Sunday, August 29, 2010

Brown Butter and Coffee Baked Alaska

The August 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Elissa of 17 and Baking. For the first time, The Daring Bakers partnered with Sugar High Fridays for a co-event and Elissa was the gracious hostess of both. Using the theme of beurre noisette, or browned butter, Elissa chose to challenge Daring Bakers to make a pound cake to be used in either a Baked Alasa or in Ice Cream Petit Fours. The sources for Elissa’s challenge were Gourmet magazine and David Lebovitz’s “The Perfect Scoop”.

I remember making Baked Alaska when I was little. I can't remember much about it, except that the recipe I used always made too little meringue (this was before I realised that you just double a recipe if you don't have enough). Years went by, and this challenge was the first I thought about this recipe again. Cake, ice cream and meringue. Can't go wrong, can you? Plus I don't need much of an excuse to make ice cream these days, after my roaring success with the chocolate ice cream with chocolate covered pecans.

I also remember once making brown butter biscuits. For some reason I was not impressed. A lot of trouble with not much of a result. I'm not sure what I did wrong. Probably I didn't heat the butter long enough (I usually err on the side of safety when it comes to possibly burning something). This time I did better. In fact, it was so good, I wonder if shouldn't just use brown butter whenever I need butter in a recipe from now on. Brown butter chocolate chip cookies, anyone?

For the ice cream, I initially thought about making a maple syrup flavoured one, but realised I didn't have enough after making some dessert the other night, which I'll tell you all about later. It happens to me a lot these days. I look for inspiration to use up an ingredient, then find so many good things I want to try that I end up having to buy more of the stuff. Like maple syrup. Watch this space.

Anyway, looking for inspiration in this wonderful book, I came across coffee meringue, and remembered a recipe I bookmarked ages ago. Vietnamese Coffee ice cream, recipe from The Master courtesy of Cafe Fernando. Except I forgot to add coffee to the meringue in the end, so this version has only plain meringue. Not that it was a problem. This ice cream is so bloody fabulous, I cannot urge you enough to get up, get in your car, buy some condensed milk and good coffee if you don't have any, and make this ice cream as soon as you can. It is that good. And easy. No fuffing about trying to make a custard with a one year old hanging onto your legs.

Also, this recipe had no problem with too little meringue. In fact, there was so much left over, I made some extra. Coffee (to make up for the previous forgetfulness), rose petal and vanilla. They were delicious, as meringues tend to be. Don't you just love leftovers?

Thus, revisiting a childhood memory, I bring you Brown Butter and Coffee Baked Alaska. A lot better than I remember. (Honestly, don't bother with the meringue. Just make the ice cream.)

David's Vietnamese Coffee Ice Cream

Recipe from David Lebovitz
1 tin (400g) sweetened condensed milk
1 1/2 cup water
1/2 cup ( 1.3 oz or 40 g) + 1 tbsp dark roast ground coffee, divided
1/3 cup whole milk

1.Brew a very strong coffee with 1+1/2 cup of water and 1/2 cup of ground coffee. With a paper filter, that will yield 1 cup of very strongly brewed coffee. You can substitute with a cup of strongly brewed espresso.

2.Whisk together the condensed milk, espresso, milk and ground coffee. Chill the mixture thoroughly, then freeze it in your ice cream machine according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Brown Butter Pound Cake

275g unsalted butter
2 cups (200g) sifted cake flour
1 teaspoon (5g) baking powder
1/2 teaspoon (3g) salt
1/2 cup (110g) packed light brown sugar
1/3 (75g) cup granulated sugar
4 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1. Preheat the oven to 325°F/160°C and put a rack in the center. Butter and flour a 9”x9” (23cmx23cm) square pan. (I used a round cake tin)

2. Place the butter in a 10” (25cm) skillet over medium heat. Brown the butter until the milk solids are a dark chocolate brown and the butter smells nutty. (Don’t take your eyes off the butter in case it burns.) Pour into a shallow bowl and chill in the freezer until just congealed, 15-30 minutes.

3. Whisk together cake flour, baking powder, and salt.

4. Beat the brown butter, light brown sugar, and granulated sugar in an electric mixer until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in the eggs one at a time, mixing well, and then the vanilla extract.

5. Stir in the flour mixture at low speed until just combined.

6. Scrape the batter into the greased and floured 9”x9” (23cmx23cm) square pan. Smooth the top with a rubber spatula and rap the pan on the counter. Bake until golden brown on top and when a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 25 minutes.

