The enthusiasm for the first Bloggers Scream For Ice Cream challenge was great. We had twelve delicious custard-based ice creams entries; a fantastic start!

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The theme for March is to recreate a favourite childhood ice cream experience or flavour.

Write a post sharing your memories and your chosen ice cream.

It could be anything from Tutti Frutti, Neapolitan block or Viennetta to a 99 Flake or that one with the bubble gum at the bottom of the upside down dalek cup…

I’m probably showing my age here – born in the early ’70s, my childhood memories focus on that decade and the one that followed. Maybe your childhood memories are of a particular flavour from Lyons Maid, Wall’s, Baskin-Robbins, Haagen-Dazs or Ben & Jerry’s?

Or perhaps your thoughts turn to a glorious Knickerbocker Glory or Banana Split?

And I don’t even know where to start when it comes to the childhood ice cream memories of those who grew up elsewhere…

 

How To Take Part

  • Create and blog a recipe that fits the challenge by the 28th of the month.
  • In your post, link to this Bloggers Scream For Ice Cream post.
  • In your post, include the Bloggers Scream For Ice Cream badge.
  • Email me with your name and the name of your blog, the link to your post, the title of your post and an image for my roundup, preferably no larger than 500 pixels on the longest side.

You are welcome to submit your post to as many blogger challenge events as you like. You can even enter this one more than once, if you write two separate blog posts that fit the challenge!

If the recipe is not your own, please be aware of copyright issues. Please email me if you would like to discuss this.

If you tweet about your post using #kaveyeatsicecream or #bloggersscreamforicecream, I’ll retweet any I see.

 

I’m so pleased that there’s been lots of enthusiasm and support for this inaugural new bloggers challenge event and am very excited to be able to share all the wonderful entries in the first ever round up.

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The theme for this challenge was custard-based ice creams.

I’ll be announcing the March theme very shortly!

Karohemd

First out of the gate was Ozzy from Karohemd’s World with his apple and cinnamon ice cream, a classic and delicious flavour combination. Having never made ice cream before, Ozzy took on the challenge specifically to enter this event, even though he doesn’t have an ice cream machine, or much space in his tiny freezer compartment. It’s a great first attempt and best of all, has started him along the path of home made ice cream!

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Millie from The Kitchen Princess created a very seasonal rhubarb and custard ice cream. Her starting point was to make her own rhubarb syrup by cooking rhubarb with sugar and pudding wine. This was layered with churned vanilla custard, made to a BBC Good Food recipe from Angela Nilsen, an excellent food writer and recipe developer. Millie declared the results as sweet but not overly so, as the tartness of the rhubarb cut through the sweet custard. Sounds perfect and I’m bookmarking this in the hope our garden and allotment produce a decent crop of rhubarb this year!

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Kate aka The Little Loaf is, as far as I am concerned, the ice cream queen! To understand why I say that, just check out her incredible ice cream posts, from Ferrero Rocher ice cream cones to treacle tart ice cream with rosemary sea-salt pastry to honeyed peanut ice cream in peanut butter cups to gingerbread and white chocolate ice cream sandwiches to butterscotch pecan ice cream tartufi… Yeah, see what I mean? So when she agreed to enter the challenge I was very excited to see what she would make. She didn’t disappoint, creating this stunning mint chocolate chip ice cream pie with a bourbon biscuit crust. I love her tales of how she fell for mint choc chip as a child, though am happy that this one is just for the adults, with its indulgent use of crème de menthe. If I ever win the lottery, I’m going to beg Kate to be my personal ice cream chef!

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I’ve shared my own entry for the challenge as a guest post on Pete Drinks, my husband’s beer and whisky blog. And appropriately enough, the recipe is for a stout & salty roasted peanuts ice cream which aims to recreate the pub experience in a bowl of ice cream! Unlike most beer ice cream recipes I’ve found, which add beer to regular custard or cream, I invented a stout custard – substituting the milk and cream entirely for stout, combined with sugar and egg yolks. That makes this a great recipe for beer-and-nut-loving ice cream enthusiasts who can’t or won’t eat dairy!

