I know it is bad, but I do occasionally succumb to the allure of the impulse buy. The odd top or pair of trousers here and there. A new eyeliner. A very nice tweed-patterned scarf from Zara on Regent Street. An ice cream machine. Perhaps this last one isn't something you generally associate with impulse-buying, but then again, most people aren't as greedy and as gastronomically obsessed as I am. When the Arts and Humanities Research Council decided to fund my MA, I'm sure they intended the money to cover such necessities (thank you, AHRC).
Recently I've been longing more and more for the capability to make my own ice cream. I partly blame Masterchef for this, proffering the likes of star anise ice cream (to go with pear tart), but also my own desire for something slightly more exciting to accompany a dessert. Apple crumble and ginger ice cream, anyone? Orange cake with date and caramel ice cream? Lemon torte with earl grey tea ice cream? All these are now at my fingertips. (Not literally, unfortunately).
They're not far off, though. I love this little machine. It's a Kenwood. We have a big Kenwood mixer at home, with a separate ice cream attachment, and this self-contained machine seems tiny in comparison. However, it's a great size to fit in the freezer and actually makes a surprising amount of ice cream - one litre, which is the average size of a supermarket tub anyway. A bargain, I think, for £23.
So, tonight I decided to give it a test run, by making some quince sorbet. As my mum said, "Well, I didn't think you'd start with vanilla." She is quite right - not when I have four quinces in the fridge (I keep a permanent supply on standby at the moment, such is my love for them). It's unconventional, and it features one of my favourite fruits: a clear choice. A good one, too - the end result is delicious. It looks and tastes creamy, even though there is no cream involved. In fact, it contains just three ingredients: 300g sugar, dissolved in 500ml water to make a syrup, into which go about a kilo of quinces, peeled, cored and chopped. Simmer until very tender then puree with a stick blender and pass through a sieve. Leave to cool before churning.
I think it would be nice to serve alongside something richer - perhaps pistachio ice cream, or some form of pastry. Quinces have such a sweet, perfumed flavour that I think you need something richer and more earthy to balance it. It does make a great palate cleanser though and is lovely after a substantial dinner.
I feel like the world of ice cream is my oyster.