Tag Archives: dairy

Sweet Orange Ice Cream

11 Sep A small bowl of pale yellow ice cream - french vanilla colour - viewed from above.
A small bowl of pale yellow ice cream - french vanilla colour - viewed from above.

Artistic outside photo for the light didn't actually improve my photography skills. Sigh.

Well, it’s been awhile, for a whole range of reasons. First my computer’s card chip reader stopped working, meaning I could take, but not use, photos of food. And since I’d taken photos I didn’t want to go and make the posts without them. Then I entered a prolonged food funk, where everything I made came out … not exactly the way I had envisioned it, none of my modifications worked, and basically all I was good for was making Neiman Marcus chocolate chip cookies and spaghetti bolognese. This was depressing, but fine, because there are after all much worse things than spaghetti bolognese twice a week for a month. Then I could cook (but not bake), and only if I followed a recipe exactly – and something just seems wrong to me about posting food that’s freely available on a million other blogs (for the record though I made this tofu & brussel sprouts dish about 1000 times during that period, it is AMAZING.)

Finally I decided yesterday that there was nothing for it but to power through making something I’d never even thought about making in my life before and, since Laura at Hungry and Frozen had just posted Seven Habits of Highly Effective Ice Cream Makers, I felt immediately galvanised and ready. (Check our her shiny new URL, by the way.)

Also, I had approximately a crapload of very over-ripe navel oranges. With the exception of my mother’s profiteroles, I’m not actually a big fan of citrus in baking. I love oranges and lemons and limes – in cooking. But orange muffins leave me cold, I dislike lemon cakes and frostings, and I can usually eat a couple of spoonfuls of lemon meringue pie before I make a face because it’s just too damn sweet. (This doesn’t stop me from making a good lemon meringue pie, mind you, because a lot of people in my life apparently flip for it. But I’m not really a fan.) So I thought, well, what ice cream flavour is more classic and delicious and yet not boringly vanilla than orange?

Sweet Orange Ice Cream
Adapted from this epicurious recipe.

Ingredients

1 cup whole milk
1 cup cream
1 pinch salt
2 navel oranges or enough to produce 1/2 C juice when squeezed
1/2 cup sugar
2 t triple sec
4 egg yolks

Method

1. Zest both the oranges. Roll them around a little on the chopping board before slicing them in half and juicing them. You want about half a cup of freshly squeezed juice. Pick the seeds out if you’re, you know, me. Add the triple sec to the juice and set aside.

2. If you’re me and only have a grater with enormous, um, what are they called? Well, whatever, my grater is crude and produces ginormous strips of cheese, orange zest, etc. So I diced the zest a little more finely.

a small pile of orange zest on a chopping board in the foreground, two oranges in the background

yeah, so now all my my photos are taken with my ipod. I know they're hiddy, blame apple.

3. Place half the orange zest, the milk, the cream, the salt, and 1/4 C of sugar in a largeish, heavy-bottomed pan, and heat slowly until it boils. Set aside and allow to cool and infuse for half an hour.

A stainless-steel pot on a stove with milk, cream, and orange zest in it. The zest is visible at the top.

I love working with zest; it just can't help but be pretty.

A stainless-steel pot on a stove, with a creamy yellow liquid
This isn’t my shitty camera, it actually went more yellow.

4. Beat the egg yolks and remaining 1/4 C sugar until thick and pale – a minute or so with an electric mixer.

a bowl with four egg yolks, not very well separated tbh, and eggshells in the background

Check out my crappy egg-separation job!

5. Prepare two bowls set inside each other: one large bowl filled with ice and cold water, and a smaller bowl (preferably metal or something that conducts heat well) placed inside.

5. Add the milk mixture in a thin stream, beating away. When the milk mix is all incorporated, return the custard to the pan and cook over a low heat, stirring constantly, until the custard coats the back of the spoon and thickens a little. (Note, I found this bit really terrifying. What you want to be able to do is draw your finger in a channel down the back of the custardy spoon and have the mix not run in and fill the gap. However, at this point my custard was still fairly runny, and so I basically held my breath closed my eyes and kept stirring until it had thickened further – not to the usual point I’d expect a custard to go to, but quite thick.)

