This month’s Bloggers Scream for Ice Cream was a joint challenge hosted by me and Choclette – BSFIC meets We Should Cocoa. We asked you to give us your chocolatey frozen treats and you obliged!

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Image via Big Spud, provided by Waitrose

First up is this rather impressive Chocolate Passionfruit Baked Alaska from Gary at Big Spud. Using passion fruit to cut through the rich flavour of chocolate makes perfect sense.

Elizabeth

Next, Elizabeth over at Law Student Cookbook combines a classic pairing in her Chocolate Hazelnut Ice Cream. She used roasted hazelnuts to provide both flavour and crunch.

frozen creme fraiche brownie custard

Hannah at Honey & Dough made this lovely Frozen Creme Fraiche Brownie Custard. I love the idea of big chunks of chewy chocolate brownie mixed into the ice cream base, and creme fraiche surely gives a gorgeous tang!

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Janice at Farmersgirl Kitchen took inspiration from ingredients she found in her freezer, to make this White Chocolate Eton Mess Ice Cream. Love the dainty tea cup!

Chocolate Ice Pops

Fellow host Choclette made these delicious Chocolate Ice Pops – chocolate ice cream in a coat of melted chocolate. Using good quality chocolate makes all the difference in recipes like this.

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Jo of Jos Kitchen made triple sure to get chocolate into her recipe with these Triple Chocolate Ice Cream Sandwiches. To a Jamie Oliver chocolate ice cream recipe, she added chocolate chips, and sandwiched the resulting ice cream between chocolate digestive biscuits.

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I’d never even heard of cake batter ice cream till I read Julia’s post on Something Missing but apparently it’s a thing in San Francisco. Julia used vanilla cake mix along with chocolate chips and folded the mixture into an Italian meringue to create her No Churn Birthday Cake Ice Cream.

violet crumble ice cream in bowl

Johanna at the Green Gourmet Giraffe Blog made an amazing sounding Violet Crumble Ice Cream as part of her Australia Day celebrations – the ice cream includes broken up pieces of Violet Crumble, an Aussie chocolate-covered honeycomb bar stirred into a no churn condensed milk and cream base.

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My own entry tastes way better than the photograph might look – it’s an incredibly Rich, Dark & Dense Chocolate Ice Cream. I adapted a recipe I’d made previously on the stove to do the whole thing in my power blender, which worked really well. This mixture would make absolutely killer chocolate ice lollies aka fudgesicles.

Thank you everyone for joining us for our WeShouldBSFIC Mashup!

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I’ll post a theme for January’s BSFIC soon.

 

My initial plan, when Choclette and I set our joint #WeShouldBSFIC challenge for January, was an ice cream sandwich. I wanted to make chewy chocolate chip cookies and sandwich white chocolate vanilla ice cream between them. But every time I started scribbling potential recipe notes, my thoughts turned instead to a chocolate ice cream recipe I shared back in the summer of 2012; a rich, dense and wonderfully dark chocolate ice cream. I still remember the richness of that ice cream!

Like many no-churn recipes, it has a base of condensed milk and double cream (plus regular milk). Unlike most no-churn recipes, it’s not simply a case of folding together whipped condensed milk and cream, adding flavouring and popping into the freezer. It needs the milks and cream to be boiled, the chocolate (and other flavourings) to be melted and thoroughly mixed in, and then a flour thickener added before the mixture is cooked further until it’s so thick you can only just pour it from the pan to a plastic box.

I was keen to see if I could adapt the recipe to make it in my Froothie Optimum 9400. This power blender has such a jet engine of a motor that it not only blends but heats too – there’s no heating element but the friction of the blades at top speed will generate enough heat to make your mixture piping hot. Having already made an ice cream custard base in the Optimum 9400, for my silky smooth white chocolate vanilla ice cream, I was hopeful my adaptation would work.

When I took the ice cream out of the freezer,  I belatedly remembered how dense this ice cream is and how hard it is to scoop. We ended up popping the entire block out of the plastic box and cutting a slice off the end with a knife. It doesn’t look pretty, as the photographed side shows where it slid out of the box and the other side looked even stranger, from where the knife pushed through it.

That’s when I realised this recipe would  be utterly perfect for individual chocolate ice cream lollies, or fudgesicles as Americans call them. As soon as you cut into the ice cream with a spoon, it reveals it’s beautiful smooth texture, utterly silky in the mouth and with a hint of chewiness that reminds of the wonderful mastic ice creams of the Middle East. I took a bite straight out of the slice and oh yes indeed, this would be perfect on a lolly stick! Too bad I didn’t think of that 24 hours ago!

So please use your imagination to see past my appalling photo and trust me when I tell you that you should give this recipe a try.

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Rich, Dense & Dark Chocolate Ice Cream | Made in a Power Blender

Ingredients
200 grams sweetened condensed milk
100 grams whole milk
100 grams double cream
100 grams very dark chocolate, grated or finely chopped*
0.5 scant teaspoon instant coffee granules or powder
1 scant teaspoon vanilla bean paste or extract
Small pinch fine sea salt
1 tablespoon plain flour
1 tablespoon cold water

* Note: To save on washing up, use your power blender to “grate” the chocolate, then pour/ scrape it out of the jug and set it aside.

