Food

Recipes I try and love and that above all are easy and not time consuming – great for family meals.

Snozzcumber ice cream

One of the greatest discoveries you can make as a child is the world of reading and the twins are huge fans of the world of fiction. It’s an absolute pleasure to watch them devour books and have opinions on them. Alice enjoyed the first Harry Potter book so much she wants to re read it.

There are so many wonderful books around for kids today including some great timeless classics such as the BFG by Roald Dahl, what an imagination. His books really do transport you into another world.

We had been invited to the premier of The BFG in London but sadly it clashed with the twins birthday and a family party that had already been organised but it didn’t stop me coming up with a fun ice cream recipe for the summer months ahead – Snozzcumber ice cream.

snozzcumber

The Snozzcumber is a fictional foodstuff featured prominently in this The BFG. The Snozzcumber resembles a cucumber but differs in various respects. The snozzcumber varies from nine to twelve feet long. It is striped lengthwise black and white, with wart-like growths all over its surface.

It’s the invention of words like snozzcumber that tickle me and it is the language that the BFG uses that is so clever and gives him such a great character

“But if you don’t eat people like all the others,” Sophie said, “Then what do you live on?”
“That is a squelching tricky problem around here,” the BFG answered. “In this sloshflunking Giant Country, happy eats like pineapples and pigwinkles is simply not growing. Nothing is growing except for one extremely icky-poo vegetable. It is called the snozzcumber.”
“The snozzcumber!” cried Sophie. “There’s no such thing!”
The BFG looked at Sophie and smiled, showing about twenty of his square white teeth. “Yesterday,” he said, “we was not believeing in giants, was we?
Today we is not believing in snozzcumbers. Just because we happen not to have actually seen something with our own little winkles, we think it is
not existing.”

Alice is currently reading The BFG and Bessie Matilda, another Raold Dahl favourite so it seemed the perfect excuse to invent a Dahl-ish ice cream.

Snozzcumber ice cream

snozzcumber drink

When coming up with ideas, I knew instantly it has to be green but it also had to have black flecks in it. I didn’t want it tasting too weird as I wanted the girls to enjoy it so I went for kiwis and cucumber with the addition of chocolate chips.

Snozzcumber ice cream recipe

5.0 from 1 reviews
Snozzcumber ice cream - The BFG
 
Prep time
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Snozzcumber ice cream recipe, a delicious green ice cream inspired by The BFG with fruit and chocolate chips.
Author:
Recipe type: ice cream
Cuisine: dessert
Serves: 1 litre
Ingredients
  • 375ml whipping cream
  • 125ml whole milk
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 75g caster sugar
  • Fruit mixture
  • 250g kiwis, peeled and choipped into chunks
  • 200g cucumber, peeled and chopped into chunks
  • 55g caster sugar
  • Chocolate chips
  • green food colouring
Instructions
  1. Place the cream and milk into a medium heavy based saucepan, heat until the mixture just starts to simmer.
  2. Meanwhile beat the egg yolks and sugar in a bowl until pale and thick, once the cream mixture is hot, slowly whisk it into the egg mixture.
  3. Clean the saucepan and return to a low heat. Stir constantly with a wooden spoon until the mixture has thickened and coats the back of a spoon.
  4. Pour the mixture into a heatproof bowl, cover and refrigerate until well chilled.
  5. To make the fruit base, blend the kiwis and cucumber, add the sugar and stir over a low heat until the sugar has dissolved. Refrigerate until cold.
  6. Once both mixtures are cold, gently fold together, add the green food colouring to the desired tone of green, I added 7 tsps.
  7. Churn in the ice cream maker adding the chocolate chips when the machine beeps for add ins.
  8. Once frozen, transfer to a freezer safe container and freeze for up to 1 week.
snozzcumber ice cream

James Villas team shot

Summer is here, yay! Let’s hope it is here to stay.

Summer for me, conjures up the thoughts of dining outdoors, barbecues with delicious salads and fresh meals that are simple to prepare, colourful to look at and downright tasty to eat. I also find it fun to have a go at preparing meals from far away countries, it’s a way of bringing that warm, sunny country into my home.

I find that my passion to travel, see new places and try new foods has an influence on the meals I prepare at home; for example our recent holiday in Lanzarote inspired a delicious paella when we returned home. Another evening we decided to eat tapas. In this video Jo Pratt shows you how to make Pan Fried Prawns and Chorizo Tapas.

