Archives for the month of: August, 2015

Homemade ice cream is one of life’s great pleasures and it is very easy to make.
Of course, there are some great ice creams nowadays that you can buy in the supermarket but nothing quite comes close to your own and this recipe is so much easier to make than the classic method as you don’t need to go to all the bother of making a home-made custard.  This is really a matter of stirring some rather wonderful ingredients together and then sitting back and accepting the inevitable compliments, safe in the knowledge that it really wasn’t an entirely taxing experience in the first place.  But no less delicious for that and not necessarily a detail that you have to share.

I made this ice cream the other day for a Friday night supper party.  I was rather short of time and had one of those tubs of peaches rapidly ripening in the larder.   The ginger ice cream made  a lovely accompaniment to them which I braised in a marsala syrup, stuffed with amaretti and dark sugar and spiced up with some cinnamon and vanilla.

STEM GINGER ICE CREAM
Serves Six to Eight

1 tub mascarpone
250ml double cream
Four pieces of stem ginger, finely chopped plus syrup from the jar
2 tablespoons ginger preserve (I use Waitrose own)
2 egg whites
50g caster sugar
Lightly whip the cream and whisk in the mascarpone.  Add the ginger preserve, the finely chopped stem ginger and about three tablespoons of the syrup.  Whisk the egg whites until stiff and then gradually add the caster sugar until you have a glossy meringue.  Add to the ice cream mixture and fold in.

Pour the whole lot into an ice cream machine and churn.  If you don’t have a machine then put in the freezer in a plastic tub and whisk with a  fork every half an hour to break up the ice crystals that will be forming.  You will have to do this about four or five times.

Keep in the freezer but take out and put in the fridge for about 45 minutes before serving if you are not using it immediately.

PEACHES IN MARSALA with AMARETTI
Serves Eight

Eight fairly ripe peaches
Eight amaretti biscuits (crunchy ones)
Dark muscovado sugar
400ml sweet marsala
100g caster sugar
One fresh vanilla pod
2 sticks of cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 180c
Remove the skin from the peaches by sitting them in boiling water for a minute or two.  The skins will slip off easily.

Cut in half and remove the stone.  Put in an ovenproof dish and fill the centre of each peach half with some crumbled biscuit and a teaspoon of sugar.  Heat the marsala with the caster sugar and pour around the peaches.  Bake in the oven for forty minutes, basting the peaches occasionally.

Serve warm or at room temperature, with the ice cream or softly whipped double cream.

I love cooking with beetroot.  It deserves it’s superstar status as a superfood with it’s earthy deliciousness.  This beetroot houmous is not only extremely moreish but a stunning magenta colour that that looks as beautiful as it tastes.  Serve it as a prelude to supper with some healthy crudités, crunchy tortillas or even better, herby pitta toasts.  Its extremely addictive so make lots!

BEETROOT HOUMOUS

Serves Six

Four globes of beetroot (about 400g weight)
1 tin chickpeas (400g)
Three tablespoons tahini paste
Clove Garlic
Juice 1 lemon
Cold water
Salt & Pepper
Extra virgin olive oil
Fresh coriander

Pre-heat oven to about 200C.

Wash the beetroot. Wrap in an oiled piece of kitchen foil and roast in the oven for around an hour or until tender and soft. Cool. Skin the beetroot and put into a food processor. Blitz until becoming a puree. Add half the tin of chickpeas, the crushed clove of garlic, half the lemon juice, the tahini paste and a splash of cold water. Blitz again until well blended. Add a little more water if it is rather solid. Add a good lot of seasoning and more chickpeas. How many you add is up to you. Blend again and taste.

You may prefer a smooth houmous or one that has more texture.   Adjust the flavour with more lemon juice, seasoning and maybe more tahini. Add a couple of tablespoons of the extra-virgin olive oil and blitz again.

Serve in a beautiful coloured bowl with more oil drizzled over and lots of finely chopped coriander sprinkled over the top.

Extras: Grate in a little bit of the rind of an orange (a little goes a long way) and add a teaspoon of freshly roast and ground cumin seed for a different flavour.