Method

  • Into the jug, pour the condensed milk, whole milk and double cream. Blend on high power until the mixture is steaming hot.
  • Add the chocolate, instant coffee, vanilla bean paste and salt. Blend on high power again until the chocolate melts and is fully mixed into the cream and milk.
  • In a small bowl, mix the flour and water into a smooth paste, then add to the blender.
  • Blend on high power for 4-5 minutes. The mixture should be thick and glossy.
  • Pour / scrape into a shallow freezer container, or better still, into individual lolly moulds or small paper cups, with lolly sticks inserted.
  • Transfer to the freezer overnight or until solid.
  • To serve, take out of the freezer 10 minutes ahead of scooping (or slicing).

This is my entry for the joint Bloggers Scream for Ice Cream and We Should Cocoa challenge, hosted by myself and Choclette.

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As I’ve mentioned before, I was given my Optimum 9400 along with the opportunity to be an ambassador for the Australian brand, as it breaks into the UK market. Hand on hearts, Pete and I have been enormously impressed with the blender, especially given the price when you compare it to market leaders like Vitamix; (you can read a comparison of the two, here). We’ve made super quick frozen fruit sorbets, delicious vegetable soups (which are blended and heated so quickly that they retain the fresh taste of the vegetables, an unexpected bonus), quick custards (both to enjoy as they are and freeze into ice cream), and we’ve also used it to grate, puree and blend. And yet we’re only at the start of our learning about all that it can do. I’ll continue to share my favourite Optimum 9400 recipes with you here on Kavey Eats. You can access them all via my Froothie tag.

Like this recipe? Here are a few more power blender recipes from fellow bloggers that caught my eye:

Kavey Eats received a review Optimum 9400 power blender from Froothie. Please see the right side bar for a special offer on buying the Optimum with an extended warranty via my affiliate link.

 

I visited Colombia about thirty years ago on a family holiday that also took us to Brazil, Peru, Bolivia and Ecuador. Though I still have memories of Bogotá – I remember the statue of Simon Bolivar in Plaza de Bolivar, the flamboyant Iglesia del Carmen and being driven around the old town areas – there’s a gap when it comes to remembering the food.

Luckily, Proexport Colombia recently invited me to attend a Colombian Cooking Masterclass in the Ambassador’s beautiful residence in Chester Square.

We spent a happy hour in the small basement kitchen, where renowned Colombian chefs Juanita Umaña and Diana García talked to us about ingredients and demonstrated several dishes, inviting us to touch, smell, taste and to get involved. We ate Colombian specialities straight out of the fryer and scribbled down tips and tricks before taking our seats in the ambassador’s dining room for a multi-course feast.

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The snacks we made with Juanita and Diana both featured yuca (manioc) flour. Pasteles de yuca croquettes stuffed with a spicy beef and egg mixture. Arepas (corn cakes) were double-fried – dough was rolled out, cut into discs, fried for a few minutes, then a slit carefully so that an egg could be dropped inside before being fried again. Arepas are most commonly made quite large, but Juanita and Diana made individual ones using quails eggs before creating a larger one with a hen egg.

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For lunch we were served a variety of dishes, all traditional favourites in Colombia. My fellow diners were particularly taken with the Ajiaco Santafereño (chicken and potato soup) but my favourites were the mixed seafood en leche de coco (in coconut milk), the Posta Negra Cartagenera (Cartagena braised beef), the dulce de leche crème brûlée and the sandwich of Oblea wafers and dulce de leche.

Recipe: Posta Negra Cartagenera (Cartagena Braised Beef)

Serves 6

Ingredients
Posta

1 tail of rump or rump tip of 3lb with its fat
1.5 teaspoon salt
0.5 teaspoon pepper
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tablespoon vinegar or 2 tablespoons bitter orange juice
Braising Liquid
3 tablespoons oil
4 sweet chili peppers, seeded and chopped
3 white onions, chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
3 tomatoes, chopped
Salt to taste

Method

  • Place the meat in a bowl or pan and marinate with salt, pepper, garlic and vinegar or bitter orange juice. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 4 hours.
  • Remove the meat from the refrigerator. Heat the oil in a pot over high heat and brown the meat on all sides, starting with the fat, until obtaining a dark caramel colour all over.
  • Add sweet chili peppers, onion, and garlic and sauté for 2 minutes.
  • Add tomatoes and pour in enough hot water to cover a third of the meat.
  • Braise for 45 minutes over medium heat to medium doneness. If you want it done more, place in a 350° F (180 °C) oven for 40 minutes more, or depending on your preference.
  • Remove the meat from the pot and let sit for some minutes.
  • Cut it in thin slices.
  • Adjust seasoning. If the sauce formed in the pot has dried out, add some hot water and reduce a bit, for all the flavours to integrate and obtain a nice gravy.
  • Serve the meat with its gravy, fried coconut rice and salad on the side.

 

Kavey Eats was a guest of Proexport Colombia. The recipe for Cartagena Braised Beef, published with permission, is from Colombia Cocina de Regiones, edited and published by MNR Comunicaciones y Ediciones, an authoritative book on the recipes of Colombia, with contributions from Juanita Umaña and Diana García.

 

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For my birthday, Pete and I enjoyed a wonderful lunch at Kurobuta – Scott Hallsworth’s modern Japanese restaurant. Most of the dishes blew me away (especially the Mushrooms with Gorgonzola, Miso and Pinenuts which I simply can’t stop thinking about).