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As you can see above, Ozzy from Karohemd’s World already made his very first ice cream, which was also the very first entry for this first BSFIC challenge. But he also got the ice cream making bug, and made another delicious ice cream only a week later. This time he took inspiration from the contents of his organic fruit and veg box and made a spiced blood orange ice cream which he describes as “really tart”, just as he likes it. His custard base included fruit juice which he’d already reduced down to really concentrate flavour, a great way to ensure the finished ice cream is good and tasty.

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Another rhubarb entry from Debs of The Spanish Wok. Debs can’t get fresh rhubarb in Spain, so she created her recipe using tinned, which worked very well, though she does warn about its colour, using food colouring to restore it to a pretty pink. What I really like about her rhubarb crumble ice cream is the idea of baking some crumble topping mix in the oven and adding that to the ice cream to provide a taste and texture contrast from the rhubarb. Clever!

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Yes, it’s rhubarb again, definitely the ingredient of the month, in another different ice cream from Jennie at Things I Eat. Jennie also made rhubarb and custard crumble ice cream, but she used fresh rhubarb, roasted with demerara sugar, a custard that was both rich from the egg yolks and light from using milk and no cream, and a properly crunchy granola-style topping. The custard was churned first, with rhubarb added right at the end, so it rippled through. The granola was added as a topping and remained nicely crisp. Oh, and you must check out her adorable penguin ice cream scoop – I want one!

searching for spice

Corina from Searching for spice has combined two of my very favourite flavours in her cardamom and pistachio ice cream. She gently infused the milk and cream for her custard with a crushed cardamom pod and lightly toasted the pistachios before grinding, leaving a few to chop by hand, to add a little texture. The result is this rich and creamy ice cream, a vibrant natural yellow colour rather than the cheap and lurid food-coloured versions that give pistachio ice cream a bad name, and is one I definitely want to devour!

Several of the participants in this first BSFIC challenge have proved strangely psychic (see March’s theme, coming up shortly) and that includes Laura from How to cook good food, who harks back to childhood ice cream memories in the introduction to her post on ginger c’rum ice cream. This is her own invention combining ginger nut biscuits, dark rum and currants with some good quality ready-made custard. I’ve used this kind of custard myself to make ice cream and it works really well. I also love the sprinkling of additional crushed biscuits on top of the scoop in the cone!

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Ren from Fabulicious Food was another ice cream virgin, and I’m happy that my challenge gave her an excuse to learn a new skill – especially when she compared the ingredients in her home made version to a well-known brand bought from the supermarket, full of additives. Ren made a malted cream ice cream with a mars bar sauce, using Horlicks malted milk powder to flavour the custard and a mars bar melted with a little cream, for a quick and delicious sauce. The Horlicks custard was also very good as an accompaniment to honey roasted rhubarb, so just as well Ren made extra!

tandy

Even though I love Indian chai (and by that I mean tea with Indian spices added, not just the straight translation of the word chai as tea) I didn’t know until I read Tandy’s post on her blog Lavender & Lime, that the masala (spices) mix used in Indian chai is known as karha masala. For her entry into the challenge, Tandy has posted her Indian chai inspired karha ice cream, which she served with pain perdu, or eggy bread as we call it in our house. Another ice cream I’d love to try!

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Last but by no means least, Jacqui from There’s Proper Food In There Somewhere made an ice cream she says is a bit like cherry bakewell. I enjoyed reading about the thought process that brought her to this unusual flavour idea; the custard-based ice cream theme set her thinking about things you eat with custard, and bakewell tart popped into her head. Once she had that in mind, she created a custard base using ground almonds and amaretto liqueur to add flavour. Towards the end of the churning, she added cherry compote, reduced to make it thicker, and created a pretty ripple effect. Mmm!

