Sunday, 24 May 2015

Strawberry and Rosewater ice cream

Last Christmas my lovely husband gave me the most wonderful present. A new KitchenAid to replace the basic model that I had. With a 6.9 litre bowl, it truly has transformed my cooking, enabling me to produce larger quantities of bread, cakes and all manner of savoury things.

With the KitchenAid came an offer of a free ice-cream attachment. Now I had been looking at this for some time and had always decided that it would be one of those things that would sit in the cupboard gathering dust because, to be honest, I had always made ice-cream using the more labour intensive method of freezing, re-whisking and the associated repeating of the process to avoid a granular finished product.

Well all I can say is that it has transformed my life. Ice-cream has changed from becoming something I would make under sufferance when my husband and family requested, to something that I now whip up without even thinking. The only snag, is that the bowl is too large to live in my freezer on a permanent basis, so I do need to put it in the night before, but apart from that the fact that I can whip up a sweet treat within 30 minutes for soft scoop consistency (a little longer in the freezer for a more firmer set) I can also avoid all the additives that the commercial versions have.

Well as part of my experimentation with new flavours and textures, last weekend I decided to make a strawberry ice-cream, with the additional of rosewater to add a Middle Eastern influence for my brother-in-law who was visiting from Iran. I left some of the strawberries aside to add in at the end, but if you prefer you can blitz the entire lot. I just like the contract of the ice-cream with tiny pieces of what becomes strawberry sorbet. Well the taste testing is complete with wider family and friends involved, so I feel it is only fair to share the results. The quantities below make enough to fill a one litre container.

I might look like I have overdone it with the rosewater, but once frozen the intensity diminishes and you are left with a subtle aftertaste.

I quantity of basic ice-cream custard (see previous post for pannetone ice-cream)
400 gram pack of strawberries, hulled and roughly chopped with 8-10 set aside
4 teaspoons of rosewater

Make the custard in advance, cover the surface with cling film to prevent a skin forming and leave to cool thoroughly.

Puree the strawberries, setting the aside the ones to mix into the ice-cream later. Sieve to get rid of any seeds.

Add the puree to the custard mix, stirring to ensure that both mixtures are combined. Add the rosewater. Place into the ice-cream maker and churn until just reaching the soft scoop stage, then transfer to a container and store until in the freezer until needed. If using the chopped strawberries, chop into small pieces and fold in just before placing in the container. Allow to "ripen" in fridge for 25 minutes before serving.

Saturday, 23 May 2015

Savoury crackers

I think that there is nothing more satisfying that a humble supper of either bread or crackers and cheese. If there's a bit of chutney lying around and some salad even better, but this is my go-to dinner if my other half is out at a working dinner, or I am on my own and have arrived back late from my travels with work. And travelling far and wide is something I do far too often for my liking.

I used to buy crackers but always felt disappointed that they did not quite hit the spot, or give the cheese a run for its' money. That is until I was browsing through Niki Segnit's "The Food Thesarus" (one the few books that has space in my tiny kitchen). I couldn't believe why I had not thought of making my own before. The recipe below is taken from her book, but adapted for my poppy seed take on her fennel seed crackers.

I've since branched out and now make a wide variety, caraway, cardamom, sesame, pumpkin and sunflower seed. When making the pumpkin or sunflower ones, I tend to put three quarters of the seeds in when mixing the dough and press the rest into the top of the crackers just before placing in the oven.

They are really easy and quick to make and I would urge you to give them a try. Unlike store bought, you know exactly when is in them and can adapt to make more salty/peppery etc to suit both your individual taste and cheese. And doubling or trebling the quantities below makes no difference at all, in fact I often do it at Christmas or for family gatherings where the meal is a relaxed grazing affair.

This recipe makes approximately 24 crackers, more if you roll the dough thinner. Pre-heat your oven to 160 degrees or gas mark 3 and have baking sheets lined with either Bake O Glide (or equivalent) or greased.

125 grams of plain , not bread, flour
1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
1/2 teaspoon of salt

Now add your flavourings of choice in the following quantities:

2 tablespoons of poppy seeds
2 teaspoons of either fennel, caraway, cumin or seaame seeds
2 teaspoons of whole cardamom seeds
1 teaspoon of ground caradmom seeds
1 tablespoon of either pumpkin or sunflower, with another tablespoon for topping

To finish:

25ml of olive oil
Up to 125ml of water, added in increments of 15ml

To make:

Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a mixing bowl or food processor bowl with the dough hook attached. Add the seeds of choice and mix thoroughly.

Add the olive oil and 45ml of the water. Start to mix, adding more water as and when required to achieve a soft dough like consistency. depending on your flour you may need more or less water. Mix until well combined and tip out onto a floured surface.

Roll out to a thickness of approximately 5mm, remembering to ensure that both the work surface and rolling pin are well floured to avoid sticking. Then use a 5cm cutter to stamp out rounds and place on the baking tray(s). Re-roll any excess and continue to stamp out rounds, although the first rolling provides the best results.

Place in the pre-heated oven and cook for 25 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack. When cool, place in an airtight box. The picture below shows a selection of poppy and fennel seed crackers.