7. Cool in the pan 10 minutes. Run a knife along the edge and invert right-side-up onto a cooling rack to cool completely.

8 large egg whites
½ teaspoon (3g) cream of tartar
½ teaspoon (3g) salt
1 cup (220g) sugar

Beat the egg whites, cream of tartar, and salt on high speed in an electric mixer until soft peaks form. Beat in the sugar gradually in a slow stream until stiff peaks form.

Assembly Instructions
1. Line four 4” (10cm) diameter tea cups with plastic wrap, so that plastic wrap covers all the sides and hangs over the edge. Fill to the top with ice cream. Cover the top with the overhanging plastic wrap and freeze for several hours, or until solid.

2. Level the top of the brown butter pound cake with a serrated knife or with a cake leveler. Cut out four 4” (10cm) diameter circles from the cake. Discard the scraps or use for another purpose.

3. Make the meringue (see above.)

4. Unwrap the ice cream “cups” and invert on top of a cake round. Trim any extra cake if necessary.

5. Pipe the meringue over the ice cream and cake, or smooth it over with a spatula, so that none of the ice cream or cake is exposed. Freeze for one hour or up to a day.

6. Burn the tips of the meringue with a cooking blow torch. Or, bake the meringue-topped Baked Alaska on a rimmed baking sheet in a 500°F/260°C oven for 5 minutes until lightly golden. Serve immediately.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Daring Cooks: Butterscotch Banana Pierogi

The August 2010 Daring Cooks’ Challenge was hosted by LizG of Bits n’ Bites and Anula of Anula’s Kitchen. They chose to challenge Daring Cooks to make pierogi from scratch and an optional challenge to provide one filling that best represents their locale.

In my case, that means I should have pierogi with either kangaroo, vegemite, or boerewors (South African farmer's sausage). As you can see, I came up with butterscotch bananas. I decided "my locale" also loosely translates into "my kitchen", and what I have in my kitchen at the moment is overripe bananas. Sounds perfect with some butter, brown sugar and dark rum, doesn't it? Except, I didn't have any rum, so I used some butterscotch schnapps instead. (I realise it's unforgivable to have butterscotch schnapps in your house, but it's leftover from the time I tried to recreate the butter beer from Harry Potter. Which turned out delicious, thank you very much.)

I'm going to be completely honest with you, ladies and gentlemen. I am exhausted. The Fabulous Man has been away on business most of the week, and I'm worn out from looking after the Little Girl on my lonesome. To all you single mums out there: Respect, girlfriends. I don't know how you do it. It's a combination of the Little Girl refusing to miss out on anything, and being a bit out of sorts because she's missing Daddy. Just taking a shower is a challenge, since she realised that she can crawl in while I'm washing my hair and can't see or hear her. She's done it once (soaked through clothes put on only minutes before), and now she tries to do it every time. I dare you to try and wash your hair with one hand while keeping the shower door closed with the other, as the Little Girl bangs on it with all her might.

Falling asleep has always been a battle, but that's now combined with waking up way too often during the night for a one year old. Anyway, all this to explain that I'm tired, I'm not going to write fabulous posts tonights. Luckily this challenge was a fairly easy one, otherwise I would've missed out.

So without further ado, I bring you Butterscotch Banana Pierogi.

Butterscotch Banana Pierogi
Serves 4


½ cup (125 ml) milk (can be whole milk, 2% or skim milk)
½ cup (125 ml) whipping cream
3 large egg whites
1 tsp (5 ml) salt
3 cups (450 gm) all-purpose flour

1. Mix flour and salt, add other ingredients, and knead dough until you have a smooth dough.

2. On a floured surface roll out fairly thin (1/8” or about 3 millimeters), cut into 2” (5 cm) squares, and fill with 1 tsp (5ml) banana filling (see below).

2 bananas, chopped
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon butterscotch schnapps or rum (optional)

In a heavy saucepan, melt the butter and brown sugar until frothy.
Add the bananas, and fry until soft and fragrant.
Add the schnapps.

Keep separate until needed.