 

A huge thanks to all of you who’ve entered this inaugural bloggers scream for ice cream challenge, I hope you have enjoyed the theme and will continue to take part. Thank you too, to all those who have supported the new challenge, helped to promote it and generally been enthusiastic! It’s much appreciated.

Feb 272012
 

A few weeks ago, I was invited to All Star Lanes in Westfield Stratford to learn executive chef Steve Collins’ chilli con carne recipe and a few cocktails from mixologist Adam Seidman. The master classes were filmed as part of some new promotional material for Westfield Stratford’s website, though thankfully I’m only visible briefly!

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Fashion and shopping aren’t really my thing, but I was impressed with the sheer scale of eating options at the new shopping centre, including Italian (Jamie’s and Franco Manca), Thai (Busaba Eathai), Mexican (Wahaca), Brazilian (Cabana), Moorish / Middle Eastern (El Cantara and Comptoir Libonais), Japanese (Umai and Yo Sushi), Vietnamese (Pho) and several more chain outlets such as Giraffe, Pizza Express and Spud-U-Like, to name just a few.

I wouldn’t make a visit especially to eat at most of these places unless I lived just around the corner, but I’d certainly be happy to stop for a meal if I did end up coming for some shopping.

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Steve Collins is the executive chef for All Star Lanes and as such, he looks after the menu for all their branches. Chefs at the individual outlets do have the opportunity to add a few dishes to their local menu, but core items such as Steve’s chilli are made to his fixed recipe.

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With all the ingredients already prepped and measured out for us, all that remained was for each of us to cook our own huge pot of chilli under the careful and helpful guidance of Steve. His recipe is for a UK style chilli con carne with American influences from his research trips to the States. It does include minced beef and kidney beans, so purists look away now!

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Of course, being a commercial restaurant, Steve’s exact recipe is secret, though we did learn his tips and tricks as we cooked our own. A few of the things that struck me:

  • Steve has his beef ground quite coarsely, to add texture, and uses a mix of beef shin and chuck.
  • The volume of powdered spice he adds is more than I have used before for the equivalent volume of meat. Don’t be shy when it comes to the key flavour components. His exact spice mix and ratio is not for sharing, but on tasting, I correctly guessed that the key components were cumin, coriander and chilli powder.
  • A combination of red wine and strong beef stock reduces down to give a good flavour without any obvious wine kick.
  • The kidney beans are added for the last 10 minutes of cooking only, so they don’t disintegrate during the long slow cooking.

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Once our chillis were finished, we compared the results, each one slightly different even though we’d followed the same recipe and sat down to enjoy a bowl of our own, served with fried tortilla nachos and a fresh salsa. I really enjoyed the flavours of the chilli, but would have liked to reduce the liquid down a bit further, as it was a touch runny for my tastes.

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Here’s the video of the chilli being made:

 

Part way through cooking our chillis, once we’d added all our ingredients (save the kidney beans), we left our pots simmering gently on the stove and popped across to the bar for a master class with mixologist Adam.

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We made (and enjoyed drinking) peach cobblers, pina coladas, dark and stormies and my favourites, pineapple and cardamom jars.

My favourite tip from the class was Steve’s recipe for cardamom syrup, made simply by infusing good quality green cardamoms in sugar syrup. Delicious!

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Kavey Eats was a guest of All Star Lanes and Westfield Stratford. With thanks to the two Steves.

 

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Read my guest post at Pete Drinks, about tasting Vietnamese rice wine liqueurs at Pho restaurant.

 

I’m so happy to finally be sharing my redesigned website – it’s been many long months of planning, working out the layout, having a banner graphic designed and tweaking with the designer on that, then designing the rest of the site to make good use of the banner, playing and playing and playing with all the formatting options (thank goodness Pete is a developer and can edit the code for me), creating the new pages such as About and Links, importing all the content from the blogspot site and slowly re-categorising and re-tagging over 500 posts, oh and fixing the youtube and Amazon links…

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But finally it’s done! I’m so happy with it and am delighted to welcome everyone here!