The dessert in particular inspired me to play with some of the same flavours for a showstopper of my own. Designed by Filip Gemzell (Kurobuta’s executive pastry chef) and brand new on the menu the week of our visit, the spiced kombu compressed pineapple, coconut & lemongrass sorbet, caramel, lemon sponge, crumble was a beautifully balanced dish with lots of flavours and textures to enjoy. Gemzell kindly provided me with some extra information about the pineapple, which he compresses (under vacuum) with kombu, green chilli, red pepper, lemongrass, Szechuan pepper, vanilla, salt and sugar. He left me in the dark about his coconut and lemongrass sorbet but the light, refreshing combination was one I just couldn’t forget.

I decided against compressing the pineapple, and drastically reduced the flavouring ingredients to just one – powdered red chilli. But what to do with the pineapple if I was not going to compress it?

This time, inspiration came from Pinterest where I first found beautiful images of dried pineapple flowers, but no instructions, prompting a search that lead me to several blog recipes, most citing Martha Stewart for the original idea.

Gemzell calls his frozen element a sorbet, presumably because coconut is a fruit and there’s no dairy in the recipe. But as the rich, creamy coconut milk gives a texture more like ice cream than my mental image of a sorbet, I’m calling mine an ice cream. I tried several different recipes for the ice cream, of which I’m sharing two below.

The first recipe is suitable for vegans and uses corn flour to thicken coconut milk to make a custard-like base. You can either infuse fresh lemongrass during the heating process or add ground dried lemongrass or lemongrass extract.

The second recipe is an adaptation of my usual quick and easy no churn ice cream but the use of condensed milk means it’s not suitable for vegans.

Earlier this year, I was sent some samples of a new product by Rhythm Health – fresh coconut milk from the Philippines, no additives, first-press only and suitable for gluten-free, dairy free, vegetarian and vegan diets. I admit I was dubious about how much difference I’d notice but both Pete and I were blown away at the how good the flavour was was when we used the first pouch in an Indian curry and a second in a Thai Massaman. The only downside is that, unlike the canned coconut milk I bought previously, this fresh product has a fairly short shelf life (and I was told that it’s not suitable for freezing). Luckily, I live a couple of minutes walk from a health food shop that now stocks this product, which is where I purchased the pouches I used for this recipe.

Rhythm Health full fat coconut milk is really really thick, especially when at fridge temperature. If you want to try this recipe with canned coconut milk firstly, do make sure you buy the regular rather than reduced fat type. Then I suggest you leave the can to sit in a cupboard for several weeks so that the contents separate, as canned coconut milk is wont to do. Open the can carefully and drain away the thin liquid – use it in a curry or smoothie – retaining only the thickest milk for this recipe.

I originally intended to plate with some gently toasted and crumbled coconut macaroon biscuits and a little fresh pineapple and chilli compote, but time ran away from me. Certainly I think those with better styling skills and patience could create a far prettier presentation than I achieved here!

Of course, the dried pineapple flowers can be used to decorate all kinds of desserts; I’ve seen them used to great effect piled into an edible bouquet atop a large cake.

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How to Make Dried Chilli Pineapple Flowers

Ingredients
1 fresh, ripe pineapple
1-2 teaspoons red chilli powder

Note: Of course, you can omit the chilli if you prefer.

Method

  • Top and tail your pineapple, then stand it upright and cut away the rest of the peel, taking care not to cut away too much of the fruit itself.
  • Remove the ‘eyes’; some people prefer to cut them out individually but we find it easier to cut away v-shaped slivers in spiralling lines around the fruit.

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  • Slice the pineapple thinly, about 2-3 mm in thickness is ideal. (Note: if your pineapple isn’t fully ripe, it will be difficult to cut through the core, so do choose a properly ripe one for this recipe)
  • Lay pineapple slices onto a baking tray lined with a silicone baking mat or a sheet of baking parchment. Sprinkle a little chilli powder over each slice – I concentrated mine in the centre.
  • Bake in a low oven (100C / 215 F) for approximately an hour, turning over after half an hour. Check regularly, as the exact time will depend on the juiciness of your fruit and the exact thickness of the slices; yours may be dried more quickly, or need significantly longer than an hour.

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  • When the slices are fairly dried out (but not so dry that they are brittle), transfer them gently into a muffin tray to create a pleasing cupped shape, turn off the oven and leave the muffin tray in the closed oven as it cools.
  • Once dried, the flowers can be stored in an airtight container for up to a week, but the texture will gradually change from crisp to chewy, the longer they are kept.

Dairy-Free Lemongrass & Coconut Ice Cream Recipe (Vegan)

Ingredients
200 ml extra thick full fat coconut milk
50 grams sugar
1 tablespoon corn flour
small pinch sea salt
2-3 stalks of slightly crushed fresh lemongrass to infuse or 2 teaspoons ground dried lemongrass or 1 teaspoon lemongrass extract

Note: Infusing with fresh lemongrass imparts a more subtle lemongrass flavour. Adding dried or extract as an ingredient gives more of a kick.

