Thursday, 31 December 2020

Tropical Ginger Ice Cream and Happy New Year

Happy New Year. May 2021 bring to you sanity and light, hope and happiness, and most of all, good health. When the heat is on here in the tropics, and it sure is now, we all yearn for ice cream. Everyone in our family loves ginger, and when Mr. HRK suggested to No. 1 daughter when she was home on holidays, that we make some ginger ice cream, she sprang into action. Using the stem ginger I made earlier in the year, and our home grown fresh ginger, this ice cream was ready in 24 hours. It was the creamiest, zingiest (is that a word) and most ginger flavoured ice cream we could manage. Believe me my friends, this is heaven in a bowl. For my stem ginger recipe click on this link. This ice cream is perfect for New Year and holiday celebrations. Change the flavouring if you must, but treat yourself to some homemade icecream, there will be no going back once you have.

Ingredients:

2 cups thickened (heavy) cream

1 cup full cream milk

2/3 cup caster sugar

3 tablespoons grated fresh ginger

1 cinnamon stick

1 whole clove

4 large egg yolks

1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt

3 tablespoons finely chopped stem ginger and 1/4 cup stem ginger syrup

Method:

1. In a medium sized saucepan, combine the cream, milk, sugar, cinnamon, clove and the salt. Bring to a simmer and scald to  70-75 deg. C, 160-170 deg. F.,  testing with a thermometer to ensure correct heat,  and add the grated ginger, and let that steep for an hour and slightly cool. (Fresh ginger can curdle the milk if the milk isn't scalded.)

2. In a medium bowl, whisk the yolks. Whisking constantly, slowly whisk about a third of the steeped cream mixture into the yolks, then whisk yolk mixture back into the saucepan with the cream. Return the pot to medium-low heat and gently cook until  mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon (about 75 deg. C or 170 deg. F. on a cooking thermometer.)

3. Strain through a fine-mesh colander into a bowl. Cool the mixture  to room temperature. Cover and chill at least 4 hours or overnight. Churn in a chilled ice cream machine, according to manufacturers instructions, adding the stem ginger during the last few seconds of churning.

Swirl the ginger syrup through the ice cream.

Store in the refrigerator in a covered container until ready to eat, or serve straight from the machine for a soft serve.

Serve with extra chopped ginger and syrup if that is what you like.










My batch of stem ginger in syrup


Warm wishes and Happy New Year,

Pauline



Sunday, 6 December 2020

In my Christmas Kitchen 2020

 My friends it's been a cooking frenzy in my kitchen this last week, preparing for Christmas and the arrival of our daughter and family. Sore feet, music constantly playing, lots of water and the occasional vino, have ensured the marathon is completed. So here are just a few photos, and  very sincere and warm wishes for a wonderful festive season from Mr. HRK and me. I might not be back on the blogging platform until the New Year but I will be reading what you are up to. This is my December contribution to the wonderful Sherry Picking's In My Kitchen series. Thanks Sherry. 

This is my latest Christmas fruit cake, no fiddling with the photo at all, and a very nutty presentation this year.  I could have even added more nuts.

Recipe is on my blog. Link to Christmas cake recipe

Christmas cake ready for the oven

I made the next cake especially because my daughter loves it, as do I. This is a Coffee and Walnut cake or slice. Old fashioned cakey goodness, with lots of coffee icing this time. A bit flattened because it is already in it's protective container. Link to the Coffee and Walnut Cake

Another fruit cake to get us through until the ceremonial cutting of the Christmas cake, I know, does that sound like an indulgence? This is my Boiled Cherry Brandy Fruit cake, our friend Paul's Mothers recipe. A real goodie this one. Link to the recipe here. I think it could double up as a Christmas cake really.


Also the plum puddings are made, 4 hours of simmering away in the big pots. The most difficult part of that exercise is keeping the water simmering at a constant heat. Well worth it though.

What I love about this time of year is the smell of mangoes in the refrigerator, and eating them as well. Now that the mango chutney is made, there's lots of mango eating to be achieved and some mango ice cream to be churned.

Walks on the beach with  Locky our Border Collie have been a welcome respite during the warm weather. We are lucky to live so close. He is having a little holiday for a few days with good friends whilst we have a little dog free holiday, and we miss him already.



Oh I nearly forgot, last week I made another edition of Nigella's Apricot Rosewater Almond cake with Cardamon when 9 book club friends came over to our house for our bookclub meeting, and the cake was delicious as always. We discussed A Gentleman In Moscow by Amor Towles, which I read twice, and loved it even more the second time. So if you can get your hands on it over Christmas, I highly recommend it. It is a sublime read, with lots of wonderful references to Russian food and wine and music from the 1920s, just after the Russian revolution, written from a food lover's perspective. It is also a real book of manners and gives an insight into the history of the time. It is work of fiction though.


