I joined forces with my friend Julia Georgallis to host an evergreen-themed dinner party that would encourage a sustainable mindset. How to Eat your Christmas Tree explored the edible coniferous heroes of the forest. Throughout the three courses, pine, fir and spruce were showcased in a multitude of exciting and unusual ways that complimented more celebrated ingredients and flavours.
Evergreen trees are pillars of winter, as they stand tall and thriving through minus temperatures and snow – their scent reminiscent of Christmas. In folk medicine, they are a symbol of strength and used at this time of year to ward off colds and boost our immune systems. Different varieties have unique flavour and aroma profiles and can be used in unexpected ways to create new and exciting pairings. Diners left with inspiration to consider and extend the life of their Christmas trees.
Beetroot and Spruce-cured salmon, Spruce vinegar pickles, crème fraîche, homemade rye bread
Lamb, retsina and apricot tagine, pine-smoked cauliflower, zesty couscous with raisins and pine-nuts
Blue Spruce and ginger ice-cream with homemade orange and pistachio shortbread
Cornish yarg and Manchego, apple and Douglas Fir membrillo, homemade oat cakes
BLUE SPRUCE & GINGER ICE-CREAM
Blue spruce adds a clean, unique flavour to this indulgent ice-cream recipe. With hints of citrus, vanilla and green grass, it pairs very well with homemade orange and pistachio shortbread.
Makes 20 large scoops.
140g fresh blue spruce needles
850ml double cream
285ml Jersey milk
285g unrefined golden caster sugar
14 large egg yolks
10 pieces of stem ginger cut roughly into rough 5mm cubes
- Prepare the blue spruce needles by cutting off little branches, washing and drying them. Cut the needles off the little branches using scissors. This can be a bit tricky as they are quite sharp so be careful!
- Measure out the cream, milk, caster sugar and egg yolks into a heavy-bottomed, stainless steel saucepan and whisk until well combined.
- Add the blue spruce needles to the cream mixture and heat over a gentle heat, stirring continuously with a wooden spoon or spatula so that the mixture doesn’t catch on the bottom of the pan. Pay particular attention to the corners of the pan.
- When little bubbles begin to appear around the edge of the mixture remove from the heat. Sieve the mixture carefully in the finest sieve possible so that none of the needles end up in the sieved ice-cream mixture.
- If you have an ice-cream maker, add the mixture to the churning pot and begin the churning process. Before it freezes solid, add the chopped stem ginger and continue churning until it is completely frozen. Transfer the frozen ice-cream to the freezer.
- If you don’t own an ice-cream maker, transfer the mix to a tupperware or dish and leave to cool completely. When it is cool, transfer to the freezer. Stir the mixture every hour and when it is beginning to freeze but not completely solid, add the chopped stem ginger and mix well. Continue stirring each hour until the ice-cream is completely frozen.