Huge thanks to Pete, enormous thanks actually, absolutely huge. A big smile to Amee and Ray for their banner graphic design services. And thank you to the two Matts (Gibson and Inwood) for their input.

Would love your feedback, so please let me know what you think. And of course, if you experience any glitches, leave a comment or drop me an email so I can get to fixing them right away!

You may need to manually re-subscribe to RSS feeds, by the way…

Feb 242012
 

Recently, I created a recipe for Cackalacky BBQ sauce (on a roast rib of beef) as my entry into a recipe challenge laid down by Grey Poupon mustard. Though I first learned of Cackalacky in a book I’d been sent to review, I didn’t fancy the author’s recipe for the sauce, so I did some research and created my own, amalgamating aspects from several different recipes I came across on the web.

The result was delicious, if I say so myself, and I was very pleased with my post. To my delight, my post won the competition, and I was happy to accept the prize of dinner for two at Henry Harris’ Racine Restaurant, in Knightsbridge.

Definitely une grande bouffe moment, Pete and I ate and drank extremely well and were utterly stuffed with Henry’s fabulous, classic Bourgeois French cooking. Thank you Henry, the Racine team and Grey Poupon, for a wonderful evening.

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We were welcomed with glasses of pousse rapière, a cocktail of Cointreau and sparkling wine, with a garnish of orange peel. Refreshing, with a pleasant hint of sweetness from the Cointreau, I much preferred this to a glass of plain bubbly.

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With our aperitif, we enjoyed the sélection de charcuterie de Noir de Bigorre, a plate of jambon, ventrèche and saucisson from the Pyrenean black pig. Served with crunchy walnuts and some fruit jelly, the fatty meats were a very fine start.

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Next, we were both served a warm garlic and saffron mousse with mussels. The mousse was impossibly light, and cleverly brought out the flavour of saffron without the muddy aspect that can so often creep in. The mussels were plump, meaty and sweet. The garlicky sauce was delicious, and every last drop was mopped up with fabulous white bread and French beurre Échiré.

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The sommelier chose our wines, by the glass. Reds from the Rhone valley and St Emilion matched Pete’s starter and main. A light, fruity, flowery Moscatel was a perfect match for my crab starter, light enough not to overwhelm. With my steak, I had a glass of Sauternes, not traditional but I really loved it. With desserts, we had delicious, ruby red Maury.

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Pete’s seared foie gras, caramelised apple and Calvados was beautiful, generous and very delicious. Served on a brioche eggy bread (or should that be pain perdu, in a French restaurant?) and with a dollop of rich, caramelised apple it was a perfect dish.

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My crab salad, herb omelette and horseradish was also superb; light, sweet, fresh white crab meat with strands of herb-flecked omelette and a large dollop of crème fraiche with horseradish added up to a lighter starter without any loss of flavour.

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What stood out about the roast wood pigeon, chanterelles and rosemary was the perfect cooking of the pigeon that kept it tender, succulent and packed with meaty taste. This dish was wonderfully comforting and satisfying.

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I very seldom order a fillet steak, as I prefer the more robust flavours of other cuts. But I know Henry is fastidious when it comes to sourcing his meat, and that his Béarnaise sauce is a thing of beauty and I was certainly not disappointed with my filet au sauce Béarnaise. The meat was, as you’d imagine from a fillet, incredibly soft but had so much more beefy flavour than is often the case and the Béarnaise was spot on. The steak was served with decent medium-sized chips – though I hankered after thinner frites allumettes (matchstick fries) – and a lovely salad dressed with finely diced shallots and a simple dressing. This was everything a green side salad should be, and immediately transported me to France, even more so than the rest of the meal.