6. Strain the custard through a sieve into the metal bowl, and beat (I think by hand at this stage) for ten or fifteen minutes until the mixture has completely cooled.

7. Stir in orange juice, remaining orange zest, and triple sec. Now you can put it in your ice cream maker. Ahahah. Or, if you’re more like me and everyone I know and too broke/space-poor for such fancy-pants machinery, pour into a container or, probably, two containers (I used the metal bowl and an old ice-cream container) in as thin a layer as you can manage.

8. Freeze. Check on the containers periodically. About every 45 minutes or an hour or possibly half an hour depending on how thin your layers were, get in there with a whisk or spoon or fork and beat the shit out of the ice cream, breaking up ice crystals and trying for an even texture. Note, this took me for. ever. There are a few possible reasons including having upped the fat content, but I think the guilty party was the triple sec. I added a full tablespoon which is obviously quite a lot and it basically took all afternoon/evening. So I halved it here and it should take a more reasonable three or so hours – I hope. (Let me know, eh?)

9. Before it freezes completely solid you can add things like chocolate chips or a chocolate sauce ripple or something else fancy. I think this happens when you’re at, like, soft-serve consistency, so the stuff doesn’t sink to the bottom.

10. Eat! And check it out, my first ice cream and it is though I say it as shouldn’t effing delicious.

A small bowl of a pale yellow ice cream - basically french vanilla colour - sitting on a window sill.

The reason it didn't scoop well is because I don't have an ice cream scoop & therefore can't get those pretty curly spheres.

Friday Feed: Strawberries!

9 Dec

I didn’t want to do two sweet posts in a row for Friday Feed, partly because how dull, darling, and partly because most of my cooking really is savoury. However, the only thing of borderline interest I cooked in the last couple weeks was a satay that was frankly just not that great (and other than that I pretty much made Marmite pasta every day for a week – thanks, Hungry & Frozen!) I also made my standard Trashy People Who Don’t Wanna Cook meal, Tuna & Rice. This is my essential meal, but it’s not exactly blogworthy: make a white sauce, put cheese in it, put a tin of tuna in it, mix the whole lot up with a quantity of cooked rice (or pasta) and bake for 20 minutes. Top with breadcrumbs and tomato slices if you’re feeling fancy.

On the other hand, what definitely was blogworthy when I started writing this post last Thursday was the quantity and relative cheapness of strawberries at the moment. Two punnets for $4. The price has since, naturally, skyrocketed so this post is no longer appropriate, but they’re still available relatively affordably, especially at markets. I can hardly believe summer’s only just started – the wonderful weather Wellington’s been having for the last couple of weeks, except the last couple of days, since the beginning of November really, is so promising for a long gorgeous summer. And there’s nothing better about summer than berries, freely and relatively cheaply available. Strawberries in salads instead of tomatoes (also affordable and ripe again!) Strawberries at the bottom of a bubbly glass. Strawberries sliced and tossed with balsamic vinaigrette and cracked black pepper (the BEST way to eat strawberries) and maybe spooned over panna cotta. And today’s recipe.

Strawberries and Cream Piled on Yellow Cake

Shot from above of a cake piled with strawberries & chocolate

photos courtesy of my flatmate Lizzie and Adobe Photoshop

I know I said last week that this wasn’t going to be a photo-heavy food blog and really this is probably the first and the last time. But when it comes to presentation, it’s pretty damn difficult to screw up a big honking pile of strawberries. This isn’t really a complicated idea and it probably doesn’t deserve its own post really, but Lizzie liked it enough to take photos and I thought it was delicious and I bragged about it on Twitter, so here goes. Noteworthy note: You can do this with whatever your favourite yellow cake is. You could do it with box mix or on a sponge from New World if you wanted to. You could do it with my favourite yellow cake in the world, golden cake with sour cream chocolate icing (seriously, that cake as cupcakes with a generous swirl of chocolate sour cream ganache and rainbow sprinkles is like the Platonic ideal of a cupcake). But I am really (really) broke right now and the idea of going out and buying all that sour cream, butter and eggs didn’t really work for me. So I pawed through my books and came up with this, which I thought would be a very nice combination and indeed it was. Plus it’s one-bowl. I love one-bowl cakes.