To finish

Fry the cooked pierogi in the leftover caramel until nice and golden, and serve with some cream and some schnapps on the side if you're letting your hair down.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Chocolate, date and cranberry cake with candied olives and orange peel

This month's Paper Chef is hosted by Alessio from Recipe Taster. If you are new to this fabulous food blog game, here are the basics: Each month, usually on a Wednesday and with appropriate fanfare, four ingredients, or three ingredients and a theme, is randomly chosen by the previous month's winner. All the participants scurry to their kitchens and start cooking up a storm, to have a fabulous recipe ready by the next Tuesday. The winner is chosen by the previous winner, he, or she, choses the next four ingredients, and so on and so forth.

Alessio's random ingredients turned out to be flour, cranberries, candied orange peel and dried dates. She challenged us to try and come up with a savoury dish, a challenge I considered for a while, and then ignored in favour of this chocolate cake. I did initially wanted to do something savoury, but with my limited imagination couldn't come up with anything. It's the candied orange peel that got me. I tried to think in the direction of a tagine of sorts, but I don't think candied orange peel is a welcome guest in the tagine menagerie.

These thoughts did remind me of a very interesting recipe I came across a while ago: candied olives, and the first recipe Google told me about here, did indeed contain orange peel. Another recipe combined the olives with chocolate tart, and I was sold. To me chocolate tart or cake is the culinary version of the little black dress - it goes with everything, so it was easy enough to incorporate dates and cranberries. Except (of course there has to be an "except"), I didn't feel like dried cranberries. I looked for recipes I could use cranberry juice in, but nothing really that caught my eye. Plan B was cranberry jam, and I remembered vaguely a Nigella recipe using marmalade. This is a fabulous cake I used to make cake all the time. It's dead easy, and everybody always loves it. So all I did was swap the marmalade with fancy cranberry jam from our local deli and add some chopped up dates. "Yum" is all I need to say about that.

The final verdict: loved it. Somehow the combination of the sweet chocolate, tart cranberries, sweet-salty olives and the orange peel  blended like a charm. I was worried that it will all be just too much, but my (admittedly unsophisticated) palate disagreed. Saying that, I don't think I will be making this for anybody. Reading some comments about candied olives showed me that even people who call themselves foodies can be pushed too far. My limit being the fairly-edible-for-some tofu, I grant people the candied olives. But I am very keen to make them again.

Candied olives

1/2 cup kalamata olives, pitted
1 teaspoon orange zest, or a few bigger pieces
1 dessertspoon castor sugar
1 dessertspoon orange juice

Put all the ingredients into a fry pan and let the sugar melt and then put them into an oven and roast at a slow heat, 100°C, for about an hour or two, or until dried. Let cool.

Chocolate, date and cranberry cake

125g unsalted butter
100g dark chocolate, broken into pieces
300g cranberry jam
1/4 cup finely chopped dates
150g caster sugar
pinch of salt
2 large eggs, beaten
150g self-rasing flour

Preheat your oven to 180°C. Butter a 20cm cake tin and line with baking paper.

Put the butter in a heavy-bottomed saucepan and put over a low heat to melt. When it's nearly completely melted, stir in the chocolate. :Leave for a moment to begin softening, them take the pan off the heat and stir with a wooden spoon until the butter and chocolate are smooth and melted. Now add the cranberry jam, dates, sugar, salt and eggs. Stir with wooden spoon and when all is nicely mixed, or "amalgamated" in Nigella-speak, beat in the flour bit by bit. Put into your prepared tin and bake for about 50 minutes or until done. Cool in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes before turning out.

Serve with some whipped cream and some of the candied olives and orange peel.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Thank you, dankie et merci

Did you notice the fabulous new badge I have? The one underneath the bit about who I am? I know, I couldn't believe it either when a lovely person called Emma emailed me and congratulated me on having a Top 50 blog, as voted by readers. I have no idea how this happened, especially as I haven't really been Miss Blogger around here lately. But I was so overcome with joy to be mentioned on the same list as Clotilde, Matt, my beloved book club, and all the other big names on the list, that I stopped wondering about it too much, and decided to just enjoy it.
I don't want this to be all soppy and gooey and cringe-worthy, but please allow me to have just a quick mention about how much I enjoy this blog. Being inspired by everybody out there, and being able to tell you all about what I'm seeing, what I'm cooking, what works, and what turns out a complete disaster, is more fun than I could have ever imagined. And as a thank you, I decided to make something special, and nothing is as special as dessert.

