As far as I remember, British summertime has been pretty sparse over the last few years and I do so love the sunshine as it’s an excuse to eat lots and lots of ice cream. I remember when I was young (and hot summers were the norm), I used to go to the park with my dad and he’d buy me a 99 flake. I’d always rip off the bottom of the cone, scoop up some ice cream, sprinkle a little flake over the top and present him with a mini ice cream. I used to think that I was presenting him with the biggest treat of his life while I scoffed away at the rest.
I have since moved on from 99 flakes and purchasing ice cream from the back of a van that played the match of the day theme tune over and over again and now my favourite place to buy gelato is Scoop in Covent Garden – worryingly convenient this summer as I work in the vicinity. Also worrying is the fact that not long ago I stumbled upon an ice cream machine that was going spare. Now this is not just some ice cream machine, this is a beast – so last week I thought I would put it to the test. Having a fussy boyfriend, I felt obliged to make one that he would eat as well – after all, I don’t think that even I could get through a whole pot without feeling guilty for not sharing.
I turned to my brand spanking new Gizzi Erskine book for the recipe. Hers used chocolate brownies within the mixture but I was baking a couple of other things on the same day so couldn’t be bothered to make the brownie. I watched as the silky smooth chocolate custard churned away to create a melt in mouth sensation – 40 minutes and my ice cream was ready to place in a Tupperware and enter the depths of my freezer but not for long. Oh no, not for long.
My friend @foodiestgeorge picked up an identical ice cream machine and we have challenged each other to an ‘ice cream off’ over the summer. She is starting with a Rhubarb Crumble flavour from Food Stories – sounds more fancy but will it stand up to the test. I can’t wait to find out.
300ml double cream
150g plain chocolate finely chopped or grated (I like Lindt 70%)
55g golden caster sugar (Billington’s please)
5 large free-range egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla extract
1. Heat the milk, cream and chocolate into a pan until bubbles start to form around the edges
2. In a separate bowl whisk the sugar, egg yolks and vanilla extract together, then in a slow stream carefully pour in the hot milk, whisking continuously
3. Pour the custard back into the pan and stir whilst cooking fod a minute (or until thick enough to coat the back of the spoon)
4. Strain the custard into a bowl and leave to cool, covered with cling film (I left for 30 mins but don’t think it was cool enough. Gizzi recommends putting into an ice bath)
5. Set up the ice cream machine and pour in the custard. Leave the churn for 40 minutes or until smooth and frozen
6. Transfer to a Tupperware and leave to freeze for at least 2 hours before eating – preferably overnight
There is NOTHING better than a good salad on a hot summers day – and today was no exception. After visiting the M&G Garden at Chelsea Flower Show this afternoon in the swealtering heat and stupidly getting sucked into the temptations of Oxford Street, I headed to the cool and quiet Waitrose foodhall in John Lewis to purchase a few bits and bobs to make a very delicious and healthy Quinoa Salad. The recipe serves four but my boyfriend and I were particularly hungry this evening so there was nowt left.
1 tsp corriander powder
1/2 tsp turmeric
Good glug of olive oil
600ml boiling water
2 radishes, thinly sliced
A few handfuls of watercress and rocket
3 spring onions, chopped
Hand full of tenderstem brocolli
Hand full of green beans
Roughly chopped corriander
50g feta cheese (I used Unearthed)
18 cherry tomatoes, 12 roasted and 6 halved
10 sun dried tomatoes
Flaked almonds (to your own taste)
Salt and pepper
1. Heat the olive oil in a pan and add the spices. Fry off for a minute then add the quinoa
2. Pour the boiling water over the quinoa and leave to simmer for 15-20 minutes or until all of the water has been absorbed – season with salt and pepper
3. Meanwhile, blanch the brocolli and green beans (boil for a few minutes until just tender, drain and place in cold water until needed)
4. When the quinoa is ready, mix with the rest of the ingredients (the quinoa can be served hot or cold)
5. Scatter the flaked almonds, feta cheese and corriander on top and add another glug of olive oil
A few weeks ago I arranged a lunch with @MathildeCuisine for today – how lucky were we with the weather! Myself and @foodiestgeorge went along to meet Mathilde at Towpath, a new venture from writer Lori De Mori and photographer Jason Lowe on a less glamerous stretch of Regents Canal.
