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Image from Shutterstock stock library

This month’s theme for BSFIC was Dairy Free – either by use of a dairy substitute or skipping it completely. I hope you enjoy the delicious entries below!

Kip March BSFIC

In that brief sunny period at the beginning of March, when it seemed as though spring had firmly sprung, Kip the Messy Vegetarian Cook created this Vegan Cream Cheese Ice Cream drizzled with chocolate sauce and hundreds and thousands.

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I was next, with my very first dairy free ice cream. I kept it very simple by combining coconut milk with chocolate and adding a splash of coconut rum for a Bounty-inspired Chocolate & Coconut Dairy Free Ice Cream.

Ros March BSFIC

Baking Addict Ros served her Lemongrass and lime Sorbet with Lime Jelly, creating a lush green and white dessert. She used an egg white to give body and texture to her sorbet, a little like the lemon spoom I made a few years ago.

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Corin from Proware Kitchen made a luscious Cherry Garcia Coconut Milk Ice Cream featuring roasted cherries, black rum and coconut. She is a fan of coconut milk ice cream bases which are light and refreshing but still provide a creamy consistency.

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I love the idea of combining tahini into a frozen banana instant treat, as in Kellie’s Vegan Banana & Cardamom-Tahini Ice Cream on Food To Glow.

Monica March BSFIC

Monica at Smarter Fitter keeps dairy out of the mix entirely in her vibrant Mango Chilli Sorbet made using tinned kesar mango puree. As a mango aficionado I can tell you that kesar, along with alphonso, mangoes make really excellent sorbet, and the additional of chilli must surely add a killer kick.

Helen March

Over at Fuss Free Flavours, Helen has created another vibrant treat, her Blackberry, Apple & Thyme Sorbet. I bet that hint of herb makes this sorbet much more grown up in flavour.

IceCreamChallenge

Hotel Chocolat kindly supported this month’s BSFIC by giving us one of their brand new Milk Free Milk Chocolate easter eggs to give away and after reviewing all the entries, they have selected Kip’s Vegan Cream Cheese Ice Cream to win their new Milk-Free Milk Scrambled Egg easter egg! Well done, Kip!

In the meantime, look out for the next BSFIC challenge, coming shortly!

 

Wary of degradation from a slightly longer than ideal stint in the freezer, I wondered what to make with our last portion of last year’s skrei (beautiful Norwegian cod from the Barents sea). Fish pie was on my mind, but I didn’t fancy the cod and boiled egg fish pie recipe we have made previously; and with just short of 600 grams of cod, I didn’t want to make a mixed seafood fish pie either, though I’m sure salmon, smoked fish or perhaps some big juicy prawns would be a tasty combination.

Instead, I remembered how much I like the combination of chorizo and cod in this baked chorizo, cod and potatoes recipe that we’ve made several times.

An idle search on Google revealed surprisingly little variation in fish pie recipes, so I decided to go out on a limb and pull together a recipe using flavours I felt would work well together , even if no one else had combined them in a fish pie before – we made a chorizo, pea and cod filling topped with buttery mashed potato and it was marvellous; definitely one to make again!

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I used a full 200 gram Unearthed cooking chorizo, which was a generous amount. Reduce to 100 grams for just a hint of chorizo, 150 grams for a decent hit or stick to my 200 grams for a chorizo feast. We only had 100 grams of frozen peas left, but I’ll up to 150-200 grams next time, as per my original intention. Although cooking chorizo releases some oil as it cooks, I add more to the pan to ensure sufficient flavoured oil to make the white sauce.

Kavey’s Chorizo, Cod & Pea Pie Recipe

Serves 4

Ingredients
100-200 grams cooking chorizo, 1 cm dice
3 tablespoons cooking oil
1 pint milk
570 grams cod fillet, skinned and checked for bones
4 medium potatoes, peeled and chopped
Generous knob of butter
1-2 tablespoons plain white flour
150-200 grams frozen petit pois

Method

  • Cook chorizo and cooking oil over a medium flame until chorizo is just cooked through.
  • Remove chorizo from the pan using a slotted spoon. Pour chorizo-flavoured oil into a separate bowl or jug. Set both aside.
  • Heat the milk in a saucepan and poach the cod over a low flame until cooked through, approximately 15 minutes depending on the thickness of your fillets.
  • While the cod is poaching, put your potatoes on to boil, drain once cooked and mash with a little butter.
  • Once the cod is cooked, strain the milk from the pan, set aside in a jug or bowl.
  • Gently break the cod into small pieces, set aside.
  • Combine 3-4 tablespoons of chorizo-flavoured oil with the flour and cook for a few minutes, then add strained poaching milk and simmer until the sauce thickens.
  • Preheat the oven to 180 C (fan).
  • Place cod, chorizo and peas into a casserole dish, pour over the chorizo-flavoured sauce and gently mix to combine.
  • Spoon the buttery mash over the pie filling and use a fork to create a spiky surface.
  • Transfer to the oven and cook until the potatoes brown nicely on top, about 20-25 minutes.
  • Serve immediately.

