Arise autumn

We might still be wearing shorts and sandals, but it becomes cleverer by the day to carry an extra layer with you, just in case. (Of course some of us are clever in that way all year round – or paranoid). Mornings are darker, and when the sun does announce itself, it comes with an icy underlining. Just between yesterday and today one of our basil plants has gone from a wondrous green mass to a rather pitiful brown stem with some scrawny leaves hanging on for their dear basil-ness.

Anyway, we are prepared. In fact, you’d think we were in the deep of winter with the kind of feasts that have graced our kitchen table in the last week or so. First there was Glen with his duck. One great can of confit straight from France:

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If you look carefully, you’ll see the legs brimming in their own fat in the background. And here’s a mess I made of the same kind of can a few years ago, which really was a mess, but you get the idea of the kind of meat we’re talking about:

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Glen’s duck the other night was rather more… intact. And damn fine. Perhaps more especially fine were the frites that went with the duck, twice fried in duck fat. Crispy, salty, frite-heaven.

Our sailor has a thing for duck. I do too, but not to the extent of imagining it in ice cream. I kid you not. In fact, imagine any form of food, and Glen will imagine a duck-version of it. I think it may be the dual influence of the ice cream machine which we did that righteous stout number in, and me forcing him to watch Heston Blumenthal. Heston would be proud of Glen’s ideas.

The next day we had slow-baked ribs, by yours truly. In a gingerbeer barbecue sauce, with a hunk of cornbread and a dollop of mighty spicy beans.

For Sunday lunch we enjoyed leftovers while a batch of brownies was doing that chocolatey thing they do in the oven and to the whole house. For dinner the philosophe cooked a Thai chicken curry that Glen ate three portions of, and then we tricked him into having his sixth brownie for dessert. He was still eating frozen brownies yesterday (and to be fair, so were the rest of us).

Today after lunch I meant to come back to work, but I’ve had another of Glen and my hairbrained schemes churning (!!) about for a few days, and it was time to engage: rice pudding ice cream. I believe there are recipes out there – and our first brain hurricane involved a kulfi-type number, flavoured with cardamom and pistachio – but once I started making the rice pudding, I couldn’t get my favourite childhood flavour off my fantasy tastebuds. When my mother made rice pudding for ris-a-la-mande, the Danish Christmas pudding (cold, mixed with almonds and cream, eaten with hot cherry sauce), my treat was to have a bowl of the hot stuff with a blob of butter and a generous sprinkling of cinnamon sugar (which is also how thousands of Danes eat the stuff when it’s not for Christmas Eve).

I had a bit of a Heston moment myself, trying to figure out how to get the taste of melted butter and cinnamon sugar into an ice cream. I needed something between burnt butter and caramel. So I put some sugar in a pan and melted that down till it started getting dark, then added butter and let that cook until the whole thing started smelling as if it was about to burn, then a splash of cream and a couple of teaspoons of cinnamon, and let all that simmer until it was nice and thick.

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There’s no point in modesty here. This stuff is perfect. It’s so good it’s naughty. Tomorrow we churn.

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