Clueless Baker Yellow Cake

This came out of a book called The Clueless Baker by Evelyn Raab. It’s brilliant for North American-style basics, like this one, and has a few stand-outs, like a terrific and simple lemon meringue pie and gorgeous soft ginger biscuits. I am not a specially clueless baker, but I bought it because I liked the voice – she’s very funny and straightforward – and because a majority of my books are NZ/Aus or occasionally Brit, and I wanted a US book. This book is actually Canadian but it strikes me as very, very US. It’s so US that the quantities I give in this recipe are halved, which produced a very decently-sized square cake – about the size you expect a banana cake to be in New Zealand. If you want to make this cake extremely impressive, double the quantities and bake two rounds. You could make them two 9-inch rounds, even, cut them in half and make the world’s tallest cake. But you’ll need a lot more strawberries and maybe some jam.

1 cup sugar
2 eggs
3/8 cup (90 mL – 6 US tablespoons or 4 UK tablespoons and 2 tsps) vegetable oil
1/2 cup milk
1 1/4 cups flour
1 1/8 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Notes on the ingredients

Oil –  I used olive oil, I recommend that you do not do this, use a nice canola oil instead. I would have, I just didn’t have any and I don’t mind my cake tasting of olive oil, but it’s not really a great idea. Also New Zealanders, I find it very unpredictable as to which size tablespoon I have, so don’t assume you have UK size. Try to find a set with the measurements on it. Milk – I used yellow-top (trim), it was fine. Sugar – yes, the original recipe did call for 2 whole cups. You probably could cut this cup down a little but I hesitate to endorse doing so because I haven’t tried it. It does seem like a whole lot of sugar though.

Method

1. Pre-heat to 180 C (350 F). Also prepare your cake pans, unless your flatmates gave you a silicon cake tin for your last birthday, in which case, muahaha and you can chill.

2. Beat the sugar and the eggs together until they are slightly thickened.

3. Add the oil, milk, flour, baking powder and vanilla. Beat together nicely-nicely until the mixture is smooth, but try not to overbeat (I mean, whatever, did you ever know anyone to actually turn down an overbeat muffin? But the principle is good).

4. Pour into pan and bake for ~30 minutes till, you know, your cake-divining skills tell you it’s done. It should be golden-brown and you should get a clean toothpick test. (If you have doubled the ingredients and baked in a 9-inch pan, this will be more like 30-40 minutes.)

5. Let cool for five minutes, take out of pan and cool on a cake rack.

Decoration

1 cup of cream (or like, whatever size a smallish bottle is)
1 or 2 punnets of strawberries
Small amount of dark chocolate, melted and cooled (I like Whittaker’s, I especially liked it here because I stole it from my flatmate Lizzie. Well, she offered it to me. The point is, use what you have)

This is … not exactly complicated, except your cake MUST BE COOL when you do this. Whip the cream until it’s a consistency that you like – I wanted it firm enough to stay where it was put but it might be nice a little more sloppy and sliding down the side of the cake. You could put a little icing sugar in it while you do this if you like or if you’re not sure if your strawberries are sweet enough. Slice your strawberries – halves are fine. Pile the cream on the cake, pile the strawberries on the cream, drizzle chocolate over the cake, stuff it in your face like it’s going out of style.

cake posed nicely with roses

ah, lovely!

Friday Feed: Hazelnut Meringues with Chocolate Sauce

26 Nov

A while ago, in a different location, I was complaining about separating eggs. Not the process; I enjoy that, it’s one of the few relatively fiddly kitchen tasks that I do well. (Fiddly kitchen tasks I do not do well include most kinds of cake decoration and slicing pies, and in fact most presentation tasks. This is not going to be a photo-heavy food blog.) No, what I really dislike about separating eggs is the waste. The yolks that inevitably end up going crusty in my fridge, and the whites that end up sitting in ziplocs in the freezer where I inevitably forget them. So I have strategies for dealing with this – serving egg-yolk pasta before a chocolate cake smothered in swiss meringue buttercream, that sort of thing. However, all too often the wrong number of yolks or whites are required and something ends up in the compost bin.

