Lilac blossom ice cream
Time warped back to the 1920’s, August 1924 more precisely to the rolling countryside and quintessential Englishness of a long languorous dreamy summer afternoon tea party in Charleston, East Sussex. Gossip laughter and “social interaction.” (Ahem). Writers, painters, dancers, poets… The creative liaison of Lovies that were the Bloomsbury Set, were also über foodies. Virginia Wolfs bread and apparently her rice pudding were to die for Dharlings.
Their informal summer parties were gatherings for food and far more. Endless articulate stories, gossip, dazzling wit and charm, impeccable table manners, more than a soupçon of rumpy-pumpy and unrestricted culpability of both edible and vulgar delights, and all in the name of art.
Perfectly plump peonies and pretty pansies, a proliferation of perfect plates, plummy platitudes, pranks and polarised opinion if you please? A picturesque picnic of pert peppery pies and pickles, pleasant preserves, prolific parfaits, pretty peach pastries, poached pears and plums as proper puddings, a precociously potent punch and pretentiousness a plenty. Oops, one may have taken the P there?
I envisage their volleys of rapier wit, all frightfully jolly, fine and dandy. Acerbic raconteurs, a tipsy, warbling flapper swathed in delicately beaded, diaphanous chiffon singing “I’ll bring you lilacs in the spring again”. With that meagre mental meander. The lilacs are rather spiffing in the garden this year and I have sought to gather lilacs and harness some of their heady fragrance and lusciousness to a sweet edible form. Lilac wine? Umm a more modern ditty though written in 1950 made famous for me in the 80’s by Elke Brooke’s, so after a quick gander though some of my old books – indeed our heady lilacs are not only beautifully fragrant but edible too.
Snip the blooms with secateurs that they fall and flounce into your garden trug. Gather pesticide free lilac blossoms and strip their little flowers with your, sticky with nectar, fingers swoosh them through water to release tourist bugs and then add to a pan of warm stock syrup ( ⅔ sugar to ⅓ water) and swirl to incorporate (the flowers not you silly) add lemon rind, a teeny-weeny pinch of salt (which also acts as a mordant to set the colour), to balance their sweet taste, infuse for 20-30 minutes, longer depending on the youthfulness and strength of your bosomy blooms, I made two infusions the white was more intense than the mixed purples.
Remove the lemon skin and flowers and pass the liquid through a muslin or suitable kitchen cloth let it drip to obtain a clear liquid which may not be the case if squeezed, you know who you are impatient ones? Bottle and refrigerate the now delicately fragrant stock syrup.
One incorporated all the white and some of the darker brew into some no cook vanilla ice cream during the process, the mixture kindly absorbed the extra cup of fluid without issue. A very gentle simmer reduced the remainder to a syrup which was drizzled over the ice cream and spread with the back of a spoon prior to freezing.
The result is flowery fresh ice cream without a hint of Grannies soap dish, sadly the vicarious weather has now taken the bloomin’ flowers ….
…. taps the keyboard in wanton anticipation of next years treasure trove.