The dessert I made you come from the new issue of delicious, one of my favourite foodie magazines. Quince is one of those ingredients that I always find fabulous recipes for, and when they are finally in season here in the southern hemisphere, I buy a few, and then can't remember what exactly it is I wanted to do with them. Like blood oranges. And pomegranates. I saw this lovely-looking quince trifle recipe, made a mental note of everything I needed (white chocolate and cream, basically), and found myself with all the ingredients when dessert time came around. A few weeks ago I found a very exotic turkish rose syrup, and couldn't wait to try it. Of course I used Green & Blacks white chocolate. I know I always swear by it, but I just want to reconfirm that it really is the best. Recently I tried to make a white chocolate ganache with a cheaper brand of white chocolate, and needless to say, it was an utter disaster. Lesson learnt.

Actually, this dish didn't turn out exactly as planned either. The quinces cooked a tad too long, because I was sidetracked by the Little Girl refusing to go to sleep. My wonderful little girl is so curious about the world around her, she's not happy about missing anything while she's sleeping. It takes me about an hour of chatting, singing, reading stories, and playing all sorts of little games before she falls asleep. Even when she's so tired that she simply has to lie down, the one little leg is still kicking against my hand. I love this time I get to spend with her, just the two of us, which means dishes overcook in our house on a regular basis. The quinces tonight was beyond very soft. It was two minutes away from jam, in fact, and the wine it cooked in was a thick, sticky syrup. I had to reheat it with a couple of glasses of wine to thin it out enough to be able to use it. And you know what? It was gorgeous. What we ended up with was small glasses of thick, syrupy, intensely flavoured quinces, under a fluffy blanket of melted white chocolate and whipped cream. Everybody raved, and I'm secretly wondering if it would have been as wonderful if everything went according to plan.

So, I'm very happy and honoured to dedicate this dessert to all of you. Thank you so much for visiting me, leaving a comment, and nominating me for awards. I hope I'll be able to do this for many years to come. From the bottom of my heart.

White chocolate, quince and rose syrup trifles
Serves 4

1 cup (225g) caster sugar
2 tablespoons rose syrup (or 1 cinnamon quill)
1 vanilla bean, split, seeds scraped
375ml moscato (I used what we had, which was a sauvignon blanc)
2 quinces, peeled, cored, quarted
400ml thickened cream
200g white chocolate, chopped
8 savoiardi (sponge fingers)

Stir sugar, rose syrup or cinnamon, vanilla pod and seeds, wine and 1 cup of water in a pan over low heat until sugar dissolves. Add quince, cover surface with baking paper, and simmer for 2-3 hours until quince is tender and deep red. Remove quince, slice into bite-size pieces, then set aside. Simmer syrup over medium-low heat for 10 minutes, or until reduced by half.

Alternatively, spend some time with your little girl until the quinces are falling apart and the syrup is as thick as toffee, remove as much of the quince as you can, and add some more wine to the syrup until it's thin enough.

Bring 100ml cream to just below boiling point, pour over the chocolate, and stir to melt. Cool slightly. Whip remaining cream and fold into the chocolate mixture.

Break sponge into bite-size pieces. Divide among glasses, then drizzle with enough quince syrup to moisten. Top with quince and cream, and chill for 1 hour.

Drizzle with a little remaining syrup and serve.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Swiss Swirl Ice Cream Cake

The July 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Sunita of Sunita’s world – life and food. Sunita challenged everyone to make an ice-cream filled Swiss roll that’s then used to make a bombe with hot fudge. Her recipe is based on an ice cream cake recipe from Taste of Home.

Yay! Ice Cream! I realise that this makes me sound very, very grown-up, but I can explain. I've never really liked ice cream. Too cold. I hate being cold. That's also why I don't really like swimming in the sea, or living in Wellington, for that matter. The cold makes your muscles all tense up, and your teeth chatter, which is very unlady-like, let's be honest. So, no thank you for ice cream, until one day, in a fit of adventurism, I bought an ice cream maker. I blame my mother. She is so into appliances, she'll have two bread makers if she could find the space. Some of this love for electronic food helpers must have rubbed off on me, because I suddenly found myself with an ice cream maker. Can't tell you how it happened, it's all a bit blur, really.

The inaugural batch I whipped up in my new baby was roasted cinnamon ice cream, and it was the best dessert I've ever had. And just like that, I was hooked. Suddenly I had years and years of ice cream eating - and making - to catch up on. What a great dessert. It's at the same time fun and therapeutic to make it (all that hypnotic stirring of the custard), and if you do it right, the result is heaven. Cold, yes, but so delicious, the temperature doesn't seem to be an issue. It's the melting in the mouth that make it a tactile experience along with the taste, a little bit like chocolate.

