So one of the things that I really wanted to plant in our allotment, was cucamelons. I’m not even that big of a fan of cucumbers, but these just looked so cute! And of course, I love pickles, so growing cucamelons just pretty much means turning them into cucamelon pickles!
Here in the UK, I find pickles to be a bit sweet for my North American tastes. I like my pickles mostly tangy garlicky-dill rather than sweet, so I thought I should just make my own! My mom used to always buy those “yum-yum” pickles and I used to refer to them as “yuck-yuck”…
I used this recipe from The Kitchn as inspiration. I only made enough for two half pint jars, as that was the emount of cucamelons that I had. Just adjust the recipe up for the amount you need. As mentioned in the original recipe, I trimmed the blossom end of the cucamelons to prevent them from softening. (more…)
I have always been a fan of strange things. When I was a child, I wanted nothing more than to have red hair and green eyes, because they were uncommon and would make me look unique (brown + brown = boring to little Amy). When my mom would take me to the grocery store, I would ask her to buy all of the strangest fruits. Passionfruit, grenadilla, star fruit, dragon fruit, prickly pear… you name it, I wanted to try it! And for my birthday, I didn’t want any old cake, I always wanted pavlova!
Unlike nowadays, pavlova wasn’t as common when I was a kid in Canada. My siblings always opted for things like cheesecake or chocolate torte, but I wasn’t such a fan of those. Of course, my mom made a version almost more like a traditional cake, with whipped cream icing all around, but it was pavlova all the same. Ever since then, I have been a huge fan of simple meringue bases topped with all kinds of fun and colourful fruits.
Pavlova is a fantastic dessert because you can top it with anything! In this instance, I chose to pick some tropical fruits that we had in the house, and one of my favorite weird ones – passionfruit. For the passionfruit, I chose to make it into a sauce with some coconut water. I had a coconut that I wanted to turn into toasted coconut flakes (for decoration) and decided not to waste the water. It’s not necessary though, so feel free to just use the passionfruit as is if you want.
The next time I make a pavlova, I’m going to try using an italian meringue, rather than a classic french meringue. I haven’t made a french meringue in a while, and kept over-whipping it (I’m just that strong). The nice thing about italian meringue is that the egg whites cook in the simple syrup as you whip it, making it the most stable meringue you can make. Finally, I just decided to add some acid to the mixture in order to make it more stable.
Fancy chefs whip their egg whites in copper bowls, as they create a chemical reaction that helps to prevent over-whipping. You can make a similar reaction by adding a bit of lemon juice to the egg whites, or cream of tartar. For this recipe, I added cream of tartar, but feel free to substitute a couple teapsoons of lemon juice if that’s what you have on hand. Just add the cream of tarter to a couple tablespoons of the sugar, and mix together. Add that sugar first while whipping.
The other great thing about pavlova, is that it looks pretty no matter how perfect the meringue. Even if there are cracks in the meringue, it still looks pretty. And, if you break the meringue accidentally, you can still eat it! Just call it Eton Mess, and mix all the same stuff together in a layered trifle type dessert. Although, according to Richard it’s not an Eton mess if there are fruits other than strawberries and raspberries in it. He’s British.
So whether you serve it broken up, as one large meringue, or as the individual ones here, give pavlova a try! Who doesn’t like fresh fruit, cream, and copious amounts of sugar?
First, make the pavlovas. Preheat the oven to 100 degrees Celsius and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Mix together the cream of tartar with a couple tablespoons of the 300g of caster sugar. Whip the egg whites until foamy, and soft peaks are beginning to form.
Sprinkle over the sugar, a few tablespoons at a time, beginning with the cream of tartar sugar. Continue to whip the egg whites and sugar until stiff, glossy peaks form. Be careful not to overwhip.
Gently fold in the coconut and divide into four mounds on the parchment paper. Using a spoon, create little depressions in each meringue for the cream.
Bake in the peheated oven for 1 hour, 25 minutes. Turn off the oven, and allow to cool to room temperature.
