Thursday, 28 June 2012

Rhubarb Mascarpone Ice-Cream

All right, let's put the ice-cream I've been talking about for the better part of the last few weeks together.
All the different parts taste lovely by themselves, but trust me with this one, once you put this darling together you'll never want to go back.
I'll talk you through the timeline but if you are looking for the recipes of the various sub-recipes, follow the links below.

Rhubarb Mascarpone Ice-Cream
Lemony Mascarpone Ice-Cream
Rhubarb Compote
Caramel Sauce

If you have all three of these sitting in front of you, perfect, if you are just getting started I would make them in the following order:
Make the ice-cream and freeze.
Then you make the rhubarb compote.
Allow the compote to cool completely.
Make the caramel sauce and, again, let it cool completely.
After a few hours, check how your ice-cream is doing. If it is well on it's way to being frozen (i.e. if you are looking at something that is more slush than a very solid semifredo, it is not ready), find a freezer-proof container that is large enough to hold all three ingredients.
If you want to make the ice-cream the day before, that works just as well. In that case you might have to give it a few minutes to soften up a bit.
Using a large tablespoon, spoon some of the ice-cream into the new container. Don't worry about getting an even layer of ice-cream because that is not what we're after.
Add spoonfuls of the rhubarb compote, filling the dips in the ice-cream layer. Drizzle with some caramel sauce.
And then you repeat this until there is nothing left. I went for 3 'layers' but if you want the flavours to be more evenly distributed, you could also go for 5 or so.
Freeze for a few more hours or overnight.
Now, because we didn't churn the ice-cream and because it doesn't have a custard base, it will probably be fairly solid when you take it out of the freezer. I give mine about 15 minutes in the fridge before scooping the ice-cream into bowls. If you're really desperate, though, you can also scrape off thin shavings which taste just as nice but won't look as pretty.

Monday, 25 June 2012

Caramel Sauce

Do you love caramel sauce as much as I do?
I love how it's ridiculously sweet and how it makes pretty much any ice-cream better (pretty much all my favourite flavours of Ben & Jerry's have caramel in you can go and figure out which ones I like) it is amazingly fun drizzled over cake and obviously I don't eat leftover caramel sauce out of the jar...noooo....that would be bad and decadent and obviously even worse before dinner and would ruin your appetite ;)
But today, rather than buying it at the supermarket, we're going to make our own.
Before we start I have some bad news for you. If you are hoping to make this a low-calorie / low-fat affair, then you'll be disappointed.
After about 5 attempts a while back of making this caramel sauce with semi-skimmed milk (which the internet kept promising me would much for believing anything that the internet tells you) and throwing out varying incarnations of lumpy caramel sauce that wouldn't turn into anything resembling a homogenous sauce, I gave up and made it with heavy cream.
And guess what - it turned out perfectly the first time I tried.
I found this recipe on Thrifty NW Mom (don't ask how I end up on those blogs...) and it's very similar to what Julia Child suggests just easier. You see, Julia Child makes you cover the pan with a lid 'until the bubbles are thick'. Well how thick is thick?!?!? And then you set the pan in cold water. I don't know about your sink, but mine isn't big enough that I can set my saucepan into some cold water without the caramel just spilling into the water.
This recipe solves all those problems. And many more.
So let's get started, shall we?

Caramel Sauce
200g Sugar
250ml Water
1 tbsp Butter
125ml Heavy Cream

In a heavy-bottomed saucepan mix the sugar and water. Heat over a medium high heat and stir until the sugar has dissolved in the water. Now we get to the really boring bit - let the mixture boil until it's a lovely caramel colour.
This is going to take forever.
You can probably watch the better part of an old episode of One Tree Hill while you wait. Or write the discussion section of the paper that has been annoying you for the better part of the last month. Or wash a gazillion dishes. Or read a paper. Or straighten you hair and do your makeup :)

Once you have a caramel coloured sugar mixture in front of you, take it off the heat and stir in the butter. Add the cream and keep stirring. The caramel will turn into a lump, but keep stirring. It will dissolve in a bit and if you're really worried, you can heat it over a low heat while you keep stirring until you have a homogenous caramel sauce in your saucepan.
The sauce will be fairly thin, but this is ok. It will thicken as it cools down.

Pour the sauce into a heatproof container (like a jam jar) and allow it to cool down. I keep mine in the fridge.

What's your favourite dish that contains caramel sauce?

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Rhubarb Compote

Today we'll be making the second part of the mascarpone and rhubarb ice-cream.
There is a third part (a caramel sauce) which I'll hopefully get to tomorrow and then we can assemble things.

Rhubarb is one of those vegetables that make even the rainiest day seem filled with sunshine. 
Perhaps that's because you know by the time you see rhubarb in the shops (unless it's the amazingly cute forced rhubarb you get in the UK) spring is in full swing and you won't have to wait for summer much longer.
Back in St Andrews, we had a rhubarb plant in the garden which meant whenever I felt like making compote or a tart, all I had to do was fight my way through wild flowers and weeds and was then rewarded with fresh, juicy, bright pink rhubarb stalks.
It also meant whenever I had no money left at the end of the month the chances of me using rhubarb would go up exponentially.
Now I have to walk to the farmers market (which, luckily, doesn't take much longer than cutting the stalks myself).
Anyhow, this compote is really nice by itself as well.
Or spooned over vanilla ice-cream, or with custard, or with yoghurt...the options are endless.
This is the very basic version of rhubarb compote that I make, if I  want something more colourful, I add raspberries like in the version for the Raspberry and Rhubarb Tartlets.

