Friday, 20 September 2013

Prune and brandy ice cream

So I made this rather brilliant ice cream last month. And even though the sunny weather that was ideal for its consumption seems to have disappeared, I thought it was still worth writing about. The recipe is from the also rather brilliant Food Stories blog, and I followed it to the letter apart from the substitution of cognac for brandy. This was the first time I've made a proper custard-based ice cream, but it was surprisingly simple. I also lack an ice cream maker so had to hand churn at regular intervals. This was probably not ideal, as the texture of the ice cream was not quite as smooth as I'd hoped for (though still acceptable) and the prunes got a bit mushed. So although the end product was still delicious, I am beginning to think that it might be worth investing in a proper ice cream maker now.

Anyway, even sans ice cream maker I will definitely be making this again and am adding it to my list of why prunes are great!

Monday, 9 September 2013

The Three Horseshoes, Madingley, Cambridge

So I went out for a rather nice dinner the other week. The Three Horseshoes in Madingley is one of those restaurants that is based in a ye olde country pub but has quite a sophisticated, modern menu. I'd only heard of it quite recently, but (as per their website) it's been going for the past twenty years. And I'm rather glad I've finally caught up.

The building is chocolate box cute from the outside, but has a contemporary gastropub type feel inside with lots of bleached wood around the place. It was a bit smaller than expected when we arrived on a Friday evening, but was quite busy, and actually I think they had more tables available in their conservatory area. As it was the Male Companion Person's birthday, we were primed to launch into a three course meal.

I started off with a pasta dish of agnolotti stuffed with smoked aubergine, and tomato, basil and ricotta. I'm not sure I could  have picked the filling as aubergine, as it didn't have a particularly strong  flavour, but overall the pasta worked well with the rest of this delicate dish, which was light and summery. I nabbed a bit of the MCP's crab starter too, which was delicious. The combination of crab and hazelnuts is not one I've come across before (but might shortly be stealing).

We both went for fish for our main course. I had pan-fried monkfish and scallops with romesco sauce, which was fantastic. I don't think I've eaten monkfish before, but these dense little pieces of fish were excellently cooked with a bit of colour on the outside but still soft and tender within. I would pretty much have been happy to eat the fish and scallops on their own, but the romesco was a brilliant accompaniment. Again, I have a feeling that romesco sauce is something that I've heard of but not eaten before, but the soft, rich sauce worked really well with the fish and the red pepper was not at all overwhelming. The MCP chose the turbot, and this was also declared to be excellent.

Moving onto puddings, I plumped for the crack pie (presumably a tribute to the version created by the Momofuku Milk Bar in New York, which can also be added to the unexpectedly long list of things I've heard of but not tried). This was basically a variation on a treacle tart, and so was very sweet but also very moreish. I had intended to just nibble a bit of it but ended up scoffing the whole thing, with the creme fraiche helping to cut through the sweetness (a little). The blueberries were pretty superfluous though; they were perfectly nice but if there was one thing this dish didn't need it was more sweetness.

The MCP had the blackcurrant jelly with madeleines and cream, which all looked rather pretty on the plate. I didn't get to try any, but the verdict was that the jelly was very intense but the combination of all the elements together produced a well-balanced dessert.

So overall, a very nice meal indeed. Service was generally also good, apart from a couple of mildly frustrating blips (no one asked if we'd like to order drinks while we looked at the menu leading to a slightly parched state, and conspicuous card waving failed to attract attention when trying to pay the bill- I eventually got up and paid at the bar), but nothing terminal, and the actual bringing of food and drink when required was efficient and friendly. For the standard of food it offers, I'd also say that The Three Horseshoes is very reasonably priced, and our three course dinner with a couple of glasses of wine, worked out somewhere in the region of £50 per head.

The Three Horseshoes is only a short drive from Cambridge, and can easily be combined with cooing over quaint cottages in Madingley village. I really liked its smart, un-fussy but interesting food, and the casual atmosphere, and if the meal we had is anything to go by, it's certainly worth the effort to get there.

The Three Horseshoes
High Street
Cambridge CB23 8AB