To make the passionfruit sauce, stir together the 150g sugar and coconut water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from the heat, and stir in the passionfruit seeds.
Shortly before you're ready to serve, whip the cream to medium peaks and mound on the meringue shells. Add the mango cubes on top, the coconut flakes (if using), and the passionfruit sauce.
It’s beginning to feel like fall over here, despite the fact that it’s still technically summer. The weather here in London definitely hasn’t received that memo 😉 The chill in the air has got me craving soups, casseroles, and all things cozy. But, as it’s still summer, I thought I would compromise with this summer borscht!
My grandma used to make two kinds of borscht, summer and winter. And my favorite was always summer, hands down. I loved the fresh dill flavor, slight tang from the sour cream, and the salty ham. And not only does this meal taste good, but it looks kind of fun too! Depending on how much beetroot you add, or how bright their colour, it can turn out almost pepto-bismol pink!
As I mentioned in the lemon tart recipe post, one of my favorite cookbooks is by the Bouchon Bakery. It contains a recipe for a plum tart that uses a wonderful pâte sucrée crust, and frangipane filling. I made it before as a thank you for some plums I was gifted, and have loved the combination ever since. Frangipane works well as a base for almost any fruit, especially stone fruit. So when we were given a load of damson a week ago, it was the first recipe I wanted to try.
Now, a word of warning here. Unless you’re a masochist for baking (like me!), I won’t recommend making a damson tart. Instead, use any larger plum, or even nectarines, or peaches. The amount of wedges you need to cut from the tiny damsons is ridiculous, and takes ages. However, if you’re like me, and have more damsons than you can eat (and a lot of free time), why not? (more…)
In my quest for more no-churn ice cream recipes, I came up with this delight. It’s strawberries and cream season over here, especially with Wimbeldon just over, so why not ice cream? Enter my way to use up some of summer’s red + juicy bounty – strawberries and cream ice cream!
Now, just a word of warning, this stuff is rich! Basically, lots of no-churn recipes out there use only cream, with no milk. The increase in fat (and the ability to whip it up) makes it nice and soft sans ice cream maker. The only thing is that you’re eating a lotof cream. So this is the kind of ice cream to consume in small doses, just like gelato! (Man I love gelato…)
I’m working on another vanilla base that uses some milk in it to cut the fat, but it’s not ready yet. I’m hoping to use is to make honeycomb ice cream, just like the kind Richard loves from Nothern Ireland, but am debating adding a ripple of chocolate to it. Good idea, or keep it simple? (more…)
Now, lots of recipes out there call themselves quick, simple, or easy… but I am here to say that THIS pineapple popsicles recipe, is seriously easy! You just chop up some pineapple (or buy it pre-cut – it’s up to you how lazy you want to be) and mix it with two other ingredients.
As with most new recipes that I try these days, this one comes from the latest Waitrose magazine. Seriously, I love this thing. So if you happen to have a giant pineapple ripening on your counter, and need something to do with it – why not try this? (more…)
You have no idea how excited I am about this recipe!! Well, if you know me at all, then you’ll probably be able to guess how excited. I consider ice cream to be the best food group of them all. 😉
When I moved to the UK, one of the items I couldn’t bring with me was my Kitchenaid mixer. This was not just a loss in terms of making things like marshmallows and other meringues, but in the loss of ice cream. See, I got the ice cream attachment for my mixer a few years back for my birthday! It’s pretty great being able to make my own flavours etc. – but without the machine, I couldn’t do any of that.
Now, I had heard about no-churn recipes before, but had only tried a couple in the past. This one got me excited in more ways than just being able to make ice cream; I happen to looooove pina coladas. Give me pineapple and coconut any day… and throwing in some rum doesn’t hurt!
