wanted to try immediately but this salad is the one that leapt off the page, purely because I had all the ingredients in and thankfully used up one of the dozens of oranges I have hanging around.
Chicken Orange and Fennel Salad2

This salad was so zingy and fresh and the method of preparing the orange was a unique way to create a fruit dressing.  I am definitely going to try the same technique with lemons and limes.  The resulting blended orange mixture was slightly bitter from the orange peel but the honey and orange juice added sweetness with a gentle infusion of saffron.  As the orange coated the warm chicken the zesty oils were released and were so delicious with the fennel and herbs.  The only thing I found in the recipe was that in the initial boiling of the orange I topped up the water a couple of times as the liquid was running too low and not covering the orange enough for it to soften.

Another great thing as well is that you yield more orange than is needed and it can easily be kept in the fridge, ready for the next batch you are going to make the following day, which I guarantee you will as it is hella good.

Chicken Orange and Fennel Salad4
Chicken Orange and Fennel Salad5

Saffron Chicken and Herb Salad

Serves 2
Recipe from Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamini, adapted for quantities

1 orange
½ tsp of saffron threads
50g honey
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
2 chicken breasts
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 fennel bulb, sliced finely
Handful of coriander leaves, torn
Handful of mint leaves, torn
Handful of basil leaves, torn
½ red chilli, seeds removed and sliced
½ garlic clove, crushed

  1. Trim and discard 1 cm off the top and bottom of the orange, then cut into 12 wedges, keeping the skin on, removing the pips and place in a saucepan along with the saffron and honey. Cover with water and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer for 1 hour until the orange peel is soft.
  2. Blitz the orange with all the liquid in a blender until smooth. Leave to cool.
  3. Toss the chicken breasts with 1 tbsp of olive and seasoning and grill for about 2 mins on each side on a very hot griddle to achieve the char lines, then move to an oven pre-heated to 180°C for 10-15 mins until the chicken breasts are just cooked. Remove from the oven and leave for a few mins until cool enough to handle.
  4. Tear the chicken up with your fingers and place in a large bowl. Add ¼ of the orange mixture and stir to thoroughly coat the chicken.
  5. Add the fennel, coriander, mint, basil, chilli and garlic to the chicken and toss together with the olive oil, lemon juice and seasoning.
Chicken Orange and Fennel Salad3