Should you make your own ice-creams and sorbets? And, if so, do you need to buy an expensive machine to do the job? Five years ago I would not have hesitated in saying yes to both questions but now, in the age of the heavily marketed and widely available Häagen-Dazs (marketed as post-coital) ice-cream and with the wide availability of good sorbets, I am not so sure. If you intend to make and serve ice-creams and sorbets on a regular basis, then I still say buy a machine, but with the proviso that this must be one of the heavier-duty and more expensive models. Cheap small-volume units are just not worth the trouble and do not produce acceptable results. Anyway, it is possible to make decent ice-cream by hand, using a whisk or hand-held electric beater. When freezing your homemade ice-cream, never keep it for more than 48 hours or it will have lost its magic.
There are dozens of recipes for vanilla ice-cream, a joy in its own right and the basis for most other flavoured ice-creams. This version is based on that of the great Swiss chef Frédy Girardet I like it because it uses fewer egg yolks than usual, but delivers a beautifully rich-tasting ice-cream none-the-less. The recipe makes about 1.1 litres / 2pt.