Upon arrival, I was unsurprised to see mismached furniture and crowd of ‘cool’ punters that looked like artists – most probably residents or workers in a nearby art gallery. I was also unsurprised to see that the bank was full to the brim on what seemed like the hottest day of the year so far.
It didn’t take us too long to get a seat and we were lucky to bag one by the water facing into the sun. The menu isn’t huge and they had sold out of an asaparagus dish (a shame as I am rather partial to a bit of asparagus) but we ordered three dishes to share:
Cheese and Spring Onon Toastie
After wolfing the three dishes with not a morsel to spare, we couldn’t go without dessert. A few cakes were on show including one that I believe will become their trademark – Olive Oil cake. I love olive oil but wasn’t convinced enough to opt for it despite being told that it is very moist! Instead, we shared
Rhubarb and Almond Tart
Chocolate Pot with Cream
I am a real sucker for pastry at the moment and this one was was springy, chewy, buttery and creamy – everything I want from a pastry based dessert. I’ve recently started baking with pastry and I’m quite far away from those standards. A little more practice though…
One last bit of fun before we left – young children canooing along the canal and fighting to overtake each other right infront of us (hello – why wasn’t that on my sports syllabus at school?) and lazy barges chugging past. On our departure, we spied the waitress carrying the sandwiches from a house around the corner – I’m guessing it is the house of Lori and Jason – looked like a very nice one too.
42 De Beauvoir Crescent
0207 254 7606
I baked this a while ago and it was the first recipe I have ever baked that uses soured cream as an ingredient. The recipe comes from none other than the fantastic Bill Granger.
I was lucky enough to meet him at the KitchenAid Blender Launch at Hix in March and subsequently bought his book ‘Feed Me Now’. It was his kindness to attend the event despite being ill and a recommendation from a colleague who has rather a bit of a soft spot for him that led me to trying out a few of his recipes – I can also recommend the Melt and Mix Banana Bread recipe (also uses sour cream)
One thing though – don’t try it hot out of the oven. Being greedy and very impatient, I did and the taste of hot sour cream nearly put me off trying it cold the next day. I’m so glad I did though because it was absolutely divine.
Recipe (makes around 12 slices)
210ml soured cream
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
180g butter, at room temperature
330g unrefined golden caster sugar
2 tsp finely grated lemon zest
1tsp vanilla extract
3 medium eggs
375g plain flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1. Preheat the oven to 180C/Gas 4. Grease a baking tin and line with baking paper
2. Mix the soured cream and bicarbonate of soda and leave to sit for 5 minutes
3. Beat the butter and sugar together in a bowl until light and creamy. Add the lemon zest and vanilla and beat
4. One at a time, beat in the eggs, then mix in the soured cream mixture until evenly combined
4. Put the blueberries into another bowl and toss with a little of the flour. Sift the rest of the flour and baking powder over the cake mixture and fold in, until just combined. Gently fold through the blueberries
5. Spoon the mixture into the prepaed tin and bake for 45-50 mintues, until a skewer inserted into the entre comes out clean. Leave to cool slightly in the tine for 10 minutes, then turn out and cool on a wire rack
Due to all this talk about natural food colourings at the moment, I thought I’d give it a go and make vanilla cupcakes with natural baby pink butter cream. So off I went to the supermarket to buy some frozen berries. I recently read an article by Huma Qureshi which spurred me on. She recommended frozen instead of fresh as they have higher water content.
I don’t really make cupcakes very often because my previous attempts haven’t exactly been perfection but decided that I’ll have one last crack and I have to say that I am rather pleased with the outcome.
The reason I liked using frozen berries is that I could eat the stewed berries after I had added to the juices to my butter cream and my oh my they were delicious.
