I'm not feeling well. The last couple of days I've been nursing some weird stomach bug, and it has done bizarre things to my appetite. I haven't exactly lost said appetite, which is how I know that this isn't life-threatening. Things are seriously wrong when I can't stomach food. I think the only time it has ever happened was last November when I spent a week in bed with flu. I've now joined the ranks of those who have lost their flu virginity, and will simply not tolerate those ignorant plebs who turn up to work with a slight sniffle and a packet of lemsip complaining that they've "got flu". Chances are, if you've actually got flu, you probably can't even summon up the energy to announce that you've got it, let alone turn up to work or muster the presence of mind to get some lemsip. After my week of flu, I marvelled that I hadn't got bedsores, so much time had I spent rolling around pitifully in my stagnant bed of pain, listening to the dulcet tones of Stephen Fry reading a Harry Potter audiobook on repeat. The book started to seep into my dreams, strange montages of Horcruxes and house-elves and evil Slytherins that dispersed only when I woke for long enough to marvel inwardly at how utterly crap my life was at that moment and how I wished someone would come along and put me into a coma until it was over.
So that was flu. This I can tell is not flu, simply by the fact that I still want to eat. I didn't eat for four days during that tragic episode; the only thing that passed my lips was some Lucozade, which promptly passed back out of my lips into the bin. Even worse, I didn't want to think about food. How on earth do you imagine I passed my bedridden days? I had simply nothing to occupy my mind. I couldn't even think about what I wanted to cook once it was all over, so nauseous was I feeling at the time. Eventually, however, my appetite returned with a vengeance, although all I wanted to eat were crumpets. Doused in butter, seeping through the little holes onto the plate, rich and salty and saturated in all the calories I'd lost by festering away in a mire of illness. My jeans hung off my legs - I could feel them practically flapping around my calves as I went for my first post-flu foray out of my house into the street. My eyes had gone all sunken, my face was horribly gaunt, and I generally looked a sad, emaciated mess. Perhaps some girls would have been slightly pleased at the loss of several pounds that comes with a week in bed (if you're going to suffer, you may as well lose a few pounds in the process, I guess). I was just disgusted by my haggard appearance, and heaped more butter onto those toasty crumpets.
Unfortunately, all this bug seems to be doing to me at the moment - apart from making me feel nauseous, lethargic and dizzy - is increasing my appetite for all the wrong things. I came into the house and absent-mindedly ate a chocolate biscuit and drank a glass of orange juice. Seeing as I normally neither eat biscuits nor drink juice, something is clearly amiss. My dinner? Buttery crumpets. Crumpets topped with melted cheese and toasted under the grill until bubbling and oozing with grease. I am craving chocolate brownies, toast with butter, a block of cheddar, a flapjack, a scone. I wish I could legitimately say that perhaps I've been too health-conscious of late and my body is craving fat and sugar, but unfortunately this is a complete lie, as I've spent the last week stuffing my face full of scones, cobbler, Michelin-star lunches and Indian restaurant food in Yorkshire. Oops. My mum suggested maybe my tummy has become used to such indulgent fare and is protesting at the notion of it being taken away.
So here I am, having decided I should probably write a blog post as it's been a while and I don't want my readers to feel left out. Yet all those delicious creations I've photographed and have been saving up for this very moment just make me want to be sick. All of them, except this ice cream. This may well be because of its high cream and sugar content - just the thing I apparently seem to need at the moment. If there were some in the freezer, it would be sitting next to me in a bowl as I write. Unfortunately it's all gone, but the memory still remains, so I feel I should share it with you before I lose the ability to think about food at all (P.S. just in case I do get struck down with flu - if anyone has a Harry Potter audiobook that isn't the Half Blood Prince and wants to send it to me, that'd be great. Thanks.)
I completely forget where I got the idea for this ice cream. I know it partly arose from the need to use up my vast stash of honey mangoes. I think the idea for the mango ripple came before the idea for the avocado base. It was possibly an extension of one of my favourite salsas to serve with fish - mango, avocado, lime, chilli, and lots of herbs (mint, coriander, basil). I figured the sweet, almost bland creaminess of the avocado would be a lovely foil for a delicious, lime-infused honey mango purée. Perhaps the idea of avocado in a dessert is a bit weird, but it is technically a fruit, and it does have such a lovely oily, creamy texture that it seems almost natural to turn it into an ice cream. A quick google will show that - sadly - I'm not the first to come up with this idea. However, I do seem to be the first to include a mango ripple, so I'll marvel at my culinary ingenuity on that account.
For the avocado ice cream base, I just put three very ripe avocadoes (stone removed, obviously - that wouldn't be pretty) into a blender with some sugar, whipping cream, lime juice and salt. For the mango ripple, I again just put things in a blender - two honey mangoes and some more lime juice. I churned the avocado ice cream until frozen, then layered it in a tub with the mango coulis for a ripple effect. Into the freezer it went, just awaiting some lovely summer weather. Naturally, it waited for a while, this being England. In fact, I don't think it was a particularly summery day when I served it, but I couldn't wait any longer. It's very good with strawberries macerated in a little sugar and basil, though I was originally going to serve it with basil shortbread - I just couldn't be bothered, in the end, to bake anything (a phrase you won't hear on this blog often).
Unfortunately, I am now experiencing another wave of nausea and the ice cream is no longer sounding as delicious as it did a few minutes ago. I'd better finish this post before I say something that will put you off it, because it really is delicious. The avocado ice cream alone is gorgeous without the mango, but it just helps to give it a little sharp sweetness which is nice against that pale green cream. If you manage to find some ripe mangoes (try markets - supermarket specimens often never ripen), give this a go - it's literally just putting some things in a blender. It also goes well with all sorts of summer berries, as well as tropical fruits like mango, and - I reckon - lychees.
Avocado mango ripple ice cream (makes half a litre):
Flesh of 3 ripe avocadoes
160g caster sugar
300ml whipping/double cream
A pinch of salt
A squeeze of lime juice, to taste
2 ripe mangoes
Put the avocado flesh, sugar, cream, lime juice and salt in a blender. Blitz to a smooth creamy mixture, then taste - you might want a little more lime juice. Churn in an ice cream maker until frozen.
Meanwhile, place the mango flesh in the blender with a squeeze more lime juice and blitz to a purée.
Put a third of the avocado ice cream in a tub then spoon over a third of the coulis. Repeat, layering the ice cream and coulis until you've used it all up. Put a lid on and place in the freezer to firm up. Serve with strawberries and basil, or just as it is.