Method

  • In a small bowl, very gently heat 1-2 tablespoons of coconut milk in a microwave for 10-20 seconds, then mix in the cornflour to make a smooth paste. Set aside.
  • In a pan, heat the remainder of the coconut milk with the sugar on a gentle heat until the sugar has dissolved. Add the cornflour and coconut milk paste to the pan, along with the lemongrass.
  • Continue to cook on a gentle heat, stirring regularly, until the mixture thickens.
  • Remove from the heat. If using fresh lemongrass, remove now, squeezing out any milk from the stalks.
  • Leave the mixture to cool, then transfer into a storage container and refridgerate until cold.
  • Churn, according to the instructions on your ice cream machine. Transfer into a suitable container and freeze until needed.

No Churn Lemongrass & Coconut Ice Cream Recipe

Ingredients
200 ml extra thick full fat coconut milk
120 ml / 150 grams condensed milk
small pinch sea salt
2 teaspoons ground dried lemongrass or 1 teaspoon lemongrass extract

Method

  • Using an stand mixer or electric whisk, whisk the coconut milk briefly to loosen and aerate, then add the condensed milk, salt and lemongrass, and whisk again to combine thoroughly.
  • Transfer into a suitable container and freeze until solid.

 

Although it’s not quite as grand as I’d originally planned, I made this for the Blogger Scream For Ice Cream Showstoppers challenge. A few tweaks to the presentation, and I reckon it could certainly make an impressive dessert!

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Kavey Eats received samples of Rhythm Health coconut milk earlier in the year. I have since purchased the product again from local stores.

 

It’s no secret that I adore cheese. I’ve even been known to spend more on cheese for Christmas day than on presents for the husband. What? He eats it too!

Most often I buy my cheese in person, both from the supermarket and cheesemongers like Neal’s Yard Dairy. But I’ve also bought online, especially when I’ve fancied sending cheese as a gift.

I live in hope that friends will take the hint and send (good quality) cheese back to me, but I’m still waiting…

My online cheese shop of choice is Pong, who I first encountered back in 2009, when they (like Kavey Eats) were a young start-up. Indeed, I gave them the idea for both their Ultimate Pong Box and their New Mum’s Box (for mum’s desperate for their favourite stinky unpasteurised cheeses after a long nine without), both of which, they have said, are enormously popular. Kudos, me! I’ve enjoyed their cheese many times since then and it’s always impressed me as tasty, tasty cheese.

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my happy delivery

Today, I’m bringing you their Pong Christmas Explorer Box, a super selection for your seasonal cheese board. (Try saying that fast after a glass or two of port!)

For £29.95 + delivery, this box provides over a kilo of fabulous cheese in the form of Langres AOC, Cropwell Bishop Shropshire Blue, St Maure de Touraine, Lincolnshire Poacher and Wyfe of Bath. Yep, sounds bloody marvellous to me too!

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from Pong’s website

COMPETITION

Pong are offering one reader of Kavey Eats a Pong Christmas Explorer Box of delicious cheese, including UK Mainland delivery.

OFFER

In addition to the competition, we’ve created a code to give you all a tasty 10% off your orders (excluding delivery).  Enter PONGKAVEY10 into the Discount Code box during checkout. Active through December 31st 2014.

HOW TO ENTER

You can enter the competition in 3 ways – the more ways you enter, the higher your chances of winning:

Entry 1 – Blog Comment
Leave a comment below, telling me which three cheeses you’d pick for your seasonal cheese board.

Entry 2 – Twitter
Follow @Kavey and @PongCheese on Twitter. Existing followers are, of course, welcome to enter! Then tweet the (exact) sentence below.
I’d love to win a @PongCheese Christmas Explorer Box from Kavey Eats! http://goo.gl/n0D0Ut #KaveyEatsPongCheese
(Do not add the @Kavey twitter handle into the tweet; I track entries using the competition hash tag. And please don’t leave a blog comment about your tweet either, thanks!)

Entry 3 – Instagram
Share an image of a tasty piece of cheese via your Instagram feed. In the caption include the instagram usernames @KaveyF and @PongCheeseUK and both hashtags #KaveyEatsPongCheese and #PongChristmas.

RULES & DETAILS

  • The deadline for entries is midnight GMT Wednesday 10th December 2014.
  • Kavey Eats reserves the right to alter the closing date of the competition. Changes to the closing date, if they occur, will be shown on this page.
  • The winner will be selected from all valid entries (across blog, twitter and instagram) using a random number generator.
  • Entry instructions form part of the terms and conditions.
  • Where prizes are to be provided by a third party, Kavey Eats accepts no responsibility for the acts or defaults of that third party.
  • The prize is Pong Cheese’s Christmas Explorer Box and includes delivery within the UK Mainland.
  • The prize cannot be redeemed for a cash value.
  • The prize is offered and provided by Pong Cheese.
  • Pong Cheese will do their best to deliver before 25th December, but please note that this is not guaranteed.
  • One blog entry per person only. One Twitter entry per person only. One Instagram entry per person only. You may enter all three ways but you do not have to do so for your entries to be valid.
  • For Twitter entries, winners must be following @Kavey and @PongCheese at the time of notification. For Instagram entries, winners must be following @KaveyF and @PongCheeseUK at the time of notification. Blog comment entries must provide a valid email address for contacting the winner.
  • The winners will be notified by email, Twitter or Instagram so please make sure you check your accounts for the notification message. If no response is received from a winner within 7 days of notification, the prize will be forfeit and a new winner will be picked and contacted.