Recipe for vanilla cupcakes (makes 12)
115g unsalted butter at room temperature
115g golden caster sugar
115g Allinson Nature Friendly Flour
2 eggs at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract (I love Nielsen-Massey)
1. Pre heat the oven to 170C/340F and line a 12 holed cup cake tin with cup cake cases
2. Beat the butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla extract together until smooth
3. Mix in the flour until just combined
4. Spoon into cup cake cases and bake for 12-15 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean
Recipe for natural baby pink buttercream
150g Icing sugar
150g butter at room temperature
Handful of frozen berries
Glug of boiled water
Tablespoon of golden caster sugar
1. Cream the butter and icing sugar together until light and fluffy
2. Place the frozen berries, water and sugar into a pan and bring to the boil
3. Simmer for 5 minutes and add 5 teaspoons of the juices to the buttercream and mix together
Use a piping bag to pipe the buttercream onto the cupcakes once they have cooled and enjoy. You can even marvel at how the butter cream tastes nothing like fruit!
This was my first attempt at making a pastry based dessert. I usually stick to a light and fluffy sponge cake. However, I decided to try my hand at this Maple Pecan Pie as it is one of my favourites.
I suggest blind baking the pastry first for around 5 minutes so that the bottom does not come out soggy and undercooked. It is ridiculously delicious served warm with lashings of double cream!
Cream cheese pastry
For a 23cm/ 9in tart tin
115g full fat cream cheese (I used Philadelphia)
115g butter, softeed
170g plain flour
pinch of salt
1. Mix the butter and cream cheese together – until just combined. Make sure you don’t beat
2. Sift the flour and salt over the cream cheese and butter mixture and stir in
3. Place pastry between 2 sheets of clingfilm or greaseproof paper and roll out – the pastry should be just a few mm thick.
4. Chill in the fridge for 15 minutes
5. Remove one piece of clingfilm and use the other piece to ease the pastry into the tin
6. Chill in the fridge until firm and remove the other piece of clingfilm before blind baking
5. Blind bake in an oven on 200C/400F/gas mark 6 for 5 minutes
Maple Pecan Filling
200g pecan nuts
115g dark muscavado sugar (I like Billington’s unrefined)
150ml maple syrup
150ml golden syrup
1 tsp vanilla essence
4 eggs, beaten
1. After removing the lined baked pastry case from the oven, place a sheet of baking paper onto a baking tray in the oven. Keep at the same temperature
2. Put aside 100g of pecan nuts (these will be used for the topping) and roughly chop the rest
3. Melt the butter and sugar. Stir in the syrups, vanilla and chopped nuts. Leave the mixture to cool to room temperature and then stir in the eggs
4. Remove the baking tray from the oven and place the pastry lined tin on top. Pour in the filling and then scatter the left over nuts on top (you can either scatter them roughly or place them neatly)
5. Place in the oven and bake for 15 minutes. Reduce the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4 and bake for another 30 minutes. Make sure that the center is just set, if not, leaving for a little longer
6. Serve warm with double cream
When stuck for what to cook, I can always count on a combination of Chorizo, Tomatoes, and Butter Beans. Today is one of those days – the sun isn’t making it’s mind up and I don’t know whether to go with something hearty or light so to make things easier I revert to an old favourite.
I usually eat this meal with a bowl of roast potatoes or rice but having just found some good quality Sea Bass in the local supermarket, I decided to go for this and some added spinach.
1 medium red onion, diced
1 red chilli, chopped finely
3 cloves of garlic, crushed
3 bay leaves
2 x 400g tinned tomatoes
1 x 420g tin of butter beans, drained
Chorizo (as much as you want)
2 sea bass fillets
400g bag of spinach
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 tsp butter
1. Heat a large pan with olive oil. Add onions and chilli and fry off until onions are translucent. Add garlic and fry for another minute
2. Add the chorizo and fry off until brown
3. Add the tinned tomatoes and bay leaves. Leave to simmer for 5-10 minutes and then add butterbeans
4. Meanwhile, rub both fish fillets with salt and pepper (I like Maldon smoked sea salt) and heat a pan so it is really hot
5. Add the fish fillets skin side down and fry for 5 minutes or until the fish becomes white. Turn over a fry for another minute. Turn again, add butter and pour lemon juice over the skin
6. Serve and enjoy!