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Here is another idea for using beetroot.  (I’m quite addicted to it at the moment so we seem to be eating rather a lot of it).  This salad is perfect as a starter or just a lovely lunch.  You can pile it up prettily individual plates but more often than not I just present it in one large bowl and pass it around the table so that people can help themselves.
beetroot houmous
BEETROOT AND CARROT SALAD with HARISSA and MINTED YOGHURT DRESSING
Serves Four 

250g small carrots (baby or chantenay)
Four beetroot (or eight very small)
1 dessertspoon of harissa paste
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Squeeze honey
A little lemon juice
Salt and pepper
1 tsp. fennel, toasted and crushed
50g toasted chopped walnuts
Fresh Rocket
4 tablespoons cooked puy lentils, tossed in a little oil and lemon juice
Handful of fresh mint
1 lemon
Four tablespoons natural yoghurt

Pre-heat the oven to 220c (200c fan oven)

Cut the carrots into small lengths.   Peel the beetroot and cut into small chunks. Take a shallow roasting tin. Mix the harissa, oil, lemon juice and honey.   Toss through the beetroot and carrot and turn into the roasting tin.   Add seasoning and roast for 30 – 40 minutes until well roasted. Remove from the oven.

Allow to cool a bit for a few minutes. Toss into a bowl and mix with the lentils, walnuts and rocket. Check the seasoning. Mix the yoghurt with lots of mint and lemon juice. Season to taste Pile onto plates and drizzle over the minted yoghurt or serve that separately.

HERBY PITTA CRISPS

One pack of white pitta bread
Light olive oil
Fresh thyme, finely chopped
Sea salt & black pepper

Pre-heat oven to 180c Cut the pitta in half horizontally and then cut each into even strips. Brush each with olive oil (or just use one of those spray bottles) and sprinkle with finely chopped thyme and season.  Bake in the oven for about eight minutes or until a pale golden brown.  Cool on a wire rack and store in a tin.  They will keep for about a week.

Sometimes it’s nice to make something a little bit special when there are just two of you for an evening in and this certainly hits the spot for us. Scallops are, undeniably a bit of a treat ingredient and this is a lovely way of cooking them. They look so pretty with their pink corals still attached but if you prefer not to eat these then just leave them out. Prawns are a natural partner and the whole thing is enhanced with some gentle spicing. Make the lentils and dressing in advance (up to two days ahead but no more) and skewer the seafood in the morning, leaving a not particularly onerous task later of some quick cooking and heating up. Tahini is a favourite ingredient of mine and it is put to good use here to make a speedy sauce that is big on flavour and a lovely enhancement of this recipe. I hope you enjoy it.

SERVES 2
 
8 scallops with roe
12 prawns king raw
teaspoon cumin
teaspoon coriander
rind half lemon
olive oil

50g puy lentils, rinsed
1 large shallot, finely chopped
1 teaspoon grated ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
250 ml boiling water
1 heaped teaspoon marigold stock powder or similar
bayleaf
Half a small broccoli, the florets sliced.
Two tablespoons natural yoghurt
One tablespoon tahini paste
Lemon juice
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt & pepper
Freshly chopped coriander
Freshly chopped flatleaf parsley
Half a lemon or lime
Four wooden skewers, soaked in cold water

Stir the tahini and yoghurt together and add a squeeze of lemon juice. Add salt and pepper to taste and let the whole thing down with some ice cold water until like thick double cream. Add a teaspoon of extra virgin oil. Set aside.

Clean and devein the prawns. Put into a bowl with the scallops (I leave the roe attached) and add the marinade ingredients. Leave for about half an hour while you get on with the lentils.

Finely chop the shallot. Heat the oil in a saucepan and add the shallot. Soften for a minute or two and then add the grated ginger, garlic, cumin and coriander. Cook for a few more minutes and then stir in the lentils. Add the boiling water and stock. Simmer for around twenty to twenty five minutes until the lentils are tender and all the water has been absorbed. If the lentils are cooked and you have too much liquid simply drain any excess away. Add some seasalt and black pepper, a little olive oil and lots of freshly chopped parsley and coriander.

Put the scallops and prawns on the skewers. You will have more prawns than scallops so double up occasionally. Heat a griddle pan until smoking hot. Sear the skewers on all sides until the scallops are cooked through and the prawns pink.

Heat more oil in a frying pan and quickly sauté the broccoli slices with some finely sliced garlic until tender and a bit charred.

Heap the lentils up on a plate. Top with the broccoli and the skewers. Drizzle around the tahini dressing and scatter over more coriander. Serve with a wedge of lemon or lime.

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