Kavey Eats received review products from Pong Cheese.

The winner of this competition is Mark Hampton (blog entry).

 

I first made butternut squash soup with candied bacon last autumn, after watching a masterclass episode of MasterChef Australia in which Matt Preston shared his recipe for an easy pumpkin soup garnished with pepita (squash seeds) and bacon candied in brown sugar. I simplified his recipe further to come up with the version I shared last year.

Since then, I’ve changed the way I candy the bacon pieces for a crunchier texture; I think it’s more accurate to call this version bacon brittle. The recipe produces twice as much bacon brittle as you need for two bowls of soup but it’s very hard to resist adding more so the extra soon disappears. It will last a day in the fridge in an airtight container or feel free to halve the amounts.

Pete and I like the subtle warming flavours of the mixed spice, but you can certainly omit the spice if you like. I’ve made it both ways and we like both versions.

Vegetarians can substitute pumpkin seeds for bacon, toasting them gently before mixing them into the hot caramel and allowing the brittle to set.

This year, I’ve been able to use our homegrown butternut squash for the first time and just love them so we’ll definitely be growing more next year.

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Butternut Squash Soup with Bacon Brittle

Serves 2 (with extra bacon brittle)

Ingredients
150 grams cubed pancetta/ lardons or chopped streaky bacon
100 grams caster sugar
1 butternut squash
1 teaspoon mixed spice
2 tablespoons vegetable oil (or bacon fat drained from cooking the bacon)
100 grams caster sugar
0.5 litres homemade chicken or vegetable stock (or water)
Salt and pepper
Optional: 2-3 tablespoons double cream

Method

  • In a frying pan, dry fry the cubed bacon until it the fat starts to colour a little, about 5-8 minutes. I like my bacon to still have some chew, but you can cook a little longer for a more crispy finish if you prefer.
  • When the bacon is cooked to your liking, scoop out the bacon pieces and set aside. Optional: retain the bacon fat left in the pan, to use when cooking the squash.

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  • Before starting the bacon brittle, get a baking tray ready by lining it with greaseproof paper or a silicon mat.
  • In a clean heavy-based frying pan evenly sprinkle the sugar across the surface area and cook over a medium heat. Do not stir, and keep a continuous watch.

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  • When most of the sugar has melted into a clear liquid, shake and swirl the pan gently to mix hotter and cooler areas and help the rest of the sugar to melt. Do not stir!
  • As soon as the melted sugar begins to brown, watch like a hawk.
  • Once the sugar takes on a decent caramel brown colour, remove from the heat and immediately add the bacon pieces. Mix thoroughly and quickly.
  • Immediately pour out the mixture onto your prepared baking tray and poke any lumps flat with a wooden spoon, if needed. The brittle will start to set very quickly, so you won’t have much time. Leave the bacon brittle to cool and harden.

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  • Preheat the oven to 180 °C.
  • Peel the squash and remove seeds and fibres from the centre. Roughly chop the flesh into chunks, about an 3 cm or so in size and spread them out in a baking dish.

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  • Sprinkle a teaspoon of mixed spice (if using) and a couple of tablespoons of vegetable oil or bacon fat (or a mixture of both) over the squash.
  • Bake until soft, 30-40 minutes.
  • Heat the stock in a pan or the microwave, or boil the kettle if using water.
  • Put the baked squash, stock (or water) and a little salt and pepper into a blender and blitz until smooth. Add double cream, if using, and briefly blend again.
  • Taste and add more seasoning if required.
  • Serve the squash immediately, with broken pieces of bacon brittle on top.

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Looking for more inspiration? Try Nazima’s Winter Squash Veloute with Chipotle Lime Roasted Seeds & Apple, Camilla’s Spelt and Butternut Squash Cake and Becca’s Paneer Stuffed Butternut Squash.

I’m entering this into Ren’s Simple & In Season (hosted this month by Katie) and Michelle & Helen’s Extra Veg challenges.

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I made this soup using my lovely Froothie blender, which is fast becoming one of the most frequently used appliances in our kitchen. It’s so powerful and quick, it’s a pleasure to blitz fruit and vegetables. We also enjoy using it to blend and cook really quick soups from scratch, such as this recipe for courgette and blue cheese soup, and a simple tomato soup made with fruits picked only seconds before – making this in the Optimum 9400 resulted in an incredibly fresh tasting soup. It’s also a doddle to make custard from scratch, which is excellent news for ice cream making!

Kavey Eats received a review Optimum 9400 power blender from Froothie. All opinions are my own. Please see the right side bar for a special offer on buying the Optimum with an extended warranty via my affiliate link.

 

One of the many things I enjoy about blogging is the social aspect – forging friendships with fellow bloggers, talking online, meeting in person. And when good things happen for the friends one has made, it’s really wonderful to be able to share the news.

Miss South, one half of North South Food, is not only a fellow food lover and inventive cook but she is also a very talented and articulate writer. Her posts on cooking on a budget, and the realities of living on the poverty line should be taken as a wake up call not only by politicians who are wildly out of touch, but also by food celebrities who mean well but haven’t got a clue either. For more about Miss South, read my recent Meet The Blogger interview with her, here.