If you find watching videos helps you create a delicious meal then you can find all of Jo’s recipes for #MyHolidayDish on You Tube

#MyHolidayDish

Recently I spent an evening in the company of celebrity chef Jo Pratt along with my fellow James Villas colleagues at a press event in London. James Villas like to encourage healthy, fun eating and together with Jo Pratt have come up with lots of recipes inspired by their holiday destinations; recipes that are easy to prepare whilst on a villa holiday or at home. #MyHolidayDish

The wonderful thing about this collection of recipes is that Jo has used products from the various destinations too, for example a souvlaki from Cyprus, fish from Rhodes and tapas of course from the Spanish destinations.

This particular evening we focused on a Baked Spiced Fish recipe with Beans and Greens and a Grilled Halloumi Kebab with a wonderful tomato salad to go with it.

I had my bloggers hat on and joined in alongside the press and bloggers invited along to watch Jo prepare the first dish of Baked Spice Fish with the green bean salad recipe.

easy summer recipes

Jo kept it very simple and it was easy to follow her steps as she prepared.

We were then split into groups of four and each group had a work station with all the ingredients set out. I was working with Alison Watson from Primary Times and Emily Nash from Hello magazine, who I later discovered over dinner was the royal correspondent which sparked an awesome conversation. We fell into a mutual division of work and with a glass of wine to help the progression, we were racing ahead with our preparations, obviously going to be the best team.

Once the Baked Spiced Fish and Green Bean Salad had been prepped our next step was to prepare the halloumi kebabs with a tomato salad in tahini dressing .

Again we watched as Jo ran us through the recipe before returning to our cookery stations to prepare our own.

Once again, my group nailed it and as we were grilling the halloumi kebabs our fish was baking in the oven, all coming together with perfect timing!

Marianne Weekes

The next chore was a tough one, sitting down to eat it all and my oh my was it delicious!

Back in the office I was really pleased to hear it was one of the best press events our guests had ever attended.

Easy Summer Recipes

Click the images to download the recipe

Baked Spiced Fish and Green Bean Salad

Halloumi kebabs

feta and pea frittata

Prawn and chorizo

 

So if you are looking for something a little different to serve and that is simple to prepare, download these recipes and give them a go. Just click on the images and you will find a PDF to download.

chocolate mousse

One last thing I must mention is Jo’s Chocolate Mousse that she prepared for us, you know I’m a sucker for anything chocolate! The recipe can be found in her book In The Mood For Healthy Eating and trust me, it was divine. (affiliate link)

Jo Pratt recipes featured on Mari’s World

Asian Salmon on Oodles of Noodles

Espresso Martini Cocktail

Chocolate Mascarpone and Raspberry Tarts

Seared Scallops and Smoky Leeks with Orange Butter

Rum and Raisin ice cream recipe

What could possibly be nicer than an ice cream on a hot sunny day? And a Rum and Raisin ice cream? Spot on.

This weekend saw us celebrating the twins 8th birthday! I know I say it every year but … where has all that time gone?

The girls have really grown up this year and are now in a funny ‘nomads land’ between being young girls interested in princesses and unicorns and older girls in to music and independence. I have to say it’s an age I love and cherish, I remember Megan and I at this stage too where we would enjoy some wonderful mum and daughter moments together.

The twins also brought home their school reports on Friday and Dad and I are two happy parents having seen that the girls behave well, interact well and are performing well at school too.

We have a few targets to work on over the summer including neat handwriting and the more difficult times tables like the 7s 8s and 9s. We also want to work towards a couple of Brownie badges over the summer too, a Writing one and a Reading one.

In fact this is the last week of school and then we have a wonderful lazy summer ahead, my first working summer which will be a bit of an eyeopener.

Back to ice cream ..

Rum and Raisin ice cream recipe

I thought it was time to please the adult members of the family with an ice cream that has a drop of alcohol in it. I chose Rum and Raisin as it is a classic favourite and a reminder to a Cuba Libra drink of rum and coke which is a summer favourite too.

The raisins are soaked in rum for at least 24 hours so they puff up nicely and a drop of dark rum is added to the ice cream too so it’s probably best not to let the younger members of the family too close. With all the cakes and sweets on the table this year, and some Stracciatella in the freezer I went ahead with my boozy Rum and Raisin plan.

