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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