Wednesday, 27 August 2014

No Churn Tahini Ice Cream with Mulberry Molasses

It’s been a long and unexpected break from blogging. One that, lets be honest, I should have wrote about before making the rude exit.  I’ve learned that real-life panic settles in roughly two months after finishing all of the studying it’s possible to do in the UK before exhausting your loan options. 

My pre 9-5 panic made me avoid blogging (that, and a bit of laziness). So I’ve got oodles of admiration for the women whose blogs I read (and have grown friendships with), the ones who have impressive careers and beautiful blogs as well as recipes that make you wish you could live forever just so you can carry on eating (cringe, but so true).  
My family were the route cause of these tahini ice cream “half” sandwiches. Being away from blogging has meant extra time to dip flatbreads in mixtures of mulberry molasses and tahini, and then finally giving up and placing the jars on the table for potential (frequently occurring) top ups.

The sweet pungency of Mulberry is softened with tahini paste, as its stirred, the whole thing comes together as a fruity, nutty, runny sauce called Pekmez. Just as the ripples in Halva are made with mulberry molasses, so too is the topping for these tahini ice creams – it’s a good way to keep the flavours distinct, and it’s good for eliminating one or the other, if the sight/sound of one freaks you out a bit.

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Pecan Chocolate Chip Blondies

I purchase an irrelevant (read, near invisible) quantity of flour made from ground nuts or dehydrated coconut. I also find it really difficult to substitute grainy sugar for agave syrup in recipes and come out the other end with risen and delicious goods. A few weeks ago I bought chia seeds and soaked them in almond milk overnight with a bit of sweetened coconut - in the morning I was close to throwing up.  

I’m not busting the balls of healthy eating though, a few weeks ago I posted a recipe for ice cream made of dairy free milk sweetened with a natural liquid sugar and filled with the chewy, somewhat inedible remnants of steeped cocoa nibs. When it comes to putting these ingredients in the oven so that they meld together to produce something physically and sensually similar to a brownie filled with refined sugar and cocoa butter, sorry, white chocolate, I seriously struggle. And yet, dairy ruins my bowels but coffee is dishwater without cow's milk.
Even though I cant bake with flax seed, I have an obsession with Whole Foods, which is massively inconvenient because I live in the annoying bit of London where the closest you’ll get to Whole Foods is Holland and Barrett. A few weeks ago I was taken on a tour of London’s flagship Whole Foods store in Kensington, it had three floors and the moment I walked in I could have sworn I was in a huge retail park in a remote bit of land somewhere in New England. 
After the tour I peered over their chief baker Angela’s shoulder for an hour whilst she iced cakes in that classic, slightly retro decorative way you’d find on sheet cakes that only exist in America/Australia (why?). We spoke endlessly about the pastry at Whole Foods, (whilst I was excited, she was probably cringing) and surprisingly, she tells me that their healthier alternatives are the least popular sellers in the store, apart from the chia seed pudding (god knows why). This little snippet of information stays with me until later, when my lovely tour guide and the woman I moan to about the lack of Whole Foods in my part of town, tells me how people often misinterpret the company as only selling health foods when in fact they're all about selling quality organic food. 

My point is, you don't have to be a health conscious hipster, or have diet restrictions, or be a hipster pretending to have diet restrictions, to enjoy Whole Foods. The wheat flour selection is just...just... Yes. 
So I've made these incredibly indulgent, almost-too-buttery blondies to celebrate dairy, wheat and too much sugar, even though it gives me a bad stomach because a) I'm stupid and b) the health alternatives at Whole Foods don't sell in smaller numbers for no reason (in London, that is). 
* I was not paid to write this. I approached Whole Foods myself and asked to bombard their kitchen and write about them, cos I love it.

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Black Tea Velvet Cake

The car was vibrating, I was doing 40mph on an A road and there was this cake slash frosting tower sitting (rather unhygienically) on my passenger seat floor. I don’t think cars are supposed to shake at 40, but I’ll let mine off on the grounds of my horrific driving which has likely caused the thing a number of car-health related issues. Hannah from The Littlest Bakehouse and I are driving to Manchester from London in August for the Cake Hunter’s wedding (!!!), so this is my pre-warning to you both that we MAY not make it alive. 
Just a few fruit fell from the frankly pointless blueberry volcano I decided to fancifully pile the cake with. When I parked up, I quickly glued the bluebs back into place with icing, before the boyf jumped in and we made our way to Street Feast in Lewisham to celebrate his 24th day of birth. Suffice to say, he shortly followed with “Did you glue the blueberries on with icing by any chance?” (Face-palm). 
I never got to properly eat a slice of the cake, but he said it tasted pretty darn good, and we’ve been together since the exact birth of this blog - cue explanation as to why that is relevant…. Also I dipped syrupy offcuts into leftover icing ;)

We are that cringy ‘red velvet cake on Valentines’ couple. But last year, the Malteser chocolate malt cake I made on his birthday leaned to the left like a condensed leaning tower of Pisa performing a drag act. So I went with our valentine’s tradition but I cut out the food colouring, because the entire bottle, which is needed for a “proper” red velv, gives the cake a really noticeable sour tang. And regardless of the childish excitement a brilliant red cake instils in me to this day, I can no longer handle that tang.  

In with the tealeaves! The tea flavour is faint in this ‘tea velvet’, perhaps slightly masked by the cocoa powder, but we much prefer it to food colouring flavour. 

