"Dress your glamorous best" was the exhortation. I felt like I was doomed. 'Glamorous best' is not something that comes naturally to me... However, in the end it was fine, and buoyed up with the purchase of some very lovely pink/purple patent leather heels (thank you, THANKYOU M&S) - heels that I could actually walk in, dance in and (wait for it) shimmy in (it was a burlesque club after all) - and a not insignificant amount of alcohol - I had a great night.
Feeling slightly guilty about leaving my brood, I was wondering about a treat for those left behind, and so, inspired by another blogger, I decided that there was nothing for it but to make Nigella's Strawberry ice cream, as published in Forever Summer, and on Nigella.com here.
Making ice cream isn't so hard, although if, like me you don't have an ice cream maker, it can be a bit labour intensive at the freeze stage, because you need to keep taking it out of the freezer and beat it all up again to stop the ice crystals forming. Previously, I've done this by hand (not that I've made ice cream that often you understand, but when I have...) - but a moment of revelation - use a food processor. Not withstanding the messy business of transferring the freezing strawberry custard from the tub to the food processor and back again, this makes it much easier.
So anyway, you macerate the strawberries in some caster sugar, and then get on with making the custard base. This involves egg yolks and caster sugar which you whisk together (I used my trusty old Kenwood)
Now I'd like to be able to say that the custard part went smoothly, and to begin with it did. I didn't have a vanilla pod so I used a teaspoon of vanilla extract to flavour my milk/cream, and in the interests of following the recipe, I heated the liquid and left it to cool for 20 minutes before making the rest of the custard. I added the warmed liquid to the egg yolk/sugar mixture, then back into the pan, and stirred as instructed. I thought it was all going smoothly, and then - disaster! I checked the back of the spoon I was using to stir and instead of looking all smooth and custard like, little specs were forming. The custard was 'splitting'. PANIC. I was panicking, so I didn't have time to take a photo - sorry.
And this is where I love Nigella. Although I didn't have the sink already filled with cold water, I quickly filled the sink, plunged the pan in and whisked like mad. It worked. Smoothness restored, I could resume my cool, calm collected pose and continue. Once the custard is made, it's pretty much plain sailing. The custard has to cool, then you whizz up the strawberries and fold them into the custard, like so
Once it's all stirred together, you put it in your chosen container, and then to the freezer. Now, if you had an ice cream makerm you'd have ice cream very quickly. I don't so for the next 3 hours (give or take), I had to take the ice cream out, pour it back in to the food processor, and whizz, to get rid of the ice crystals.
Now, I wasn't there at the initial consumption stage (by then I was learning how to throw a feather boa, burlesque style), and I have now picture, but the kids tell me it was delicious. What they could chip off. The Husband had taken it out of the freezer 10 minutes before they were due to eat and it clearly hadn't had enough time to defrost. Either that, or I have a chunk of strawberry ice in the fridge. Once I have returned from my mum's house at the end of the week, I will be investigating this further. In the meantime, if anyone can enlighten me further, I would be very, very grateful!!