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I think this recipe is a winner and I’d love you to give it a try and let me know how you get on and what you think!

Need more inspiration? Check out these Ten Fantastic Fish Pie Recipes:

And two related recipes:

 

My first thought, when deciding what diary free ice cream recipe to make for this month’s Bloggers Scream For Ice Cream challenge, was to wonder whether I might be able to make a custard using eggs, sugar and almond milk? It’s still an experiment I’m keen to try.

But I’ve discovered that many people assume dairy free also means egg free – a hangover, perhaps,  from when the dairy aisle of grocery stores sold not only milk products but eggs too. As far as I’m concerned dairy means milk, cream, butter, buttermilk, yoghurt and cheese. Still, I decided to make a dairy and egg free recipe, so the almond milk custard will have to wait a little longer.

Coconut milk is an great choice for dairy free ice creams because of its high fat content and silky-smooth texture. Inspired by the famous chocolate bar, I went for a chocolate and coconut milk ice cream base, using unrefined caster sugar to sweeten. Do use unsweetened cocoa or dark chocolate for this recipe, as milk chocolate and hot chocolate powders contain milk powder.

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The finished result isn’t quite as rich and creamy as a dairy cream or custard base but it’s still pretty good and I like that the flavour of the coconut milk is quite subtle – almost lost against the chocolate, unless you boost it deliberately.

If you’d like a more obvious coconut flavour – as I did given my chocolate coconut bar inspiration – a slug of malibu does the trick and has the added bonus of making your finished ice cream a little softer and easier scoop.

If you want to make dairy free chocolate ice cream without a pronounced coconut flavour, use a slug of white rum instead. You can, of course, omit alcohol entirely, but this ice cream sets pretty hard even with alcohol added, so you’ll need to leave it out of the freezer for a while before attempting to scoop it.

Bountilicious Chocolate & Coconut Dairy Free Ice Cream Recipe

(& rum and chocolate variant)

Makes approximately half a litre

Ingredients
400 ml full fat coconut milk
50 grams of (unsweetened) cocoa *
50 grams sugar, plus extra to taste
2 tablespoons Malibu coconut rum ~

* If you can’t find unsweetened cocoa, use same weight of good quality dark chocolate (with no milk content) and break into pieces or grate before use. A power blender like mine (see sidebar) has the power to pulverise chocolate into a powder but if you have a regular blender, grate before use.
~ Malibu adds a punch of coconut flavour. For a rum and chocolate ice cream, switch malibu for white rum.

Method

  • Place all ingredients in a blender and blitz until completely smooth; taste to check there is no remaining texture of sugar granules.
  • Do a taste check and add more sugar if you prefer a sweeter flavour.
  • If the blending has warmed the mixture, set aside to cool.
  • Churn in an ice cream machine, according to instructions.
  • Serve immediately or freeze to firm the texture further.

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This is my entry for this month’s Dairy Free #BSFIC. Come back at the end of the month to see a round up of all the entries.

IceCreamChallenge

Fellow bloggers, do join in, you have a couple of weeks left to blog your entry and there’s the added bonus of a delicious prize of dairy free milk chocolate in the form of a Hotel Chocolat easter egg.

 

Long before I started this blog, I was sharing recipes online at Mamta’s Kitchen, our family cookbook on the web, named after my mum who has contributed the bulk of the recipes, with many more given by family, friends and readers. Mamta’s Kitchen has been going strong since 2001 and is a wonderful way to share the joys of cooking with people from all over the world. Mum continues to add new recipes and respond to reader queries via the discussion forum.

I’ve heard from friends about mothers who refuse to share their precious recipes even with their own sons and daughters, presumably gripped by a need to keep kudos for themselves, to be known as the only one who can make the very best victoria sponge, steak and kidney pudding, tandoori chicken, even at the expense of the recipe being lost to the world when they pass away. In some cases, a recipe is shared but a key ingredient or step miswritten or omitted entirely, all the better to cling to top dog status and ensure that no-one else can match them.