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In France, Pete often orders the Coup Colonel – a simple dessert of lemon sorbet with chilled vodka. Here it’s listed simply as Colonel. The lemon sorbet was too tart for me (as is usually the case) but Pete deemed it just right, though he did feel there was far too much sorbet for the amount of vodka.

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My dessert of chocolate terrine with pistachio crème anglaise was rich and decadent! The slab of chocolate terrine was solid, with just the right amount of give, and made with good quality chocolate. The pistachio custard was a little lost against the chocolate, but eaten on its own, the flavour was clear. But for me, the best things on the plate were the candied pistachios – top quality pistachio nuts cooked in a sugar syrup and used as a garnish. I could have eaten an entire bowl of them, though it’s probably as well that I didn’t!

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As I don’t like strong coffee (and find many coffees others like too bitter for me) it’s always great to be served a coffee that I unreservedly enjoy. Full flavoured but without the astringency, this cup was just what we needed at the end of the meal and to fortify us as we headed back out into the cold – very, very cold – night.

Our journey wasn’t helped by our local tube line being closed for weekend engineering works (yet again). The 15 minute wait for a bus on the way home, in temperatures several degrees below zero, definitely didn’t make me happy nor did the sheer time it took, both ways. But the meal we enjoyed was so good, in the end, the journey just didn’t matter.

The only thing that would make Racine even better would be to transplant it, lock, stock and barrel, up to our neck of the woods in North London!

Feb 212012
 

Internet food porn has a lot to answer for. Sometimes I see a single image, and that’s it, I have to have a go at making it myself.

That’s exactly what happened when I saw bacon pancakes: rashers of streaky bacon embedded in thick, fluffy pancakes.

Look!

Bacon Pancake LifeWithMel
from Cooking with Mel

Of course, bacon and pancakes is nothing new – I’ve loved the combination of fluffy pancakes, bacon, maple syrup (and American sausages too, if available) since I was a small child, making regular visits to relatives living in Florida. But previously, I always meant a stack of pancakes and an order of bacon on the side.

Cooking them together is, for me, all new!

A little internet research reveals that this idea was popularised in a series of adverts for American brand Aunt Jemima’s pancake batter mix back in the 1960s.

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I’ve made thick pancakes before, but last time, I must have put too much baking powder in as they tasted a little odd, so I asked friends for their trusted recipes. I meant to follow Amee”s drop scone recipe but ended up leaving out some ingredients. If you already have a trusted pancake batter recipe, go ahead and use that, of course!

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Bacon Pancakes

Ingredients
6-8 rashers streaky bacon
125 grams plain flour
Small pinch of salt
0.5 teaspoon baking powder
1 egg, lightly beaten
75-125 ml milk (sorry, I sploshed directly from the carton, forgot to measure!)
Vegetable oil for frying

Good quality maple syrup to serve

Note: I chose smoked bacon, as I love the smokiness against sweet maple syrup, but choose whatever you prefer.

Method

  • Grill or fry your bacon until it’s well cooked, with a little browning on the surfaces. Set aside.
  • In a large bowl, sift together the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder and sugar). Pour in the beaten egg and a little of the milk and beat together. Add more milk as necessary, to achieve a smooth, thick batter.
  • Heat a heavy-based frying pan over a medium heat until hot. Add a little oil.

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  • Place a bacon strip into the pan and immediately ladle or pour some batter over the top. You can either cover the bacon completely or leave the two ends sticking out, as I chose to do. If your pan is large enough, you may be able to make two pancakes at a time.
  • After 2 to 3 minutes, when you shake the pan, the pancake should slide freely and a few bubbles will show on the top surface. Slide a large fish slice beneath the pancake and carefully flip it over.
  • Cook for another minute or two, remove to a plate and repeat to make the rest.
  • Serve with generous amounts of maple syrup.

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What pancakes will you be making for Shrove Tuesday this year?