And of course, with ice cream making comes new recipe books. I think I might have mentioned before that I lived with my Baby Brother in Wellington, New Zealand, for six months. We had the greatest time. He was studying film at the time, so we were at the movies a LOT, and very often in the Belgian cafe, courtesy of our Belgian room mate, Bruno. All of us liked good food, and we didn't skimp. Except good food can be expensive, and supporting little brother on my doctor's salary was touch and go at times. (To give you some perspective, I've recently started considering going back to my job as emergency doctor now that the Little Girl is a bit older, and realised with a shock that I will make more money as a Tupperware demonstrator. And this is in a developed country. You be the judge.)

Anyway, point is, we were not rich. So when I walked into a book shop one day and saw the most beautiful ice cream book, A Passion for Ice cream, by Emily Luchetti, I had to have it. Here was a book with page after page of the most delicious ice cream recipes I've ever seen, with cakes and cookies and other fabulous things to eat thrown in, obviously just to brag about how good she really is. Then I saw the price. There was absolutely no way I could afford to pay $90 for a book on ice creams. So I paged through it, and drooled, and thought about buying lottery tickets, and walked away empty-handed.

Then, a few months later, the same book shop had a sale, and lo and behold, same lovely book, new lovely price - 60% off! This was towards the end of my stay in New Zealand, and the book was carefully packed and shipped across the Tasman Sea to my new home country, Australia, where, once arrived, I looked at it all the time, but didn't make any of the lovely recipes, as my lovely new husband's bachelor pad had only a small bachelor fridge with teeny tiny freezer compartment. Hardly any space for a bag of frozen prawns, let alone an ice cream maker bowl.

Along came the new Daring Baker's challenge, requiring not one, but two kinds of ice cream, and I decided that it's time to drag that bag of prawns out of the freezer and make way for ice cream. (Yes, it's still the bachelor fridge, but there's a new fridge on the horizon. I'll tell you later.)

The two ice creams I decided to make was a banana one, and a milk chocolate one with chocolate covered pecans, and yes, it does taste as divine as it sounds, but I'm getting ahead of myself. First of all, the swiss roll cake. Fiddly, but delicious. Will I make it again? Not sure if it's delicious enough to warrant the fiddliness. The banana ice cream? Tasted like pureed bananas, so I ended up using only a tiny bit in a cake. It tasted fine, but I'll be looking for another recipe. The fudge sauce? Easy, but not as good as The Best Chocolate Sauce in the World.

Now, for the chocolate ice cream. Looking at the recipe, I toyed with the idea of using dark chocolate instead of milk chocolate, but I'm so glad I didn't. My ultimate favourite Black and Green's chocolate stole the show. It was lovely and sweet, with a touch of richness that I want to describe as smoky, except that's not exactly it. And that's just the background. The chocolate covered pecans were so good, I'm forever going to cover my chopped nuts in chocolate before using them in any recipe ever again. It was divine. All I can do is implore you to try this ice cream. Please! Pretty please! You will not be disappointed.

The cake was such a big job that took me 3 days to complete, working with a tiny freezer and a lovely Little Girl wanting hugs and kisses all the time. I kept on thinking that this is just not worth it. I could be making several other dishes in the same time. Then I tasted the final result, and it's so good, I had it for dinner last night and breakfast this morning. (I don't really see the point of being a grown-up if you can't have cake and ice cream and chocolate fudge sauce all in one for breakfast. I'm sure I'm not alone in thinking this.) This dessert is a labour of love, maybe made for a birthday, or for Christmas. But very much worth it.

Swiss roll ice cream cake
Inspired by the recipe of the same name from the Taste of Home website

The Swiss rolls

6 medium sized eggs
1 C / 225 gms caster sugar /8 oz+ extra for rolling
6 tblsp / 45gms/ a pinch over 1.5 oz of all purpose (plain) flour + 5 tblsp/40gm /a pinch under 1.5 oz of natural unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted together
2 tblsp /30ml / 1 fl oz of boiling water
a little oil for brushing the pans

For the filling

2C / 500 mls/ 16 fl oz of whipping cream
1 vanilla pod, cut into small pieces of about ½ cm (or 1 tsp vanilla extract)
5 tblsp / 70gms/2.5oz of caster sugar

Pre heat the oven at 200 deg C /400 deg F approximately. Brush the baking pans ( 11 inches by 9 inches ) with a little oil and line with greaseproof baking paper. If you have just one pan, bake one cake and then let the pan cool completely before using it for the next cake.

