"The refreshing buttermilk ice-cream can be made ahead, leaving you only to toss the blueberries over the embers before rejoining your guests."
- For barbecuing: seasoned hardwood, preferably fruitwood
- 400 gm blueberries
- 20 gm caster sugar
- 250 ml heavy cream (45% fat)
- 1 vanilla bean, split, seeds scraped
- 4 egg yolks
- 85 gm caster sugar
- 400 ml buttermilk, well-shaken
- 1For buttermilk ice-cream, bring cream and vanilla bean and seeds just to the boil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Whisk egg yolks and sugar until pale and mixture holds a ribbon (1 minute), then gradually add hot cream while whisking continuously until all incorporated. Return mixture to pan and stir over low heat until it thickly coats the back of a spoon (3-4 minutes). Pass through a fine sieve into a bowl placed over a bowl of iced water and chill (2 hours). Add buttermilk, churn in an ice-cream machine, then freeze until required (at least 1 hour). Buttermilk ice-cream is best eaten within 4-6 hours.
- 2Burn wood slowly down to smouldering embers and medium heat (see below). Toss blueberries in caster sugar to coat, then transfer to a fine metal sieve and hold over hot embers, rolling blueberries in the sieve until they start to glisten, sugar melts and berries are just soft (1-2 minutes). Serve immediately spooned over scoops of buttermilk ice-cream.
How to prepare wood
- It almost goes without saying, but check the fire restrictions for the day in your area.
- Because they offer better control over airflow, wood-fired ovens are the perfect thing for burning the wood to coals; take care when you're transferring them to your grill or barbecue.
- If you're using a pit, enclose the fire with fire-rated bricks to help retain the heat and to slow the rate of burning.
- If you're using a barbecue, light the fire, close the lid and adjust the vents so the wood doesn't burn too fast. If you happen to have two barbecues, use one for burning the wood and one for grilling.
- Light the fire early - at least 1½ hours before starting cooking. Avoid using fire lighters or treated wood where there can be a residual chemical component. Wood embers burn hotter than the fire itself, so allow the wood to break down to glowing coals with a light-grey coating of ash. Too high a temperature and the subtle elements of the wood become tasteless. Optimal conditions are a slow, smouldering fire.
- Ideally you should use seasoned hardwood (at least 12 months old). Green or unseasoned wood with a high moisture content is harder to light and burns erratically, emitting smoke instead of heat, so it's worth sourcing premium hardwoods from recognised suppliers, such as Blackheath Firewood Company. If you have fruit trees, keep your prunings to use the next year.
- Woods vary in the amount of heat and flavour they produce.
Drink Suggestion: This will sound a little strange, but, it's a great match: take a great Australian fortified like Chamber's "Rosewood" Muscadelle and simply pour over lots of ice – it's like the perfect iced tea. Drink suggestion by Lok Thornton
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