Consequently, the fastest way to get me to bake or cook something is to have it use separated eggs and whites. It’s useful, it’s frugal, it means I get to do the fun bit of separating eggs without watching anything slither stickily down the drain. This recipe – while perhaps not best described as frugal – is a favourite with me and with my mother (in fact hers, which are significantly better than mine, are justifiably famous). It comes from a 1992 Cuisine Entertaining Special (“25 Themes for Entertaining! Over 100 of the Best Recipes from Cuisine!”) and from its various menus, and although the Baked Fish Fillets with Coriander do on reflection sound delicious, I’ve never seen my mother cook anything else from it. That’s alright, though – she’s got her money’s worth out of these. (This makes it sound a bit as if my mother’s the only cook in the family, but nothing could be further from the truth – Dad cooks as often as Mum does and always has. But Mum is the undisputed pudding champion.)

My mother’s rallying cry when she serves these meringues, made with eggs from my parents’ chooks, is “there’s nothing wrong with it – it’s really just eggs! They’re good for you!” I think we should all believe her because these meringues are pretty convincing.

They’re Just Eggs Hazelnut Meringues with Chocolate Sauce

Meringues

4 egg whites
2-3 drops white vinegar
250g sugar – about 1 1/4 cups
70g hazelnuts – about 1/4 cup

Preheat the oven to 180 C (350 F). Toast the hazelnuts in a pan and then chop finely (you can do this with a knife but a blender or food processor will make your life significantly more pleasant, if you don’t mind washing it afterwards of course. You can get ground hazelnuts but toasting them scares me – I am bound to burn them – so I never have done, you should try it and let me know how it goes.)

Beat the egg whites with the vinegar until stiff peaks form. Beat in the sugar bit by bit until the peaks are glossy (ideally you should be able to rub a bit of the mixture between your fingers and it should not be grainy). Very carefully fold in the nuts, trying not to deflate the mixture.

Drop the mixture in tablespoons onto a greased or baking papered tray (or onto a fabbo silicon mat like my flatmate has). Very precious cooks can apparently shape their meringues by “pushing the mixture through an oiled cooking cutter”. I wouldn’t know because I have never in my life even considered this, but I am guessing you could possibly also pipe them. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes.

Chocolate Sauce

150 g dark chocolate – the usual instruction for this is “use the best you can afford”. I love Whittaker’s Dark Ghana (62% or 72% according to your own tastes). This would be three-fifths of the block, so you’ve even got a bit left over to bribe your flatmates with!
300 mL milk – 1 1/4 cups – whole is probs your best bet
4 egg yolks
2 tablespoons sugar

Melt the chocolate and the milk together in a heavy-bottomed pan. This will take awhile and be boring but I promise faithfully that the second you go upstairs to get anything it will burn, and burnt chocolate makes everyone sad, so don’t do that.

Meanwhile, beat the egg yolks with the sugar. When the chocolate milk is almost to boiling point, pour it onto the yolk mixture. (I do not have a thermometer, I just go with “when it’s hot and before it boils”, I think that is OK. Also, if I never read the instruction in a cookbook “just before it boils” it will be too soon. Is there a whole group of clairvoyant cooks out there or something? Cause I’m just saying. Unless you’ve cooked a recipe a lot, “just before it boils” is a pretty scary instruction for things containing dairy or sugar.) If you’re worried about cooking your yolks, a good way to do this is to scoop a small quantity, like a third of a cup, of the milk and whisk that in, and then pour over the rest of the milk while whisking.

Return to the pan and stir the sauce constantly til it thickens. Ideally this should be served directly, but we’ve found that the sauce reheats OK in the microwave if you have to.

Presentation

Whipped cream
Fresh strawberries – these are an optional extra, but hey, they’re $4 for two punnets at New World right now. Serve fresh-sliced or, my favourite thing with strawberries, sliced and tossed with balsamic vinegar and fresh cracked black pepper. This is a heavenly strawberry experience.

Sandwich two meringues together with whipped cream and strawberries. Cuisine recommends sifting icing sugar over this but frankly I think that’s ridiculous. Why would you do that? No. Serve with chocolate sauce drizzled over or on the side of the plate, or provide the chocolate sauce in a jug on the side for people to pour their own. If you’re lucky you’ll have some sauce left over and that’s good on strawberries or fruit salad or on your Weet-Bix in the morning. Yes I’ve done that. No I don’t regret it. Nor will you.

I hope you enjoy these. They’re just eggs really. Practically good for you … or you could just make an omelette.