In a large mixing bowl, add the eggs and sugar and beat till very thick; when the beaters are lifted, it should leave a trail on the surface for at least 10 seconds.
Add the flour mixture, in three batches and fold in gently with a spatula. Fold in the water.

Divide the mixture among the two baking pans and spread it out evenly, into the corners of the pans.

Place a pan in the centre of the pre heated oven and bake for about 10-12 minutes or till the centre is springy to the touch.

Spread a kitchen towel on the counter and sprinkle a little caster sugar over it.

Turn the cake on to the towel and peel away the baking paper. Trim any crisp edges.

Starting from one of the shorter sides, start to make a roll with the towel going inside. Cool the wrapped roll on a rack, seam side down.

Repeat the same for the next cake as well.

Grind together the vanilla pieces and sugar in a food processer till nicely mixed together. If you are using vanilla extract, just grind the sugar on its own and then add the sugar and extract to the cream.

In a large bowl, add the cream and vanilla-sugar mixture and beat till very thick.

Divide the cream mixture between the completely cooled cakes.

Open the rolls and spread the cream mixture, making sure it does not go right to the edges (a border of ½ an inch should be fine).

Roll the cakes up again, this time without the towel. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge till needed, seam side down.

The Hot Fudge sauce

1 C / 230gms/ 8 oz of caster sugar
3 tblsp / 24gms/1.5 oz of natural unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tblsp /15gms/ 1 oz of cornflour/cornstarch
1 and ½ C /355ml /12 fl oz of water
1 tblsp /14gms/ 1 oz butter
1 tsp/5 ml / .15 fl oz vanilla extract

In a small saucepan, whisk together the sugar, cocoa powder, cornflour and water.

Place the pan over heat, and stir constantly, till it begins to thicken and is smooth (for about 2 minutes).

Remove from heat and mix in the butter and vanilla. Keep aside to cool .

Chocolate covered pecan and milk chocolate ice cream

120g bittersweet chocolate
1 1/4 cups pecan halves, chopped
5 large egg yolks
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups milk
2 1/4 cups heavy cream
180g milk chocolate, finely chopped

Melt the chocolate over boiling water. Remove from the heat and stir in the pecan nuts. Spread in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking tin. Let sit at room temperature until hard, about 1 hour.

In a bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, 1/4 cup of the sugar, and the salt. Cook the milk, cream, and remaining 1/2 cup sugar in a heavy saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until almost simmering. Slowly pour the milk and cream into the egg mixture, whisking as you pour. Whisk in the milk chocolate until it is completely melted.

Return the mixture to the saucepan. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until the custard lightly coats the spoon.

Strain the custard into a clean bowl and cool until room temperaturel. Refrigerate the custard for at least 4 hours or overning.

Churn in your ice cream maker according to manufacturer's instructions.

Banana ice cream

2 bananas
3 large egg yolks
6 tablespoons sugar (as I've mentioned before, Australia thinks a tablespoon is 20ml, not 15ml like the rest of the world, so if you live Down Under, use a bit less.)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup milk
1 1/4 cup heavy cream

Preheat your oven to 180°C. Put the unpeeled bananas on a baking sheet. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, until soft and beginning to give off some liquid. Remove the skins from the bananas, and puree the bananas in a food processor.

In a bowl, whish together the egg, yolks, half the sugar, and salt in a bowl. Combine the milk, cream and remaining sugar in a heavy saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until almost simmering. Slowly pour the milk and cream into the eggs, whisking as you pour. Return the milk mixture to the saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the custard coats the back of the spoon.

Strain the custard into a clean bowl, and cool in an ice bath. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, then churn in your ice cream machine.


Cut the Swiss rolls into 20 equal slices ( approximately 2 cms each ).

Cover the bottom and sides of the bowl in which you are going to set the dessert with cling film/plastic wrap.

Arrange two slices at the bottom of the pan, with their seam sides facing each other. Arrange the Swiss roll slices up the bowl, with the seam sides facing away from the bottom, to cover the sides of the bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and freeze till the slices are firm (at least 30 minutes).