What makes this no churn ice cream work is two things – the alcohol and the cream. By whipping the cream to soft peaks before freezing, you’re essentially adding the air that would have been churned in during the freezing process. The other thing that helps prevent the mixture from turning into a solid pineapple-coconut-popsicle, is the alcohol. It changes the freezing point of the mixture, helping to keep it soft. (more…)
Just a quick post today. I’m on a roll with the salads and lighter fare lately! Maybe it’s the warm weather, or maybe it’s because Richard is away? I find that when I am alone, I tend to eat almost entirely vegetarian cuisine, completely without thought. I guess my brain doesn’t think “meat” when I’m alone.
But it does still think “comfort food” which is why I really love this salad. Not only does it have some unusual flavors in the tahini and miso paste, but it’s got the warmth and hearty sweet potatoes. It’s the kind of salad that works well in the summer and winter – it’s easy like that.
Now, the only thing to be careful of is the tahini. Not everyone will like it – it’s a bit… bitter? Maybe it’s just the lemon juice. I really like tahini but I can imagine that it’s not to everyone’s taste. However, it is the star of this dressing, so don’t bother making it if you’re not a fan.
Feel free to adjust the amounts of red onion and parsley to your heart’s content – same with the potatoes and chickpeas. The great thing about salads is that you can simply make them however you want, it’ll work. Feel free to throw in other things too! I think some toasted chickpeas would do nicely – don’t you?
Warm Sweet Potato, Chickpea + Tahini Salad
Recipe from Blissful Eats (http://www.blissfulbblog.com/2013/10/blissful-eats-with-tina-jeffers-warm-sweet-potato-and-chickpea-salad/)
While in my course at the Northwest Culinary Academy, we spent a day at an allotment garden in Richmond. Part of what we learned was about foraging for edible items. One of the things readily available in the springtime is stinging nettle! As the culinary students were required to use a foraged item in their menu development (and the pastry students were their guinea pigs), I got to try plenty of nettle pesto!
Now, if you’re like me, you may not have heard of stinging nettle before. Honestly, I don’t know how I wasn’t aware of it until that day, as it’s everywhere! It’s not just prolific, but it’s also the kind of thing you should be aware of… it hurts! Seriously, don’t touch this stuff without protective gloves. I accidentally touched the bag I was putting it in with my arm, and got stung. I guess my gloves got some residue on the outside…
But while stinging nettle, well… stings, it’s also one other thing – free! Homemade pesto is one of those things that always seems to cost too much. Fresh basil and pine nuts aren’t the cheapest things to buy. So I decided to try my hand at making some nettle pesto using not just free stinging nettles, but the cheapest nuts I could find! I think pine nuts could give it a better flavor, so if you’re flush, go for it! Buuuut… if you’re trying to save on money, try walnuts! (more…)
So I’ve been on the hunt for the perfect banana recipe – banana bread or banana muffins, I’m not picky. I’m always buying bananas, in an effort to get my 5 a day, but they keep ripening too fast!
Richard thinks I’m crazy, but when a banana has more than a few spots, I sort of lose interest in eating it. I like my bananas more on the green side. Speaking of which, when I was in Nepal, they had the best bananas (and they were always super green)!! As the food in the orphanage I worked in was dal bhat twice a day (gets a bit monotonous) the piece of fruit as dessert each evening was most enjoyable. And one of the best fruits I found, was the humble banana! It might have been the lack of variety in my diet, but those bananas were like the equivalent of candy over there.
I’ll eat the ones on the right, but the other ones are only good for baking IMHO
So in an effort not to waste my spotted bananas, I’ve been baking with them! Unfortunately, lots of the recipes just aren’t quite as good as I’m hoping for. I want something decidedly more-ish, but kept ending up with dry or bland, and certainly not banana-y enough. Like all my made up words there?
After all those failed attempts (okay, two), I decided to rework a banana muffins recipe that I had. I could vaguely remember a good recipe from an old job that I had loved, and used it to alter my current one. I increased the banana amount considerably, added some chopped chocolate, and a bit of cinnamon. It’s still not quite perfect yet, but good enough to share. (more…)