My emoticon usage is out of control.
I can’t write a sentence without adding an emoticon to the end of it to really drive home the point of what I’ve just said. When did we need pictures to visually represent what we’ve just written or express more succinctly what we’re trying to say with words? Well now I do. Thanks Apple!
A ‘well done’ comment is followed by ‘clapping hands’, an ‘I love this’ observation is followed by a smiley face with hearts as eyes! And with the iphone6 emoticon selection the options are just limitless. I hunt out pictures, flicking through the selection until I find one that suits any given situation.
Even the other day when I was describing how unwell Seb was to my parents, Dad praised my excellent use of an emoticon which was a face wearing a face mask like a doctor.
It’s probably lucky I can’t add an endless stream of emoticons to my blogs!
This leads me onto grammar.
Grammar is most definitely not my strong point. In fact, it’s so rubbish I send these blogs to my dad to read through before I post them to hunt out any howlers. I get gold stars when he can’t find any… I’m hoping the gold stars might lead to a new car or something. “Keep dreaming” as my Dad would say. (Laughing emoticon face)
However, in my opinion (for what it’s worth) grammar seems to be evolving and changing more than ever over the last few years. For example, it appears to be acceptable to put three full stops at the end of sentences when you’ve not quite finished the sentence, a comma won’t quite suffice and one full stop doesn’t quite fit the bill. My boss would probably disagree and endlessly corrects my spelling and grammar with a detailed explanation, history of said explanation, and examples of why and how I got it wrong. I’m still learning but I like to think slowly improving.
Learning and adapting is good though and with weather reports of a fine weekend and friends heading over for a BBQ I wanted to put together a quick dessert that you might not normally expect to consume in the summer months. Adapt a classic to make it more suitable to be enjoyed in the sunshine.
A BBQ isn’t complete without a glass of Pimm’s filled with fresh fruit, cucumber and mint. I wanted to produce the essence of Pimm’s but in dessert form and thought the best way to do this was to marinate ripe summer berries in Pimm’s before topping them with nutty crumble and dolloping it with homemade fresh mint vanilla ice cream.
Worth a shot anyway! If you don’t try, you won’t learn from your mistakes and hopefully improve.
The berries soaked up the Pimm’s essence, which meant just a hint of the Pimm’s taste came through without overriding the fresh berries, which are so full of flavor at this time of year. And instead of a usual crumble recipe of butter, flour and sugar the nutty hazelnuts and almonds gave a delightful crunch and texture against the soft juicy fruits.
And where do I start about the fresh mint ice cream. It just sings of summer. The mint was from my herb garden and the smell is just pungent (in a good way!). So strong and intense that if you’re a mint fan, then you really should give this a try.
It brings a freshness to the crumble that masks that question in your mind of ‘should I really be eating crumble sitting outside in the sunshine?’
And the answer is ‘yes you should!’
Pimm’s berry crumble and mint ice cream
Serves 4-6 people depending on your serving generosity.
For the fruit layer:
400g strawberries, hulled and halved or quartered if they are larger strawberries
1 lemon, zest and juice
2 tsp coconut sugar (can substitute for granulated sugar)
2 tsp buckwheat flour (can substitute for plain flour)
100ml pimm’s (or more if you fancy a stronger flavor!)
For the crumble:
150g oats (not instant)
100g ground almonds
100g flaked almonds
3 tbsp melted coconut oil
100ml maple syrup
2 tsp cinnamon
For the ice cream:
500ml double cream (split into 250ml jugs)
250ml whole milk
150g granulated sugar
Pinch of salt
1 vanilla pod with the seeds scraped out (keep the pod too)
3/4 tsp vanilla extract
80g fresh mint leaves
To make the ice cream:
Pour 250ml of the double cream into a saucepan and add your sugar and salt followed by the seeds from the vanilla pod and the pod itself. Warm the mixture over a medium heat and continue to sit until all your sugar has dissolved.
Once your sugar has dissolved remove the saucepan from the heat and add the remaining 250ml double cream and the whole milk and stir. Add the vanilla extra and stir again.
Add your mint leaves to the mixture and stir so that they are fully immersed in the liquid and leave to infuse for an hour or two at room temperature.
Strain the mint-infused mixture through a sieves that you remove all the mint leaves and the vanilla pod. You can discard the leaves and pod.
Cover the bowl with cling film and chill in the fridge for a few hours or over night.
Churn the mixture in your ice cream machine according to manufacturer’s instructions.
To make the berry mixture:
Place all the berry ingredients in a bowl and mix together so that all your fruits are covered in the Pimm’s. Cover in cling film and leave to marinate / infuse in the fridge for a couple of hours or overnight.
To make the crumble:
Add all your dry ingredients to a large bowl.
In a separate bowl mix together your maple syrup, coconut oil and cinnamon and pour onto your dry ingredients.
Mix well to ensure all your oats and nuts are well coated. Leave the bowl to one side.
Heat your oven to 180 degrees. Place your berry fruit mixture in a baking dish and even it out into a flat layer. Top with your crumble and again spread it out to form an even layer.
Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes until the crumble is a lovely golden colour.
5 minutes before you remove the crumble, take your ice cream out the freezer to allow it to defrost slightly to make it easier to scoop out.
Leave your crumble tp cool for a few minutes before spooning out a generous bowl full and top with fresh mint ice cream.
Enjoy in the sunshine. .