Soften the banana ice cream. Take the bowl out of the freezer, remove the cling film cover and add the ice cream on top of the cake slices. Spread it out to cover the bottom and sides of the bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and freeze till firm ( at least 1 hour)

Add the fudge sauce over the vanilla ice cream, cover and freeze till firm . ( at least an hour)

Soften the chocolate ice cream and spread it over the fudge sauce. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze for at least 4-5 hours till completely set .

Remove the plastic cover, and place the serving plate on top of the bowl. Turn it upside down and remove the bowl and the plastic lining. If the bowl does not come away easily, wipe the outsides of the bowl with a kitchen towel dampened with hot water. The bowl will come away easily.

Keep the cake out of the freezer for at least 10 minutes before slicing, depending on how hot your region is. Slice with a sharp knife, dipped in hot water.

Serve with any leftover fudge sauce, heated up.

Enjoy responsibly.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Let's play pretend

Today's game of pretend is "Let's pretend it is the 14th of June, and I'm not months late with this Daring Cooks challenge." Exciting, isn't it?

OK, I'll hand it to you. This reveal is hardly earth shattering. One can even go as far as saying it is SO two months ago! I'm sure everybody has already ooh'ed and aah'ed over everybody else's Tricolor Vegetable Pate's, but what can you do? Sometimes life gets in the way, and you need to be a few months late with your Challenge.

I could've just skipped it. You are allowed to skip two challenges a year, but I really liked the look of this one. Ideally I would have made one of the carnivore versions, but some people in my family (I promised to never name any names again) doesn't like liver. So, vegetables it is. Only, this vegetable version doesn't feel like a compromise at all. It was so easy to make, and so very delicious, it was just as good as any meaty version I've ever tasted. And it looks fabulous, much more difficult than the chopping and layering of vegetables it essentially is. Perfect party food.

The bread recipe is one I found in a South African magazine years ago, and have been making ever since. It's made of Nutty Wheat, a wholegrain flour made in South African consisting of 20% wheat bran (a useful fact I learned from Cooksister), so if you don't have it, make your own. Easy peasy. It also requires some sunflower and sesame seeds, but you can either skip them all together, or substitute with your favourite ones. This bread is easy and delicious, you'll see. Except maybe if you're young and male, like my brother, who calls this parrot food. This boy doesn't pull any pushes, let me tell you.

Our hostesses this month, Evelyne of Cheap Ethnic Eatz, and Valerie of a The Chocolate Bunny, chose delicious pate with freshly baked bread as their June Daring Cook’s challenge! They’ve provided us with 4 different pate recipes to choose from and are allowing us to go wild with our homemade bread choice.

Tricolor Vegetable Pâté
Makes enough for 4 one cup capacity ramekins
Line your ramekins with plastic wrap, overlapping sides.

White Bean Layer

2 cans cannellini (white kidney beans), rinsed, drained thoroughly
1 tbsp / 15 ml fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp / 15 ml olive oil
1 tbsp / 15 ml minced fresh oregano or 1 teaspoon dried
2 garlic cloves, pressed

Mash beans in large bowl. Add lemon juice, olive oil, oregano and garlic and blend until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Spread bean mixture evenly on bottom of prepared ramekins.

Red Pepper Layer

210 ml jar roasted red bell peppers, drained, chopped
3/4 cup / 180 ml crumbled feta cheese

Combine peppers and feta in processor and blend until smooth. Spread pepper mixture evenly over bean layer in prepared dish.

Pesto Layer

2 garlic cloves
1 cup / 240 ml fresh basil leaves
1 cup / 240 ml fresh Italian parsley leaves
1/4 cup / 60 ml toasted pine nuts
3 tbsp / 45 ml olive oil
1/2 cup / 120 ml low-fat ricotta cheese

Mince garlic in processor. Add basil, parsley and pine nuts and mince. With machine running, gradually add oil through feed tube and process until smooth. Mix in ricotta. Spread pesto evenly over red pepper layer.

Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

To unmold, invert pâté onto serving platter. Peel off plastic.

Fair Lady Bread
Makes one loaf

3 cups Nutty Wheat (or 150ml wheat bran mixed with 600ml all purpose flour)
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1/4 cup sesame seeds
2 cups yoghurt
5ml honey
1/2 cup milk
7.5ml baking soda

Preheat your oven to 180°C.

Prepare a loaf tin with some butter.
Mix all the ingredients together, and spread into the tin. Smooth the top of the dough.
Press some extra seeds into the top of the dough if you want.
Bake for one hour.
Cool out of the tin on a wire rack.

Enjoy with a cup of tea.