The good news I wanted to share is to spread the word about Miss South’s latest book, one that I’ve been really excited about seeing in print. It’s called Slow Cooked and has over 200 recipes to make in a slow cooker.

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Back when Miss South was recipe testing, I was quick to step forward and delighted to volunteer my services in helping her with some of the Indian recipes. Some tips gleaned from my mum about making your own garam masala made it into the book, as did the method I recommended for making keema. It’s a lovely feeling to contribute, even in such a tiny way, to someone’s book – I know it was a project that Miss South poured vast energy and effort into and the result is a super resource.

Using a slow cooker is a boon for many cooks. It’s great for those evenings when you’re so hungry by the time you get home you just want to walk in to something delicious, hot and ready to eat. A little prep in the morning, or the night before, and that’s exactly what a slow cooker can give you. It’s also a very economical way of cooking, using far less energy over several hours than a conventional oven or stovetop for a few. And if you are cooking in limited kitchen space (or perhaps no kitchen at all), it can be a lifesaver.

Of course, cooking in a slow cooker is not the same as cooking in an oven or on the stove. For those who’ve made slow-cooked stews or casseroles before, their first experiences cooking with a slow cooker can be disappointing. Food tastes bland and watery and it’s easy to give up.

One of the best aspects of the book is the excellent and detailed introduction Miss South gives to cooking in a slow cooker, spelling out the adaptations you need to make to ensure that you achieve great flavours when cooking this way. It’s immediately clear that Miss South has used her slow cookers (she has various models in different sizes) a lot and in this book she passes on all the tips she’s learned along the way. After the introduction, dive in to a fabulous range of slow cooker recipes, ranging from hearty meat stews to fish and vegetable dishes, soups and curries. There are even chapters on preserves and other pantry staples, cakes and breads and puddings.

Most recipes don’t have accompanying photos, but a good selection of dishes are showcased just inside the front cover. Usually, I’m a fan of having an image of every recipe so I can see what it should look like but most of the dishes in the book are classics that most of us are familiar with, so I find that I don’t actually miss them in this book. What I’m more interested in are the adapted versions that allow me to make all these recipes in my trusty slow cooker.

Not every recipe is to my taste – I was disappointed by the butternut squash curry which needs more spice, more punch, more flavour. But there are many recipes which more than make up for that one, such as the fantastic carbonnade, Miss South’s slow cooker adaptation of a Belgian beef stew made with beer, onions and mustard. I particularly love the mustard toasted baguette on top, though do note you’ll need use of a grill to toast the slices before sitting them atop the stew.

Note, Miss South isn’t as greedy as Pete and I – she lists the recipe as serving 4-6 with leftovers whereas I’d say it serves 4 with none leftover.

Miss South’s Carbonnade

Serves 4

Ingredients
500 grams stewing steak or beef brisket, cubed
1 teaspoon mustard powder
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
3 tablespoons plain flour
2 onions (preferably caramelised, recipe provided in the book)
1 carrot, diced
2  large flat mushrooms, sliced
1 heaped teaspoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 bay leaf
3 sprigs fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
350 ml ale or stout
4 tablespoons wholegrain mustard
1 tablespoon room-temperature butter
1 demi baguette
chopped fresh parsley, to serve

Method

  • Place the beef, mustard powder, salt, pepper and flour into the slow cooker, toss well to coat the meat. Add onions, carrot and mushrooms and onions (we used raw), then sugar, vinegar, bay leaf, thyme, beer and half the wholegrain mustard. The meat should be about two-thirds submerged by the liquid.

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  • Give a stir, to mix in the mustard, then put on the lid and cook on low for 6 hours.

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  • After 6 hours, beat together the butter and remaining wholegrain mustard, 6 six thick slices from the baguette and spread the mustard butter on one side. Toast under a grill (butter side up) until the edges start to crisp and the mustard butter darkens.
  • Transfer the mustard toasts to the slow cooker, setting them gently onto the stew and pressing down just a little so the gravy soaks into their bases.
  • Replace the lid and cook for another 2 hours.

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COMPETITION

I have 5 copies of Miss South’s Slow Cooked to giveaway to Kavey Eats readers! Prizes include delivery within the UK.

HOW TO ENTER

You can enter the competition in 3 ways – the more ways you enter, the higher your chances of winning:

Entry 1 – Blog Comment
Leave a comment below, telling me about your favourite slow cooked dish.

Entry 2 – Twitter
Follow @Kavey on Twitter. Existing followers are, of course, welcome to enter! Then tweet the (exact) sentence below.
I’d love to win a copy of @northsouthfood’s Slow Cooked from @EburyPublishing and Kavey Eats! http://goo.gl/Ny79Lh #KaveyEatsSlowCooked
(Do not add my twitter handle into the tweet; I track entries using the competition hash tag. And please don’t leave a blog comment about your tweet either, thanks!)

Entry 3 – Instagram
Share an image of your slow cooker (empty or full) via your Instagram feed. In the caption, tell me about your favourite slow cooked dish. Make sure you include my username @Kaveyf and the hashtag #KaveyEatsSlowCooked.