But that’s not how my mum is at all, nor any of our family or friends. Mum is quick to point out that she has learned how to cook from so many others – not just her immediate family but the wider extended family of in-laws and cousins and cousins of cousins not to mention a lifetime of friends, cookery books and TV cookery programmes.

In turn, mum loves to share her recipes, investing them with all the tips she can think of to help others achieve the best results possible. If she finds a better way of explaining how to do something, another way of helping someone understand, she goes back and updates the recipe accordingly.

And if others can make a dish that is just as good as hers by following her recipe, that doesn’t lessen the deliciousness when she makes it herself!

Indeed, I’ve come to see how it adds even more joy – I can no longer make my mum’s Lucknowi-inspired lamb biryani without thinking fondly of all the people who have made and loved the recipe (and come back to let us know).  The recipe we call “mum’s chicken curry” is now made by many other mums across the world, and I hope their children love it as much as my mum’s children do! There are many London friends who have not only tried my spicy tomato ketchup but are aware that the recipe was passed down from my grandfather to my mother and now to me and many others.

Unusually for his generation, my maternal grandfather (my “nana” in Hindi) was fond of both gardening and cooking. A sugar chemist by trade, he spent a few years of his early career making not only sugar but confectionery, sauces, pickles and chutneys the recipes for which he carefully recorded in a ‘Preserves’ notebook. Mum has translated these recipes, many of which were for cooking in bulk, to suit a domestic kitchen, and many of them are shared on Mamta’s Kitchen. Not only are they wonderfully tasty, they give us a way to connect with my grandfather, who passed away when I was very young. He may be gone but he is still part of our our family tree and our recipe tree.

This recipe for tomato ketchup can be adapted to your tastes and I’ve made batches with ripe red and yellow tomatoes and also with unripe green ones, adding a little extra sugar to compensate for the tarter fruit.

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Spicy ketchup made from ripe red and yellow (sungold) and unripe green tomatoes

 

My Grandfather’s Spicy Tomato Ketchup

Ingredients
1 kg ripe tomatoes, unpeeled, chopped if large
Half a small onion, diced
1-2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
Whole spices in fabric bag *
5-6 cloves
2 black cardamoms, cracked open to release flavours
Half teaspoon whole black peppers, cracked open to release flavours
Half teaspoon cumin seeds
1-2 small pieces of cinnamon or cassia bark
Ground Spices
Half teaspoon nutmeg, freshly grated if possible
1 teaspoon chilli powder (or to taste)
2 level teaspoons mustard powder
40 grams sugar (with extra available to adjust to taste)
50 ml cider vinegar (with extra available to adjust to taste)
1 teaspoon salt

* Instead of wrapping my whole spices in muslin tied with string, I use fill-your-own teabags for speed. These are easy to fish back out of the pot and throw away once used.

Method

  • Sterilise your jars and lids. I boil my lids in a pan on the stove for 20 minutes before laying them out to dry on a clean tea towel. I sterilise my glass jars in a hot oven, leaving them in the oven until I’m ready to fill them.
  • Place tomatoes, onion, garlic and bag of whole spices into a large pan. Add a couple of tablespoons of water to stop the tomatoes catching at the bottom before they release their own juices.
  • Cook until soft.
  • Allow to cool a little. Remove spice bag.
  • Blend into as smooth a puree as you can.
  • Press through a sieve to remove skin and seed residue.
  • Place the sieved liquid into a pan with the nutmeg, chilli powder and mustard powder and bring to the boil.
  • If your liquid is quite thin, boil longer to thicken. The time this takes can vary wildly. In the past it’s taken anything from just give minutes to half an hour.
  • Add the vinegar and sugar and continue to cook until the sauce reaches ketchup consistency.
  • Add salt.
  • Taste and add additional vinegar or sugar, if needed.
  • Remove the sterilised jars from the oven and pour the ketchup into them while both ketchup and jars are still hot.
  • Seal immediately with sterilised lids.
  • Once cooled, label and store in a cool, dark cupboard. ~

~ As this recipe has only a small volume of sugar and vinegar (both of which are preserving agents), you may prefer to store the ketchup in your fridge and use within a few weeks. We have stored it in a dark cupboard, eaten it many, many months after making, and been just fine. However, we are not experts in preserving or food safety, so please do your own research and decide for yourself.

