A very long time ago (8 or 9 years ago now, I guess) Paul and I went with our friend Helen to a Greek restaurant in Petersham called Perama. The chef, David Tsirekas, was known for doing interesting and unusual things with classic Greek flavours. I remember that there was a large, noisy party next to us and that the staff were very apologetic - this party had brought along several more people than they had booked for and both the space and the kitchen was under pressure. I ordered the signature baklava ice cream, but the waiter had heard us talking about the olive oil ice cream and brought out a bit of that to taste as well.
It was divine. A green, fruity undertone from the olive oil, with an additional fruit note from dried figs, crunch from pistachios and a bit of spice. A very memorable taste.
On and off over the years I've thought about trying to make it myself, but I've never really had the opportunity. Then Kavey announced that this month's Bloggers Scream For Ice Cream event had a savoury theme. The perfect excuse.
While I was considering how to approach the olive oil ice cream, I also remembered the roquefort ice cream that I have had a couple of times at Mon Plaisir as a starter. I decided that I would use both olive oil and blue cheese in a sweet ice cream.
Rather than following David Tsirekas's recipe, I decided to use the condensed milk and cream no-churn base that had been so successful for me for the Japan BSFIC challenge. I thought about using dried figs, or the delicious little boozy baby bottled figs you can get, but then I spotted that quinces were in season and I knew that their honeyed flavour and intense perfume would be just the thing.
I followed the recipe in Nigella Lawson's Forever Summer, making life a bit more difficult for myself by peeling and coring my quinces and using those off-cuts to make the stock syrup for cooking them in, rather than sacrificing a whole precious quince to it. I also added a cinnamon stick, because I like the smell and wasn't going to add any cinnamon to the ice cream base.
|Red roasted quinces - Maggie Beer via Nigella Lawson|
|Folding chopped pistachios and diced quince into the ice cream|
150ml double cream
80g condensed milk
50ml extra virgin olive oil
75g St Agur (or other creamy blue cheese)
3 quarters of red roasted quince, diced
50g pistachios, chopped
extra quince quarters to serve
Whip the cream, vanilla and condensed milk to soft peaks, then fold in the olive oil, crumbled/grated blue cheese, nuts and quince. Still-freeze in a plastic box over night. Serve with quarters of quince and a drizzle of the quince syrup.
I had about 150ml quince syrup left over, which I re-boiled, spiked with 50ml white rum and bottled in a sterilized bottle. I have plans for it to feature in a cocktail at some stage.
Now, I thought this was absolutely delicious. Cooking the quinces this way gives them an almost glace-fruit texture, without any of the graininess that puts some people off quince. And the balance between salty, strong cheese, grassy olive oil and sweet condensed milk I thought I'd absolutely nailed. I needed a second opinion though. Paul's not particularly reliable on sweet things, and even more unreliable on sweet and savoury combinations (he doesn't like fruit with meat). Fortunately a very food-focused friend with an excellent palate came to visit, so I tried it out on her. She loved it and wasn't remotely freaked out by the unusual flavours. I'm not sure who else I could serve it to though.
|Kavey improved the photo no end - increasing contrast and brightening up the colours|