Friday, 20 June 2014

Salty Honey Rosewater Crust Pie

The thing about this pie is, its as much an egg custard tart as it is a salty honey pie. The honey doesn’t stand alone in this tart and is, in my opinion, far from the one and only cool cat at the pie party. When I first lay my eyes on the original Four and Twenty Blackbirds pie, and then Joy’s adaptation (sorry guys, I hope you don’t mind me squeezing in another version) and then most poignantly, Lottie and Doof’s variation, I was half expecting this pie to be a spin off of Momufuku’s crack pie. In truth, I thought the pie could be a guiltless version of the crack I tasted last December in NYC. 
I was so wrong by the way; the eggy center has the slightest wobble, like the double pack of egg custard tarts perched on the counters for 60 pence in the supermarkets. The inclusion of honey gave it richness, an underlying depth that felt okay to eat for breakfast instead of a slice of honey on toast.  Also, my family is big on halumi on toast with a drizzle of honey, so I guess that drew me in to the recipe too.  
By now I’ve likened this thing to like, something absurd like baklava because I’m so convinced it has Mediterranean undertones (it well doesn’t). To further engrain this completely stupid concept, I added rosewater to the crust. It was okay to do this because I totally went a teaspoon too far on the salt scale - but even so, the faint hint of rose is welcome here. 

I used diluted rosewater instead of the sticky pink rose syrup I’m used to drinking alongside a jug of water in Cyprus. Next time I’ll be using rose syrup instead of rose water and I’ll reduce the sugar to nuance the rosey-ness, so if you can get hold of that stuff, don’t be terrified of its garish pinkness and use it in the crust. 

You are now either convinced that salt, honey and rose are a winning combo or you’ve been reading this blog for too long and have sussed out that I need to stop referring to the Mediterranean and cheap supermarket goods. 

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Almond Milk Cocoa Nib Ice Cream

It’s summmerrrrr! I finished my finals a few weeks ago, but I felt so crippled from the thousands of words of pretend food writing, so writing has felt like a bit of a struggle.

This ice cream is an ode to the stuffy eyed hay fever sufferers among us, because being allergic to summer is not fun. Friends and family often say: ‘Oh, you look so tired today,’ but really, they’re softening the blow about how shit you look with a runny nose and two black eyes. If you have hay fever, I kind of hope that you will look at this ice cream and immediately have the urge to pick up a scoop and lunge it into your left eye ball as a means of cooling it down.
If you eat the ice cream as soon as it’s churned, you would never guess that it’s a dairy and sugar free alternative. Because of the lack of fat (ish) in the almond milk, the ice cream is more prone to the whole crystallisation thing so it will feel a bit crunchy on tongue if left in the freezer for a few days without being eaten. Hence the tiny quantities in the recipe passively forcing you to eat the whole thing in one go ;)

The cocoa nibs add such lovely coffee notes to the ice cream too, which I totally stole from Alice Medrich, although she chooses to steep her milk in cocoa nibs and then discard them. I quite like the crunch from the nibs, so I just heated them in with the milk and ate them as part of the ice cream. But if you do decide to steep the nibs in the milk, they will lose their texture because all of the flavour will transfer to the almond milk - so whatever you do, don’t keep the nibs in the ice cream if steeping! 
Speaking of ‘coffee notes’, I was recently invited to make corn fritters and chocolate salted caramel tart with Gizzi Erskine and a load of (mostly) fashion bloggers. Yes, there is a plug to follow, but I will admit that I had such a lovely time mingling with bloggers from a different spectrum, even if we might only have our DSLRs in common! Also, who in their right mind would pass up an opportunity to meet Gizzi Erskine? 

So Dolce Gusto, who was in the midst of all this, have just launched their new coffee machine range. I’m a fan of strong coffee, and the pods that go with these nifty machines pack a strong and roasty punch. The pods are nothing like the taste of freeze dried granules in a morning brew, so I think that advocates my banging on about it after a solid month of silence on the blog! (Sorry!). 

I actually purchased an ice cream maker for this recipe, and while it created the smoothest gelato-like ice cream (corn flour aside), these devices are actually more hassle than their worth, unless you’re willing to buy one for no less than £200. Sure, I had soft ice cream in 20 minutes, but I had to freeze the damn bowl for two days to get it (I may have cheekily returned the machine after making this (sorry not sorry)). 
Almond Milk Cocoa Nib Ice Cream

1 ½ cup (365ml) almond milk
30g cocoa nibs
1 tbsp corn flour 
½ tsp salt 
½ tsp vanilla bean paste 
43g agave nectar syrup or 100g sugar 

Salted caramel sauce
I used Paul A young's recipe for salted caramel sauce. But be warned, this recipe does a pretty good job of removing the 'guilt free' element of the ice cream. 

In a heavy bottom saucepan, make a paste with a dash of the milk and corn flour. Add the rest of the milk, cocoa nibs, salt, agave and vanilla and stir on a medium heat until slightly thickened. Once it starts bubbling, remove from the heat and pour into a clean bowl. Let cool completely, cover and then refrigerate until completely chilled. Freeze the mixture according to instructions on ice cream maker, or, for a less stressful experience, place bowl of ice cream in freezer and stir ever 20 minutes until thick and gloopy (in a good way). 

Love Em xx
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