Monday, October 28, 2013

Simply Summer Strawberry Ice Cream

I was in the garden this morning clad in one layer, shorts included (I’ve spared you the photo).  Two hours later, I’m wrapped in three layers including old, but comfy, woolly cardi and long track pants.  Such is the contrary weather we are experiencing at the moment. It could be worse, I could be in the South Island where there have been snowfalls. Hello summer!

On a recent hot and summer-like day, I spied some strawberries locally and knew it was time for ice cream. It was summer in my heart just thinking about it.  I have been a fan of ice cream for a long time thanks to my dad. Each Sunday he would cycle (yes, cycle) several miles to the famous Luca’s (Edinburgh and Scotland have a lot to be thankful for with their wealth of Italian ice cream stores) and bring home a tub of ice cream, strapped to the back of his bike.  When it was finished, the cats (sorry, Lucy) got to lick the empty carton and lid.  Gourmet ice cream lickin’ cats – how spoilt they were.

Whilst this ice cream can’t match the rich creaminess of Luca’s it does have a glorious colour and three simple ingredients - strawberries, cream and sugar – the taste of summer.

Just remember to freeze the strawberries in advance, otherwise you’ll have to wait a few hours before satisfying your craving.

Strawberry ice cream

Serves 4

If you’re serving this with something, have everything ready and work quickly as the ice cream melts fast.

2 cups strawberries, hulled and quartered
½ cup icing sugar
½ cup pouring cream

Place the strawberries in a plastic container and freeze.

Empty frozen strawberries into a food processor (you may need to break them apart if they’re stuck together but do this quickly to keep fruit frozen) and process until finely chopped.  Add the icing sugar and process until well combined.  Keep the motor running and add the cream until you have a smooth ice cream (wipe the sides of the bowl down with a spatula once or twice to blend).  Serve immediately.

You might also want to try this 

Friday, October 18, 2013

Munchy Muesli Bars

I thought the other half might appreciate these muesli bars to have on the run. He’s the (very) early riser and heads to work whilst most of us are probably deep in sleep. 

They are fairly nutritious, so easy to make, store well and you can pop them in a plastic bag or container to take to work or eat en route (providing you don’t make a mess in the car!). 

The recipe is from Nigella’s website here but I have adapted it slightly to use a mixture of my favourite nuts as I’m not a fan of peanuts (except for some bizarre current craving for Peanut M&Ms), so here’s my version below. (I also seem to get way more bars than she does.)

I have done muesli bars before but it’s been a while so I can’t really say which ones I prefer.  So you choose whether you want this healthier version which is bound together with sweetened condensed milk or the all out earlier ones which used sizeable quantities of butter, sugar and golden syrup to bind, along with a lot more dried fruit. 

When the tin was empty, Bill was left with the shop bought ones (which, I have to point out, he brought home) and it was a case of “after you’ve tried the homemade, you don’t want to go there…

Looks like a regular order then. Think I will have to make both recipes to see how they compare.

Nigella’s Breakfast Bars

1 x 395g tin sweetened condensed milk
250g rolled oats
125g mixed nuts (I used a mix of brazil nuts, cashews, almonds and hazelnuts)
50g pumpkin seeds
50g sunflower seeds
25g sesame seeds
100g dried cranberries
75g thread coconut

Preheat oven to 130 degrees C (250 F).

Grease a baking tray approximately 23 x 33 cm (9 x 13 inch). 

Line the bottom with baking paper.

Warm the sweetened condensed milk in a saucepan.

Meanwhile, mix together all the other ingredients and then add the warmed, condensed milk

Spread the mixture into the tin and press down with your hands – I use a stainless steel pastry scraper to press down evenly across the surface.

Bake for 1 hour.  Remove from the oven and leave for 15 minutes.  Cut into squares or bars – makes about 16-20 (maybe more) depending on what size you prefer.

Leave to cool completely and transfer to a tin.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Lemon & Raisin Friands

I’ve been a bit of a cake-baking machine recently to the point that I am almost over anything sweet (almost).  

In one weekend of two birthdays, I managed to produce one birthday dinner, three birthday cakes (for two different occasions) and a warm lemon tart.  I’m exhausted just thinking about it again.

It was all a bit stressful but everything turned out well in the end - even after a slight hitch where the top of one of the cakes resembled the gradient of a skate park.  After levelling it off and covering it with chocolate frosting it looked fine.

All that activity pretty much explains the gap between the last post and this one.  However at some stage in the last few weeks I was watching Masterchef Australia (how sad is it that my life was on hold between 4.30 and 5.30pm for two months during this time?) and there was a Masterclass on how to make the perfect friand. Remembering I’d bought a friand tin which had not been christened by actual friands, I decided to give it a go. 

On a side note, I’m thinking there should be a cook along with Masterchef so it becomes more interactive and I don’t feel like a sloth on the couch who, as the credits roll, can’t be bothered thinking what to cook for dinner.  What do you think?

As for the friands, well I don’t normally eat a lot of friands (auto-type keeps trying to correct it to “friends” and I have to say I don’t eat a lot of friends either!) but I can’t help thinking that these definitely tasted more “eggy” in a good way (no surprised there considering the amount of egg whites).  It made me wonder if those I’ve had outside were really muffins in disguise, or maybe they used less eggs?

Apparently, according to Masterchef, friand is French for delicate. In my French dictionary it’s dainty and that’s how I see them – perfect to have with a cup of tea. 

They are quick and easy to produce and I would probably make them more often if I didn’t have to plan what I was going to do with 8 egg yolks.

The original recipe is on the Masterchef website.  I didn’t go down the whole route with the sticky raisin topping so the recipe below is slightly altered.

If you’re really pushed for time, just sprinkle unadulterated raisins (or even sliced, toasted almonds or lemon rind) on top.

Lemon & Raisin Friands

8 egg whites
120g ground almonds
120g standard flour, sifted
250g icing sugar, sifted
a pinch of salt
200g butter, melted

½ cup raisins
1 fruity flavoured tea bag
a splash of Limoncello

Preheat oven to 180°C. 

Grease or spray a friand tin (use a muffin tin if you do not have a friand tin),

Lightly whisk the egg whites until frothy. 

In another bowl, combine the ground almonds, flour, icing sugar and salt.  Make a well in the centre and pour in the egg whites.  Fold until well combined and the batter is smooth.  Set aside for 10 minutes.

Put raisins, tea bag and a splash of Limoncello in a small saucepan with just enough water to cover and simmer gently for 5-10 minutes until raisins are plump.  Remove from the heat and allow flavours to infuse for 15 minutes then drain the raisins.

Spoon the batter into the friand tin until three quarters full.  Add a teaspoon or two of the raisins on top of each friand. 

Bake for 15 minutes or until cooked through. 

Remove from oven and leave in the tin for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.  Once cold, dust with icing sugar.