Peanut Butter Jelly/ Jam Sandwich. Childhood favourite. American Classic. PBJ. Hunger satiate-r . Things childhood was made of. I still remember the 5 PM hunger pangs that were sometimes only demanding a PBJ sandwich and a glass of milk.
My travels to America brings me to hotel morning breakfast buffets and quintessentially they always have these grape jelly and peanut butter blister packs and I do indulge in the rare slathering of the peanut butter on warm toast and the grape jelly.
Same is the case when am home, just that the peanut butter needs to be gourmet (not off the rack, pasty kind) and the jam or jelly, self made, washed down with a well brewed cup of darjeeling tea. But on a good day, when I am feeling really indulgent and I have some guests at home I re-interpret PBJ sandwich to an ice cream sandwich, where the meringue in the ice-cream stands out with a hint of chilli in the jam and salt in the peanuts, it sends the senses into a cold frenzy and just steals the show every single time. I am going to try to flambé it one day.
for the Ice cream:
750 ml whipping cream
250 gms meringues
1-2 tbsp icing sugar
1tbsp vanilla extract
for the berry jam
500 gms strawberry, hulled and cut in chunks
1 red chilli, deseeded if you cannot take the punch
150 gms brown sugar
1tbsp lemon juice
for the peanut brittle
100 gms roasted salted peanuts, off the packet and toast them a little
75 gms brown sugar
- Whip the cream. Use a very cold vessel to whip the cream to soft peaks. add the vanilla extract and sugar and whisk again.
- Add Meringue. Break the meringue into bits and fold into the cream. Line a loaf tin or similar tray with cling film. Pour the mixture and freezer for a day.
- Macerate the strawberries with the sugar. Add the chillies and simmer over gentle heat. Cook till the strawberries are soft and the liquid attains a syrupy state. Do a tasting at this stage to ensure that the strawberries are not too tart. If they are, add more sugar till it reaches a sweet and slight sour state. Add the lemon juice to finish.
- Caramelise the sugar. For the brittle take a heavy bottomed pan and heat the sugar through. Do not stir. Once the sugar starts to melt, shake the pan slightly to evenly spread the heat. Since we are using brown sugar, further caramelisation is not needed.
- Add the peanuts. Once the sugar has melted add the roasted peanuts. If the peanuts are not salted, add a pinch of sea salt now.
- Pour the mixture on a greased plate. Once cool, pound it with a rolling pin to break in into crumbs. Don’t worry if they are not even. its better that way if you have some chunky pieces.
- Assemble the sandwich. Take the ice cream and cut a thin slice. Place it on a plate. Top it with the strawberry and chilli jam/ compote. Place another slice of ice cream on top of the compote. Sprinkle the peanut brittle crumbs on top. Dig in and watch the plates being licked
Tip 1 – you can cheat on the ice cream. I made mine from scratch. But you could just buy a brick of your favourite one and use that. Tubs are not recommended as we need the slabs to cut into bread like slices.
Tip 2 – works best in prime berry season. Use red berries for the drama. Strawberries/ raspberries/red currents. All three are great and they provide a different dimension/ texture to the jam/ jelly element of the ice cream sandwich
Tip 3 – you could buy your favourite Peanut Brittle and crumb it. I made mine from scratch again.
P.S. Since we are celebrating childhood, some more things to remind us of those days.
Watch: I would recommend two movies which were shown in school when I was bidding adieu to my all girls catholic convent in the last month of standard X and being oriented to tackle the big bad world.
Dead Poets Society – Robbie Williams remarkable work. The film is an inspiration for every generation and a must watch specially for every growing up child. “Make your lives extraordinary’ . https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=veYR3ZC9wMQ
Beaches – a moving tale of two best friends and their lives.
Listen: Not straight from childhood, but lovely and reflective.
Thats how I got to Memphis – by Bobby Bare where Memphis signifies life. https://itun.es/in/D37bB?i=453492193
Jolene – This song was the was all over the 59th Grammy and you can pick any version. Do give Miley Cyrus cover The Backyard Sessions a listen. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wOwblaKmyVw
Come back from San Fransisco – The Magnetic Fields. A very soulful song that can make you want to sit with a cup of tea. https://itun.es/in/FfXXp?i=264705367
La Vie en Rose – we have heard this song on runways and a multitude of films. Edith Piaf at her best. Various other artists have rendered this song including the great Louis Armstrong. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rzeLynj1GYM
Read:Take a moment and then some more.
Nigel Slater, he is not the cook who writes but a writer who cooks. He does write a lot with reference to memory and as an avid gardener myself, I look forward to his garden writing and photographs. www.nigelslater.com
Walt Whitman : O me! O Life! is like a chapter from my school poetry class, Dead Poets Society and also life itself. “that the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse.” https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems-and-poets/poems/detail/51568
Book: To Kill a Mocking Bird. In 2006 this book was regarded as “ a book which every adult must read before they die”. http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/2657.To_Kill_a_Mockingbird