 

This post was commissioned by McCarthy & Stone for their Great British Recipe Tree campaign. Recipe copyright remains with Mamta’s Kitchen / Kavey Eats.

 

I wrote recently about why I (and many others) love our microwaves, and also about how we’ve been getting on with our new Heston for Sage Quick Touch.

To put it through it’s paces, we’ve not only been defrosting, softening, melting, reheating, sterilising, steaming… we’ve been pushing it a little further and seeing how else we can use it. These fabulously easy microwave salted caramels can certainly be made on the stove, but we found the microwave method very quick and straightforward and they turned out absolutely perfectly.

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The recipe I’ve used is adapted from a number of American ones I found on the web; I’ve amended the amounts, partly because of what I had available in the stock cupboard and partly because I prefer to work in (metric) weight measurements rather than (cup) volume ones. One of the sugars this recipe calls for is corn syrup, which is far more prevalent in the US than here in the UK. From what I’ve read, I think the inverted sugar helps to form a smooth and glossy finish.

I had some corn syrup that I bought recently in the US so I didn’t need to substitute, however as corn syrup is difficult to find in the UK, my understanding is that you can substitute glucose syrup (which can be made from corn, potatoes, wheat or even rice) – this is sometimes labelled as liquid glucose or confectioner’s syrup.

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The thermospatula!

Some recipes advise cooking until the caramel reaches soft ball stage, which means the caramel solidifies into a coherent ball when a spoonful is dropped into cold water. I find that really difficult to judge, so I prefer to use a thermometer to make sure the mixture gets hot enough. For the last few months, I’ve been using my new thermospatula from Lakeland – it’s much easier than using my old traditional metal jam thermometer clipped to the side of the pan which made it difficult to stir – now the stirring spoon is the thermometer!)

This recipe produces a soft chewy caramel with a delicious buttery flavour. I’ll be a little more generous when I sprinkle sea salt on top next time, as the crunch and flavour of those little white flakes is gorgeous.

Easy Microwave Salted Caramels

Makes approximately 50

Ingredients

For the caramel:
Butter for greasing
120 grams butter
180 grams light corn syrup (or glucose syrup)
200 grams Demerara sugar or light brown sugar*
200 ml condensed milk
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste (or 0.5 tsp vanilla extract)
For sprinkling:
2-3 generous pinches sea salt

* You can substitute regular (white) sugar if you don’t have light brown.

Note: Since this recipe is for salted caramels, I went ahead and used lightly salted butter as that’s what we always have in our fridge. Use unsalted if you prefer.

Note: Make sure the bowl you use is heatproof to a high temperature (we used Pyrex). The mixture boils and expands enormously during cooking so the bowl also needs to be at least three or four times as large as the initial volume of all the ingredients.

Method

  • Grease a baking dish or roasting pan with butter and set aside.
  • In a large heatproof mixing bowl, melt the butter, then add all the other caramel ingredients and mix well.
  • Microwave on full power until mixture reaches a temperature of 115 °C (240 °F). We started checking after 5 minutes and returned the bowl to cook further in 30 second bursts. Full power on our microwave is 1100 watts, and our mixture took 7.5 minutes. If your microwave is less powerful, you may need to cook for a few more minutes. The mixture will start boiling and expanding long before it is ready; you need to keep cooking until you reach temperature or your caramel won’t set when it cools back down.
  • Once it’s ready, pour into prepared baking dish. It should naturally spread out such that the surface is flat.
  • After it’s cooled for a couple of minutes, sprinkle sea salt generously across the surface.
  • Leave to cool for at least an hour.
  • Use a sharp knife to cut into squares or rectangles and wrap individually in squares of parchment paper.
  • Store in the fridge, especially in warm weather.

If you try this recipe, please come back and let me know how you got on. I’d love to hear from you!

Kavey Eats received a Quick Touch microwave and a thermospatula for review. The Lakeland link is an affiliate link, please see sidebar for more information.

 

In my recent post about The Wild Meat Company’s pheasant and partridge, I mentioned the first recipe we made on receipt of my big box of game birds. A twitter friend kindly shared her recipe for pheasant, and I filled in the details by thinking about other one pot braises I’ve cooked in the past. My pheasants were delivered ready for the oven – hung, plucked, gutted – so nothing to do on that front, much to my relief.

