Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Home Made Ice Cream

Having just dissed the home-made curry powder, I am going to say totally the opposite about ice cream. Home-made is hard work, and takes a long time, but it is TOTALLY worth it.

This was a basic vanilla recipe, with coffee, strawberry and chocolate variants, so I made a double batch and divided it into four so I could do all four flavours. I'd be hard-pressed to tell you which one I liked most.

Not GI/dairy/anything friendly, really, though. My double batch involved 2 pints of milk, 2 pints of cream and a dozen egg yolks. You basically brew up a custard with the milk and eggs and some sugar. Don't let it boil, but stir it up. Throw it in a cooled container (or four in my case) after adding whatever flavour you're adding, and freeze for two hours. Stir in the cream (whipped) and freeze again for two hours. Take it out and mash it up a second time before freezing it again a final time.

It is REALLY good. Notably better than the average store bought stuff. The teen even admitted that the chocolate variant was the best he'd had all year. (!!)


Me: Enthusiastic thumbs up
Husband: Enthusiastic thumbs up
Teen: Enthusiastic thumbs up
Student: Enthusiastic thumbs up.

Home made curry powder

Out of a book devoted to curries, this was a straightforward mix of spices to make-your-own curry powder.

It was fun to do (ONCE!), and the powder is pretty authentic, though I would have liked it stronger. I don't remember the exact blend off-hand, but I remember the experience.

It involved roasting some of the spices, and then attacking them with a mortar and pestle till fine enough to go through a sieve. Then adding the non-roasted spices and mortar and pestle-ing them too. Then adding turmeric to colour the final result.

Really straightforward and simple, but HARD WORK. Grind grind. I have a new found respect for people who do these things from scratch themselves.

Quite honestly? I don't think the home made variety was any better than the pre-made stuff we get from the Indian supermarket in town. Sometimes going homemade is better. Not this time.

Don't bother. Just buy the bag of stuff from a decent Indian store and save your wrists. :)

Me: Meh.
Husband: Meh.

Green Panzanella with Blood Pudding

Wikipedia tells me that "panzanella" is: "a Florentine salad of bread and tomatoes popular in the summer. It includes chunks of soaked stale bread and tomatoes, sometimes also onions and basil, dressed with olive oil and vinegar."

I had never heard of it before coming across this recipe, but it was amazing. VERY high maintenance, but delicious, despite my dislike of blood pudding.

High maintenance though. It took almost an hour to assemble.

You start by making croutons. Frying or grilling up small cubes of bread. Recipe asked for sourdough bread, but I just used what we had in the bread bin, which in this case was the husband's wholewheat homemade bread. Fried it with some salt and pepper and olive oil, till good and crispy. Put aside to cool.

Fry the blood pudding in slices. I am not a big fan of the stuff, and actually would probably have exchanged it for bacon if I hadn't been engaged in this project. Part of my agreement with myself when I started this was that I would try EVERYTHING, even the things I don't usually like. So far that has worked well, but I really wasn't keen on this. I think it would have been all right if I'd used significantly less, but I didn't, and I felt like it took over the salad a bit. In any case, if you like the stuff, it would probably work just fine. Husband liked it. :)

In any case, fry it up till crispy, break into chunks and set aside to cool.

Cook up some fresh broad beans in boiling water for about a minute. Sounds quick huh? Yeah, except we bought the still podded variety and I had to pod them all. Once they've been cooked in boiling water for a minute or two, pull them out, rinse them in cold water and then peel off the hard shells. You know, I am a big fan of skipping bits in high maintenance recipes, and this seems like a good opportunity, but it really is worth doing. The soft insides are not only much tastier and more succulent without their nasty casings, but they're also a brilliant emerald green colour which is really gorgeous. Set aside.

Mix in some salad greens in a large bowl. I used lettuce and rocket, but use whatever you like. Add some fresh herbs. The recipe said mint and basil, but I used various leafy things from our window box collection. Throw in the croutons, blood pudding and beans.

Finally, the vinaigrette: Throw two large tomatoes, a few anchovies, half a cup of good olive oil and a generous dash of red wine vinegar and a bit of salt and pepper into a food processor. Whirr till liquidy. Throw the lot over the salad. Toss it about.