5.0 from 1 reviews
Rum and Raisin ice cream recipe
 
Prep time
Total time
 
A boozy rum and raisin ice cream for the older members of the family to enjoy
Author:
Recipe type: ice cream
Cuisine: dessert
Serves: 1 litre
Ingredients
  • 200g raisins
  • 200ml Dark Rum
  • 500 ml whipping cream
  • 250ml whole milk
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 110g caster sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
Instructions
  1. Place the raisins in in a bowl and cover with the rum, leave to one side for at least 24 hours, the longer the better.
  2. Place the cream and milk into a heavy based saucepan and heat the mixture until it simmers - once you see a few bubbles around the edge of the pan you're done. Do not let it overheat as the mixture will separate.
  3. Meanwhile beat the egg yolks, sugar and cinnamon in a bowl until pale and thick.
  4. Slowly whisk the cream mixture into the egg mixture.
  5. Clean the saucepan and return the mixture back to a low heat. Stir constantly until the mixture coats the back of the spoon.
  6. Pour the mixture into a heat proof bowl, cover with clingfilm on top of the creme anglaise to prevent a skin forming and once at room temperature, chill in the fridge until ready to use.
  7. Pour the mixture into the ice cream bowl, set the ice cream maker to the desired setting and churn.
  8. Once the machine sounds for mix ins, add the raisins to the mixture and a drop of the rum that has been used. Not too much as the ice cream won't set.
  9. Once the mixture is frozen transfer to a freezer safe container and freeze for up to 1 week.
 

Like ice cream? Hhere are my other ice cream recipes to date

Rose, pistacchio and mixed berry

rose, pistachio and mixed berry ice cream

Cadbury’s Creme Egg

Cadbury creme egg ice cream

Double chocolate and smarties

double chocolate ice cream

Stracciatella

Stracciatella ice cream

Stracciatella ice cream

I discovered Stracciatella ice cream when I lived in Italy, an ingenious solution of getting a quick chocolate fix within a creamy white basic ice cream. It kind of made me think I was doing well by not giving into the double chocolate ice cream that was my tempting me from the corner of my eye.

Have you ever been to Italy and come across one of their massive ice cream freezers which have a range of anything from 8 – 30+ different flavours?

ice cream Italy Bardolino

When I lived in Italy we had an ice cream freezer in the bar of the hotel and we made our own ice cream. Of course, we had an industrial machine which churned the flavours to the creamiest gelato in town. My brother in law during his school summer holidays, which last 3 months on the continent, would make the ice creams needed every morning ready for the busy afternoon trade.

And busy it was. In high season he could make anything up to 10 new flavours every day.

We had half of the freezer dedicated to creamy flavours like vanilla, fior di latte, chocolate, coffee and stracciatella and the other half dedicated to fruity flavours like strawberry, raspberry, melon, kiwi and blackberry.

Can you imagine the luxury of choosing an ice cream every day?

When my younger brothers came out on a summer holiday in the early years of my time in Italy, they were both still at school. I think my youngest brother must have been about 12 and was, at the time, a huge fan of ice cream.

My ex asked him if he wanted an ice cream to which the reply was obviously, yes please. My ex asked which flavours he would like to try and my cheeky brother replied, ‘All of them please.’ with a huge smile on his face.

Not to be beaten, one ball of each flavour was carefully and beautifully served in a large glass bowl and placed in front of him. My younger brother stared in disbelief – and glee – at the amount of ice cream that was in front of him, as my ex smiled and walked away saying to me, ‘He asked for every flavour so I gave him every flavour, I want to see if he can get through that!’ The challenge was on.

He ate the lot.

He worked his way through about 20 balls of ice cream and didn’t bat an eyelid much to my ex’s disappointment.

Stracciatella ice cream

What I love about about the Stracciatella recipe is it uses ‘Fior di Latte’ as a base. Translated that’s the ‘flower of the milk’ or better known to us as the cream of the milk, so a very simple base with the addition of choc chips.

Now I didn’t have any choc chips to hand but I did have a block of the finest dark chocolate which isn’t everyone’s cup of tea but tiny slithers in the midst of the creamiest ice cream could be a perfect combination right? Like a bitter sweet explosion, one after another.