 

Boef Bourgignon aka Boeuf à la Bourguignonne is a classic French dish originating, as its name indicates, from the Burgundy region, as do a number of other dishes incorporating red wine, such as coq au vin and oeufs en Meurette. I’ve been meaning to try the latter ever since our last trip; I’ll try and blog that one soon.

So back to the beef: this hearty stew is characterised by a slow braise of beef in red wine, which renders the meat tender and succulent, and the addition of bacon, pearl onions and button mushrooms. Most recipes use stewing steak and combine beef stock with red wine for the braising liquid.

I decided to use beef cheeks (also known as ox cheeks), as I love the way these break down with slow cooking. I used shallots instead of pearl onions. And I substituted some dark ale for the beef stock, just because. These variations on the traditional version turned out extremely well!

This is a very easy dish, though you’ll need some time at the start, to prep all the ingredients and separately brown the beef pieces, mushrooms and shallots.

The amounts are flexible, to make it easier to do your shopping. These minor variations really won’t make a difference to the final result! Even if you’re cooking for one or two, I recommend making this recipe in the quantities below and freezing the extra portions for another time.

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Kavey’s Beef Cheeks Bourguignon

Serves 6

Ingredients
1-1.2 kilos beef cheeks (also known as ox cheeks), trimmed and cut into 2-3 inch pieces
2-3 tablespoons seasoned flour
Vegetable oil for cooking
200 grams bacon in cubes or short strips
200-300 grams button mushrooms, cut in half if large
300-400 grams shallots
2 medium-large onions, diced
1 bottle full-bodied red wine
250 ml dark ale
1 sprig fresh thyme or teaspoon dried
2-3 bay leaves

Method

  • Dredge each piece of beef in seasoned flour.
  • In a large lidded casserole dish – big enough for all the meat, onions, mushrooms, wine and liquid – heat a little cooking oil and fry the floured beef pieces until the surfaces are crusty and brown with caramelisation. Do this in batches so the meat doesn’t steam. Set aside the browned beef.
  • Add more cooking oil if necessary to brown the mushrooms in the same pan, then set aside.
  • Now do the same for the shallots, and set them aside with the mushrooms.
  • Again, add more oil to the empty pan, if necessary, and fry the bacon and onions until the onions soften and the bacon takes on a little colour.
  • To the bacon and onions, add back the beef pieces plus the bay leaves, thyme, red wine and dark ale.
  • Leave to simmer for 3 hours, with the lid on.
  • Add the mushrooms and shallots back to the dish and cook for another 30-45 minutes, uncovered, on a gentle simmer. The time depends on the size of your shallots, as you want to ensure they are cooked through and soft. Leaving the lid off will also allow the sauce to reduce a little further.

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    Serve with buttery mash potatoes, or plain steamed potatoes if you want to be more traditional.

 

 

As a cheese and bacon addict, I often have leftover cheese in my fridge, not to mention the stash in my freezer. There’s often half a tub of sour cream or crème fraiche hanging around too, a few rashers of bacon leftover from a weekend brunch and half a bottle of mustard languishing in the cupboard.

And even though our harvest of home-grown potatoes was the lowest for several years, there are nearly always potatoes lurking in a dark corner of the kitchen.

So this pommes de terre Braytoises recipe adapted from Diana Henry’s Roast Figs, Sugar Snow book was a perfect choice to counter the cold weather outside, be frugal with leftover ingredients and try something from a new cookery book too!

We adapted the recipe to 2 people, changing some of the ingredients and instructions to suit us better.

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Diana Henry’s Roast Figs, Sugar Snow

Diana Henry is a cook and food writer with six books under her belt including Crazy Water, Pickled Lemons, Cook Simple and Food from Plenty. She also writes for the Telegraph and its magazine, Stella, presents food television programmes such as Market Kitchen and broadcasts on Radio 4.