Braising the pheasant in cider helped keep the meat moist – pheasant is a fairly lean bird and prone to dry out easily – and the apples broke down and contributed to a tasty sauce for the mash.

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Cider-Braised Pheasant with Shallots, Apples & Thyme

Serves 2

Ingredients
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 small or 1 large pheasant, oven-ready *
75 grams pancetta or bacon, cubed
8-10 small shallots or 4-5 large ones halved, peeled
300 grams cooking apple, peeled, cored and sliced ~
500 ml dry cider
Small sprig fresh thyme or generous half teaspoon dried

Optional: buttery mashed potato, to serve

* My pheasant was about 900 grams, so enough to serve 2. If your birds are smaller, use 1 per person.
~ We used a lot of apple as we had a 300 gram bag of prepped apple in the freezer. Use less if you prefer.

Method

  • Choose an stove and oven-proof casserole dish large enough for your pheasant(s), the shallots and apples and a good amount of liquid.
  • On the stove top, heat vegetable oil in your casserole dish and brown the pheasant(s) on all sides. A pair of rubber-tipped tongs is useful for this. Once browned, remove the pheasant(s) from the pot and set aside.
  • Preheat oven to 180 °C (fan).
  • Add the pancetta or bacon to the pot and cook for a couple of minutes, then add the shallots and cook on a high heat until they take on a little colour. Stir regularly so the shallots colour rather than catch.
  • Push the shallots and bacon to the edges to make space, then add the pheasant(s) back to the pot, breast side down. Spread the cooking apples around (and between, if cooking two birds) and throw in the thyme. Pour cider to at least half way up the bird(s). If you’re using a smaller pot you may not need the full 500 ml.

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  • Cook on the stove for a further minute or two, until the liquid just starts to simmer, then put a lid onto the casserole dish and transfer to the oven.
  • Bake for 1 hour.
  • Remove from the oven and carefully lift pheasant(s) onto a warm plate to rest. Return the casserole dish to the stove and cook for a minute or two to reduce the sauce.

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  • As we were sharing one pheasant between two, I used our kitchen scissors to cut the bird in half. Serve with mash and sauce.

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As you can see, this isn’t the most elegant looking plate, but it was certainly a tasty and warming meal. Perfect for this cold winter weather.

If you haven’t already, take a moment to enter my competition to win a Poachers Delight Game Birds Box of your own, courtesy of The Wild Meat Company.

More pheasant recipes to whet the appetite:

Kavey Eats received a sample box from the Wild Meat Company. Thank you to Melanie for the recipe idea.

 

A lot of foodies scorn microwaves. They proudly announce that they don’t, and never would, have one in their kitchen and I can’t help but wonder if they imagine all those who have one subsist on microwave ready meals and reheated takeaways. I always feel a little sorry for them, honestly; their conviction that real foodies never microwave means they miss out on one of the great modern tools of the domestic kitchen.

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My latest microwave experiment, I’ll be sharing the recipe soon

Even before you consider recipes that can be made in the microwave, there are many little heating tasks at which they excel:

  • Melting butter
  • Melting chocolate without a bain marie
  • Poaching eggs
  • Steaming vegetables
  • Cooking rice
  • Reheating dishes that would tend to dry out in the oven or overly reduce on the stove top
  • Briefly heating a lemon or lime before juicing (to make it easier to juice)
  • Heating a mug of milk for a quick latte or hot chocolate
  • Decrystallising honey
  • Sterilising kitchen washcloths and sponges
  • Heating wheat packs for muscle pain relief

I’ve also heard of people using a microwave to speed proof yeasted doughs, to roast a head of garlic and to par cook jacket potatoes before finishing them in the oven. The latter we now cook in the slow cooker, and I’m yet to try the first two; let me know if you have!

It won’t surprise you to learn that I’ve always had a microwave. My parents had one through most of my childhood, they kindly bought me a small, cheap one for my student house when I was at uni, and Pete and I have had one in our kitchen for the last two decades.

Last year, I reviewed a couple of appliances designed by Heston for Sage, including my lovely Smartscoop ice cream machine (review post here).

This month I’ve been putting my Heston for Sage Quick Touch microwave to the test.