I gave it a go and am happy to report it was very well accepted!

Stracciatella ice cream recipe

5.0 from 1 reviews
Stracciatella ice cream
 
Prep time
Total time
 
A basic ice cream recipe with the addition of finely chopped dark chocolate slithers
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 1 litre
Ingredients
  • 250 ml whipping cream
  • 315 ml whole milk
  • 240g sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 150g dark chocolate finely chopped
Instructions
  1. Place the cream, milks and vanilla into a large jug and stir to combine.
  2. Refrigerate until cold.
  3. Pour into the ice cream bowl of the Smart Scoop, set to the desired setting and churn.
  4. When add ins beeps add the chocolate chips.
  5. Once finished transfer the mixture to a freezer safe container and freeze.

Love ice cream? Here are our recipes so far

Rose, pistacchio and mixed berry

Cadbury’s Creme Egg

Double chocolate and smarties

 

Tarallini crosta & mollica

If there’s one thing the Italians know it’s how to throw a fantastic meal which will be delicious and exciting but most of all effortless. It’s a great knack to pick up, there are always friends or family dropping in unexpectedly in Italy and whenever this happens a meal is always on the cards with cries of  ‘Sit down, sit down, you must stay, we have so much to talk about.’ It’s one of my fondest Italian memories.

Of course the Italian diet is perfect for offering up fabulous products that are so simple they are perfect for quick meals, for example breadsticks and Tarallini as shown above. These are commonly found at aperitivo time in bars too, you order your evening aperitivo and it will be served with a savoury something to munch on.

Whilst everyone is talking and enjoying this introduction to the evening a fabulous pasta can be knocked up or a risotto depending what the host/hostess has in the cupboard and the fridge. I’m sure you have seen untold recipes for pasta and risotto, that is because it is so versatile and easy, I have a wonderful collection of recipes which can be found in my Italian recipe section.

risotto primavera

The Italians will also stick to the products that are in season; around this time of year it’s common to find asparagus on the menu or spring vegetables. The closer we get to summer and it will be seafood, tomatoes and plenty of other produce and the autumn will be full of mushroom suggestions and harvest products. The Italians take great pride in producing ‘genuine’ meals, that would be as close to nature offers. They will turn their noses up at processed foods, anything in a tin or a box or pre prepared.

So what do they put on the table for a last minute dinner party?

Aperitivo – Bread sticks and tarallini along with a small bowl of olives as an aperitif. The Crosta & Mollica’s Tarallini and Grissini breads are available from Waitrose, Tesco and Ocado and cost around £1.89. They keep in the cupboard – if you can resist them – and are perfect for pulling out at the last minute.

Starter – Pasta or risotto are the main two go to ideas as they are so versatile. If you have pasta in the cupboard, one of the quickest and easiest recipes I have ever made is a Aglio, olio, peperoncino pasta which is garlic chopped finely, olive oil and chilli pepper. Cook your pasta, preferably long spaghetti as it works particularly well, in boiling salted water. Drain and add to a hot frying pan where the oil, garlic and chilli pepper or flakes have been heated, stir well and serve.

Because this is a hot dish, the breadsticks will be well received to draw out some heat ;)

Another great idea for this time of year is a risotto primavera

Main – This time of year is perfect for pulling together a mixed salad and serving it with salamis, hams, and cheeses, all placed on a platter in the middle of the table and everyone to help themselves. Two other popular quick mains are Caprese salad and Parma Ham & Melon

insalata caprese

Dessert – From fresh fruit to ice cream or if you are lucky enough to own one, a sorbet made in a Sage Smart Scoop. I can’t wait to try a Limoncello one in mine.

This is my rose, pistacchio and summer berry recipe

rose, pistachio and mixed berry ice cream

 

 

Disclosure: I have been sent the products for the purpose of this post, all opinions are my own.

Crosta & Mollica founder James Orr comments: “We’re delighted to launch these delicious new Italian snacks that offer consumers an authentic Italian experience wherever they are, without compromising on taste or ingredients. I travelled extensively through Puglia, right on the heel of Italy, to find the perfect supplier, and we’re excited to bring these Italian specialities to tables in the UK. Served with a good glass of wine they make an Altogether Italian start to any evening. Perfetto!”