RULES & DETAILS

  • The deadline for entries is midnight GMT Friday 21st November, 2014.
  • Kavey Eats reserves the right to alter the closing date of the competition. Changes to the closing date, if they occur, will be shown on this page.
  • The 5 winners will be selected from all valid entries using a random number generator. The first name selected will win the first prize. The second name selected will win the second prize.
  • Entry instructions form part of the terms and conditions.
  • Where prizes are to be provided by a third party, Kavey Eats accepts no responsibility for the acts or defaults of that third party.
  • Each prize is a copy of Miss South’s Slow Cooked, published by Ebury Press. Free delivery within the UK is included.
  • The prizes cannot be redeemed for a cash value.
  • The prizes are offered and provided by Ebury Press, Random House.
  • One blog entry per person only. One Twitter entry per person only. One Instagram entry per person only. You may enter all three ways but you do not have to do so for your entries to be valid.
  • For Twitter entries, winners must be following @Kavey at the time of notification. For Instagram entries, winners must be following @Kaveyf at the time of notification. Blog comment entries must provide a valid email address for contacting the winner.
  • The winners will be notified by email, Twitter or Instagram so please make sure you check your accounts for the notification message. If no response is received from a winner within 7 days of notification, the prize will be forfeit and a new winner will be picked and contacted.

Kavey Eats received a review copy from Random House.
Slow Cooked is published by Ebury Press and currently available on Amazon for £13.48 (RRP £14.99).

The five winners are @DwarfHammyMum @ali991 (twitter entries), Sue Turner-Smith, Snigda, Christy Beckett (blog entries).

 

The latest Bloggers Scream For Ice Cream challenge was open for two months and had a wide open theme of Anything Goes.

It’s my pleasure to welcome regulars and newcomers alike to #BSFIC. It’s nice to see bloggers from outside the UK join in too. Here’s the round up of everyone’s tempting creations:

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Corina from Searching for Spice made a delicious Vanilla Ice Cream and Affogato, inspired not only by her love of vanilla ice cream but waking up one morning and discovering that her husband had used the very last of the milk for his cereal and realising that a scoop of vanilla ice cream would be the perfect alternative for her morning coffee! In her post, she shares a recipe for a classic custard-based vanilla ice cream.

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I love the pretty pastel of this Strawberry Vanilla Bean Coconut Ice from Elizabeth’s Kitchen Diary. Although her ice cream machine died last year, Elizabeth has the same power blender I do (see my post here for more about the Optimum 9400 Blender). Eschewing the high-fat, high-sugar recipes she found online, Elizabeth developed a healthy alternative using coconut milk, vanilla, frozen strawberries and maple syrup. It was so good her family and friends deemed it the best ice cream she’s ever made!

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Manion is definitely a blogger after my own heart – I love bourbon and I love brown sugar! In Manion’s case, this combination is also the name of her blog! Her Bourbon and Brown Sugar Ice Cream is a non-churn recipe, which is a technique I use regularly too. Win win! When you visit her blog, check out her recent recipe for ginger cookies – I reckon an ice cream sandwich of this ice cream between those cookies could be a match made in heaven!

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Two bourbons in a row? Don’t mind if I do! The idea for my Burnt Apple & Bourbon Ice Cream came directly from a recipe I spotted on my beloved Pinterest but I developed my own version with a different ice cream base and pushing the apple roasting farther for an edge of bitterness against the sweetness of the custard. Not only is it delicious, the spiced fruit gives it an unexpectedly Christmassy flavour profile.

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Kate, the Gluten free alchemist, used the last of her home grown rhubarb to make this Rhubarb, Blueberry & Honey No Churn recipe, and preserve the summer for just a little longer. There’s also a little pomegranate syrup in the mix too, which must surely give a wonderful depth of flavour. It may be dark outside but this pretty pink ice cream is the perfect antidote!

GingerBSFIC

For our latest #BSFIC, Julia over at Something Missing has created a Ginger and Blackberry Swirl Ice Cream which replaces cream with a little milk powder to create a rich texture and volume without the fat of cream. A handy trick to balance the increased calorie intake that is almost inevitable at this time of year.

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Laura lives up to her blog name, how to cook good good, by translating a classic combination into ice cream. Her Figs and Honey Ice Cream was inspired by the Mascarpone figue she and her husband so enjoyed in South West France this year.

monica tiramisuicecream

Monica lives the perfect balance between healthy eating (check out the rest of her blog for recipes and inspiration) and occasional hedonism. I’d place this fabulous No-Churn Zabaglione Ice Cream firmly in the hedonistic camp – it’s simplified tiramisu in a frozen format! The best thing is that it’s far quicker and easier to make than homemade tiramisu, so no excuses not to make it!

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I’ll be posting the next #BSFIC event soon. In the meantime, enjoy the recipes above and thanks to all the participants.

 

I don’t usually make Halloween dishes.

But I had a crate full of home-grown butternut squash in my kitchen when a friend of mine gave me a block of his home-made black garlic cheese. The handover, in a central London coffee shop, probably looked like an illicit drug tryst – the cheese resembled a very large block of resin – but cheese is my drug of choice these days!

Immediately, the orange and black colours of Halloween popped into my mind and I decided to adapt the recipe for ever popular Pete’s Cheesey Potato Bake into a Butternut Squash, Black Garlic & Blue Cheese Bake. (I added blue cheese to the black garlic cheese to give a more salty kick).