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  • Because the water content in different foods varies so wildly, it can be tricky to guestimate how long different foods need in the microwave; chocolate contains only 3% water whereas most vegetables contain 95%!. Sensors in the Quick Touch microwave sense the amount of humidity released from food and automatically adjust the power level and the cooking time accordingly.
  • There is a shortcut panel (of pre-sets) for common tasks such as melting chocolate, softening butter and heating baked beans (a personal favourite of Heston’s, apparently) – all you need to do is input the weight and touch the relevant button.
  • Of course, the Quick Touch has normal microwave functions as well – you can manually input your power (with 10 levels from 10% to 100%) and the amount of time. The maximum power is 1100 watts so it’s pretty versatile. (Older consumer microwaves often topped out at 800 watts).
  • Pete’s a big fan of the fact that the timer defaults to 30 seconds and if you don’t press any other button or enter a time, will simply start at full power as soon as you close the door. There’s also a cute A Bit More button when something is nearly done but not quite.
  • So far, we’ve been very impressed with the melting butter, melting chocolate and sensor cook functions – perfectly cooked carrots and broccoli courtesy of the latter.
  • Reheating leftovers works fine, as do all the other regular tasks I listed above. Heating seems to be even throughout a plate of food, rather than spots of scalding hot and still cold.
  • It’s a heavy beast, so best for kitchens where it won’t need to be moved regularly.
  • The price tag (around £250-270 depending on retailer) is high, especially as this microwave doesn’t have convection cooking or grilling functionality.

By the way, if you caught a glimpse of the green writing on the front of the freezer in one of the images above, you may be interested in my post on how to organise the contents of a large freezer.

I’ve also been talking to other food bloggers and writers about how they use their microwaves.

Celia Brooks, cook and cookery book author, loves her microwave. She reminds us that “it’s not an oven but a tool to vibrate water molecules” and is therefore “especially good for veggies” with their high water content. As Celia’s main food group is vegetables, it’s an essential tool in her kitchen. She loves to steam vegetables in it, and she cooks aubergine chunks or slices with a little salt before adding them to a ratatouille or moussaka – they absorb less oil if cooked a little first. She likes to “fill flat mushroom caps with cream cheese and herbs”; cooking these in the microwave forms “a luscious sauce”. She also warms milk, makes porridge and heats single portions of dishes like lasagne, for which heating the regular oven would be wasteful.

Helen Best-Shaw, food blogger and recipe developer, mainly uses hers for reheating, defrosting and cooking vegetables and grains. She says she nearly always cooks brown rice in it, which is “perfectly cooked in 14 minutes”. She also partially cooks baked potatoes before finishing in the oven.

Urvashi Roe, food blogger and baker, uses her most days, mainly for defrosting and reheating. She also uses it to melt chocolate, and for “emergency baking” when she has chocolate cake cravings. She finds it particularly useful on days she’s running late, needs to feed the children and can simply take a batch-cooked soup or dhal out of the freezer, defrost, heat and serve.

MiMi Aye, food blogger and cookery book author, loves the convenience of her microwave. She uses it to heat leftovers, cook vegetables like courgettes, warm soup and baked beans, cook ready meals and make microwave popcorn. Like Urvashi, she likes batch cooking meals and freezing them in portions. She reminds me that the microwave is also the easiest way to sterilise baby bottles. And she sent me this rather mesmerising video of blowing up Peeps (American marshmallow birds) in the microwave!

Alicia Fourie, food blogger and keen cook, uses her microwave for warming milk and reheating leftovers. She also loves it for cooking asparagus and corn on the cob, finding it “much easier than boiling” and less faff than lighting the barbecue.

Miss South, food blogger and cookery book author, originally got a microwave because, although she’s a “freezer fiend”, she lacks the organisation to take things out in time to defrost. She also loves using it to cut down on cooking times, pointing out that “microwaving takes less time and costs less than turning [her] electric cooker”. These days, she also uses the microwave to back up her slow cooker, by “batch cooking 3-4 portions of something lovely” and freezing the rest; being able to defrost and blast these home made ready meals in the microwave stops her “tiring of staples” and is also a boon when she’s ill or really busy. She is also a fan of microwaveable rice, which she pimps into fried rice with the addition of frozen peas and an egg.

Of course, a microwave isn’t a substitute for other cooking appliances. I love my gas stove top and electric oven and I regularly use my slow cooker, sous vide cooker and power blender (which can cook soups and custards).

The key is to understand a microwave’s strengths  and put it to use accordingly.

Do you have a microwave? How do you use it? And what’s the one thing you use it for that you’d hate to do without?

Kavey Eats received a Quick Touch microwave for review. Lakeland links are affiliate links, please see sidebar for more information.

 

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!

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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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