I’d read good feedback on her book of Middle Eastern, Mediterranean and North African dishes (Crazy Water, Pickled Lemons) and likewise, for her latest title, Food from Plenty, which aims to share recipes made from "the plentiful, the seasonal and the leftover".

But I’d not really seen a great deal of discussion about her previous book, Roast Figs, Sugar Snow, originally published by Mitchell Beazley (an Octopus publishing imprint) in 2009, but with a new edition released in November 2011.

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Having grown up in Northern Ireland, she adores snow, "its crystalline freshness, the silent mesmeric way it falls, the way it blankets you in a white, self-contained world". For this book, she travelled to several other cold climate locations, compiling a collection of recipes that represent winter food.

As for the name of the book, a passage in her introduction partially explains:

"On dark afternoons, my fifth-year teacher read us the stories of Laura Ingalls Wilder. In the simple snowy world of the American mid-west found in Little House in the Big Woods, an orange and a handful of nuts in the toe of a sock on Christmas day seemed as alluring as the seeds from a crimson pomegranate; fat pumpkins gathered in the autumn and stored in the attic were fairy tale vegetables. But it was the story of maple syrup that intrigued me most: how you could tap the sap of maple trees when there was a ‘sugar snow’ (snowy conditions in which the temperature goes below freezing at night but above freezing during the day), boil the sap down to a sticky amber syrup and pour it on to snow. There it set to a cobwebby toffee. Here was a magical food that you could get from inside a tree and make into sweets. I got my first bottle of maple syrup soon after being read this passage and have loved it ever since."

In a similar vein, throughout the book are passages from poems and books as varied as Robert Frost’s Evening in a sugar orchard, Blackberry Picking by Seamus Heaney, Figs by D H Lawrence, Wild Fruits by Henry David Thoreau and Hans Christian Andersen’s The Fir Tree.

Photography, by Jason Lowe, is beautiful and evocative. There are images of big hearty dishes, ingredients and scenes from the places whose food Henry brings together. That said, many of the recipes – I’d say well over half – don’t have an accompany photograph, so this may not suit those who prefer to see what all finished dishes look like.

Oddly enough, whilst I really loved reading this book, flicking from recipe to recipe, reading the introductions and stories about the places, ingredients and dishes, I found that there were only a handful of recipes I want to actually cook. Partly, this is because there’s a Northern European preponderance of walnuts and pecans, poppy seeds and cinnamon, dill, prunes, cranberries and juniper berries, chestnuts, dried mushrooms and smoked fish. Some of those ingredients I like, in some contexts, but less so in cooking. Others, I’m simply not a fan of. I like this book but can’t see me using it very often.

That said, there are still many recipes that appeal as great comfort for a cold day – Antico Risotto Sabaudo (a Fontina-rich risotto), Poulet Suissesse (chicken with crème fraiche, mustard and cheese), Sobronade (an every day version of cassoulet without the duck), Beef Pie with wild mushrooms and claret (billed as better than cleavage for its seductive powers), Dublin Coddle (a layered bake of sausages, bacon, onions, potatoes and chicken stock), Poires Savoyards (cream, butter and sugar baked pears), Hot Lightning (featuring apples, pears and bacon), Apple Bread, Roast Figs and Plums in Vodka with cardamom cream and Scandinavian Pepparkakor (Christmas biscuits).

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Pommes de Terre Braytoises
Cheese and Ham Stuffed Baked Potatoes

Adapted from Diana Henry’s Roast Figs, Sugar Snow

Ingredients (for 2)
2 baking potatoes
25 grams butter
Salt and pepper
125 grams Camembert
4 thick rashers of bacon or about 60 grams ham, cut into small pieces
4 tablespoons sour cream or crème fraiche
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 egg
50-75 grams Comte, grated

Note: We used left over bacon, fried in a pan, so we added the bacon fat to the mix too.

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Method

  • Prick and bake the potatoes (180 C fan oven) for approximately an hour, or until tender all the way through.