Of course, few of us make cheese from scratch at home but there are many recipes on the web that show you how to make American processed cheese slices from a combination of regular cheese, dry milk powder, milk and gelatin. I can’t give away my friend’s confidential recipe for his black garlic cheese, but you could experiment with the addition of black garlic to one of these recipes.

Because I liked the idea of the orange and black appearance, we layered the blue cheese below and the butternut squash and black garlic cheese on top, but if you use regular cheeses, you can mix all the ingredients together in the dish.

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Butternut Squash, Black Garlic & Blue Cheese Bake

Serves 2

Ingredients

1 medium butternut squash
100 grams black garlic cheese
200 grams strong blue cheese (we used Stilton)

Method

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  • Peel the butternut squash, halve and scrape out the seeds and pulp from the centre. Cube the flesh and add to a pan.

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  • Parboil the squash by bringing the water to the boil and let the squash cook for a further five minutes, remove from the heat and set aside.
  • Preheat the oven to 180 C (fan).
  • Chop the blue cheese into small pieces and scatter along the bottom of two individual baking dishes (or one larger dish).

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  • Spread the squash over the top.
  • Cube the black garlic cheese, and scatter over the squash.

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  • Bake for about 40 minutes, until the squash is cooked through and the cheese on top has melted.
  • Serve hot.

Of course, if you don’t have black garlic cheese (and don’t fancy making your own) you can enjoy the delicious combination of sweet butternut squash and salty cheese with any combination of cheeses you like.

Other winter squash / pumpkin ideas:

I’m also entering this post into the following blog challenges: Shaheen’s Vegetable Palette, Ren’s Simple and in Season, Hannah’s Credit Crunch Munch by Helen and Camilla), Emily’s Extra Veg (founded by Helen and Michelle), Nayna’s Let’s Cook for Halloween, Vohn’s No Waste Food Challenge (founded by Elizabeth’s Kitchen Diary) and Sarah and Katie’s Speedy Suppers (though I’m bending the rules a touch on cooking time, the prep is so quick and easy, I hope they won’t mind).

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Icelanders love their hot dogs! Who knew?

Well, anyone who’s spent any time in Iceland, that’s who; recommendations to seek out Icelandic pylsa abound and I’m adding one more to the pile!

An Icelandic pylsa is much like a hot dog anywhere in the world… with a few little touches that make it a little different. Firstly, if you order your hot dog með öllu (with everything) you’ll get crispy fried onions – usually the kind you can buy ready made from the supermarket – and finely diced crunchy raw onions, both spread along the roll underneath the frankfurter. You can skip the raw onions if you must by ordering með öllu nema hráum (with everything except raw) but why would you? On top you’ll get ketchup and mustard, as you might expect, plus another condiment you might not; remúlaði. Remoulade is a mayonnaise-based sauce most commonly served with fish but in Iceland (and Denmark too) it’s become a key hot dog condiment as well.

The most famous hot dog vendor in Iceland is probably Baejarins Beztu Pylsur, sold out of two mobile vans in Reykjavik. Their sausages are made by Sláturfélag Suðurlands, a food-producing cooperative owned by farmers from southern and western regions of Iceland. I’m curious as to why these are named vinarpylsa, which I think translates to ’friend sausages’. Anyone?

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I liked my Baejarins Beztu Pylsur hot dog a lot but personally I was just as happy with the hot dogs I ate elsewhere in Iceland at tourist sites and in petrol station restaurants. My favourite was the bacon-wrapped example from an Olis petrol station’s Grill 66 fast food restaurant.

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The remoulade served with hot dogs in Iceland is pale yellow but my recipe (below) is green as I’ve upped the quantity of parsley. I’ve also skipped the mustard since mustard is one of the other condiments to be squirted on anyway. By all means, adjust your remoulade recipe to better match the Icelandic style.

Icelandic Bacon-Wrapped Hot Dog

Ingredients per hot dog
1 frankfurter sausage
1 rasher of streaky bacon, smoked or unsmoked
1 hot dog bun
(Optional) 1-2 tablespoons finely diced raw white onion
1-2 tablespoons crispy fried onions
Squirt of ketchup
Squirt of sweet mustard
Squirt of remoulade sauce (see below)

  • Wrap a rasher of streaky bacon around each frankfurter. Fry gently in a pan until the bacon is cooked and has taken on a little colour.
  • Slice the hotdog bun from the top, without cutting all the way through.
  • Open the bun and add a layer of raw onion (if using) and a layer of crispy onion.
  • Top with the bacon-wrapped frankfurter.
  • Add ketchup, sweet mustard and remoulade over the top and serve immediately.
    Tip: I spooned some remoulade into a freezer bag and snipped off a tiny corner, in an attempt to make it easier to pipe, but I still made quite a mess. If you have an empty nozzled squeezy bottle, that would be perfect.

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Icelandic Remoulade Sauce

Makes a small jar, can be stored in the fridge for a couple of weeks.

Ingredients
120 ml mayo
2-3 tablespoons flat parsley leaves
2 medium spring onions
2 medium pickled gherkins
1 tablespoon pickled gherkin brine or cider vinegar
Optional: 1 tablespoon anchovy paste
Optional: 1 teaspoon mustard

  • Place all the ingredients in a food processor or a grinder that can handle wet ingredients.
  • Blend until smooth.

Of course, there’s more to Icelandic cuisine than hot dogs. I’ll be sharing more from our trip soon!

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