Keeping me company at the moment is Shuggiedog, who's house I am babysitting and who is proving to be the best exploring companion. The east-end boasts a plethora of cultural and culinary delights which, while hardly the undiscovered gems they perhaps were ten years ago, are nonetheless filling my weekends with the excitement of new tastes and experiences.
In leaving my well-trodden little patch of Hammersmith, it was with heavy heart that I also left behind a (modest) knowledge of local wild produce. I knew where I could find cherry blossom, elderflower (and later elderberries), wild Victoria plums, fennel pollen and fig leaves. It was cathartic and comforting to revisit favourite spots at the same time each year, and to discover new treasures in the process.
And so, just imagine my delight when I stumbled across a mulberry tree just two streets from my temporary home on my first morning in residence. Stood quietly on a neat residential street, the pale tree was practically groaning with the weight of luscious black mulberries. Not wanting to damage the delicate branches by attempting to scale it, I picked only the few precious berries that I could reach from my tip-toes.
Just enough for a tangy, inky ripple amid folds of snowy ice cream. Infuse your custard with rose geranium if you have it growing in your garden. The flavour is subtle but delicate and delicious.
This ice cream is special, and not just because mulberries are hard to find. Make it with blackberries if you can't find the former, and eat it with a warm, autumnal tart.
325ml double cream
175ml full-fat milk
80g caster sugar
6-8 rose geranium leaves, wiped clean
2 egg yolks
juice 1/2 lemon
25g icing sugar, to taste
Ice cream maker
Begin by measuring the double cream into a large bowl. Set aside.
To make the ice cream base, heat the milk, caster sugar and geranium leaves in a large pan. Continue until the mixture is just starting to bubble. Separately, place your egg yolks in a large heat-proof bowl and whisk until smooth.
Once the milk has reached temperature, pour a little over the egg yolks and whisk quickly to temper them. Return the milk pan to the heat, and carefully pour in the egg yolk mixture. Stir continuously until the custard has thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon. Once it reaches this point, carefully pour it into the double cream, and whisk well.
Allow it to cool to room temperature, then place in the fridge for a further hour. Once chilled, strain the mixture to remove the geranium leaves, then churn the mixture in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturers instructions.
Meanwhile, prepare the mulberry ripple. Blitz the mulberries in a food processor along with the juice of 1/2 lemon and a teaspoon of icing sugar. Taste, then add more lemon juice or sugar as needed. You want the mixture to be tart, so that it stands up to the sweetness of the ice cream base. You can strain it if you wish, or leave the pips in (I prefer to keep them in there for texture).
Once the ice cream is churned, transfer it to a freezable container. Carefully fold the mulberry puree through the ice cream. Don't overmix, or you will loose the ripple effect. Freeze until solid, then remove from the freezer 30 minutes before you intend to scoop and serve. This ice cream is best eaten within two weeks of making, although will keep for much longer in the freezer.