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  • Cut each potato in half, scoop out most of the flesh, careful not to pierce the skin.
  • Mash the potato flesh with butter and season with salt and pepper.

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  • Roughly chop the Camembert and the bacon or ham. Mix with the mashed potato flesh, along with half the sour cream or crème fraiche, the mustard and the egg. Henry suggests discarding the rind of the Camembert before using, but we chose to use it.

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  • Divide the mixture between the 4 potato skins. Mix the rest of the sour cream or crème fraiche with the grated Comte and spread over the top of each potato.

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  • Bake for 10-15 minutes until the tops of the potatoes are golden and bubbling (180 C fan oven).

We really enjoyed these potatoes, they made for a very comforting and delicious week day dinner and were very easy to make.

We so often have cheese, bacon and sour cream or crème fraiche left over, we have already made these a couple of times and will certainly be making them again soon.

I’m submitting this post to Family Friendly Fridays, a monthly blog event hosted by Fabulicious Food.

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Bibimbap is a popular Korean dish. Its name translates to ‘mixed rice’ and it usually consists of warm white rice topped with vegetables, meat or seafood, chilli paste and sometimes a raw or fried egg too. The ingredients are stirred together before eating.

Dolsot bibimbap is bibimbap served in a hot stone pot. The stone is so hot that it cooks the raw egg, and any other raw ingredients, and can also create a crunchy layer of baked rice around the edges.

I’d never had either, but when my friend and I were looking for a central, budget-conscious, winter-warmer place to meet up for dinner, her suggestion of Bibimbap Soho made me screech with delight – the perfect fit and somewhere I’d been meaning to visit for ages!

Our visit was almost scuppered – when I arrived 20 minutes early, the restaurant was closed. The lights were on and I could see staff inside, so I hovered, shivering with cold and hopeful they’d notice me. Eventually, they came out to let me know that a “kitchen failure” meant they were closed. Someone was working on fixing it right now, but they weren’t sure how long it might take and it could be hours! My friend Carla arrived and we retired to a nearby pub to give us time to search the web and ask twitter friends for alternatives in the immediate vicinity. A drink and chat later, and decided on a strategy, we left the pub only to find Bibimbap, on our route, now open again! Hoorah!

Still shivering with cold, I started with a bowl of warming miso soup (£1) to drink.

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To begin our meal, we shared a kimchi pancake (£4.45). Kimchi is another Korean staple – a fiery pickle of cabbage and other vegetables. Here, it was mixed into a light pancake batter and served with a garlic and sesame soy dipping sauce. It was simple but addictive and disappeared quickly.

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Bibimbaps range from a basic dolsot bibimbap (£6.45) featuring cucumber, daikon, bean sprouts, spinach, carrots, mooli and fried egg, and a kimchi bibimbap for the same price, to spicy pork and chilli chicken versions (both £6.95), to Nutritious bibimbap (£7.95) which includes ginseng, ginko, dates, chesnut and vegetables served on brown rice to marinated mixed seafood bibimbap (£8.95).

Carla and I both chose the most expensive option on the menu – the raw and marinated fillet beef (£9.45) and vegetables, also adding a raw egg for an extra £1. You can ask for brown rice to be substituted for white in any of the bibimbap dishes, by the way, as Carla did for hers.

The dishes arrived sizzling with heat and we quickly squirted in some sweet miso sauce and gochujang (chilli paste) from squeezy bottles on the table before starting to mix the contents with our chopsticks and long-handled spoons.

When the staff warn you about how hot the stone bowls are, they aren’t kidding – the bowls continued to sizzle loudly for several minutes and the food was still well and truly piping hot well over 10 minutes later. I challenge you not to burn your mouth a little as you impatiently shovel in all those tasty flavours!

Our bill came to £26.35 plus service. Fantastic value for a delicious and filling meal in central London.

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