Apricot Rosewater Almond Cake with Cardamons

Ingredients:

Serves 8-10

150 grams dried apricots
250 millilitres cold water
2 cardamon pods (cracked)
200 grams ground almonds
50 grams fine polenta (not instant)
1 teaspoon baking powder
150 grams caster sugar
6 large eggs
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon rosewater
nonstick spray or sunflower oil for greasing

For Decorating

2 teaspoons apricot jam
1 teaspoon lemon juice
2 1/2 teaspoons very finely chopped pistachios

METHOD:

Grease and line a 1 x 20 cm/8-inch round spring form cake tin
  1. Put the dried apricots into a small saucepan, cover them with cold water and drop in the cracked cardamon pods, still containing the fragrant cardamon seeds. Bring to the boil, and keep it bubbling on the stove for 10 minutes. Keep an eye on it as at the end of 10 minutes  the saucepan will be just about out of water but mustn't boil dry. The apricots will absorb more water as they cool. 
  2. Take the saucepan off the heat and allow the apricots to cool.
  3. Preheat your oven to 180 deg. C./160 deg. C. Fan, or Gas mark 4/350 deg. F.
  4. Remove 5 of the dried apricots and tear each in half, and set them aside on a plate for a while. Discard the cardamon husks, leaving the seeds in the pan.
  5. Pour and scrape out the sticky contents of the saucepan including the apricots into the bowl of a food processor. Add the ground almonds, polenta, baking powder, caster sugar and eggs, and give a good long blitz to combine.
  6. Open up the top of the food processor, scrape down the batter, and add 2 teaspoons of lemon juice and the rosewater, and blitz again, then scrape into the prepared cake tin and smooth the surface with a spatula. Arrange the apricot halves around the circumference of the tin.
  7. Bake for 40 minutes, however if the cake is browning  too early, cover it loosely with foil at the 30 minute mark. I didn't need to do this. When it's ready, the cake will be coming away from the edges of the tin, the top will feel firm, and a cake tester will come out with just one or two damp crumbs on it.
  8. Remove the cake to a wire rack. If you are using apricot jam to decorate and this gives a beautiful gloss and flavour to the cake, warm it up a little first to make it easier to spread. Stir a teaspoon of lemon juice into the jam and brush over the top of the cake. Then sprinkle with the pistachios and leave the cake to cool in its tin before releasing from the cake tin and removing to a serving plate.
That's all folks. Even if yours is a quiet Christmas, I hope you can manage some food indulgences, after all it is the festive season. The Australian government is urging us Aussies to drink more wine to support the suffering industry, no problem mate. Yippee, it's holiday time.

Warm wishes,

Pauline






Thursday, 3 December 2020

Ricciarelli or Italian Almond Biscuits


The Christmas Countdown is on for us. My daughter and family arrive on Monday from Cairns which is such a joyous thought, however that means lots of cooking, cleaning and organising, but as much time for blogging. I wanted to try these little Italian biscuits which my friend Christine baked during the week for our Mahjong afternoon tea, and given more time I would have baked a second batch, if only just to improve the presentation of them. Please believe me though that these biscuits taste absolutely amazing, are gluten free, and are my favourite new biscuit for Christmas. I learned a lot cooking this first batch. I will be halving the sugar back to 125 g in future as Christine did. If you are a really sweet tooth, well go for the full 250 g by all means,  but I find that with the reduced sugar I can eat two of them. Next time I will make them into attractive little rectangular parcels which is a pretty look. I also reduced my oven heat to 160 deg. C for these, however next time it will be 180 deg. as Sylvia Colloca suggests, as I like the slightly crazed and cracked look that  results. Given all of that though, these are delicious and will keep in an airtight container for a few weeks. 

If you make them and I urge you to,  I suggest you bake a double batch, as they will disappear very quickly.

 Makes 16-18

Ingredients:

300 g (3 cups) almond meal

250 g caster sugar (125 g is enough sugar)

2 egg whites

finely grated zest of 1 lemon

icing sugar, for dusting


Method:

  1.  Preheat the oven to 180 deg. C fan forced and conventional. Line a baking tray with baking paper.
  2. Mix the almond meal and sugar in a large bowl. Add the egg whites and lemon zest and mix through to create a paste (using your hands is best here.) Pinch off pieces of paste and shape into 3 cm x 4 cm rectangles (give or take). This mixture is very pliable. I like to make mine look a little bit more interesting by placing indents of my fingers around the edges and then a slight thumbprint in the middle. Dust in the icing sugar to coat well, then place onto the lined tray, leaving room for spreading. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until the biscuits look slightly marked or crazed and the bottom is firm.
  3. Cool on a rack. These biscuits keep for weeks in an airtight container, so you can double the ingredients if you like and make a bigger batch.

This is an Italian family recipe by Silvia Colloca for SBS food.

Last night Mr. HRK and I attended a Christmas concert at the Conservatorium of Music here in Mackay, which was a beautiful sparkly event and was hosted by the brilliant Professor Judith Brown who is also a remarkable pianist. Community choirs, and graduate and current students all dressed up and blinged up and performed on stage. Judith reminded everyone of the true meaning of Christmas. The Conservatorium of Music is a Faculty of the Central Queensland University. Before I retired, one of my roles at the University was as the Music Librarian for the  Con as we call it, and as part of that role I attended lots of the student concerts and got to know the talented staff and students very well. This year has of course been a difficult one for music students and performers everywhere, as there have been no concerts permitted or avenues for performance, because of the pandemic. So last night was very special for them and for us, and I realised  all over again how much I love attending concerts, and just how important music is for the soul, and yes I always have music playing when I am cooking, do you? Bring on Christmas!

Happy Christmas baking my friends,

Warm wishes

Pauline