Rhubarb Compote
500g Rhubarb, cut into 1.5 cm pieces
100g Sugar

Mix the rhubarb and sugar in a heavy bottomed pot, cover and heat over the lowest possible heat.
Give the rhubarb 15 minutes or so to 'sweat'  and once the bottom of the pot is covered in rhubarb juice you can turn the heat up to medium high.
Cook until the rhubarb is soft but is still holding its shape. This could be anything from 5 to 15 minutes depending on how fresh/young your rhubarb is, so don't go running away to watch some old episodes of Vampire Diaries or whatever you like to watch.
Once the rhubarb is cooked through, remove it from the heat and let it cool slightly.
If you're using this for the ice-cream extravaganza, let the compote cool completely and then refrigerate it for a few more hours.
All right, I hope you have a fabulous evening! With lots of amazing food!

Saturday, 9 June 2012

Lemony Mascarpone Ice-Cream

In a bit more than a week I will be graduating for the second time around.
It's a weird feeling. You see, when I walk across that stage and get whacked on the head with John Konx's trousers (St Andrews has some weird traditions...though Edinburgh has another part of his supposed trousers) that will be the first time in my adult life that I won't be a student anymore. Ok, there was that summer between graduating the first time around and starting my PhD, but I don't think that really counts.
So, rather than feeling existential I am celebrating growing up (or something like that) with lots of food.
Mostly unhealthy food :)
Ok, if I'm gonna be perfectly honest with you, I was feeling rather existential after I got the email from our library that my hardbound copy had made its way there, but then I made some ice-cream and everything was better.

This mascarpone ice-cream is really nice by itself, but it's also part of a larger recipe that will eventually turn into mascarpone, rhubarb, and caramel ice-cream. Soo, keep your eyes peeled for the second part.
We'll be making enough so you can enjoy some of it before moving on to the rhubarb. Don't you worry, I wouldn't let you make ice-cream with lots to spare.

Lemony Mascarpone Ice-Cream
600ml Whipping Cream
3 tbsp Icing Sugar
250g Mascarpone
Juice and Zest of 2 Lemons
2 tbsp Vodka
1/4 tsp Fleur de Sel

Whip the cream and the icing sugar until soft peaks are only just starting to form (don't overbeat the cream here or you might have a buttery mess in your hands later).

Add the mascarpone and whisk until the two are just combined.

Add the lemon juice, zest, vodka and salt and whisk until they are incorporated.

Try the creamy mess. You shouldn't have an overly sweet mix but if you feel like all you can taste is the lemon, add another teaspoon of sifted icing sugar.

Fill the mixture into a freezer-proof container (I tend to re-use the plastic ice-cream tubs when I buy ice-cream) and freeze overnight. The salt and the alcohol lower the freezing point of the mixture so you don't have to churn the ice-cream. You will probably have to let it sit out on the counter for a few minutes but since there is no egg in there you should be fine.

Now, wasn't that easy?

This ice-cream works a treat when you're feeling existential, but it's also lovely when you're just looking for something to round off a nice meal.

Saturday, 2 June 2012

Fruit Tapioca

Today's post is for all my fellow tapioca-lovers, but especially for my friend Katharina who has been visiting me for the last few days.

Last year, when I spent a few days in New York City with my lovely friend Katharina (who suffered through me being the worlds laziest person where homework was concerned in high school (i.e. Katharina did the homework and I copied it either on the train, before class, or sometimes even during class)) we realised that she had never had anything with tapioca (like bubble tea). Since then whenever we talk about that week we talk about tapioca....and pork buns...and all the other amazing food we had.

When I read Janet's post about fruit tapioca a while back I really wanted to make but never got around to it.
So when Katharina told me she was coming to Berlin I decided that I should use her as an excuse to make a huuuge bowl full of fruit tapioca.

And it was good :)
Soo good.

Note: Adjust the amount of agave syrup you use depending on how sweet the juice and fruit are.
Also, in case you use the word juice in a different way I - when I talk about juice I mean the 100% from a fruit kind, not the kind with sugar and water (I would call that fruit nectar), and definitely not the sugar-free syrup you mix with water (I would call that squash) - I've had some misunderstandings on that front lately.

Fruit Tapioca
150g Tapioca Pearls (I like the medium ones but the small ones will do just fine)
250ml Water
750ml Fruit Juice (I used grape juice)
300g Fruit (I used mixed berries)
Some Agave Syrup

Take out a big, heavy bottomed pot.
Soak the tapioca in the water for about an hour (if you use the small kind half an hour will do), then add the juice and the fruit and bring things to a boil over a medium heat.
Simmer for 5-10 minutes until the tapioca is tender. Don't forget to keep stirring - have you ever had to scrape burnt tapioca off the bottom of a pot? I had to learn the hard way a while back - it wasn't fun.
If you feel the fruit and juice you used is a bit tart, add some agave syrup to taste.
Find a pretty bowl, allow the tapioca to cool and then find it a home in your fridge.
Oh, and in case you're wondering - this goes incredibly well with some vanilla ice-cream!

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