She was nine years old and had never tasted ice cream.   In the bitter cold of  a North Saskatchewan winter she had tasted frozen cream.  Milk was delivered in the dark early mornings by a horse-driven wagon and by the time it was rescued from the stoop the milk had a raised  cap of cream on the top of the bottle.  A quick slice of the knife and frozen cream became the occasional treat.  War time ration restrictions meant many food items  weren’t available and those that were  (such as sugar) were rationed.

It was the endless  days of summer holidays.   She had spent a glorious day with her cousins playing in the sweet smelling hay loft.  Hot, sticky with prickly bits of hay they opened the heavy ice house door and entered  a dark world of sawdust covered blocks of ice.  The older children chipped at the ice blocks. The rest quickly filled a bucket with the pieces.  They paused to brush the sawdust from a few of the chips and slipped the delicious coldness into their mouths.

The cream custard  filled the metal container.  The wooden bucket was packed with ice and rock salt.  The handle was turned and the alchemy of making of ice cream began.


She never forgot this first taste of home-made ice cream. Years later when she opened her restaurant  she wanted to  share this experience.   Her beautiful Italian  machine  churned out batch after batch of ice cream.  There were forays into different flavours but in the end she decided to  create one absolutely perfect ice cream dessert.

First she made tuiles aux  amandes – wafer thin cookies studded with sliced almonds.

Then she took pecans and crisped them with butter and sugars.

More butter and sugar and cream became salted caramel sauce.

Finally she made her ice cream.   One perfect flavour – vanilla.   Vanilla ice cream studded  with tiny bits of chopped pralines.

She filled the tuiles with the ice cream.  Poured the golden caramel over.  Added a flourish of whipped cream and finished it with a scattering of glittering pralines.  Voila!! The most perfect of ice cream desserts.




I made vanilla ice cream at our restaurant ROXY’S BISTRO every day for seven years.  It is the perfect ratio of cream, milk and eggs.  I share this recipe with you.  Simply click on VANILLA ICE CREAM.    The praline ice cream extravaganza is a bit over the top but the very best thing about ice cream – you can be as creative or as simple as you want.  These days I walk out to the strawberry patch and pick fresh berries.  In a few days the blackberry bushes will share their bounty with  all who are willing to brave its thorns.  But occasionally – just for old times sake – I do indulge and make praline ice cream in tuiles aux amandes with salted caramel sauce and whipped cream.




    • We had a regular restaurant customer – very slim, extremely elegant – she bought her clothes in Paris and she NEVER had dessert until she tasted the praline ice cream. From then on she always ordered her dessert first for fear we might run out of it before she finished dinner.

  1. hi virginia. how can you possibly not have a recipe for the deliscious lemon cheese cakes you used to make at Roxy’s? Please please please?

    • Tim that recipe is engraved forever in my brain. The other day Lar and I were estimating how many cheese cakes we made at BASSETT’S FANCY DESSERTS and ROXY’S BISTRO. We thought it we must be well over a thousand. We used so much cream cheese that the Kraft Cheese Company in Toronto came to Regina to see what the buzz was about. We must have created a big spike in their cream cheese sale!! The recipe is being dispatched to you immediently. XX V.

    • I do so love to tell stories, Resa I read to my children but I also told them stories about my childhood, and related stories my Father would tell me about homesteading in the wilds of Northern Saskatchewan. Then there were the tales my Mother would tell me – about her growing up and looking after half a dozen or so younger siblings. These were told and retold much to my children’s delight. When my best friend was dreadfully ill in hospital I would sit and read fairy tales to her. I think being read to is the best thing in the world. XX OO Virginia

  2. Dedication and love of desserts Mrs. Gillies. The praline ice cream creation was just one of the dozen or so desserts I made every day in Roxy’s Bistro. As always a labour of love.

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