It really is very good, and that vinaigrette is beautiful. But it did take a long time to assemble, and I am not sure it's THAT good. I'd have switched out the blood pudding for bacon, but to be honest, I probably won't make this again, just because of the effort involved. Unless I am really trying to impress someone.

Me: Meh. Not worth the time it took.
Husband: Meh. OK, but no great shakes.
(We both liked the vinaigrette though.)

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Summer berry trifle

This was pretty fantastic, but it does take quite a bit of faffing about in the kitchen.

Start off by making a sponge cake. I don't remember the exact recipe, but I had to make about a quarter of the size, because I was only cooking for me and husband, not for 10-12 people like the recipe suggested.

While that's baking, jelly and syrup the fruit. Basically, a little bit of water and sugar boiled up in a saucepan. Add some gelatine, then toss the fruit about in it. I used strawberries and raspberries.

REMEMBER TO PUT THE FROZEN RASPBERRIES BACK IN THE FREEZER. I put them in the fridge for some obscure reason, and will now be hunting for raspberry recipes so I can use them up.



Cut the sponge cake into cubes. Pop them in the bottom of two large wine glasses. Well, if you're trying to be fancy, like I was. Else, I suppose a bowl would do. ;)

Sprinkle with sherry. Nom.

Let it soak in for a bit. Then put half the fruit on top of that. Pour a layer of custard over the fruit. (I made it homemade, but I guess you could use a premade one, if you were so inclined.) Another layer of fruit, another layer of custard, then top with whipped cream.

Remember that sweetening whipped cream is a TRAVESTY. Don't do it. I'm not kidding.

Eat. Enjoy. NOM.

It was really awesome. I was expecting it to be really rich, but it turned out gorgeous. Probably because I didn't sweeten the cream! Or the custard, for that matter. So the only real sweetness was the fruit and the sherry.

Gorgeous. If fiddly.

Me: NOM yes thumbs up.
Husband: Thumbs up.

Mussel and Chorizo Stew

This was a WINNER.

Fried up some onions, garlic and chorizo. Threw in a tin of chopped tomatoes. Added some fresh parsley. Cooked for a bit. Threw in some green lipped mussels for long enough for them to open. Served on a bed of long grain rice.

Oh. My. Gods.

So simple. Deceptively simple. But the flavours married perfectly, and it was mouthwateringly awesome. I expect it would be even better if you could get really good spicy chorizo, which we struggle to find here in Dunedin, but it was truly delicious.

Would totally make again. Plus, ready in the time it takes to cook the rice. About 20 minutes. Awesome.

Me: Enthusiastic thumbs up.
Husband: Enthusiastic thumbs up.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Chicken and Prawn noodle broth

This one is more or less a "what it says on the can" thing. Though I played fast and loose with the recipe.

A bunch of chicken stock, some sliced chicken thighs (the recipe said breasts, but I like thighs). The recipe said throw in bok choi, but there was none at the shop, so I used some cabbage and spinach and bean sprouts because that's what we had in the fridge.

Simmer away for a bit, throw in some herbs (I used coriander), drop the prawns in once the chicken is basically done. Add some cooked egg noodles.


It was ok. It didn't blow my mind with it's amazingness but it was quite respectable.

Me: Thumbs up
Husband: Thumbs up

Friday, 2 December 2011

Sauted Apple with Syrup and Mascarpone

This might be one of the more decadent desserts I have made in a long while.

Basically, you make a syrup with butter, castor sugar, Marsala (I used sherry), cream and honey. It's like a sugar and fat party in a saucepan. Then you saute apples (cored, peeled and quartered) in olive oil till they're golden brown. Pour the sauce over them, dollop on some Mascarpone (cause obviously there wasn't enough fat in that syrup), and sprinkle with walnuts.

 It is completely bloody beautiful to eat. But I could physically feel the bad-for-me afterwards. But oh, the decadence!!

The syrup is amazing. The first taste just explodes in your mouth. It threatens to be too sweet (and the recipe definitely made too much), but the mascarpone undercuts it, and neutralises some of the sweet. The apples are perfect. The walnuts a mastershot.

If you're looking for something quick and simple that looks really complex and fancy, this is a good option.

Me: Thumbs up, though my pancreas disagrees.
Husband: Thumbs up
Student: Thumbs up
Fussy Teen: Thumbs down. (I guess dessert shouldn't have fruit in it. I dunno.)